Guitar Heads - Your Rig - Your Tone

First - Apologies to E-Sabbath for not supporting the ongoing guitar thread but I wanted to keep the conversation about rigs and tone.

And on the subject of Guitar-Acquisition-Syndrome, Wordman asked me to describe mine. Im going to answer in this thread

So here’s my questions -

1 - Please list/brag/bemoan your guitar equipment

2 - What do you use to create “your tone”?

3- What does your **G A S ** demand of you next?

Interesting topic. I will try to get to this either later today or sometime tomorrow…

My equipment before Wordman gave me GAS.

[li]1980 Fender F55-12 (Acoustic 12 String)[/li][li] 2008 Squire HSS Stratocaster[/li][li] Fender GDec Jr Practice amp (came with the Strat)[/li][/ul]

Then I caught GAS

[li] Alvarez Fusion (Acoustic-Electric 6 string - pawn shop special - probably from the 90’s)[/li][li] Fernandes Nomad (These are the coolest electric travel guitars - got one on Craigslist for $120 - play straight through the onboard amp and speaker or plug into an amp and saturate the bridge humbucker)[/li][li] 2008 Gibson Worn Cherry SG [/li][li] Epiphone Eb3 (?) Bass guitar - old, beat up, neck repair, but beautiful tone[/li][li]Squire J-Bass - My low ball EBay bid was picked up Flawless like new condition at low used price. Plays easier than the Epiphone but the Eppy hands down has the better tone[/li][li] Acoustic B100 Bass Amp (well, I had to have something to play the two bass guitars through)[/li][li] Fernandes Nomad Special (special has a digitech effects processor on board as well as an amp - daughter took off with my first Nomad and I missed it so much I bought another)[/li][li]Ibanez Ragtime Special Acoustic (1990’s I think - I played just about every acoustic guitar in the shop close to my house and this one stood out. It was a consignment guitar so I was able to move the price down below $500 and buy it - I have to force myself not to play only this guitar)[/li][li] Fender Blues Jr. Amp (pure heaven to play)[/li][/ul]


Before I acquired the Blues Jr. I bought a hardware/software package called Guitar Rig 3 which the manufacturer upgraded to GR4 6 months later. It’s a great way to try out a lot of effects and see what wahs/limiters/distortion boxes/ and other modifiers do to the sound. IT also had a recorder and a tape loop on it that could all be actuated from the stomp box. I liked it but I found that I spent most of my time adjusting it instead of playing.

Most of the time I plug straight into the Blues Jr. and just play whatever beautiful tone I can dial in from the amps controls.

The Squire plays great and I’m in a dilemma over upgraded the Squire’s PU’s or just stepping up to a Fender Strat.
The SG is heaven but I cant help but wonder if I swap the PU’s out for 57 PAF if it would sound better

I have a 2010 Fender Starcaster. Once I sanded down the frets to where they stopped cutting my hand as I play, it’s actually not so bad, except for the sloppy machine heads. It took me a little to get my head around the idea of monkeying with it, but it’s a good first guitar. And the sanding stopped me wanting to throw it at the wall, so that’s a good thing.

I’m using a 1 watt Danelectro N1 Honeytone for practice, and it really doesn’t sound that bad at all! And it doesn’t require a wall outlet or anything. I’ve got a cheap 10 watt Squier, but the Danelectro is much handier.

Bubba: Don’t apologize. Wouldn’t mind it if you linked this thread in it, as the goal is to keep it as a reference to all guitar threads, a musical history of the Dope, you know?

Can’t hang around to post much right now but my everyday amp is one of these except mine isn’t a re-issue (as this seems to be) mine doesn’t say ‘Marshall’ on it anywhere.

Back tomorrow…

I think when you talk about tone, a huge factor is the player him/herself. If you don’t have good technique, it won’t matter what you’re playing through - it’ll still sound like poo.

With that said, however, on to answer the OP questions.

I own several guitars. I tend to gravitate to my Fender types (Strat and Tele) than my Gibson Les Paul these days. I started on a Squier Strat and graduated up to a Les Paul after high school. I played Gibsons exclusively for a few years until maybe the mid 90’s when I found my Lone Star Strat. That’s the one that turned me back to a Fender man for life.

When I began building my own guitars, I found tone-nirvana. I’ve learned how to get the tone I want out of a guitar through it’s design (most of the time) by choosing the right materials (woods, electronics, hardware, etc).

