Sunday, May 25, 2008

Teppei's Current Guitars- Updated 6/14

6/14 Edit- Added info about the bridge pickup changes in the Les Pauls.

Teppei has used many different guitars for live and recording, but recently has settled on these for live shows: his black 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom, Blonde Nash T-Series Timewarp ('51 Telecaster/Broadcaster) and his Fender Jaguar Baritone. In the past, his black Les Paul was his main axe of choice (with his wine red 1977 Les Paul standard being used in the studio) but now it seems as if his Telecaster has become the most used.

The Les Paul is still used on songs like Deadbolt, Red Sky and Of Dust and Nations but the last couple of tours have seen the LP being used less. He used to string this LP with Ernie Ball 11-52s, but it is unknown if this remains true. Teppei replaced the stock bridge pickup with a Seymour Duncan. His studio Les Paul custom has a Dimarzio Super Distortion pickup in the bridge position.

The Telecaster has stepped up and become the main axe, and is used on Trust, The Artist In The Ambulance, Come All You Weary, Broken Lungs, For Miles, Hold Fast Hope, The Flags Of Dawn, Cold Cash and Colder Hearts and others. In an interview with Ultimate Guitar, he commented on his move toward his Telecaster with single coils for the more heavy material. This is uncommon in the rock world, and even in Thrice's past (the Les Paul was used much more on past tours). The Tele can still be driven hard, but leaves the articulation and clarity that is so key in the Thrice tone. As a little aside, this move toward Fender (he seems to be really liking his new '59 Fender Bassman reissue amp) really pleases me as I'm a Strat player who plans on buying an old silverface Twin Reverb and then becoming poor (and toneful) this Summer.

Teppei's baritone Fender Jaguar was used pretty much exclusively in recording the Fire EP, and naturally that is where it is used live. Its sound is naturally deep and heavy, but is another single coil guitar which again leaves more chime and clarity and is less boomy than a Les Paul or other humbucker-equipped guitar.

Teppei also keeps his P-90 equipped Epiphone Casino with him. This guitar doesn't seem to be getting as much use as the aforementioned guitars, but is still one which Teppei really likes due to the hollow body and natural tone of the P-90s. P-90 pickups are famous for being used in the early Gibson guitars, and were popular before humbuckers. They are single-coil pickups, but in a bigger package and have a bigger and warmer sound. This also causes a bit more noise, since they don't cancel noise like humbuckers and are stronger than single coils. The combination of the warm P-90s and the natural hollowbody tone is what keeps this guitar on the road. This guitar was played when I saw Thrice in February, but I can't remember when.

Stay tuned for a look at Dustin and Eddie's guitars too. If there's anyone out there reading this, feel free to comment with your comments, concerns, questions, ideas, gripes, etc.. I just set it to where there is no registering necessary to comment (just like on the Alchemy Index blog). Hopefully there's a few of you out there on the interwebs reading this stuff!

Edit 6/2- Thanks to Russell for pointing out some crucial things about Teppei's Nash Tele!

Eddie's Pedalboard

Rarely do you see a bass player with as many pedals as the guitarists. Here's a look at the exception:

Line 6 Distortion Modeler- Much like Teppei's Line 6 modeling pedals, this one models a number of classic distortions, fuzzes and overdrives. Things like the Big Muff, Fuzz Face, Tube Screamer, Tube Driver and Tone Bender. Again, there are 4 programmable presets. I'm pretty sure this pedal is what you hear on the fire stuff when it's played live (we know he played through a JCM800 for the recording).

Line 6 Delay Modeler w/ Expression Pedal- This may solve the mystery of the black pedal, now that I think about it. Eddie is using an expression pedal for his Delay Modeler for extra control, which I'm pretty sure means that the mysterious black expression pedal on Teppei and Dustin's boards is a delay expression pedal. Woot... now I feel like I've learned something today. Thanks to Christian for the comment on the article about Teppei's pedals! This pretty much has confirmed my thoughts on what the black expression pedal is for.

