Tom Quayle is one of the premier fusion guitarists in the UK, who is well known for his vast knowledge of music theory and is leading the forefront in terms of instructional material to help guitarists develop their technique and hone their fretboard knowledge all over the world. His legato speed and fluidity is nearly unbelievable to watch and his ear for tone is absolutely spectacular. In 2012 Tom was already using our pedals, and he and Jason Wilding struck up a great friendship. The Dual Fusion came about when Tom was discussing with Jason about how much he loved the Euphoria and Paisley drives, and how he enjoyed stacking them in different combinations to create his signature fusion sound. Fast forward about a year and it was decided that they would make a perfect pairing for a dual pedal, but there were a few things Tom wanted modified to suit his fusion playing style better. A few changes included removing some switch positions that he didn’t use, as well as the bass knob from the Euphoria side, but he wanted more transparency and clarity most of all, along with a certain response in the gain structure. The result is the Tom Quayle Signature Dual Fusion. (Note, there is a video at the very bottom of the blog where Travis Feaster compares the Dual Fusion to the Paisley Drive and Euphoria).
Our favorite part about the Dual Fusion is the ability to setup the switching order exactly how you would want it. 1 into 2, 2 into 1, or each side set independently through different loops and combos of other pedals. This allows for infinite tone shaping options and combinations, limited only by the imagination (and cabling!). They are made to be fantastic standalone overdrives, but stacked the magic combines into a “fusion” (sorry for the pun) of smooth and sustaining gain, while still remaining transparent and sparkling with the original guitar tone always taking center stage. This video will show you a brief description on how the switching system is setup:
The Dual Fusion is extremely versatile due to this switching option setup, and it works really well paired with humbuckers, singlecoils, P90’s and all things between. The Dual Fusion reacts directly with the guitar at the heart of it’s tone, so if you love the sound of your guitar into the amp but with loads of tweakable tone-shaping options, then this is the pedal that will do it.
Volume(s): These knobs control the overall output of each side of the Dual Fusion. The level of the volume to reach unity depends on the type of guitar and where the gain knob is set on each side. If the gain is higher, then you won’t need the volume as high, where if the gain is low you’ll have to raise the volume to compensate. This pedal overall is not excessively loud, so don’t be afraid to turn it up a bit to reach the level that you want. That being said, there’s still enough volume on tap on both sides to give a boost to the front of your amp for some great amp breakup.
Tone(s): The tone knobs dictate the amount of high end and presence each side of the Dual Fusion has. Counterclockwise will yield a darker, warmer tone with less accentuated highs, which works really well for bright guitars and amps to tune your overdrive precisely to where the sweet spot it. Clockwise it will increase the high end content of the overdrive and give it a much brighter and punchier tone, which is fantastic for humbuckers and inherently darker amps. A good place to start is a Noon, and making small incremental adjustments from there. The tone knobs react differently based on which position the Voicing switches are at on each side of the pedal. Adjusting the voicing switches may require you to adjust the tone up or down to find the sweet spot in that configuration.
- Side 1 (Vintage): The Smooth setting is based more on the classic *D*-style amplifier (the name rhymes with Rumble ;-) ) . The touch response is much smoother and the EQ is a bit more neutral in terms of any particular frequency being accentuated. It works equally well on any pickup selection, adding a richness to your tone even at the lowest gain settings. In this position the Tone knob may warrant a bit extra high end to cut through the mix, or to make it even smoother you can reduce the tone knob towards the counterclockwise direction. This is the preferred setting of Tom Quayle. The Fat setting has a much more pronounced midrange and more accentuated lows and low mids. This works really well for fattening up single coils or cutting through the band mix. There’s a bit of a volume bump and overall less overdrive than the Smooth setting. In this position you may want to lower the tone knob to compensate for the jump in midrange, or raise it as a boost for your tone on solos and control the output with your guitar's knobs.
- Side 2 (Modern): The Throaty setting has warm EQ profile, which accentuates the midrange but still allows your tone to shine through like a naturally breaking up amp. This particular setting works great for rhythm chording, and it allows each note to bloom into a beautiful space of tonal bliss. There's very 3-Dimensional character to this voicing that works in all genre's of music. The Natural setting has a much more even EQ profile that lets all of the frequencies work together to give the most transparent feel while still fattening up your tone. This works really well if you love the sound of your amp but want a bit more “oomph” to sound like you’re pushing your amp into sweet sustaining overdrive.
