Mike McCready Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

mikemccready59-lp

The ’90s were a rather turbulent period for music in general.

Several genres skyrocketed in popularity, the scenery changed, and you could say that the stereotypical 1980’s shredder hair/glam metal bands, with that weird combination of uber-macho / feminine / androgynous appearance with their KISS inspired non-stop party music, were losing their traction at the very beginning of the decade.  Later gators!

The new type of rock music was appearing, dealing with different, more serious, lyrical topics, with an appropriate hard hitting, dark, and gritty sound to accompany this exciting new poetry-infused music.

Labeled as grunge with the emergence of the 4 grunge “gods” as they’re sometimes referred to as (Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), we saw the rise of these soon to be huge musical acts, along with various different bands playing in this style that emerged in the very end of the 1980s and the early 1990s.

Among those bands featuring this new hybrid sound that really took off in this particular time frame, Pearl Jam holds a very special place for many rock fans even to this day.

pearl-jam-band-photo

For the fans, Pearl Jam are one of the pillars of Seattle’s grunge scene, with a huge output over the past almost-30 years.  Only Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains remain of the four great so-called grunge acts.

However, many will tell you that you can’t really say that Pearl Jam exactly fits into any specific genre or style of music – they are just simply Pearl Jam.  Calling them a “grunge” band is not really strictly true, but fans have taken to doing it over the years and so the label has stuck.

But whatever the case may be, and whatever your views are on their style, this band has formed one of the most authentic followings in the world of rock and they are still continuing to impress music fans of all different genres worldwide.

Their fan base has managed to remain loyal to the band even despite the fact that they completely disappeared from the world’s music scene at one point, ceasing all activity right down to giving occasional interviews here and there.

What attracted so many people to Pearl Jam was the recognizable hard-driving music that’s complemented with appropriate lyrics and profound message in them.

Something relatable to many young kids at the time, and something that still has meaning even today.

Aside from Eddie Vedder, the vocalist, one person who had a lot of influence on Pearl Jam’s style was Mike McCready.  This man has truly earned his place in guitar history from the number of riffs he’s written, to his prowess on the instrument, to simply the sheer passion he emotes when he plays.

mike-mccready-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

As a guitar player, he gave Pearl Jam their very own signature sound, consisting of powerful riffs and intriguing lead sections that can either be akin to a searing blues-infused solo, or it can be something weird and effects-based that is a pedal-based concoction no one but Mike McCready could have come up with.

Yes, both Stone and Ed wrote their share of great riffs too, but when it comes time to put a stamp on a song to make it sound sonically unique, that honour usually goes to McCready.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at what he used to build that great tone which has been and remains as one of the most easily recognizable tones over the past few decades or so.


Mike’s Rig

When we said that you can’t really lump Pearl Jam into any specific category, it is because you can hear a mix of various genres in just about any of their songs. Mike McCready is always very specific about his tone, which has to be perfectly fine tuned in every aspect.

He, along with Stone Gossard, the rhythm guitar player, never seems really all that worried about the genre label that Pearl Jam are put into.

mike and stone

First and foremost, they were aiming to write good music, and give the lyrics a suitable vessel that would deliver the message in the best way possible. Which is something they most certainly succeeded in early on and it is something they continue to do.

With that being said, let’s check out the gear McCready has been using over the years. And, as always, we’re going to start with his guitars.


Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro Heritage Cherry Sunburst (Renewed)

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Ibanez Ts9 Tube Screamer – Classic

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Guitars

Unlike most guitar players who have reached his level of popularity, Mike was always running back and forth between two brands – Fender and Gibson.

Which might be unusual as most of the guitar players are quite often very strict about picking sides between these two legendary guitar brands and long-lasting competitors.

He started with a 1952 and 1953 Blonde Telecaster, only to move to a Gibson Les Paul Junior with double cuts. Two guitars he is most known for are the King of Kings ’59 Les Paul and the Fender 70’s Stratocaster Sunburst.

Speaking of the latter, he has several guitars that fit the description.

King of Kings Les Paul is still one of his favorite instruments. He got it back in in the day for some $25,000 which he managed to pull off by trading a bunch of guitars aside from fronting some cash.

This being a ’59 Les Paul, it is highly valued among guitar players and guitar collectors, who often refer to these instruments as the so-called “Holy Grail” of guitars.

Many other guitar legends, including Mr. Billy Gibbons, have any kind of ’59 Les Paul in their collection.

All things considered, that purchase was most certainly a great investment seeing how this specific model goes for as high as half a million dollars these days.

When it comes to some of the more unusual guitars in his inventory, McCready has a Gibson Flying V from the 1980s, and a 1991 Gretsch Silver Jet Reissue. The Flying V in question is white with white pickguard.

mccready gibson flying v

Interestingly enough, one of his main axes as of lately is the David Gilmour Signature Strat.

This guitar, made by Fender, is the replica of David Gilmour’s legendary Black Strat and is a model that the Pink Floyd guitarist himself had input in creating.

Speaking of which, Gilmour’s original Black Strat, the one he used for recording various songs over the years, was sold for over $3.9 million, making it the most expensive guitar in history so far.

Aside from these, McCready had some other models in his collection.

There’s the peculiar looking vintage-inspired Jeff Tweedy Signature Gibson SG with the Bigsby-style tremolo bridge.

Mike McCready's Gibson Jeff Tweedy Signature SG Electric Guitar

There is also one white double-neck Gibson EDS-1275 with a black pickguard, Gretsch 1955 White Falcon Electric Guitar, Fender Jazzmaster, Gibson Firebird, and even an Ibanez Iceman.


Amps

When it comes to amps, McCready has been known to use a variety of different brands and amp models.

Some of the more common models in his possession are the Marshall Plexi head and the accompanying Marshall 1960B cab with four 12 inch speakers.

These classic cabinets are very well-known for their Celestion speakers.

To be more precise, they’re the G12M Greenbacks and these particular speakers are voiced in such a way to give more clarity in the higher end spectrum of the tone while still retaining the power of the lower-end.

There’s also the legendary Fender Bassman Combo amp from 1959, as well as another classic amp used by many guitar heroes over the years, the Vox AC30.

vox ac30

If you think about it, Mike always pushed the ‘standard’ configuration of guitars and amps, modelling his tone mostly through using different effects pedals.

However, when we’re talking about someone like McCready, that is an approach to guitar tone is always subject to change.

Case in point, these days McCready is all about the 65 Amps. Something along the lines of the Empire or London has been seen resting on top of one Savage combo.

65 amp

A good chunk of his sound comes from the amps, and this sudden change to 65 Amps is just another move by McCready in his search for the perfect tone.

Looking past these, Mike also uses a somewhat rare Satellite Atom head, bearing the power of 36 watts. There is also, of course, the legendary JCM800 in his rig, Union Jack HG, and another Fender Bassman in the form of an amp head.

But looking at all these amps, he’s clearly a fan of those vintage tones yet he puts his own different twist to it.


Effects Pedals

If you were to take a look at McCready’s pedalboard at any given show, you would find a very busy setup that would rarely be the same one or two shows after.  After all, he’s very picky about his tone and loves to try out new things on a regular basis.

With that said, there are some pedals which Mike liked enough to keep around as constants. Let’s start things off with a few overdrives. For a long, long time, Mike was using mostly Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer - Classic

This doesn’t really come as a surprise as this overdrive has been one of the most desired pedals over the years, used as either the main dirt box or as an additional boost for drive channels of tube amps.

There have also been some speculations about him using the Ibanez’s alternate version from the 1980s, known as the TS10 Tube Screamer. However, this has not been officially confirmed.

These were his primary choices when some bark had to be added to the tone. These days, he moved over to the Way Huge Green Rhino.

This pedal is a bit more niche in nature but still has that vintage style vibe and can deliver some serious tones. In addition, it is a bit more versatile than the good old Tube Screamer due to having more parameters to tweak.

There are also some other drives in his rig, like the very small, compact, and pretty simple to use Lovepedal AMP 50 Overdrive.

mike-mccready-pedal-board

When it comes to other effects, you could see an XO Micro POG from Electro-Harmonix, Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, as well as Boss OC-2 Octave.

His most current setup consists of pedals such as Xotic’s AC Booster Overdrive (which certainly comes in handy for boosting those vintage tube amps in his collection), the MXR MC-404 Crybaby Dual Inductor Wah, Diamond’s Compressor, Line 6 DL4 Delay and more.

As for some other wah pedals, Mike has been known for his use of the standard classic Vox wah and the classic Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby.

He definitely keeps mixing things up, but the core of his sound is more or less consistent in nature and you’ll always be able to recognize McCready when you hear him play, both on studio albums or live recordings.


Conclusion

Mike McCready is one of those guitar players who is always searching for new ways to spice up his signal chain.

Aside from the guitars for which he has developed a pretty distinctive taste, every other part of his gear is prone to experimentation even after all this time.

If you were on a mission to emulate his tone, you would first need to figure out which album you are going for. And you’ll definitely need a solid budget if you want to get it really close to what he’s doing.

However, while it might not be that easy, you’ll be able to pull it off as long as you have a Fender Strat, a Marshall amp like the JCM800, and the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer or any of its different clones and variants. But at the same time, you’ll definitely need to sit down and tweak the knobs for hours until you finally manage to get it going in Mike’s direction.

Even though grunge musicians were never really known for their finesse, Mike and Pearl Jam took things into a bit more complicated direction. That is the main reason why he is considered to be one of the best guitar players in rock music.

Overall, looking at different guitars and pieces of gear, it is clear that Mike McCready is most definitely a fan of the vintage stuff.

While his tone is not a complete replica of the ones we can hear with those older players, it certainly relies on the classic ’60s and ’70s guitar sounds.

But in the end, as we already mentioned above, he gives his own twist to it and creates that grittier tone that goes well even with the more modern standards in rock and heavy metal music.

With this being said, Mike McCready’s playing and his guitar tone that evolved over the years are both worthy of our praise.

mike_mccready_59_sunburst_stratocaster_fender

Aside from defining one movement and even bringing it to a higher level, his work in Pearl Jam has been crucial for the countless generations of guitar players worldwide. If you’re trying to replicate his different tones, you’re definitely not alone as he’s one of the most looked upon guitar players of all time.

