Category Archives: Guitar
In church it is not very often that I have a full band so my setup changes drastically based on who is playing with me. Typically we are literally a drum and guitar setup. No bass or keys 90% of the time. Because of this I tend to play acoustic in that setting. However I also lead an IHOP style multichurch worship time where I will play my electric gear.
Breedlove acoustic Atlas series AC25SRplus – I absolutely love my acoustic. It is very natural sounding and needs very little EQ compensation. I would however love to upgrade to the custom series with a cedar top.
Gretsch 5120 – Low level gretsch with low end pickups gives me a great smooth, jazzy and buttery tone. Eventually the pickups will get an overhaul. It also has a tiger decal on the pickguard which I am positive helps with the tone.
Parker Nitefly SA – This is my main electric because it is so versatile. It has a 5 way switch that lets me get all the different strat tones I could ever want. It also has piezo pickups so I can make it sound exactly like an acoustic. It also has the ability to split both of those sounds with a Y cable, but I have yet to try that.
Epi Les Paul Custom – This was my project guitar. It has all new 500k pots, knobs that go to 11 and Sperzel locking tuners. I also replaced the pickups with a breed and tone zone dimarzio pickup set. Last it has a push pull pot which makes it so I get full on les paul sound, but when pulled I get a tele sound out of it by splitting the coils.
Line 6 M13: I recently sold my pod xt live for the M13 and have not looked back. I love the control I get out of this unit. My clean sound usually comprises of just reverb. However I like to mix in tube screamer and double up on delay. I use pretty much every sound and love them, but kind of avoid Chorus like the plague.
Cry Baby Wah: I have had my wah forever. It is a limited edition powder white wah. It sounds great and looks better!
Maxon OD808: It is kind of odd to throw this in the mix with the m13, but I love the smooth tone I get from it and it makes it so I have an extra bank of effects available on the M13.
Visual Sound Volume Pedal: I recently got this and I LOVE IT!! it has LED lights that tell me visually where my volume is. I do a ton with volume swells and this thing is so fluid and has a great sweep.
Vox Ac15C1: This amp is the reason why I sold my Pod. I get amazing, dark tone out of this amp. I love the reverb and the response of the tubes. It breaks up nicely, but also has an amazing chimey clean tone.
Misc: The rest of the stuff that makes up my tone are things that beginner guitarists neglect.
I use Mogami and Planet Waves cables. The mogami stuff is amazing and I saw a huge difference in my tone when I switched to it.
Snarling Dog picks .88 make it so I get nice bite out of my strings and when I sweat they have grip so I don’t lose them.
Ebow Plus – I love using this if I am playing lead in a band
breedlove – D’adarrio EXP17
Les Paul – D’adarrio EXL115w 11′s with a wound third. a heavy string and the wound third helps keep G string in tune
Gretsch – D’adarrio EXL115w
Les Paul – D’adarrio EXL120
And there we go… That is my arsenal that I like to use. I am very into tone that I like so often switch guitars multiple times while leading worship because everything I have has a different feel, tone and emotion to it.
Those who really know me know my biggest “Guitar Hero” is Eric Johnson. He is a master of tone and has spent the better portion of 3 decades searching for his perfect tone. Thanks to the people over at musicians friend, you can get an idea of how he has shaped his tone.
This Youtube video is from Late 2010 and features Eric Johnson explaining the guitars, the Amps, and The Effects he used on his newest Album “Up Close” If you watch and pay attention you will learn a good ammount about how different effects really shape your tone. Without any more adieu… ERIC JOHNSON!
Yesterday I started my series on “The Soul of Tone” Today I have a guest post from CJ Natale who is the leader of “Nusound Worship.” I have known CJ and his family for years and even crashed on their couch. Their Father John Natale is an itinerant minister and Nusound travels with him when he ministers around the world. Today CJ gives us a look at his guitars, his effects, and his amps. Following this he shares his thoughts on tone.
My Pedalboard: From beginning to end of my chain.