Gain: The gain structure is really where the two sides differentiate the most. Side 1 (Vintage) has a much more open and natural gain profile, which lends itself to sound like your amp breaking up instead of a pedal doing the work. This side is the brighter of the two, and sounds great paired with humbuckers and singlecoils alike. At 9am there is a slight bit of hair added to the notes, but the guitar’s natural tone takes front and center stage. At Noon, there’s a bit more edge but with the clarity of an amp starting to breakup. Around 3pm there’s loads of added sustain and crunch, but it remains transparent and lets the natural tone of the guitar shine through. The gain is very reactive to picking dynamics, so picking lightly will give a sweet clean tone with light grit and smooth sustain. Digging in and picking more aggressively will give much more grit and sustain and really sounds like an amp overdriving, but at manageable volumes. This is imperative for fusion playing as well as most any other style of music because it allows the player to adjust their gain on the fly just by altering their touch. Side 2 (Modern) has a different feel overall and is the perfect companion to side 1. Side 2 has a more aggressive feel, with the gain structure being overall fatter, with a thicker sound, as well as being the darker of the two channels. At 9am, there’s a nice punch to your tone with some added grit that fattens up your lead playing and lets the notes bloom. At Noon, there’s more sustain and grit, and it also fattens up and has more edge on your natural tone that works great for blues and rock. At 3pm there’s a considerable amount of gain and sustain, and it covers everything from smooth fusion playing to even modern rock music.
Stacked together the two sides create a layered overdrive that fills out the sonic space tonally, but still retains your guitars natural character. Depending on which way you stack the overdrives, it will give different results. 1 into 2 will yield a fatter sustain and overdrive that’s pushed by the clarity of the vintage side into a rich, creamy overdrive with some sparkle. 2 into 1 will yield a more open, transparent gain with sparkly highs and a tight, sustaining bottom end.
- 5” x 4.5” x 1.5″ (88.9mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
- All Analog, True Bypass
- Power draw: 16mA – Powered via negative center tip barrel-type power (Boss style) or an internal 9v battery connector.
- Switchable stacking order (1 into 2, 2 into 1 or you can completely separate them).
It’s that time of year again! NAMM is upon us and we are all gearing up for the trip out to California to show at what is arguably the biggest and best musical instrument trade show in the world!
Descending upon L.A. from Indiana, Virginia and the U.K., the 2016 Wampler team are geared up for a great show and are excited at the prospect of potentially (emphasis intended) showing some prototypes! We are currently in a blind panic rush to get them ready, it’s looking good but we may even be at the position where we are putting them together on the show floor on Wednesday… if this was Facebook we’d make a meme asking for positive vibes/good wishes/prayers etc to help us along! ;)
So, what do we expect from NAMM this year? Well, for a start MUCH nicer surroundings than the last 3 years. Let’s put it this way, last year we were directly opposite a cymbal manufacturer, the year before within the main drum section and the year before that we were directly opposite a Korean metronome manufacturer, who had about 80 on display, all going, all the time, completely out of synch with each other. I remember looking at Travis at one point and the look in his eyes were telling me he was plotting the same ill fates for those things as I was! This year we are in B5267 which is right in the middle of the guitar sections, we back onto companies like Friedman and Morgan, we are opposite Martin, round the corner from Seymour Duncan and within reach of Marshall, Randall and some of the other serious manufacturers! I must admit, when I saw the show map I was delighted to be no where near the drum section!
The run down of gear this year is as follows, Max has spent a couple of days wiring up the show board with the following… to ensure we have enough clean power with masses of headroom we’re utilizing 3 Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus supplies, that way we can be certain that all of our digital and analogue based pedals receive enough power to make sure they perform to Brian’s exacting standards. We are of course having a complete board with the potential of 3 new prototypes… As I mentioned above, these are going to be on the line in terms of time to get them ready so fingers crossed!
The boards, as usual, are from the brain of Bob Hebert who makes all of our cabs and boards. The board will be fed into the front end of our trusty Port City 50w Pearl into a stock 2x12” Port City non ported. Both of these are kept in solid Bruton Road Cases. We’ll of course be having a couple of tiered show boards (just so people can rock up and have a good look at the pedals) there as well - all instrument cables are our branded ones, because they just sound ace. Patch cables was interesting, we started off with an extremely well known brand of cable, but they sounded so bad we ditched them instantly. So, we went with some pretty generic low cost ones because they don’t suck too much tone, but enough for us to show what out buffer does so well… We thought that we should get some cables that people are likely to use themselves that way they can hear exactly what difference it will make.