Tom Morello Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

tom-morello-arm-the-homeless-guitar

Rage Against the Machine is one of those rare bands that started their work back in the 1990s and who managed to push something completely new.

Oftentimes carrying a strong political message within their work, they reached great success and cemented their place in the history of rock and metal music.

Now, you don’t usually see bands taking this route, as everyone knows how risky it may be. And, for most, this approach has backfired. However, this is not the case with Rage Against the Machine.

Taking a listen to their songs, the music and lyrics complement each other perfectly, delivering a really strong punch.

But for a band that has created such powerful tunes, you would think that one guitar simply wouldn’t be enough.

That might have been the case if the guitar player in question was anyone other than the almighty Tom Morello.

The genius of this man is elusive to a lot of critics. Morello’s ability to use his guitar as more than just an instrument is impressive, to say the least. Listening to any of the Rage hits will show you exactly what we mean.

Morello certainly knows how to balance his tone in such a way that he could go crazy with solos, but still align himself and work together with the bass guitar and drums for that extra girth.

Even though that is pretty much all about skill, having the right equipment surely plays its part. After all, a master of such caliber would need some great guitars, amps, and pedals to use his full potential.

So with all this in mind, we thought that we could do a brief overview of Tom Morello’s guitar rig, and talk about his primary choice of gear over the years.

The instruments and the setup, however, are not exactly conventional. Morello had a very specific approach, managing to push the boundaries of guitar-oriented music without using too much of a complicated rig in most cases.

Although not having quite a complex rig, he revolutionized the guitar and managed to inspire guitarists and other instrumentalists way outside the world of rock and heavy metal music. So let’s dig into it.


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Rig Rundown

And just like we usually do, the first point of business is going to be Morello’s guitars.

After that, we are going to quickly jump into some amps, and wrap up the whole thing by going into some details about his pedals and effects he’s used over the years.

For the most part, replicating the essence of Morello’s tone is not that much about gear, but it’s good to know that a relatively simple setup can get you on the right path.

Without further ado, here are all the details.


Guitars

If you take a peek into Morello’s guitar storage, you will see a variety of awesome and interesting guitars.

There will be some pretty standard models like the Gibson Explorer or SG, but there will also be some that are very unusual, like that Ovation Breadwinner he owns. But we’ll get to that.

With all that said, there is indeed only one guitar that is associated with Morello during his Rage Against The Machine years. We are talking about his famous Arm The Homeless custom piece.

This instrument has been by his side throughout his entire career. Here he is showing Carson Daly some of his ingenious scratching techniques with his famous guitar.

When Morello got this guitar from an LA shop in 1986, he went on to pick and choose every single detail on the guitar. The basis for the whole project was a blue Strat type body.

The main difference between this one and any standard Strat comes from the fact that Morello’s choice was loaded from the rear, not the front.

The neck he went with, in the end, was a Kramer design made of graphite, which is a rather interesting choice. Hardware wasn’t standard either.

The choice of the bridge was reduced to Ibanez Edge locking tremolo. Even though this might surprise some folks considering that Floyd Rose would have probably been a more logical solution, that Ibanez design fits Arm The People perfectly.

tom-morello-arm-the-homeless-guitar

In terms of electronics, we are looking at an EMG setup consisting of a somewhat standard EMG 85 and EMG H combo.

The guitar was used throughout his Rage Against The Machine career extensively, while he also used it recently while playing with Audioslave.

Interestingly enough, his first impression when he got the guitar out of the shop was rather negative.

After all, back in those days, it wasn’t exactly the easiest task for an unknown musician to acquire a good custom-built guitar.

The original version of the guitar had a few different parts and was modified as the years went by. Now, years later, it’s his main ax.

arm the homeless guitar

Another important guitar in his arsenal is that black Fender Stratocaster with the “Soul Power” writing on it.

The guitar was made sometimes around the year 2000, and Morello used it extensively during his time in Audioslave.

Featuring alder body, maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard, it has the standard Stratocaster measures, like the 25.5-inch scale length.

big_Tom+Morello+tommorellosoulpowernightwatchm

As for the pickups, we can find Seymour Duncan Hot Rails on the bridge and two single-coils in the middle and neck positions. The guitar is also known for its mirrored pickguard, as well as the Ibanez Edge locking tremolo bridge.

Morello is also known for his use of Fender Telecasters, and there are a few of these in his collection. For instance, there’s the American Standard with the sunburst finish.

But the best-known of his Teles is the black “Sendero Luminoso,” which was his main instrument for drop D tunings.

Sendero Luminoso Guitar

As for other Teles, we have the American Designer edition and the custom-built James Trussart Steelcaster. The latter one is pretty weird, featuring that rust-like finish.

Now, there’s another somewhat unusual choice in his guitar collection, the Ibanez Artist that was custom built for Morello, sometime in the late 1990s. And this is a pretty interesting piece and an important one for Morello.

tom morello ibanez custom as200

First off, we have the black and red finish, which symbolizes some of Morello’s main political views. But what’s thoroughly exciting is the fact that this instrument comes with some built-in effects.

Morello used this instrument over the years, most notably on “Guerrilla Radio,” as well as on Cypress Hill’s “Rise Up.” We also got the chance to see him holding this one during Prophets of Rage shows.

There are plenty of other guitars we should mention. For instance, there’s a rather odd guitar Ovation Breadwinner. He was seen with the instrument, but not much is known about his particular model. They’re solid body guitars made of mahogany.

morello breadwinner

There are some SG models in there as well, like Kay K-20T. This was actually the first guitar he ever purchased and is a cheap beginner instrument.

Nonetheless, Tom still keeps this one as an important part of his playing career. Of course, there’s also the double-neck SG, the legendary Gibson EDS-1275 model. It’s not one that he uses that often, but it’s still worth mentioning here.

He also owns one Gibson Explorer, the E2 model painted gold. According to Morello, he spent countless hours practicing on this instrument.

To make things more interesting, he added a Kahler tremolo bridge on it, which is quite an unconventional addition to such an instrument. He also said that this modification ruined the guitar’s tone.

Although acoustic guitars are not much of his thing, we can find a few interesting ones in there. For instance, there’s the legendary Gibson J-45 and the Ibanez GA6CE which is a nylon-string instrument.


Amps

Those who know Morello probably also know that he’s a Marshall man to the bone. Ever since he started playing guitar, he used a Marshall amp of some sort.

When his first one got stolen, Morello went on to buy a JCM 800 2205 head, which he used extensively until just recently.

The head was paired with a Peavey 4 12 cab, not so much due to his taste, but rather pure necessity. That was the only cab available at the store when he went to pick up that Marshall Head.

tom-morellos-favorite-guitar-and-marshall-amp

This combo stuck around with Morello for a long, long time. He grew to love the tone, including the cab. Whatever you may think about his approach to amplification, you simply have to respect his utilitarian style.

Lately, however, Morello introduced some different amps. One of the few names that stand out is the Vox AC30, the reissued version, and the Marshall Lead 20 combo.

But other than these few shared examples, Tom Morello’s amp setup wasn’t exactly the most colorful one. He’s pretty much a Marshall guy.


Effects Pedals

When it comes to effects pedals, we see that same Spartan approach as well. If there’s a single effect that became synonymous with Morello, it has got to be Digitech WH-1 Whammy.

digitech-whammy-pedal-re-issue-with-midi-control

Ever since he found this modern classic, Tom fell in love with it. After all, you can see just how much of his tone was invested in this unit by listening to a variety of Rage Against The Machine songs.

The most notable example is the solo in “Killing in the Name” where he uses the full potential of the DigiTech Whammy and jumps up an octave and back throughout this whole section.

Aside from his trusty Whammy, Morello also used, and still uses a Jim Dunlop Crybaby Wah. In terms of pure modulation, there’s a small cluster of pedals that include Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Ibanez DFL Flanger, and others.

The aforementioned Ibanez’s DFL Flanger pedal is a rather interesting piece. This one was made back in the 1980s, and no other series of Ibanez pedals had anything similar. It’s a rare pedal and he still uses this same thing for live and studio work.

Distortion, or rather, overdrive, was always sourced from the amp. There are, however, a few simple and classic distortion pedals. The best example is MXR’s M-104 Distortion Plus. It’s one of the company’s best-known and longest-produced pieces.

He is also known for using his Boss DD-3 Digital Delay to make things space-like at times. Occasionally, Tom will also use a phaser pedal, most notably the MXR M101 Phase 90.

He also has a special place in his heart for analog delays. Just like the old Ibanez Flanger we mentioned, Ibanez’s AD9 delay is an analog piece relying on the so-called bucket brigade devices. As a result, the pedal gives that warmer and a little “muffled” tone, at least compared to digital products.

Like we already said, Tom Morello likes to keep things tidy. There’s nothing too complex about his rig, yet he still manages to deliver some of the best and most easily recognizable tones.


Conclusion

You could say that Tom Morello is one of those guitar players who know how to do more with less.

Whether it’s the simple fact of not having to deal with a complicated signal chain or his love for a pure tone, Morello never really complicated his guitar rig all that much.

It just so happens that this type of approach worked out perfectly with his style of playing, and the music he was creating.

That also translated well when he moved on from Rage Against The Machine and joined Audioslave.

Getting his exact tone comes down to a pair of EMGs and a decent Marshall amp.

This combo is probably as generic as it gets these days, meaning that any fan out there shouldn’t have much of a problem replicating Morello’s tone with high levels of accuracy. With that said, the impact this man had on the ’90s music scene is still to be fully revealed.

Rage Against The Machine gave a whole generation a common banner to stand behind together. Often criticized for their political standpoints, they are one of the few bands who stayed true to their cause.

John Mayer’s Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

john-mayers-favorite-amps

In every generation of musicians, there will be a couple of those that stand out from the rest. It’s the type of artist you can instantly know will reach the stars, and become one of the best in their respective fields. 

