Selecting A Guitar
Obviously you'll want to find a 3-tone Sunburst Fender Strat with an Alder body. The easiest but most expensive thing to do is buy the official Fender® Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster. Keep looking on Ebay. They come up for auction often, but you'll still be spending over $800 on this guitar used.
If you are looking on Ebay for other Strats, make sure you know what the body wood is made of. Ask if the seller doesn't tell you in the auction. You want to make sure you get an Alder wood body. Stratocasters can often be made of other woods like Ash.
The Strats made in Mexico in the early 90's weren't bad. I own a sunburst Mexican assembled Strat with an Ash body and Rosewood fingerboard 3-tone sunburst. It is a nice playing guitar. I don't know if they ever made Alder body Strats in that factory. You may also keep an eye out for older Squire Srats made in Asian factories. If you are willing to use a two tone sunburst finish instead of a 3 tone, Fender currently has the Affinity Squire Strat available for just under $200 brand new. The neck won't be accurate for this project, but you'll have a cheap guitar to start adding other parts to. Remember that even Strats with humbuckers can have the pickguard and pickups replaced, so keep your eyes open.
A NOTE ABOUT SRV'S TONE IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO RECREATE THE LOOK AS WELL AS THE SRV TONE.
If you take a modern guitar finished with Polyurathane, you'll notice that it is much harder to scratch the finish and expose raw wood. This harder Poly shell prohibits the wood from resonating and hinders the guitar's natural tonal characteristics. Therefore, those wishing to recreate a tone similar to Stevie's, should look into purchasing a guitar body that has a Nitrocellulose finish as Stevie's Strat was vintage and had a Nitro finish. However it causes the cost to go up. Only USA reissues of Vintage Fender guitars have the Nitro finish. I've seen '62 sunburst bodies sell on E-bay for over $300. That's just a body, no hardware, pickups or neck!
Be aware the Fender® Stevie Ray Vaughan model is Poly finish NOT Nitro!
In a freak accident I bought the above pictured Japanese Squire which was auctioned as a "mostly Fender" guitar and the date was not known by the seller. I took a chance at only $170 and lucked out because I believe it has a Nitro finish and also had all the correct colored pickguard, knobs, pickup covers etc... This freak accident along with the other parts I'm listing has yeilded the cheapest costing, yet best sounding Strat I've ever played! Hands down it nails the SRV tone and puts all my other high cost official Strats to shame.
To sum up... I believe it is the Nitro finished body, fat neck and big frets, and some awesome pickups as those recomended on the next page that get the SRV tone. Fingers, the right amplifier and playing ability are also a factor, but I hear a night and day difference between this guitar and my other Strats. Since building this guitar I have been trying to modify one of my other modern Strats to sound just like it. I am unable to get it anywhere close to it! I'll have to aquire another Nitro finished guitar.