The Big Rig
For this edition of the "gear corner" part of our blog, I'm going to take a look at the "big rig" - my effects and amp setup.
It's actually a much simpler setup than it looks and it's not really as big as it's "big rig" title might suggest. It starts off with an X2 wireless system but there is a regular wired input as well (generally used for the lap steel, but also able to be switched to if there's an unexpected issue with the wireless system).
After the inputs, there's a Korg Pitchblack Pro tuner, and then on to the effects.
First up is an MXR Custom Comp, for all the great sound of a vintage Dyna Comp, but without the noise. Next up comes the distortions, starting with an MXR Hendrix Fuzz for all the vintage fuzz tones, followed by a Mojo Hand FX Iron Bell for all the really Gilmour-esque lead tones (mainly for the solos on the "Tower" album eg. "Passing Bell"). I actually used a Big Muff clone (Morisson Audio Big Fluff) and a Coloursound Powerboost clone (Vintage FX Colordrive) for all my lead tones on the "Tower" album, but the Iron Bell is almost indistinguishable from that tone and means I only had to fit one pedal into the rack instead of two.
A ProCo RAT is next and has been the main lead sound for a while now. Pretty much all of my lead sounds on the "Hitchhiking" album were done with the RAT. The only lead sounds on the album that I didn't use the RAT for were done with the Custom Comp and the last distortion in the chain, which is a Boss Blues Driver. I used the Blues Driver for the two solos on "Room with a View" which is unusual as I normally only use the Blues Driver for crunchy rhythm tones, which is where this pedal is at it's best. There's a lot of mod services available out there for the Blues Driver, but I reckon it's a cracking pedal straight out of the box.
A Boss EQ pedal is next in the chain, set for a mild mid-boost that is occasionally kicked in for solos in a live setting. Rarely if ever is the EQ used in the studio as I leave any of the EQ'ing to be done in the mix.
Modulation pedals are next, and these include an MXR Phase 90 (the script logo version with LED and DC socket - internally it's just an EVH Phase 90 permanently set to "script" mode), an EHX Deluxe Electric Mistress XO and a Lovepedal Pickle Vibe. I've also been using a Boss CE-3 Chorus lately, but I haven't yet had this installed into the rack. There's a send and return patch bay on the rear of the rack used to access the Chorus or other external effects as desired.
Next up is a pair of Line 6 M5 stompbox modeler pedals. These are used for all of the delay and reverb settings but occasionally are also used for some other special effect like the octave fuzz in "Blood is Thicker" or as a harmonizer for live versions of "The Doctor".
The last effect in the chain is a Boss RT-20 rotary speaker simulator which has been used in the studio for all of my Leslie speaker sounds, most notably on "Holy Innocent".
The whole effects setup is controlled using a Voodoo Lab setup, consisting of a Ground Control Pro and two GCX units. This setup has only been in place for the last year or so, but has proven very effective. It is very quick and easy to program, sounds great, and is incredibly easy to use in a live setting.
Of course, next comes the amp. For the last couple of years I've been using a Valvetone Hilite 45. It's an Australian made, hand made amp that's inspired by a Hiwatt amp design. It's by no means a clone of a Hiwatt, but is in the same ballpark tonally. The amp is connected to a DV Mark Frank Gambale 2x12 cab, which sounds great, and thankfully weighs next to nothing (very handy when loading in and out as Anubis is yet to have permanent roadie staff).
And that about wraps it up for the effects and amp. Of course being a large and heavy unit, I wasn't able to take any of this gear on the recent European tour, but instead used a Line 6 POD X3 Live for all effects and amp simulation, and this was run direct into the PA at each venue. I chose this unit as it has been Doug's main effects unit for quite a few years now, and it certainly worked well for the tour. Hopefully next time we venture overseas though, we'll have the budget to take the big rig along for the ride.
Thanks again to all the gear-nuts out there reading all of this, and again please let me know if there's any of the band's gear you'd like to know about.