Tony Iommi Rig Rundown

iommi

There’s hardly any musician out there that’s as influential to metal music as Mr. Tony Iommi.

Widely considered to be the one individual who created the entire genre on his own, it was his riffs and songs he wrote with Black Sabbath in the late 1960s and the early 1970s that brought him the fame he has today.

tony iommi

While it is somewhat debatable on who started heavy metal, it is a fact that without Iommi the modern rock music wouldn’t be as big as it is today.

What’s more, the style he developed can also be heard in many other music genres today, with even mainstream pop sometimes including metal-sounding riffs.

His main strength lied in his writing abilities, implementing elements like tritone the way no one did before him. The riffs were so great that they sounded heavy even played on an average acoustic guitar.

However, in order to achieve their true potential, Iommi had to find the perfect guitar tone. Not the easiest task back in the old days when standard guitar pedals weren’t a thing and achieving distorted tone was extremely difficult.

Nonetheless, Iommi managed to make his tone huge.  You can hear this tone back in the early Sabbath days during their blistering early sets like this one.

While most of the people remember Black Sabbath for the Ozzy era, Tony Iommi kept the band’s legacy over the years, being the sole original member.

Over the years, his music and tone evolved, but you could still hear that it’s Tony. The 1980s and the first half of the 1990s were a bit weird for Sabbath, but there was some great material, featuring his amazing guitar tone.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the original Sabbath reunion and his solo albums, his tone was more in the vein of the older Sabbath stuff.

With all this in mind, we figured it would be a great idea to explore Tony Iommi’s setup over the years and find out more about the secrets behind his tone.

There’s a lot of stuff involved and many of the things are still unknown to this day. So we’ll try to focus on the equipment we know he used, but there will be a few mentions of the unconfirmed guitars and gear. So let’s dig into it!


Guitars

Of course, by now, everyone is aware of his extensive use of Gibson SGs, with these guitars becoming a part of his sonic and visual identity.

However, what many don’t know is that Iommi started his career playing a classic Fender Stratocaster.

TI with guitars from Original Black Sabbath by Steve Tarshis

He used this particular guitar in his pre-Sabbath bands and he also entered the studio to record Sabbath’s self-titled debut with the guitar, but only managed to record one song with it, the “Wicked World.” After the session, the electronics on this Strat died.

Interestingly enough, the famous red 1965 Gibson SG Special was his spare instrument. After using it on the record, the guitar quickly became his number one weapon on choice, with Iommi recording most of the material on Sabbath’s first six albums on it.

1965 Gibson SG Special Monkey

The guitar bares two P-90 single-coil pickups, as well as the “Monkey” nickname due to an unusual sticker. The guitar is currently located in New York City’s Hard Rock Café over at Times Square. A legendary piece.

The next famous early SG is the white 1960s Gibson Les Paul, which was actually an SG before the official use of the SG name. It bears three humbuckers and a Bigsby tremolo. It’s not completely certain whether he used this guitar on any of the recordings, but he’s been seen using this guitar on a few occasions in the early days. Its whereabouts are currently unknown.

white 1960s Gibson Les Paul

In 1975, Iommi got his first custom-built SG by John Birch, a guy who previously modded the old “Monkey” SG. This is a completely black guitar with a steel pickguard, 24 frets, and the well-known famous cross inlays Iommi is now known for. The guitar was used on the recordings between 1976 and 1981.

But the most notable of his SGs is his legendary “Old Boy,” made by luthier John Diggins. The story behind this one is kind of odd and long, with one part of the building process being done on a kitchen counter. As a result, the guitar has that recognizable “rotten” paint job.

iommi old boy

Again, the guitar has 24 frets and recognizable Iommi’s cross inlays on the fretboard. The pickups are custom ones made by Diggins himself, while the bridge is a classic Schaller with fine tuners, something that was pretty innovative for the era. Sometime in the early 1980s, it became his No. 1 guitar.

A lot of other SGs went through his arsenal over the years. There were some Gibsons, including some with Floyd Rose bridges. At one point in the late 1990s, Gibson even made a special guitar for him, but that one got stolen in 2010. The whereabouts of this instrument are unknown at the moment.

But aside from many SG guitars, Iommi also had quite a few different models, some of which were pretty unusual. One of the examples is the B.C. Rich Ironbird Pro, which can be seen in the “Star Licks” instructional video where Iommi shows a few Sabbath solos from the early 1980s.

It’s not certain why the collaboration stopped or whether he used this instrument on any of the recordings. But it is known that he had another B.C. Rich in his collection, the standard Mockingbird.

Iommi also partnered up with Patrick Eggle for a few guitars, one of them being the Tony Iommi Artist Model ñ a double-cutaway guitar with somewhat of a Super Strat-style shape. He also had a few SGs made by Eggle, but he sold them later on to private collectors.

In the 2000s and 2010s, Iommi used his signature Epiphone SG Custom.

signature sg custom

There were a few other odd or unexpected models here and there. He was seen a few times using a Les Paul, quite an unusual sight for Iommi.

At one point, Iommi also revealed that he used a certain Les Paul for some songs on the “Paranoid” album. Other guitars also include Steinberger GM4T, Guild Bluesbird Custom, Washburn EC29, Hamer Phantom, Gibson Barney Kessel, Gibson ES-175, and others.

It has been reported that Iommi played a Burns Trisonic and a Watkins Rapier – both of which are very old and pretty obscure at this point. But these have not been confirmed as there are no photos to prove it.

Now going over to his acoustics, there have been a few notable models in his collection. The latest ones we’re certain of are Taylor 815L and Taylor T5s.

He also had a Washburn EA30 at some point, which he sold to private collections. There were some reports about him using Gibson J-45 back in the early days, probably on “Vol. 4” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” albums.