CMAT Compressor – This is a great compressor built by CMAT pedal mods. It is based off an old Ross compressor with the added tone control. I love this pedal it is one of the best compressors I have every played. I usually use it 50 % of the time during a live set. I turn it on for mostly clean parts of songs that need to stand out or lead riffs that need to stand out a little more with some added clarity and of course sustain.
MXR DynaComp – My backup compressor. Very good pedal for the price, but if your looking for that boutique sounding compression you will want something with a little bit more juice and squeeze to it.
BBE Boosta Grande! – Overall great sounding boost. For the price you can’t beat it. I paid $50 for mine. I use this pedal quite often for lead parts that need to stand out a bit more apart from the band and clean parts that need just a little bit more grit.
Modtone Tuner – I love this tuner because of the awesome led lights it has in it. You can see the note show up on the display screen in the brightest of days if your playing an outdoor gig with some bright sunlight. My favorite part about the pedal is the blue led light that remains on when the pedal is disengaged.
ProCo Rat Distortion – One of my favorite dirt boxes of all time. This thing is killer. You can dial in Van Halen type tones to paramore, this thing is great. I mainly use this pedal for solos that I need to stand out away from the band with. I would recommend if you buy this pedal if it is a newer version to send it out to Keeley to get it modded. Because the newer ones tend to sound a little fuzzy.
Barber LTD “Silver Edition” Overdrive – By far one of the best overdrive pedals I have every played. It replaced my Ts 808 and my Maxon OD 808. This pedal sounds incredible. If you ever wondered what your tube screamer would sound like with out all that extra mid they tend to have in their circuits, then I encourage you to try one of these out. You will not be disappointed. This pedal is on about 70% of the time I play live.
Dunlop “Original” Crybaby Wah – Not too much to say about this one it’s a crybaby haha. I rarely use this pedal live but I like to keep it on my rig because you never know when the time might come that it needs to be turned on and taken for a spin. A very good sounding wah.
Eventide Timefactor Digital Delay – Pretty much the holy grail of digital delay pedals. This one by far is probably the best digital delay out on the market today. My favorite part about this pedal is the huge amount of presets you can set. Mine came with 50 banks with 100 storable presets, “stock they come with 10 banks giving you 20 storable presets”. Another great feature that the pedal offers is the blending of two different types of delay timings or “tempos”. This pedal is just plain amazing and has 9 different delay settings that will give you studio quality delay tones. I recommend it to every guitar player that is involved with worship.
Custom designed Clean Boost and Overdrive – Got this pedal from a buddy of mine. I believe it is based off an old tube screamer circuit and sounds really nice for a hand made pedal. I use it as the last pedal in my chain to boost my volume and to give my amp a little bit more edge.
Vox AC-15 Custom – I love this amp it really just chimes, and that is what it’s made to do. It plays very well with pedals and dirt boxes. I love the clean and crunch tones you can get out of them as well. For only 15 watts the thing can rip. I usually turn my volume to about 11 o clock to get a clean tone that is just starting to break up into overdrive. Very nice amp. I would recommend if you are buying one to replace the speaker if it hasn’t come with one already to an “ Alnico Blue” made by celestion. This speaker will give you that classic vox tone that was made famous from the 60s and 70s.
Peavey Classic 50 – My first tube amp I ever bought. I really liked this amp and for the price of $400 that I paid for it, it was really worth every penny. This amp sounds a lot like a fender deluxe but just a bit darker sounding, and creamier. It played great with overdrives and different effects pedals and really just had a good chunky, rich sound to it. For the beginning guitarist this is a great first class inexpensive tube amp to buy.
My Guitars –
Peavey T60 – Love this guitar. This is my main guitar that I use when I play live. It sound like a mix of a tele, a les paul and a strat combined with humbuckers that enable you to blend in from single coil as well. Great guitar and also very underrated. My model is from 1979 and has a rosewood finish on the fret board, which is a very nice addition, considering 90 % of them come with maple frets.
Gibson SG – One of my first guitars and all time favorites. This thing kills. Has a very rich fat tone to it. Especially great for rock and harder styles of music. Doesn’t get used too much during a worship setting but is still a great guitar to have lying around ready to shred.
