I specify live gear over studio gear as anything goes in a studio and that list would be far too long to reproduce here! However, my live set ups have always been as minimal as I can work them - because I'm lazy and don't like lugging loads of gear around!
All pictures 'borrowed' from
My first amp!... awww bless it... my 50 watt Laney Linebacker. I have a genuine feeling of nostalgia looking at the picture. I bought this when I was at college and remember carrying it home on a bus! This amp saw me through most of my first real gigging band and it gigged half way around the couuntry with me! It was a cheap transistor amp - no tubes or pre amp tubes or pretend tubes or amp modelling - just a gain, volume and 3 band eq. It did have 2 channels and reverb though. Looking back I'm surprised how far this little amp carried me without the need to upgrade - crazy to think!
The Yamaha FX500 lived ontop of the Laney throughout most of its life. This half rack sized unit was quite cool once! I remember using one distortion preset all the time but that preset drove the Laney and my entire sound for about 3 years! It'd be
fascinating to hear one now...
So after running the Laney into the ground I bought this Marshall 8280 2x12 combo. I ditched the Yamaha FX around this time also, because I prefered the Marshall rich and pure tone - to put icky digital effects infront was pointless.
However, whilst the drive on the Marshall was pretty good I got this pedal later to give it a bit of a boost! It was a great drive pedal based on the success of the Marshall Guvnor pedal which I remember Gary Moore using so I bought this off the strength of that endorsment. It was placed in front of the Marshall to give everything a bit more harmonic oopf. It also allowed me to turn down the drive on the amp which cleaned the channel up this allowed me to use just the one channel and the guitars volume control to create more versatility with clean, crunch and distorted sounds from one channel - Something I still choose to do to this day.
Kustom 36 Coupe. This amp marked a new era in bands for me. I was in a new band writing new material. The new material was pretty much classic rock but with quite a lot of cleans and crunches as well as moderate gains and full blown distortions - so versatility became paramount. Whilst the Marshall was good I had kind of got bored of that 'Marshall' sound and wanted something more modern sounding. Enter the Kustom 36 Coupe. This amp will do anything! This is a boutique hand wired amp designed by James Brown <- click that link! Again it's a very no-frills amp - it has 2 channels, clean and lead with a 3 band eq on each. But boy does it have 'tone'!
The 36 watt rating was really loud for most venues we played but sometimes that 1x12 speaker meant on stage sound was sometimes lacking, but plug it into a 4x12 and it'll keep up with anything!
To colour the Kustom I use a few Boss pedals. Why Boss? well, they always seem to work for me that I've never needed to look elsewhere! I'm not a huge effect user or into creating weird sound effects or that kind of stuff so Boss pedals do what I'd expect them to and are so well made that I've never had to use anything else.
For Which Way Up I used an OD-3 to boost the Kustom amp a little - again I tend to keep the amp gain about 6 oclock and use the OD-3 to push the extra mile when needed. My guitars volume control can then clean it up to a crunchy clean and I then have the clean amp channel for proper clean sounds. These clean tones are where the chorus (CH-1) and delay pedal (DD-3) come in to give a big reverby clean sound. I usually use them both together because of the way I have them set to compliment each other to make a big reverby-heavenly-chorus sound, rather than using them individually to do odd ping pongy delays effects or weird out of tune chorus things!
Peavey Wiggy!! I bought this for no reason other than I always wanted one! This amp was released in the early 90's and designed by Dweezil Zappa and Peavey and is the only amp that can tell you how many miles per hour you're playing! No really... well, sort of... The traditional Volume, gain, treble, mids, bass have been replaced with MPH, RPH, Battery, oil, and temperature! So the head gives off an old retro muscle car vibe with its shiny aluminium and even has hazzard warning light to let you know you've got the Boost feature engaged.
This is an all solid state amp. No valves, not power or pre-amp, nada, none, zip. However, it does contain a 'Peavey technical thing' which is supposed to do a great job of sounding valvey. Honestly... in terms of gainy tones... it doesn't... the distortion sounds very much solid state to me. Which was a surprise given that when released this amp was as much to buy as a top of the range all valve modern marshall. It's not all bad though, the gain is sort of fun but its a crunchy, retro, early marshall sort of gain. This amp ain't gonna djent no matter what you try! Although it is loud... really really loud. Those 2x12 speakers really know how to punch out the sound.
A great feature is the post amp 5 band EQ which can shape the sound in many a varied and entertaining ways.
It's a hard amp to describe on paper, and I hope to get a video demo up at some point, but in closing I have found a way to use it with it's great clean tone with an Amptweaker Big Rock Pro pedal doing all the hard work.
... oh and it has cool orange lights when you turn it on!
Amp Tweaker Big Rock. This was an obvious choice to me to give the Wiggy some proper usable distortion. Simply put these are made by James Brown - That guy who designed my Kustom 36 Coupe. I love it. It sounds very reminiscent of the Kustom Coupe - it has a very similar tone and feel to the distortion. Its a very natural sounding pedal considering there are no valves, it just feels lovely... I don't know how he does what he does but whatever he does is genius!