Amps

Aside from his SGs and a few other guitars he used over the years, there were many amps that sculpted his tone.

Unfortunately, there are no official records on what he used in the earliest days of his career, but it is known that he had a certain Marshall 50-watt amp in the pre-Sabbath and early Sabbath era.

When the band went into the studio, Tony switched over to a Laney amp, a brand he stuck with for most of his career.

tony iommi laney amp

The reason behind this switch is that Laney was a new Birmingham-based company that started around the same time as the band and offered Iommi to use some of their stuff.

While it has not been confirmed, it is suspected that Laney LA 100 BL is the amp he played on the first two albums. Then came the third record with this huge bass-heavy tone.

While it’s not certain, some are suspecting he played through a Laney Klipp. This is a fairly rare amp and can go well-over $2,000 if you happen to stumble upon one that’s in good condition.

laney-klipp-100-2324801

However, it is known that Laney Supergroup amp has been a part of his setup up until the very end of the 1980s. But over the years, he liked to experiment here and there, and it’s known that he used the classic Vox AC30 during the “Technical Ecstasy” sessions in 1976. It is also assumed that he went with a Marshall Super Lead 1959 for the “Heaven and Hell” album.

During a certain period in the 1980s, Iommi went on to collaborate with Sunn for an endorsement. This didn’t last for a long time, but there is one photo of him circulating online, holding the Ironbird signature guitar and sitting in front of a Sunn amp.

iommi sunn amp Ironbird guitar

So he stuck with his reliable Laney amps and the company eventually made a special model GH 100 TI for him, featuring the classic “British” EL34 tubes. In 2012, they came out with the final Tony Iommi signature model, Laney TI100 with 6L6 tubes in the power amp.

It has also been rumored that he used other amps during certain periods, like the Mesa Boogie Mark IIB in the early 1980s, as well as the ENGL Powerball during the Heaven and Hell band back in 2009.


Effects and pedals

Just like any professional guitar player, Tony Iommi also had some interesting pedal and effect setups over the years.

However, only a few pieces are widely known. It seems that Iommi was pretty much secretive about his pedals and other effects units, or that interviewers never really dug deep enough.

Going back to his earliest days, there is one particular device that made his tone stand out. Going back to his pre-Sabbath days, Iommi was a member of a blues-rock band called Mythology.

As the era is known for guitarists not being able to find a proper distorted tone, Tony was one of the guys who resorted to using the Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster.

An unknown friend or an acquaintance of his modded the device, ultimately turning it into somewhat of a full-range booster.

As Iommi explains, he’s not sure what the guy actually did, but it sounded great. This way, Iommi was able to use the clean signal boost and drive tube amps over their limitations and let them create distortion in a more “natural” way.

He used it until 1979 when, apparently, one of his tech guys threw it away, mistaking it for a random broken old device.

Another famous pedal in his arsenal is the very rare and peculiar-sounding wah called Parapedal, made by a short-lasting company called Tycobrahe.

Parapedal

It’s a really obscure piece, but if you actually manage to find one of the original pedals, it can go up to $1,000. There have been some replicas, but Tony Iommi used some of the original old models.

This is what you can hear on any of his solos where he’s using a wah, or in songs like “Electric Funeral” where he used it for the main riff.

As for any other effects, it’s been really hard to confirm anything else. Again, it seems that he’s been pretty secretive about his setup.


Legacy

Of course, it was Tony Iommi’s rumbling tone that helped shape metal music. Even to this day, you’re rarely find anything as heavy as the guitar tone on “Master of Reality.”

While he was inclined to experiment, like with the Vox AC30 in the mid-1970s, Tony was still a fan of huge guitar tones, especially on live shows.

After all, he was the only guitar player in Black Sabbath, so it was up to him to make the sound as big and as harmonically rich as possible.

As a result, he’s still being praised by almost all of the metal musicians today. His legacy can be heard in all of the metal music, none of which would be possible without Iommi’s innovative approach in the earliest days of Black Sabbath.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s known as the “Riff Lord.”

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John Frusciante Rig Rundown

Have you ever had a moment where you listened to a guitar player, and you’re thoroughly mesmerized not just by prodigious amounts of skill and musicality, but by the graceful ease they work wonders on their guitars?

Some of these musicians play so incredibly, yet so naturally that you never feel even a hint of envy – you’re just grateful that such a being exists and you simply take the moment in.

However, due to their usually quiet natures, a lot of them go by unsung, or at least without receiving credit equal to their prodigious talent.

One such guitar player is John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  We almost said formerly but John just yesterday rejoined the band for the second time, after ten years absence!

john frusciante rig rundown

In addition to his own unobtrusive nature, the reason that John Frusciante doesn’t spring up in everybody’s minds when talking about great guitar players is that emotional response to the whole package rather than pure skill was always the driving force behind the Chili Peppers’ success, and the latter was more often than not overshadowed by the former.

However, it is undeniable that the lasting beauty of the Chili Peppers’ music was in significant part due to John’s playing, and that John always was and remains a majestic musician.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what gear John used to create his iconic sound, and as you’ll see, there’s quite a bit.

But first, a bit of backstory…


History with the RHCP

john frusicante

We’ll be taking a quick trip down the memory lane and talk about how John came to be an integral part of the Chili Peppers, his path to becoming the musician he is today, and how he evolved alongside the iconic band.

John Frusciante joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 1988 when he was only 18 years old. In addition to his young age, he was a peculiar choice for the band that mostly focused on funk at the time, and John had no prior experience with the genre.

Of all his early influences, John said that Frank Zappa was the greatest, stating: “By the time I was 15 I owned all of the records and was spending about 70% of my musical life studying and learning his music. For me, striving for the perfection he was known for demanding from his bands was a powerful motivation and force behind the huge amount of practicing I was doing back then.”

