Stevie Ray Vaughn - "Number One"

1959 Fender Stratocaster - Tobacco Sunburst

"Number One" is the beat-up mongrel Strat that we all know and love. Constructed of a 1959 body, and (originally) a 1962 neck, it possessed a deep, dark growl of a tone that was immediately identifiable. Even though it used all "stock" Fender Strat parts, about the only "original equipment" parts it possessed by 1990 were the body and the pickups. Over the years, Stevie and Rene Martinez, his guitar tech, replaced the pickguard, vibrato unit, saddles and neck. Some modifications were purely cosmetic, some were functional (to derive a particular feel or tone), and others were out-and-out repairs.

Number One was obtained in 1973 in a trade-in of his first Strat, the 1963 he purchased in 1969. According to Stevie, he saw the Strat in Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music, in Austin. He said he knew that this tobacco-sunburst, used Strat was, just by looking at it, the guitar for him. The neck was an oddly-shaped rosewood D-neck, very large, which fit Stevie's large hands like a glove. The body was stamped "LF-1959," but the neck was stamped "1962." Stevie surmised that Leo Fender probably assembled this guitar from left-over 1959 production parts in 1962. It was rumored that the "LF-1959" actually meant "Louis Fuentes" and not Leo Fender. Neither was ever truly verified.

Over the years, Stevie replaced the pickguard (several times) with a black pickguard and added his "SRV" initials in iridescent lettering of several styles. Rene Martinez remarked that he would prowl truck stops to obtain letters to replace the ones that wore away. Eventually the iridescent "SRV" was replaced by Letraset script-style lettering, first seen during his appearance on the "Tonight Show" in 1989.

The vibrato was replaced with a gold left-handed unit sometime around 1977. This was the beginning of Stevie's "Hendrix period." Since Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush played a right-handed guitar turned "upside down," therefore putting the vibrato bar on top, Stevie emulated this by installing a left-handed vibrato unit in Number One. He also felt it gave him better access to the bar, but did remark that several times, during especially manic performances, it fairly well tore half his sleeve off when he got caught-up on it. Stevie normally used four or five springs in this unit, and had the pivot plate pulled tight against the body. This meant he could only push the bar, and not pull up on it.

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