Famous Users of Pro Co Rat Distortion Pedal

famous pro co rat users

If we were to look through the history of rock music, it wouldn’t take long for us to realize the importance of particular amps, pedals, or guitar models that made an impact on the genre.

What’s more, one particular piece of gear along with a random accidental decision can be responsible for a total revolution in a genre.

Such an example can be seen with the Rolling Stones and Keith Richard’s use of Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone on the legendary hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

And this wasn’t the only example of a simple compact pedal completely changing the genre.

There are a few great examples, like Boss DS-1, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, and Ibanez Tube Screamer, just to name a few.

But the one that we’re interested in here is the legendary Pro Co Rat.

Many guitar players like to side with one of the clans – overdrive, classic distortion, and fuzz.

Each of these distortion types has its own distinctive clipping process, which results in a different type of tone.

However, Pro Co Rat sits somewhere close to the distortion, but still not that far from the fuzz territory.

We could say that it offers both brightness and chaos of the fuzz effect, while still keeping tightness we can hear with classic distortions.

Offering that unique-sounding heavy tone, it eventually became so widespread that guitarists of many different genres began using it.

But the pedal’s simple controls and special kind of tone mostly won the hearts of hard rock and heavy metal legends.

This is why we decided to take a closer look at the pedal’s history and see who used it over the past few decades or so.


pro co logo

History of the ProCo Rat

But before we begin, let’s find out more about how this pedal came to be and its different versions over the years.

The story begins in the late 1970s, right around the time when rock music was seeing some significant changes. Obviously, this was the perfect time for a new pedal to emerge.

Scott Burnham (pictured below, right), one of the employees in Pro Co, which was then a cable manufacturing company, always enjoyed modifying different distortion pedals.

craig vestal and scott burnham

After a while, he made a decision to try and create his original circuitry. This was a pretty lucrative idea at the time, as distortion pedals as we know them today weren’t that easy to find.

Interestingly enough, this peculiar circuitry came as a result of an accident – Scott added a wrong type of a resistor in there.

Luckily, the resulting tone was more powerful than anything he’d ever heard at that point. After playing around with this new circuitry, he finally came up with the name – the Rat.

Starting its production in 1978, the pedal saw a huge breakthrough in the 1980s.

There were a few different iterations of this original version, but the real change came in 1988 with the release of Rat 2.

About a year later, the company also released Turbo Rat, with a noticeably fuzzier tone.

Years went by and we got more and more different versions of the Rat. These pedals include Fat Rat, You Dirty Rat, Deucetone Rat, Solo Rat, and others.

Needless to say, its peculiar tone made it really popular among the famous guitar players in the 1980s, 1990s, and even in the 21st century.

But the most surprising thing about Rat is that it’s not expensive at all, making it a great choice for beginners or any other guitarists on a budget.

So let’s see – who are these famous guitar legends who used the Rat over the years?


jeff beck playing guitar

Jeff Beck

Ever since the 1960s, Jeff Beck remains up there as one of the most influential guitar players of all time.

But the secret behind his huge yet incredibly subtle tone is not due to some elaborate rig. No – Jeff just uses a Pro Co Rat pedal. Well, at least he did for a significant portion of his career.

Combined with some legendary amps that he uses, like Fender Bassman, Vox AC30, or any of the Marshalls he loves, it produces a really powerful tone.

After all, what else would you expect from such a pedal when it’s paired up with these tube-driven monsters?

Visit Jeff Beck’s official website


David-Gilmour playing guitar

David Gilmour

If you were to hear David Gilmour’s guitar tone for the first time in your life, you’d never assume that he would use a high gain distortion pedal.

However, he has quite a history of using some pretty heavy stuff, like Big Muff Pi, or even Boss’ HM-2 Heavy Metal that’s mostly known for its use in those more extreme genres.

Another one of these examples is Pro Co Rat.

To be more precise, Gilmour used the famous Rat 2 version. You could see this particular pedal model in his live rig, most notably for the legendary “Pulse” live album.

Knowing that his tone still retains some of the more refined and softer traits, this proves that Pro Co Rat is actually a very versatile pedal.

Which is really a surprise for a device that only has three basic controls. When put in the right rig, it can add that much-needed sustain and attack without ruining the warmth of the tone.

Visit the official David Gilmour website


robert fripp playing guitar

Robert Fripp

King Crimson’s creative force, Mr. Robert Fripp, is one of the most innovative musicians of the 20th century.

Although he’s a guitar player, it’s really hard to just look at him as a regular 6-string rock star.

In fact, he even reinvented the approach to the instrument with his technique, theoretical knowledge, and the practical implementation of both.

Interestingly enough, Fripp is a Pro Co Rat user.

But he’s also known for using EHX Big Muff Pi, so the accent on the overall sustain and “thicker” tones are something he’s very fond of.

And these are just some of the reasons why he inspired so many guitar players in metal music.

Visit Robert Fripp’s website here


john scofield playing guitar

John Scoffield

Looking more into the “old school” side of guitar-based music, we also have Mr. John Scoffield on this list. And this is yet another of these “unexpected” mentions.

Nonetheless, this, once again, proves how Pro Co Rat can be versatile. In many cases, this depends on the other pieces of gear, but Rat is capable of creating very unique tones in almost any setting. And having such flexibility is what makes one pedal so great.

So whenever you hear John Scoffield play with distortion on, there’s a high chance he’s using the almighty Rat.

And if you still haven’t gotten the chance to listen to Scoffield’s music, then you’re missing out a lot.

Visit John Scoffield’s website here


joe perry playing guitar

Joe Perry

Now going over to the classic rock and hard rock territory, we have Aerosmith’s main axeman and one of the Hollywood Undead members, Joe Perry.

Joe is pretty well-known for his extensive collection of many different guitars, amps, and other gear.

Some very valuable pieces can be found in his collection. But even with such a vast and impressive arsenal, he still often used a Pro Co Rat pedal in his signal chain.

This is one of those guitarists that that’s more expected to stumble upon on such a list.

After all, Perry is one of the guys who developed and defined hard rock and heavy metal music.

Therefore, Rat was an obvious choice for a distortion pedal back in the day.

Visit Joe Perry’s website here


james hetfield kirk hammett playing guitar

James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett

And there’s no surprise to see Metallica frontman James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett in here.

Pro Co Rat was an indicator that the music was changing. At the same time, Metallica were one of those bands who were actually changing the music with their unique approach to songwriting.

With the birth of a faster and heavier movement in metal music, a pedal like Rat is an expected choice.

After somewhat of a turbulent start, the band finally got the chance to enter the studio and record their debut album “Kill ‘Em All.”

In order to get that dirty tone that still retains all the tightness, James and Kirt used the Rat. And the results are more than impressive, we must say.

To this day, the album is praised for its innovativeness and especially its raw and powerful guitar tone.

Visit Metallica’s website here


kurt cobain guitar dress crown

Kurt Cobain

The late 1980s and the early 1990s saw another significant change in the world of rock music.

Slowly, but surely, the stereotypical songs about sex, partying, and other superficial issues were replaced with more serious topics reflecting on the society and an individual’s place in it.

And with such a different artistic approach also came the change in the guitar tone as well. It became darker, grittier, and more in the vein of early heavy metal from the 1970s.

However, both glam metal and grunge guitarists used the Rat, which just further proves that this pedal was extremely potent and versatile.

That’s exactly why a grunge legend and an impeccable songwriter like Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain decided to use one of these.

Visit Nirvana’s website here


dave-grohl-guitar

Dave Grohl

Although first getting the spotlight as a drummer, Dave Grohl also became known as a great guitar player, singer, and songwriter.

And knowing he was in Nirvana with Kurt Cobain, it’s only obvious that he’ll use the same distortion pedal.

The somewhat fuzzy distorted tone of the heavy rhythm guitars you can hear on some of the Foo Fighters’ songs is actually due to Pro Co Rat.

As Dave himself explained, he uses this pedal when he’s layering rhythm guitar tracks in the studio. Knowing what Grohl’s music is like, this pedal is a perfect choice for it.

Visit the Foo Fighters website


nuno bettencourt playing guitar

Nuno Bettencourt

Emerging around the same time when the grunge movement started shaking up the world of rock music, Extreme kicked off their career as well.

Although doing something that’s a bit different compared to grunge, they too relied a lot on some heavier tones.

This is exactly why their lead guitarist Nuno Bettencourt opted to use the Rat back in the band’s early days.

And even years later, Nuno still uses this legendary pedal. As he explains, he can’t go without a Rat when playing through any of his Marshall amps.

Just thinking of how awesome this particular combination is, we completely understand Nuno’s decision.

Visit Extreme’s website here


graham coxon guitar

Graham Coxon

Blur is one of those bands that blew up in the late 1990s thanks to just one hit song.