But when it comes to tone, and you take the player himself out of the equation, I think that the pickups and the amp are the most important pieces. So with that in mind, my daily rig consists of:

Amp: Marshall JCM 2550 Diamond Jubilee Head with matching 4X12 cab

This amp has been my workhorse for more than 15 years. Bought it from a friend who didn’t really know what he had. I’ve only had one mod done to it - had the negative feedback loop taken out of it - and it sounds amazing. It’s got a built in switch that takes the output from 50 to 25 watts, which helps so I can push the tubes without serious ear damage. The amp is actually well know amongst Phoenix area recording engineers and has been rented out from me on occasion when they’re looking for THAT sound. A great amp…

I also own one of those VOX Valvetronix modeling amps that I plug into from time to time so I don’t bug the wife. Nothing really special about it other than I think it sounds better than any Line 6 I’ve tried…

Guitar: Hand built Strat or Tele OR Fender Lone Star Strat

I have a rotation of about 3 guitars that I play regularly depending on my mood. They all have one thing in common - Bare Knuckle brand pickups from England. They’re the best you can buy IMO. I don’t know what it is that makes them so great - pickup science is not a forte of mine - but they just sound better than anything else I’ve tried. Even when playing with a heavily distorted tone, you can hear every string - every note - crystal clear. They’re expensive but well worth it…

Pedals: Marshall BluesBreaker II, Cry Baby Wah, and Boss Compressor and Reverb

I’m not a big effects guy. I usually just plug in and go. I use the Marshall pedal for a mid-range boost for solos when playing with a full band (which isn’t very often these days). I use the compressor for sustain during solos or to even out my clean tone. No reverb on the amp, so I need one of those for ambience. And the Cry Baby - well, everyone needs one of those. :smiley:

Well, its linked on the first line of the OP.

But here it is again in a more obvious link

The Great Ongoing Guitar Thread

You make me feel a little bit braver about modding my Squire Strat. Not brave enough to take a file to it but maybe brave enough to give it a differnet set of Pickups.
BigShooter - I’ll have to check out those BareKnuckle PUs

BareKnuckle’s are highly-buzzed-about boutique pickups, as are Lollers, Fralins, Timbuckers, Wolftones, Peter Florance/Voodoo, etc., etc., etc. - if you want really back pickup GAS, head to the Gear Page and search on “pickup” or the various brand names listed above - or the Les Paul Forum…

Back to my meetings…

I highly recommend them to anyone. For a cheaper route, I’ve never gotten a bad set of Seymour Duncans either. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably use a Duncan in my latest build which I’ll probably start a thread on in the near future. :smiley:

I have two amps. One is a 1966 Fender Bassman head that I play through a closed 4x10 Fender cabinet. I gigged with the Bassman back when I played in really loud club bands. It has great tone when cranked up, but it is too loud for much of anything I do now, so it is a stay-at-home amp. The guitar that sounds best through it is the cheapest one I have, an Epiphone Dot ES-335 copy. When my wife isn’t home, I sometimes put the dog outside and play the blues loud with that rig.

For most of the gigs I’ve played over the last ten years, I have used a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp with a 1994 Fender Strat Plus. While the tones I achieved with that rig probably wouldn’t excite a tone purist, I found that combination to be dependable and easy to use while delivering acceptable tone. I have gone through an amazing array of effects pedals.

A couple of years ago I pretty much retired from club gigs and now the only gigs I play are in church and in prison (but that’s another thread). Also a couple of years ago, WordMan mentioned that he had a Telecaster body for sale, as well as an old Seymour Duncan humbucker that he would throw in at a good price. As is often the case with WordMan, there was a good story about the pickup that I’ll let him tell when he gets back to the thread. I bought the body and the pickup and set out to build my first partsocaster. I put the Duncan in the neck position, bought a Bill Lawrence for the bridge pickup, got some brass bridge saddles, a Warmoth neck and pickguard, Schaller locking tuners, assorted other parts and a 5-position super switch that allowed me to split the coils on the humbucker. This guitar has become my main guitar; it’s a little like having a Les Paul and a Tele in one guitar.

At about the same time as this build was going on, I was struggling with issues of tone versus volume at church. I was playing some stuff that required some overdrive, and had come to much prefer the sound of the overdriven Hot Rod to any distortion pedal I had tried. But even with a master volume, I was having trouble getting the sounds I wanted without scaring the old ladies and irritating the sound man. So (WordMan forgive me) I bought a Line 6 Pod XT Live, an amazing amp and effects modeling rig that is the first thing of its kind that I’ve tried that actually sounds to me like an amp. The first two tones that I saved on it were attempts to mimic the sound of my Hot Rod, clean and overdriven, and it worked very well. I did an A/B test with it in church. I set up the Hot Rod with a mic on it, and the Line 6 direct into the board. I stood out in the middle of the room using my wireless, and a friend switched my input back and forth between the amp and the Line 6. The only difference I could hear was the combination of locations for the source of the sound with the amp, because I was hearing it both from the amp and from the PA speakers overhead. I have since tweaked and saved a few more amp setups in the Line 6. My current favorite is a Marshall Plexi that sounds really cool with my Tele.

So there you have it. My rig has come down to a home-built guitar and a Line 6 Pod XT Live. WordMan, let this serve as my confession. I have gone to the dark (modeling) side.

