zzxe | Iconic guitars (4)


#4 Iconic guitars

In this column: large gibson hollow bodies, nancy, number one


T-Bone Walker (Aaron Thibeaux Walker, Dallas Texas) played on different guitars in three eras: 1930-1950 on a Gibson ES-250, 1950-1970 on an ES-5 and from 1970 on an ES-335. He used the guitars favored by the early jazz guitarists (like Charlie Christian). T-Bone Walker was a big influence on B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy and the more modern guitarists Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl.
He learned to play guitar from his stepfather and Blind Lemon Jefferson, who he often accompanied to gigs.

T-Bone playing an ES-5 in his own distinctive way

Walker worked around 1935 the clubs the clubs in Los Angeles’ Central Avenue and developed a reputation as a singer, guitarist, and showman. He was experimenting a lot with the electric guitar, a Gibson ES-250 and a matching EM-185 amplifier. He was good friends with Charlie Christian and both are credited with being some of the earliest guitarists to play the electric guitar.

1939 Gibson ES-250

T-Bone is most remembered with a Gibson ES-5, which he tilted against his stomach on a thin guitar strap. He turned the guitar on side to make the tones resonate more fully. With this guitar he also had the most influence on the guitarists who came after him.

1049 Gibson ES-5 with a Fender Blackface Bandmaster stack

The young Blues Boy King followed in T-Bone's footsteps with a Gibson ES-5

Goin' to Chicago - T-Bone Walker

Kirk Fletcher with a T-Bone Walker ES-5N

NANCY - Roy Buchanan

Roy Buchanan ( Ozark, Arkansas) is a legend in the music world. Buchanan was an influential artist in his style and a pioneer in the “Telecaster Sound". The guitar he used most was a Fender Telecaster with the serial number #2324 (1953), that he named, “Nancy.” He had said that he saw a man walking down the street with "Nancy" in 1969, and chased him down. He either traded a purple Telecaster or a Gibson Les Paul for her.

Roy's 1953 Blackguard Telecaster "Nancy": neck, quartersawn maple, radius 9-1/2, profile boat V and body ash

NANCY - Roy Buchanan

Nancy is a butterscotch, “Black-Guard” Tele and a bare bones "workhorse". The major difference with Buchanan and Nancy was the tone that they achieved together. Rumor has it that a mysterious pickup was the cause of the specific sound Roy could get out of his tele. Many guitar players and collectors consider a 1953 Blackguard Telecaster the Holy Grail of all Teles.

Roy's Blues - Roy Buchanan (live 1985)

Roy turned all the knobs on his Fender Twin to ten and flipped the amp so he didn't get the loud sound right in his face. With the sound from the back of the speaker, he created a sweet spot for himself. This is clearly visible in the video below. For his violin-like technique, in which he turned the volume up and down with his little finger, he needed a loud volume.

The Messiah will come again - Roy Buchanan (live 1976)

NUMBER ONE - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen Ray Vaughan (Dallas, Texas) was a singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the blues rock band Double Trouble.
Stevie Ray Vaughan had several guitars but there was one he was particularly fond of, the Fender Stratocaster, which he called "number one". Stevie bought the guitar in 1973 from the Texas Music Store in Austin.

Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray and Double Trouble

The strat was already well worn, allegedly being previously owned by singer-songwriter Christopher Cross. Number one has a 1962 curved rosewood neck, a 1963 alder body (two pieces) with 1959 pickups. The tremolo has been placed upside down to better reproduce Jimi Hendrix's style. The pick guard has the letters SRV and the headstock cigarette burn marks.

In 1992, Fender released a Stevie Ray Vaughan Signature Model based on Number One

Vaughan used this guitar on all 5 of his studio albums as well as the album, Family Style, with his brother Jimmie.
He preferred heavy string gauges - according to his tech Rene Martinez, he liked .013 to .060 with a wound G and always tuned down a half step (Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb) to better suit his vocal range, which reduced the effective string tension to something more akin to 11s or 12s in standard tuning.

Texas flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan (live from El Mocambo)

Sources: happy bluesman, tdpri.com, Thomas Moon: The Verdict Of Big Joe Williams, weeniecampbell.com, BBC news, Talkin' to myself: Blues lyrics, Michael Taft, digitalcitizen.ca, federalcigarjugband.com, pancocojams.blogspot.nl, americanbluesscene.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, Hudson Motors Compagny, Archive Minneapolis, The Cruel Plains, M.H.Price a.o., truewestmagazine.com, The Austin Chronicle, Cambridge Free English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, TheSaurus.com, dragonjazz.com/grablue/blues_travel, Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture, Blues by Paul Breman, Blues by David Harrison, Quora.com, urbandictionary.com, Blogs.loc.gov, The Ballad Hunter by Alan Lomax, Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920th by Daphne Duval Harrison, jopiepopie.blogspot.nl, redhotjazz.com, The Blues Lyrics Formula by Michael Taft, American Ballads and Folk Songs by Alan Lomax and John Avery Lomax, The Past Is Not Dead: Essays from the  Southern Quarterly by Douglas B. Chambers, EarlyBlues.com, railroad-line.com,  Jason Lee Davis' RailFan Pages , centertruthjustice.org