Show Dates


 May. 26

The Tavern at the A

Pittsfield, MA



Apr. 29 

“Battle for Cam” Benefit

Home Club

Hinsdale, MA 



Audio Clips

I love gear. If you have found your way to this page, you probably do too. After many many years of buying, trying, selling (and then repeating) just about every piece of gear imaginable, I think I have finally settled into a rig that gets me the tone I am looking for, consistently. Tone is a funny thing because it means many different things to different people. For me, I play predominantly in a blues/rock trio with a big sound, so the guitar tone has a huge impact on the overall sound of the band. My signal chain is constructed in a way to create a big thick clear tone (chords as well as individual notes) with a rich full low-end, punchy mids and a clear high-end--with texture and articulation--all without being muddy or shrilly. My words don't do justice for what I hear in my minds-ear, but that is the best I can do to articulate the base tone I am looking for. I like to add different colors periodically with pedals without violating the base tone.
As a tone hound, I have discovered that it is not "one thing" that makes up a players tone, rather a huge number of variables (some little and some big) that affect the signal chain and make up tone. Things like the kind of wood and age of the wood of the body of the guitar, to the neck and fretboard wood and thickness, the frets, the pickups, pickup height, the strings, even the nut, bridge and saddle materials affect tone. The pedals, cables, amp head, circuitry, tubes and speakers all affect the chain and output tone. All the settings on each of the aforementioned create more options. There are so many variables (and variables within variables), they are almost endless, and it takes time and experimentation to determine what combinations one finds most appealing.....And of course, one cannot forget that the most important part of tone has nothing to do the rig, but the fingers, right?! But let’s give the fingers the best opportunity for success.
A few years ago I would show up to a gig with 4-6 guitars, 3-4 amps and a pedal board with 20 pedals on it. I have scaled back my rig these days and have found I really like having a fewer number of variables in my signal chain. This is what I play with most.





Since the tone starts with the guitar, let’s start there. I have owned dozens of guitars over the years, some of them more than 50 year old vintage pieces of art and history. The guitar I love most however is a name most won't recognize, my SVL 61 Reserve. Simon Law is an incredible builder and has created a guitar that has a consistency of tone that is fantastic. It has a body made of an old piece of "salvaged" alder. It has a thick flame neck (almost D) with a sweet brazilian rosewood fretboard. I play with Dunlop 6100 frets. I like tall and wide frets. They feel smoother through my bends as I work up and down the neck. It is loaded with the Amalfitano pickups that Jerry makes for Simon an they have everything I could want out of vintage style pickup. I love to explore and play with other guitars, but if I had to choose just one, this would be it. I also have a 1970 Gibson Cherry ES 335. This guitar is mint and has a big fat tone and I just love to play it, and I have modified it slightly to my exact liking. For some songs, nothing beats a 335. My Fender CS 1950 Nocaster gets some live play and it, along with my PRS 408 Experience, were featured on our latest CD. Although I own a handful more guitars, these are what I play most with my SVL getting most the air time.
Strings are important for me, and I use the Curt Mangan Schofield Signature set . 11-14-18-28-38-54. I have tried every string imaginable, many I really like, but these just sound bigger, fatter and articulate to me. They are a heavy gauge string and other than the 11 high e string they feel more like a set of 13's in size, but they feel like they have a bit lower tension for a large string. I love Dunlop 1.1 picks and use them exclusively and use the round part of the pick. I play with a lot of attack and believe the round side of the heavy pick with hard attack on a heavy string are a big part of the tone I am after.


Effects and Pedals

As far as pedals, I have a table full of them in my studio. As I mentioned, I have had pedal boards with as many as 20 pedals on them. I have really cut down what is on my board now to the basics.
Gain staging is a very important aspect of the tone building process for me, especially for overdriven tone. My Klon is a key first step in the process. It is always on and it just makes everything sound bigger. If I could have only one pedal, that would be it. The vintage Marshall Blues Breaker pedal adds a super smooth overdriven tone that I really like, in fact it is my favorite overdrive pedal and I use it more than any other. I use a 1981 TS 808 for a thick syrupy overdrive. The old ones do really sound different than the reissues. I have a RI TS-808 and never fell in love with it. When I got this one, I heard something I loved and it jumped right on my pedal board and has remained ever since. I will often use the BB for rhythm and then slam the TS into the BB for lead.
As far as other pedals, I have bounced around with a bunch of wah-wah pedals and the RMC 8 has some adjust ability and consistency I don't find with other wahs. It maintains its volume nicely and has an EQ so I can dial it in. I like a high-end throw, but find other pedals can get to shrilly. I use two delay pedals. The first is an Aqua Puss. It basically is just set as a slight slap back and is on a lot. The Deep Blue Delay is another favorite. I set it to slightly more than slap back with a touch of decay. It is subtle but gives some depth without sounding synthetic. I don't engage it much, but it sounds great as I bringing a solo to an apex, it builds nice dimension. Sometimes I will turn up the delay setting a bit and it gives a nice dripping or waterfall effect. I have a Keeley Katana clean boost that I use when I need just a little extra "me" without coloring the tone. I like the tc Electronic Polytune, it is a responsive, accurate and simple tuner to use.
I run most of my pedals through a One Control Iguana Tail Loop. This keeps my signal chain as true as possible, especially when running some old vintage pedals that can really suck tone from the chain. If you run your signal through a bunch of pedals you are bound to lose signal strength and tone. Using this looper allows me to have only the engaged pedals effect the signal chain, and the other pedals are then truly bypassed. Finally, I use the powered Pedal Pad as my board. It is indestructible and the cleanest most well organized easy to use and transport board I have found.


In my opinion, amps have probably the largest effect on the signal chain. Get everything correct to this point and run your signal through a crappy amp and it will sound like crap. I love the old Fender tubes amps and have had many. However, at this point they are all vintage pieces of history and I shudder at the thought of anything bad happening to them, and always worry about reliability at gigs as well.
My favorite amp rig is made up of two amps. First is a custom Two Rock amp head. The TR head is custom amp head, built on the Custom Clean platform, built identically to a Dumble Steel String Singer (a la SRV an John Mayer). It is one amazing amp. I have never heard anything so clean and pure. I also use a Two Rock Custom Reverb Signature. It is one of the originals from 2005 and has an articulation and punch that when combined with the Custom Clean head hits the full spectrum. I run these amp heads through 2 2X12 Alessandro cabinets. The cabs have Neo speakers in them made especially for Alessandro. This amp configuration has a very full bodied low end, punchy mids, and an airy top end. It sounds really "open". Putting them together gives this rig a huge, full, balanced and articulate natural a sound as anything I have ever played through or heard.
Again, I have come to a point where less is best for what I am trying to create as a tone, and this rig is a nice balance point to that end.