Photo on the left is reproduced with kind permission of Stuart McDaniel
According to pedal-geek lore, Vaughan was a big fan of the TS808 version of the Ibanez Tube Screamer, but evidence in the form of stage photos, live videos, insurance documents and customs declarations reveal that the TS9 version of the Tube Screamer was his preferred choice from 1982 through most of the Eighties.
Vaughan usually used his TS9 to provide a clean boost to his Fender Vibroverbs for solos, with the level control all the way up and the drive control set to relatively low gain.
In 1988, a new Ibanez TS10 Tube Screamer replaced the TS9 in his pedal board, which Vaughan generally used to generate high-gain distortion (with both the drive and level controls boosted) that wasn’t otherwise available from his Dumble and Marshall Major rig.
The lush rotating-speaker effects heard on Vaughan tracks like “Cold Shot” and “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” were generated by a Fender Vibratone speaker cabinet.
Similar to a Leslie Model 16, the Fender Vibratone is designed for gigging guitarists and features a rugged, roadworthy cabinet covered in black Tolex.
More importantly, the Vibratone is also designed for use with a standard guitar amp and features a guitar speaker that emphasizes crucial midrange tones instead of the full-range, two-way woofer and tweeter speaker array found in most Leslie cabinets.
Fender sold the Vibratone from 1967 through 1972, and it is still considered one of the best true rotating speaker effects for guitarists.
Before Vaughan bought his Marshall Club and Country amp, a mid-Sixties blackface Fender Super Reverb was the source of his clean tone. When Vaughan started playing increasingly larger venues in 1983, he added a pair of Super Reverbs to his rig, which he used along with his Vibroverbs.
Like the Vibroverb, the Super Reverb is powered by two 6L6 tubes and provides 40 watts of output, but because it has four 10-inch speakers (Vaughan loaded Electro-Voice speakers in his Super Reverb amps) instead of a single 15-inch speaker it provided the louder clean headroom Vaughan needed onstage.
Eventually, the Super Reverbs replaced the Vibroverbs as the source of his onstage overdrive tones, although Vaughan kept one Vibroverb in his rig exclusively for driving the Vibratone rotating speaker cabinet. During his 1990 tour, Vaughan replaced the Super Reverbs with a pair of Fender’s newly released ’59 Bassman Reissue amps.
Stevie tended to prefer clean tones and natural tube-amp overdrive, but in 1988 he added an original Sixties Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face pedal to his rig when he became obsessed with emulating Jimi Hendrix’s signature sounds.
Unfortunately, the Fuzz Face’s germanium transistors were extremely unreliable when exposed to hot stage lights or the sun during outdoor gigs.
Stevie collected several Fuzz Face pedals, and he would try several during sound check to choose the one he thought sounded best that particular day. Eventually, he got tired of the unreliable transistors in his Fuzz Face pedals, so he had them modified by his amp tech César Diaz, who later used the modifications as the basis for the Diaz Texas Square Face pedal.
The Texas Square face was originally designed as a replacement for Stevie's fuzz faces, which were always dying.
Cesar Diaz built his circuit into one of Stevie's dead fuzz face boxes and Stevie used it until his unfortunate death.
The square face is similar to the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, has volume and fuzz knobs, but comes in a small MXR distortion+ sized box. They have a DPDT switch for true bypass.
After Stevie talked to Mike Soldano, and complained how he wasn’t happy with the fact that he had to use pedals in order to get his heavy tones, and had to crank the volume all the way up, Soldano offered to build an amp for him.
The amp that he built was a custom SLO 100 with a switch that would cut mid frequencies, which would enable Stevie to pull out those overdriven tones without any addition equipment.
Unfortunately, this whole deal happened just a couple of months prior to Stevie death, and he never had the chance to test it out properly. It is now back with Mike, who keeps it safe in his shop.
The MXR Loop Selector played a large part in Stevie's pedalboard.
It allowed him to toggle between two separate effects chains or two different amps / channels.
He also used it when playing live to take his Tube Screamer in and out of his signal chain.
Although Stevie didn’t use the Roland Dimension D in his live rig, it was a secret weapon in the studio, where he often added it to his guitar tracks during mixing.
Vaughan first discovered the Dimension D while mixing his guitar tracks on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and he liked how its subtle chorus effect thickened his guitar sound without changing his natural tone significantly like other chorus effects frequently do.
The Dimension D was used on the solos to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Pride and Joy” on "Texas Flood" and most of the solos on "Couldn’t Stand the Weather". During mixing, Stevie would add the Dimension D effects himself via the effects send/return controls on the mixing console.