In their case, it was the legendary “Song #2,” featuring that easily recognizable riff by Graham Coxon.

Being their creative and sonic force, Coxon was really conscious of his guitar tone. In fact, he’s one of the biggest pedal freaks of all time.

And in his signal chain, he often uses the Rat as his main dirt box.

And if a pedal maniac such as Coxon loves this pedal so much, that just speaks about how great it is.

Visit Blur’s website here


peter buck playing guitar

Peter Buck

It’s a little weird to see R.E.M. and their guitar player Peter Buck on this list. While most of the guys in here are known for heavier tones one way or another, one wouldn’t think that about Buck.

Nonetheless, the famous musician really loves the tone of Pro Co Rat. One of the most famous examples is R.E.M.’s entire “Monster” album.

Released back in 1994, there’s a whole lot of song parts where Buck recorded through the Rat.

Again – another example of how this pedal finds use in almost any subgenre of rock music.

Visit R.E.M.’s website here


Thanks for reading our list of the most famous Pro Co Rat guitar pedals users.  Did we forget anyone?  Let us know in the comments!

Visit the Rat Distortion website here

Also check out…

David Gilmour Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

Kirk Hammett Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

James Hetfield Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

Graham Coxon Guitar Setup and Rig Rundown

Our Favorite Albums That Use Proco RAT Distortion Pedals

A Beginners’ Guide to Guitar Pedals

beginners guide to guitar pedals

The world of electric guitars opens up new horizons of expression in music. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that it’s one of the most popular instruments out there. After all, there are so many different things that you can do with an electric guitar, making it a very potent musical tool for almost all of the genres that we can think of today.

The fact that it’s an electric instrument that sends a signal to an amplifier opens up new ways for further altering and improving its tone. With the development of guitar effects, guitarists worldwide were given a new tool that would help them to more easily convey their artistic message.

So it’s not unusual to know that many guitar players have dedicated their time and effort in building elaborate pedalboards. Some of them even feature very complex loops and even external controllers to create different combinations of sounds.

huge guitar pedal board

If you’re new to guitar pedals, some things might get a bit confusing. Well, you’re definitely not alone in this, and even the most experienced guitar players have been there. After all, with so many different pedals and effects, it does get difficult to keep up with how things work.

With all this said, we figured we could help clear things up for beginners and do a detailed guide on guitar pedals. We sorted them out by categories, explaining what these effects do, and how adjusting their parameters affects your tone. At the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of guitar pedals and enough knowledge to start building your pedalboard.


Tuners

Peterson Stomp Classic Strobe Tuner

Tuner pedals are not effects, but we still need to include them in this guide. Essentially, they are like regular guitar tuners, only in the form of guitar pedals that you can put in your signal chain.

What’s important to note here is that they have a display or an array of LED lights along with a display so that you can easily see when the open string hits the desired note.

They’re nothing fancy, but they serve their purpose for live settings. You just hit the footswitch, mute the tone, and tune your guitar. That’s it!

However, tuner pedals usually have buffered bypass, which can serve its purpose in the signal chain. Essentially, they can balance the signal and sort things out, but that’s a whole other discussion that we’ll touch upon some other time.


Filters

DigiTech X-Series Synth Wah Envelope Filter review

Up next, we have filter pedals that serve the purpose of filtering out certain frequencies in your tone. This means they can also pronounce certain frequency ranges of the audible spectrum by filtering out everything else. One of the examples of filter pedals is the wah-wah.

Wahs can change the peak frequency, pronounce it, while everything else stays the same or gets filtered out. By moving its rocking part, wah pedal sweeps over the spectrum. We also have automatic wah pedals that change these frequencies according to the input signal, or the dynamics of your playing.

Other types of filter pedals are “static” and keep the tone according to your parameters. As a result, they can emulate some quirky synth tones. An example would be Line 6 FM4. However, these are usually more advanced “toys” that you don’t exactly need as a beginner.


Equalizers

eq700

Just like your guitar amp has a 3-band equalizer with bass, middle, and treble controls, there are standalone pedals that can further shape your tone.

The simplest form of an EQ is a tone control on your guitar, and the most complex examples would be things like 30-band EQs or parametric EQs.

EQ pedals for guitar usually have anywhere between 5 and 10 frequency ranges that you can control using sliders. By turning the pedal on, you change the tone according to the set parameters, and then go back to the original tone when it’s turned off.

This is pretty useful if you need to change the tone for a certain section of a song, like pronouncing mids for a solo. MXR’s M108S is a good example of a 10-band EQ pedal.


Boosters

Fulltone Fulldrive2 MOSFET Overdrive Boost review

We could say that these are the simplest types of pedals out there. All they do is boosting the guitar signal without creating distortion in their circuit. If you need a slight volume boost without changing your tone, they come in handy.

However, they are also very useful with tube amplifiers or other tube pedals and devices in your signal chain. Tube amps tend to “break” their tone and cause that “natural” or “organic” distortion when reaching their limits.

A simple booster can help you achieve that vintage-sounding distortion with a tube amp or another tube-driven pedal.


Compressors

boss-cs-3-compression-sustainer-pedal-review

Compressors often get overlooked, which is quite a shame as they are pretty useful. The proper name for them would be dynamic range compressors as they turn up the volume of quiet parts and keep the louder parts quieter.

Of course, you’re able to set parameters and intensity of this compression. They can also boost the signal when needed, but the main purpose is to keep everything in check and prevent anything from popping up in the mix.

This is why they’re very useful for bassists and rhythm guitarists.


Expanders, aka noise gates

Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal review

An expander is the opposite of a compressor – quiet parts get quieter, and louder parts get louder or just stay at the same volume.

This effect is perfect for dealing with high gain distortions that tend to add that hissing sound when you’re not playing. While it can’t filter out the hissing during your playing, it does keep things quiet in between the notes.

They usually have just one control that sets the threshold at which the effect is activated. They’re simple to use but still require some experience to implement properly without soaking up your tone.


Pitch-altering pedals

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

This is where the fun stuff begins. Pitch shifters can alter the pitch of your whole output or add one or more intervals to what you’re playing.

For instance, the famous example here is the Digitech Whammy that can alter the pitch of your tone as you rock the moving part of the pedal back and forth.

Kind of like a wah pedal, but it changes the pitch. You can hear this one in Rage Against the Machine’s famous song “Killing in the Name.”

Octaver pedals are also pretty common on pedalboards, and they usually have settings to add two additional tones to what you’re playing, one and two octaves below.

They can find uses in lead sections or anything that doesn’t involve playing more than one note at a time. Boss has some great Octaver pedals, like the OC-3.

We also have harmonizers that add the desired interval above or below notes that you’re playing. These can either work chromatically by adding a fixed interval (i.e. major third) or diatonically where they work “smart” and accommodate the intervals according to the scale that you’re playing.

To use these “smart” versions of harmonizers, you need some basic music theory knowledge. Examples of harmonizer pedals include Boss VE-2, Boss VE-8, TC Helicon Harmony, and many others.


Distortion

Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion review

Now we get to the most important part of every pedalboard – distortion pedals. In the world of guitar, the distortion effect is divided into three categories, which are overdrive, classic distortion, and fuzz.

They create this effect by intentional boosting and clipping of the signal. Different types of clipping create different types of distortion.

There’s something for everyone’s taste these days, and the most attention is usually dedicated to finding proper distortion pedals for certain styles of music and playing.

Some of the famous examples include Ibanez Tube Screamer with all of its variants, Boss DS-1, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, MXR M75, the legendary Klon Centaur, Pro Co Rat, and many others.


Modulation

mxr-m134-stereo-chorus-273109

Modulation effects include everything that adds the copy of your signal, alters it a little, and blends it in with the unprocessed signal.

The most famous modulation effect is the chorus that adds a very short delay and alters the pitch up and down according to the set amplitude and speed.

We also have flanging and phasing, which are in some technical ways similar, but in practice produce completely different effects.

Most of the modulation pedals have a “mix” or “blend” control that determines the ratio between unprocessed and processed signals.

There are also depth and speed controls, along with a few other things. Strymon has a great chorus pedal called Ola. MXR has the M134 stereo chorus that’s pretty great too.


Atmospheric effects: delays and reverbs

electro harmonix holy grail reverb

To keep your tone more interesting, you should think of different “atmospheric” effects. After all, you can’t keep it “dry” all the time. For this purpose, we have delay and reverb pedals. Both of these add repeated copies of your tone to create an illusion of a bigger or smaller room.

Delays add simple repeats according to set parameters. You can control the time distance between these repeats, the number of repeats, and the mix between the original and repeated signal.

It’s the classic echo effect. In some cases, pedals also have separate EQ controls for shaping the tone of the repeated signal. There’s anything from the simple stuff like the MXR carbon copy, up to very complex pieces like the Empress Echosystem.