However, back in those early days he was still pretty much just a replacement to the original guitarist Hillel Slovak and was stuck with trying to emulate his sound.

During the recording of “Mother’s Milk”, John still had very little creative freedom to speak of, as he was pressured by the producer Michael Beinhorn to play with a driving heavy metal tone, which is evident in songs like “Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down”, which were a clear step away from the Chili Peppers’ previous sound.

By the time “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” was released, not only did John find his genuine place within the band and come into his own as a musician, but it was this iteration of Chili Peppers that introduced the band to the mainstream audiences.

who-is-john-frusciante

In 1993, John left the band due to it becoming “too popular” as well as personal issues and came back in 1998 after Dave Navarro’s departure.

He had matured during that time since he sounded much more articulated and in control on songs like “Scar Tissue”, “Otherside” and “Around the World” when compared to his former aloofness in playing.

On “By the Way” and “Stadium Arcadium”, John Frusciante arguably reached his full potential within the band, resulting in his tasteful and original experimentation within those albums, despite them being much more pop-oriented than the previous ones.

During his time with the Chili Peppers, John evolved into a guitarist extraordinaire – but one who emphasizes the melody and the organic quality of his playing.

Read our feature article about John’s musical life, Who is John Frusciante?

Despite his vast knowledge of music theory and enviable virtuosity, John’s prodigious qualities as a musician often went unnoticed due to his lack of interest in showing off and always putting the melody first.

young-john-frusciante-1989

However, John achieved his seemingly simple sound with no small amount of both gear and skill. John is known to have used a staggering amount of instruments, amps, and mods, most of which aren’t officially recorded.

What follows is a rundown of gear that John confirmed to have used in various instances, and that was integral to achieving his signature elegant sound.


Guitars

Throughout his two bouts with the RHCP, John has used a plethora of guitars, and putting down a definite list would be nearly impossible to put down –some sources state that there over 40 guitars that he had used during those years.

Here, we’ll take a look at a few that he’s the best known for using, and that made the biggest impact on his sound, playing style and appearance.

Fender Stratocaster

A 1962 Tobacco Sunburst Fender Stratocaster with a rosewood fretboard, with the body scratched-up marrow-deep above the pickguard is perhaps the most famous of John’s guitars and the one that he’s associated with the most often.

frusciante-stratocaster-1962

More than once, John himself has stated that this is the guitar that he is sentimental about the most, and the one that was the “most important” to him.

It was this guitar’s mellow, bright, single-coil sound that was responsible for songs such as “Scar Tissue” and “Can’t Stop”, and especially his early works with the RHCP like “Mother’s Milk”.

In fact, you’ll hear this guitar in instances of the vast majority of the songs that John played for the band.

Initially, he used stock pickups but later swapped them for Duncans which were almost the same. John also used a ’55 Strat nearly identical to this one, except for the ’55 having a maple fretboard.

Fender Telecaster

Although John is known for his love for the Stratocaster, in an interview with Vintage Guitar Magazine (you’ll notice that John has a strong preference for vintage instruments), he stated that “Around ‘By The Way’, I played Teles more than a Strat.

frusciante_feature

A telecaster he’s most widely known for using is a stock 1963 model with a rosewood fretboard.

If you listen to the songs from “By The Way” closely, you’ll notice that they resonate with the signature Telecaster twang.

Given that he almost never modifies his instruments, John is a living testament that you don’t need crazy mods to sound great.

Gretsch 1955 White Falcon

This is the guitar that John is seen playing during the iconic “Californication” live concert at Slane Castle from 2003.

While talking to Vintage Guitar, John said that the Gretch White Falcons are among his favorite guitars from his collection (as we’ve already mentioned, he has quite a few).

In fact, he revealed that he stumbled upon the Falcon purely by accident during a period in which he was guitar-shopping intensely because he thought his playing would change from guitar to guitar.

He said: With the white Strat, it was a neat experience because it made me play different, and made the band sound different.

If I hadn’t gone through a phase of buying, I never would have come upon the White Falcon…” The Falcon’s hollow body and Filtertron pickups give it a distinctive, rich-yet-resonant sound that clearly stands out from the Strats and Teles, and you can hear it in action on the album’s title track, as well as on “Otherside”.


Amps

Like with his guitars, John seems to like to keep things straightforward, yet elegant. However, when it comes to amps that John has been using all these years, there is even less reliable info available than for his numerous guitars.

With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the three main amplifiers that he’s been known to have used the most: Marshall Silver Jubilee, Fender Dual Showman, and The Marshall Major.

Marshall Silver Jubilee

Among guitar aficionados around the world, the Marshall Silver Jubilee amplifier is famous for its incredibly short, one-year production run and has since become tremendously difficult to obtain.

Marshall-Silver-Jubilee-John-Frusciante-Amps-Slane-Castle

This dauntingly pricy 100-Watt amplifier is a reincarnation of the 1962 Marshall Head of sorts, and it is the obvious choice for John’s sonic output given his preference for vintage sound and instruments.

In addition to being expensive, the Marshall Silver Jubilee is known for its reliable, balanced frequency response and is powered by EL34 valves which give it a clear, ringing overall sound with a smooth top end.

Fender Dual Showman

Now this one is a strange beast in regards to the other two, as John explicitly uses it only in combination with his Gretsch 1955 White Falcon.

fender dual showman guitar amp

The classic Fender reverb it produces complements the White Falcon’s ringing hollow-body sound perfectly. Furthermore, the only effect that John used with this combo was a BOSS DS1 distortion pedal.

Marshall Major

Essentially, what we’re looking at here is the essence of JCM 800 in a different package and 200 Watts of power.

