Guitar Gear, Guitar Gear and more Guitar Gear!
I’m going to run you through my gigging guitar gear for 2014. I’ve changed a lot of my guitar gear since 2013. So, I’ve got a lot to say but it will be great fun!
I have a lot of other guitar gear that I won’t be talking about today (yep, I like to hoard!) but this is pretty much what I’ll be using for every gig in 2014!
Just to make it clear, I’m not endorsed by anyone or any companies. All these views are mine and I’m only featuring/talking about gear I actually use.
[Sorry for the bad pictures coming up!!]
Guitar gear changes
A few of the major changes are:
On my pedalboard, some new pedals on – some old ones off and straight out the door, sold! Thanks eBay! Plus I’ve stripped it down and rebuilt it – it always sounds cleaner when this happens.
The amp I was using just was too small. So I had to replace my main guitar amp for something bigger.
That’s pretty much the major changes to the rig. So let’s dive into each component part.
I’m a big fan of newly made and inexpensive guitars. Most players aren’t but I figure that as I long as it stays in tune; has good intonation, feels special/excites me when I play it, and oh, it’s has to sound good! The other thing about inexpensive guitars, should one get stolen, it won’t break the bank to replace. And i’m not likely to get angry when I chip the paint, as I do like dig in!
Epiphone Les Paul Goldtop
My number one guitar for years has been an Epiphone Les Paul Goldtop, I’ve had it now around 10 years – and it has the scars to prove it!
What I love is the P90 are spanky and great for funky tunes, yet jazzy enough for me to emulate people like Paul Jackson Jr and Norman Brown. Plus with some help from some distortion, it’s dirty enough to get a really sweet singing lead tone or semi-scooped power chord tone. It’s just a great all around guitar.
Gretsch Duo Jet
The other guitar I’ve used over and over again is a duo Jet copy. It’s one of the cheaper Gretsch Electromatic series, and all I’ve had done is had it re-wired to Duo Jet standard wiring. So it has a volume for each of the pick-ups, an overall volume, a tone switch (rather than a tone control) and a pick-up selector – other than that I’ve done nothing to it.
It’s a great guitar and sound really Gretsch-y even with it’s stock mini-humbuckers. I love dialling in some delays and a soft term and just playing simple chords while using the Bigsby to slightly de-tune the guitar and therefore the delay repeats sound analogue! It take quite a bit of time to re-string and the Bigsby needs to be tight or it won’t hold the tuning – yes it can be hard work but sounds great when it’s all right.
Now this could look a little strange, for those who don’t know what this is, it’s a Peavey Rockingham, it’s based of Gretsch G6120 (I believe), I believe they are only (or were only) available in the UK.
There’s a great story to it, so you’ll have to wait for that! Suffice to say, it covers jazz, blues and rockabilly really well. The only thing with this guitar is I’m not too sure about the Bigsby, so I might replace that with a hard tail. It’s a great guitar, which has inspired me to work on my jazz chops! Read the whole story of how I got the rockingham guitar.
That’s the guitars; all are in hard cases – which are something I’d recommend you do. Protect your guitar properly. You can do it cheaply and it’s peace of mind at the end of the day. Especially worth it, if your guitars are surrounded by other gear in the van.
Pedals and pedalboards
Now, this I could write an essay on!
General pedalboard tips
I’m not into fancy pedals or ones that are rare/handmade etc.. A few exceptions: I have a Timmy Pedal which is a super overdrive/boost pedal. Also I have both a Arion SCH-1 and SCH-Z (both of which were still in production when I bought them and weren’t as hyped as they are now). Plus over the years, I have been given a few vintage Marshall pedals. I have, out of necessity built a few send return loopers, boosters and A/B Boxes (cheaper than buying them!).
I’m using a PedalTrain II which I’ve had for about 8 years now, its rock solid and has been designed to make changing out pedal easy – which is the reason I purchased it in the first place. I like how you can hide the wire beneath the frame which helps to keep it tidy and looking clean. The hard case that it came in is great.
The only other thing is I’m powering the whole board using a Visual Sound 1Spot and using George L’s cable and solder-less jacks on the PedalTrain, with homemade jack to jack cables from the guitar and from the pedalboard to the amp.
Before the pedal changes
Before Christmas, the board looked more liked this:
The differences are small but meaningful. Firstly I wanted a board which could cover a lot of ground. That’s why I need 4 gain stages, delay modeller, boosts, etc.
The old board was great but didn’t cover everything I needed it to, so it had to change. I sold the Dyna Comp and the Marshall Supa-vibe (especially seen as we aren’t in the 80s anymore!), plus I had a little mishap with my el cheapo decade old volume pedal. I went to lift the volume pedal up in order to rewire it and manage to snap the top off. Opps! Luckily, the replacement is made from metal.
Current pedalboard chain
In terms of signal chain, I’m running: A Dunlop Cry Baby Wah (soon to be changed for a Dunlop 535Q Wah – it’s easier to engage and the LEDs make it super easy to see when it’s on/off) into a Visual Sound Route 66 (one side is a boost/compressor; the other is overdrive – really versatile). Next, the RAT. I’m using it for really heavy distortion sound for the times I need more or a singing solo tone. The gain control on the RAT has a nice range. So, it can be used for a soft overdrive guitar tone as well.
Next up is the BOSS SD-1, great pedal which it’s set for a classic low gain overdrive sound. While not the most exciting pedal, it gets the job done. From there, I go into a BOSS EQ pedal, versatility in action! A little trick with this pedal is just to boost the three sliders in the middle up a notch or two, leaving the overall volume control alone – this gives you a great mid boost which just beefs up your tone whilst adding enough volume for a solo.
Next up is a Fender Volume Pedal, use for swells, silent tuning (I’m running the BOSS TU-2 in the tuner out) and having an easy to control the overall volume. Great replacement to my el cheapo plastic one! The next pedal is the Arion SCH-1, yep, using the famous one live!
Anyway from the Arion SCH-1, the signal passes to a BOSS DD-20 which I’m using with a tap tempo pedal (which isn’t in the photo, as it’s not on the board – ran out of space!). I love this and it’s a main stay. It covers a lot of ground; it’s easy to use and sounds great.
Finally, the Nobles Tremolo. It’s ok but is likely to get swapped. For some reason or another can’t seem to get it to sound how other (and simpler!) tremolo pedals or amp based tremolo works/sound.
With the gigs I’ll be doing in 2014, I’m lucky enough to be able to use the same amp and set up, 99% of the time. The other 1% will either be gigs where I’ll be sitting in and therefore can’t use my own (or much of my own gear). Or it will be weird logistical situation where I’ll have to either use a hire amp or use an amp that’s been supplied at the venue.
Down to business, I was using two amps in 2013 – a Laney VC-15 and a Vox Pathfinder 15 – both are 15 watt amps. The Laney is all tubes but Class AB (which makes it too quiet for what I’m doing) and the Vox is solid state yet super loud, punchy and classically Voxy! It was a pain trying to get them to balance and getting them to blend nicely together. Plus it was annoying to have to carry two amps around.
I really wanted to go back to a single amp which was loud enough, light and easy to use. So, my only options was another combo. I then sold the Laney VC-15 and purchased a Laney VC-30 – it’s super loud, 30 Watts and Class A. The VC-30 sounds exactly the same as the VC-15, just its way louder, Laney have really done a great job on this range. It’s such a sweet Amp, un-usable for practice, for which I’m keeping the Vox but perfect for what I’ll find myself doing this year!
There you have it. A complete run down of all the gear I’ll be using live in 2014. What you’re rig for 2014?