Reverbs also repeat the signal, but in a more “shimmering” manner, giving the impression of one prolonged atmospheric continued repeat. It’s as if you’re playing in a large hall or a cathedral.

They also include blend or mix controls, just like delays. Strymon’s Big Sky is a great example of a very spacious-sounding reverb.


Volume pedals

morley-volume-pedal

While they could be the most boring part of one pedalboard, volume pedals should be an essential part of every signal chain, especially if you’re playing in a bigger band or an orchestra.

They’re pretty simple – you use them to control your output volume. They have a rocking part that you use to turn the volume up or down. There’s usually the “minimum volume” switch that sets the volume when the pedal is at its minimum position.

There’s a common misconception with beginners thinking that the volume pedal can do the same thing as the booster pedal. The thing with volume pedals is that you’re reducing the volume to the desired level. You use it when you’re supposed to keep quiet in the mix.

There are high impedance and low impedance volume pedals, but we’re not going to get too much into technical details about this. Low impedance pedals are more common and they go at the very end or near the end of the signal chain. Ernie Ball has its MVP volume pedal that’s very reliable.


Expression pedals, tap pedals, and sequencers

8StepProg-large

Some of the effects we mentioned usually support connectivity with external control sources. For this, we have expression pedals, which are just multi-purpose potentiometers in the form of a pedal.

Automatic wah-wah, certain modulation pedals, or even delays can work with an expression pedal, but only if they have a separate input jack for it.

On their own, expression pedals do nothing, although many volume pedals also have the expression pedal functionality.

Tap switches work the same way, it’s just that they have one control switch that sets the tempo of the effect. For instance, you connect it to a delay, and when your delay pedal is turned on, tap the switch pedal twice and the tempo of your repeated tones will be set according to the tempo that you tapped.

Sequencer pedals are a bit more complicated, and they’re definitely not something that a beginner would use. It’s a complex controller that has a sequence of adjustable steps.

It controls any effect with the expression pedal connectivity feature, but it does nothing on its own. An example here would be the well-known Electro-Harmonix 8-Step Program Analog Expression Sequencer.


What’s the correct order of pedals in the signal chain?

First off, there’s no such thing as the “correct” order of pedals. There are, however, some standards in arranging your pedalboard that may help you get the clearest tone without any unwanted noises or hisses.

This is the usual order, but you’re free to experiment. The whole thing is open for discussion.

From guitar to the amp, it goes like this: tuner – filter – EQ – compressor – boost – pitch altering – distortion – modulation – volume pedals – delay – reverb. Volume pedal can also come after the delay and reverb.

We Review the Best Distortion Pedals For Metal

We Review the Best Distortion Pedals For Metal

Horns-Simpsons-Drooble

When the gods made heavy metal, as per the gospel of Manowar, one of their first and only tenets, were to play it as loud and wild as (in)humanly possible. Since those early days, cunning minds and champions heavy music have been finding new ways to make their guitar sound louder, meaner and nastier.

And let’s be honest here – very few things in life feel better than when you plug in your guitar, strike that first evil chord and feel the very foundations of earth shake and scream at the tips of your fingers, or when you start laying down a deep, wicked gallop and an evil grin starts creeping up your lips as you something raw and animalistic stirring deep in your belly, and you’re lusting to burst into a full sonic charge, no quarter to be given.

Well, distortion pedals are one of the things that make all this possible.

guitar metal face

Although we’ll be referring to the equipment in question as distortion pedals in the rest of this article, there are a few differences in ways various pedals dirty up your sound, and, technically, distortion is just one of the three effects from the unholy trinity of overdrive, distortion, and fuzz.

Feature Picks

In short, overdrive enhances your fundamental guitar signal without drastic changes, distortion clips the hell out of it, and fuzz clips it so hard that it’s barely recognizable (although when speaking specifically of metal, this one isn’t used that often as it produces a warm, wooly grumble more characteristic of stoner rock for instance).

Of course, there are overlapping areas between the three, but here we’ll focus mostly on distortion and pedals suited the most for aspiring metal ax-wielders. Without further ado, here are some of the best guitar pedals to use for heavy metal…


Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff

MetalMuff-large

The metal successor to Harmonix’ Big Muff Pi has been around for a while now and has proven to be a simple, yet effective solution for metal distortion, all wrapped up in a gorgeous design that just screams metal.

In addition to its name written in spike-y chrome script, you’ll see several knobs that might seem intimidating at first glance, but all are very straight-forwardly arranged and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way around it.

The Metal Muff sports a three-band EQ that helps you manage the gain, as well as a boost mode that really cranks up your signal.

It’s suitable both for gentler distortion as well as producing sounds that might have come from Satan’s own BDSM dungeon, and you’ll find that it works great both with passive and active pickups.

However, if you’re looking for a pedal capable of extreme amounts of distortion, look no further.


KHDK Dark Blood

khdk dark blood

Is there a more metal thing than Kirk Hammett’s signature distortion pedal?

This angry beast is perfect for both fans of Metallica as well as anyone who might be looking to hopefully stand toe to toe to Hammett when it comes to producing killer distorted tunes on your instrument.

The pedal itself looks gorgeous, with a red and black interface with a human heart painted on it. It is perfect for cutting off background noise with an onboard noise gate, but the real treat here is the Doom knob that really brings up that bottom end that Metallica’s sound is known for, letting you wield the powers of metal gods Hammett and Hetfield themselves.

There’s also a Hi/Lo switch which lets you play with two distinct modes – a gruff one for laying the foundation riffs (Lo), and a shrieking one that makes you soar through lead breaks with boosted top-end and sustain (Hi).

A surprisingly versatile treble control is the icing on the cake here. This thing comes with a fairly reasonable price too and is perfect for beginners and veterans alike.


Wampler Triple Wreck

triple wreck wampler

This one may not be a looker like the previous two, but let me tell you, it packs a brutal punch. Straight off the bat, you’re looking at ungodly amounts of gain, which is complemented by – you guessed it – even more gain.

This blasphemous thing was made possible by Wampler’s efficient three-band EQ and dedication to providing smoothly-nuanced gain curves.

Once you plug it in, you’ll realize that, although you’ll have command over more gain than you’ll ever need, the pedal is very easy to temper and lets you play with a tremendous specter of distortion. It’s all about them gainz bro.


Blackstar HT-Metal Guitar Effects Pedal

ht-metal-front-view-large

Coming from the company with a hefty reputation of making top-notch amplifiers for headbangers around the globe, the HT-Metal Guitar Effects Pedal is a product of extreme quality and reliability.

This pedal’s cascading tube gain stages and the tube amp response are revered by amateurs and professional musicians alike.

It will provide you with a sound as gritty as Clint Eastwood’s spit, with organic qualities of the excrement to boot – you won’t hear anybody complaining about your sound sounding “too digital“ despite buckets of gain and distortion.

Its vacuum tube circuitry is powered by a 300V DC connection, and the pedal’s numerous features include 3-band EQ, Clean/Overdrive switch, and a tone shape knob, really letting you play with various effects as much as you want.

The Blackstar HT-Metal Guitar Effects Pedal is an all-in-one toolbox, perfect for both garage, studio and stage.


MXRM116 Fullbore Metal

FullBoreDist-large

MRX has been around for ages, and in their case, ‘age’ most certainly equals quality and reliability.

This one gives you an incredible amount of bang for your buck, and really lays down the foundation of your metal sound. In addition to pure distortion, loads of features let you tweak your sound even further.

Although it is (arguably) the least pretty of the bunch, the MXRM116 Fullbore Metal pedal simply emanates with no-bullshit-just-metal big dick energy.

True to its meat-and-potatoes pedal nature, it is fully analog, with a built-in noise gate as well as true-bypass.

Also, this pedal gets the job done with underpowered single-coil guitars as well. If you’re looking for a really heavy, industrial metal sound, this is as good as it gets.


Conclusion

Distortion pedals are essential tools for any musician intent on wreaking some heavy metal havoc. And after all, there’s no reason not to use one – they’re tremendous fun, and you’ll be able to experiment with your sound like you never could without one.

Besides, not only will having a reliable pedal be a must-have if you ever decide to take your music to the stage, but it will also encourage you to take a stroll down that path as you realize how easy and fun it is to produce sounds that the gods of metal themselves would be envious of.

Each of these five is more than a solid pick, and any musician is bound to find one that suits his taste and budget the most. I hope that you do too.

Recommended Rig Run Downs

What Clean Boost Pedal Does John Mayer Use? – Keeley Katana Clean Boost Pedal Review

If you look at the state of music industry today, you will see that old school rock is slowly crawling its way back into the mainstream. John Mayer is undoubtedly one of the major contributors to this phenomenon.

Even though his music can hardly be categorized strictly as rock, the point still stands. One of the reasons why this is the case is Mayer’s ability to use modern equipment in order to bring back that retro tone.

