Obviously, I've had a chance to play a ton of gear during my career at GUITAR PLAYER, and, overall, I've dug soooooo many music-making tools that it's tough to even remember all the stuff I've rocked with. But here are the goodies hanging out in my garage that I often take out on gigs...
GUITARS I've adored Les Pauls ever since I saw Mick Ronson wield one with David Bowie on a MIDNIGHT SPECIAL television episode when I was a teen. I bought a crap copy when I was taking lessons, and I was finally able to afford a Les Paul Heritage in the late 1970s. I still own that baby and I still love it. I gig with The Trouble With Monkeys using a red Gretsch Electromatic that I "transformed" into a "Monkees Model" via a new Monkees pickguard and a trussrod cover, and I also use a truly kick-ass Collings 290 in Monkees red and a Reverend Reeves Gabrels Signature Dirtbike in Schwinn blue. For 12-string work, I grab my Musicvox 12-string. In my office I have an Eastwood Bill Nelson Signature and a Gretsch Rancher acoustic.
AMPS I've never been able to make Fender amps work for me. My first amp as a kid was a Fender Champ, but since then, I've blown it on the Fender front. Marshalls really worked for me during my punk-rock and new-wave years, but I lost my mojo for carting half-stacks around once I passed 50 years old. Hahaha. I now use either a Vox AC30 (for festival gigs and large venues) or a Vox AC15 (for club shows). I also have an Orange Tiny Terror and a Mesa/Boogie 1x12 cabinet ready to go in The Trouble With Monkeys rehearsal space.
PEDALS Gads. I've used so many and I switch things out all of the time. Currently, I have a Line 6 Helix FX or a Line 6 M5 for goopy stuff whenever I need/want modulation, delay, or reverb—although I typically play pretty dry in The Trouble With Monkeys. I'm a fuzz freak, so I have a ton of fuzz pedals—my favorites being the Tech 21 Boost Fuzz, a JMI Mick Ronson Signature Tone Bender, an Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight, and a Hallmark Nu-Fuzz. My wah pedals include a Morley DJ Ashba Signature, a Vox Wah, and a Dunlop Cry Baby. To boost solos, I use a Pro Tone Reeves Gabrels Distortion Engine, and to get all Beatle-y, I use an Electro-Harmonix Mel9. The tuner is a TC Electronic Chromatic Tuner, and my tiny rig for tiny gigs is a Tech 21 Paul Landers Fly Rig and my Vox wah.
this is a tough one... but I'll take a stab at it with what I currently use.
Guitars - Right now I'm currently almost exclusively using Jazzmasters that I have modded or built from spare parts. My Main Jazzmaster right now is a satin purple one with 22 frets, an aluminum pick guard, and Squier Jazzmaster pickups.
Amps - Huge fan of Fender clean tones, so my Blues Jr is my main squeeze. I currently own a Fender Super Champ X with effects. That one has been seeing the most work on my at-home-recorded stuff because it just sounds so great at low volumes.
Pedals - I have played so many, but no matter what, I tend to find myself usually with some form of Overdrive, Fuzz, Delay, and Reverb.
I'm actually building one right now for use on my solo album, so I'll upload a picture when finished!
Main guitar: 1979 Gibson ES 335. Sometimes it fights me, but that can be a good thing. Runner-up would be my PRS SE Custom Semihollow, with a Dimarzio Bluesbucker in the neck. (currently needs some bridge work that I've been putting off - must get it back to gigging shape.)
Amp: Genz Benz Black Pearl 3 2x12 combo. Does clean well, as well as some nice drive when cranked (or cut down from 30 watts to 7 watts); more Voxy than Fenderish. The 5 position pre-shapes and built-in boost give it more options, and the real spring reverb is wonderful. But it's a bit heavy... Fun "toy": Vox AC 4 (and yes, I have gigged it in small venues.)
Effects: I have fair amount; if I needed to limit it, I'd say the Visual Sound H2O chorus/delay is my favorite. Throw in the Big Joe phaser and the Keeley Fuzz Head and I'm good to go. A volume pedal is helpful for swells, too, as I've never been very good at eth pinky/knob swell technique.
