Guitar Rig

I have been working out my sound and building my rig seriously for about four years now. Here is a rundown of the gear I use on stage, beginning with my effects pedal board.

Homemade powered pedal board. Power supply taken from a Musicians Friend pedal board, added plywood and carpet. I transport the whole board in an ATA flight case I bought used.  The pedals are placed in a specific order to achieve the sound I desire.

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone (Keeley Modded)

Guitar signal is fed into the metal zone distortion/overdrive pedal first. This pedal is true bypass. The Keeley mod boosts the signal  for increased volume, as well as tweaks to make the guitar signal sound ‘meaner’ and more responsive.  It’s technical stuff that turns this pedal into a tone and distortion monster. More info on the mod can be found here. It has taken me a little while to work the MT-2 into our songs as it is such an aggressive and ‘metal’ sounding pedal. When I need to reach the back row, I know this pedal will do the trick. And then some.

Dunlop Cry Baby 535Q Multi-Wah

Signal next enters the Wah. I put the Wah after the OD for a couple reasons. Since the modded MT-2 is true bypass when it is turned off the signal being fed into the Wah is not being effected. But when the metal pedal and the Wah are engaged, the Wah is being distorted and I think the Wah is more pronunced and has a great, cutting tone. This particular Wah is very versatile, with a built in boost button and dials to select the frequency center and range of the effect. More info here.

Boss Super Chorus CH-1

Next comes a Boss chorus pedal. Used to shape and modulate my sound, this pedal sounds great on solos and when I want to “soften” my sound up a bit. As with all Boss pedals it is solidly built, easy to use and can be powered with a daisy chain power supply. Tech specs here.

Dunlop MXR M101 Phase 90

Next the signal enters my phase shifter. The MXR 90, ‘orange brick’ is a classic effect used widely by guitar players. Adds a swirling and swooshing sound that can be increased to sound like a tremolo bar being flexed rapidly. Really good for ‘spacey’ sounds, adds good shape to notes or chords. I like to use it with the dial turned to about 8 or 9 o’clock to add a subtle swirling sound. More info here.

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano Reverb

Next into the Holy Grail reverb. This pedal is versitile with a toggle switch that can be moved between  hall (small to huge) and true spring reverb, as well as a setting for ‘Flerb” which with a turn of the knob goes from echo, to warble, to all out synth/organ trip out sounds. Small size, great tones and easy to use. One big knob for adjusting the level/amount of three reverb settings. Info here. I use this when I want classic reverb, haunting echo and when we are freaking out.

Ibanez Tone-Lok DE-7 Delay/Echo

Next into the Delay. This pedal can give digital delay sounds as well as analog echo sounds. Easy to use, the knobs can be locked into place once adjusted, a good way to keep levels in place. Can go from simple echo and slap back all the way in too Deep Space 9. This pedal can communicate with aliens. Handy, front mounted switches are present for adjusting time of delay and choosing between analog echo or digital delay. While this is not a true analog pedal, the echo sound is a good reproduction of a true tape delay. Info here. I use this during jams and some solos. Still exploring its many applications.

Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer

Next into the Tube Screamer. I use this as a boost as well as to add overdrive. A classic, easy to use pedal that can take a lot of abuse. I use two TS-9’s in a row, the first being a ‘stock’ model. I like to use this one to boost a clean channel and add a bit more edge. This pedal was once owned and used by legendary rocker Charlie ‘Chuck’ Nilan of the  rock band “Eugune’s Axe.” Check it here.

Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer (Keeley Mod)

Same unit as the stock TS-9 with a few upgrades. One improvement is the drive knob has been modded to increase its range three fold. 3x the goodness. This is a true bypass pedal, it sounds so crisp and clean, makes the guitar responsive, increases harmonics, and I love using it. Can be used as a boost, or with a turn of the ‘level’ knob can be used as a pretty gritty overdrive. I use it for many of our songs and in conjunction with other pedals. I set it to dirty, the other TS-9 to clean and then sometimes turn them both on. It sounds great, and is sonically invisible when it is turned off. I adjust it on the fly during gigs a lot and couldn’t envision my rig without it. More info here.

Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Jr.

-Used to mute entire rig for tuning, used for swells, can be used as an amp footswitch and a tuner can be run off this pedal. Great way of having a master volume control for you rig. More info here.

Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner

World renowned guitar and bass tuner. Can power other pedals (I run a daisy chain off mine to several other pedals) can be used as a mute, and is built for battle. Everyone knows of this tuner weather they own one or not. Here.