His gear selection includes a number of awesome pedals, one which is Keeley Katana Clean Boost. Today we are going to check out this bad boy and see just why it is considered to be one of the best, if not the the best clean boost pedal out there.

Keeley Katana Clean Boost Review

Feature Pick

Keeley Katana Pre Amp Guitar Effect Pedal

Buy On Amazon

Clean boost pedals are definitely not the most popular piece of kit these days. For the most part, people are far more interested in using overdrives or even distortions over clean boost.

However, there is a substantial number of guitar players who are sticking with boost pedals in general. After all there is nothing better than pushing the amp so hard it starts biting.

That is something clean boosts do best. Keeley’s Katana offers slightly more than that, though. Even so, whenever it is mentioned the first question that gets asked is why would someone pay that kind of money for a boost pedal?

The answer is simple, because the pedal is insanely good. While there are certainly some tricks to using a clean boost stompbox, it can really make a difference in how your entire rig sounds.

Design

Katana is about as humble as the weapon it was named after. There is nothing flashy about this pedal. You are looking at a standard die cast chassis that features a very clean look.

The finish is snow white and the only thing that breaks up its monotony is the Katana title as well as the Keeley logo at the bottom. In all honesty, that simplicity of design makes pretty attractive.

On a more practical note, you won’t have issues packing this pedal into any pedalboard. all of the ports are exactly where you want them to be. When it comes to durability and build quality, we couldn’t find a single flaw.

These pedals are hand made in USA, making them more than capable of withstanding the horrors of daily use. Just like John Mayer, you shouldn’t run into any issues should you decide to take out your Keeley Katana onstage.

Features

The simplicity of its aesthetics expands to the features as well. There is only one knob on the entire pedal and a footswitch. The knob is used to determine the amount of boost you are adding into the signal.

However, it is a push-pull knob. Once you pull it out, it becomes more aggressive. More on that in the next segment. The real beauty of this pedal is hidden below the surface.

Keeley has designed a very clean and insanely transparent voltage doubling circuit. If you look closely, the pedal operates on the standard 9V power, however the circuit inside doubles that value meaning that you are actually working with 18V.

That translates to massive headroom that is every bit as transparent as you need it to be.

Performance

The performance of Keeley’s Katana clean boost is hard to criticize. Everything about the pedal is just great.

Once you link it into your signal chain, you won’t notice it is there until you punch that switch. Even with no boost applied, your signal remains unchanged.

Naturally, when we are dealing with higher end pedals such as this one, true bypass is a must. However, not all of them offer this level of transparency.

The amount of boost Katana delivers is impressive. When you reach for more, you will always get it. Pulling the knob really amps up the boost, which is designed to be used with your amp’s dirty channel.

If you happen to have a good tube amp, or a fairly decent one, Keeley Katana will really push it to its limits. Even so, there are numerous ways you can use this pedal.

Being a clean boost package, you can add some spark to your clean channel without having to worry about tone discoloration or anything similar.

Then again, if you are hunting for a bit of overdrive, there’s enough gain in this circuitry to give you that as well. Keeley’s pedals are always a treat to play around with, but this one is on a whole new level of awesome.

While we might be a little subjective here, we will say that Katana is probably the best clean boost pedal you can score at the moment.

Conclusion

John Mayer’s affinity towards simple effects has left a mark on what we currently consider to be the standard when it comes to tone shaping.

Keeley’s Katana was around for a very long time, but it is arguable that the newly found interest many have for these pedals, has brought it back to the spotlight.

Now, we should address the elephant in the room. This pedal isn’t really cheap. It’s not overly expensive as some guitar effects pedals are, but being a clean boost makes it seem that way to many.

We are going to simply say that it is absolutely worth the investment. Reasons for this are numerous.

We can even put aside the fact that it is a hand made piece of gear and that it is produced domestically in US. Even with that out of the way, it is still worth the price.

For us, it’s all about that transparent boost, tonnes of gain that is easy to handle and most importantly, its clean nature. Where most pedals add a lot but also take something away, Keeley’s Katana only adds.

It doesn’t take away anything from the tone. That a pretty good deal in our book.

What Overdrive Pedal Does John Mayer Use? – Fulltone Fulldrive 2 MOFSET Boost Pedal Review

 

There is no doubt that John Mayer is one of the best guitar players in the world right now. He has reached the level many absolute legends of rock reside. While trying to figure out his key to success, we’ve come up with a layered answer. On one hand, his raw skill is undoubtedly what put him into focus, however his ability to fine tune his tone has a lot to do with his success as well. On that note, his pedal board is definitely full of surprises. One such surprise is the Fulltone Fulldrive 2 overdrive pedal. Today we are going to take a closer look at this thing and see what kind of performance it has to offer.

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Review

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Fulltone’s Fulldrive 2 overdrive is anything but a regular overdrive pedal. That much is obvious from the moment you see the pedal. Instead of taking the same old route, Fulltone opted out for something different. Instead of just designing an overdrive pedal, they went with a two stage package. In other words, you have two gain stages to play with, making the Fulldrive 2 a very interesting pedal to say the least. While such a performance profile may not be interesting to all, John Mayer has definitely found it compatible with his needs. Without further ado, lets get into the review itself.

Design

One thing that Fulltone knows how to do is vintage styling. Fulldrive 2 looks like something that was made in the  ’80s or even before. We are talking steel plate chassis that has that old school slant towards the user. The finish and graphic design also add to our conclusion. Fulltone went with an all blue design where the only things breaking the monotony are the white labels and model designation. It is as simple as it gets. One of the more logical questions is how durable this pedal is? For all intents and purposes, it is a tank. Fulltone is fully aware of the quality requirements most active users are looking for, and are designing their pedals accordingly. You can put the Fulldrive 2 through the regular hell that is stage use and it will come out the other end without a scratch. The only downside to this overall design would be mounting the pedal on the pedalboard. With wide units such as this one, you really need to be aware of the space and positioning. Same goes for cable management. All of I/O ports are in the back of the pedal instead of the sides, making daisy chains a bit difficult, but not impossible.

Features

When it comes to features, there’s plenty to talk about. Lets start by listing the controls. Going from left to right we have Volume, Tone, Overdrive and finally Boost. There are also two switches, one that is labeled CompCut/FM/Vintage and one that’s  labeled Mosfet/Standard. First switch is pretty interesting. CompCut mode adds a bit of compression to the tone while FM flattens out the mids. Standard mode is where you get boosted mids and is probably the closest to a default overdrive setting. Second switch allows you to choose between the standard Fulltone sound and a new Mosfet signature.

You will also notice that there are two footswitches at the bottom. One is your standard bypass switch while the one labeled Boost does engages the second gain stage. That is more or less it in term of features. Fulltone didn’t go all freaky with controls, making the Fulldrive 2 a very easy pedal to use. We definitely appreciate that. Naturally, you will need to get all of the tone shaping done by using other pedals in your signal chain.

Performance

The performance of Fulltone Fulldrive 2 is interesting to say the least. With two gain stages you can cater the heat to suit a vast variety of tone profiles. In its very core, Fulldrive 2 has many signatures of a boosted Tube Screamer. It is aggressive near the top, but not so much in the bottom end. Actually, you won’t find much of a bottom end to begin with. Mids are easily manipulated and adjusted thanks to the available mode selection. What defines the Fulldrive 2 is its ability to offer a vast intensity range. It can be a blunt tool but also a scalpel if you really want to get down and dirty with your guitar tone. We have found that Mosfet mode offers the best color of tone, especially if you are into more intense overdrive. When not in use, Fulldrive 2 is pretty silent. You won’t find many issues regarding noise. After all, Fulltone’s circuitry is on the better side of the industry.

Conclusion

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 man not be the most orthodox overdrive on the market, but that is exactly what makes it so attractive. Sure, it’s a Tube Screamer in its very core, but a different one. With all the modes included, an additional boost stage and a relatively hot output, Fulldrive 2 is definitely a capable tool to have. Now lets mention the best part. The way Fulltone Fulldrive 2 is priced makes it one of the best deals on the market at the moment. It is an absolute bargain compared to the performance it offers.

Speaking of tangible performance, John Mayer has pushed his Fulldrive 2 to the extreme and you can hear the results for yourself. By doing so, he has proven just how much juice you can squeeze out from one of these. Additionally, the pedal has been field tested by one of the best guitar players in the world. That alone means a lot. Whether you are trying to replicate Mayer’s tone or you are just looking for a good overdrive, Fulltone Fulldrive 2 is a model we can easily stand behind. It is simply that good.

Dave Navarro Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

dave navarro playing guitar

To say that Dave Navarro is an interesting character would be an understatement of the century. To overlook him as one of the most important guitar players of the last few decades would be an equivalent of a crime.

Aside from the fact that he has been in more than one widely successful band, Navarro is also an actor, documentary maker (“Mourning Son”), and he also worked as a reality show host for the tattoo competition series called the “Ink Master“.