"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion) NEW band Old band
My guitar collection is out of hand. I've picked up a lot of stuff over the years but I suck as a salesman. I'm gigging with some relatively low dollar Yamaha Guitars though. 600 Series Yamaha Pacificas. The stock bridge pickups are Duncan Custom 5s. That pickup is mid scooped which doesn't work for me. I talked to Seymour Duncan and told him I loved how the pickup sounded in single coil mode but the lack of mids sucked on humbucker Rock stuff. I was told I would like the Duncan 59 Custom Hybrid. It perfect. It uses the Custom coil in single coil mode and has a 59 coil for the mids I need. I installed those in my 2 Yamahas along with push button momentary kill switches.
I was a Tele guy for a long time. I always take at least one out recently it's my whiteguard Esquire. I use to play 335 esque Guitars but I got fat and the picking plane is all wrong now. I've taken to single pickup guitars and often play out with a Junior or Esquire. I have old blackface Fender amps I've had for ever but have been playing Mesa Boogies since 1991. I've been shrinking my pedal recently. Playing a Rock gig so I don't need much. My Country pedalboard was getting ridiculous. If I keep losing weight I'll probably go back to playing semi hollows I live the way they talk back to the amp which is why my amps are fun.
"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne
"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!! So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
The Gibson SG Special has been my Instrument of choice for decades. I currently have two nearly identical 2003 SG Specials, one Ebony, one Cherry Red. I've retro-fitted both with Schaller strap locks, Schaller roller bridges & fine-tuning tailpieces, Grover tuners and Gibson "speed" knobs. The after-market parts add mass and tuning stability; the heavier bridge & tailpiece also help compensate for the SG's notorious neck-heaviness.
I fell in love with the look and the sound of the SG way back, think early Santana, Live At Leeds, or Quicksilver's "Happy Trails". Nothing else has ever felt quite right in my hands, and I've been playing them for right around 45 years now. I've also been a dedicated Ovation player since the mid-70's. My current model is a 1984 Model 1569 Custom Legend.
For Synth access and MIDI control I have a Godin Freeway SA, and a Brian Moore iGuitar 20.13. I run those with any of four Roland Guitar Synths (GR-1, GR-30, GR-20 or GR-33); I also have a US-20 Unit Selector (A/B/Both switch) for my GR-series Synths. Since we're talking Guitars here, I'll spare you my list of hardware MIDI Synths, but I
I'd been using Boss MFX (GT-3 or GT-10) with my own custom patches for some time, but lately, I've gone back to pedals. Current line-up:
DIgitech Freqout Malekko Sneak Attack Catalinbread Heliotrope Malekko Charlie Foxtrot Walrus Audio Messner Walrus Audio Warhorn Mojo Hand FX Iron Bell Subdecay Harmonic Antagonizer Keeley Bubbletron Keeley Seafoam Chorus (V1) Malekko 616 Analog Delay MkII Catalinbread Bicycle Delay
It's not exactly a Classic Rock rig. There are also a bunch of Delay/Loopers that I cycle in and out of another pedalboard.
With my Guitar Synth rigs, I use a Roland KC60 Keyboard Amp; it handles the Synth sounds and the Amp & Speaker modeling in my MFX. With my SG's, I use either a Laney VC30 212 (tubes) or a Peavey Studio Pro 112 (SS). The Laney has a great British Tube sound, Blues, Metal, Prog, take your pick, while the Peavey is both hardworking and dependable. I've put both Guitar Amps through some serious workouts, and they've come through for me, even in Massed-Guitar events with anywhere from 20 to nearly 100 other Guitarists.
Last edited by Winston Psmith; 08/16/1908:46 PM.
"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King
GUITARS My main-squeeze is a 1996 Gibson Les Paul Classic "Premium Plus" strung with DR Pure Blues .011" - .050" solid/pure nickel-wrap on round-core wound/bassesl. (Mr. Molenda, and anyone else here- if you try these on your guitars, I'll be surprised if you don't stick with 'em from then on out.) I favor the "top-wrap" tailpiece set-up.
Across the internet, everybody and their monkey bags on the hot ceramic 500T and 496R humbuckers; yet, with my favorite strings and some time spent tweaking the heights of the pickups and their adjustable pole-pieces, I've found them to work wondrously well for my fingerstyle, pick-less approach to the "play the amp" and "touch" schools of electric guitar.