I also have my Fender and Marshall amp selector boxes mounted on the pedal board. More on amps in a bit. I currently have my entire pedal board running into an amp switcher…

Lehle Dual SGoS 

Lehle amp switcher

The answer to unknown questions

This allows me to run up to three amps, or two amps and a tuner, in which the tuner can also act as a mute. I can also run into an input dedicated to channel ‘A’, in order to have two instruments inline (one into ‘A’ and one into the main ‘A/B/T’ input) and two amps and multiple wives. And a whole lot of other, midi programmable options. The buttons can be reprogrammed to any configuration needed in seconds. Super bright led’s for each channel. This thing can beat you at chess. Two of the amps can be run simultaneously, aka stereo, allowing me to have a clean guitar sound and a dirty guitar sound at the same time. It is like opening a portal to the other side. Independent gain controls on top for channel ‘A’ and ‘B’ make it easy to balance the levels of the two amps you want to run in stereo.  The first time I switched on two tube amps hooked to the same guitar I wept. I wept from joy and the realization that from that day forward I would be able to melt minds. Minds and faces. It is a burden of power I am still coming to grips with.  Ground lift switch to cancel hum, and a switch that will put two out of phase amps in phase. The Dual can however be run with out of phase amps. It’s what you need. So depending on the amps, guitars and effects used, this box helps the guitar sound go from A to Zepplin. Worth the price. Lehle is a German company that solves the riddles. Learn about the Dual, here. Check Lehle out here, you will be glad you did.

So Guitar to pedal board to Lehle to amps. Amps:

“A” Channel:

Fender Blues DeVille, USA 1998, 60 watt all tube, 2×12 combo amp 

Caution, Loud Noises

Great for cleans, good spring reverb, and a bluesy gain channel that can get a good growl going. It has more overall power than I need, hence the THD Hot Plate on top for Attenuation. The Hot Plate allows me to turn the amp level up to get the broken up tube sound, then attenuate the sound down to a level appropriate for the room we are playing. A foot switch on my pedal board allows me to switch between clean, gain, and a ‘more gain’ option that works well as a boost for leads. I am always adjusting the knobs, but I tend to gig with the bass, treble and gain up pretty high, mids and reverb fairly low and the presence a bit over half (or +1 on some amps).

“B” Channel

Marshall JCM 900 MkIII, UK 1990, 50 or 25 Watt All Tube, 2×12, Hi Gain Master, 2502


Had the luck of finding a great used Marshall combo to add to the setup. I had been keeping my eye open for something beefier than the Blues DeVille, since it is not really made for harder rock, and we often rock harder. The JCM 900 is in great condition for being as old as a college girl. As young as a college girl. Its well aged. This one has no issues other than these are prone to overheat, something I plan to remedy with a simple mod from M.A.R.S. Amp Repair, in Englewood. The Fender and the Marshall run great together in rehersal, I am gigging with the setup Sept. 3rd, Scruffy Murphy’s, Downtown Denver. Should be a hoot. If all the chords are in the right order.

When we rehearse I run a third amp in the setup, mainly because I have other amps and the Lehle Dual allows it. The Lehle Dual is like having more fingers. That means good. Other amps I use:

Fender Princeton Chorus, USA 1988, ‘Red Knob’, 2×25 Watt Solid State, 2×10 Stereo Combo 

A Classic

I use this a lot in practice since it is easier to tolerate in a 12×12 room. Great cleans, o.k. gain channel, good chorus. Foot switch for the OD and Chorus. I have had this since about 1999. Traded a Takamine GS-330S for it. Got it from a friend who got it from the original owner. I like it. Good for an acoustic as well. Two Inputs, Stereo Effects Loop, Headphone Jack. Good condition.

Black Heart ‘Little Giant’ BH5H, China 2007, Class A,  5 or 3 Watt Head, 1×12 Eminence in the cabinet.

Little Beast

This amp is well made, it’s small and simple and it is affordable. I run it in the third channel of my Lehle Dual and although it makes the whole rig hum a bit when it is engaged, it’s not noticeable when playing at volume and it is a nice third tube sound. Good when just cranked on the 5 watt setting, with a lot of bass, treble and mid.

Amps and pedals are mostly utilized on stage with the following guitars.

Roots Rock

Fender Telecaster, USA Custom Shop 1999, Maple neck and body. Custom saddles and bridge plate.

