Professional Sound - Indepth

The Secret of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Guitar Tone

By Clifton David Broadbridge

One of the most powerful musical influences that I had growing up was Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Stevie’s guitar tone was clean, clear, loud, and soulful, with a huge soundstage. Although I was aware that he recorded with multiple amps, there was still something happening sonically in the studio mixes that went beyond EQ, compression, delay, and reverb.

Reading through some old articles I discovered that Stevie loved the sound of the Roland Dimension D and how its subtle chorus effect would give his guitar a thicker sound without changing his natural tone. He would actually add it to his solos himself with the console’s effects send and return. Apparently, Stevie came across this technique during the recording of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album, which he played on.

Thanks to Stevie Ray Vaughan, this has become one of the most useful techniques that I’ve learned that can give an instrument or vocal something special in a mix. I use the Universal Audio Roland Dimension D plug-in on a stereo aux in Pro Tools and, like Stevie, add just enough of the effect to create a larger dimension without changing the source sound. This effect can be heard on the solos in Stevie’s songs “Pride and Joy” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” from the album Texas Flood, as well as a majority of solos on Couldn’t Stand the Weather.

Clifton David Broadbridge is a studio partner of Eddie Kramer and engineer at El Mocambo Productions.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician, Canadian Music Trade, Professional Sound, and Professional Lighting & Production magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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