Frank Zappa: Inside the Guitars and Amps of His Greatest Recordings | VIDEO

October 6, 2015
PHOTO: Ginny Winn | Getty images
“Considering Frank rarely used anything stock, it’s difficult to ape his tones,” says Dweezil Zappa, who tries the best he can to get close to his old man’s sonic deviancy on the Zappa Plays Zappa Tour.

“For the most part, it’s really about having the right midrange, and being able to get controllable feedback at will. Frank devised a way to make that happen by fitting his guitars with onboard preamps that put drastic EQ control at his fingertips, and kicked out a ridiculous amount of boost—up to 18dB. Frank really loved screwing around with stuff, and making it work for him and the way he played.”

Dweezil kindly gave us access to several of his father’s guitars and amps—which we’ve presented here with as much detail as possible, given the fact that mysteries still remain about some aspects of these instruments.
Pignose Amp
This is the Pignose amplifier that was responsible for the bulk of the nasty guitar tones found on the Apostrophe(’) and Over-Nite Sensation albums. This little piggy couldn’t escape modification, as evidenced by the two XLR jacks on the back. Zappa appeared on The Mike Douglas Show in 1976 (below), where he can be seen walking onstage to perform “Black Napkins” with this Pignose in one hand and the “Baby Snakes” SG in the other.

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