Marshall_Major

The power amp stage boasts KT88 valves, whereas the preamp contains two ECC83 and one ECC82 which pour out that creamy, controlled distortion which makes this amp so well-loved.

His on-stage combo is wrapped up by two 4×12 Marshall cabs for each of these three, making the sound of his guitar powerful enough not to be engulfed by the rest of the band.
Effects

Whether you listen to John’s gentler guitar contributions or the more hectic, funkier ones from early on, the first impression you’d get is that the man uses virtually no added effect (and that he needs none, but that’s beside the point).

However, it is now known that John actually used a wide variety of devices to further tweak his sound.

For instance, during the “Stadium Arcadium” era, he used whopping 20 different pedals for his live performances, including six Moog Moogerfooger units in addition to multiple delays, distortions, modulation, filters, and wah.

However, apart from the BOSS DS1 distortion pedal reserved exclusively for the Gretsch 1955 White Falcon, he really didn’t have a mainstay of devices that he used throughout his time with the Chili Peppers, but instead relied on intuition, current mood and desire for experimentation when deciding which effect he would keep using, and which ones he’d discard.

If one had to find a pattern behind his utilization of various effects, it would be that he had preferred effect for each of the Chili Peppers’ epochs, with both him influencing the band’s sound and vice versa.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of John’s favorite effects.


Effects

First off, we have the humble MXR Micro Amp, a pedal used for boosting your main signal for solos or as a buffer for other guitars.

mxr micro amp

John’s grittier tones are mostly owed to the tried and true combination of BOSS DS-2 Turbo Distortion and EHX Big Muff Pi.

The BOSS DS-2 is perhaps the few mods that he used since his first day with the RHCP and continued using ever since.

In fact, this little gadget’s clipping effect is the one that can be recognized in almost every Chili Peppers’ song where John does the guitar duties.

Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion review

The fuzz provided by the EHX Big Muff Pi is especially characteristic of the “By The Way” era, which replaced John’s previous fuzz device, BOSS’ FZ-3, that he used more around the time “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” came out.

As far as John’s modulation is concerned, there is the BOSS CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, a simple yet reliable chorus with normal and vibrato modes.

boss_ce1

This is the other pedal that remained ever-present in his setup in addition to the DS-2.

Despite its straightforward nature (or perhaps exactly due to it), the CE-1 remains ever popular due to its ability to maintain the qualities of the original signal while complementing it with an organic sound.

The EHX Deluxe Electric Mistress is another mod that saw steady use throughout John’s career.

DlxMistress-large

Its classic analog Flanger with its unique Filter Matrix mode disengages the auto sweep and lets you position the filter manually, and is very prominent in “By The Way”, for example.

He also uses a Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeller that comes with programmable filters and monophonic synth sounds (which replaced the Electro-Harmonix synthesizer he used during the “Californication” era).

John’s choice of time-based effects was also led by a philosophy of reliability and straightforwardness.

There’s the EHX Holy Grail Reverb, a digital reverb that like a spring one, which he used until he replaced it with Fender’s vintage tube reverb unit.

electro harmonix holy grail reverb

Another delay unit that John used was the LINE 6 DL4 Delay Modeller, which yields more control over delay effects than a standard digital delay, or an analog one.

Interestingly, John tends to supplement the DL4 with two DigiTech PDS 1002, which give him even more control over delay effects.

As we’ve seen, although simplicity seemingly is the key to John’s distinctive sound, there is a whole lot of thought, experimentation, and gear behind the unique and elegant sound of his guitar playing.

As such, John Frusciante truly is a living testament to the wonders that a meticulous, yet sincere love for the instrument and the simple joy of playing can bring to life.

Thanks for reading!  If you have and comments or questions, leave them below!

Synyster Gates’ Rig Rundown

synyster gates

Heavy metal music has come a long way since its inception back in the late 1960s. From the bluesy, yet really doomy, songs by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, it began going into multiple different directions.

As a result, we got some unexpected subgenres, that even led to some more extreme territories. But, at the end of the day, the classic elements of the genre remained, and some bands keep this legacy alive even to the present era.

One of these bands is Avenged Sevenfold, where the lead guitar duties are taken by Brian Haner, also known by his unique stage name Synyster Gates.

synyster-gates-avengedsevenfold-gettyimages-647264106

Forming back at the very end of the 1990s, Synyster Gates joined the band sometime before the release of their debut album. It was an unusual time for heavy metal, and new movements were emerging all around.

Avenged Sevenfold started off as a metalcore band, but they slowly moved into the classic metal and hard rock lane. This was a rather exciting turn of events as they added some modern metal elements and twists to the old genre.

These days, they’re even experimenting with some progressive elements. And that’s all thanks to Syn Gates and his approach to songwriting and playing.

Another vital component in this story is Syn Gates’ tone.

With this in mind, we thought we could dive deeper into the topic and explore all the gear A7X’s axeman has been using over the years. There’s an abundance of great instruments, pedals, and amps, and we just can’t afford to skip over this guitar master. So let us begin.

Guitars

The most recognizable part of his whole setup and the one that became his personal stamp is the Schecter Synyster Gates signature model.

syn gates custom guitar

Almost all of the studio recordings and the live performances were recorded using some of these guitars. The band blew up early on in their career, so it wasn’t hard for Syn to land a deal with Schecter for his one-of-a-kind model.

As the years went by, this guitar evolved, and there have been many iterations, finishes, designs, and different hardware and pickup combinations. There are even some exclusive models that were sold as limited series.

As for Syn’s guitars, there are a few notable models. For instance, the one that he often today uses is the Custom-S. This is one of the newest iterations and has a few variants.

It’s a prestigious and expensive instrument and an all-round versatile instrument capable of delivering different styles.

