I’m very psyched to endorse, err, be endorsed by … wait be an endorsee … or is it endorser? … oh, whatever! Check these guys out – they make COOL SHIT. Click on the images below to go to their Web sites. In many cases you’ll go right to my artist page where you can find out exactly what I use. Thanks to all the fine folks (many of whom are family to me) at these incredible tonal institutions for their their genius gear and stellar support. In addition to what you’ll see below I use a plethora of other fine pieces such as a Gibson L6-S, a prized Ibanez Jem 777 in Desert Sun Yellow(!), Boss delays, Line 6 DT25 head/cab, a modded Variax JTV-69 to name a few. Also in the arsenal is some pretty crazy vintage pieces such as a real-deal TS-808 and a Mu-Tron Bi-Phase. All this and more will be getting up here one of these days, but in the meantime visit the sites below and drop a line anytime if you have questions about how I do what I do. Dig this: The second half of Funk Fission has a handful of detailed video lessons on a few of my pedal tricks of the trade. Check it out!
DiMarzio [re: Steve Blucher] was the first company to support what I do back I wasn’t doing all that much. I’m more than honored to use DiMarzio pickups in all my guitars as well as their instrument & speaker cables in pedal rigs as well as my Fractal/Atomic touring rig. Steve Blucher has been a mentor and a friend for almost 15 years. Love that old buzzard and look forward to many more years making noise with DiMarzio.
I’ve exclusively used D’Addario strings for longer than I can remember on everything from jazz boxes to solid bodies with floating bridges to acoustics to fretless guitars … and I always will. It’s just that simple. I also use their NS Micro Tuners on every guitar I own. It’s such a hassle-free way to keep everything in tune and also frees up my pedal rigs for more pedals!
Every once in a while something comes along that changes the game completely – for me it was the Axe-Fx. I stared at those ads for years and heard all the hoopla for just as long. It wasn’t until I finally had enough of traveling with pedals and dealing with all that comes with it that I took the leap. Plus, I was looking to go to the next level control-wise and sound design-wise. After a lot of research and asking around I went for an Axe-Fx Ultra and MFC-101. Oh. My. GOD! Haven’t looked back since. With the Axe-Fx II XL and MFC-101 III I feel like I can do just about anything, anywhere, anytime. Forever floored.
To take full advantage of the Axe-Fx you have to run it through a full-range rig. That’s exactly what I do with my all Atomic rig to make it happen and happen it does BIG TIME. Currently my Matrix power amp is connected to two passive Reactor FR Cabinets set on their sides with the tweeter at the top. I went as far as to drill in my own heavy-duty rubber feet to the side that sits on the floor. Needless to say my FRFR rig sounds AMAZING. Seriously, it’s just sick!
Hands down: I play the best electric solid body fretless guitar on the planet. Wanna see? How about this?! Mr. & Mrs. Vigier, DJ Scully and everyone at Vigier are wonderful human beings and possess saint-like patience. I look forward to everyday I get to play this incredible instrument. It changed my musical life and creative life. Seriously. Click here to learn more. You can also see me playing a gorgeous Excalibur Supra Special in most of my TrueFire Guitar Gym courses as well as a rippin’ G.V. Rock in my Guitarinstructor.com videos.
I’ve been a fan of my friend Charlie Hunter since his first album and through him – along with countless others – I discovered the genius of Ralph Novak of Novax Guitars. Upon meeting the man himself at a NAMM show I was immediately a fan of Ralph, too! I’m now a mega-fan of my kick-ass Novax “Annie.” It’s a hybrid of the Sweet and Sassie models featuring a swamp ash body with Bartolini soapbar pups. Light as feather and snappy as hell – this fanned fret gem has already inspired new directions and helped me make a new friend in this legendary luthier. I’ve also been rockin’ an XR 6-string model as well that I have on loan from Novax that’s a total beast!
