So it has been one year since I started this blog with Corey from Vasudeva and throughout this past year, I got to talk to many friends and a bunch of new people about guitars, amps, pedals, and recording. This week I thought I would do something different and tell everyone about there gear I use. So here it is, it glorious detail.
For the length of TBOTW I have basically had 3 main guitars. First was a faded Gibson SG which I got in 8th grade. I broke the headstock off this guitar three times and got it fixed each time. Once I broke it a fourth time, it was time something new. Around the time we first started touring, I switched to a Les Paul special (same faded brown). I really liked the weight of it and came to find out that it sounds pretty dark compared to other LPs. This guitar has been on every record since Quarter Life Crisis in 2008. There has always been a hairline crack in the headstock (bought it used) and after a while I got nervous about jumping around with it live. When I was loading up my old car for a show once, I left the guitar on the roof and drove away. A second later, I heard a thud and my heart dropped. It somehow survived, but I usually keep this one home now and bring it out when it is time to record my doubles. After the Les Paul I moved back to SGs and got a SG standard. Playing the LP was great, but I guess because I started with SGs it feels more like home to me. Humbuckers are great, I just max out the volume and tone and ride with just the bridge pickup. I control all of my tone through pedals and the amp. Using the pickup selector as a kill switch is also very helpful.
I did go through a p90s kick a couple of years ago. . It all started because I got an Eastwood Sidejack baritone guitar which has a great tone. It’s used on the song Kill Screen off Natural Born Haters, Growing Up. Throwing Up. off the Great Bands! Great Dudes! Split and even on some County Drop songs. For TBOTW I had it in drop A and for County Drop I went down to Drop G#. It really helps to fill the sound out, epically when layered with standard guitars. Jeff Rosenstock was the inspiration for this as I think he incorporates the low tunings very tastefully. So anyway, the tone that I got using the Eastwood convinced me to get a Gibson Melody Maker with 2 p90s, which is sweet. I brought this out as my main on a Midwest tour but it’s pretty much my backup now, its tv yellow and looks awesome. If I’m not using that as my backup, I’ll take my Fender 72 Deluxe reissue. For strings I use Ernie Ball Beefy Slinky which is a heavy set, 11 to 54. I am currently trying out the cobalt version but for years i have used the nickel wound. I don’t ever play lower than drop d, but I love the weight of heavy strings. I use a decent weight pick (0.88 mm) so I like a string to match so I’m not ripping through strings.
When I played with Hub City Stompers, more of a traditional ska/reggae band, I used a Japanese Fender 69 thinline Telecaster reissue for that tele single coil feel. Along those lines, I also have a G&L Tribute ASAT Bluesboy which is like a standard tele with a humbucker in the neck position. I really love this guitar for cleans. My oldest guitar that is still in working condition is my white Fender Mexican Strat. I recently swapped out the neck pickup for a Duncan Distortion and put in all black hardware. Before that I never used it much but with the new pickup, it really rips. So yea, that’s all my guitars.
For amps there isn’t as much variety as I have had the same amp for about 10 years now, a Mesa Triple Rectifier. I have not had one issue with this amp as it has withstood everything I put it through. I am not a big fan of the clean channel for TBOTW, so I use the middle distortion channel as my clean and turn the gain way down. This way there is still some grit on it. The only time I used clean channel is when I played with Hub City Stompers, there I was able to get a bright clean tone that cut, especially with the single coils in the tele. I recently got an Orange Rockerverb 50 which I have been using a bit with TBOTW. The clean channel needs a little bit of grit for me, so I have been using a Xotic EP Boost to push it a little more. It sounds really good.
In the studio, I have always used the Mesa and double tracked my guitars with some kind of Orange amp. I own a Tiny Terror and Timber Studios has a Rockerverb which I used on Natural Born Haters. For clean tones on the records I pretty much do something different every time. I’ve used Princeton Reverbs, a Bassman, Oranges, and even a Bogner. Most recently, I picked up a Sovtek Mig 50 which I really love for cleans, especially with the G&L. Cab-wise, I have settled in on a Marshall JCM cab with GT-75s. I also have an Avatar 2×12 with vintage 30s that sounds great and is perfect for tracking.
I’ve been in and out of the pedal game over the years but now I am definitely all in. I don’t rely too much on pedals, if something were to go wrong live, I could plug directly into my amp and 75% of my sound would be there. But I do feel that the pedals I use take my sound to the next level. The Mesa rips even more if you put a boost in front of it. I used to use a tube screamer with the volume all the way up and the gain at 0, as many people do, but I switched to using a Zvex Box of Rock and I feel like it gives me even more than the TS9 did, plus a little more of a unique sound. Here is how my whole chain lays out, with the Mesa footswitch on the board as well.