During the ’60s we had Jimi Hendrix while the next decade was all about Eric Clapton.  Today, one name that definitely has the necessary potential to join the rock and roll hall of fame is John Mayer.

Whether or not you like his music, you have to admit that he has some serious skill in his fingertips. Not only that, but he can sing as well. What makes Mayer so special is his ability to fuse various genres of music in a way that actually sounds great.

With that said, a lot of people are wondering just what kind of gear is necessary to replicate his tone. As you are about to find out, Mayer uses a pretty standard setup which makes it easy to dial in his sound for the rest of us.

We are going to go over his guitars, amps and effects pedals today, which should give you a clear enough picture of what his tone is made of. Without further ado, let’s get on it.

Rig Rundown

If you really think about it, most of the modern guitar wizards can be divided into two types. There are going to be those who are heavily dependent on various equipment to create their sound, and then there are those who like a more basic setup.

Mayer is somewhere in the middle. His pedalboard is definitely saturated with different pedals, but most of them fall within what you could consider as average. On that note, let’s check out what kind of guitars Mayer is playing these days.

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Let’s dig in!


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Favorite Guitars

John Mayer is a huge guitar collector. On any given performance, he will have at least 10 to 20 guitars backstage, sometimes even more.

If you look closely at any of his long shows, he has a specific guitar that he uses for each song. With that said, it’s no secret that he’s a Stratocaster fan.

Mayer owns a number of Strats, including several of his signature models. His very first one was the Fender Stratocaster SRV Signature model which he got while still working at a gas station.

At that moment, he probably didn’t even think that one day he would have his own signature Strat.

Aside from his Stratocasters, Mayer loves a good Gibson tone from time to time. You will often times see a Gibson SG Stardard T in his active lineup, although there are some Les Pauls in there as well.

As of late, Mayer turned heads by rocking a PRS Silver Sky, adding yet another range of slick guitar tones to his sonic arsenal.

In terms of acoustic guitars, Mayer has a signature model Martin OM28, which is also his main go-to guitar when he needs to go unplugged.


Favorite Amplifiers

Mayer’s amps represent a very interesting combination of brands and models. For the most part, his amp setup is dominated by several Fender models.

One of the reasons for this is the pure quality of clean channels on models such as the Fender Band Master or Vibro-King. john-mayers-favorite-amps Aside from these, there are two rather special models in his inventory.

He has a Two Rock signature model of his own, and a Dumble Steel String Singer.

Both of these, combined with a Fender amp of his choice for the day, are hooked up to several Alessandro cabs which are packed full with Celestion speakers

Even though this is a bit of a non-standard combination, Mayer and his sound tech crew figured out a very sweet and balanced tone which is a result of all three amps being hooked up together.

When connected to his pedals, Mayer gets a lot of versatility in terms of tone shaping.


Effects Pedals

Before we get into various effects pedals you can see in his setup, let’s quickly mention the system that he’s using to control said pedals. Instead of a standard pedalboard, you will see him using the Custom Audio Electronics Power System.

The whole idea behind this is to have pedals in a remote location backstage, and control them using a footswitch board. Even though this might sound like a redundant solution, Mayer can actually use more pedals this way while the Power System allows him to save several presents he can call up at any time. mxr-mc403-power-system

In terms of pedals themselves, his overdrive selection comes down to the good old TS808 Tube Screamer, along with the Fulltone Fulldrive 2. Aside from these two, you will also see a Klon Centaur overdrive in there as well.  

One of his favorite stompboxes is the Keeley Katana clean booster pedal, which he likes to use in just about any of his presets. Watch this video demo of the Keeley Katana to get a feel for this little stompbox does. 

Moving on to delays, we see a Way Huge Aqua Puss and Eventide Timefactor.

As a matter of fact, Mayer actually has several Timefactors which are set up in a different way. When it comes to other pedals worth noting, we have to mention the Boss GE-7 seven-band EQ and the Boss RT-20 processor. 

And let’s not forget another one of John’s secret weapons – the Source Audio SA170 Programmable EQ pedal.


Conclusion

As you can probably see by now, there is nothing all that special in his guitar rig that is hard to obtain. You can pretty much achieve his tone by using a TS9 or TS808, a Fender Stratocaster of some sort, and a Fender amp.

If you really want to go authentic, then you would probably need to get his signature model Strat as it comes packed with rather special pickups.

Other than that, Mayer bases a lot of his sound on nothing more but his skill. With him, it’s all about making that guitar sing in ways others are rarely even trying to achieve.

Some might say it’s a bit pretentious to have approximately 40 guitars present at any given live show, but the man loves to be precise with his tone.

We hope this short rundown of John Mayer’s guitar rig has given you a good idea what he uses, and what kind of gear you’d have to get in order to replicate his tone.


John Mayer – Live in Concert

Mark Knopfler Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

mark-knopfler-guitar-setup-and-rig-rundown

Dire Straits, one of the rare bands who had such a reach around the world without conforming to outside pressures or temporary trends. Their repertoire is full of hits that even those who don’t necessarily listen to rock know.

No matter what some people say, Mark Knopfler is definitely the brains of the whole operation.

His guitar skills, creativity, and voice are all on a level of their own. Aside from having some of the best songs in the history of rock music, this band also has a pretty refined and unique sound.

mark-knopfler-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

Again, that is in good part thanks to Knopfler, who has been the main driving force behind Dire Straits for decades. Because of that, we are going to take a closer look at Mark Knopfler’s guitar rig now and see what his regular setup consists of.

As you are about to find out, with Knopfler it is all mostly about simplicity. Even so, he has managed to dial in some of the most legendary guitar tones known to man.

Throughout his long career, we’ve mostly heard him with those crystal clear tones through his Fender Stratocasters. However, he’s also been known for his use of Gibson Les Pauls and Schecters, but we’ll get to all that in a few moments.


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Guitars

They say that one’s first guitar is always going to take a very special place on the rack, no matter how crappy it is or how many expensive guitars you get afterward. That is exactly how Knopfler views his first electric guitar.

The model in question is 1962 Hofner Super Solid V2.

mark-knopfler-1962-hofner-super-solid-v2

He received this one from his father as a gift, which was pretty cheap back in those days. Even though he has reached global fame, Knopfler still has this guitar and is most likely keeping it in a safe and secure place.

We could easily say that he will never play it on stage ever again. Glancing at this old guitar model now, it’s definitely something that looks pretty unconventional at this day and age.

It comes from the early 1960s and features an unusual looking tailpiece and a tremolo bar, two humbucker pickups, one volume and two tone controls, and a weird 3-way pickup selector switch.

Before he became a Schecter guy, Mark was riding the Gibson and Fender train for quite a while. He owns a 1959 Gibson LP Doublecut – a somewhat of a rare model that he sharpened his teeth on in terms of sound.

gibson les paul special double cut

It features two P90 pickups and a simple stop bar as a bridge. The overall features are similar to those old Les Paul Junior and SG Junior guitars.

Afterward, he got a hold of a ’61 Red Stratocaster, which would define the start of his affinity toward Strat style guitars in general.

61 red strat sultans of swing

Currently, this specific guitar is probably sitting somewhere next to that Hofner we mentioned above since it’s pretty special to Mark.

Buying it sometime before the recording of Dire Straits’ debut album, this is most likely the instrument we can hear on the band’s legendary song “Sultans of Swing.”

Check out this video where YouTuber Dusty Strings lays into the í59 Gibson Les Paul Special.

Going over to another one of his famous Stratocasters, there was also a red ’62 in his collection.

However, it is rumored that this is actually a Japanese copy. There have been many theories about this instrument over the years and there’s still some mystery of about its origins surrounding it.

Although he’s not known for these models, there have been a ’69 black Fender Telecaster and a white Gibson SG Custom with three pickups, built sometimes in the 1960s.

Now going over to some other of his memorable guitars, the 1980 Schecter Stratocaster in red is another one of his important instruments.

schecter-red-1980-2

For all the fans of Dire Straits, this is the guitar they probably imagine Mark playing when they think of the most memorable performances. The guitar came with a maple neck and Schecter pickups, which were later replaced with a set of Seymour Duncans.

There’s a 1980 Schecter Strat that he got it in the early ’80s. The guitar was played all the way through the decade, up to the early ’90s.

There have also been some other Schecter guitars in his arsenal, including a 1984 Telecaster that he used on “Cal”, which is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, released in 1984.

After using Schecters for a significant portion of his career, Knopfler later switched over to a mix of Pensa-Suhr, Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Strats.

There have also been other interesting guitars in his collection, like the Steinberger GL2 Standard. However, none of these guitars were as notable as the ones we mentioned above.


Acoustic guitars

But of course, we should not forget about his extensive use of acoustic guitars over the years. National Tricone and ’37 National Duolian Resonator are some of the most interesting instruments in his collection.

Especially the Duolian Resonator, which he got back in 1978 from Steve Phillips. The two of them actually performed under the name The Duolian String Pickers for a while.

This guitar was also used on Knopfler’s 1982 song “Telegraph Road” as well as his 1980 tune “Romeo and Juliet”.

Mark’s Martin D18, made in the 1930s, stands out as one of his favorite instruments of all time. As Mr. Knopfler explained once, this guitar has its own character and that vintage dry tone.

martin d-18 mark knopfler

As for the other acoustic guitars, he was mostly focused on Martin and Gibson guitars and he used them on numerous occasions throughout his career.


Amps

Mark’s choice of amps is a pretty interesting one. If you’ve listened to more than one album of Dire Straits, you probably have a clear enough picture when it comes to his tone. Interestingly, he used a number of different amps to get all those different types of tone.

Fender Vibrolux comes to mind as the first important amp. It was used for their first album, while it came to foreground the most on the “Sultans of Swing.”

Next amplifier that is worth talking about is the Mesa Boogie Mark II.

This one was Mark’s choice for “Brothers in Arms” album, along with the Marshall JTM45. Speaking of which, that JTM45 is responsible for the crisp tone we heard on the song “Money For Nothing”.

marshall jtm45

This is, by far, one of the company’s most famous products and one of the most diverse amps. It’s been designed after the legendary Fender Bassman amp model.