Boss Digital Delay/Pitch Shifter- Check out Teppei's article for more info on this one. It's interesting to see a bass player who has 2 delay units in his rig. This proves that the Thrice tone comes from all members, and that Eddie's tone is a key part. I stood in the front right by Eddie when I saw Thrice in february, and I must say that it's quite cool to see a bassist who does so much tonally. Most bassists just stand and look cool, but Eddie adds quite a bit more to the overall sound than just the low end (and he does look pretty cool on top of that). Eddie's pedalboard shows that.

ZVEX Fuzz Factory- It's interesting to see Eddie using one of these things. Check out Dustin's rig article for more info on this pedal. I can't really remember any instances of extreme fuzz from the show I was at, but I can't say I was looking. Does anyone know of any bootleg shows floating around from this year? I'd like to get one to find out where each pedal is used live and I really have nothing to go on except memory.

Ernie Ball Volume Pedal- Basic volume pedal. Move the expression pedal with your foot... volume goes up and down. Yay. Don't get me wrong, this is a key part of a live setup, it's just not too interesting to talk about, haha.

Boss TU-2- Yep, Eddie's got the pedal tuner too.

I guess this concludes the pedalboard articles. Here are some concluding points to think about:

Besides distortion, delay is definitely the most important ingrediant in the Thrice tone from Vheissu onward. It creates the spacy textures and thick clean tones they have become known for in the last few years.

In designing your own live rig- don't forget the volume pedal and tuner! I, myself am currently guilty of this due to buying the more interesting pedals first. The volume pedal especially will really free you up and get your band sounding great. When you're stuck on one volume all the time, it can be a problem. Sure, you can set your pedals for a volume boost but that isn't always wise. If you need a boost for a solo, adjust the volume pedal and when you're done put it back down. You'll sound tighter and more professional.

More than one source of gain is a must. Don't be the band with 2 sounds- clean and distorted. Sure, a minimalist approach can be good, but if you ask me, versatility is much better. As you can see, Thrice have numerous sources of gain and you can hear them all in different places. They are all crucial. You wouldn't want to use the same pedal for Red Sky as you would for Firebreather, or the same pedal for The Artist In The Ambulance as for the outro to Broken Lungs. I'll delve further into this in future articles.

There's more to come! I've just got to do my research and and write it up all nice and such. Check back soon.

Dustin's Pedals- Re-Updated 7/1/08!

This is old news... scroll down a bit to the next bold area for info on what he used on the Circa Survive tour.
I don't have a good picture of his pedalboard, but I've gathered this info from various pics and sources. His rig is similar to Teppei's, but with a couple exceptions. Here's what he's using live:

Line 6 Delay Modeler
Line 6 Modulation Modeler
Boss Delay/Pitch Shifter
Boss TU-2
(check out the post below on Teppei's pedals for a more in-depth description of those)

Ernie Ball Volume Pedal- This leads me to believe that what the mysterious pedal on Teppei's board isn't a volume pedal, since Dustin has that pedal in his rig too.

ZVEX Fuzz Factory- This is a chaotic fuzz pedal- not an overdrive or distortion. I've never played one of these, but I know fuzz pedals and after reading many reviews and descriptions I think this is the crazy tone heard in the end of "Broken Lungs". These pedals are made to sound like a classic fuzz pedal pushed to the edge, and with many tonal options. Those who own these praise their versatility.

Now here's the edited part... forget everything I just said, because he doesn't use that board anymore!

Well folks, I was wrong about the X3. Thanks to Patrick for pointing it out. I don't really know how I missed this... but it's pretty obvious that it isn't the X3 when you look at the back of his pedalboard in the picture above and see the lack of 1/4" jacks. It's almost certainly the FBV foot controller for his Line 6 Vetta amp. These foot controllers are an add-on to most Line 6 amps (even those awful Spiders), and they allow the effects in the amp to be used much like a multi-effect unit at your feet. The FBV gives Dustin an expression pedal for volume/wah and tuner along with the tons and tons of effects and amp simulators (as well as guitar simulators for his Variax modded Telecasters) and lots of other little gadgets like a tap-tempo switch. I've heard it even has a toaster oven and is powered by a small hamster running on a wheel. In theory, it eliminates the need for lugging around a big pedalboard full of cords that need to be set up at every show. It's pure "plug-and-play".