He’s written a wild n’ crazy autobiography (“Don’t Try This At Home”), and these days he hosts the “Dark Matter Radio Podcast” with his buddy Todd Newman and crew. Oh, and he was married to super sexy Carmen Electra for a while – no big deal, just a regular thing for a guy like Dave.

With all that said, we still know him the best for his guitar skills in legendary pioneering alternative rock and metal band Jane’s Addiction and his brief stint with Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Although a huge portion of the band’s fans still sees John Frusciante as a classic member, Dave Navarro is a huge part of the RHCP history. While somewhat overlooked, we’re able to witness his greatness on Peppers’ 1995 album “One Hot Minute”.

Remember the song “Warped”, a rockin’ track where it so happens Dave and Anthony made out in a faux-gay kissing scene, confusing millions of fans and video channel watchers alike.


Guitar Demi-God

Dave knows his way around guitars, that is for sure. However, he is the type of guitar player who doesn’t put an accent on flawless shredding skills and solos.

dave navarro playing with janes addiction

Instead, he prefers to use the guitar as a medium that allows him to express himself through writing and performing music.

That is something you just have to respect, especially seeing how the typical mindless showing off of technique and speed have become the main indicator of quality for guitar players these days.

Aside from his skills, Dave Navarro definitely knows how to dial in a good guitar tone. For the most part, he simply understands what any given piece of music needs, something you don’t find as often as one would expect.

His ability to match the atmosphere of a song with a complementing tone setup is pretty awesome to observe. Let’s take a listen to some classic Jane’s Addiction just to illustrate this point, with the song “Then She Did”.  Not a typical rock track you’d hear on your average alt-rock album, by any means.

Naturally, Navarro relies on a variety of equipment to achieve sounds and dynamics like this. As we said, depending on the song, Dave takes it where he wants. We’ve all got the chance to hear him implement his guitar and gear in various bands and projects that he was a part of.

Our goal in this article is to go over the guitars, amps as well as effects pedals that Dave Navarro uses or has used in the past. By showing you this info, you should figure out what kind of angle Dave Navarro is going for.

So let’s get into it, shall we?


Rig Rundown

Navarro’s choice of gear is pretty defined. By that, we mean that he is loyal to specific brands when it comes to guitars as well as amps and pedals.

Taking a methodical approach to gear as he does, allows you to know exactly what you will get. He has built the foundation of his sound and kept tweaking it to this day.

Here’s a quick look at his pedal board circa Nothing’s Shocking.

dave navarro nothing shocking rig

Here we see many pedals that many guitar pedals enjoy using.  There’s nothing particularly freakish about this board, except for the person using it and the album he made with it.

Anyhow, let’s start the rundown of Navarro’s rig by taking a peek at some of the guitars you could see in his hands.


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Guitars

A quick glance at Navarro’s guitar choices in the past reveals that he is a true Paul Reed Smith fan. He has used their PRS Standard as well as PRS Custom guitars, the latter one being his more favorite choice.

Because of this, Paul Reed Smith has gotten in contact with Navarro, offering to do a signature series based on his specs. He often uses the Paul Reed Smith Dave Navarro signature, however, it seems that his customs are still his primary choice.

dave_navarro prs guitars

The PRS SE Dave Navarro Signature features a body with maple top and mahogany back. The neck is also the standard combination of maple with rosewood fingerboard.

But what makes this guitar interesting is the cutoff on the lower horn, which allows easier access to those higher frets, as well as its great pickups – the SE HFS and the SE Vintage Bass.

The guitar’s well-known design is further improved with gold hardware which especially looks great on the black version of the instrument.

Aside from the PRS, Dave is pretty fond of his Strats as well. He owns a collection of Fender guitars that include a respectable range of various Stratocaster versions.

dave navarro modulus strat

But aside from the usual Fender Strats and Teles, Dave also has a rather interesting Modulus Stratocaster, which is somewhat of a rare instrument.

With that said, you will also see a few Gibson Les Paul variants in there as well. To some, it may seem that Dave is all over the place with his guitars but that is not really the case.

Navarro is also known for his old custom Ibanez guitar. Back in 1991, he pawned the guitar but was reunited with it in 2019, 28 years later. This Ibanez holds a special place in his heart since he wrote some of the most famous Jane’s Addiction songs on it.

dave navarro ibanez guitar reuinion

In general, PRS has shown to really fit his style while all these guitars definitely add a lot his music. Lastly, when it comes to acoustic guitars, Dave has been going back and forth between Martin’s and various Takamines.

However, we should also point out that he has a signature Yamaha guitar. Labeled as LLX6-DN, it’s a handcrafted instrument with maple top and spruce sides and back.

yamaha LLX6-DN

Just like with his signature PRS, significant attention was given to its design, adding in some subtle details like the Dave Navarro unicorn logo on the headstock and black binding on the body.

Aside from these, Mr. Navarro has some pretty wacky and unusual guitars in his collection. The one that comes to mind is the Fernandes ZO-3, which is pretty much just a practice guitar.

The story goes that he also owns the unbearably pink Squier Hello Kitty guitar. For what purpose or reason, we don’t know, but some photos of him holding this cute looking instrument can be found online. (here’s one)

dave-navarro-hello-kitty-stratocaster-fender-squier-guitar


Amps

Just like many others before him, Navarro is all about Marshall’s well-known powerful heads. One of his most used amps is the JCM800 series. Paired with the standard Marshall 4×12, this amp is just perfect for Navarro’s taste and unique style of playing.

Among various different Marshall models that stand out, Dave is known for his JCM900. He owns two of these and is so fond of them that he has even given them individual names. Now, that’s a man who likes his Marshalls!

marshall jcm900

The JCM900 is an amp used by guitar heroes of all different genres and subgenres. Knowing that everyone from pop musicians to heavy metal shred virtuosos have been using it over the years, it’s clearly a very versatile and powerful amp.

It takes a strong bond for a guitar player to take their relationship with an amp to that level. Considering how awesome these sound, we can’t really blame the guy.

The only amps that break the Marshall party are the classic Vox AC30 and the Bogner Uberschall.

bogner-uberschall-head-27178

Owning a Vox AC30 is nothing strange, even for Dave. After all, this is one of the most popular and most iconic guitar amplifiers ever made.

In his collection, we can also find other classic guitar amps, like the Fender’s reissue of the classic ’65 Twin Reverb.

While we’re at classic pieces of gear, he also has the good old Roland Jazz Chorus amp, also known as the JC 120. Although it’s solid-state, the Jazz Chorus is one of the most sought after amps in the guitar world.


Effects Pedals

Sticking with the previously established mantra, Dave’s main brand for effects pedals is Boss. He owns a number of their pedals, including a Boss Super Octave OC-3 and a pair of Boss DD-3 Digital Delays.

The list goes on and includes a Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion dirt box as well as a number of the company’s tuners. The next brand that comes after Boss is Dunlop. And what type of pedal is Dunlop known for? Crybaby Wahs, of course.

Dave owns quite a few Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedals, with Dimebag’s signature model being one of his more favorite ones.

dimebag cry baby

While it is a pedal mostly intended for classic shred metal players, this wah adds a unique flavor to the tone, ultimately giving Dave his own voice along with other pedals and amps that he’s using.

He also has a thing for the MXR EVH117 flanger pedal, made popular by Eddie Van Halen (based on some of his tones) and then Kirk also enjoyed what it can do and has been using it to color some of his sounds.

Check out this video if you’d like to hear some of the sounds of the MXR EVH117.

And finally, we have the Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer. This is a staple overdrive which Navarro has used numerous times as his primary choice.

Even though it is fairly old, the legendary design of the TS808 is pretty hard to beat even today.

ts808 pedal

The Tube Screamer had many different versions and replicas over the years, but the simple design and features mostly remain the same, with just the volume, drive, and tone controls on it.

But since having various pedals on his board, it is required of a professional guitarist to have solid power supply. This not only assures good and safe operation but also prevents any hums or other unwanted noises in one player’s guitar tone.

For this purpose, Dave has Pedal Power 2 Plus by Voodoo Labs which can power 8 units at the same time.

voodoo lab pedal power II plus

Dave’s also known for using Dunlop’s DC-Brick.

Just like with many other professional and renowned players out there, Navarro’s rig features different loops and pedal combinations. So it’s not unusual to see a piece like the Selector A/B Box by Whirlwind. This is a standard A/B selector with the additional A+B option. It is often praised for the noiseless optical switching.


Accessories

BB King was one of the first guitar players to realize the potential of light gauge strings in just about any genre of music.

This knowledge was passed on and adopted by Billy Gibbons, who has done a lot to popularize this trend. With all that said, it is not too unusual for Dave Navarro to use Dean Markley’s .009s light gauge vintage electric strings.