We hope to have a fair selection of guitars at NAMM for testing, at this stage I can only guarantee Brian is bringing his Whitfill Telecaster and the HSS Strat made famous in the Dual Fusion video when he broke it… Helping us demo on the booth this year are ace players Greg Marro and Tommy Baldwin. Notes will be plucked and a couple of faces will be melted, in the best possible way. It is NAMM after all...
So, that’s our run down of pre NAMM stuff… between Brian, Max, Alex and myself we’ll be jamming our social network channels with all manner of stuff from the show floor, and uploading many photos when we get back to the hotel… Make sure you are subscribed to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels... Also, this would be the prefect time to download Periscope and have that ready, you never know what or who you might see on it!
We will be filming the last ever Chasing Tone Podcast from NAMM, would be great if you'd all check it out when it's released! See you on the other side tone chasers!
There are going to be a lot of pieces written today and most of them will come with more personal insight, fandom or knowledge than I can ever bring, but I wanted to give an insight to the level of his impact to our world from a non-fan, from someone who never really understood the vast majority of his work... I know, shame on me. I hope you find it as confusing as I do that I feel the need to write down how I feel and the need to grieve and mourn the loss of this incredible artist.
David Bowie was a simply that, and incredible artist. An artist who lived at a level that is rare in humanity. He wasn't just a singer; he was a songwriter, a producer, a dancer, an actor... He was theatre in the best possible way. He was nothing more than an artist. Every performance he made, every piece he wrote, was just delivered on his own terms and for no other reason than to have that art freed from a mere mortal constraint.
The world needs more people live David Bowie.
I'm 42, I wasn't aware of the whole 70's thing at the time, I visited it in the 80's and 90's and I remember being amazed at the level of sheer genius that was so freely available to us within a mere record. I didn't understand it, but I could see it, I saw it in the dedication of some of my friends who totally understood it on a deeply personal level (in a way today I am mourning for their loss as I can feel it coming from them even through social media), I can't think of many people who provide that level of love and dedication from strangers whilst deliberately changing himself at every opportunity, almost daring those people to leave him behind and then follow him again. When I think of him, I think of the Goblin King, dancing with Mick Jagger in the headlights, singing Under Pressure with Annie Lennox, looking at me from countless record covers, videos, posters and making me feel like I was falling into something I didn't understand.
The world needs more people like David Bowie.
Any person who can inspire so much love and emotion from sharing their art is a genius, and I hope that if you should read this one day, you'll join me in wishing this giant of a man safe travels into the next stage of his incredible being. The journey into our memories. As an imprint of art into humanity that I hope lives in our consciousness as long as any other legend. Whether that be Rhembrandt, Mozart, Chaplin or Sinatra, we should feel lucky that he chose to share it with us, allowing us to rejoice in his freedom of expression of love and life.
The world needs more people like David Bowie.
Today the colour has been turned down, it's all looking slightly more monotone out there today. Although I fully expect someone far more qualified to share his music than I will be horrified by my choice of song, I simply have to chose this one. Originally just a song under construction, destined to be an album filler it was at best going absolutely nowhere. There to sing backing on another song, Bowie wrote with them to gave it direction and took it to a place that touches me deeply every time I hear it. My favourite collaboration between two independently enormous artists, it's just art.
The world needs more people like David Bowie... Our only solace is that I believe the world to be almost 5 billion years old and has another 5 billion or so to go and we were here the same time he was.
Happy 63rd birthday to Malcolm Young, legendary rhythm guitarist for one of my favorite rock bands in history, AC/DC. Thinking back, what would rock guitar, (or guitar in general) be without the contributions of Malcolm’s powerhouse rhythm driving classic songs like “Shoot to Thrill”, “Highway to Hell” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” and hundreds more. Angus is an unbelievable player and is typically referred to more so than Malcolm, but I’m a firm believer that it was their ability to play off of each other and react to each other’s playing and songwriting that was the root cause of the magic that came from AC/DC. The guitar tone that Malcolm has used for years stands as one of the most iconic rock tones in guitar history. It’s powerful, percussive, and always machine precise. He always used a simple setup of a Gretsch into either a JTM45/Super Bass/Wizard amp setup running extremely hot.
