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I've been playing guitar for about 12 years now and for the majority of that time span I gigged with a giant half stack, three guitars, and a fairly large pedal board. In the past year, I've changed my tone, the amount of gear that I own, and the size of it. I play in a band called Carbon Tigers. Everything I do and own is because of it. While we're gaining some traction, we don't have a lot of money, a large van, or the energy to spend on moving large amounts of gear around. The challenges of being in a solely independent band have forced me to find alternative ways to sound huge, but not take up a ton of space on stage or in a van. Everyone in my band has the same philosophy and because of it we're a lot more mobile, meaning more shows, which has lead to bigger opportunities.
As I write this, I'm traveling to Columbus, Ohio in a minivan to play at Fashion Meets Music Festival with Carbon Tigers. There's just the four of us, all of our gear, and merch. We're playing a large outdoor stage followed by an after-show with Vactioner at a much smaller bar. For both shows, I'll be using my Orange Amps TH30C. It's a two channel, 30 watt combo, with a 1x12 speaker. Honestly, I only use the clean side of this amp; I let my pedals take care of all my overdrive and boost tones. I've never had to turn it up past 10 o'clock. After 10 o'clock, it starts to break up. Regardless, it's clean, warm, and can bite your ear off like Mike Tyson. It's probably a quarter of the size of my Fender Stage 100 with a 4x12 cab that I used to use in my punk rock days.
Delay and reverb are probably the most important effects on my board, especially for the way I function. The way I see Carbon Tigers is like this: Darien Williams (drums) and Aaron Sweatt (bass) are the earth, the soil, bedrock, and all that is terrestrial. Chris Wienke, who sings and plays guitar is everything that lives on it, the things that move, breathe, and have blatant personality. I play guitar and control the atmosphere, the weather, the air, etcetera. I swirl around Chris, as Darien and Aaron remain an unmovable foundation. I dictate when there will be clear skies, a few clouds, or severe thunderstorms. For this, I use my TC Electronics Nova Delay 1 pedal, which is the one I'm most passionate about, and the TC Hall of Fame Reverb. I can create long abrasive delays and smooth swirling atmospheric tones that you'd only notice if they weren't there; it offers an incredible amount of precision. I use my LaSalle cello bow with the pedal as if though they were joined at the hip. More importantly, it has 9 programmable presets, which allows me to change my delays at the click of a button. I HATE breaks in between songs that last more than 10 seconds. For our purposes, and my bandmates may disagree, I prefer to have one seamless solid performance or, as I like to say, an experience.
This is my Asscreamer Overdrive made by Sweatt Stache Industries aka Sweatt Stache Worldwide aka Sweatt Stache International aka domestic distribution aka "We ship it to the Moon and back just 'cause". It's just a tube screamer clone, but I'm really into how full it sounds. I'm able to play huge chords without it getting too muddy. Most importantly, playing a pedal built by one of my bandmates is really cool; I feel like it brings me closer to our music and to my bandmates.
This is my guitar, a Joe Bonamassa Signature Les Paul Studio Gold Top. I love my guitar to the point where it’s almost an illness. The most important factor for me is playability. At the end of the day, my hands are the most important part of my rig, and the first thing they touch is my guitar. It's really important to me as a guitarist that my hands are comfortable while playing my guitar. I like to play a lot of tappy stuff, harp harmonics, and big jazz chords. I'm not into the idea of wrestling with my guitar or having to use strength to play. I like to feel as if though my fingers are rolling with minimal friction. I always keep my guitar in its case, never leave it in the van, sanded down the neck, and play it every day. I cannot stress enough how important it is that the guitar feels right especially when so much of my sound comes from my hands. My whole rig no matter how big or how small is useless if I am not comfortable while playing my guitar.
I want to include one more thing that I consider to be part of my rig: AudioDharma.org. As a guitarist, I meditate - I sit in one spot and focus on breathing for roughly 30 to 45 minutes a day. This is the website that I go to. I use it because there are guided mediations on breathing and talks that have helped me relax and focus on being present while playing guitar. At the end of the day, I could have all the expensive gear in the world, but it means nothing unless I'm playing my guitar whole-heartedly with the best use of my effort.
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