Here’s a quick demo of the Mesa Boogie Mark II.

When it comes to his main rig in more recent years, Soldano SLO100 comes up every time. It appears that Knopfler settled down on this model and decided to use it as his foundation.

This 100-watt amp is known for its great sound and great looks. First released back in the late 1980’s, it’s been used by guitar players from softer genres, all the way to crushing heavy metal.

But although Mark started his guitar playing career way back in the 1960s, he’s certainly open to new technology which is rather unusual for musicians of his age. It has been revealed in 2019 that Knopfler got into the world of digital modelling amps.

The amp (or should we say effects processor) in question is Kemper, which has also been praised by many other guitar masters, including Steve Vai.

Although somewhat of an unusual turn of events to witness him play through this, Kemper definitely manages to recreate the tone of various guitar amps, both older and newer ones.

products_head-bl-front_1280

Besides, it is way more practical for taking on those long tours overseas since it’s compact, does not require expensive maintenance, and brings more consistency. And the fact that Mark’s decision to start using it is clearly a proof of Kemper’s greatness.

Some other amps have also been present in his various rigs over the decades, including Crate VC 5212, Fender Super Sonic, Tone King Imperial MKI, Music Man 212-HD, and even Reinhardt Storm 33 which is somewhat rare to find these days.

reinhardt storm 33


Effects Pedals

If you know Mark, you probably know that he is not a big fan of effects pedals. In fact, he prefers to let this guy backstage take care of the effects almost completely.

With that said, there are some pedals he has used, which have left a mark on both his tone and understanding of guitar effects in general.

Morley volume pedal was definitely a big part of Mark’s main rig back in the day. He used it for his live performances, and it gave him the edge he needed when racked effects just couldn’t cut it.

These days he hasn’t included this Morley into his setup too many times, but it’s suspected he is still using it for studio work.

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Dunlop Cry Baby Wah is another pedal that comes to mind. However, Knopfler didn’t really use it as most other guitar players would. Instead, he fixed the wah in a certain position and played it that way.  This is one of the main secrets behind the tone on “Money for Nothing”.

Playing through his Gibson Les Paul, his Shure SM57 microphones were placed in a particular way by accident, which also contributed to the tone on this well-known song. 

Lately, Crowther Audio Hotcake seems to be his dirt of choice. The pedal is a booster/overdrive combo box and a pretty conservative one at that. With that said, Knopfler was seen playing through it on recent tours.

crowther-audio-hotcake

Read our review of the Hot Cake here

Check out this video by YouTuber Prymaxe playing the Crowther Audio Hotcake Distortion Pedal.


Accessories

One of the more interesting things that are worth mentioning is Knopfler’s affinity towards D’Addario strings. Most of his guitars are stringed with one of their models, or another.

He has chosen D’Addario quite some time ago, and he still prefers them over most other brands on the market. Just how much of an impact this decision had on his tone is hard to determine, but we believe it definitely played a part.

For the most of his electric guitars, he’s been using D’Addario EXL120 which are a 9-42 set.

EXL120-3PK-large

Although he’s clearly a fan of lighter gauge strings, his acoustic guitars mostly feature Dean Markley strings that are 12-53, which are most certainly quite heavier compared to his electric setup.

His National Tricone and National Duolian are somewhat of an exception as he uses D’Addario EJ15/3D 10-47 sets on these two guitars.

And since Mark Knopfler has been, of course, a lead vocalist all throughout his career, he always needed a solid microphone for his work. And for this purpose, Mark has been using a Shure SM58.

This particular microphone is pretty much an industry standard. This is not only due to the sound quality but also due to its ability to withstand rougher handling. As for other microphones, he’s also been seen using Audio Technica AT4055.

at4055 handheld cardioid condenser


Conclusion

If you were to ask us what single trait makes Knopfler a great artist, we’d say it is his approach to music in general. Mark’s a simple man when it comes to sound.

Give him a good amp, a good guitar and just watch him completely align everything toward a pretty awesome tone. Sure, there’s a decent number of effects in Dire Straits songs, but those are either added by technicians during recording or in the post-production process.

Knopfler himself rarely deals with that, and that is the way he always was.

mark-knopfler-corbis-970-80

Most of his tone’s character comes from his own ability to make the guitar sing. Mark’s technique and subtle details are the core of Dire Straits’ music. Those who strive to do more with less are definitely going to appreciate his style.

There are certain guitar lovers that like to say that the tone comes from the guitarist and not the gear. Whatever is your take on that, Mark Knopfler could be, in a way, a proof that this saying is true as none other would sound like him through the same rig that he’s using.

Jerry Cantrell Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

jerry cantrell guitar setup rig rundown

They say that each decade has its own genre of music that defines it. In the ’60s it was pure rock.

When the ’80s came around, we’ve seen glam metal sweep the world with ease.

However, compared to both of these genres, what took the stage in the ’90s was a lot darker and it originated in Seattle.

Grunge was a relatively unique type of music whose message reached millions around the world.

You’ve probably heard of at least three grunge bands, and one of them is almost always going to be Alice in Chains.

The lead guitarist and the brain behind some of their most influential songs, Jerry Cantrell, can be thanked for the direction that helped the band rise to its current fame.

Their riffs are dark with elements of pure metal, while the style of singing represented something relatively new in those days.

Cantrell’s vision was crystal clear, and he had no issues realizing his goals. What we want to know today is what type of gear did he use to get that job done.


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Dunlop Crybaby Gcb-95 Classic Wah Pedal W/2 Free Patch Cables

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Eventide Timefactor Twin Delay Pedal

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Guitar Setup

Cantrell is a very interesting individual – both for his music skills and otherwise. His taste in guitars reflects this to a certain degree as well.

Aside from a number of Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Telecasters, Jerry’s main choice in guitars mostly came down to G&L creations.

One of the most memorable models is the G&L Rampage, which he promptly modded by adding Seymour Duncan pickups and replacing the tremolo bridge.

This guitar would later be used as the basis for G&L Rampage Signature Jerry Cantrell model. His affection for what most people consider to be true Leo Fender designs doesn’t stop there.

He went on to get a G&L ASAT as well.

jerry cantrell g&l guitar

In terms of his acoustic guitars, there’s a decent number of recognizable models on his inventory list. For example, he used a Martin D-35, a Guild D50 along with their JF30 acoustic guitars.

Cantrell even played a Line 6 Variax for a period of time.


Amps

His choice of amplification had a major impact on the Alice in Chains overall tone.

Although the number of different models he was seen using over the course of his career is extensive, a clear pattern is visible once you glance over that list.

For example, he has a thing for Bogner Amps, including the Bogner Alchemist and Bogner Ubershall.

These were usually paired with Bogner cabs which featured Celestion speakers. You can also see a Fender Twin Reverb sitting alongside a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier.

However, when Eddie Van Halen gave Cantrell an EVH 5150 that changed everything.

Overnight, this became his main amp and he shows no signs of wanting to change that.

bogner-alchemist

With that said, he has one of the more developed inventories of amps.

There are numerous different heads there, including some Hiwatts, Marshalls, and more. He also used a standard Vox AC30 for some specific sections of their songs.

Needless to say, Cantrell wasn’t shy when it came to mixing things up and trying to find the exact type of sound that would fit into a song like a glove.


Guitar Effects Pedals

Effects pedals are something you will see an abundance of in Jerry Cantrell’s gear.

His pedalboard is mostly comprised of popular models, but there are some in there which are more obscure. Let’s start with the wahs.

Dunlop makes a signature model for Jerry called the Cry Baby JC95. Besides that model, he used Dunlop’s 535Q Multi-Wah as well as their Dimebag model.

dunlop-535q-multi-wah-crybaby-pedal

Cantrell’s distortions are pretty straight forward. We are talking Big Muff Pi sitting next to a Pro Co RAT.

In terms of modulations, there is plenty to see. He has a Boss Chorus Ensemble, MXR Bass Octave, and even the Line 6 MM4 as well.

Among the more obscure pedals, you will find Eventide Time Factor, BBE Soul Vibe, and an ISP Decimator.

Check out this video demoing the ISP Decimator Noise Reduction Pedal courtesy of Matt Manzella.

This whole configuration, plus all the other pedals we didn’t mention, is powered by a single Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus unit.

That model brings all isolated channels with enough juice to run just about any setup.

Some of you will probably wonder why didn’t go for something more professional, and that’s a question only he can answer.

In the mean time, that Power 2 Plus box is getting the job done with little to no effort.

voodoo-labs-pedal-power-2-plus

All things considered, his pedalboard is rather busy.

The fact that you can’t even hear a good portion of those effects unless you actively search for them, tells a story of how efficient he is in their use.

Often when you see pedal boards this saturated, you expect to have that guitar player just drown the signal with various effects.

Not Jerry, though. He knows how to be as subtle as it is necessary to get his message across.

Conclusion

Many critics are crediting Jerry Cantrell with shaping an entire generation and influencing future artists in a very profound way.

His alternative creativity is not something you see every day.

Even though the gear he uses is pretty extensive, and his pedalboards are usually full to the brim, Jerry is first and foremost a master of guitar.

Grunge as a genre is pretty open to all kinds of variations and personal touches. Someone like Cantrell simply flourishes in that type of environment.

He experimented a lot, both with gear and sound, only to create one of the best grunge bands of all times in the process.

With that said, copying his tone is not too difficult. In broad terms, it’s not that much different than what you can get with a somewhat decent setup.

It’s when you start going into fine details where things tend to get complicated.

Not a lot of people will equate grunge with sophistication of any kind, but the truth is definitely something else.

Cantrell might not be the best technical player in the world, but he has managed to create a revolution in other ways.

Here’s an awesome video of Jerry Cantrell giving us a rig tour thanks to Total Guitar.  Yes, its long, but worth the watch.

Jimi Hendrix Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

jimi-sunburst-strats-1967-2_zpss2mfmikg

Ever since electric guitars were first invented back in the ’50s, there have been hundreds of guitar players who have all been considered to be the masters of their art.