The Custom-S has a mahogany body and a three-piece mahogany neck that’s enforced with strong carbon rods. The guitar features a 25.5-inch scale neck with a 24-fret ebony fretboard.

synyster gates

The neck profile proves that the Custom-S model is made for real shredders. It’s the so-called “thin C” neck, the same as the classic “C” profile, only thinner. Seeing that the guitar also has a Floyd Rose 1500 Series bridge, it’s a pure heavy metal mean machine.

One of its strongest points is the addition of the Sustainiac pickup on the neck position.

There have been plenty of other versions of this guitar over the years. Some of those include the Bat Country Avenger model that has a classic tune-o-matic bridge with strings going through the body.

bat country avenger

These other Syn Gates signature models are pretty similar in construction, although they have a few different features here and there. Custom-S still stands as his No. 1 weapon in the arsenal.

But he’s also used a few other guitars over the years. In the band’s earliest days, Syn could be seen holding a Parker Fly Deluxe model. It’s a classic instrument, used by many guitar players of countless different genres.

What some may not know is that Syn Gates is also deeply rooted in old school stuff like blues and jazz. So it doesn’t come as a surprise to see that he has a Gibson ES-335 in his possession. The guitar was used for studio sessions over the years.

gibson ES335 DOT

Of course, it’s not unusual to find a Gibson Les Paul in his collection. He owns one LP Custom, and you can see him rocking it out in the “Unholy Confessions” video. However, this guitar hasn’t seen that many live shows.

Another electric worth mentioning is his Schecter Blackjack PT that he used earlier in the band’s career.

Schecter Diamond Series Blackjack PT

It’s a two-humbucker Telecaster-shaped guitar with the strings going through the body. The Blackjack is a very playable piece and a great solution for all the heavy tones that Syn certainly needed over his career.

As for acoustics, there are a few exciting pieces worth mentioning in his arsenal. Since he’s been a partner of Schecter for so long, they also made signature acoustic guitars for him – the Synyster Gates 3701. It’s a single-cutaway guitar with a slightly peculiar twist on its design.

Just like the electric Custom-S, it features the easily recognizable Avenged Sevenfold logo on the fretboard’s inlay. It also includes a Fishman pickup and a preamp, along with a 3-band EQ. It’s a very versatile acoustic guitar and an overall quality instrument.

Then there’s a surprising addition of Godin ACS-SA that he began using since 2016’s “The Stage” album. This thin profile nylon-string guitar is often used by jazz players.

Godin ACS-SA

But since Avenged Sevenfold began diving into some unexpected proggy territories, it comes as a great addition to Syn’s collection.

Generally speaking, the Custom-S still remains his primary weapon and his main workhorse. It’s really easy to play, it has good access to higher frets, and certainly delivers the classic metal punch, kind of in the vein of standard Gibson guitars, although it had a bit of a sharper edge to the tone.

Amps

Quite a few different amps came through Synyster Gates’ setup over the years. Unlike his choice of guitars, he wasn’t stuck with one particular brand of amps. If we were to look at all of his choices, the picture is pretty clear ñ he likes heavy sound with an in-your-face mid-range punch.

So let’s start with his Schecter amp. Yes, the company is not that well-known for their guitar amplifier line, but the Hellwin model is a powerful 100-watt all-tube amp in the style of classic Marshalls.

schecter hellwin

This can be seen with the implementation of EL34 valves. He always used it in pair with the Hellwing SYN412 cabinet. For some reason, Synyster Gates stopped playing it after a while.

While we’re at Marshall amps, he’s also known for using the JVM205H 50-watt head. These are pretty versatile amps, and cranking up a 50-watt amp is a great idea for larger gigs.

JVM205H-large

Since it can be miked up for live shows, he’s able to get that authentic “organic” drive out of them by pushing the volume all the way up. It features the classic configuration of two channels – clean and drive.

He also owns that real beast of an amp, the Mesa Boogie JP-2C. Yes, the John Petrucci signature model, based on the good old Mark IIC+ amp. It’s an extremely versatile piece of gear and can create anything from smooth jazz up to big crushing tones for riffs and screaming leads.

jp2c john petrucci signature markIIC

While we’re at it, Syn’s also known for using the legendary Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amp. Another great example of the company’s rich and tight-sounding guitar amps.

Now, Bogner Uberschall is a really delicate piece. A real jewel in his collection, it’s a 120-watt amp head with some of the most mindblowing tones you’ll ever get the chance to hear.

However, a real change came when Synyster began using the Fractal Audio’s Axe-FX III. Just like Kemper and a few other examples, it caused quite a stir in the guitar community.

axe-fx-iii-1920-front-white

Since Syn himself is all about modern technology, the addition of such a piece to his rig was inevitable. Needless to say, this powerful amp modeler successfully replicates any of the most advanced tube amps we’ve ever heard.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see his entire rigs replaced with one or two of these.

His love of modelling amps came some years ago when he began using the Axe-FX II. However, he used it only for some features and effects and not actual amp models. The story goes that he really likes the harmonizer in this digital processor.

Effects pedals

When it comes to pedals and other effects, he never really had too much of a complex layout. There have been a few compressors here and there, delays, boosters, wahs, and a few other occasional pedals.

His choice of wah is pretty interesting. Steering away from conventional pedals, he has Dunlop’s rack module Cry Baby DCR-2SR.

Dunlop+DCR+2SR

It’s a potent piece that allows you to shape your own wah and to determine what kind of sweep will it add to your tone. This is as pro as it gets with wahs.

He’s known for using a few different compressors over the years. There’s the classic choice of Boss SC-3 here, which is a continuation of the old CS-2 pedal. Then we have another piece like the very simple MXR CSP202.