I’ve been playing electric guitars of all sorts for almost 30 years, but when it comes to acoustics I’ve only owned Taylor guitars. I started out with a beautiful 814C that was recorded (both in audio and video) many times over on sessions and my days doing the Guitar One CD-ROMs. These days I can’t put down my Baritone-8 that I have set up in the same tuning and string array Pat Metheny used for his One Quiet Night album. Playing that guitar is completely addictive and I look for any opportunity to bring such a unique instrument into whatever mix will be game for it. For many years when I had to travel light I had a Baby Mahogany on my back. These days, though, I gladly rock a GS Mini-e Koa FLTD. While still great for traveling it also totally serves my “normal” acoustic guitar needs for recording – namely video lesson content for Guitarinstructor.com. To that end I just welcomed a 314ce-N for not only video lesson work, but also the fact I started on nylon string and I needed one back in my life. Now, I just need a 12-string…
Yeah, yeah – they make toys. BUT, at one time thanks to the legendary Jimmy Archey First Act was quickly becoming the place to go for a custom build by master craftsmen. The crew Jimmy assembled was all business and ready for just about any challenge you can throw them. I took them to task and after much back & forth and an 11th hour wiring save courtesy of my good friend and Pigtronix head honcho Dave Koltai I have an axe that’s as close to “me” as I’ve gotten thus far. I have since swapped out some of the highly touted, yet disappointing boutique components that we originally installed for others that just work. Whatever. From a heavy-duty full-scale arcade button that acts as my kill switch to a fader that acts as my volume control and much more this guitar is truly my cool guy Frankenstein design come to life. This is still my main touring axe. Thanks Archey! FYI: Some of my design ideas from this guitar have made it to other incredible instruments such as Moldover’s Robocaster (now known as the Robotic Strat) and models from up and coming builder Kieran Downes.
On that fabled First Act guitar described above is a Kahler Pro 2300 Flat Mounted bridge with a steel cam and steel saddles. Why? For two reasons. 1. The original bridge SUCKED. 2. Jimmy and build crew made the call and slapped this bridge on. I never played a Kahler before this and didn’t know much about them besides it was the only company that made trem bridges for bass players. Man!, was I missing the party. This bridge is AWESOME. It feels great, doesn’t require a huge chunk of wood removed from the back of the body for springs and its built like a tank.
My history with fretless guitar is a bumpy road that started in the late 90’s when I was living with [soon-to-be] fretless guitar master David Fiucyznski. While experimenting with his various fretless axes was very cool, I never connected with wood necks and flatwounds. While years of trial & [mostly] error went by before I discovered the Vigier Surfreter, there was one guitar I really dug that was on loan to me through a faculty support program Godin Guitars set up with Berklee during my time teaching there. It was a nylon string fretless SA and I loved it. I was so bummed when I had to return it. These days I happily rock its successor the Glissentar – an 11-string nylon string fretless designed to be a large-scale oud! It’s a truly amazing instrument. It’s safe to say, along with the Surfreter, I’m in a good place fretless-ly 😉
I use Graph Tech nuts and saddles where ever I can. My ’73 “Bionic” Strat is my most prized weapon of choice and sounds AMAZING. A big part of that is the consistency of the guitar on all fronts including tuning stability in a non-locking trem setup. All Graph Tech, yo. I also use their new TUSQ picks all day, everyday. The Bright Toned and Deep Toned, both in Bi Angle shapes and in 1.00mm/2.00mm are my jam!
I’m on the go. A lot. Because of that I always have a gig bag on my back along with other bags filled with the gear I need to do my thing (laptop, extra strings, adapters, writing tools, whammy bars, thumb drives, etc., etc., etc.). When Steve Jenkins randomly mentioned checking out Fusion bags little did he know he had introduced me to the Holy Grail of gig bags! I currently rock an F2 Double Guitar Bag so I can conveniently cart both fretted and fretless guitars. With their ingenious Fuse-On accessory bag system I also have the F1 Workstation and F1 Fuse-On Small Backpack. Now I can easily take whatever I need to where ever I’m going and still have my hands free! Plus, I can detach the Fuse-On bags and use them on their own, which is incredibly convenient on fly dates. I also have the DJ Workstation for my Fractal Audio MFC-101 III and everything that goes with it including a laptop, cables, expression pedals and more! Stay tuned for an even better design of their double bag that I had a small part in helping with 🙂
For as long as I can remember I’ve covered my gear with Tuki Covers. From amps to heads to cabinets I’ve relied on these padded stalwarts and they’ve never, ever failed me. They have one job and they do it well, not to mention they look great! Bottom line: Tuki Covers – good stuff made by good people. End of story.
For far too long I used a hair scrunchie for dampening strings and cutting out unwanted string noise while playing passages that made it impossible otherwise. That ended the second I discovered Gruv Gear FretWraps. No more fighting to get a scrunchie over the tuning posts and around snipped string ends only to fail and start fraying its edges before I even got it over the strings. FretWraps are a cinch to put on, they look great and they just work. I’m saved! On a totally different tip I’m thrilled about my Gruv Gear Solo XL long bed hauler for carting around everything from my Fractal rig to my Pedaltrain road cases and amps to furniture around the house. It’s amazing how versatile that piece is. Awesome stuff all around.