However, there is one man who probably isn’t the most technically proficient guitar player who ever lived, but that one man is considered to be the best guitar player who ever walked the earth.

The one that is at the top of every internet list all the time, and rightfully so as his playing has influenced players of all genres from jazz, blues, and all the way to the heaviest of metals.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, we are talking about none other than Jimi Hendrix.  Cue awesome and rare Hendrix solo…

There are numerous reasons why we make this claim along with thousands of other music critics.

His way of handling electric guitar was simply unique at the time. He was a lefty, but he insisted on playing a right-handed guitar turned upside down. This seemingly inconvenient method of playing allowed him to have a pretty distinctive sound and approach to his left and right hand techniques.

That sound combined with his own take on standard blues boxes is what made him one of the elite, one of the best guitarists in the history of rock music.

Even to this day, you’ll hear people praising his songwriting, guitar playing, and arrangement skills. Hendrix pretty much set the standard for all the musicians that came after him.

In this article here, we are going to go over the gear he used during his career and talk about the technical aspect of his style.

Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10 denmark


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Guitars

The most obvious thing anyone watching Jimi Hendrix perform for the first time would notice, are his guitars.

As we have mentioned before, he always used the right-handed models which he played inverted.

Not only did he achieve a unique tone that way, but the whole performance looked completely amazing as well.

Those who have spent some time going over the footage of his live shows and you have probably noticed that he almost exclusively used a Fender Stratocaster.

That is true for the most part. However, he used a variety of other guitars. Let’s go over some of the most notable models in his collection.

Believe it or not, Jimi’s metaphorical guitar rack was full of a variety of guitar models, some of whom were not often seen in his hands.

We will get to his Stratocasters a bit later. For now, let us start with his very first electric guitar. The model in question is a very elusive 1957 Supro Ozark 1560s.

This was a pretty cheap and rather unusual electric guitar which was gifted to Jimi by his father back in 1959.

As fate would have it, Hendrix only got to play this guitar for a year or so before it was stolen after one of his early performances. This one was made by a now mostly forgotten company named Valco.

The model itself is somewhat of a collectible item among the guitar enthusiasts, but just imagine how much it would sell for if someone was to dig up this Hendrix’s guitar and prove that it was, in fact, the one he played on.

Next guitar he got was a Danelectro Shorthorn 3012. This one was a replacement for the stolen guitar. It’s a simple instrument that was popular at the time, featuring one single-coil pickup.

There were some discussions over the years between the music historians whether this was a 2013 or a U-1 model, but it was later confirmed that this was, in fact, a 3012.

1960s Danelectro Bronze Standard

Later down the road, he got into Strats. But before that time, he owned an Epiphone, a Fender Duo-Sonic, Fender Jazzmasters, and even an old Ibanez called Jet King 2 which was pretty much a Jazzmaster copy.

The Epiphone in question was the 1961 Wilshire, and he used this particular instrument while performing with a band called King Casuals, sometime in the early 1960s.

His Strats start out with the 1964 model he got in New York City circa 1966. And that was the moment he fell in love with this specific model. The guitar was white with a rosewood fretboard, which is something Hendrix would go on to abandon completely later on in his career.

His 1965 Strat is among the more notable guitars he ever played simply because it was the first one he burned during one of his performances. This unusual practice would become his signature thing.

Check out PlayRockZone kicking out some Little Wing.  Hear that sound?

However, the most important guitar to ever be played by Jimi Hendrix is the 1968 Fender Stratocaster.

This was Jimi’s favorite guitar, and the one he played the most. It was a black Strat with a maple fretboard. Its been said that he played this very Strat the night of his death. Current whereabouts of this Strat, unfortunately, still remain a mystery.

Check out EddieVegas in this video showing off the ’68 Strat.

Aside from these, Hendrix was seen holding some other guitars at the hight of his career. There was a Bartell Black Widow, a semi-hollow body guitar that isn’t that easy to find these days. He traded it for one of the Stratocasters.

Although a Fender guy, it wasn’t that unusual for Hendrix to be seen holding an instrument made by Gibson, their biggest competitors. He owned a few Les Pauls, the most notable one was a right-handed black ’56 Custom. This one is currently owned by Hard Rock Cafe International.

Hendrix also owned two Gibson Flying V guitars. One of those is a hand-painted Flying V that Gibson even revived as a very expensive Custom Shop version in the 2000s.

Among other Gibsons, there were a few SGs in his collection. This does not come as a surprise as the SG’s design had some advantages for left-handed players who had troubles finding instruments they could use properly.

There was a white 1967 Custom Shop SG that he used over the years. This guitar is also currently owned by Hard Rock Caffe.


Amps

In terms of amps, Hendrix was a pretty straightforward type of guy. During his early days, he was very much involved with Silvertone Twin Twelves, Supro Thunderbolts, and finally the legendary Fender Twin Reverb.

Later on in his career, Hendrix became a huge Marshall fan.

Take a look at this Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve, with playing courtesy of Rocket Music.

And here is ProGuitarShop Demos with a demo of the Supro S6420+ Thunderbolt.  Behold!

He went through a huge number of Marshall Plexis which included a variety of models. Among the most notable Plexi amps, we could find is the JTM45 and 1959 Super Lead.

The Super Lead is a legendary amp, also used by many other guitar heroes of the ’60s and the ’70s. Both of these amps have that trademark vintage Marshall tone which many guitar players around the world still love to this day.

Hendrix really knew how to push those tubes to the point of breaking, which did happen more than several times during his performances.

Here’s Guitar Gear Demos with a great demo of the Marshall JTM45 1965 Plexi Vintage ORIGINAL Guitar Amp!

And here’s Brigado70 playing the Marshall 1959 Super Lead with his Gibson Les Paul..

There have been some more “obscure” amp models in his arsenal that are definitely worth mentioning. One of those is an Ampeg Portaflex, the B15-N model.

And there were also some Sunn amps in there as well, like the 100s. He even made a deal with the company to provide his band with equipment after the legendary Monterey Pop Festival.


Effects Pedals

Effects pedals are not something Hendrix is known for too widely. Which is not really a surprise since the 1960s was not exactly the era of guitar pedals and not that many of them were widely used back in those days.

All in all, there are few pedals that he implemented, with two of those being different Vox wah pedals. Wah-wah, of course, became one of the most important effects in his rig, something he even became very well-known for.

With that said, he did love one single pedal which he based his whole tone upon. That is none other than the legendary Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.

Here’s Graemey demonstrating the power of the pedal.

Hendrix carried this thing with him just about everywhere he went. He is also one of the reasons why this particular pedal became so popular in later years.

Today, Fuzz Face is made by Dunlop and it represents a very true copy of the original one Hendrix used.

Back in the late 1960s, the Fuzz Face was made by Dallas Arbiter. The idea behind this peculiar design was for it to serve as a microphone stand. While it didn’t serve this function, it had a pretty great tone.

However, the very first series of Fuzz Face came with germanium transistors and were known for amazing tone. However, these were a bit unstable and tended to overheat, ultimately changing the tone mid-session. They were then replaced by the standard silicon transistors.

Of course, the robust and large casing would be kind of impractical these days, so Dunlop basically makes those mini versions of the Fuzz Face that nicely fit into any standard pedalboard out there.

There was another dirt box that he used, the Roger Mayer Octavia. This is an octave fuzz pedal, something that was popular at the time.

We should also not forget the legendary Univox Uni-Vibe pedal that delivered some of the best-known vibrato and chorus tones. Not to mention that it has also been seen in signal chains of many other guitar heroes throughout the decades.


Conclusion

Replicating Jimi’s sound is, seemingly, not too hard, especially with the abundance of equipment we have today and the fact that he kept everything simple.  In some ways, you could definitely scale down his whole setup to a vintage Fender Stratocaster, a Marshall Plexi and a that Fuzz Face pedal.

jimi hendrix live

However, those subtleties he was the master of – now, those are going to take a lot of skill and knowledge to get down correctly!  The list of gear we showed you here represents the most important equipment he Hendrix used during his brief career.

You can start by using a Fender Stratocaster, or even a cheaper copy although quality single-coil pickups will help you out in the process. Many Marshall amps these days and various digital modelling units also have presets that will replicate Hendrix’s tone.

If you really want to go old school, an old vintage fender, Marshall Super Lead, and the Fuzz Face will help you out. In case that’s too expensive for you, you can go with a Mexican Strat, a small tube-driven Marshall, and any kind of a fuzz pedal.

You should also not forget about Hendrix’s extensive use of wah pedals and there are many products out there specially designed to help you copy his wah tones. However, even the standard Dunlop Cry Baby GCB95 can come in handy in this case.

In the end, replicating Jimi’s tone also takes a lot of practice. Even if you had the same exact instruments and amps, it’s not exactly easy to make it all sound like him.

It will take time, but closely listening to his dynamics, the way he picked the strings, his choice of notes, and all the other things will help you get there. This is all of huge importance if you’re trying to get it close to his tone.

His skill, tone and overall charisma drove millions of peoples for decades, and chances are he will have that same effect on fans of hard sound far into the future. The gear he used to achieve his impressive sound is nothing too special.

For the most part, it’s a somewhat standard combination of guitars and amps with a sprinkle of thick fuzz. The core of his characteristic tone lies within the way he played the guitar, how he made it scream.

Jimmy Page Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

jimmy-page-playing-guitar

When you walk into a guitar shop, chances are there will be a sign in the area designated for trying out guitars, that says “no Stairway to Heaven” on it.

This might be a silly example, but it’s little things like this that really paint a picture of just how influential Led Zeppelin was, and what kind of impact this band has had on the course of modern rock and metal music and even other genres.

In addition, “Stairway to Heaven” is, indeed, one really overplayed song. But for a good reason – it’s so damn great that it’s just unavoidable in one guitarist’s musical journey.

The main driving force behind this legendary band were two guys – singer Robert Plant and guitar player Jimmy Page.

The way Page played (and still plays) guitar is considered to be revolutionary for the time frame we’re talking about. Even today, you’ll be able to hear his impact in the playing of some younger guys.