Among modulations, delays, and other effects, there’s one rather interesting piece in his signal chain that Syn uses even today. It’s called Visual Sound H2O, and it’s a chorus and echo pedal in one.

visual sound h20 V1 liquid chorus and echo pedal review

This unconventionally shaped 2-in-1 pedal gives delays between 10 and 800 milliseconds and allows you to use a chorus or delay individually.

As for the aforementioned clean boost pedals, he uses a very simple yet effective MXR MC401. This little piece can do wonders when paired with the kind of tube amps that he’s using.

And just to throw in another one in here, Syn’s been seen using Electro-Harmonix POG, or the so-called “Polyphonic Octave Generator.” It’s a very intricate pedal, although we’re not sure how much he’s been using it in actual songs.

MicroPog-large

There have been a few other pedals here and there, but the ones described above are worth mentioning. Like we already said – Syn Gates has always kept it simple when it comes to the signal chain.

Accessories and other gear

Being a professional player that he is, it’s only expected to see a whole bunch of different accessories in Syn Gates’ setup. For instance, there’s Ebtech HE-2 Hum Eliminator in his setup.

Ebtech HE-2 Hum Eliminator

This one allows the elimination of unwanted noise from AC adapters and other electrical interferences. Although small, it’s a very complex piece that does magic to your tone.

Since he has a few different pedals and devices, there’s got to be a reliable power supply in there somewhere. For this purpose, Syn uses the classic Dunlop DC-Brick – a 1-amper device that can power up to 10 pedals and effects at the same time.

lg_brick

Avenged Sevenfold are the classic arena metal band, so it’s only expected to see them using wireless systems. Synyster Gates’ choice for this is Audio Technica AEW-5111a.

It’s a very advanced and expensive rack-mounted wireless unit that provides stable operation in these large venue settings.

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Final thoughts

From looking at this brief guitar setup and rig rundown, it’s pretty evident that Synyster Gates has evolved over these past two decades, along with his band. It’s always welcome to see this kind of an approach.

A great surprise came when Syn revealed that he’s interested in jazz music and that he plans on recording a full-blown jazz album. There are a few videos of him online playing some swing jazz.

With this being said, it’s highly likely that we’ll see his setup evolve even further. And this is already taking place with his use of Fractal Audio Axe-FX III. His overall tone and setup will depend on the direction that Avenged Sevenfold as a band will be taking in the future.

axe-fx-iii-1024-transparent-1024x271

Hearing “The Stage” that they launched back in 2016, we’re pretty excited about what they’ll do in the future.

After all, now that all the old metal bands are retiring one by one, they’ll be the one to continue carrying the torch of the genre, and they’ll be free to take it into any direction they want.

Dave Navarro Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

dave navarro playing guitar

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guitar Demi-God

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

dave navarro playing with janes addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s get into it, shall we?


Rig Rundown

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

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

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

dave navarro nothing shocking rig

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

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


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Guitars

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

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

dave_navarro prs guitars

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

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

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

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

dave navarro modulus strat

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

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

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

dave navarro ibanez guitar reuinion

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

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

yamaha LLX6-DN

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

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

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

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


Amps

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

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

marshall jcm900

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

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

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

bogner-uberschall-head-27178

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

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

dimebag cry baby

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

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

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

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

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

ts808 pedal

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

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

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

voodoo lab pedal power II plus

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

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


Accessories

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

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

DMS2552-25pk-large

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


Final Thoughts

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

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

dave navarro moody

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Petrucci Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

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

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

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

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

john petrucci guitar setup and rig rundown

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

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

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

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

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


John Petrucci Rig Rundown

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

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

john petrucci rig rundown

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


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Guitars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dimarzio rainmaker pickup

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

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

Check this video out…

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

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

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

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

john petrucci pedalboard

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

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

tc-electronic-m3000-425854

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

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

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

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

Here’s a demo of the Vortex Flanger…

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

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

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


Final Thoughts

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

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

john petrucci guitar setup and rig rundown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack White Guitar Setup & Rig Rundown

jack-white-1972-fender-twin-reverb

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

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

jack-white-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

With that said, Jack is a guitar prodigy. Not only is his skill up there with the greats, but his tone is always on point.

If you listen to any of their songs, the guitar never feels out of place.

Being able to adjust your tone to the music like that takes some serious know-how. However, it also takes the right equipment.

Reproducing Jack White’s vibe might seem easy from a distance, but that perception quickly changes when you go into details.

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


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Rig Rundown

jack-white-guitar-rig-rundown

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

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

With that in mind, it is not a surprise that Jack is a fan of vintage guitars and limited use of effects pedals. We are going to start this gear overview by checking out his guitars.

Then we will move to effects pedals and amps.


Guitars

For some Jack White’s guitar room looks like a proper guitar museum. He owns some rare models as well as the classics.

In terms of brands, you will find Fenders, Gibsons Gretschs but also more obscure Crestwoods and Keys.  He has also surprised some people by wielding an EVH Wolfgang USA Signature.

When it comes to specific models Jack is commonly associated with, his latest guitar of choice is a 1937 Gibson L-1 – a truly rare guitar with a character of its own. There’s also a Gibson F-4 mandolin in there as well.

gibson-l1-guitar1

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

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


Amps

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

We are talking a 1970s Fender Twin Reverb and a pair of Sears Silvertone 100 Watt combos.

He sometimes uses different amps, but this configuration is what his main rig is consisted of.

jack-white-1972-fender-twin-reverb

Fender Twin Reverb’s tone is definitely a popular choice these days as it was when this amp first appeared.

Jack obviously found what works for him, and follows that logic that you simply shouldn’t fix something that isn’t broken.

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


Effects

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

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

The most noticeable part of his effects arsenal has to be the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi.

This is his preferred dirt box and one that you can hear on the majority of White Stripe’s recordings.

digitech-whammyv-01-guitar-pitch-effect-pedal

Read our full review of the Digitech Whammy V

Aside from these, he owns some boutique pedals as well.