I've been asked several times over the years what custom-wound or hifalutin boutique pickups I have in my guitar; I've also been asked what year my Les Paul really is, as it must surely be a "vintage" specimen. When I've replied with just the facts, I've more than once been told that I must be holdin' out on the truth on both counts... Go figure. I must be doing something right...
Oh. Dunlop StrapLoks, they're a MUST. As is Teflon-gel lube for their bearings (eliminates squeaks that can otherwise occur as you move and even be heard through the pickups and amp), and also for the bridge saddle-notches and nut-slots in small amounts at their respective back-sides. Currently look to Yomega Brain Lube.
AMPS I've had and have a few, several set aside awaiting repairs and parts. When it's working (not the most reliably road-worthy amp), I've RRREEEAALLLY enjoyed the "play-the-amp" capabilities afforded by the "Soak" Channel of my old 33 watt Carvin Vintage 33 1x12 combo-amp. Mine seems to be a rare specimen that came with all of the back-panel bells and whistles of its higher-powered and higher-priced line-mates, the 50 watt Nomad 1x12 and Bel Air 2x12, such as an effects-loop, "cabinet-voiced" line-out, "Acoustic Presence" control, extension-speaker jack, impedance-selector... these weren't all always available on the Vintage 33, and never shown on the '33 in any catalogue or website literature that I've ever seen. I replaced all of its tubes with some hand-selected by our friend Myles Rose when he worked at Groove Tubes/GT Electronics and their "Special Applications Group" with his sophisticated expertise and equipment; these, ESPECIALLY the set of EL84's and a "Matched" or "Balanced" Phase-inverter, made a literal, actual NIGHTANDDAYDIFFERENCE in the amp's tone, range, and performance. Those Output and PI/Driver tubes also lasted far, far longer than usual...
ANYWAY, I can use that amp's "Soak" Channel- lead/overdrive/distortion- along with my guitar's volume-controls for damned near ALL of my clean-to-mean-to-scream-to-Beam-me-up-Scotty needs without ever stomping a channel-selector switch, like a virtual three or four channel amp, continuously-variable via my axe's volume-knobs. I set its tone-controls rather unconventionally. I almost never even bother with it's very good "Clean"/"Rhythm" Channel, unless I want a specific kind of tone, such as a vintage fuzz-into-blackface sound a la "Satisfaction". Oh, and I also keep a tube in its reverb-position that rather diminishes its tube/spring-reverb presence and dwell, which works best for me with this amp; I almost always leave the reverb on, set fairly low, for a subtle effect on its overall tone and character, more than for reverberation. Oh, and a full complement of Hal-O Tube Dampers to eliminate sympathetic ringing and rattles in the tubes.
I also have an Egnater Rebel 30 MkII head and closed-back 1x12 cab; it works EXCELLENTLY with pedals, especially in front of its "Clean"/"rhythm" Channel or in the amp's effects-loop, but frankly, it does NOT work well for my aforementioned "play-the-amp" approach, not at all. Its "Watts" Controls for each Channel, and its unique control for a choice or even blend of onboard 6V6 and EL84 output "Tube Mix", are outstanding for dialing-in just the right tone, response, and feel; tightness or sag, rounded or sharp attack.
My 7 watt, 1xEL34 Fuchs Lucky 7 is pretty special; it has purely magical high-harmonic-overtones blooming in readily available harmonic-feedback, due in part to a particularly special sounding 12AX7 that came stock in V1; though it's rather anemic in the lows and low-mids. That may be improved by other speakers and cabs; however, adding it alongside other amps just blends-in those magic feedback overtone-intervals. It's a keeper. I strongly suspect that it'd be excellent for close-miking.
PEDALS I have too many! Yet there will surely be more on the way. Many, most of, the classic types (fuzz, wah, 'Vibe, phaser, flanger, etc.). Outstanding favorites and pillars of my personal, 'signature' sound, style, and technique would be my:
VFE BumbleBee "volume-swell" coupled with an optical-compressor; intuitive touch-sensitive, finger-controlled volume-swell effects, even on fairly brisk lead and fill passages. Possibly the best ever made.