He’s a type of guitar player who not only has the technical know-how, but also the impressive creative capacity. His riffs, solos, and licks are among the greatest ever played on electric guitar. And there’s no discussion about this whatsoever.

Our task in this article is to find out what type of gear Jimmy Page used, and how that gear impacted guitar tone and the overall artistic output. We will take the time to look into his guitars, amps and effects pedals.

Hopefully, by the time you are done with this piece, you will have a better understanding of what hardware lies behind Led Zep’s tone. Now let’s take a listen to one of the many, many great Zep tunes, this one from “Physical Graffiti” – the classic “Trampled Under Foot.”


Guitars

The most important component of every guitarist’s setup are – obviously – their guitars. Jimmy Page has a very distinct taste when it comes to the instruments that he plays. Which is most definitely not a surprise for such a sophisticated and experienced musician who started his career as a session musician.

Most rock music fans will instantly recognize his immense affection for Gibson Les Pauls. That is no surprise considering that his inventory of guitars mostly came down to this model.

jimmy-page-number-one-guitar

With that said, there is one guitar that is truly special both to Page and to us. It’s his 1959 Les Paul Standard he named “Number One.”

This guitar is followed by two more Les Pauls that are designated as “Number Two” and “Number Three.” However, the first one is still the most notable piece he has.

In essence, it’s a regular 1959 Les Paul Standard, which is pretty special in itself.

Once Page acquired this Les Paul, there were a number of modifications done to it. Most notably, the neck was sanded down for more speed and playing comfort.

Page, a Telecaster man until that moment, took the “Number One” and swapped the tuning machines along with pickups at a later point in time.

All the Les Pauls that were made back in 1959 are still, even to this day, considered as the “holy grail” of the guitar world. It is one Gibson series with such quality that all the other series strived to achieve this level.

Needless to say, these guitars are highly valued and can sell for more than $100,000.

jimmy-page-playing-a-les-paul-guitar

His “Number Two” and “Number Three” were mostly based on this customized Les Paul since Page was so impressed by what the guitar could do.

Aside from these, Page also used some pretty weird guitars. There’s the 1970 Gibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck guitar that he liked to pull out specially for Stairway to Heaven.

This particular model has also been used by countless other guitar heroes over the years and features one neck with 12 strings and the other features the regular 6-string setup.

Arguably the most unusual axe he ever used is the 1967 Vox Phantom XII, which is a 12 String. This thing has the weirdest body shape among all of the Jimmy Page’s guitars throughout his career.

While we’re at some of the weird instruments in his collection, Page also used somewhat of a rare guitar, the Danelectro Longhorn double-neck.

As opposed to the usual setup of double-neck guitars, where one is a 12-string and the other one a 6-string, here we have two 6-string necks. The only difference between the two parts is that the lower one has a longer scale length, serving as a baritone guitar that goes into some lower tunings.

While writing and recording music for some of the 1980s films, like the “Death Wish II,” Page played on a Roland G-707 guitar.

As these were the times of experimentations and innovation in both technology and music, the G-707 is one of those synth guitars from the decade that were all responsible for revolutionizing the music world.

It can essentially be used as a MIDI controller along with a synth processor unit to create various tones, even imitating pianos, strings, and countless other instruments.

But, of course, one should not forget about one more of his legendary guitars, the well-known hand-painted Fender Telecaster. Being a gift from his good friend (and another guitar master) Jeff Beck, the instrument was implemented on Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album.

This comes as a surprise to some, not only due to the obvious Les Paul affection that Jimmy Page has but also due to the fact that it’s really unusual to hear a Telecaster sound so heavy. Aside from the debut record, Page used it for some of the band’s earliest tours as well as on the famous groundbreaking solo for “Stairway to Heaven” from the band’s fourth album.

Of course, there have been many other guitars in his collection and we could probably write a series of articles to cover each and every one of them. Bear in mind that these are just some of the most notable ones, along with some oddballs worth mentioning.


Amps

In terms of amplification, the hardware list is almost as colorful as it is with his guitars. Naturally, his selection of amps dictated a large portion of his tone, which was nothing unusual back in those days.

One of the first amps he ever used with Led Zeppelin is the Rickenbacker Transonic combo. This is an old piece of gear, a very rare transistor amp coming from the 1960s. If in good condition, some can reach the price of a few thousand dollars if sold today.

This monolithic amp, and one rather unusual unit for today’s standards, was with Page during their first US tour, only to be used for a number of occasions afterward.

Next notable amp that he had in his collection is the Hiwatt Custom 50 and Custom 100. This was his main choice from 1969 to 1971.

Both of these were slightly modified according to his own taste, however, it’s fair to say that he didn’t really change the core of the sound. Rather, his customizations gave these amps an edge of sorts.

Hiwatt Dr-504 Custom 50 50W Tube Guitar Amp Head

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Of course, one of his favorite amps has got to be the Marshall SLP-1959 Super Lead. This was an old school Marshall stack that had 100 Watts of power and two channels.

It was one of the first amps to come with an overdrive. He used this configuration extensively throughout 1975 and later on as well.

Marshall 1959Slp Super Lead 100W Tube Head

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However, the story goes that Jimmy Page’s Super Lead was modded and that it went up to the power of the very impressive 200 watts.

Maybe this was a bit excessive, but we know that Page is one of the people responsible for developing heavy metal music, so going into some dangerous areas was not unheard of in those early days of the genre. Especially knowing that those old bands competed in loudness on live shows.

When it comes to some less conventional amps, Supro Thunderbolt is the first thing that comes to mind. This was the amp that Led Zeppelin’s first album was recorded on.

In addition, some portions of “Stairway to Heaven” were also recorded using this old amp. So it’s definitely a piece of gear of great historic value. Paired with his Telecaster, he made some game-changing tones with it.

However, there have been some speculations whether this was a Thunderbolt or a Coronado model, but the story goes that the amp was modded and fitted with a 12″ speaker, instead of the standard two 10-inch ones.

Page’s affection for this particular Supro never went away, and it’s something he still likes to use today.


Effects Pedals

Effects pedals you could find on Jimmy Page’s pedalboard developed from a pretty simple setup in his early days, to a more complex configuration later on.

One of the earliest pedals he ever used was the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone. This thing had a pretty raw tone, which definitely went along with Jimmy’s style back in the day. It is also the first-ever commercially produced distortion device in history, also used by the likes of Keith Richards and Billy F. Gibbons.

One particular type of effects pedals Page really loved was the wah. He owned a number of Vox models which could probably represent the evolution of their whole line in chronological order.

Notable examples are the Vox Cry Baby Wah ñ the original one developed by Thomas Organ Company, Vox King Way and Vox Grey Wah.

The aforementioned Vox Cry Baby model is the one that served as the basis for today’s Dunlop Cry Baby.

Vox V847A Wah

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Aside from these, you could see a number of different MXR models, including the M101 Phase 90 and a number of Maestro Echoplex pedals.

Speaking of which, his Echoplex EP-3 is something he keeps using to this day. These are, of course, all of those pedals that were produced back in the day.

Dunlop Ep103 Echoplex Delay Guitar Effects Pedal

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Conclusion

Jimmy Page, just like most guitar players of that time, relied heavily on their choice of guitars and amps. That was how they formed the core of their tone. Page’s sudden jump from Fender to Gibson is considered to be the pivotal point in his career.

Those Les Paul humbuckers had all the girth and width he wanted, which resulted in some of the most epic riffs known to mankind. If you are interested in achieving a tone similar to his, you should start with the Les Paul Standard.

If possible, make it a 1959 model although those are considered to be a true piece of treasure and are worth a fortune. However, even the new Les Paul will work as long as you get the electronics right.

Maybe you can start out with some of those replicas of vintage pickups, or some solid Gibson or Seymore Duncan pickups if you want to get the tone without spending money on a whole new Gibson guitar. A solid Epiphone LP with a new set of pickups might just do the trick.

Although bearing single-coil pickups, his old Telecaster helped him achieve some pretty heavy tones. All the Fender Teles today do a good job at making some pretty versatile tones. Even getting a cheaper model, like the Mexican Fender Telecaster, will be a good start if you’re the fan of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut record.

As for the amps, there are some Marshalls today that can help you replicate the old vintage hard rock tones. Or, a more affordable yet a controversial approach, is to have any kind of digital amp modelling device that does a good imitation of the Marshall Super Lead.

All the guitars and all the pieces of gear that we mentioned above are the ones that helped Jimmy Page shape his tone, ultimately giving a solid basis for the generations of guitar players to further develop their own distinctive rock and heavy metal tones.

But it’s not rare to find people who specifically try to get those exact Jimmy Page tones that we can hear on the old records. If you’re one of them, bear in mind that this will not exactly be the cheapest task. Especially knowing that he used some pretty old vintage amps that are extremely difficult to find today.

Hopefully, this article helped you understand the hardware behind Led Zeppelin’s sound and how Jimmy Page formed managed to achieve his well-known and easily recognizable tone.

David Gilmour Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

david gilmour guitar setup rig rundown

There’s only a handful of rock bands that can really be placed in the elite category, and Pink Floyd is definitely one of them.

Even though it’s still questioned whether or not they were the ones who effectively created both the psychedelic and progressive rock scene, it’s a fact that Pink Floyd developed it into what it is today.

One of the musical geniuses and creative forces behind this effort is David Gilmour.

His creativity and ability to transform complex shapes into music made him one of the contemporary guitar wizards.

Even though he wasn’t one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, Gilmour was there when the Dark Side of The Moon was being created, and was a big part of that project.

When it comes to the gear he liked using, the list is not that extensive, but it does include some of the more unusual models of equipment.

Today we are going to go over what this legend has been using throughout his career for his rig, and what type of gear you would have to get in order to replicate his sound, if you dare.


Fender Player Telecaster Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard

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Fender 65 Twin Reverb Neo 85-Watt 2X12 Inches Tube Combo Amp Wine Red

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Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi With Tone Wicker

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Dunlop Ffm3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion

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Rig Rundown – Guitars

As usual, we will start with guitars. In the case of David Gilmour, things are pretty much straight forward.