Breedlove C25 – My main acoustic that I use live and in the studio. This is a really great acoustic guitar that is built well and sounds incredible. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of an acoustic. This one gets the job done for me quite well.
In Conclusion: I am always searching for new sounds for my rig. I like to use effects pedals not so much to change my sound but to enhance it and make my playing come to life. Being a guitarist who is into worship you are constantly going to alter your set up and continue to seek after that “perfect tone”. My main word of advice is to first get a good dry sound in your amp then work from there. Consider it like building a house, add things here and there little by little until you finally have that completed project in your hands and are confident with your tone and sounds. In the world of effects the possibilities are endless. You just have to get out there and explore!
Along with His writeup, I asked CJ Natale to send me a youtube video that Really inspires him in his search for tone.
T O N E… four letters make one simple word. Yet this word is one of the most elusive things on the whole planet. Countless men and women have devoted years of their lives in search of it. Some are remembered for it. Guys like Peter Frampton, Eric Johnson, & The Edge, are among those who will be remembered for their tone.
However, as a worship leader, tone becomes even more important. Tone can evoke emotion, tone has the power to change a whole song. Good tone can be a tool that helps a worship leader usher the presence of the Lord into a room.
I have set myself on a quest for the soul of Tone. For an understanding of the dynamic nature of tone. Ye, I stole the title of this blog series from Fender’s 60th anniversary slogan, but when I read that slogan, I felt a stirring of my spirit to truly understand the soul of tone.
So many things affect a players tone. From the equipment he uses, to his techniques, to his playing abilities. There is an old saying, “tone is in the fingers.” There is a ton of truth to this. If you can play well, you will sound better than someone who cannot play or is at best a mediocre player. Your fingers encapsulate much of your natural tone.
However there is more to one than simply being technically good. There is tone in your equipment. Different guitars have different tones. This is easily seen. I have a Fender Stratocaster, whereas on of the youth in my church has an Epiphone Joe Pass model hollowbody. we can both plug into the same amplifier and play the same song, the same way, yet we get totally different tone. There are mountains of tone hidden in your guitar itself. From the woods its made of to the strings and picks you use, to the pickups. Every detail of your guitar affects the tone it gives.
T O N E…
The more we think about it, the less we know. See, having the right guitar is only a portion of the tonal equasion. The Amplifier you use has a dramatic effect on the tone you have. There are two main types of amplifiers, Tube amps, and solid state. I will begin by telling you I own a solidstate amplifier until I can afford the one I really want, however I am not a fan of the solidstate amps. A Solidstate amplifier is one that uses circutry, rather than vacuum tubes to create tone. The vacuum tubes tend to give a richness and a creamier tone than the solidstate amps and are generally preferred by guitarists.
However, at this stage we have only begun to crack the egg that is tone. You see there is another element to tone which is effect units. There are tons of effects in various categories. Several common categories are Overdrive, Distortion, Chorus, Wah, and Delay, but there are many others. Each type of effect serves a different purpose and adds something unique to the sound you are producing.
In the next few posts of this series, I have asked worship leaders and guitarists to give a rundown of their setups, explaining their amps, guiatrs, and effects. I asked them to explain what each one does, and why they chose it over others like it. The goal here is that you by reading would begin to understand tone and its power.
However with all the technical information we can discuss there is still something missing in the tone. Tone is more than the sum of a series of components, it is more than what guitar you play. There is a spiritual side to tone. There are people who understand the spiritual side of tone and have spent time perfecting it, and you can hear it when they play. There is emotion in the music waiting to be released. When all of the posts in this blog are done, I can teach you a ton about the physical side of tone, but you have to have the passion to dig deeper for yourself and truly see the spiritual side of tone.
With each post I will include a youtube video that really speaks volumes through its tone. In subsequent posts, I will ask the worship leader to choose a video that really speaks to him through tone. Along with this, I will add posts of youtube videos featuring famous guitarists explaining their rigs, and occasionally add links to websites that a guitarist might want to read for more information.
For today, I am not going with a worship song, not even a christian song, The song I feel is perfect to begin this series is called “Gem” By Eric Johnson. This instrumental has no words, and thus all emotion is shown through the tone of the guitar and the sound he produces.