Vintage Blonde

First Tele I have owned, thick, solid body with good sound from twang to snarl


Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe, USA 2010, 490R Neck and Burstbucker Pro bridge pickups, Coil Tapped Humbuckers.

Vintage Sunburst

Great tone, slim taper 60’s neck, hot pickups

Backup Guitars:

2002 Fender Stratocaster, USA, Highway One Series, Trans Red

2001 Gibson Les Paul Studio, USA, Wine Red

2008 Epiphone Les Paul, Slash Custom Shop, China, Tobacco Burst



Art as a weapon. Weapons of choice. It takes a village to raise a child.  Horses need a place to run free. Let my feet do the walkin’ and my fingers do the talkin’. We thank the trees for the wood, the men for their craft. God of commerce and shipping, delivery and arrival of the vessel. We do hereby commit ourselves to the dissemination of the sacrament. And so we rock.

Learn To Play The Guitar

And your life will be worth living.

When you start playing an instrument all you really need is that instrument. It can be a hand-me-down beater, the point is to get familiar with it. Get the feel. Get used to holding it, protecting it. Before you drive a nail, you have to learn to swing the hammer. So in the beginning, any guitar will do. Almost any. A prospective player should begin with an acoustic. One with high-action, a thick neck and stubborn tuning pegs. A guitar that is a little hard to handle. Like a bike that is too big to safely ride, so you crash. But if you really want to ride that bike, you get up off the hard Kansas ground, pick some gravel out of your knee and get back on your older brothers bike, er, guitar.

Never start on an electric, it’s too easy to hold the strings down and too hard to keep quiet. And never a guitar worth more than your fickle attention span is worth. Think how many quality guitars are sitting in kids’ closets cause they were better at getting their moms to buy them one than getting themselves to pick the thing up. A guitar that is too easy to play makes for a weak hand. If your hand can’t keep acoustic strings down against the fretboard you are not ready to upgrade your instrument. Start out on a no-brand classical style guitar that makes your hand cramp and your fingers sore. Then play it until it feels like an old friend. Your hand and forearm will thank you later when they look like Stallone’s in ‘Over The Top’. Because that is what guitarists arms look like. But as far as finding a guitar, ask around, check the back of your dad’s closet, guitars are everywhere. Don’t worry about the Stratocaster, or the Les Paul. Worry about making the strings work without buzzing. Concern yourself with that task of learning a chord, forcing your hand to makes shapes it never before has. Then memorize the chord and play it until your hand develops a muscle memory of its own. Then repeat until you have enough chords to learn that Nirvana song you always wanted to. Then you will realize that your right hand has a job to do and a muscle memory to develop all its own. Rhythm, something you thought you had until you tried to strum the guitar in a specific pattern of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’. Well, that too will improve over time, your fingers will become calloused and tough. Your grip will improve, and you will learn to steady the right hand and make it talk to the strings. Then put in another 10,000 hours.

Of course being able to eventually ‘play the guitar’ hinges on ones dedication. Like riding a snowboard, stroking the three ball, or ice dancing, its really hard to learn and it takes a long time to even become o.k. But once you have learned, it is like having a tiger by the tail. Not every one can play the guitar. Not every one can ride a bull. But those who can, do. And somewhere there is an elite force of bull riding guitarists.

See you at the show,


SFoM Drum kits

Glad to be asked so often – really. I guess the most efficient way to answer everyone at once is to post this here.

Live/studio kit – Sonar Force 3000 series circa 2004. 20 x 20 kick, 10 x 9, 12 x 10, & 14 x 14 toms. 5.5 x 14 Grover Pro Percussion Snare. 13″ Zildjian K hats. 16″ Zildjian Fast Crash. 18″ Sabian AA Med Crash. 18″ Zildjian A Custom China. 20″ Zildjian A Custom Ride. Double DW pedal, Sonar hardware.

Rehearsal kit: Tama Rockstar Pro Custom circa 1988. 22 x 20 kick, 10 x 11, 12 x 13, 14 x 14, 16 x 16 toms. 5 x 14 Sonar Force 3000 snare. 14″ Sabian AA hats, 17″ Sabian AA crash, 10″ Wuhan splash, 24″ Zildjian Z Ride. Sonar single pedal.

On both snares I use Evans reverse power dot for the batter side and a Evans hazy for the reso. For the tom’s, I prefer Evans G-Plus on top and Evans EC reso’s.

At gigs and in the studio I favor Ahead drumsticks with an ample amount of hockey stick grip tape.

That’s it. Pretty basic huh?

Cheers from the throne.