DMS2552-25pk-large

In words of BB King himself, it is all about articulation and the player’s ability to express themselves. What Dave does with these light gauge strings is something that is pretty hard to pull off with a standard set.


Final Thoughts

Dave Navarro’s style is pretty unique. He knows his way around the guitar, but the core of his quality comes from the way he arranges music.

The guitar sections in his songs simply tell a story, which is what many guitar players strive for but only a few ever really reach. We have shown you the type of gear Navarro uses. This should give you a pretty accurate idea of the tone profile he works with.

dave navarro moody

Those who want to tap into that Navarro energy can use this gear list to get one step closer to their goal.

With so many different instruments, amps, and pedals listed here, it’s probably to go with basic components like the Marshall JCM900, Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer (any of its versions and copies might work as well), and PRS guitars.

Adding in the Dimebag Darrell signature wah pedal will certainly help in this pursuit of dialing in Dave’s tone.

Knowing Dave, he probably won’t really change his rig too drastically in the future. He has been working on this setup for a quite a while, meaning that it is the foundation of his sound.

And, at the same time, it would be unexpected of any veteran guitar player to change his tone so drastically after so many years.

If you want to hear something interesting, check out this band called Deconstruction that Dave formed with fellow (former) Jane’s Addiction member, bassist Eric Avery.  Stephen Perkins was supposed to drum on the project, but he opted to head off with Perry for Porno for Pyros.  This album is either considered horrible or amazing.  You be the judge!

John Petrucci Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

The advent of progressive rock has created a very interesting niche genre over the years. Much like the classic rock itself, prog rock has evolved in ways which were unpredictable and somewhat even unexpected.

Today we have many bands which label themselves as progressive, however only one has truly pushed that title to its very limit.

Dream Theater is not the band that invented progressive metal, but they surely have elevated it to where it is today.

Ultimately, they pushed it to the limits previously thought impossible, and countless musicians these days cite Dream Theater as one of their biggest influences.

john petrucci guitar setup and rig rundown

And they certainly deserve all this praise. Each member of this iconic band is an extremely talented and skilled musician.

However, among equals, John Petrucci is one who stands out the most. Well, at least among the guitar lovers out there, since his technique, knowledge of music theory, composing skills, and the ability to put together complex tonal structures put him in a category of guitarists where only the greatest reside.

To put it simply – this man is a true guitar genius of our age. There are essentially two main components to what makes Petrucci so interesting.

First, and the most obvious one, is his skill. He is one of the rare guitar players to explore the limits of guitar technique without sounding clinical.

The other factor, of course, is the gear he uses to achieve his tone.


John Petrucci Rig Rundown

Progressive metal on its own is highly dependent on finely tuned equipment. Once everything is plugged in and rolled off, the combined tone of the whole band just has to be clear enough to allow each detail of each instrument to push to the surface.

Dream Theater’s ability to get this done, and even push the envelope in some ways while doing so, has been known for years. Creating music with such ‘limitations’ meant that Petrucci and the rest of Dream Theater required a specific level of skill and experience to dial in everything just right.

john petrucci rig rundown

So, with all this being said, in this particular rundown we’re going to take a look at what type of equipment John Petrucci uses, or has used, and how that reflected on his tone and overall performance over the years. As usual, we will start with guitars and then move on to amps, accessories, and all the other gear.


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Guitars

When it comes to guitars, there is really only one brand that Petrucci really trusts to deliver the necessary performance, and that’s Music Man. So much so that John has developed a very healthy relationship with the company, which has later resulted in full-fledged cooperation.

One of his signature models, which he’s been using extensively, is the Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci JP12. When it came out, this guitar is basically the material incarnation of everything Petrucci wants and stands for.

Specially designed with ergonomics and performance in mind, the JP12 has a pretty slim neck and a radius of 20 inches. This obviously shows that the instrument is intended for lightning speed shredding.

Of course, there are 24 frets and the cutaways are designed in such a way to allow players to reach those higher notes more easily. And let’s not forget how awesome they look.

This whole wonderful experience is rounded up with Crunch Lab and LiquiFire pickups.

Music-Man-John-Petrucci-JP13-900a-1

There are also Ernie Ball Music Man JP11 series, which are a bit different from the JP12, but generally offer the similar type of experience. You’ll get most of the features from the JP12, including the same type of pickups and the same type of neck.

Trying to frame Petrucci’s potential into a single guitar is simply impossible. That’s why he has a number of Music Man guitar series which either bear his name, or are a direct result of his ambitions.

However, in recent years, Music Man made a brand new guitar series in collaboration with John Petrucci. Featuring a few models, the series is called The Majesty.

What’s really exciting here is that this is actually the original name of Dream Theater, back when they were in their formative years.

Some would say that The Majesty is the ultimate electric guitar. Well, this is not that far from the truth as it is designed to get the best out of one player’s performance and deliver a huge variety of quality tones.

Aside from the very detailed body design that allows you to easily reach higher frets, more easily rest your picking hand on it while still managing to retain its beauty, this guitar also has a custom John Petrucci bridge, DiMarzio Rainmaker and DiMarzio Dreamcatcher pickups, as well as a piezo bridge pickup.

dimarzio rainmaker pickup

As if this wasn’t enough, The Majesty guitar has an active preamp in it, a gain boost option, and an option to blend in piezo and regular pickup tones. Now, if this isn’t impressive, we don’t know what is. Hey, and there’s also a 7-string variant of this model! He began using them in the late 2010s, and it seems that he’ll be rocking on them for quite a while.

Going over to some weirder stuff in his arsenal, we have another Music Man – the JP Blue Spark Doubleneck. It’s a special piece he used here and there over the years, with the 12-string as the top guitar and the regular 6-string as a bottom guitar.

Check this video out…

But even though Music Man will always be the brand associated with Petrucci, he has also used a number of Ibanez guitars in the past.

For instance, the famous instructional DVD “Rock Discipline” is where we can see one of the Ibanez guitars he is very well known for, the signature JPM100 model.

Made throughout the second half of the 1990s, the guitar had two DiMarzio pickups, 24 Dunlop 6100 jumbo frets, Lo-Pro edge tremolo bridge, and Picasso-inspired paint job.

There are, of course, a few other interesting models in his collection, but these Music Man and Ibanez guitars are what he is mostly remembered for.


Amps

Petrucci’s obsession and drive when it comes to building a perfect guitar, is surprisingly not present in his choice of amps. In this area, Petrucci follows that old adage which states that you should fix something that isn’t broken.

Ever since he first heard MesaBoogie amps, it was pretty much a done deal. On any given day, you will find him with two Mark IVs hooked to a set of MesaBoogie 4◊12 cabs. These are of course loaded with Celestion vintage 30 speakers.

Here is John Petrucci talking about the JP-2C.  Check it out!

This is his standard rig. With that said, he has been using Mark IIC+ heads in the past, as well as Mark Vs.

Even so, you will rarely find an amp that isn’t a MesaBoogie in his inventory. The IIC+ is basically the amp he based his signature model JP-2C on and it is the same exact model that Metallica’s legendary “Master of Puppets” album was recorded on. This particular record is what inspired him the most in achieving his own kind of tone.

The JP-2C is a very advanced tube guitar amplifier, featuring three channels, specially designed gain controls, and (the most exciting part) two completely independent 5-band EQ’s that work with all three of the channels.

Just imagine the world of possibilities you get with it: you have three channels with their own individual 3-band EQs, and with each of these channels you have two independent 5-band graphic EQs.

And we haven’t even covered all the details and additional little features of the JP-2C, but you probably get the idea of what a beast of an amp this one is. Yeah, the price is between $2,500 and $3,000 depending on the exact model, but it’s definitely worth it.


Effects Pedals

Due to the nature of progressive metal, Petrucci has been prone to using a whole variety of effects pedals. His pedalboard is not as busy as some, but it’s interesting and most definitely exciting enough to get into here.

Some of the regulars which you can see on his board during any given performance are the Ibanez Keeley mod Tube Screamer TS9DX Flexi overdrive pedal, the good old classic Boss DS-1 distortion pedal, MXR Stereo Chorus, TC Electronic 1210 Spatial Expander Stereo Chorus Flanger and many more.

john petrucci pedalboard

With that said, Petrucci likes to use a whole variety of rack mounted effects and processors. Standalone pedals are great to an extent, but the level of sonic work Petrucci is doing requires something a bit more flexible and powerful.

For example, instead of using a standard reverb pedal, Petrucci will have his TC Electronics 3000 multi-effects processor, hooked up on the rack. There’s also a whole lot of preamps and other rack mounted units present during every one of his stage performances.

tc-electronic-m3000-425854

Going over to some other rack-mounted effects, there’s a special piece by Dunlop called Cry Baby DCR-2SR.

Now, while most people imagine wah as standalone pedals, this is a very intricate (and fairly expensive) piece for pro-tier musicians.