We are talking ZVex Woolly Mammoth which he used on several occasions, and the Voodoo Lab Tremolo.

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

It just so happens that most of the pedals he uses are fitting this aesthetic requirement quite comfortably, although he is known to paint the pedals as well.

zvex-custom-shop-woolly-mammoth

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

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


Conclusion

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

This combination of two extremely talented people has rightfully gained a lot of attention over the years.

Meg is killing it on drums while Jack is just impressive both as a guitar player and a vocalist.

jack-white-playing-live

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

What really makes his style of playing guitar special is the fact that he likes to mix things up from song to song.

This applies to the nature of the riffs as well as the color of his tone.  Sometimes he’ll dial in that standard overdrive tone with scooped mids and lows, while other times he goes harder on the bass.

From clean to dirty, almost no gain to full on gain saturation, Jack White keeps surprising with every new song.

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

Semi-hollow models are going to be your best bet, that is for sure. In terms of amps and effects pedals, it all comes down to a good vintage overdrive and a decent set of tubes.

Big Muff Pi combined with a compressor of some kind should get the job done in most cases.

At the end of the day, Jack managed to infuse a rather simple concept with a type of complexity of his own.

It’s not about how what you have but how you use it – that seems to be his ideology.

Gear Used On Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon

dark-side-of-the-moon-recording-sessions

There’s no doubt that Pink Floyd has left an invaluable impact on modern rock music, spawning a whole new genre of its own, or at least proliferating it to a point where it entered the mainstream.  I’m referring to, of course, psychedelic rock. 

No band before or since Pink Floyd have been able to make such experimental yet accessible music and take it to such a wide audience as this band.

pink floyd dark side of the moon tour

Despite having a wealth of material spread across a multitude of albums and singles that true fans are well aware of, for the most part, this legendary band is known for two groundbreaking and chart topping albums.

There is really no debate in the music community which of Pink Floyd’s are the biggest in terms of mass appeal.  One album is The Wall and the other is The Dark Side of The Moon. The former seems to be a bit more popular among the general population.

After all, you will hardly find a person who hasn’t heard Another Brick in The Wall in one way or another.  Rock radio made sure, and still makes sure, of that.  With that said, the story of The Wall draws its roots from The Dark Side of The Moon.

pink floyd the dark side of the moon

This album not only sets the course of Pink Floyd as a band, but it also gave them a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t in terms of aligning their vision with the production resources they’ve had at their disposal at the time.

They had, at this point, become aware of their personal and collective musical appetites, and realized just what kind of studio they will need, knowing that the creative process has to be respected, and also, how they function both as individual musicians and as a collective unit. 

Their creativity seemed to be bursting off prismatically in all directions at this point, as the famous album cover suggests, but it can be taken the other way too, where multifarious hues combine to focus into one beam of pure light.


The Concept for The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd – and all of its individual members – have elevated the sense of contemporary rock music to a whole new level. While every band at the time was trying to tell a story of their own, Pink Floyd took this mission much further than anyone has ever done before with The Dark Side of the Moon.

If you look at the sheer amount of effort that went into their albums, it was always multi-layered, both lyrically, musically, and texturally.  But Dark Side of the Moon was where they took things to another level, certainly, in terms of the scope of the concept, and the gear that was needed to express such a concept.

pink-floyd-photo-70s

Every song, every effect on this album had tangible meaning, and the only way you could convey these very elaborate expressions into something that actually made sense was to have the right kinds of musical tools at your disposal.

This fact became painfully clear after long and fruitful experiment sessions. The band was onto something.

Pink Floyd soon had the music down for the most part, knowing exactly what kind of vibe they were after, but they simply lacked the necessary tools to build and complete their vision the way it was meant to be.

The moment of realization that more serious approach needs to be taken, happened sometime before the May of 1972. During that month, the band went to the famous Abbey Road Studios and started actively recording.

Here’s the band back in 1971, bonding over oysters, previous to their arrival at Abbey Road.  Wonder if those oysters were any good…


Dark Side of the Moon – Equipment

There are several reasons why the band chose this specific studio to record The Dark Side Of The Moon.

At the time, it was the most advanced studio in the country, and probably elsewhere, which allowed them to record everything just the way they wanted to.

One of the big parts of that whole process were the EMI TG12345 consoles.

Abbey Road EMI TG-12345

Back in those days, these were state of the art instruments for studio production.

The band was able to work with up to 16 track mixes at any given moment, which completely changed the game. Previous to that point, the most Pink Floyd ever had a chance to work with was 8 track mixing at best.

Aside from a powerful console that was the foundation of the entire project, EMS VCS-3 synth played a significant role in the creation of this album.

ems_vcs3_the_putney

A lot of loops and effects were inserted into a variety of songs from the album using this synth.

In some ways, you could probably say that The Dark Side of The Moon wouldn’t be the same as those subtle details really put the whole album into a class of its own.


David Gilmour’s Dark Side Gear

When it comes to personal rigs of each of the band members, we can start with David Gilmour.

As you would expect, his main axe was the 1969 Black Strat packed with the standard Fender pups and a custom switch that allowed Gilmour to select more versatile pickup combos.

Here’s Gilmour discussing his famous Black Strat.

Sometime between the first and the second recording session of Dark Side of the Moon, he installed a Gibson PAF humbucker between the bridge and middle pickup.

However, whether or not he used this setup for recording is not known at this point. 

The other axe he used was a 1970 Strat with a mahogany body and custom pups. This one was used for Brain Damage and several other songs.

david-gilmour-recording-at-abbey-road-studios

Selection of amps came down to Hiwatt DR103 All Purpose 100W heads combined with Maestro Rover rotating speakers, some Leslie cabs and WEM Super Starfinder cabs.

