To say that Dave Navarro is an interesting character would be an understatement of the century.
The guy has been in more than one widely successful band, he’s an actor, documentary maker (Mourning Son), while he also worked as a reality show host for the tattoo competition series Ink Master. He’s written a skeezy autobiography (Don’t Try This At Home), and these days he hosts the Dark Matter Radio Podcast with his buddy Todd Newman and crew. Oh, and he was dating super sexy Carmen Electra for a while – no big deal.
With all that said, we still know him best for his guitar skills in legendary pioneering alt rock metal band Jane’s Addiction and his brief stint with Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Dave knows his way around guitars, that is for sure. However, he is the type of guitar player who doesn’t put an accent on flawless shredding skills and solos. Instead, he prefers to use the guitar as a medium that allows him to write music. That is something you just have to respect, especially seeing how shredding has become the metric these days.
Aside from his skills, Dave Navarro definitely knows how to dial in a good guitar tone. For the most part, he simply understands what any given piece of music needs. His ability to match the atmosphere of a song with a complementing tone setup is pretty awesome to observe. Let’s take a listen to some classic Jane’s Addiction just to illustrate this point.
Naturally, Navarro relies on a variety of equipment to achieve sounds and dynamics like this. As we said, depending on the song, Dave takes it where he wants. Our goal today is to go over the guitars, amps as well as effects pedals that Dave Navarro uses or has used in the past. By showing you this info, you should figure out what kind of angle Navarro is going for. Let’s get started.
Dave Navarro Guitar Rig And Setup
Navarro’s choice of gear is pretty defined. By that, we mean that he is loyal to specific brands when it comes to guitars as well as amps. Taking a methodical approach to gear like he does, allows you to know exactly what you will get. He has built the foundation of his sound and kept tweaking it to this day. Let’s start the rundown of Navarro’s rig by taking a peek at some of the guitars you could see in his hands.
Guitars du Choix
A quick glance at Navarro’s guitar choices in the past reveals that he is a true Paul Reed Smith fan. He has used their PRS Standard as well as PRS Custom guitars, the latter one being his more favorite choice. Because of this, Paul Reed Smith has gotten in contact with Navarro, offering to do a signature series based on his specs. He often uses the PRS Dave Navarro signature, however, it seems that his customs are still his primary choice.
Aside from PRS, Dave likes his Strats as well. He owns a collection of Fender’s guitars that include a respectable range of various Stratocaster versions. With that said, you will also see a few Gibson Les Paul variants in there as well. To some, it may seem that Dave is all over the place with his guitars but that is not really the case. PRS has shown to really fit his style while these guitars definitely add a lot his music. Lastly, when it comes to acoustic guitars, Dave has been going back and forth between Martin’s and various Takamines.
Just like many others before him, Navarro is all about Marshall’s powerful heads. One of his most used amps is the JCM800 series. Paired with the standard Marshall 4×12, this amp is just perfect for Navarro’s taste. Among different Marshall models that stand out, we can name the JCM900. He owns two of these and has even given them individual names.
It takes a strong bond for a guitar player to take their relationship with an amp to that level. Considering how awesome these sound, we can’t really blame the guy. The only amps that break the Marshall party are the Vox AC30 and Bogner Uberschall. Owning a Vox AC30 is nothing strange, even for Dave. After all, this is one of the most popular and most iconic guitar amplifiers ever made.
Sticking with the previously established mantra, Dave’s main brand for effects pedals is Boss. He owns a number of their pedals, including a Boss Super Octave OC-3 and a pair of Boss DD-3 Digital Delays. The list extends to include a DS-2 Turbo Distortion box as well as a number of their tuners. The next brand that comes after Boss is Dunlop. What type of pedal is Dunlop known for? Crybaby Wahs, of course.
Dave owns quite a few Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedals, with Dimebag’s signature model being one of his more favorite ones. Lastly, there is the Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer. This is a staple overdrive which Navarro has used numerous times as his primary choice. Even though it is fairly old, the legendary design of the TS808 is pretty hard to beat even today.
BB King was one of the first guitar players to realize the potential of light gauge strings in just about any genre of music. This knowledge was passed on and adopted by Billy Gibbons, who has done a lot to popularize this trend. With all that said, it is not too unusual for Dave Navarro to use Dean Markley’s .009s light gauge vintage electric strings. In words of BB King himself, it is all about articulation and player’s ability to express themselves. What Dave does with these light gauge strings is something that is pretty hard to pull off with a standard set.
Dave Navarro’s style is pretty unique. He knows his way around the guitar, but the core his quality comes from the way he arranges music. The guitar sections in his songs simply tell a story, which is what many guitar players strive for but only a few ever really reach. We have shown you the type of gear Navarro uses. This should give you a pretty accurate idea of the tone profile he works with.
Those who want to tap into that Navarro energy can use this gear list to get one step closer to their goal. Knowing Dave, he probably won’t change his rig too drastically in the future. He has been working on this setup for a while, meaning that it is the foundation of his sound.