Sadly, Malcolm was diagnosed with dementia and officially retired from the band at the end of September of 2014. He has had several other health issues come up since that time, but fortunately they have been resolved. In his absence, Malcolm’s nephew Stevie Young took up the rhythm guitar mantle, having previous experience with playing with AC/DC in the late 80’s.
I’d like to take a look back at Malcolm’s contributions to rock music with songs that showcase his powerhouse rhythm playing. Again, this is a highly condensed list, I highly recommend going back and listening to every AC/DC record, they’re loaded front to back with amazing guitar tone and fun guitar riffs galore. Take a listen to these and try not to nod your head or tap your feet (I know I can't do it).
“Shoot to Thrill”
I have to start with one of my absolute favorites. Every time Shoot to Thrill comes on, THAT is the epitome of what rock guitar tone is for me. It doesn’t get any better than that for me personally. Notice on the intro how Malcolm is playing a different powerful driving rhythm while Angus is adding the punctuation on top. It literally gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
"Dog Eat Dog"
This track is one of my favorites when it comes to perfect timing. Malcolm just adds the right chords at the right spot to build tension and push the song forward.
As 2015 disappears into the distant memory of broken strings and replaced tubes, I've decided that my final post of the year should be a tongue in cheek look at how to use the internet, and mainly social media, in 2016. As always, this is just me talking nonsense and doesn't represent the feelings of Wampler Pedals etc ;)
- A friend buys a new toy (guitar, amp, pickups, pedals, house, car, planet, underwear, tevz): Instantly post in the thread about how "XYZ" is better because you own it (as you probably don't like them getting new stuff and you, obviously, are the world expert on this item and other associated with it);
- Someone posts a clip of their playing or whatever they are working on musically at that time. It's your duty to undermine it and point out what they do wrong. After all, they aren't that good anyway because they couldn't play that tapping bit you could at the age you first played it at!;
- You must take 5 selfies a day and post so we can share in your constant need to see your own face (let's face it - when man first went to the moon in 1969 they took 5 pictures which is approximately 1/100th of the amount taken in the restroom mirror of by virtually every girl in every nightclub in every country on every night);
- You once met *insert famous person here* and had your photo taken with them. Make sure you use this as your profile pic whilst calling them "your good friend" at all times (guilty as charged on this one ;) );
- You microwave a meal: Sprinkle a tasteless herb over the top, put it on your best plate on a nice wooden table and then Instagram it. You must then share the post on FB making out you are Gordon freaking Ramsey;
- You have a "fan page" on Facebook: Repeatedly invite all your friend list into submission (so they eventually like it just to shut you up) and then you make a gushing post about how humble you are that people have liked your work; After all, you're just a humble musician and it's amazing how many people "get" you musically;
- There is slight adverse weather forecast/upon you: Educate the world on the situation as you obviously have a degree in Meteorology and after all, you've been outside and got jolly wet and there is no knowledge like the knowledge gained from having boots on the ground;
- You are bored and lonely: Post pictures of cats, or maybe "comedy" memes involving cats, all the time;
- Attention seeking posts. You must, infrequently, post things like "WTF...." or "I've had enough!" as your Facebook status. This way, all your lovely friends can fill up the thread with "s'up hun", "txt me babez", "u OKz?" or other various deviations from the language that only apply to attention seeking Facebook status updates that will make you feel better, or self important, or something I don't quite understand;
- You are lucky enough to see a popular TV first compared to the rest of the world. You openly talk about the most important part of the plot and don't give a crap how much it ruins the enjoyment for others, because you've seen it, so who cares!;
- The R.I.P. race. You must be the first person to post R.I.P. about someone who has just died, that way you be the person to tell everyone the news. You then have approximately 1 hour to research that person on the internet so you can give the impression of being a lifelong fan of them and regail all your favourite memories of them on other peoples threads;
- You are the member of a gym: Tell everyone all the time you are going and post repeated pictures of your weight/loss gain to improve your self esteem safe in the knowledge you are probably intimidating others at the same time. Total win/win. But please, don't forget, there is nothing better than posting pictures of your veiny arms with the word GAINZ written under it;
- Remember, you own You Tube so have the right to destroy anyone who posts on it. And yes, writing "First" is still hilarious and makes you immensely important and a valuable part of humanity;
- Speed is everything. You must upload a video 'proving' to the world you can play at 3200bpm. Speed is all that matters despite every other guitar player on the planet knowing that playing at this speed is both impossible and the concept is utterly nonsense. Speed is great, at the right time, speed competitions are... well.... I better move on before I say something I shouldn't;
- You are the world expert on politics or theology. Your view is the only one that counts so you must make sure you tell everyone you can what is right and wrong and should they have a differing opinion, they are wrong and you must destroy them intellectually; and
- You spot a spelling mistake in someone's post: Mark their work like some FB teacher and delight in pointing out their errors. After all, you are the Oxford English freaking Dictionary and invented the language in the first place.