Unlike standard wah pedals, this rack-mounted effect unit has an abundance of controls and a very detailed EQ that allows you to fully customize your wah tone.

As for other pedals, it’s pretty clear that John is a huge fan of TC Electronic’s products. There’s the PolyTune tuner, the Corona Chorus, Shaker Vibrato, Stereo Chorus Flanger, and the Vortex Flanger.

Here’s a demo of the Vortex Flanger…

He also has one signature product with TC Electronic, The Dreamscape. This is essentially a multi-effects modulation pedal, giving players an abundance of vibrato, chorus, flanger, and other tones.

As a side note, John was one of the first guitar players to really popularize the use of Dunlop’s Jazz III picks. Before he came along, these were used mostly by musicians looking for that heavy attack. These days, Dunlop Jazz III is more or less the quintessential metal pick.

Being such a virtuosic player, it’s only obvious that John’s choice of string bears a huge significance for his performance and tone. Being so satisfied with Ernie Ball Music Man, he also uses the company’s well-known Slinky strings.


Final Thoughts

What makes Dream Theater so special is the fact that every single band member is on the very edge of their instrumentís skill range. That isnít all that surprising once you learn about all of their backgrounds.

Petrucci stood out in this elite company due to his ability to convey emotion through technically sound guitar sections. He can blow your mind with his speed and complexity, but at the same time tell a story with his music.

john petrucci guitar setup and rig rundown

As cliche as that sounds, finding a guitar player capable of performing at such a level is pretty rare. To figure out his tone, one must first practice enough to get a hold of the proper guitar technique and relentlessly work on their chops.

But even if you do have the skills, replicating the tone might not be the easiest task here. First off, most of the gear that we mentioned here, which is of huge importance to his overall tone, is quite expensive.

Take a look at The Majesty that he’s using – it’s an instrument that not everyone can acquire and is mostly aimed at professional musicians.

And then we have the Mesa Boogie JP-2C amp head, which is also another high-end product.

Generally speaking, if you are trying to figure out how to get that Dream Theater sound for yourself, we can recommend that you find yourself a Music Man guitar, and possibly a pair of Petrucci’s set of pickups.

As for the amps, a potentially effective alternative would be to get yourself a quality digital amp modeller, like Kemper or Axe-Fx, that can roughly replicate some of his gear.

If these are just not your thing, then there are some tube amplifiers that might be of use here. We can recommend something like a classic Marshall stack further enhanced with a Tube Screamer or any of its clones.

Jack White Guitar Setup & Rig Rundown

jack-white-1972-fender-twin-reverb

When The White Stripes first appeared, they created a lot of noise on the scene. Aside from their music, the nature of this band attracted a lot of attention.

Jack White and his “sister” Meg showed the world that rock is can be simple and minimalist in terms of how many people it takes to rock out, and how complex the music has to be.

jack-white-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

With that said, Jack is a guitar prodigy. Not only is his skill up there with the greats, but his tone is always on point. If you listen to any of their songs, the guitar never feels out of place.

Being able to adjust your tone to the music like that takes some serious know-how.

However, it also takes the right equipment. Reproducing Jack White’s vibe might seem easy from a distance, but that perception quickly changes when you go into details.

jack white picture

After all, The White Stripes were a duo formation, and Jack managed to keep the tone full, despite being just one guitarist going up against the drums, without any support from the bass whatsoever.

Those who are experienced guitarists know that this is far from an easy task, both from a musical and tone-shaping standpoint.

So in this article, we are going to show you what type of guitars and gear can be found in Jack White’s inventory at any given moment, which should clear up some questions regarding his tone.

After reading this guide, you’ll get a fuller picture and it will be easier for you to find ways on how to reproduce the way that Jack White sounds.

This might not be the easiest task, but it certainly isn’t impossible either.


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Rig Rundown

jack-white-guitar-rig-rundown

By listening to The White Stripes, Jack White’s solo records, as well as a project like The Raconteurs, it’s not hard to figure out that Jack White has a pretty vintage approach to his music.

What he is creating is the rawest form of rock you can get right now.

With that in mind, it is not a surprise that Jack is a fan of vintage guitars and limited use of effects pedals.

We are going to start this gear overview by checking out his guitars. There’s some pretty exciting stuff to be found in there.

After we’re done with that, we will then move to his effects pedals and amps.


Guitars

Without too much exaggeration, we can easily say that Jack White’s guitar room looks like a proper guitar museum. He owns some pretty rare models, as well as the good old classics, or just some unusual oddballs.

jack white guitar collection

Generally speaking, in terms of brands, you will find Fenders, Gibsons, Gretschs but also more obscure Crestwoods, and Keys.

When it comes to specific models Jack is commonly associated with, his latest guitar of choice is a 1937 Gibson L-1 – a truly rare guitar with a character of its own.

1937 Gibson L-1 Acoustic

There’s also a Gibson F-4 mandolin in there as well.

Gretsch models which he is fond of include a White Penguin, Triple Jet, one Gretsch Anniversary Jr among others.

You’ll also find a piece like Gretsch’s G6134, G6128TCG, G6118T, G6199 Billy-Bo Jupiter, or even an acoustic, like G6022.

Jack White and his Gretsch G6199 Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird Guitar

Most of his electric guitars seem to be semi-hollow or hollow-body models, but there are also two Fender Telecasters in there to break up this monotony, both with Bigsby bridges.

For instance, we can also find Fender’s Highway One Telecaster in his collection. Another classic solid body is a Gibson SG Standard, but it’s not something that he uses that often.

Fender's Highway One Telecaster

However, in more recent years, he pretty much surprised everyone by getting himself a guitar like EVH Wolfgang USA Signature.

As far as EVH guitars go (which is Eddie Van Halen’s guitar brand), they’re largely associated with the decades-long virtuosic shred movement.

While Jack White is most certainly a capable musician, he doesn’t fall into this particular category, and some guitar lovers found this choice of instrument to be a bit too weird.

Nonetheless, Jack expressed his admiration toward this instrument, most notably due to its ergonomic qualities and tonal versatility.

Going back to his classic vintage and vintage-inspired pieces, we have Harmony Rocket hollow-body guitar that he mostly used during his time in The White Stripes.

Then we have the Danelectro Doubleneck Baritone and Standard guitar, something that goes back to the oldest days of rock music. It’s a somewhat rare and unusual piece.

Arguably the weirdest instrument in his arsenal is the Montgomery Ward Airline 1964 Res-O-Glass guitar. It’s the instrument that he used extensively during his time in The White Stripes, and it was his primary weapon of choice.

Montgomery Ward Airline 1964 Res-O-Glass jack white

To add to the list of his acoustics, we can also find stuff like Gibson Hummingbird and Gibson J-160 in there.

Anyhow, we could go on for days about all his gear, but these are some of the most notable and interesting instruments that we thought were worth mentioning.


Amps

Unlike many other guitar players which have reached the level of popularity like Jack White, his selection of amps is pretty straightforward.

We are talking a 1970s Fender Twin Reverb and a pair of Sears Silvertone 100 Watt combos. He sometimes uses different amps, but this configuration is what his main rig is consisted of.

Sears Silvertone 100 Watt

Fender Twin Reverb’s tone is definitely a popular choice these days as it was when this amp first appeared. Jack obviously found what works for him, and follows that logic that you simply shouldn’t fix something that isn’t broken.

Despite the odd decision to use these two amps for most of his work, it is worth noting that the tone he is running is partially influenced by his amps.

On occasion, he also used the legendary Fender Bassman, but that still falls into this old classic vintage Fender category.

Nonetheless, there have been some other interesting pieces that we were able to find in his rig. For instance, a great example comes with the RCA Clubmaster, which is a pretty unusual decades-old amp.

RCA Clubmaster vintage amp

However, this is nothing really that unusual for Jack White, as he’s pretty much known for collecting weird amps and guitars.

Speaking of weird, he also had an actual custom rotary cabinet speaker built for him. This was back in the second half of the 2000s, and he used this Hammond Leslie 3300 for one of The White Stripes tours back then.

Maybe not as “vintage,” but still a vintage-oriented piece, we have the 15-watt Sonic Machine Factory combo amp. This one comes from the 2000s and was made by Mark Sampson and Rick Hamel for a limited time.

Sonic Machine Factory combo amp

At the same time, many are not even that familiar with the brand. But if you do stumble upon one of these and feel like buying it, you’d probably have to pay about $2,000 or more. It’s a true collector’s item.


FX Pedals

While Jack might not be using a whole bunch of what could be considered modern effects pedals, he does have a pretty decent pedalboard.

You can find classics such as the Digitech Whammy IV on there, an MXR Micro-Amp and a Boss CS-3 compressor.

The most noticeable part of his effects arsenal has to be the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. This is his preferred dirt box and one that you can hear on the majority of The White Stripe’s recordings.

