Once you’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years professionally
you begin to . . . accumulate! You wake up one day and realize that over
the years you’ve amassed a very large amount of guitar related gear.
Especially if you’ve had multiple careers in music such as I have.
Being a studio guitarist required one set of guitars, amps, and
effects, and playing live in a trio required different gear. Even
playing in arenas requires different gear than playing small theaters
and clubs. You only realize the amount of gear you have once a year
when its time to renew your musical instrument insurance!
So I have around 165 loose pedals plus five pedalboards with yet
even more pedals. There is a large board for doing studio work like
films, TV, records, and jingles. There is a medium-sized board that runs
my four-amp live rig. I have another studio board that gets one “secret
weapon” sound when I turn everything on, and I have a small board to run my
acoustic rack, too.
But a few years ago I put together a 10" X 10" pedalboard
with three pedals, a tuner, and a power supply that seems to get more action
than any of the others. I wired together an old, heavily modified Rat
pedal from the ‘70s, followed by a small delay pedal and a reverb pedal. A little tuner sits on top of the power supply and
gets its feed from the stereo B side of the reverb. I've found that
reverb, delay, and distortion is all I need.
I’ve been doing a series of solo concerts in England this week
and relying on various amps at the venues. To my ears, nothing sounds
more uninspiring than totally dry solo electric guitar—hence the
reverb and delay. And having a warm sounding distortion pedal with
plenty of saturation really helps, too. I can plug into a Marshall half
stack, an AC30, the normal channel of a Fender Twin, even an amp I’ve
never heard of, and be confident that I can get a pleasing clean sound, at
The whole board fits into a computer bag with a few cables and
the power cord. And that fits into my suitcase when I fly. I ran into Joe
Bonamassa a few days before I left and he said, “Wow! Perfect for fly
dates—I gotta get a board like that!” We all hate to do fly dates
because it means you don’t have your real gear. But sometimes that’s
what touring requires, so a mini board is the best solution. Tonight I
play a concert with a bass player, a drummer, and my old buddy and
fellow guitarist Guthrie Govan. Will the wee Rat cut it? I’ll let you
know . . .