In this section we review the best electric and acoustic guitars on the market today. You generally can’t have a rock band without an electric guitar, and we have a lot to say about a lot of guitars, that’s for sure. With acoustic guitars, they have an entirely different role in music sometimes, and many times you will find them being wielded by solo songwriters and even members of classical groups. Overall, you will find all guitar information here!
Bass guitar is kind of like the Alfred to the Batman of lead guitar. Batman is obviously the lead attraction, but there is no way Batman can do what he does without the constant support and assistance of Alfred working away in the background. In music specifically, the bass follows the musical structure and underscores it with the bass notes to keep the structure together. Unless you are a bass player or the song has a particularly catchy bassline, such as “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen or “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, you probably don’t notice the bass, however if you take it out of a song there is a clear feeling of something missing.
There are a couple of models of bass guitars that constitute the standard bass guitars used in rock and in music at large. They all have slightly different tones and uses and we’re going to go over them and describe their essential sounds with musical examples.
Fender Jazz Bass
Fender is of course a huge company in the world of bass guitar just like it is in the world of lead guitar.The Fender Jazz Bass is probably what most bassists would consider the staple bass, sort of like the bass equivalent of the Stratocaster, a cardinal of bass playing. It is very diverse and versatile, and has an all-around tone of low rumble in addition to punctuated twang. Basically, you can do what you want with it. Its not too low to be poppy and not to poppy to be low and rumbley. Some good examples of Jazz players are Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, John Paul Jones, and later period Geddy Lee.
Fender Precision Bass
This is the counterpart to the Fender Jazz. Slightly older and more “classic”, it has a deeper bass tone and lower rumble. It was produced before the Jazz bass, and the Jazz was designed to contrast the Precision as a bit brighter with a range of slightly higher tones. The Precision is larger and bulkier than its Jazz counterpart and sounds like it. Its been made famous by Sting, who almost always plays the same beat up 1957 Precision, as well as James Jamerson (the bass player on all the Motown hits), John McVie from Fleetwood Mac, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, and John Entwhistle from The Who.
Rickenbacker 4000 Series
There are indeed other Bass manufactures besides Fender, and Rickenbacker is probably what most bassists would consider the next one on the list. Rickenbacker 4000 Series basses have a unique voluptuous look. There sound is noticeably brighter and higher-sounding than the Fenders that have been previously described. The high-end tones are extremely noticeable on songs and tend to be far more in-your-face than other bass tones, which mostly meld into the background. There two 4000 models that are extremely similar in tone with very minor differences in design, the 4001 and the 4003. They tend to be a bit more expensive than Fenders but most bass players would say the commensurate uniqueness in tone and general high quality manufacturing is the reason why. Three of the most famous Rickenbacker Bass players are all progressive rock musicians, and the Rickenbacker Bass has earned a reputation as the number one prog rock bass. They are Chris Squire from Yes, Geddy Lee on the earlier (and most progressive) Rush albums, and Mike Rutherford of Genesis. Chris Squire in particular highlights the high-end tone of the Rickenbacker 4000 series, whereas Geddy Lee makes it growl for hard rock, and Rutherford is somewhere between the two.
The last of the fundamental Basses is the Hofner Bass. It has a distinct smaller frame and very symmetrical body shape. Hofners are not as widely used as the other basses in this article, however they deserve a spot on this list because this is the bass Paul McCartney played more or less exclusively both in the Beatles and throughout his career solo and with Wings. The Hofner has a unique thumpy tone, not quite as high as Rickenbackers and not quite as low as Precisions. The Hofner is responsible for that driving, walking bass tone that is present on almost every Beatles song. Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys is also known to have preferred Hofners, making it somewhat the iconic bass of early rock and roll. It has seen a bit of a resurgence due to its use in the modern psychedelic band Tame Imapala.
Every bass is unique and these models all have their strengths and weaknesses. The perfect bass for every musical need and niche exists somewhere out there if you do the homework, but whatever axe is chosen, it cannot be understated that the fundamentals of tone is always in your fingers. No amount of research will ever replace pure practice and dedication.
Fender’s Stratocaster has been around for a very long time now. Because of that, it is not so strange that a good number of world’s most popular guitar players have chose exactly that guitar as their main. However, different players have different tastes when it comes to hardware and components. That is why Fender has come together with some of the greatest guitar players in the world, and decide to create Fender Signature Series. The one we are looking at today is made to fit the taste and preferences of Stevie Ray Vaughan. At first, it doesn’t look all too different from your standard Strat, but as we scratch the surface, that changes dramatically. Lets get right to it.
Design wise, SRV Signature Strat is probably among the most unique members of this family. There are several reasons for that, which aren’t limited only to aesthetics. With that said, we have to start the survey from the top. The body is a pretty much standard Alder unit which you will see on any Strat. Fender’s source of alder trees is very specific and yields specimen which are different from your regular alder. The finish is a 3 tone sunburst that is very similar to their more common 2 tone sunburst, but much more subtle in essence.
SRV went with a black pick guard, which is probably the most defining aesthetic feature on this guitar. The neck is a maple piece, but it is nothing like the necks we usually see on Strats. Instead, it is oval, much thicker and comes with a Pao Ferro fretboard. This whole bit about the neck is a big part of the reason why SRV signature Strats are so popular.
When it comes to features, there are several major upgrades on SRV Strat, compared to your regular one. For starters, there’s the gold plated hardware. Some will say that there is an actual tonal benefit to having your bridge and the rest of the hardware gold plated, but that is yet to be confirmed. If nothing else, you get the standard Fender performance, with a bit of a style mixed in. Speaking of the bridge, you will probably notice that the tremolo bar on this one is mounted above the strings, not below.
That is another unique quirt that you will find only on SRV Strat. Now for the more important stuff. The pickups on this guitar come in form of three Texas Special single coils. These are much hotter than your standard singles, and have a much wider range in general. Controls have remained the same, but you definitely need to get used to the new dynamic of these pickups.
Lastly, we have the vintage hard shell case that features a red tweed lining and really completes this package. Fender has also included a strap and a cable with the guitar, leaving you to only find a decent amp for this bad boy. Overall, SRV Strat is the closest you can get to the tone of the legend who helped design it, but also that of John Mayer. If you really want to achieve the utmost similarity with the SRV’s Number One Strat, you will have to artificially wear out the finish. That is something few ever decide to do, but it is definitely a possibility.
With everything we have said so far, the main question is, how good is this guitar in practice? Well, it is mighty good and that is something a large community of players will tell you. First of all, that thick oval neck completely changes the game. It allows for a much better grip, which is awesome when you want to bend those strings like SRV. Over time, those who have bought the SRV Strat, have reported that it is much more comfortable for playing than the regular Fender C profile. It definitely isn’t as fast as the modern standard Strat neck, but it has a vibe of its own.
The pickups, which are the second most important difference in this package, are a real piece of work. Their hot output goes against everything most people think when they look at single coils. The sound you get is every bit as refined and flexible, but it simply has more juice too it. This guitar is a perfect weapon of choice if you feel like pushing a tube amp into a natural overdrive. The resulting sound is almost a text book version of what overdrive should be like. At the end of the day, Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster takes some getting used to. The neck will feel weird in the beginning, but once you adapt to it, you probably won’t want to go back.
Here’s a video by musicstorelive.com that shows off the look and tone of this great axe!
Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster is easily one of the best Fender Signature series guitars ever built. The sole fact that John Mayer himself chose it as his favorite guitar backs up that point. It is not too far from what we consider a classic Strat tone, but just barely. The heat coming from those Texas Special pickups really fits well into a proper vintage rock tone, while blues isn’t out of the picture either. If you want to get the same tone John Mayer is using, getting this guitar would be a good start.
As one of the most successful and celebrated rock bands of the last 50 years, Pink Floyd have earned their name and the prestige which is attributed to them, in no short part due to founding member and bass player Roger Waters.
The Fender Precision bass has been Waters choice of instrument since the early 70’s and in 2010 his own signature model was released through Fender. With a couple of additions to emulate the original bass design, Fender has created the perfect piece of gear for any Pink Floyd fan and the subject of today’s review.
This signature model takes the classic design and sound of a standard Fender Precision bass guitar and adds some additional features to give it an authentic Roger Waters feel.
The most recognizable feature of this bass is the dark finish. In addition to both the body and scratch plate; all of the hardware on the lower half of the instrument is in a jet black colour, including the tone and volume control knobs, the strap buttons and the pickups.
In appropriate fashion the bass has a distinctive 70’s look and feel, with the addition of 1970’s styled open gear tuners which have the Fender script logo stamped on the neck of the instrument.
The chrome neck plate continues the 70’s theme, with the classic Fender logo adding another level of authenticity to the instrument.
The bass is fitted with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Split Coil pickup, also known as the SPB-3; it is one of the most popular bass pickups in the Seymour Duncan range. This pickup gives the bass a “punchy” sound, boosting the mid-range frequencies giving the tone a full and thick texture. This particular tone lends itself well to classic rock; however the pickup allows the instrument to be used in a number of different musical situations and across a variety of different genres. Or you can just jam out some Pink Floyd with it…
Bassists who also utilise the SPB-3 in their instrument include Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, Jay Bently of Bad Religion and Justin Meldan – Johnsen of Nine Inch Nails and Beck.Other features of the bass include a thick neck, giving the fingerboard a 9.5 inch radius and a brass nut, which improves the sustain and adds some brightness to the tone.
Pro’s and Con’s
Sounds and looks like the original – It goes without saying that this bass is hands down the perfect instrument for any bassist who is a big Pink Floyd fan. Although obviously it’s not completely identical to Waters own precision bass, this signature model comes as close as possible to replicating it. Whether you’re looking to start tribute band or if you’re casual bassist, this instrument is ideal for you.
Quality Pick Up – As previously stated the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pick up is the most popular bass pickup in the companies range and for good reason. It gives a slightly more modern tone than previous Seymour Duncan alternatives such as the SPB- 1 and 2 and while commonly used by bass players seeking a hard rock tone, the pickup has a tonal diversity that allows a variety of different genres to be performed.
Relatively Expensive – At around $880 at most retailers, the Roger Waters Precision Bass is relatively expensive for a Mexican built Fender model. A similar priced instrument, which is also made in Mexican, will be a fair bit cheaper, for example a Fender Standard Precision bass will be priced at around $600. The Roger Waters model does capture the look and feel of its name sake however and for many musicians; particularly fans of Water’s bass work, these additional features may be worth the extra price tag.
As has been mentioned throughout this review, the Roger Waters Fender Precision Bass is perfect for the avid Pink Floyd fan. For a musician looking to start a Floyd tribute band this is the obvious choice allowing you to look and sound like the legend that is Roger Waters. This bass is also a solid investment for any beginner bass player, the versatility and reliability that comes with a Fender instrument makes this an ideal choice. In addition to being a signature model, the bass also stands out in regards to its features and quality, with the brass nut and thick neck being just two examples of such components. Although the price of this bass may dissuade some, the unique qualities of the Roger Waters Fender Precision Bass make it worth the additional cost.
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.
Dave knows his way around guitars, that is for sure. However, he is the type of guitar player who doesn’t put an accent on flawless shredding skills and solos.
Instead, he prefers to use the guitar as a medium that allows him to 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?
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.
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.
Prs Paul Reed Smith Se Mark Holcomb Electric Guitar With Gig Bag,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BB King was one of the first guitar players to realize the potential of light gauge strings in just about any genre of music.
This knowledge was passed on and adopted by Billy Gibbons, who has done a lot to popularize this trend. With all that said, it is not too unusual for Dave Navarro to use Dean Markley’s .009s light gauge vintage electric strings.
In words of BB King himself, it is all about articulation and 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty 7-String – Red Sunrise
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First and foremost, they were aiming to write good music, and give the lyrics a suitable vessel that would deliver the message in the best way possible. Which is something they most certainly succeeded in early on and it is something they continue to do.
With that being said, let’s check out the gear McCready has been using over the years. And, as always, we’re going to start with his guitars.
Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro Heritage Cherry Sunburst (Renewed)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rage Against the Machine is one of those rare bands that started their work back in the 1990s and who managed to push something completely new.
Oftentimes carrying a strong political message within their work, they reached great success and cemented their place in the history of rock and metal music.
Now, you don’t usually see bands taking this route, as everyone knows how risky it may be. And, for most, this approach has backfired. However, this is not the case with Rage Against the Machine.
Taking a listen to their songs, the music and lyrics complement each other perfectly, delivering a really strong punch.
But for a band that has created such powerful tunes, you would think that one guitar simply wouldn’t be enough.
That might have been the case if the guitar player in question was anyone other than the almighty Tom Morello.
The genius of this man is elusive to a lot of critics. Morello’s ability to use his guitar as more than just an instrument is impressive, to say the least. Listening to any of the Rage hits will show you exactly what we mean.
Morello certainly knows how to balance his tone in such a way that he could go crazy with solos, but still align himself and work together with the bass guitar and drums for that extra girth.
Even though that is pretty much all about skill, having the right equipment surely plays its part. After all, a master of such caliber would need some great guitars, amps, and pedals to use his full potential.
So with all this in mind, we thought that we could do a brief overview of Tom Morello’s guitar rig, and talk about his primary choice of gear over the years.
The instruments and the setup, however, are not exactly conventional. Morello had a very specific approach, managing to push the boundaries of guitar-oriented music without using too much of a complicated rig in most cases.
Although not having quite a complex rig, he revolutionized the guitar and managed to inspire guitarists and other instrumentalists way outside the world of rock and heavy metal music. So let’s dig into it.
And just like we usually do, the first point of business is going to be Morello’s guitars.
After that, we are going to quickly jump into some amps, and wrap up the whole thing by going into some details about his pedals and effects he’s used over the years.
For the most part, replicating the essence of Morello’s tone is not that much about gear, but it’s good to know that a relatively simple setup can get you on the right path.
Without further ado, here are all the details.
If you take a peek into Morello’s guitar storage, you will see a variety of awesome and interesting guitars.
There will be some pretty standard models like the Gibson Explorer or SG, but there will also be some that are very unusual, like that Ovation Breadwinner he owns. But we’ll get to that.
With all that said, there is indeed only one guitar that is associated with Morello during his Rage Against The Machine years. We are talking about his famous Arm The Homeless custom piece.
This instrument has been by his side throughout his entire career. Here he is showing Carson Daly some of his ingenious scratching techniques with his famous guitar.
When Morello got this guitar from an LA shop in 1986, he went on to pick and choose every single detail on the guitar. The basis for the whole project was a blue Strat type body.
The main difference between this one and any standard Strat comes from the fact that Morello’s choice was loaded from the rear, not the front.
The neck he went with, in the end, was a Kramer design made of graphite, which is a rather interesting choice. Hardware wasn’t standard either.
The choice of the bridge was reduced to Ibanez Edge locking tremolo. Even though this might surprise some folks considering that Floyd Rose would have probably been a more logical solution, that Ibanez design fits Arm The People perfectly.
In terms of electronics, we are looking at an EMG setup consisting of a somewhat standard EMG 85 and EMG H combo.
The guitar was used throughout his Rage Against The Machine career extensively, while he also used it recently while playing with Audioslave.
Interestingly enough, his first impression when he got the guitar out of the shop was rather negative.
After all, back in those days, it wasn’t exactly the easiest task for an unknown musician to acquire a good custom-built guitar.
The original version of the guitar had a few different parts and was modified as the years went by. Now, years later, it’s his main ax.
Another important guitar in his arsenal is that black Fender Stratocaster with the “Soul Power” writing on it.
The guitar was made sometimes around the year 2000, and Morello used it extensively during his time in Audioslave.
Featuring alder body, maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard, it has the standard Stratocaster measures, like the 25.5-inch scale length.
As for the pickups, we can find Seymour Duncan Hot Rails on the bridge and two single-coils in the middle and neck positions. The guitar is also known for its mirrored pickguard, as well as the Ibanez Edge locking tremolo bridge.
Morello is also known for his use of Fender Telecasters, and there are a few of these in his collection. For instance, there’s the American Standard with the sunburst finish.
But the best-known of his Teles is the black “Sendero Luminoso,” which was his main instrument for drop D tunings.
As for other Teles, we have the American Designer edition and the custom-built James Trussart Steelcaster. The latter one is pretty weird, featuring that rust-like finish.
Now, there’s another somewhat unusual choice in his guitar collection, the Ibanez Artist that was custom built for Morello, sometime in the late 1990s. And this is a pretty interesting piece and an important one for Morello.
First off, we have the black and red finish, which symbolizes some of Morello’s main political views. But what’s thoroughly exciting is the fact that this instrument comes with some built-in effects.
Morello used this instrument over the years, most notably on “Guerrilla Radio,” as well as on Cypress Hill’s “Rise Up.” We also got the chance to see him holding this one during Prophets of Rage shows.
There are plenty of other guitars we should mention. For instance, there’s a rather odd guitar Ovation Breadwinner. He was seen with the instrument, but not much is known about his particular model. They’re solid body guitars made of mahogany.
There are some SG models in there as well, like Kay K-20T. This was actually the first guitar he ever purchased and is a cheap beginner instrument.
Nonetheless, Tom still keeps this one as an important part of his playing career. Of course, there’s also the double-neck SG, the legendary Gibson EDS-1275 model. It’s not one that he uses that often, but it’s still worth mentioning here.
He also owns one Gibson Explorer, the E2 model painted gold. According to Morello, he spent countless hours practicing on this instrument.
To make things more interesting, he added a Kahler tremolo bridge on it, which is quite an unconventional addition to such an instrument. He also said that this modification ruined the guitar’s tone.
Although acoustic guitars are not much of his thing, we can find a few interesting ones in there. For instance, there’s the legendary Gibson J-45 and the Ibanez GA6CE which is a nylon-string instrument.
Those who know Morello probably also know that he’s a Marshall man to the bone. Ever since he started playing guitar, he used a Marshall amp of some sort.
When his first one got stolen, Morello went on to buy a JCM 800 2205 head, which he used extensively until just recently.
The head was paired with a Peavey 4 12 cab, not so much due to his taste, but rather pure necessity. That was the only cab available at the store when he went to pick up that Marshall Head.
This combo stuck around with Morello for a long, long time. He grew to love the tone, including the cab. Whatever you may think about his approach to amplification, you simply have to respect his utilitarian style.
Lately, however, Morello introduced some different amps. One of the few names that stand out is the Vox AC30, the reissued version, and the Marshall Lead 20 combo.
But other than these few shared examples, Tom Morello’s amp setup wasn’t exactly the most colorful one. He’s pretty much a Marshall guy.
When it comes to effects pedals, we see that same Spartan approach as well. If there’s a single effect that became synonymous with Morello, it has got to be Digitech WH-1 Whammy.
Ever since he found this modern classic, Tom fell in love with it. After all, you can see just how much of his tone was invested in this unit by listening to a variety of Rage Against The Machine songs.
The most notable example is the solo in “Killing in the Name” where he uses the full potential of the DigiTech Whammy and jumps up an octave and back throughout this whole section.
Aside from his trusty Whammy, Morello also used, and still uses a Jim Dunlop Crybaby Wah. In terms of pure modulation, there’s a small cluster of pedals that include Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Ibanez DFL Flanger, and others.
The aforementioned Ibanez’s DFL Flanger pedal is a rather interesting piece. This one was made back in the 1980s, and no other series of Ibanez pedals had anything similar. It’s a rare pedal and he still uses this same thing for live and studio work.
Distortion, or rather, overdrive, was always sourced from the amp. There are, however, a few simple and classic distortion pedals. The best example is MXR’s M-104 Distortion Plus. It’s one of the company’s best-known and longest-produced pieces.
He is also known for using his Boss DD-3 Digital Delay to make things space-like at times. Occasionally, Tom will also use a phaser pedal, most notably the MXR M101 Phase 90.
He also has a special place in his heart for analog delays. Just like the old Ibanez Flanger we mentioned, Ibanez’s AD9 delay is an analog piece relying on the so-called bucket brigade devices. As a result, the pedal gives that warmer and a little “muffled” tone, at least compared to digital products.
Like we already said, Tom Morello likes to keep things tidy. There’s nothing too complex about his rig, yet he still manages to deliver some of the best and most easily recognizable tones.
You could say that Tom Morello is one of those guitar players who know how to do more with less.
Whether it’s the simple fact of not having to deal with a complicated signal chain or his love for a pure tone, Morello never really complicated his guitar rig all that much.
It just so happens that this type of approach worked out perfectly with his style of playing, and the music he was creating.
That also translated well when he moved on from Rage Against The Machine and joined Audioslave.
Getting his exact tone comes down to a pair of EMGs and a decent Marshall amp.
This combo is probably as generic as it gets these days, meaning that any fan out there shouldn’t have much of a problem replicating Morello’s tone with high levels of accuracy. With that said, the impact this man had on the ’90s music scene is still to be fully revealed.
Rage Against The Machine gave a whole generation a common banner to stand behind together. Often criticized for their political standpoints, they are one of the few bands who stayed true to their cause.
In every generation of musicians, there will be a couple of those that stand out from the rest. It’s the type of artist you can instantly know will reach the stars, and become one of the best in their respective fields.
During the ’60s we had Jimi Hendrix while the next decade was all about Eric Clapton. Today, one name that definitely has the necessary potential to join the rock and roll hall of fame is John Mayer.
Whether or not you like his music, you have to admit that he has some serious skill in his fingertips. Not only that, but he can sing as well. What makes Mayer so special is his ability to fuse various genres of music in a way that actually sounds great.
With that said, a lot of people are wondering just what kind of gear is necessary to replicate his tone. As you are about to find out, Mayer uses a pretty standard setup which makes it easy to dial in his sound for the rest of us.
We are going to go over his guitars, amps and effects pedals today, which should give you a clear enough picture of what his tone is made of. Without further ado, let’s get on it.
If you really think about it, most of the modern guitar wizards can be divided into two types. There are going to be those who are heavily dependent on various equipment to create their sound, and then there are those who like a more basic setup.
Mayer is somewhere in the middle. His pedalboard is definitely saturated with different pedals, but most of them fall within what you could consider as average. On that note, let’s check out what kind of guitars Mayer is playing these days.
John Mayer is a huge guitar collector. On any given performance, he will have at least 10 to 20 guitars backstage, sometimes even more.
If you look closely at any of his long shows, he has a specific guitar that he uses for each song. With that said, it’s no secret that he’s a Stratocaster fan.
Mayer owns a number of Strats, including several of his signature models. His very first one was the Fender Stratocaster SRV Signature model which he got while still working at a gas station.
At that moment, he probably didn’t even think that one day he would have his own signature Strat.
Aside from his Stratocasters, Mayer loves a good Gibson tone from time to time. You will often times see a Gibson SG Stardard T in his active lineup, although there are some Les Pauls in there as well.
As of late, Mayer turned heads by rocking a PRS Silver Sky, adding yet another range of slick guitar tones to his sonic arsenal.
In terms of acoustic guitars, Mayer has a signature model Martin OM28, which is also his main go-to guitar when he needs to go unplugged.
Mayer’s amps represent a very interesting combination of brands and models. For the most part, his amp setup is dominated by several Fender models.
One of the reasons for this is the pure quality of clean channels on models such as the Fender Band Master or Vibro-King.Aside from these, there are two rather special models in his inventory.
He has a Two Rock signature model of his own, and a Dumble Steel String Singer.
Both of these, combined with a Fender amp of his choice for the day, are hooked up to several Alessandro cabs which are packed full with Celestion speakers.
Even though this is a bit of a non-standard combination, Mayer and his sound tech crew figured out a very sweet and balanced tone which is a result of all three amps being hooked up together.
When connected to his pedals, Mayer gets a lot of versatility in terms of tone shaping.
Before we get into various effects pedals you can see in his setup, let’s quickly mention the system that he’s using to control said pedals. Instead of a standard pedalboard, you will see him using the Custom Audio Electronics Power System.
The whole idea behind this is to have pedals in a remote location backstage, and control them using a footswitch board. Even though this might sound like a redundant solution, Mayer can actually use more pedals this way while the Power System allows him to save several presents he can call up at any time.
In terms of pedals themselves, his overdrive selection comes down to the good old TS808 Tube Screamer, along with the Fulltone Fulldrive 2. Aside from these two, you will also see a Klon Centaur overdrive in there as well.
One of his favorite stompboxes is the Keeley Katana clean booster pedal, which he likes to use in just about any of his presets. Watch this video demo of the Keeley Katana to get a feel for this little stompbox does.
Moving on to delays, we see a Way Huge Aqua Puss and Eventide Timefactor.
As a matter of fact, Mayer actually has several Timefactors which are set up in a different way. When it comes to other pedals worth noting, we have to mention the Boss GE-7 seven-band EQ and the Boss RT-20 processor.
And let’s not forget another one of John’s secret weapons – the Source Audio SA170 Programmable EQ pedal.
As you can probably see by now, there is nothing all that special in his guitar rig that is hard to obtain. You can pretty much achieve his tone by using a TS9 or TS808, a Fender Stratocaster of some sort, and a Fender amp.
If you really want to go authentic, then you would probably need to get his signature model Strat as it comes packed with rather special pickups.
Other than that, Mayer bases a lot of his sound on nothing more but his skill. With him, it’s all about making that guitar sing in ways others are rarely even trying to achieve.
Some might say it’s a bit pretentious to have approximately 40 guitars present at any given live show, but the man loves to be precise with his tone.
We hope this short rundown of John Mayer’s guitar rig has given you a good idea what he uses, and what kind of gear you’d have to get in order to replicate his tone.