Foxrox Octron Octave-Up Fuzz, Direct "clean", and Octave-Down Fuzz (think fOXX Tone Machine, a good buffered/slightly boostable clean, and Mu-Tron Octave-Divider, all in one). This KILLS fed into a good overdriven/distorted tube-amp or OD/Distortion pedal... !!
Sustainiac Model C "Electro-Acoustic Sustainer" acoustic-feedback generator (NOT simulator or a pickup-like magnetic string-driver). This clamps a vibrating-transducer onto the guitar's headstock, driven by a big herkin' AC-powered stompbox. It actually vibrates the guitar's neck, body and strings much as a very loud, gainy amp and speakers would in close proximity. Literal, actual infinite sustain- or, at least as long as there's electricity available... Absolutely beautiful controllable (or out-of-control!) harmonic-feedback at any volume, even zero with headphones, clean or overdriven or distorted or whateverrr.
Strymon El Capistan tape-flavored echo and Flint amp-style tremolo and reverb. Reverb-into-Tremolo is THE CLASSIC Tremolo sound!
Peterson StroboStomp tuner-pedals. Excellent for setting intonation with their EQU Temperament Preset, then tuning with their "sweetened" Compensated-Presets such as their GTR Preset.
Guitar is my 3rd instrument, I play strictly rhythm guitar. Grew up with an older brother who is a guitar player. I didn't know it at the time, but I have really good aural memory that was recording the intricate details of amps, speakers, tonewoods, and pickups of my brother and other guitar players I worked with - a talent (or curse? ) that would serve me well in the future.
You can find my guitar gear on my website. More details can be read there.
Guitars - every guitar player should own a good LP, a good Strat, and a good Tele. There are a lot of duds out there, but I learned to pick out the good guitars by playing them UNPLUGGED. I'm listening to the tonewood - the tone is either there, or it isn't and no amount of swapping pickups/strings/pedals/amps will make it happen. Of course a guitar that plays well is a necessity. I never liked cherry-picking, the good guitars I have were found by being in the right place at the right time. Oh yeah, I'm a better bass player and own Fender Jazz, Jazz fretless, and Alvarez 6-string bass.
Amps - I chose separate heads and cabinets. Discovered that different speakers can change the sound, so I have a lot of fun experimenting with amp heads and cabinets. My speakers include Celestion G12 alnicos (original!), reissue alnico blues, pre-Rola 25w greenbacks (!!!), reissue 25w greenbacks, vintage 30w, 65w creambacks. Lot of variety there. Most cabinets are Marshall 4x12, tried other 4x12s but they don't sound the same. One of my Marshall 4x12s is a 1970 cabinet with the pre-Rolas and I've been offered good $$$ for that cabinet. Amps - Marshall 1987 50w (vintage), Mesa/Boogie Lonestar, Fender tweed Harvard (vintage, OK not a head), Selmer Twin-Thirty Truvoice "croc skin" (with original alnico speakers, not a head either), Fender Dual Showman Reverb (head version of Twin Reverb, exact same amp), Vox Valvetronix (blueface). I usually gig the Valvetronix through a Groove Tubes Speaker emulator (no cabinet needed), and I know how to dial up rhythm tones. People tell me I get a better tone than the primary guitar player.
I'm more into the Texas blues rock tone than high gain tone. Used to own a Mesa/Boogie MKIIa, great lead tone but I'm not a lead player. Pretty much a one trick pony, not my preference so I sold the amp.
Pedals - I plug straight into the amp. My Vox Valvetronix (blueface model) models the vintage pedals - distortion/fuzz box, compressor, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, echo, reverb - that's all I need for rhythm work. Pedals can be a money pit, and the permutations of combinations can be infinite. Not going there.
AMPS I've never been able to make Fender amps work for me. My first amp as a kid was a Fender Champ, but since then, I've blown it on the Fender front.
I once had and should have kept a fantastic silverface Fender Champ. Cranked and hit hard with a "clean boost" it had a primal roar.
You might have gotten on well with a "red knob" '80s Fender 'The Twin'. Despite their bad rep, their "Lead" overdrive/distortion Channel 2 was capable of some pretty awesome modded British and California type tones. Stick a TC Electronic Stereo Chorus/Flanger and an EH Deluxe Memory Man in the effects-loop and go to TOWN like Godzilla! (Maybe not the most roadworthy amp, though.)