I had this one guitar strap forever that I truly loved. It had some padding where it rested on my shoulder and it just felt right. Sadly I lost it on the road and I was bummed to say the least. It was like ripping your favorite pair of jeans, but rendering them useless. After looking around a friend mentioned MONO in passing. After trying one of their very cool padded guitar straps called “The Betty” I knew I was going to be alright 🙂 Been comfortably sporting them all over the place ever since.
When I was teaching at Berklee and managing their Effects Lab I somehow got connected with Source Audio – then an upcoming MA-based pedal company that wanted to get their pedals in my lab. Two of the nicest guys you’ll ever want to meet came down and showed me their two flagship pedals and what was to become the mighty Hot Hand. Needless to say I was totally blown away at what these guys were on to and I’ve been working with them in various capacities ever since. From sound files, to NAMM demos to even allowing me to help EQ settings on the Soundblox Classic Distortion we’ve had a great run that just keeps getting better. The guys at Source are top notch in my book and continue to produce effects that are just friggin’ awesome.
Just when I thought the idea of a delay pedal has been developed to its furthest extent and it just can’t get any better along comes TimeLine. Just when I thought I’d never run into a modulation-based multi-effects pedal that could stand up, enter Mobius. Just when I thought I’d never find pro-level reverb algorithms in a pedal out of nowhere is Big Sky. Shit, even though Mobius as a Leslie “machine” I would never let Lex go. Totally blown away. My board will never be without a Strymon presence. Ever.
Hands down: Dave Koltai and company make some of the most ridiculously awesome sounding effects out there. DAMN!, I friggin’ love my Mothership and Envelope Phaser (EP2)!! And then there’s the small, yet indispensable Philosopher’s Tone compressor. It just goes to show you when a good guitar player with a serious brain for electrical design and a hip vision for effects gets a soldering iron in his hands it can only be good stuff. I’m currently gushing over my new Echolution 2 and preparing my mind to be blown by an Infinity Looper!
When it comes to clever pedal design James Brown is at the head of the pack. With my Tight Drive Pro I can do soooooo much while sounding great. Whether I’m using the TDP in front of my much-loved pair of ’64 Deluxe amps or making it the central part of my go-to Line 6 DT25 rig where it controls the entire pedal board I can’t wait until I get to kick in the volume/gain boost with that delicious mid boost! So good!!
When I was managing the Berklee College of Music Effects Lab during my time as a professor there I put in motion several re-design initiatives including designing pedal boards for the students to use during class. I had some intense switching options in mind and it wasn’t long before I found out about Lehle and their amazing switchers. I wasted no time in making Lehle the only switchers I used in my own rigs including my current Fractal-based where I need to switch between multiple inputs.
I spent a lot of time with a certain mega-DAW when I first got into digital audio encountering one black hole after another. While I was working a lot with M-Audio I finally gave in to the plethora of Ableton demo discs I was accumulating and installed a demo version of Live 5. BAM!, I was hooked in minutes. These days I do everything in Ableton Live. I re-tooled everything to do so and then wrote a book about it. From tracking my parts for guest appearances on CDs to TrueFire backing tracks for video course production to firing those tracks during the shoot or firing off tracks on gigs with Karsh Kale and others – all Ableton. It just works all the friggin’ time and it’s just so inspiring to work with. What more could you ask for? Well, actually, this – PUSH. As if working with Live couldn’t get any better!
When producing tracks in my home studio for TrueFire and most of my guest spots on CDs I use Ableton Live. To make that process incredibly more enjoyable I use the Akai APC40. I got turned onto it when I was writing Your Ableton Live Studio for Course Technology [Cengage Learning] and I was immediately hooked. I mean, c’mon, how can you go wrong when you build a controller from ground up based specifically on the DAW you’re controlling?! It’s awesome. Even better: PUSH. Between the two I get it done and then some.
Back in my Berklee professor days the college – courtesy of Apple – gave all faculty members an Apple laptop (pretty awesome, right?). On that laptop was all sorts of very cool software for us to do our thing with including Propellarhead Reason. I loved messing around with it, but at that time (Reason 4) it was a MIDI-only app and I needed more. Well, lemme tell ya, these days Reason is WAY more and I love it. It’s a completely inviting vibe, the workflow is smooth as hell and it’s no secret the instruments sound amazing. I’m just really sinking my teeth into Reason 7 and looking very forward to the release of 8. I see a lot of great things ahead with the folks at Propellarhead!
When creating notation/tab charts digitally became a reality I was more than excited at the endless possibilities on so many levels. Over the years I’ve been through more than a handful of programs both simple and incredibly complex. In Guitar Pro I have a great balance of power and simplicity that I really appreciate. I have all the tools I need within an app that just works. I need that as I have students all over the world and deadlines all over my calendar. With Guitar Pro I get the job done – all of them!