In this piece, we’re going to examine the gear setups of several of my favorite guitarists. We’re going to go over the guitars, amps, and pedals of some truly wonderful players and examine how you can imitate their distinctive sound yourself. I’d like to give a big thanks to Steve Barber for the suggestion, and if there is another guitarist’s rig you would like to see discussed in a future piece, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Arguably the most innovative and influential electric guitarist to ever live, Jimi Hendrix’s unmistakable guitar sound is one of the most imitated of all time. Although he occasionally played other electrics (including a distinctive, hand painted Gibson Flying V), a classic Hendrix tone is largely produced by using a Fender Stratocaster, the instrument with each he is most identified. He would typically keep his Stratocaster set to use both the neck and middle pickups at the same time (also known as position 4). While one can purchase the most recent of many Jimi Hendrix signature Stratocasters released by Fender over the years directly on their website, just about any Stratocaster with a five-way pickup switch should do the trick.
Hendrix would typically run his Stratocasters through Marshall amplifier stacks, creating an atypical but effective combo. His iconic fuzz tones were created by his use of Dunlop Fuzz Face pedals, although he experimented with several other fuzz pedals during his lifetime. His famous wah-wah tones, including the one heard on “Voodoo Chile”, were created with a Vox Wah-Wah, and not, as many believe, by a Crybaby Wah. Although the Fuzz Face and the Vox Wah-Wah were Hendrix’s two favorite pedals, the Univox Uni-Vibe and Roger Mayer Octavia were also frequent additions to his setup.
As the guitarist for the instrumental band Covet, Yvette Young’s piano-like, two-handed approach to the guitar has made her one of the instrument’s key players in recent years. She has made many guitarists, myself included, rethink the way they approach the instrument and a player whom many young players have begun emulating. Her bright, chime-like tone is due in large part to her usage of Ibanez Talman guitars, although she often used Stranberg Boden guitars early in her career. Nowadays she uses her signature Ibanez Talman more or less exclusively, which has the model number YY10.
She is somewhat of a loyalist to Vox amplifiers, and they have been her main amplifier of choice throughout her career. Young has a wide variety of pedals on her board, although most are from the brands Earthquaker Devices, MXR, and Walrus Audio. Of her many pedals, particularly important ones include the MXR Carbon Copy and the Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato, both of which are essential ingredients of her shimmering, dreamy tone.
As the guitarist for one of the biggest bands in the universe, Jimmy Page helped define what we think of when we imagine rock guitar. His bloated, swaggering guitar tone was a core element of the sound that made Led Zeppelin who they were. Page’s signature sound was largely achieved by his use of Gibson Les Pauls, although the first Led Zeppelin album recorded entirely with a Fender Telecaster, a guitar which made occasional appearances later in his career as well, and he liked to use Gibson EDS-1275 when he wanted an electric twelve-string tone. But despite the other instruments he occasionally used, a classic two-humbucker Les Paul remains Page’s go-to guitar and the axe to use if you’re looking to mimic some classic Zeppelin tones.
Although Page experimented with a wider range of amplifiers than he did guitars, Marshall and Hiwatt amps remained consistent choices for his live performances, both with Led Zeppelin and for his solo performances. However, in the studio he tended to favor Vox-brand amplifiers, meaning that they’re a great choice to try out if you’re more interested in Page’s studio work than his live performances. Jimmy Page didn’t use many pedals in general and hardly any with any degree of consistency, but a notable pedal he did often use was a Tone Bender Fuzz.
Nicknamed “The King Of The Blues”, B.B. King’s sweet, rich guitar tone and lyrical phrasing made him one of the most successful artists to ever play the style. But perhaps even more important than his commercial success, King was both one of the most influential blues players and electric guitarists of his generation. His playing was an important inspiration to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons, Gary Clark Jr, The Edge, Carlos Santana, and too many others to list here. B.B. consistently played a Gibson ES-335 throughout his career, the chambered body and bass-oriented sounds of instrument making for an important part of his tone. King eventually collaborated with Gibson to create the Lucille model, a signature Gibson ES-335 modeled off of his beloved black ES-335 of the same name. Just like his consistency with guitars, B.B. King used Fender amplifiers throughout his career and did not use any pedals.