DISCLAIMER: *of course, my constant mocking of people and winding them up on FB is excluded from all of the above.
Happy New Year tone chasers I hope that 2016 lives up to expectation, may it be full of great tone, love, light and laughter. Remember, you are beautiful, talented and most importantly you are wonderfully unique. Take what you have been born with and make the most of it. Work hard and play harder.
Tomorrow is the first blank page of a brand new 365 page book, make it your best story yet.
Most importantly, if you love someone, tell them - there is no feeling better than being loved. :)
(apologies for sounding like Jerry Springer at the end there)
2015, The End. I'm off to get drunk, see you in 2016... :)
A couple of months ago I asked the question to many people in our industry what does the word boutique mean to them and how does it relate to their company/business and the industry we work in…
The reason I did this is because I have an issue with the word - as long as I've worked for Wampler (over 5 years) I've never really understood it as I've never been able to relate to it properly. When I first met Brian he was describing the company to me and he kept using the phrase 'a lot of people would class us as boutique'. I’m not sure he related to it either thinking about it, so, I looked in to this ‘concept’ and discovered that it appeared to be everything Wampler Pedals shouldn’t be - so it's safe to say everything I've done in this time has to move us away from that label, usually against Brian's wishes I’d say, but sometimes you have to take a step out of the marketing hype and take a reality check.
What many people don't understand about Wampler Pedals is that Brian's absolutely loves marketing – I’d say it’s his passion, as much as he loves to breadboard and get new releases out there, the most excited I've seen him get is over a marketing direction or a plan that has worked out how we wanted it to. This is why when the rest of our peers were hiring builders in 2010, he was hiring me to take ownership of the internet marketing and social networking. Is boutique about marketing? Is it just a marketing phrase? Anyway, as usual, I digress...
So, what is boutique? Let’s look at what it was in 2010. Boutique then meant a small company, handmade by a guy in his basement making unique designs (tubescreamer variants usually ;) ) and presenting them in a fancy painted box. So, from what I could see – that was not Wampler Pedals! We had maybe 1 pedal that could be associated with a TS, our boxes looked awful and we were being built in a factory. But, everyone called us boutique… I think the label came from us because of the price point, the level of care that Brian insisted on with each stage of the process and after sales service. After bringing them to them to life on the breadboard he then worked extremely close with Justin in the PCB layout to ensure the signal path remained as pure as possible (this is why our pedals are usually so quiet in terms of floor noise compared to others), the parts used are to his spec (and not to price, for example – 2/3 of the PT2239 delay chips were binned upon first inspection because they weren’t good enough and at least 60% of the jfets were also thrown out), the 7 part quality control process during manufacturing include a play test for each pedal... so, from that respect I can understand it why people called us that, there is a huge element of care and love put into each one.
Let’s fast forward to 2015. What is boutique now? Well, those of you connected to me on social media will know how much I like to poke Hipsters with a stick – need to get this out the way, I don’t mean any of it, some of my favourite people are hipsters, one of the hippest people I know taught my kids for years and I love the man dearly, but you know – sometimes they ask for it! A classic example of what boutique means these days can be found in here. Really fancy packaging, unashamed beard growing (I do hope that ‘tache comb is organic and made in Portland sir) and moody photographs (I’m trying really hard not to insert a barrage of jokes here) and what can only be classed as a mediocre product. It would appear that boutique has flipped on it’s most fundamental principle. A quality hand built product.