Of course, Jack White became known for his use of the Digitech Whammy.

jack white digitech whammy

In fact, this is exactly the piece of gear he used to create that unusual bass tone, that actually doesn’t come from a bass guitar, on The White Stripe’s legendary hit “Seven Nation Army.”

Aside from these, he owns some boutique pedals as well. We are talking Zvex Woolly Mammoth which he used on several occasions, as well as a piece like Voodoo Lab Tremolo.

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Zvex is a smaller company, but they have plenty of great stuff in their collection. The Wooly Mammoth is a very unique fuzz effect, and we can hear Jack use it on “Another Way To Die,” a song that he recorded for the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”

We can also hear him use the Mammoth with The Dead Weather – a rock supergroup that he occasionally works with.

Another interesting thing is that Jack’s pedalboard is painted in red and all his pedals are either red or white.

It just so happens that most of the pedals he uses are fitting this aesthetic requirement quite comfortably, although he is known to paint the pedals as well. Hey, if it works for him…

How much of the impact guitar effects have on his tone, and Jack White’s music in general, depends on which song or album you are listening at any given moment.

It’s fair to say that Jack likes to keep things simple and relies more on what he can get from the guitar and the amp he is using.


Microphones

Obviously, since Jack White is also a great and unique-sounding singer, we thought it would be nice to mention a few of the microphones that he’s been using over the years.

Looking into his collection, we see somewhat of a similar pattern as we see with his guitars, amps, and pedals – there’s plenty of vintage and vintage-oriented stuff in there.

A great example is his AEA R44CX, which is – to be perfectly honest – an astronomically priced microphone.

AEA R44CX

We also have Sennheiser’s E906, which is (definitely) a more cost-friendly option – a dynamic mic with the classic cardioid pattern.

While we’re at good-quality dynamic mics, Shure’s SM7B is another great one in his collection, but that’s more of a studio mic.

But as if the aforementioned AEA wasn’t expensive enough, Jack has Neumann U67 in his collection.

x1_U-67-with-Z-48_Neumann-Studio-Tube-Microphone_G

Considered by many to be one of the best large-diaphragm condenser mics, this is one of the company’s best-selling and longest-running products.


Conclusion

The White Stripes are among the rare authentic-sounding bands you can listen to today, even though they’ve broken up.

This combination of two extremely talented people has rightfully gained a lot of attention over the years. Meg is killing it on drums while Jack is just impressive both as a guitar player and a vocalist.

With his other projects, Jack has branched out a lot and has tried many different styles, but his guitar playing is always a huge focus.

What really makes his style of playing guitar special is the fact that he likes to mix things up from song to song. This applies to the nature of the riffs as well as the color of his tone.

Sometimes he’ll dial in that standard overdrive tone with scooped mids and lows, while other times he goes harder on the bass. From clean to dirty, almost no gain to full-on gain saturation, Jack White keeps surprising with every new song.

jack-white-playing-live

If you are interested in replicating the tone he uses most often, you will either have to dig deep into vintage guitars or find something modern which fits the description.

Semi-hollow models are going to be your best bet, that is for sure. In terms of amps and effects pedals, it all comes down to a good vintage overdrive and a decent set of tubes. Big Muff Pi combined with a compressor of some kind should get the job done in most cases.

If you’re feeling super ambitious and experimental, then a Digitech Whammy can be a good addition. But if you really want to fully replicate his tones, this might be a very expensive pursuit.

As we’ve already explained, he has some very pricy guitars, amps, and effects in his arsenal. Just imagine how high the prices for those vintage Fenders can get.

But at the end of the day, Jack managed to infuse a rather simple concept with a type of complexity of his own. It’s not about how what you have but how you use it – that seems to be his ideology.

James Munky Shaffer Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

james-munky-shaffer-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

While nu metal was not really all that new at the time, Korn definitely stirred up the waters when they showed up. They have introduced a whole new tone to the game, with their super down-tuned bass lines and driving riffs.

The public responded accordingly., giving the band enough attention to launch them into a stardom.

Aside from Jonathan Davis and his piercing vocals, it’s fair to say that James ‘Munky’ Shaffer had a lot to do with designing and shaping the overall tone of the band.

When Head left, it was Shaffer who kept the band together, rewriting just about every song they’ve had so it could be played by him alone.

No matter what you think about this genre of music or Korn as a band, doing what Munky did and doing it successfully takes some skill.

The effort eventually paid off when Head returned and the band more or less continued where they stopped.

Due to his rather unique tone, we wanted to check out what type of gear Shaffer has been using and still does. In many ways knowing this piece of information is key to understanding Korn and where their sound comes from.


James “Munky” Shaffer – Rig Rundown

Shaffer and Welch did something not many guitar players even considered doing before. They have managed to write guitar lines which tell a story, while at the same time leaving enough space for Arvizu to just pave the way with his bass guitar.

The resulting tone is something that can smash a solid rock into pieces, only countered by Jonathan’s balanced vocals. Achieving this type of harmony is not easy, especially if you don’t have the right gear for the job.

We are going to start the rundown of Munky’s favorite equipment with a quick look at his guitars, later we are going to focus on the amps, and finally his effects pedals.


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Guitars

When it comes to guitars, Shaffer is known for sticking with Ibanez through thick and thin.

With that said, it’s just any Ibanez that he found suitable for his intended application – it’s the K7. This seven string model had all the girth Shaffer needed to create those low, hard-hitting tones that Korn eventually became famous for.

james-munky-shaffer-ibanez-k7

However, K7 is just one of many Ibanez models he as. There’s a K14, an RG8 and even the UV7BK which is also known as the Steve Vai signature model. That K7 and K14 have been developed with his input, and needless to say, they are brutal guitars in every way.

What surprises a lot of people is the fact that Munky also has a taste for Gibsons and Fenders. He owns a 1964 Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul BFG, and even an elusive Gibson lap steel guitar.

Can you even imagine Shaffer rocking a Strat? Neither can we, but a musician of his caliber deserves a lot more leeway when it comes to taste in guitars. There’s no doubt that Shaffer is capable of a lot more than he lets on.

Munky also designed his own Ibanez signature APEX series of guitars, including the 200 and the 20, which he talks about in the video below.


Amps

If his guitars are any indicator, Shaffer is a straight shooter. He finds what works and sticks to it.

This policy definitely applies to his amps as well. For the most part, the tone and distortion you hear in the majority of Korn songs come straight from the tubes of a Messa/Boogie Tripple Rectifier.

Three of them to be more exact. However, these are not alone.

mesa-boogie-triple-rectifier-solo-head-344304

He also has a Diezel VH4. Each of these four amp heads corresponds to a specific channel. Instead of switching through clean and dirty settings on one head, Shaffer simply took four heads and hooked them up to achieve a more robust setup.

This ultimate combo is ran directly into three Mesa/Boogie cabs which feature four 12 inch Celestions each. All things considered, Shaffer’ss main setup packs a whole lot of firepower.

Aside from his main configuration, Munky also has a vintage Marshall Plexi, a Bogner Uberschall, and a Vox AC30.

All three of these were actually used to record ‘The Path of Totality’ some time ago. Shaffer applied the same policy with these amps and used each one as a standalone channel.


Effects Pedals

Shaffer himself describes his pedalboard as a spaceship. The reason why becomes obvious once you take a single glance at it.

Not only is it always full with various pedals, but the pedalboard he runs is a custom piece likes of which you simply don’t get to see all that often. It’s complex and extensive, to say the least. munky-james-shaffer-pedal-board

As for specific stompboxes he has on there, one that really peaked our interest is the DigiTech Metal Master.

You would think that a pedal of this type would simply be unnecessary considering those three Triple Rektos in the back, but Munky has other ideas.

Essentially, that Boss MT-2 Metal Zone gives the dirty channel he runs a bit more width and range. When it comes to other effects pedals, there are so many.

We can single out the Dunlop Cry Baby 105Q Bass Wah and the good old Big Muff Pi from Electro-Harmonix.

DigiTech Whammy is there, along with DigiTech X-Series Synth Wah, and the Chimera Synthesis bC9.

Shaffer is definitely one of those guitar players who isn’t reluctant to build up a complex signal chain and use the tone of his guitar as a canvas.


Final Thoughts

James Shaffer’s guitar rig is among the more complex ones you can run into.

With that said, his choice of equipment perfectly describes what kind of artist he actually is.

Always on the lookout for ways to enrich his tone and make it better, Shaffer is the master of signal chains.

If you are trying to perfectly match the tone of Munky’s guitar setup, you might just find out it’s not as easy as it seems.

james-shaffer-ibanez

There are a lot of factors in the play, some of which even seem excessive.

Either way, Shaffer’s skills and choice of equipment gave Korn its identity. That is something we can definitely respect.

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.


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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.