Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use a Pick? [ANSWERED]

Gear heads like myself often dig into the nitty gritty details of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s setup. Although using the same pick as SRV won’t make you play like him, it is still fun to know what pick he used and why. For that reason, I sought to find out what kind of pick SRV used.

Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use a pick? Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan used a pick. SRV used a Custom Fender Medium pick with his name written on the front of the pick. Stevie did not use the pick in the traditional way. He would hold the pick sideways and use the fat end of the pick rather than the pointy end.

Continue reading to learn more about the pick that SRV used and why.

Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use a Pick

Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use a Pick?

Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan used a pick for the entirety of his career. Stevie’s playing style required him to use a pick to get as much sound out of the guitar as possible. Something that wasn’t as accessible with fingerpicking or finger strumming.

Stevie’s playing style involved a lot of raking. And not simple raking that you or I may do, we are talking aggressive striking of the strings so the fretted notes ring out as loud as they can. To achieve this, Stevie Ray Vaughan had to use a pick.

When Stevie was first learning guitar, there is no record of what pick he used or if he even used one. Although, it can be assumed that he did use one most of the time as his brother Jimmy Vaughan was an accomplished guitarists during most of Stevie’s guitar upbringing. As he was forming his style, he likely messed around with finger picking before deciding that it was not for him. That is not to say that he was not a skilled finger picker, he just preferred the louder sounds of the blues greats and to achieve that sound required a pick.

It wasn’t until 1981 that an accurate account of Stevie’s picks started. This was the year that Stevie started ordering custom picks which he would use for the entirety of his career. Stevie was only able to order one bag of picks at a time because he did not have money until 1983. With Stevie’s playing style and how often he played, each pick ended up being worn to the bone because of the limited supply of custom picks he had.

Find Out What Pickups SRV Used Today!

What Kind of Pick Did SRV Use?

Stevie Ray Vaughan used custom picks with his name etched on the front. The pick that SRV primarily used throughout his career were Fender 351 Medium Picks with an average thickness of .73mm.

When SRV was on the road, his roadie Rene Martinez would order custom picks. Rene would order these picks through Ray Hennig at Heart of Texas Music in Austin. Although the only custom difference that these picks had were his name on it. Otherwise, they were simple standard Fender Medium picks that many guitarists at the time used. Fender artists especially stuck to Fender picks and did not stray too outside the box. There were limited options at that time, compared to today, and Fender Mediums proved to be the best for most blues guitarists.

Although Stevie was not as adherent to his picks as he was with his other gear. Stevie would sometimes just use random picks that he found at guitar shops or lying around the venue he was performing at. If the picks felt okay in his hand, then he would use it. That being said, Fender Medium picks were his number one favorite pick.

In 1987, he did start using D’Addario Delrin Heavies, but this was short lived as he only used them for one year before going back to Fender Mediums. It can be assumed that the D’Addario Delrin Heavies were too rigid for Stevie’s playing prompting him to switch back to Fender Mediums.

What Thickness Pick Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use?

Stevie used a .73mm Fender Medium pick. He used this thickness because it was the perfect thickness between heavy and light. Too light and the pick would give off a twangy sound and the strings would not be able to be struck quite as hard. Too heavy and raking would sound choppy, and accuracy could suffer. The .73mm thickness proved to be the sweet spot for Stevie and many blues guitarists alike.

Find Out What Strings Stevie Ray Vaughan Used Today!

How Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Hold His Guitar Pick?

Stevie Ray Vaughan held his pick sideways and used the fat end of the pick when playing guitar. He did this because this part of the pick had more surface area allowing him to rake the strings at a greater velocity with less overall pick wear.

Stevie did not pick with his wrist like most guitarists, instead he picked with his whole arm. Holding the pick sideways allowed for greater control and accuracy with his playing. If the pick slipped slightly in his hand, he would still have a larger surface area on the fat end to strike the strings. As he continued playing, the fat end would wear down quite a lot as seen below. Stevie used picks until they either broke, got lost, or got too worn down.

Picking this way adds more life to the pick. The butt end of the pick does not wear as fast as the pointy end.

Source: SRV Archive

Where Can You Get Fender Medium Picks

Fender Medium picks are widely available at almost every guitar store imaginable. I order them in bulk on Amazon. Mostly because I go through picks relatively fast as I too have a heavy raking play style causing them to wear faster. That being said, these picks are not cheap. Each pick lasts me a long time and they are by far one of my favorite picks to use, especially when okay Stevie Ray Vaughan songs. You can find these picks linked here on Amazon.

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