My guitar sound and style of playing has evolved over a long period of time. I have used many different sonic tools to make music since I first started playing. The earliest sounds I made were on a Fender Music Master that was given to me by my dad at age 6. I plugged it into one of his spare Pignose amps.
I started playing through Frank's Acoustic amps that he used on stage in the early 80's. Next I got my green Charvel and played Before I Get Old - Dweezil Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. Carvin XB amps, also from what Frank was using on stage in the early 80's. I remember that the delay in the Ibanez was main thing I used and it was mainly for the song "Electric Hoedown".
I used this set up in mono. After that I started collecting a few more guitars. I had some more Charvels and Fenders mainly. Even though I really liked them I didn't play Gibsons at all in those days.
A little later I also used a Roland GP Slightly off topic, my Dad liked the sound of many of my presets on the GP-8 so I went to Guitar Center and bought him one. I copied all of my presets into it and he used it extensively on his tour.
The clean sound that you hear him soloing with is him playing his blonde Performance Guitar through the GP Terra - Irene Grandi - Irene Grandi had some other pedals as well at that time but it was nothing out of the ordinary, some phasers, flangers and fuzz tones.
The usual suspects. Actually I did have a stereo guitar from Steve Ripley that had a dedicated two rack space brain and an 18 pin cable to operate the guitar. Only 2 were ever made. I had one and Ry Cooder had the other. Ry recently borrowed mine since his broke. I should see if he's done with it The next phase of guitars and gear came around during the sessions for "Confessions I was still using Mesa Boogie amps and some rack effects in stereo with a Bradshaw switching system.
By this time I was using a Steinberger guitar with a trans-trem as my main guitar. It's all over that album. The Madonna signed Charvel was used a lot as well as a sea foam green Fender Strat. The mixed record is a lot brighter than my actual sounds were in the room. Next came "Shampoohorn. Around that time my rig changed a lot. I started using Peavey s and Classic s. At one stage the rig consisted of three 4X12s powered by 3 different amps, creating a stereo outside, dry center array. I even had Fender Bassman as a center channel at one point.
I used a lot of the same rack effects and a few pedals too including an old 60s Octavia and Fuzz Face. I also played a champagne colored Fender Strat and a turquoise Fender Strat that later went through a transmogrification and became the vintage cream colored one seen in the Zappa Plays Zappa DVD. That guitar is visible on the far right with the black strap. Around that time I started recording the basic tracks for the majority of the project that is still in progress called "What The Hell Was I Thinking?
Subsequent touring for the "Shampoohorn" record saw me using an original mid 80's Kramer that was painted green but later was covered in faux cow hide material by Performance Guitar.
That guitar had a Before I Get Old - Dweezil Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. in it. It became my main touring guitar for a while. I did use it on "Shamppohorn" and many other studio projects to follow. I also used a custom made Moser fretless guitar with a Les Paul junior body and a Fender strat style fretless neck.
The amp and effects rig went back to stereo for a while but my taste in guitars changed a bit. I started playing a cream colored 60s SG and I also played an old sunburst Fender Telecaster that has a signature from Albert Lee on the back. It was already there when I bought it. An interesting connection to him comes later. I did also utilize both of my blue and orange custom designed Performance Guitar DZ models.
The orange one had a 3 band parametric in it which was later removed and put into the Performance Guitar Jumbo Foot Pedal. I've used extensively on stage and in the studio since Planet Nutbrain - SooSpicey - Squirrels Of The Universe (File, Album) Another guitar I used a lot at that time was my gold sparkle Ibanez Iceman.
It was given to me by a friend who found it in the closet of a house he had recently moved into. Originally black, I had it painted gold sparkle by Dan Lawrence. That guitar is most notably featured on the song "Badass.
The watermelon guitar and the Madonna guitar were a few of the earliest graphic guitars he did for me. While at Moser he painted The Dr. This became my main amp for a while. It was solid state with an interesting low mid frequency graphic eq circuit. Tonally it was very reminiscent of the Acoustic amp Frank used in the mid 70's alongside his Marshall.
I didn't realize the subliminal effect of his signature on my tele until the time I started playing his signature model EB! I did many recordings for film and television with my "Wiggy" rig. At that time I began to take a serious interest in recording and engineering. Certain types of amps and effects were being developed as smaller alternatives to big amps. There was a system by Lexicon called MPXG2 which had a 6 New Neighbors - Curd - Putrid Tales (File, Album) rack mounted amp along with a multi effects processor.
At the time it was not a complete solution for every kind of tone though. I also used it and my Wiggy amps for the album "Automatic. The first time I played with the effect I started recording the song. There's also a cool wide stereo effect from a short delay made by an old ADA multi efx 4. I've added that into different versions of rigs since then specifically for that doubling effect.
Next I Before I Get Old - Dweezil Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. experimenting and recording more stuff in the David Hughes - Evrywhere without amps. At that Before I Get Old - Dweezil Zappa - My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. I was also in development for a tube version of the Wiggy amp with Peavey. All Roads Lead To Inca was inspired by the work I had been putting into learning my dad's music and the total technical transformation of my guitar playing.
On that track I was using a combination of 2 special amps, a Blankenship 16 watt Leeds head and a Blankenship modified black face Fender Bassman head. It had some modulation effects added in the mix. At that time I The Ted Heath Orchestra* - Ted Heath Salutes The Duke started using 2 Cornford amps.
They made a special 3 channel head for me that I used on the entire Zappa Plays Zappa tour. The effects were TCEventide Orville and a variety of stomp boxes. That rig morphed throughout and and eventually included a Fender Cybertwin along with the Cornfords and the Blankenship. I was still chasing after the best recreation of my dad's classic tones. Up until that point I had not Signed D.C.
- Dead Moon / Napalm Beach - Live From Beyond / Rumblin Thunder using any of his actual gear to recreate the sounds.
By I made more radical changes to my set up. Pictured here, a version with the Cyber Twin in the center. There were 2 giant racks that I called the Twin Towers.
In them I housed some vintage and modern effects. The most modern were the Digitech GSPs. I had 3 of them. They had amp modeling and great effects in them. For an analog rig I had some ridiculous routing flexibility in the towers.
I was using a Switchblade to route effects. Many different pedals including some Butler Tube overdrives, some Fuchs boost pedals and a variety of other boutique items.
The available tones multiplied exponentially. There were 3 main effects that I used that my father used to use to get some amazing signature tones.
Those effects and many more pedals were available so I could blend amps and morph effects. This rig was by far the most expensive rig I ever had built and most complex of any I had ever put together. It sounded great but it was not very reliable. Over time it did not travel well and was very expensive to ship around the world. By I had decided to downsize out of fiscal necessity but I did not want to give up flexibility of tone or more importantly, authenticity.
I started to use the Fractal Axe Effects and this became a revelation. Not only did the rig get smaller and more easily transportable, it became way more flexible and easier to use and program.
The core tones and FZ tones I could recreate became more reliable and more detailed.