His effects pedals included, but were not limited to Binson Echorec PE 603 EMS and Synthi Hi-Fli guitar effect processor.

Here’s a video that shows the sound of the Synthi Hi-Fli in action…

Roger Waters Dark Side Gear

Roger Waters used the same Fender Precision bass that the band had purchased after their gear was stolen in 1970.

During the recording of The Dark Side of The Moon, the bass has been modified by replacing the standard rosewood neck with a Charvel maple neck and a set of Kluson tuners.

fender-roger-waters-precision-bass-830471

Richard Wright Dark Side Gear

Richard Wright had a experimented with his setup during the recording. For example, he used a Wurlitzer electric piano that was routed through a wah pedal.

This is also the time when he was at the peak of experimentation with synths.

That VCS-3 we have mentioned earlier saw a lot of use, but Wright also played around with a Minimoog and ARP String Ensemble.

richard_wright_rig

Nick Mason Dark Side Gear

Nick Mason was using whatever there was available at the studio, although he also experimented with sound in some ways.

The most memorable instance would be the specially coated bass drum that was created specifically to recreate the sound of a heartbeat.

Here’s an interview with Nick Mason where he talks about The Dark Side of the Moon at length, providing valuable insights.

If you still crave more, this next video features both Nick Mason and Alan Parsons, discussing the album.


Ramifications

The way The Dark Side of The Moon turned out had a large impact on the next big album the band was going to release seven years later.

In many ways, they have learned valuable lessons from The Dark Side of The Moon, which is pretty obvious once you play The Wall.


Conclusion

Pink Floyd is one of the most influential rock bands to ever grace the earth.

Pink-Floyd-resize-1f

Their music has depth like you will hardly find today, which was created with equipment that is from the stone age compared to what artists have at their disposal today.

With them, it was all about the vision and the story The Dark Side of The Moon was meant to tell.

This legendary album will go down as one of the most important ones in the history of music, but rarely will anyone look at the equipment that was used to bring it to life.

We hope that we’ve given you some insight into the behind the scenes tools which the band used at the time.

Here’s a mini documentary about the making of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.  If you haven’t seen it…see it!  This is followed by the band playing the album live in 1974.

James Munky Shaffer Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


James “Munky” Shaffer – Rig Rundown

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

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

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


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Guitars

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

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

james-munky-shaffer-ibanez-k7

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

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

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

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

Not only is it always full with various pedals, but the pedalboard he runs is a custom piece likes of which you simply don’t get to see all that often. It’s complex and extensive, to say the least. munky-james-shaffer-pedal-board As for specific stompboxes he has on there, one that really peaked our interest is the DigiTech Metal Master.

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

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

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

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

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


Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

james-shaffer-ibanez

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

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

Mike McCready Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

mikemccready59-lp
 

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

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

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

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

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

pearl-jam-band-photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mike-mccready-guitar-setup-rig-rundown

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

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

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


Mike’s Rig

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

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

mike and stone

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

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


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Guitars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mccready gibson flying v

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

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

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

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

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

Mike McCready's Gibson Jeff Tweedy Signature SG Electric Guitar

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


Amps

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

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

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

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

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

vox ac30

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

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

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

65 amp

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer - Classic

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

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

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

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

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

mike-mccready-pedal-board

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

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mike_mccready_59_sunburst_stratocaster_fender

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

Tom Morello Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

tom-morello-arm-the-homeless-guitar

Rage Against The Machine is one of those rare bands that came out in the last several decades, who pushed something completely new, and often times political, with great success.

You don’t usually see bands taking this route just because of how risky it is, and for most, it has backfired. Not for RATM, though. For a band that has created such powerful tunes, you would think that one guitar simply wouldn’t be enough.

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

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

Morello knew how to balance his tone in such way that he could go crazy with solos, but still align himself with the bass for that extra girth. Even though that is pretty much all about skill, having the right equipment definitely plays its part.

Today we are going to do a short overview of Tom Morello’s guitar rig, and talk about his primary choice of gear.


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Rig Rundown

As we usually do, the first point of business are going to be Morello’s guitars. After that, we are going to quickly jump into some amps and finish the whole thing off by going over his pedalboard.

For the most part, replicating Morello’s tone is not that much about gear, but it’s good to know that a relatively simple setup can get you on the right path. Without further ado, let’s dig right in.


Guitars

If you take a peek into Morello’s guitar storage, you will see a variety of awesome and interesting guitars. There will be some pretty standard models like the Gibson Explorer or SG, but there will also be some that are very unusual, like that Ovation Breadwinner he has.

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

Here he is showing Carson Daly some of his ingenious scratching techniques with his famous guitar.

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

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

The neck he went with in the end was a Kramer design made of graphite, which is definitely an interesting choice. Hardware wasn’t standard either. The choice of bridge was reduced to Ibanez Edge locking tremolo.

Even though this might surprise some folks considering that Floyd Rose would have probably been a more logical solution, that Ibanez design fits Arm The People perfectly.

tom-morello-arm-the-homeless-guitar

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

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


Amps

Those who know Morello probably also know that he’s a Marshall man to the bone.

Ever since he started playing guitar, he used a Marshall amp of some sort. When his first one got stolen, Morello went on to buy a JCM 800 2205 head, which he used extensively until just recently.

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

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

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

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


Effects Pedals

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

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

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

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

Distortion, or rather overdrive, was always sourced from the amp.  He is also known for using his Boss DD-3 Digital Delay to make things space-y at times.


Conclusion

You could say that Tom Morello is one of those guitar players who knows how to do more with less. Whether it’s the simple fact of not having to deal with a complicated signal chain or his love for a pure tone, Morello never really complicated his guitar rig all that much.

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

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

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

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

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