Visual Sound Pure Tone Buffer → TC polytune mini → Zvex Box of Rock → Way Huge Swollen Pickle → MXR Phase 90 → Mooer Noise Killer → Strymon Brigadier → Wampler Faux Analog Echo → TC Hall of Fame Mini→ Boss RC-20XL Loop Station → Earthquaker Devices Levitation reverb
The boost on the Box of Rock, noise suppressor, and Levitation Reverb are on all the time. I mainly use the boost section of the Box of Rock but I will kick on the distortion side when doing leads or octaves so it cuts a little more (I set it to boost treble as well as add gain). Once I started using this boost, the noise suppressor became necessary to control the feedback. The Levitation reverb can get pretty spacey but I set it rather mildly. The triple rec has no built in reverb so I use this to fill out my sound. The loop station has 10 banks so 9 of them are usually loaded with samples, that’s pretty much its only function for me during a show. Other than that, the pedal I go to most would be the Wampler Echo, I’ll kick it on during a clean part or big ringouts to give it some depth, I keep it set rather quickly almost slap-backy. The phase 90 is really fun too and I have started to incorporate into more parts, especially in new songs. If you catch a set now, I will most likely use it once or twice, you just gotta pick your spots with it, but it’s a classic. I added the Swollen Pickle which I will flick on when I want to sound heavier than anything. It adds serious fuzz/bottom end/feedback. I’ll only use it once or twice a set, but you’ll notice. I took this idea from by my buddy Brian from PEARS, he does the same thing for their heavy parts. The newest addition to my board would be the Styrmon Brigadier. I used to run a Way Huge Aquapus but the brigadier gives me the same bucket brigade delay but with a lot more control. I have always wanted the tap tempo plus you control the bucket loss and switch between quarter, triplets or dotted-eight delay.
On the top right of my board I have a TC Helicon Mic Mechanic. For smaller DIY shows I’ll run my mic through this to get some slapback and a nice EQ. I tried to play with the pitch correction to sound like T-Pain, but unfortunately, it’s not that harsh. On some recent recordings I used an Electro-Harmonix B9 to simulate organ for a few parts. It’s a really great pedal for what it does, but I found it to be a little noisy in my chain so I had to take it out.
The first time I ever played bass was recording for TBOTW in 2008. We didn’t have a solid bass player at the time so I picked up a Mexican Fender Jazz Bass, learned the album and recorded it. After that we got a steady bass player and I stopped playing. It wasn’t until I started playing in Party Attack in 2010 that I picked up a bass again. Once I came back up north after college, I started playing with County Drop. After playing with them for a while I wanted a more aggressive tone so I bought a Musicman Stingray. Love this bass, the pickup is so good. I used it on The Origin of Skeletons as well as the split we did with Paste. After a couple of years I wanted to get a passive bass that still had a humbucker, so now I play a Gibson Victory Bass. It is kind of like Gibson’s attempt at a P-bass, but it has a humbucker. I didn’t buy it with the intention of it replacing the Musicman, but I love playing it so much that it has. I took out the tone knob and the series/parallel switch so it just has a volume knob. I like it because while it still rips, it’s not quite as harsh as the Musicman and I feel like I have more control with it. I used the Gibson to record You Firefly.
When I first started playing with County Drop I was in need of an amp (I had always borrowed one when playing in Party Attack). So I picked up a Gallien-Krueger backline 600 and an Ampeg SVT 4x10cab from some friends and rolled with that. I also has a Sans Amp Paradriver pedal which helped me get a good sound. It is basically the same as the bass pedal except it allows you to choose what mids to scoop. Now I have upgraded somewhat. I still have the same Ampeg cab but now I have a Mesa C3 cabrine head with a rackmount Sans Amp RBI. I love the Mesa head because it’s got a tube preamp and simple controls, only Bass, Mid, Treble, Gain, and Volume. The Sans Amp helps me push it a little more, get some grit in there, and shapes my sounds. I can’t praise this enough, I feel like this can always get me the sound I have in my head. I like for my sound to really cut when the guitars are clean but also blend in well during big distorted heavy parts
When I recorded You Firefly I wanted to mix up the bass tone a little bit. The bass on the record is a DI from my Mesa, a DI off the Sans Amp and mixed in lightly underneath is a dry bass signal with a Big Muff cranked. It adds a little something to my tone that I really love. For a while I recreated that sound live with a Boss LS-2 Line Selector. This pedal gives you two loops (A and B) that you can mix in however you want. In loop A I kept my dry signal from the bass and in the B loop I had a Dr. Green Bass Reverb and I swapped out the Bass Big Muff for an Idiot Box Blower Box distortion. I liked the Big Muff but the Blower Box just gives you a crisper distortion that you can really crank. I left both of these pedals on and turn the B loop down pretty low. This gave me a similar tone to what I was able to achieve on You Firefly.
Recently I reconfigured my entire pedalbord, keeping only the Idiot Box distortion with I use sparingly only for heavy parts. I added an EBS Multi Comp first in my chain to even out my sound and give a little signal boost. After the distortion I have an Electro-Harmonix Nano POG which I have set to blend in an octave down. I use this to kind of get a 5 string feel when I want, without having to play a 5 string. If I want to add some beef to a part, especially if it’s on the A string, I’ll flick it on. Next is the TC Electronic Flashback mini. I always wanted to be able to experiment with delay for bass, but never had room on my board, so this pedal is great. It takes up very little space and with the toneprint feature, I have so many different delay options just a second away. Last is a Hardwire RV-7 reverb. I like how much control this pedal has, I keep it on a very light room and leave it on all the time. It just adds some space to my sound.
so that’s pretty much it. Who knows, in a year I may be using something totally different than what I am now. I will keep you updated. For now I am going to take a break for a few weeks with the site, but I’ll be back soon with more gear