He found out what works for him early on, and has since kept a more or less same selection of guitars. Later we are going to take a peek at his amps, and finally his effects pedals. Without further ado, let’s dig right in.

It’s absolutely no secret that Gilmour is a Fender man. More specifically, Stratocasters were always his thing.

The first decent guitar he owned was a 1960 Telecaster he got as a present from a friend. It was a stock model, and that is probably what sparked his interest in this particular brand.

david gilmour telecaster 1968

What followed afterward is a series of Stratocasters, with the most notable being his black 1969 Strat that has become his signature piece of gear.

He bought this guitar in New York in ’70s and has played it ever since. Over time, Gilmour modified the guitar in a number of ways.

The most obvious modification is the paint job since the guitar wasn’t originally black at all. The neck has been swapped several times, as well as the pickguard and pickups.

Speaking of which, depending on the specific year, you could see anything from Gibson PAF to Seymour Duncan SSL-1. The final configuration of pickups includes 1971 Fender single-coils in the middle and neck position, with an SSL-1C in the bridge.

seymour-duncan-ssl-1-vintage-staggered-sc-strat-pickup-rwrp

When he donated his black Strat to Hard Rock Cafe, he replaced it with a 1984 Strat ’57 Reissue model.

This one came in Candy Apple Red and was his main guitar until he requested his old black Strat back from Dallas Hard Rock Cafe.

david-gilmour-double-neck-strat-1972Among other interesting models in his collection, the Double-neck Stratocaster has got to be the most interesting one.

This guitar was made specifically for Gilmour by Dick Knight, and it featured two different Fender necks – one rosewood and one maple. Gilmour used this guitar for one tour back in 1972.

fender-custom-shop-custom-shop-david-gilmour-signature-stratocaster-electric-guitar-relic-black


Amps

In terms of amplifiers, Gilmour found a model that he loved all the way back in 1969.

The amp in question is a Hiwatt DR103, which is a 100 Watt head. He paired it with a WEM Super Starfinder 200 cabs that were fitted with four 12 inch Fane Crescendo transducers each.

Interestingly enough, Gilmour never stopped using these amps, and they have remained in his primary rig to this day.

Other amps he used, that are also worth mentioning, include several Fender Twin Reverbs, a Gallien-Krueger 250ML, and even a Yamaha RA-200 Leslie.

Speaking of those Fender amps, Gilmour had a Twin Reverb II paired with 4X12 Marshall cabs, which were packed with Celestions all the way. Just like his guitars, David Gilmour has a pretty defined taste in amps and cabs.


FX Pedals

The staple of Gilmour’s signal chain has always been the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi.

In some ways, he is directly responsible for the popularity of this effects pedal. Later on, he had Pete Cornish build him a custom pedalboard that included a variety of stompboxes.

electro-harmonix-big-muff-pi

Some of the notable models on this list include the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face which is responsible for certain modifications being made on the black Strat, a number of MXR Phase versions, Cry Baby Wah, and more.

arbiter fuzzface

This board also included some Pete Cornish pedals. You could see his tone pedal, volume pedal, and the ST-2 booster unit.

As you would expect considering the sound of Gilmour’s guitar on most of Pink Floyd’s albums and his solo work, there’s a quite a bit of modulation in his signal chain.

With that said, he always knew how to use these effects without them coming across too strong.

Additionally, his pedalboard setup is a lot more complex and includes over 20 different effects, some of which were customized by Gilmour in a variety of ways.


Conclusion

David Gilmour’s music, both his work with Pink Floyd and his solo stuff, is on a level of its own. This guy simply knows guitars in and out.

The impact Gilmour had on the progressive scene is hard to measure. He influenced a lot of great bands that are pushing this genre and further developing it today.

Gilmour’s list of equipment and gear is not overly complicated, but it goes to show that you can achieve impressive results with a select number of effects.

One interesting piece we also have to mention is his guitar strap. He owns the original guitar strap that was used by Jimi Hendrix, which was gifted to him by his wife in 2006.

When Pink Floyd disbanded, it was probably one of the saddest events in the history of rock music.

Both the fans as well as other artists were hoping that this great band would come back together for at least one tour. Unfortunately, that is yet to happen.

Until then, we are left to enjoy Gilmour’s solo career.

Read more on the Pink Floyd tone here:

Celestion Ten 30 Guitar Speaker Review

James Hetfield Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

james-hetfield-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

The story of metal music is a very interesting one. This genre slowly started coming out in the early ’70s with Black Sabbath showing us just how good the guitars can sound. From that point in time until today, metal has been through a lot.

With all that said, there is one band out there who single-handedly pushed this genre of music from a very niche environment to mainstream.

metallica-recent-band-photo

You’ve probably guessed it, we are talking about Metallica.

This group of guys took a new and aspiring type of music, infused it with energy, and spread it out around the world. They are considered to be the face of metal music, even today.

If there is one individual in this band who is responsible for the most of the achievement, it’s James Hetfield.

His talent, very peculiar singing style and overall great charisma are what put Metallica on the map in the first place.

Today we are going to do a quick rundown of his gear, and see what he used or still uses on stage to this day.

James Hetfield Rig Rundown

Achieving the type of hard sound Metallica relied the most on during their initial years was made possible by a very specific choice of gear they’ve used.

Some of that stuff is considered a golden standard today, but some of it still remains somewhat in the shadows.

Hetfield never liked to complicate things too much, but he did have his personal style when it came to his gear and setup.

Guitar Setup

One of the most popular things about James Hetfield, aside from his music and talent, are his guitars.

You will rarely see this man with a super Strat or Strat body guitar in his hands. It’s either Flying V’s, Explorers, or maybe sometimes SGs as well.

The number of specific guitar models Hetfield has used over the years is too long to count, but we are going to mention some of the more memorable pieces from his collection.

But first, here’s a little bit of Hetfield playing the riff for Judas Kiss, in case you forgot what he sounds like when he’s tearing up a metal riff.

Ibanez Ts9 Tube Screamer – Classic

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Esp Ltd Snakebyte Signature Series James Hetfield Electric Guitar With Case, Black Satin

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Marshall Jcm800 2203X 100W Tube Head

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Pro Co Rat2 Distortion Pedal

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The Electra Flying V

James’ Electra Flying V is by far one of his most interesting guitars.

It was a cheap axe he got from a friend, but something about it kept him coming back to this rather mediocre guitar.

Over time, he formed a bond with this instrument which is only possible when you go through thick and thin with it.

james-hetfield-electra-flying-v

In the end, his Electra Flying V was so badly damaged that it wasn’t even playable anymore.

Even so, Hetfield kept this guitar and went on to restore it. These days it’s spending more time as an exhibit that something he would use on stage.

Gibson Explorer

His 1984 Gibson Explorers are also among the most iconic pieces in his collection.

It’s no secret that Hetfield is a Gibson type of guy and that he prefers Explorers.

He has two of these awesome guitars – one named ‘So What’ and the other going by the name of ‘More Beer’ of all things. 

Both of these have seen a number of upgrades over the years, such as active electronics from EMG being installed and more.

hetfield-84-gibson-explorer

More recently, Hetfield has entered an endorsement deal with ESP guitars, which resulted in a number of great models being produced under his signature line.

One of the more popular ones is the ESP LTD Snakebyte. This six-string features a shape that is very similar to an explorer, and a number of upgrades Hetfield insisted on.

esp-ltd-james-hetfield-signature-snakebyte


James Hetfield’s Favorite Amps

When it comes to amps, things are pretty straight forward. In his early days, Hetfield mainly used various Marshall amps.

We are talking JML2203, JCM800, and others. Later on, you could see a number of Mesa/Boogies being included, most notably the MkIIC+ that was used on the Master of Puppets album.

During the Justice For All period, some Rolands were included in the mix, and have remained present ever since.

metallica-amps-on-stage

Somewhere around Load, Reload is when Hetfield started drifting away from the big brand amp and went on to experiment with more boutique type models.

For example, St. Anger was performed mostly on a mix of old Wizard amps and Diezel VH4s.

These days he is running anything from Krank Krankenstein to Revolution 1 heads.

Are Krankensteins any good?  Hear this…


James Hetfield – Favorite Effects Pedals

In terms of effects pedals, there really aren’t many that Hetfield has used over the years. He’s more of an old school kind of guy.

If you can tweak it on the amp, why bother with pedalboards and other unnecessary tech stuff? We can start this very short list of guitar pedals with his distortions, which there are two.

He is either going to be running a ProCat Rat, or the legendary Ibanez Tube Screamer. Both of these were features on some of the most popular albums Metallica has ever recorded.

pro-co-rat2-distortion-pedal

Aside from these, it’s worth mentioning his DigiTech Whammy and Dunlop Cry Baby Wah.

James is a firm believer in wah pedals and selective signal filtering in general. These two pedals are what he turns to when it is time to spice things up.

More recently James Hetfield ditched most of his pedals and instead uses a TC Electronics G-Major 2.

This unit allows him to call upon various effects and tone colors used on their previous work with little to no effort.

This has become his main solution since he has a dedicated tech who operates the board for him.

Conclusion

What kind of impact James Hetfield had on modern metal music is still being measured, but it’s substantial. Needless to say, Metallica is one of the most popular bands on the planet, which has a lot to do with Hetfield’s talent and charisma.

Metallica’s tone is not really that hard to dial in.

You don’t even need a ton of specialized hear to get there. A good guitar paired with a decent tube amp gets the job done in most cases.

On a similar note, Hetfield’s tone is exactly what defines the core of metal music.

It’s not about finesse, but rather that pure driving force that gives the music its girth. Hetfield understood that from day one.

Yngwie Malmsteen Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

yngwie malmsteen rig rundown

When people mention the electric guitar, the first thing that comes to mind is usually rock music and any of its numerous sub-genres.

That really comes as no surprise, considering the fact that most popular guitar players and artists became famous due to their work in this and other genres of music similar to rock, like heavy metal.