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Teppei's Pedals- Updated 8/9

Here's a list of pedals Teppei has in his pedalboard, with some background information on each:

Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler- Teppei seems to like the Line 6 pedals quite a bit. The delay modeler features 16 different delay models, mostly emulating vintage units (Deluxe Memory Man, Roland Space Echo, Ibanez AD9, etc.) but with a few other options like reverse delay and a 16 second loop sampler. The pedal allows 3 presets and has a tap tempo feature, which makes the pedal versatile and especially good for live performances. Delay is a big part of Teppei's spacy, airy clean tones. Listen to the Air album and "Of Dust and Nations" from Vheissu for delay magic.

Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler- This is another of those big Line 6 pedals. This one emulates numerous guitar synths and filters. It allows four presets and emulates the Moog, Arp, Korg and Roland synths as well as a few others. I'm slightly stumped as to where this is used. I can only assume it was used for more far-out Water sounds.

Line 6 MM4 Modulation Modeler- The last of his Line 6 pedals emulates tons of classic modulation pedals, like the Uni-Vibe, Phase 90, Boss CE-1, MXR Flanger, and many others. Teppei isn't typically a modulation fan, and usually opts for delays instead- for the Water album, however, there are TONS of modulated sounds. The best way to describe most of these sounds is "wet", so it's quite fitting. This one also features 4 presets, again helping for live performances.

ProCo Turbo RAT Distortion Pedal- The RAT distortion pedals are among the most versatile of their kind. While most pedals are limited to one trademark sound, the RATs seem to be able to sound great with a number of different settings. It's hard to say where this pedal is used, as Teppei has amp distortion as well in live settings and it can be assumed that that is what is used most of the time as far as recording (we know he used Marshall JCM800s for the Fire album's, well, fiery tone. The Turbo Rat is known for it's high gain tones that don't extinguish (no Fire related pun intended) harmonics and clarity.

Digitech Whammy IV- The Digitech Whammy pedal is used for pitch shifting. By using the expression pedal with your foot (like a wah), you can shift the pitch of the note you are playing up or down. The Whammy line also has a "dive bomb" effect, simulating a Floyd Rose tremolo system. The Whammy has a number of harmony effects for making your guitar sound like more than one instrument.

Boss Pitch Shifter/Delay- This is another digital delay pedal (further proving Teppei's love for delay). These pedals are similar to the more popular Boss DD series, but with some more interesting features. It has 2 seconds of delay and a chorus feature. The chorus can be dialed in to be quite thick and sounds nice. The Pitch Shifting is slightly off at times, but by no means unusable. The pedal is a nice, versatile delay with some noise-making capabilities. The Whammy is a much more precise pitch shifter though.

Boss TU-2 Tuner- Simply a Boss pedal tuner. It's always smart to have a tuner in your rig in a live situation.

Edit 8/9:
This was figured out a while ago and put in another post, but I'll put it here too so it's easier to find. The mysterious expression pedal is used with his DL-4 for even more control over his delay. It also looks like Teppei has began using an Ernie Ball volume pedal, and possibly added/switched other things too. I'll be searching for more recent pics to confirm this.

I guess it's time for an introductory statement.

Well, I'm Mike. I've been a huge Thrice fan since The Artist In The Ambulance came out, and my appreciation for the band has only grown with each album.

I'm also a huge guitar equipment geek and a Pink Floyd-obsessed loser. There are many resources online for finding out every little thing that has to do with David Gilmour's tone (,,, etc.), but no good resources for Thrice's gear. Sure, this may be because Thrice isn't a "classic" act (yet), but I figured I'd make this blog anyway. I'm sure there are a few gear geeks out there that are Thrice fans, curious and lazy... and this is for you. I've done a bit of digging through interviews and pictures through the years and saved the good info on my computer. Here's what I've got- when I find out more I'll update.