Darrel Higham Guitar Gear
Darrel Higham is known as one of the best Rockabilly guitarist alive today – if not of all time. If you haven’t heard him, there’s loads out there and he’s always on the road. I couldn’t find that much about what Darrel is using guitar wise, so that’s why I’ve put this together. While his rig may be simple, his playing style is anything but!
I discovered Darrel in around 2006 when I read an interview with him about his then signature guitar the Peavey Rockingham, I later acquired one and it’s a really great inexpensive guitar. He still has a few Rockinghams in his collection. Among his guitar collection is a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster guitar with 3 P90 pickups, a Grestch White falcon guitar, and a Gibson ES-295.
He also has a Grestch 6120, which is the same model that Eddie Cochran used. Eddie is one of his key influences. In general Darrel likes changed the pick-ups for to a P-90 pickup in the neck position, a DeArmond pickup in the bridge, and a fixed arm bigby.
Live, the pedalboard only has three pedals on it. There are two Zoom G2, both are setup with same presets, which includes a reverb sound and a tremolo sound. The G2 also is used as a tuner and one is only used as a backup. And a Danelectro Reel Echo, which is used for a little slap back delay on a few numbers. The three pedals are powered by T-rex Fuel Tank.
Lastly, on top of the amp is a Electro Harmonix Hum Debugger, which keeps hum to a minimum.
Darrel has used a Peavey Delta Blues amp with a 15 inch speaker for many years. The 15-inch speaker brings the life out of the DeArmond and P-90 pickups a bit more – especially the DeArmond, which can be quite bright. He also has a new reissue Watkins Dominator in custom red and white, as oppose to the traditional blue and white. An original Marshall Bluesbreaker distortion pedal is used to drive the Watkins into an slightly overdriven tone.
For strings, Ernie Ball 10-46 with a wound 18 on the third string and the usual 2nd string is replaced with a 12. It looks like Darrel uses custom printed medium picks.
Get that Darrel Higham guitar sound
I would describe his tone as slightly broken up tube sound which fairly bright with dash of reverb. For you to achieve the tone, you’ll need a semi-hollow body guitar. An amp which is fairly clean when loud, you of course want a bit of breakup but not full on distortion. You’ll then want to add some reverb and have a tremolo pedal ready for slower tunes.
The other big component of his sound is hybrid picking, which Darrel does in an interesting way. He uses a flat pick rather than a thumb pick and fingers. Lastly, you’ll need to work on using a Bigby to accent notes and chords. Its all may sound simple, but all in all, Darrel Higham is a complex player with tones to match.