However, there are some guitar players out there who decided to step out of the box and take a completely different path.

If you have ever heard of Yngwie Malmsteen, you will know exactly what we are talking about.

yngwie malmsteen live vancouver

This legendary guitar player fused classical music with heavy sound and has become known for his incredible skill on the guitar.

Not rarely will you find that his name is used as a synonym for a virtuoso as his technique and music have pretty much shocked everyone since he showed up in the scene back in the ’80s with his debut album “Rising Force.”

malmsteen rising force album cover

If you want to hear just how fast and clinically precise arpeggios can be, play any Malmsteen song and you will find out in a moment.

Or, instead, you can check out his famous video “Arpeggios From Hell” to start with.

However, Yngwie Malmsteen’s playing style is not the only thing that is unusual about him.

It is fair to say that his choice of gear and equipment isn’t all that mainstream either. After all, he is one of a kind maestro and has his own desires in crafting his tone.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar setup and see what this ultimate guitar master uses to achieve his refined sound.


Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt 1X10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

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Dunlop Jdf2 Fuzz Face Distortion

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Xvive V21 Echoman Vintage Pure Analog Delay Guitar Effect Pedal

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Roland Re-201 Tubatape Echo ( Delay) With Spring Reverb

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Guitars

When you look at most guitar players who have reached a skill level that puts them in the very elite category, you will often see them using rather unusual gear.

Or, if they somehow just use “normal” gear, then at the very least, they will have their own specific way utilizing the gear they have chosen for their main setup.

This is the case with Yngwie Malmsteen.

His choice of guitars and amps is not something that is generally seen among other musicians who play similar types of music. Either way, his own setup is an important part of his image, that is for sure.

In terms of electric guitars, there is only one model that Malmsteen is really passionate about.

If you weren’t familiar with Malmsteen’s work, and you decided to play one of his albums on your stereo, the last guitar you would imagine him using is the Fender Stratocaster.

However, Strats are his thing.

yngwie-malmsteen

Not only that, but there is a very specific range of Stratocasters that he plays.

Guitars made in the period from 1968 to 1972 are acceptable, while anything else is not. His blonde Strat has become his signature item which is probably as popular as Malmsteen himself.

The reason for using only the Strats made within this four year period is the fact that Fender delivered them with a larger headstock.

Malmsteen is convinced that this larger headstock positively affects the sustain of the guitar. But with this being said, all of his Stratocasters are, obviously, heavily modified.

fender-yngwie-malmsteen-stratocaster-scalloped-maple-fretboard-vintage-white-review

These modifications include minor things such as replacing the springs on the tremolo bridge with Wilkinson ones, to completely converting the neck and scalloping the fretboard. Different pickups are a standard for all of his Strats.

Even with all of the modifications, Fender has decided to make a Malmsteen signature model. Surprisingly enough, this is only the second signature series they made after Eric Clapton’s.

Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster comes with most of the mods found on any of Yngwie’s own Strats, with the inclusion of Seymour Duncan YJM Fury pickups.

Aside from a really cool name, these pickups bring a different twist to the classic single-coils.

Voiced by Malmsteen himself, these are designed to tackle both the heavy riffs and the fluid lead sections, ultimately giving an articulate tone no matter the situation.

In addition, the bridge pickup has a bit more output power to balance things out.

Of course, we should also not forget his use of acoustic guitars over the years. It’s only obvious that such a virtuoso would pick Ovation as his weapon of choice.

Being heavily influenced by classical music, Yngwie has two Ovation Viper CV68 guitars with nylon strings.

Ovation-Viper-Electric-Guitar

While these are not exactly classical guitars, their tone goes in that direction with the nylon strings.

As for some other acoustic guitars, he used Carvin AC175 Thinline for a few studio recordings over the years. But when it comes to live shows, where he does often perform acoustic pieces, he sticks to his Ovations.


Amps

Yngwie Malmsteen pretty much became known for his huge stacks of Marshall amps, creating a mind-blowingly huge wall behind him on the stage.

Of course, walls of amp heads and cabinets is nothing new, but rarely anyone has a similar setup to that of Yngwie Malmsteen.

The Swedish guitar legend uses 36 heads and a total of 22 cabinets during his live shows. All of the amp heads are Marshall YJM series, and all of the cabinets are YJM100s loaded with Celestion speakers.

Now, that’s really something, isn’t it? And it sounds a little something like this…

The above video doesn’t show “the wall”, but rather the sounds that Malmsteen makes.

As for the wall, this impressive wall of Marshalls is truly a sight to be seen.  Oh, we found it.  Check this out…

Interestingly enough, Yngwie doesn’t use any of the effects or other features these amps offer. He only works with their raw sound.

On a slightly different topic, his wall of amps is different for another reason. If you come closer to any of his amps, you will find at least four or five picks stuck between the enclosure panels.

Each amp is riddled with picks, but it doesn’t stop there. Pretty much any piece of gear he uses will be covered in spare picks.

But going back some decades in the past, Yngwie used to have some other amps as well. The most notable model is the Marshall JMP 50 MK II, made back in the early 1970s, most likely ’71 or ’72.

This one is a legendary amp head, featuring the power of 100 watts, and it’s been used by many guitar players over the years, ranging from blues-rock to heavy metal styles.

There were also some other Marshalls in his collection, stuff like JCM900 4100 and JCM 2000 DSL 100. However, he’s mostly fixated on his signature YJM 100 series.

Knowing that he’s very adamant about his tone, it’s only obvious that Yngwie will use an amp that’s specially designed for him and his preferences.

Of course, all these amp heads need some solid cabinets. For that purpose, he uses Marshall cabinets with four 12-inch speakers in them. The speakers in question are the 75w Celestions, but in the past he also used the G12 30-watt ones.

The story goes that Yngwie also used Fender Roc Pro 1000 combo amp in some cases, most notably for his performances with the symphonic orchestra.

These amps are a bit difficult to stumble upon, making them somewhat of valuable collectible items.


Effects Pedals

When it comes to effects pedals and other effects devices, things are pretty straightforward in Yngwie Malmsteen’s signal chain. The main part of his pedalboard is the Boss NS-2 noise suppressor and the CE-5 chorus ensemble, all combined with the Roland Analog Echo, Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, and the RJM Mastermind MIDI foot controller.

The CE-5 by Boss is a classic chorus pedal with the possibility to use it in a stereo mode. As explained by Malmsteen himself, he has this pedal on in most of the cases when he plays clean stuff.

Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble review

When it comes to delays, Yngwie has used the Roland RE-20 Space Echo and the Boss DD-3 delay over the years. The Roland one is a complex piece, basically like an effects processor specialized for delays. As for the DD-3, it’s a classic delay by Boss, used by many amateurs and professionals worldwide.

Of course, he also uses overdrive pedals and one that he’s satisfied with is the DOD Overdrive Preamp 250. But later on, he began using a special dirt box that he developed with Fender, the Yngwie Malmsteen Overdrive.

As one would expect from him, the pedal has a simple layout with just the level and gain controls on it. According to him, this Fender overdrive is “liquid sounding” and has no unwanted fuzz, which perfectly suits Malmsteen’s style.

In many occasions over the years, Yngwie has expressed the importance of using pedals with true bypass over the ones that have buffered bypass. He’s also a huge fan of analog effects and their warm “organic” tone, which can be seen with his use of analog delays.

You will often get the chance to see a Fuzz Face pedal somewhere near his effects pedal setup, but that is there only as an aesthetic detail. Which is pretty weird as the pedal is very well-known for its great tone. Either way, this practice shows Yngwies unique persona.

arbiter fuzzface

The aforementioned MIDI controller, the RJM Mastermind, is what he uses to control a variety of effects and signal in general. But what really makes this controller special are the two Ferrari stickers.

Yngwie Malmsteen once said that those stickers are just as important as any other thing on that controller. Without them, it simply wouldn’t work. Here are some video demos of those above effects pedals…

The Boss CE-5

The Roland Analog Echo DC-20

The Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor

RJM Music MasterMind MIDI Foot Pedal

The Cry Baby Wah


Conclusion

The way Yngwie Malmsteen plays guitar and the music he creates are both very unique. His modern interpretation of classical music puts him in a very different category of guitar players.

Not only was he among the first to actually play this type of music, but the consensus is that Malmsteen created a whole new genre of metal, ultimately inspiring musicians of all different style and becoming the best example of modern guitar virtuosity.

Today, a large number of known bands attribute their success to the influence Yngwie had on them as they were starting out.

His guitars and amp setup are among the more interesting ones even today. That wall of Marshall amps is definitely not something you will often see on stage.

At the end of the day, Malmsteen is considered to be one of the few true masters of guitar.

yngwie-malmsteen

As such, it’s not really that odd to see him use what can only be considered a very unusual choice of gear. However, when you are at his level, you will do anything to get that edge in your tone.

Malmsteen’s way of achieving that is having 36 Marshall amp heads running through 22 cabinets. One thing is certain though, it’s not that easy to replicate his tone.

In case you really want to, begin with a classic Fender Strat with three single-coil pickups on it. Of course, any kind of a Super Strat type of guitar with the possibility to use three single coils is a good option.

Getting the signature Malmsteen pickups would also be a great idea, as this is the very basis of his tone. Many times has he expressed his opinion that singles are superior to humbuckers.

The Yngwie Malmsteen signature Fender overdrive will also be a good addition, although you can also go with something like a Boss SD-1. A delay pedal is a must, and something like Boss DD-3 could do the trick for this purpose.

As for the chorus, CE-5 in cleans would be a good idea, although any kind of a cheaper copy or just a regular cheaper chorus could come in handy in case you don’t want to spend too much.

The beast mode here would be to go with his signature Strat and the YJM Marshall amp, although that might be a bit expensive. However, we do know how much of a precise player Malmsteen is, meaning that his technique is of great importance to the tone.

With this in mind, probably the best way to start copying Malmsteen’s tone is to practice. A lot.

Related Articles about some of this gear!

Marshall JCM900 4100 Review

Dunlop JDF2 Fuzz Face Distortion Pedal Review

Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal review