Jimmy Page’s Favorite Amp – We Review The Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead

marshall-1959-slp-super-lead

The importance of Marshall as a brand when it comes to electric guitar amplification is very hard to emphasize. They are one of the largest and most authentic amp manufacturers in the world.

That is a reputation they have achieved early on in the game. Over the years, a whole lot of their models became classified as legendary for one reason or another.

jimmy-page-marshall-amps

For the most part, it was their impressive tone that kept guitar players coming back for more. The one we are going to take a look at today is one of their oldest models that is still in production.

That is a perfect testament to their quality, and the type of power boxes they are capable of creating. Meet the Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead – the amp of choice of legends such as Jimmy Page, and others.

Marshall 1959Slp Super Lead 100W Tube Head

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Created in the early 1960s, Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead was among the very first amp models which featured two channels.

That was a bold move by Marshall, and one which caught them a lot of flak. However, the amp persisted and lived on to achieve awesome results both in terms of sales and tonal quality.

Marshall took that very amp, and made a near perfect copy of it using modern materials and technologies.

If you put the old 1959 SLP next to the new one, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference aside from the new one having some limited new features. Tonally, they are the same thing.


Features

Even though appearances are not really the first thing your are looking for in an amp, we definitely have to spend some time talking about this aspect of the Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead. You have probably heard about Marshall Plexi amps?

67-marshall-plexi-jtm-50

Well, that famous Plexi designation comes from the plexiglas front panel which they first used with this family of amps.

It’s all black with golden lines and other minor details. Overall, even after all this time, this amp is among the most aesthetically pleasing models ever made.

Once you take a look inside, you will see a piece of artwork that just also happens to produce some of the best vintage tone you can get at the moment.

We are talking two ECC83s in the preamp stage, and one ECC83 combined with four EL34s in the power stage. Together, these are capable of pushing out some 100 Watts of power.

This power output became synonymous with the Plexi nickname. Chances are Marshall will never stop building 100 Watt Plexi heads, no matter what.

In terms of controls, the situation looks pretty rudimentary compared to its contemporary counterparts. You have Presence, a standard three band EQ, and Volume for each channel. Speaking of which, there are two sets of inputs you can plug your guitar into.

Those new features we have mentioned earlier come in form of an effects loop, which the original lacked, and true bypass.

Overall, in terms of design and features, Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead among the more simple amps. As you are about to find out, simplicity isn’t mutually exclusive with top tier performance.

Jj Tube Upgrade Kit For Marshall 1959 Slp Super Lead, Slpx El34/Ecc83S

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Performance

First thing you notice when you plug your guitar into a Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead, and turn everything on, is just how loud this amp really is. These are usually delivered with 1969AX cabs, and there is simply nothing basic about having four 12 inch Celestion Greenbacks screaming at you as you start to roll off the volume.

Celestion G12M Greenback Guitar Speaker, 16 Ohm

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The range of tones you can dial on the Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead is very wide, but that width doesn’t reduce the quality one little bit. Naturally, an amp of this persuasion is going to be best suited for hard rock or blues. It’s very easy to push into natural overdrive, and once you go for the OD channel, you are greeted with a bit more fuzzy tone. This is one of the rare vintage tube amps that plays well with various guitar effects pedals.

Once you try it, scooping the mids will feel like the whole technique was invented specifically for this Marshall amp.

You could say it brings that ‘Marshall sound’ but that would be too broad of a term. Among all Marshall amps, this Plexi is among the more authentic ones.

If you decide to go for a full stack, like Jimmy Page used to, the amount of noise you can make is just about enough for full on concert performance.

With that said, if you are looking at a quality amp for gigging, having one of these at your side is a sure fire way to set yourself up for success.


Conclusion

All things considered, Marshall made a great decision by revamping this vintage legend. The new Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead are every bit as good as the original ones.

That is mostly thanks to Marshall’s policy of delivering true remakes of their old models. They didn’t try to enhance it, or ‘bring it closer to modern times’.

No, they’ve take one of their old Marshall 1959 SLP Super Leads out of the vault, and replicated every single thing on it.

The addition of the effects loop and true bypass is as far as they were willing to got to make the amp a bit more flexible in practice. We can’t really fault them for doing so.

Whether or not the Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead is something you could benefit from depends on how much you value a good tone, and how you feel about investing into an amp that is timeless.

The type of performance this beast offers is not something you can find everywhere these days. Marshall’s formula is a closely guarded secret, especially when it comes to their vintage models.

Fortunately for us, the market has voiced their opinion and the demand for this type of vintage tube amp is only going to increase.

Chances are we are going to see a lot more than just the good old Marshall 1959 SLP Super Lead in Marshall’s lineup.

 

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Jimmy Page Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

jimmy-page-playing-guitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guitars

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

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

jimmy-page-number-one-guitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall 1959Slp Super Lead 100W Tube Head

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

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

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

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

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

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

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

Vox V847A Wah

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

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

Dunlop Ep103 Echoplex Delay Guitar Effects Pedal

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Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Favorite Albums That Use Proco RAT Distortion Pedals

It’s no surprise why many a musician, famous and not, have gotten themselves a ProCo RAT to use and abuse.  It’s noisy, it’s heavy, it’s greasy, and it’s just the way mamma likes it!

RAT Distortion History

The RAT story begins in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the ProCo Sound Factory.

As RAT has always strove to be the “Sound of the Underground”, it seems only fitting that they found their beginnings in a basement, with actual rats, developing the prototype for what would become the first RAT pedal, the Bud Box Rat, from 1978.

There were only 12 of these pedals made, prototype included, and they were all hand made, drilled, and finished with a silk screen logo.

The first actual “RAT” came out in 1979 and was the first to be mass produced, achieving the classic look and sound of the pedal we (or some of us, probably excluding a few stuffed shirts out there) know and love.

From there, the RAT chronology goes a little something like this.

  • The Rat (ver. 2) 1981-83
  • Small Box RAT 1984-88
  • R2DU 1984-88
  • RAT 2 1988-present
  • Turbo RAT 1989-present
  • Vintage RAT 1991-2005
  • Brat 1997-2001
  • Deucetone RAT 2002-present
  • You Dirty RAT 2004-present

There are alternatives to the RAT pedal such as the VFE Alpha Dog, Dr Scientist Elements, Emma Reezafratzitz, and others.  But most RAT fans I think will agree that you can’t quite get the same effect as the real deal, which is why RAT users stay RAT users.

They might buy other pedals, but generally they don’t take the RAT away.

Not only have RAT pedals been used by just about everyone trying to get some decent distortion in their sound, but there’s a whole bunch of musicians you definitely would know that love the RAT’s distorted sounds to the point where they have featured the pedal in some of their biggest songs.

We wanted to share with you some classic albums that we think are life-changing for any rock fan to hear, that have a healthy dose of the RAT distortion sound.

Some of these albums you may know, some you may not, but we suggest you to go check these albums if you somehow missed ’em.

Kill ‘Em All by Metallica

When people think RAT distortion, they tend to think of that classic dirty sound, but then from there it becomes somewhat confusing as to what genres of music actually fully embrace the RAT.

The reason we say that is because in the gear forums, there are arguments on whether or not RAT pedals are good for metal or not?  Some say no, some say hell yeah.

The thing is, one of the metal gods themselves, Metallica, was big on RAT pedals back in the day, and featured them on their debut album – Kill ‘Em All.  Now, you might argue that Metallica wasn’t even “metal” at the time, but instead “thrash” (sub-genre of metal or punk? hybrid?).

But, the term actually lands, as far as we know, on “thrash metal”, so it’s a type of metal music.  No, it’s not not death metal, but it still falls under the metal banner, and paving the way for many bands to follow.  Because who is metal if not METALLICA!?

With Kill ‘Em All, we will say that there is even some debate about the presence of RAT distortion in the mix.  People attribute their sound back then to other parts of the early Metallica rig.

It does makes sense that it is slightly vague, because Metallica weren’t famous yet and so no one was keeping track of their rig by taking press pics or fan pics or whatever people do now to try to figure out what pedals a band uses.

However, we believe that RATs are in there, and once you tune into the sound, there seems to be no denying it.

Here’s a video that makes a good argument that Metallica was beefing up their sound with some RATs, particularly Kirk.  Watch this and see what you think.

If you are still on the fence about whether Kill ‘Em All was using RATs, it’s going to be hard to convince you 100% at this point, short of a direct quote from the band or a picture of their pedalboard (which we can’t find – goddammit).

Then, we feel, the question becomes – Can you use a RAT to get the Kill ‘Em All sound (since we can’t travel back in time to take pics of their gear back in ’83), and the answer to that we think is HELL YEAH YOU CAN.

Watch this video which seeks to mimic Search and Destroy’s tones and see if you think that the tones match.  We think you’ll agree, it’s pretty damn close.

Now, for the album in question.  Here’s Kill ‘Em All.  Listen and enjoy, and if you hear a RAT in the mix, let us know in the comments.


Monster by R.E.M.

rem-monster-album-rat-distortion

R.E.M.?  What are they doing here? 

R.E.M. isn’t necessarily the first band you think of when you think of “dirty” or “heavy”, since they are generally considered to be more of a jangle-pop band by reviewers trying to describe their sound.  R.E.M. were disciples of Big Star, and Big Star liked their riffs to be sparkly and jangly, not RAT-ified.  R.E.M., over the years, wrote songs that were typically full of arpeggiated guitar licks and they never did release a metal album of any sort, did they?

To be fair, R.E.M. did have a period back in the ’90’s where guitarist Peter Buck got into using that unmistakeable RAT distortion sound for their Monster album, especially live on tour that year in 1995. 

The goal, at this time, was to hit people with something that they maybe didn’t see coming – a real ROCK album, followed by a real stadium rock tour.

Tracks such as “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, as well as severals others from this album, feature RAT distortion.

By the time Monster arrived in ‘94, R.E.M. had long since left behind being maybe the best underground band to come out of Athens, Georgia besides the B-52’s.  They were, by the mid-90’s, well known for albums like Green, Out Of Time, and Automatic For The People. 

For the most part, R.E.M. was almost known as a sort of alt-rock folkster band because they used a lot of instruments like mandolin and acoustic-y sounds which gave them more of a lighter touch on their mid-career albums.

On Monster, Peter Buck finally let loose with some decidedly heavier riffage, influenced most likely by the “Seattle Sound” that had swept across the nation a few years prior.  R.E.M. must have gotten sick of being sort of a bunch of nice guys, and at least Peter wanted to straight up rock out, since the band were fans of punk rock, to an extent.

Although tremolo was also a big part of the Monster album, the RAT pedal was in there just as much as the tremolo, providing some spicy mids. 

R.E.M. eventually did return to their more subdued side before calling it a day in 2011, but for a while there, they were rockin’ the RAT and getting some fat sounds that must have shocked some of their more sensitive fans who wanted to hear more “Near Wild Heaven” type of songs.

Here’s Monster, for what it’s worth…


Blur by Blur

blur-self-titled-graham-coxon-rat-distortion-pedal

Blur is a band that has been around since the early 90’s, and they started their career as a Brit-pop band, writing slightly woozy and somewhat psychedelic songs like “She’s So High” and “There’s No Other Way”.  In other words, songs that had nothing to do with RAT distortion.  That said, Graham was always an effects buff, so it was only a matter of time…

Anyway, once they hit their second and third albums, the band was getting huge in the UK, and basically writing some of the UK’s most classic albums with Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife.  Still, they were not known to get “heavy”, in a “Down with the sickness” sort of way.  They did have Bank Holiday, which was pretty damn fuzzy for an album like Parklife, which featured a lot of strings and stuff.

That said, Graham Coxon, the band’s resident wizard guitarist a la Jonny Greenwood, a la John Squire, a la Noel Gallagher, is a master of tones and effects and can write a riff as good as any axe-man alive.  So, as the band grew, so did his pedalboard.  It was just a matter of time before Blur decided to do what R.E.M. did at the mid-life point of their career – get kinda pissed off, and go heavy.

In 1997, the band was fed up with being “brit-pop” and hit the public with their most distorted song to date – Song 2.  You know, the “Whoo hoo!” song.  Damon was apparently going through something, and things were getting weird.  The band had heard Sebadoh and Nirvana, and were ready to show the world that they too were damaged goods.

Song 2, aka Woo Hoo, well – this song was brought to you by RAT – specifically, not one but TWO Proco Turbo RATs to get that beefy sound, and on the bass yet, and maybe the guitar too.  It’s just one giant wall once the song really kicks in. Apparently some deny that Song 2 was pure greasy-tailed RAT, but most just accept it as a fact.  

But we wouldn’t put this album, actually called Blur, on this list if the RAT was just used on Song 2. Actually, we might, but…

If you’ve actually listened to this album, you would know that there are several really distorted, dirty songs that really boost up the grunge a whole lot.  Blur is a band with so much talent, that they basically can’t stick to one sound, and so every album shows off something different, whether it’s a string arrangement, a gnarly riff, a fluid bass part, or what have you.

Blur by Blur, while being a fairly gnarly album, goes in several different directions at once, and this is because Graham, the guitar player, is having a field day with some new sounds for the band.  This album came out before 13, where he really cuts loose with some wild stuff, but this album is a precursor, and is pretty weird and wild itself.

The RAT was just one sound Graham and co. incorporated into this mish-mash of an album, but he managed to succeed in creating what is definitely the heaviest, most speaker rockin’ album of Blur’s career.


Foo Fighters – Self-Titled Album

foo-fighters-first-album-rat-distortion

You may not remember this, but the Foo Fighters were once a quirky little punk pop rock band, where Dave was the only member and he tried to hide the fact that it was his band.  And so lo’, their first album was released to no fanfare with an alien laser gun on the front, and even the singles from that time had UFO imagery all over them.  For those of us hanging around CD racks in 1995, this album just looked like another weird new release by some alt-rock band somewhere.  Kinda cool cover, what is this??

This timeframe of the band as a wacky UFO-themed band from Roswell Records only lasted about a year (Roswell kept going, but the band being an X-Files band didn’t), with Dave Grohl running into a studio and ripping through all the tracks in like a week or something.  Roswell Records was an imprint of RCA, so it wasn’t exactly an indie label.  By this point the guy had cred, so he wasn’t just doing a super micro-label thing – he had distribution power, or else no one would have ever seen it on the racks.

dave-grohl-1995

Coming from the punk scene of being in Scream and then Nirvana (and let’s not forget Pocketwatch!), and having worked with Butch Vig and Andy Wallace, it’s not surprising that the first Foo Fighters album was pretty grunge-y itself, but well produced and well executed.  That is, full of big drums and distorted guitars, but played by a grunge God / total perfectionist.

People gave Dave flack for “copying” Nirvana somewhat, but Dave’s response was basically “Are you kidding me?  What did you expect me to do?” (<- not an exact quote) He was a rocker, and most of the songs on the debut were from before or during Nirvana’s time.  He had been writing songs the whole time, it turns out.

Here’s the band’s first appearance on Letterman back in 1995. (They were also the last band to perform for Dave, as well)

Anywho, Dave really wanted things to sound dirty, and scream-y, and punky.. but also huge, a la Butch and Andy.  So he turned to RAT for a boost, like many 90’s alternative rock bands did at the time.  It was kind of either Big Muff, RAT, or both.

Anyway, that first album is a whole lot of RAT distortion, and you can check it out below:


Radiohead – The Bends

radiohead-the-bends-on-vinyl

Jonny Greenwood isn’t so much a guitar player as he is a guitar slingin’ mad scientist.  The sounds he can make with his instruments are definitely out of this world, but Jonny has always had a way of approaching his sound that is like Matt Damon in that movie (??) solving a huge equation on a 10 foot blackboard, in that it looks complicated to us, but to him it makes perfect sense cause he’s a genius.  

There’s a lot of things going on upstairs with that guy in terms of musical ideas, and it reflects in his playing.  Of all the members of Radiohead, Jonny is the reason they were never, and never will be boring.  Did he not CA-CHUNK “Creep” into being a half decent song, just because he couldn’t handle it being a normal song?

So by now, we all now Jonny is a guitar wizard, and here is a video showing evidence of that type of behavior…

So, yeah, the guy likes to mess around.  That said, if you cast your mind back to 1993, Radiohead was just a band that was considered a one-hit wonder with “Creep” from their album Pablo Honey.  Some people loved the song, others hated it.  But, what defined Creep, was those CA-CHUNKS.

At the time they released The Bends in 1995, bands like Oasis, Blur, and The Stone Roses were the big British alternative bands of the day, and it didn’t seem like Radiohead were going to take over as the next kings of British alt rock.  And then they did, becoming the 90’s version of Pink Floyd (atmospheric British arena band obsessed with production).

But what really made people take notice, when The Bends came out, was the video for Just, which got everyone talking about them.  Like, what was that guy saying???

While they were definitely an alternative band during the Pablo Honey days, it was their embracing of the Pixies loud-quiet-loud aesthetic for The Bends, as well as Jonny’s interesting use of pedals, that really set them apart from Oasis and Blur.

There is some debate who used what pedals back in those days, what with three guitar players in the band, all of whom enjoyed the sound of distortion.  That said, there was a RAT or two in the studio when The Bends was made.

While you might assume that Jonny was the one using the RAT pedal, it was supposedly Thom who loved using the Turbo Rat for The Bends (and for many distorted parts he’d play), while Jonny used a Marshall Shredmaster on songs like My Iron Lung, which is similar to a Rat.  Meanwhile, there’s Ed O’Brien, who is also known to dabble in weird sounds – mostly atmospheric, although even he was rumoured to use a RAT for a period of time – maybe on The Bends, but can’t be 100% sure. Oy vey, what a conundrum!

When it came to recording The Bends, it’s difficult to really say who did what in terms of guitar parts, as you’d have to be a fly on the wall to know which musician used which pedal for which song, although if you have a keen ear for guitar effects, you can probably make a good guess.  Each song does have an interesting melding of sounds, as a result of  the 3 guitarists in the band, each experimental in their own way.

What we can safely say is that Radiohead, particularly Thom, loves him some Turbo RAT distortion, and distortion was a huge part of what made The Bends such a classic album.  It slams!


Sonic Youth – Dirty

Sonic Youth has been around since the early ’80’s and they are one of those bands that has a ton of music that they’ve released.  Some people love the band, some hate it and don’t understand it.  They are definitely a strange group, with some pretty “challenging” songs to listen to.

At one point, they were dubbed as “no wave”, which is like a form of new wave but inverted to sound like the nightmare version of that movement, just kind of avant garde noise and the occasional sax.  In fact, Thurston might have been the one who came up with that no wave label in the first place.  They were always kind of a heavy band, though.

With songs like Shaking Hell, Society Is A Hole, and Tom Violence, Sonic Youth established themselves as a band that were not on friendly terms with mainstream society.  Even though they did achieve some sort of mainstream success, they were basically a punk band to the end, with some prog leanings, psychedelia, punk for sure, and plus some Jandek leanings.

In ’88, they surprised a few people with Daydream Nation, an album that showed that they had some great super catchy riffs up their sleeve, and were willing to take their creativity to the next level.  By this point they had Steve Shelley, who allowed them to really rock with some power.

It was then that their cult got very big, especially in Europe, where they toured a lot to some huge crowds who could relate to their “fuck absolutely everything” aesthetic that they managed to ooze through their amps and through the throngs of disenchanted Europeans of the ’80’s.

In ’92, Sonic Youth was back again with their album Dirty, which was…quite a dirty little album, featuring better production thanks to their label Geffen, more money thanks to Nirvana, but nastier and trashier songs that featured more noise, more guitar jams, and frankly more vision.  It was enough to drive your grandparents to go back to drinkin’ and druggin’.

Thurston Moore, being a real music nerd as he is, was always into pulling in as many influences as he could grab out of the air into the Sonic Youth palette, but one thing he always loved was a bludgeoning heavy dissonant riff.  Lee was the same way, it seemed, and so together it was two fractured souls against the world.

And yet, they also loved beauty, so him and Lee and Kim (who some say can’t play bass but meh, yeah she can) would come up with some nice, melodic passage, and then drop the hammer on it with some heavy distortion and “ruin” everything.

This is where the RAT pedal came into play heavily for Sonic Youth.  Thurston, being a RAT man for a long time by then, was way into the pedal by the time of Dirty and he really let it fly for that album. 

The RAT was the perfect pedal for Thurston to thrash out to, and when you turn it up loud, it really raises the hair on your arms and makes your dog go into spasms and your cat just drops dead from sound poisoning.  You better not have any wee ones around, they’ll also get a disease – headbanging disease that is!

The RAT isn’t the only pedal used on the album, because the band loves their effects pedals, but the RAT certainly it gets its day in the sun on Dirty.  Hear the full album here – best listened to while skateboarding at a mall.


So there ya have it – classic rock albums that sink their teeth into a RAT sandwich.  Visit the RAT website below.

Visit http://ratdistortion.com/

David Gilmour Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

david gilmour guitar setup rig rundown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fender Player Telecaster Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard

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

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Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi With Tone Wicker

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Dunlop Ffm3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion

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Rig Rundown – Guitars

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

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

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

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

david gilmour telecaster 1968

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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


FX Pedals

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

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

electro-harmonix-big-muff-pi

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

arbiter fuzzface

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

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on the Pink Floyd tone here:

Celestion Ten 30 Guitar Speaker Review

James Hetfield Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

james-hetfield-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

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

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

metallica-recent-band-photo

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

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

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

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

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

James Hetfield Rig Rundown

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

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

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

Guitar Setup

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

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

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

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

Ibanez Ts9 Tube Screamer – Classic

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

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Marshall Jcm800 2203X 100W Tube Head

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Pro Co Rat2 Distortion Pedal

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The Electra Flying V

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

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

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

james-hetfield-electra-flying-v

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

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

Gibson Explorer

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

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

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

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

hetfield-84-gibson-explorer

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

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

esp-ltd-james-hetfield-signature-snakebyte


James Hetfield’s Favorite Amps

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

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

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

metallica-amps-on-stage

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

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

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

Are Krankensteins any good?  Hear this…


James Hetfield – Favorite Effects Pedals

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

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

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

pro-co-rat2-distortion-pedal

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Yngwie Malmsteen Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

yngwie malmsteen rig rundown

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

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

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

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

yngwie malmsteen live vancouver

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

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

malmsteen rising force album cover

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Dunlop Jdf2 Fuzz Face Distortion

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Xvive V21 Echoman Vintage Pure Analog Delay Guitar Effect Pedal

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

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Guitars

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

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

This is the case with Yngwie Malmsteen.

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

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

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

However, Strats are his thing.

yngwie-malmsteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ovation-Viper-Electric-Guitar

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

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble review

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

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

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

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

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

arbiter fuzzface

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

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

The Boss CE-5

The Roland Analog Echo DC-20

The Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor

RJM Music MasterMind MIDI Foot Pedal

The Cry Baby Wah


Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

yngwie-malmsteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles about some of this gear!

Marshall JCM900 4100 Review

Dunlop JDF2 Fuzz Face Distortion Pedal Review

Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal review

Kirk Hammett Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

kirk-hammett-guitar-setup-and-rig-rundown

Metal music is one of the most fluid genres out there. With that said, everyone knows just what kind of impact Metallica had on this, at the time emerging music direction, and what kind of role they had shaping it into what it is today. This band has reached the type of global fame only a few artists ever reached.

metallica-recent-band-photo

When you go just about anywhere in the world and mention Metallica, nine times out of ten people will know who you are talking about. James Hetfield is the frontman and the most recognizable face of Metallica.

However, a good portion of their sound comes from the other axeman and shredder of leads, Kirk Hammett.

Even though the whole band has grown older, Hammett will still be known as the slim guy whose curly long hair has a life of its own in the midst of all the thrashing and head banging going on during their set.

Hammett’s sound is one of the most sought after in the community, and today we are going to talk about what equipment he uses to achieve it.


Guitars

One look at Hammett’s guitar setup will reveal one facet of his relationship with music. The number of different guitars, amps, and pedals he used to use, and still uses is impressive.

It feels like there is not definitive standard when it comes to what he prefers to use.

Even so, he has managed to maintain a pretty uniform sound that hasn’t changed all too much over the years. Let’s start from his guitars.

kirk-hammett-eps-guitars

Anyone who has been following Metallica for some time, probably knows that Hammett has a special place in his heart for ESP guitars.

One of the more noticeable models is his ESP KH-2 ‘Ouija’ which became a legend in its own right. It’s not the first guitar he has made in cooperation with ESP, but it’s definitely one of the most popular ones.

esp-kirk-hammett-signature-kh-2-black

The tone this ax generated was made possible by two EMG pickups, namely the EMG 81 and EMG 60. This is a relatively popular combo that many guitar players install on their guitars. Hammett’s ESP signature series contains a wide variety of models, which also extend to the LTD line.

Aside from his standard ESP lineup, Hammett also owns a number of Strats, Les Pauls, Jackson’s and others. When someone loves playing guitar as much as Kirk, there is no limit on how many guitars one can own before they draw the line.


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Amps

When it comes to amps, the situation is not much different compared to his taste in guitars. Early days of Metallica were defined by a variety of Marshall JCM stacks, which the band used to record the first two albums.

Later on, they have moved on to Mesa/Boogie, and have grown to appreciate the Dual Rectifier.

This beast of an amplifier needs no special introduction, and is usually paired with a Mesa/Boogie 4×12 cab that packs Celestion Vintage 30’s. Hammett’s choice of amps has changed since 2007.

This the year he signed a contract with Randall, and together they’ve made some pretty great amps. His signature series heads, such as the Randall KH103 is definitely one of the best sounding amps you can find that are great for gigging, especially larger venues.  

Of his signature Randall amp, Kirk says it can “do anything I needed it to do.”  Check it out!

Aside from Marshall, Mesa/Boogie and Randall, Hammett’s list of amps included a number of Hiwatts, Bogner‘s  and of course, the Vox AC30. Those tubes are hard to replicate, and you will find one in just about any professional guitar player’s inventory.


Effects Pedals

Hammett is not that big on using distortion pedals in his setup. The initial Metallica albums were recorded more or less on whatever overdrive channel the amps they used had, and that way of getting things done stuck with Hammett until today.

This isn’t to say that he never uses a distortion pedal, but the ones that do find their way to his pedalboard are nothing exotic. He’s been known to use the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (a TS808 will also work) and a Line 6 DM4.

ibanez-ts9-tube-screamer-classic-review

Other effects are a completely different story. These days Hammett is leaning heavy on Line 6 pedals for his modulation effects. We’re talking Line 6 MM4 and FM4 combined with Line 6 DL4 Delay pedal.

One of the more notable models you can see on his pedalboard is the Digitech WH1 Whammy. This legendary pedal has been around a while, and just like Metallica, it had a huge impact on the way we see guitar effects pedals today.

Kirk also has his own Dunlop Wah model that goes under the name K95.

dunlop-gcb95-the-original-cry-baby-wah-wah

Interestingly enough, Kirk likes to have some of his effects in rack format. For example, you will find a Dunlop Cry Baby DCR-2SR rack packed along the Fulman PL Pro, with a number of rack mounted preamps and gates being a part of the setup as well.


Final Thoughts

Hammett’s guitar rig and setup is one of the more diverse in the world of metal music. That comes as a bit of a surprise seeing how his tone, and the tone of Metallica as a whole, hasn’t dramatically changed.

St. Anger was probably the album that had the most unusual type of vibe for Metallica, but even that record was still within the margins of their standard sound.

If you are on a task of trying to emulate Kirk Hammett’s guitar tone, there is a number of things you can do to achieve that goal. Starting with one of his signature model ESP guitars will give you a great foundation.

kirk_randall_1-970-80

The fact that he uses pretty common amps and effects pedals makes his tone rather transparent. However, if you are aiming to completely copy his setup and tone color, you might need to dwell a bit deeper into his preferences and specific gear he used for the album you are interested in.

With that said, Hammett’s energy and level of emotion he infuses into his performance, is still one of the best things about Metallica. Their new album just came out, and we are happy to report that the band is back to their original style.

Behringer Xenyx 1204USB Mixer Review

The Behringer Xenyx 1204USB mixer is a great multifunctional analog mixer that offers a lot of value at a very reasonable price for what it can do. It has a lot of built-in functions that makes it an attractive option for small venues and its USB capabilities mean it can also be perfect for home studios and podcasting.

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Key Technical Specifications:

  • 4 XENYX phantom-powered mic preamps with 130dB
  • 4 studio-grade compressors
  • “British” 3-band EQs on all 8 main channels
  • 3-4 fader control
  • 4 additional input channels
  • Built-in stereo USB/Audio Interface
  • Free Professional-Grade Software Bundle

Audio Quality

The Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB mixer has a lot of functionalities to offer, but before one looks into the bells and whistles, they should look into the core. And in this case, it’s outstanding. This mixer has 4 phantom-powered mono channels, especially suitable for microphones.

The XENYX preamps on those channels offer supreme warm audio quality with outstanding dynamic range and bandwidth. The experience of running your mics through this mixer is comparable with studio-grade outboard gear which says a lot. This is offers a huge benefit when you use those channels for musical instruments as well.

If you want to see the Behringer XenyxUSB in action, watch this video review.

Onboard Effects

Besides the incredible sound you are going to get from the preamps, the mixer offers two more ways to boost the sound quality useful both live and in the home studio. First of all, there are built-in compressors into each of the 4 mono channels that are operated by dedicated knobs with the addition of LED indication which is priceless when dealing with inputs with a lot of dynamic range like microphones or many musical instruments.

On top of this, your main 8 channels all have dedicated neo-classic British-style 3-band equalizers that can add a lot of warm analog feel to the sound of your mix.

behringer-xenyx-1204usb

Mixing Options

Speaking strictly technically, this is actually a 12-channel mixer despite its smaller size, but you should keep in mind that 8 of those channels come with some limitations. First of all, you get 4 outstandingly flexible mono channels with phantom-powered XRL inputs besides the standard mono jacks. Those are suitable for everything and take advantage of the maximum control you could have including individual compressors, EQs and AUX sends. Then you get 2 stereo channels that have all of the same options without the XLR input and the compressors. Those are perfect for dual-channel musical instruments like keyboards, synthesizers and sequencers. Since those channels are stereo, the two of them actually count as 4 mono channels on the mixer despite the fact that each pair shares volume, EQ and Aux Send controls. The last four channels are designated for external music players and lack most controls, but still add a lot of flexibility for venues that need to play music from different sources while the performers are not performing.

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In order to make life extremely pleasant in many applications, this mixer has a wide array of outputs as well. First of all, it has dual XLR stereo outputs that are each controlled by a separate fader and are considered the mixer’s main output. Then you get two alternative 3-4 outputs that have their own volume fader and can have a variety of applications and on top of that, you another control room stereo outputs. You can get a great deal of functionality out of those additional inputs thanks to the 2 Aux Send controls that you have on the main 8 channels. As a bonus there is also a stereo phones output on the front face of the mixer.

An additional layer of flexibility is also added by the ability to connect outboard effects and the incredibly powerful USB interface that would be of huge help with your analog to digital conversion if you want to use this mixer for recording purposes.

On top of this, there are built-in compressors into each of them, operated by dedicated knobs with the addition of LED indication.

Besides the 4 mono channels, there are also 3 more stereo channels that give you a total of 8 channels and 6 instruments or sources you could be working with. Another functionality that makes the mixer quite versatile and adds to its sound quality is the neo-classic British-style 3-band equalizers that can add a lot of warm analog feel to the sound of your mix.

Live Gigs

One of the possible applications of this mixer would be at live music events or comedy clubs. This is not a large mixer, so it doesn’t have enough channels to properly function as the main mixer of a larger venue where drums need to be miked, but it can really shine in smaller ones. One if its killer features for such occasions is the fact that it has 2 Aux Sends. This alongside the alt 3-4 fader gives a huge deal of flexibility and allows a small show to be comfortably mixed for both audience and performers. This means that you can have 6 instruments and/or microphones to work with and you don’t need to keep any channels open for the house to connect their music sources while the performers are on a break.

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Home Studio

The Behringer Xenyx 1204 is a really great mixer that can easily become the focal point of your home studio. It is extremely flexible and more importantly offers outstanding sound quality. But what you will probably love the most is the ease of use. Using this mixer, you would not need a separate analog-to-digital audio converter since this awesome piece of gear can be connected to your computer via USB as an external audio device.

Perfect for podcasting

Now there is one application this mixer will also be perfect for besides mixing music – podcasting.

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This mixer’s flexibility, numerous input and output options and USB interface mean that it will easily become the command center any podcaster could dream of. It has 4 microphone channels, so a podcast with two hosts and two guests could be miked very easily. And the sound would be great and customizable for each speaker. On top of this, all of the inputs and outputs would allow playing prerecorded effects and interstitials with ease and mixing your podcast live. The 3 stereo outputs and additional stereo inputs means that remote guests will no longer be a challenge and a pain, because you could send them a separate mix without their own voice.

But the killer features don’t stop here. While musicians building their home studio will probably prefer to rely on their own specialized software or would anyway have access to Audacity, the podcasting software included in the bundle means that you will be covered all the way through production.

Billy Gibbons’ Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

play-blues-like-billy-gibbons-970-80

Just what kind of impact ZZ Top had on the evolution of rock music has been known for a while now. Their sound and style is one of the most unique, even today.

One person who is largely responsible for the way ZZ Top turned out is Billy Gibbons. His mastery of tone is impressive, to say the least.

To many, ZZ Top’s music doesn’t sound complicated, both in terms of technique and tone. However, once you take a closer look at just how finely tuned everything is, you will form a very different opinion.

His personal guitar rig is truly something to behold. As you will find out further down in this article, Billy Gibbons goes outside the norm on the regular.

Some of his solutions are pretty unusual, which only adds to the conclusion that his skill goes beyond what is apparent at first. With that said, let’s do a quick rundown of Billy Gibbons’ guitar rig and setup.

Nothing beats a finely tuned bluesy tone, that is for sure. It’s not an easy thing to achieve, but once you get there, you have a really good foundation to work with.

If there’s a single person in this world who knows how to dial this type of tone, it’s Billy Gibbons. In order to find out just how he gets this done, we need to look at the equipment and instrument he likes to use. Let’s start with his guitars.


Guitars

No matter how many different guitars Gibbons has been seen using, at the end of the day, it all comes down to two specific models.

The first one is his 1959 Gibson Les Paul, which goes by the name “Pearly Gates”, while the other is his unusual Bo Diddley Gretsch.

The ’59 Les Paul is, of course, one of those legendary guitar models, often referred to as the “Holy Grail” of guitars. There’s also another “Pearly Gates” which Billy uses more since the original is pretty heavy.

And here is Mr. Gibbons playing Miss Pearly Gates…

The Les Paul we have just mentioned is his favorite guitar and the one he likes to use the most. Even though there are numerous Les Pauls made in 1959, Gibbons claims that none come even close to his beloved “Pearly Gates”.

According to ZZ Top guitarist, this particular Les Paul was the best one from its batch and performs significantly better than any other Les Paul from 1959, let alone from later years.

billy-gibbons-rig-rundown-pearl-gates

The Bo Diddley guitar was made by Gretsch specifically for this legendary guitarist.

Back in 1959, Bo Diddley approached Gretsch and asked them to make him a guitar that had rather unusual curves. What they came up with as the Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbolt.

Bo Diddley loved the guitar and went on to play it for a long time.

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At one point, he decided to give that Jupiter Thunderbolt to Gibbons, who was incredibly flattered by this act.

Ever since then, Gibbons has kept this Gretsch in his collection and pulls it out from time to time.

Among some other guitars are his Gibson SG ’61 reissue, various Dean guitars, as well as his one of a kind Billy Gibbons SG with the unusual headstock that you’ll find on a Flying V. As for Deans, he’s been using the Dean Z and Dean ML models, but the company has made a special kind of guitar for his needs.

We’re talking about the shockingly weird and easily recognizable Spinning Fur Guitars, those fuzzy instruments that you can see on some of ZZ Top shows.

Aside from these aforementioned guitars, Billy Gibbons has a large collection of Gibsons, which include some several more Les Pauls and some Explorers as well. He also owns some Fenders, namely Strats and Telecasters, but is mostly known for his extensive use of Gibsons.


Amps

For the most part of his career, Gibbons has been a dedicated Marshall user. His main rig these days consists of several power amps and two Marshall JCM900 2100 amp heads.

Marshall JCM900 4100 100W 2-Channel Tube Head

This setup then leads to a set of cabinets which consist of three Marshall 4×12 1960AX and three Marshall 4×12 1960BX cabs. These are the classic legendary cabinets, offering that well-known tone through four G12M Greenback Celestion speakers.

Of course, one thing Gibbons is adamant about are his 25 Watt Greenback speakers. However, some of his cabinets also have the Eminence Red Coat The Governors in them which are 75 watt speakers.

Besides the Marshall amps, you could see some Magnatone combos and different vintage Fender Twins which he occasionally uses for recording and studio work.

The Magnatone amps in question are the Super Fifty-Nine, which are somewhat of a recreation of the company’s old amps from the 1960s and the 1970s.

The Super Fifty-Nine MKII model which is produced today gives an interesting combination of the classic American and British amp tones, and that’s something that can certainly be heard in Gibbons’ music.

For some older songs where he needs to be quieter but still present in the mix, Billy uses the 50 watt Mojave Scorpion amp head. These are also a throwback to some of those old vintage amps from the old days.

In all honesty, his rig is not that complicated if you strictly look at amps and guitars. It’s all more or less tame compared what some of the guitar players like to run these days.

However, when we move on to his effects pedals, things get a bit weird. A bit too weird…


Effects Pedals

If we look at his gear setup for 2003, we will see no less than six Bixonic Expandora overdrive pedals.

That’s right, six overdrive pedals, all of which are turned on all the time. For an average guitar player, this probably sounds like a complete mess and a recipe for disaster.  bixonic-expandora-multi-stage-distortion-pedal-billy-gibbons

However, Billy Gibbons has a way of harnessing this unusual setup in a way which makes it practical. The whole deal with using six overdrive pedals is to tune each one a little differently.

Gibbons managed to get a very nice edge this way, although he also said that the noise produced by all of these pedals sometimes creates a unique effect of its own.

Check out this video demo right here of the Bixonic Expandora overdrive pedal to get a sense why Billy likes to have a flotilla of these bad boys on hand.

This peculiar looking piece of gear is a simple overdrive and distortion pedal with some interesting features and controls.

It can achieve three different modes of operation and serves as either a classic distortion, crunch, or an overdrive. It’s a pretty versatile pedal with a great vintage-oriented tone so it’s no surprise that Mr. Gibbons has been using it for years.

Aside from these, Gibbons uses a Park Wah pedal, Tube Works Real Tube, Zvex Super Hard On, and various other pedals.

 The Super Hard On is made by a smaller company called Zvex and is essentially a volume boost. But although it might not seem as a pedal, it does add a bit of its own flavor to the tone, especially if played through tube amps.

The Tube Works Real Tube, as its name would suggest, is a tube driven overdrive pedal originally made in the 1980s. Being one of the first of its kind, it offers some slightly fuzzier overtones, which is something that definitely sits well with Gibbons’ music and style of playing.

The Park Wah is a pretty interesting piece since it’s a very old one and can also serve as a volume pedal when in bypass mode. In addition, it features reverse operation compared to standard wah pedals. It’s a very rare pedal that’s been produced sometime in the late 1960s.

Of course, it’s pretty obvious that Mr. Gibbons is very fond of vintage (or vintage-inspired) stuff, especially when it comes to his pedals.

Aside from the old Tube Works Real Tube drive and the Expandora that he’s been using for years now, one of the pedals that comes to mind when we talk about Gibbons is the legendary Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone.

As he revealed, he used to rock it way back in the day and was one of his first, if not the first, pedals he ever had. Having this in mind, it’s only obvious that he’s still attached to some vintage and very rare pieces of gear.

Aside from the aforementioned pedals, he has also been using the Boss equalizer pedal, their famous GE-7, featuring seven sliders for seven frequency ranges, and an additional level slider.

Over the years, there were two Jimi Hendrix inspired fuzz pedals, the Dunlop JHOC1 Octavio and the JHM2 Octavio.

Looking at the controls, they’re pretty similar to the Maestro FZ-1 with only the level and gain controls. These both feature the same circuitry of those old Hendrix’s pedals from the 1960s.

These also add that lower octave to the mix, just enough to boost some of that low-end range in your tone.

With so many pedals in his rig, there must be at least something that would help organize things.

For that purpose, Billy Gibbons has a Tech 21 MIDI Mouse, which is a pedal MIDI controller that’s used to search through different presets and programmed pedal combinations. It’s pretty expected to see a piece like this on a professional pedalboard.

Since 2003, his pedalboard configuration hasn’t changed all that much.

Some things are different, but the six Bixonic Expandora overdrive configuration is still there and is kind of the most interesting part of his signal chain.

Aside from the described ones, there are also other interesting pedals that you can find in Gibbons’ rig, like the MXR M109 EQ, MOSFET Overdrive, Okko 42 Boost, Orange Bax Bangeetar Pre-EQ, MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe, and the Peterson Stomp Classic Strobe Tuner.


Accessories

One more aspect of his setup which is kind of strange are the accessories he uses. One of the most notable things is his Peso pick. This is a special kind of pick designed by Stuart Brady AKA Some Dude, who we’ve spoken to about his picks in an interview.

The reason behind using Mexican currency as a guitar pick is the effect it has on the strings.

Gibbons discovered that the edges of the coin create a very unusual metallic effect, which plays well with the rest of his tone configuration.

billy_gibson_zz_top_holdi_470efc4239812

Additionally, his choice of strings may seem somewhat unusual. Most of his guitars are fitted with light gauge strings, .008 to be more specific.

Gibbons was a hard believer in heavy gauge strings until B.B. King changed his mind. Back in the day, in the earlier days of ZZ Top, he got the chance to speak with King who tried out his guitar.

It was then that King advised Gibbons to switch over to lighter strings. Today, you’ll see him go with .008s and even as low as .007s, which is pretty rare to stumble upon and something you’d expect to see on a guitar from one of those more modern shred metal players.

The strings he uses are made by Dunlop and are his own brand called Dunlop Rev. Willy’s Mexican Lottery.

The way he puts it, lighter gauge strings give you much better playing comfort, while the heavy sound can be achieved by other means.

Here’s a cool demo of the strings playing some Led Zeppelin.


Conclusion

Billy Gibbons has a very unusual approach to his guitar setup. The tone he managed to achieve is a product of his ability to step out of the box and look at things from a different angle.

A lot of people are capable of dialling a driving bluesy guitar tone, but Billy Gibbons took that to a whole different level. The combination of odd signal chain, using a coin for a pick, and other weird elements, has proven to be a success.

To play us out of this rig rundown, here’s Billy Gibbons tearing it up.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit: https://www.zztop.com/

Dimebag Darrell’s Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

dimebag-darrell

When it comes to metal music, Dimebag Darrell was by far one of the most influential guitar players we had the privilege to see. His technique, tone, and charisma shaped a whole new genre that would grow to be a staple of today’s metal scene.

Here’s a video to remind everyone of the guitar-shredding greatness of Dimebag Darrell and of course Pantera.

Unfortunately, we lost him too soon. His death was a shock for everyone. Whether you were a fan of Pantera or not, losing Dimebag hit too close to home. But despite everything, Pantera’s music is still making its impact to this day, with Dime’s riffs and solos still being an essential part of every younger or older metalhead’s playlist.

But while we are familiar with this music and how great it was, a huge part of his legacy lies in his tone. There was no other player out there that sounded like him, which definitely makes him an individual who pushed the boundaries and revolutionized modern music. So there’s always been a lot of interest about what his preferences were when it comes to all the guitars and gear.

Dimebag was always looking to improve his tone. Whenever he reached a stable configuration, he tried to squeeze a little bit extra out of his gear. You would see him swap pickups on his guitars almost weekly, trying to find the best possible combination.

dimebag-darrell-rig-rundown

He knew exactly what he wanted, and was not afraid to experiment with gear in order to achieve that perfect tone. In this article, we are going to go through some of the equipment he used on regular basis, including guitars, amps, and different effects pedals.

Rig Rundown

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Compared to other guitar players of his caliber, Dimebag Darrell preferred to use a pretty simple setup. His choice of guitars and amps usually came down to one or two models which he stuck with during his entire career.

We know that some guitar players will use up to ten different guitar models from various brands, both bigger and lesser-known ones. However, this was not the case with Dime. His taste was very specific, and he never really compromised for anything.

Guitars

When it comes to Dimebag’s guitars, there was only one specific type he was seen playing.

Ever since he was a kid, Dimebag Darrell was just obsessed with Dean guitars. Their shape, tone, and overall appeal were something he just couldn’t resist.

As luck would have it, Dimebag went from owning no Dean guitars to owning two. One was a Dean ML Standard, which was a gift he got from his father. And the other was a Dean ML he won at a contest. Both of these guitars arrived pretty much the same day.

Here is a picture of a Dean ML Standard. If you are a fan of Dimebag and have seen him on stage or on live footage, then it’s a guitar you’ll most likely recognize.

dean-ml-standard-guitar

Ever since Dimebag was rocking a Dean ML, the only thing that he changed on those guitars were the pickups. As we have mentioned above, he was experimenting with various combinations of humbuckers while chasing the perfect tone for his taste.

His main setup came down to a Dean ML, the one he won from the contest, fitted with a Bill Lawrence XL500 at the bridge, and a Seymour Duncan í59 at the neck position. He used that guitar as his primary until the very end.

In general, the Dean ML guitars have always featured mahogany or maple bodies, mahogany necks, and either ebony or rosewood fretboards. These guitars became very well-known for their peculiar, yet very likeable, shape that’s sort of a crossbreed between classic Flying V and a classic Explorer.

But although he was a Dean guy at the core, Dimebag started working with Washburn once Dean closed shop, sometime in 1994.

Guitars Washburn produced for him were pretty much the exact copies of the Dean ML. There were several models in play, including Washburn Stealth, x33, and Culprit. One of the Washburn guitars he had was also the Hellflague, which he used a lot with his band Damageplan.

Here’s a quick pic of the Washburn Dime.

washburn dime

However, some years later, Dean finally got back in business. Of course, Dimebag went back to the old manufacturer and continued his cooperation with the brand.

One of the last models that came out of this joint effort was the Dean Razorback. Unfortunately, he only got to work with the prototype before his death. He never used it live, but the story goes that he approved the guitar shortly before he passed away.

As for this particular model, it’s based on the Dean ML shape Dimebag got used to. The only difference here is that it has some additional edges on it, making it look even weirder than the ML.

dean razorback

This design was done in collaboration with Dime and there were a few versions of it released later on, some of them even featuring 24 frets. They also came with a Floyd Rose tremolo and you can easily recognize one of these guitars for its razor inlay on the 12th fret.

Aside from these, there were some other electric guitars in his collection. He was also a proud owner of the Jackson Randy Rhoads models, most notably the RR5 and the RR3.

jackson randy rhoads rr3

There were also some Fender Stratocasters and even Fender Telecasters in there, as well as a Super Strat type of instrument by Charvel, called San Dimas.


Amps

Dimebag’s policy on amps was very simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For the largest portion of his career, he was using one of three Randall amps. The most popular one out of the bunch was probably the Randall RG100H.

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His love for Randall began with an old Century 200 amp. This is what he used during the days before he became famous. With that said, he never really got rid of that amp and continued to use it in his practice setup. Interestingly enough, all of these Randalls were solid-state amps.

He wasn’t really into tube amps. However, the only tube amp Dimebag was impressed with was the Krank Revolution.

krank-revolution-plus-120w-head-xl

He got in touch with Krank and he was soon equipped with a brand new Revolution model which he apparently fell in love with right from the very start.

Krank later went to create Dimebag signature model called the Krankenstein. With this in mind, it was only obvious that he also used the company’s cabinets, most notably a piece like Revolution 412 cabinet with four 12-inch speakers in it.

Here’s a video from when Dimebag was visiting Krank back in the day and having a good time making some noise and kickin’ it with the crew.

Going back to the Randall stuff, he was also pretty fond of the very powerful Randall Warhead. This two-channel amp has the power of an impressive 300 watts. Not unusual for a hard-hitting groove metal player like Dimebag Darrell was.

Here’s a quote from Dimebag from GuitarWorld in 1994 talking about Randall Amps to shed some light on what he was thinking when it came to his choice of amps: “Solid-state to me is more in your face, while tube sounds like it’s surrounding your body. I’m not going for a soft sound. I ain’t lookin’ for a warm sound. My sound is warm, but I don’t need tubes to do it. The Randall RG-100 is the best amp for what I do. Randall made a tube amp that they sent out to me. It sounded killer, but it wasn’t solid-state, so I’m going to stay with solid. To this day, when people find out that I use solid-state they’ll come up to me and go, “Are you sure? That sounds like tubes, dude.” The Randall has the warmth of tubes, but it has the chunk and the fuckin’ grind right in your face.”


Effects Pedals

Anyone who has ever listened to Pantera or any other project Dimebag was a part of, knows that he used a very limited selection of effects pedals. However, all of these pedals served their purpose and were crucial for his signature tone.

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Of course, we also need to mention Dunlop‘s Cry Baby From Hell – a signature model wah pedal he worked on with Dunlop.

The pedal’s casing is the classic one we’ve seen on the Cry Baby models over the years. The addition here is the camo print that definitely makes it stand out in a pedalboard.

But, above all, the pedal’s circuitry is designed to accommodate to Dimebag’s desires, making its frequency sweep a bit different compared to the classic Cry Baby. Of course, he also used to have that one as well back in the day, the well-known 535-Q model.

Hereís Dimebag demoing the pedal. As you can see, he knows how to work that little thing.

Before he got into Dunlop’s wahs, Dimebag used to have an original Vox unit. Besides these, there was a number of various pedals which he occasionally included in his signal chain.

There have been a few pedals here and there in his rig over the years. Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss CE-1 Chorus, and MXR 6 Band EQ.

He has also used an MXR Zakk Wylde signature overdrive. While it didn’t serve as his main dirt box, it was a simple but effective booster for his solos, but only during his time in Damageplan.

MXR Zakk Wylde signature overdrive

Either way, it is a pretty simple overdrive pedal with volume, tone, and gain controls, yet it adds a certain color to the tone that makes it really stand out and cut through the mix.

Boosting an already distorted tone with an overdrive pedal is something that’s been done by many players over the years. The Zakk Wylde signature MXR really does this job well and will most definitely help you in your search of Dime’s tone.

We should also not forget the very famous DigiTech Whammy pedal that he implemented here and there during Pantera’s career. The song “Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills” comes as a great example of this.

Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss CE1 Chorus, and MXR 6 Band EQ.


The Legacy

Just what kind of influence Dimebag had on metal music is evident from a whole variety of bands you can find on the scene today.

He shaped the minds of many aspiring guitar players, and he still does. However, that’s not the only impact he had on the music industry.

dimebag-darrell rig rundown guitar setup

Dimebag Darrell is the reason why Dean came back after they went out of business. The founder of this company, Dean Zelinsky, saw that Dimebag was practically copying the Dean ML with Washburn, which prompted him to reconsider his decision about closing down Dean.

Recreating Dimebag’s tone is something many are trying to do these days. Fortunately for us, everything necessary to get that job done is readily available.

Dean ML is still being produced, along with pickups specifically designed to replicate the Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan combo he used on his Dean From Hell. There are countless versions of the Dime guitar, everything from cheaper entry models and all the way to the more expensive ones.

dean from hell

Talking about his legacy and gear, MXR paid a tribute to the famous Pantera and Damageplan guitarist by making their own pedal with Dimebag Darrell’s name on it.

Marked as DD11, it’s called Dime Distortion and does a pretty good job at replicating some of his signature tones.

mxr dd11 dime distortion

In addition, the camo paint definitely is a nice finishing touch on it, going along with the signature Dunlop Cry Baby Dime wah.

As already mentioned, Dimebag’s setup was pretty simple and straightforward. The Dean guitars and Randall amps are definitely a good start if you want to get his sound.

Adding his signature wah, or any wah pedal that does a bit of a deeper sweep, will be a good addition for lead tones. Using an overdrive as a booster to highlight some lead parts or some riffs is also necessary, especially if you’re getting a sharper sounding overdrive like the MXR Zakk Wylde one.

Needless to say, Dimebag’s death was a tragedy that hit thousands of people all over the world. He left us too early, and we can only imagine what he would be creating if he was still around. With that said, his legacy is immortal.

Pantera’s discography is every bit as popular today as it was while he was still alive. It’s safe to say that Dimebag Darrell will be influencing young generations for years to come. We are yet to see how much his playing will make an impact to the generations of future musicians.