Let’s look at Wampler Pedals now. We are much much bigger than you probably expect, because we’ve somehow managed to retain the ‘boutique’ image. I think also we have retained it because of our communication channels, we run a massively successful group on Facebook dedicated to Tone Chasers – it’s the only group I know that isn’t just full of idiots arguing about who the best is and what flavor picks they like etc., it’s just people talking about gear. We are actively open on other social network feeds as well. Myself and my good friend Alex Clay do all the social media and we try to demonstrate a sense of humour in what we do, we’ve both been playing for ever so we understand the customers well so I think they relate to us so the posts we make strike home in one way or another. The legend that is Max Jeffery (one of the unintentionally funniest people on the planet) and Brian do the Chasing Tone podcast every week, Brian personally does a lot of stuff on the Periscope app… so we are approachable, does that make us more boutique that others (although, I must admit to noticing that many other companies now have Podcasts going as well these days)? It probably does.
Looking around at our peers, our friends in our industry I find it hard to see any of them being 2015 boutique. Look at Robert Keeley. He made a video for me when I asked the question originally (also check out Pt 2) to show what he thinks about the whole boutique thing. And, being Rob, he also cross referenced the literal meaning of the word boutique from the dictionary! If you look at Rob’s set up, it’s all in-house. From the moment he decides on the pedal to the when it get’s sent to a customer/dealer – it never leaves the building. Everything is done in house, right there under his watchful eye. Then look at Josh Scott from JHS (he despises the label boutique as for him the whole hipster substandard product and customer service infuriates him), every part of his product is cool and is intentionally made that way. Nick from CatalinBread, he and Howard lock themselves away and make products that they think are cool and they think their customers would dig, it’s almost an artform to them – they paint their tones with a fine brush and hope people hear them properly. Philippe from Caroline Guitar Company – the coolest and most intelligent guy I have ever met, a lot of thought goes into the entire design process, a sense of humour and personality is present in everything he does... is that boutique?
My thought process in 2015, going into 2016 is this – boutique companies are dead, but the boutique industry is alive. I"m pretty sure that of all the companies that work at their product full time are not boutique, but, the collective of companies are. We, and they, are determined to bring you the best toys we can, the best tones we can, but in the way we do it. We aren’t truly handmade any more, they aren’t either – most companies employ SMT to populate their boards, most companies effectively mass produce their products (to order), most of the companies are dedicated to provide excellent customer service, most of the owners/builders/marketers are friends who regularly chat, compare notes, help each other and support each other in times of need. I guess you could say we are boutique family, from the small to the large. And yes, I do include companies like Strymon and TC Electronic in that…
What about you, what does boutique mean to you as a customer? What makes a company boutique? Are we, Wampler Pedals, boutique on our own as a brand or are we part of the wider boutique as the collective?
Most of you guys out there who have like me played one too many wedding gigs for all the right reasons (basically, money) you'll appreciate this. I often used to play the game of inserting lines/licks/chops in to the most inapprorioate places, actually I've done this in every band I've been in. Satriani into Pink Floyd songs, Vai into Sting, Iron Maiden into Steve Earle and even managed to get a hook from Dimebag into a major blues jam last year. It's never boring when you get bored!
I've never quite taken it this far though, I've never tried to insert basically the entire song into something with differing rhythms. I'm quite in awe of putting Metallica into a Bossanova number...
Happy 72nd birthday to the rock and roll guitar legend that is Keith Richards! Master of playing 5 strings on his guitar, he’s known for forgoing the low E string on his tele and tuning to an open tuning to get those great grooves going. Keith is known for having many guitars to fit any occasion, but notably for his 1950’s Micawber telecaster, which was given to him on his 27th birthday from another guitar legend: Eric Clapton. “Keef” ended up modding the beloved tele and adding a ‘50’s Gibson PAF humbucker in the neck position, and a lapsteel pickup in the bridge positon. That guitar has been on all sorts of tracks, such as “Honky Tonk Women” and "Brown Sugar". That guitar is the stuff of legends, and you can always tell it’s Keef when you hear those edge of breakup yet still chimey guitar rhythms. One thing that has set him apart is the use of those open tunings. By removing the low E string, the guitar lends itself to be more exciting to play because there’s less to work with. He’s used just about every open tuning, but most notably open G quite frequently.