Oh, and seriously, try some DR Pure Blues 11's or 10's, especially on any Les Pauls and the like. You'll thank me.
Originally Posted by The Real MC
Guitars - every guitar player should own a good LP, a good Strat, and a good Tele. There are a lot of duds out there, but I learned to pick out the good guitars by playing them UNPLUGGED. I'm listening to the tonewood - the tone is either there, or it isn't and no amount of swapping pickups/strings/pedals/amps will make it happen.
I don’t have so much of a rig as, well...a random assortment of gear. 30 guitars, 50+ pedals and...2 amps.
Mostly I just plug some stuff together into a clump and have fun.
This was a “pedalclump” I submitted to a contest:
It was assembled at the last minute in the middle of the night with whatever cables I could put my hands on at the time. I didn’t do any knob tweaking- tone wasn’t the point. As I described it, the resultant tone was “Ass, but ass with potential.”
Pedal order for the clump was entirely dictated by cable length and input/output jack locations, not the rules of ordering. So what you have there is:
Absolutely NOT conventional. It sounded like someone was frying demon eggs on my tubes in a 4 dimensional cavern. If I had had the time to tweak knobs and had it been a time of day when I could push my volume past half one, I probably could have found something truly cool to do with it. And had I had an expression pedal or two*, who knows what might have erupted?
About the pedals:
The Black Arts Toneworks Sarcophagus is a dual fuzz- one side is their Pharaoh, one side is their LSTR. You can run them separately, or have the LSTR go into the Pharaoh or the Pharaoh into the LSTR.
The TWA Little Dipper is, for all intents and purposes, a very good autowah with a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
The TWA Triskelion is a “harmonic energizer”, which is kind of a filter-distortion hybrid. It’s based on the Systech Harmonic Energizer (rare like Klon Centaurs) used by Frank Zappa, Joe Walsh and Greg Lake. Dweezil Zappa and Dave Mustaine have used Triskelions.
The EHX Epitome I bought primarily for one reason: using the MicroPOG to create an “18-string guitar” effect. The other effects it brings to the table were gravy, considering the price for this triple pedal is generally less than for buying the 3 discrete ones.
The Keeley Jimi Hazel Echophase has good echo and good phasing, so it’s a good deal for getting some pretty spacey tones out of a single small box.
Catalinbread Perseus octave-fuzz is my first OF, but probably won’t be my last. Caevan keeps pointing out very tasty ones to me.
Catalinbread EchoRec is based on the Binson Echorec. It’s a pretty good emulation of the original for a fraction of what the vintage originals are currently commanding. If you can find one.
At the time, the only amp I had was a Fender HRD combo. Anyone who has played one will appreciate the dilemma of trying to play it in the middle of the night, quietly. They’re shouty amps that don’t like to do quiet, but I had it at under 1- just loud enough to be heard in my room and nowhere else.
The guitar question is a bit murkier. Because the contest was about pedalboards, alI had to do for the contest was post a picture of the pedals, all powered up and connected- the rest of the signal chain was irrelevant. But I can narrow it down to a handful of possibilities because at the time, I only had a few guitars actually handy for quick deployment in the post-midnight hours:
1) Reverend Rick Vito signature hardtail (P90 in the neck, oversized Supro style singlecoil in the bridge) 2) Fret-King Supra HB (HSS stratclone) 3) Fernandes Ravelle goldtop (classic JB/Jazz HB set) 4) Fret-King Esprit 3 (trio of P90s, upgraded from stock Wilkinsons to Bareknuckle Stockholms; NST tuning) 5) Reverend Sensei RA (RailHammer Chisel HB set; NST tuning) 6) Reverend Flatroc 15th anniversary edition (Fillertron-style miniHBs)
(There were other guitars in the room, but only those listed would have been chosen for a variety of reasons.)
Like several of the other posters around here have either done or contemplated, I’m planning in doing dedicated pedalboards for particular genres of music. Even though I don’t gig, the idea of grab n go boards appeals to me, in part because it requires me to focus on what “belongs” in a given genre, in part because it minimizes the need to remember what pedals need what settings altered when I switch genres.
...which also means I have to buy multiples of certain pedal types so I don’t have to swap things out and redirect everything. IOW, it gives me an excuse to buy gear.