My old rig, back in the 70s:
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman and Guild Thunderstar tube amp.

My current rig:
Gibson Les Paul Custom and Carvin solid state amp

My “tone” was simply the result of whatever guitar and amp I was using. Over all, I still prefer the tone of a tube amp.

I don’t really have G.A.S., as I’ve been lucky enough to play or try out virtually everything I’ve been interested in - various types of Les Pauls, Telecasters, Stratocasters, ES335, ES175, etc. It was one of the “bennies” of hanging out with the “garage band crowd”.

Whatever works, my friend - you know that’s my mantra. Getting weenie-ish about tubes serves no purpose; I can think of a buncha reasons I should consider a POD for my live rig, but haven’t invested the time to try to get to know one.

I hate the fact that I am on an endless merry-go-round of meetings today; no way I can post more. Thanks for the shout-outs - as **BubbaDog **said in the GOGT, I seem to be a geeked-out GAS enabler, but given how your Parts-o-Tele turned out, it seems to have turned out okay. Heh, heh. ;):smiley:

2009 Fender Stratocaster (Mexican, standard, maple fretboard, tentatively named “Mary Ann”)
Korg PX4D effects processor
Bose QC3 noise-cancelling headphones

I live in an apartment, and I only started playing about six months ago, so I have reasons to keep my playing fairly quiet for the time being. The effects processor has a hundred different sounds, but I usually leave it on the accoustic setting because that’s where I can hear my mistakes the best. I took some lessons when I was just starting (plugged a little iPod-type speaker in place of the headphones), and have been working through an instructional book that I really like. Still making good progress.

No sign of G.A.S., yet. When I went to pick out my guitar, I had the help of a more guitar-savvy doper, since I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’m very happy with my Strat, practicing and sounding better all the time, but I still don’t know what I’m doing. I read threads like this where people mention trying out every guitar in a shop, or the magical feel of some legendary vintage guitar, and I know that I wouldn’t feel that (not yet, and maybe never). I suspect I’ll want to play an accoustic at some point, but no sense in acquiring another guitar until I have the touch and wisdom to know I’m acquiring the right guitar.

If I hadn’t met you, I would probably never have moved the guitar-building project from the dream column to the dream-come-true column. So thanks for that, and for the body and pickup “starter kit”. Of course, if I hadn’t met you, I wouldn’t have this slight nagging feeling of guilt about being satisfied with a modeling rig. :wink:

And here is the back-story on the Seymour Duncan pickup, reposted from a previous thread.

And the one in my Tele is the nicest pickup I’ve ever had.

I’m still in “getting my feet wet” stage:

Epiphone Les Paul Special II
Peavey Vypyr 15-watt amp (a new purchase, as the Epi amp which came with my guitar croaked the other day)
Pocket Rockit headphone amp, for practicing when I don’t want to haul out the big amp
Digitech Brian May effects pedal, which was an indulgence, and I don’t often use it, but it’s fun to play with (esp. the setting which models an acoustic guitar)

GAS hasn’t hit me hard yet…I’ve considered getting a second guitar, but not strongly. When I do, I’ll probably get an inexpensive Strat or Tele, just so I can see the difference between that and the LP.

I meant the other way round! Link this thread in that one. :slight_smile: Given as it’s your thread, it’s your option to do so or not.

E-Sabs: I suspect all of us Dopers will cede you the authority of linking to any threads you deem GOGT-worthy!

Works for me. Which reminds me, I have to hunt down that thread on amps someone made a week back. Later.

Anyhow, I know I don’t have the experience yet, but that cheap Danelectro is really good, I think.

And I am thinking of replacing the Starcaster, but I don’t know what with, yet. I suppose I’ll keep practicing, then wander into Sam Ash with $500, one day, and see what happens.

My turn.
97 American standard Tele/Rosewood/Texas special pickups, a 60th anniversary m.i.m Strat/Tex-Mex pickups, Olympia steel string acoustic, Seagull 12 string.

Line 6 Vetta, Fender pro jr., Roland microcube.

My tone started with the Vetta, because I thought I needed a amp with everything, I was wrong. The tone now is the Pro jr through a hbe power screamer and a mxr phase 90. The Roland is a great little amp for practice.

My current gas is for a set of Fralin split blades for my Strat.

Right now I have the following:

1960 Les Paul Goldtop
Taylor 110CE steel string acoustic

B-52 AT 212 100 tube combo

Boss compressor

My buy list:

A Music Man, either a John Petrucci model or Steve Morse. Not sure which. I would go with a SM model but I want a double octave neck…
A 7-string. Probably an Ibanez of some sort.
A bass. Probably 5 string. Not sure exactly what I want yet.
A nylon string.
A 12 string. Probably a Taylor.

Bass amp. I have no idea at this point. I’ll have to go play a bunch of amps.

A Memory Man delay

I am not much of an effects guy. I usually record straight and double track everything.