Keef isn’t just known for his guitar skills, he’s also known for THOROUGHLY enjoying life. He’s had some myths created due to a crazy lifestyle out on the road, and boy I bet he has some stories to tell. He’s dabbled a bit with alcohol and some recreational drugs *cough cough*, and has been known to have some fun as well as get into trouble because of those things. All in all Keef is just a really cool guy who loves guitar and playing music live. Also, let’s not forget that he even did a bit of acting in the Pirates of the Caribbean (and he NAILED IT, he missed his calling as a pirate).
I’d like to take a look back at some of Keef’s finer guitar moments. He’s not an overly flashy player with whammy bar dives and squeals, but the man knows how to keep time, and that in my opinion is more important than lead work to fit the song.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – This just screams KEEF! It starts off with his signature guitar tone in open G with a capo on the 4th fret. Raw, fat, and just a killer groove.
Brown Sugar – Another great example of Keefs killer guitar riffs driving the rhythm of the song.
Honky Tonk Women – You can hear Keef in all of his glory on this track. His fat and gritty guitar tone stands out in a mix, with tasty lead lines and punchy chords.
We’re often asked what pedal can a person use to get Keefs guitar tone, and the Tweed 57 works exceptionally well. His tone doesn’t require a lot of gain, just a fat beefiness like those old Tweed amps used to give. Keef has been using Tweed Twins since the 90’s, so that will hit the spot. You can read more about the Tweed 57 in the overview with full demos and a full synopsis of the sounds it's capable of. Another secret weapon that works really well to add to the feel of the tone Keef gets is using the Ego Compressor to add that extra snap and compression like his excessively loud amps had when he was pushing them to the limits. You can read about the Ego Compressor more by clicking the link, which will take you to a full overview with demos and suggested settings.
Happy 66th birthday to the sharp dressed man himself, Rev. Billy F. Gibbons! Gibbons is the definition of pure blues rock guitar. With his trademark sunglasses, beanie, completely epic flowing beard and more sexy guitars and cars than a mere mortal can possibly fathom, he just emits an aura of cool every time you see him. Since starting out in ZZ Top around 1969, Gibbons has been cranking out tasty guitar riffs and pick squeals galore that create a vibe that just drives every song he’s ever played on. His tone has been sought after by many, having a fat sustain and edge that works great for most any genre, but especially blues and rock. Not only is he cool to watch, he’s known for being one of the nicest guys in the business. When discussing the Rev’s guitars, his outlandish guitars really come to mind along with his beautiful '59 Les Paul, Pearly Gates. Whether it’s the one covered completely in fur, or one that's solid neon green from top the bottom, he’s always got something crazy to put on a great show with. ZZ Top’s music has been featured on countless movies (If you’ve ever watched movies from the 80’s and early 90’s, I’m willing to bet you heard one of Billy’s guitar riffs whenever a person visited a strip club, especially if it’s a detective movie. That’s just how it is.)
Let’s take a few minutes and dig into Billy’s guitar tone and appreciate what the legend has brought forth to us! Yet again, these are just a few of Billy’s greatest, but there are hundreds more. I highly suggest listening to all of ZZ Tops albums, especially Eliminator, Tres Hombres, or for the full spectrum just grab the Greatest Hits album that came out in ’92 to get a full dose of the Rev. He was also involved in a few other projects like The Moving Sidewalks, Kings of Chaos, and Revolting Cocks, but we're focusing on his work with ZZ Top.
La Grange – One of ZZ Top’s more popular riffs. The rhythm on the intro based around that A chord just makes a guitar player feel awesome. It’s simple and excessively effective. The tone is just perfect. I don’t have any other word to describe it accurately.
Sharp Dressed Man – Another popular one guitarists love and get a great reaction out of a crowd live. Stellar sustaining tone with a fun lead to play. This is one of my favorites, and it just happens to feature another legendary artist, John Fogerty.
Dust my Broom – ZZ Top covered this Elmore James classic, adding that signature Billy Gibbons guitar tone and feel and bringing it to a new generation.
Legs – Another great offering comes in the form of a driving synthesizer rhythm layered with Gibbon’s perfect pick squeals.
We’re often emailed and asked what people can use to get tones similar to Billy’s. As with everything else, a lot of the tone is in the hands, but what dirt pedal you’re using makes a big difference too. The Velvet Fuzz is one that works really well in the Tight mode for getting those fat sustaining tones, as well as the Tweed 57 for those great tweed amp guitar tones that Billy used. You can click the links and hear demos and get the full overview of what each pedal does.