Axes Bold as Love: The Gear of Experience Hendrix Tour 2010
Photography by Chris Kies
Tribute tours. The idea isn’t exactly revolutionary. If you live near a
city of significant size, it’s probably normal to see everything from Beatles,
Pink Floyd, and Queen tribute bands, Elvis impersonators, Django Reinhardt
festivals, and Van Halen cover bands pass through at any time of the year.
But there’s only one tour with the kind of cachet to prompt the gods of guitar
to kneel down in mutual reverence: The Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour.
This year marks the fourth that the all-star concert traveled the US to celebrate the short but revolutionary career of
James Marshall Hendrix. The first incarnation of the idea was the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Festival, the headlining
attraction at Seattle’s 1995 Bumbershoot festival. The festival was held again in 1998, and it was followed by two Jimi
Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition tours, and then three all-star tribute tours under the Experience Hendrix moniker.
This year’s tour included guitarists who inspired Hendrix—Hubert Sumlin (who gained fame in 1955 as Howlin’ Wolf’s
sideman)—those who actually knew Hendrix—Billy Cox and Ernie Isley—and big-name ax slingers whose styles simply
wouldn’t exist as we know them if it weren’t for Hendrix’s influence—Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd,
Jonny Lang, Robert Randolph, Brad Whitford, Vernon Reid, and Susan Tedeschi. But while this who’s-who lineup of guitar
gods and demigods joined the tour to honor the original Voodoo Chile, they all did so in true Hendrix fashion—by flying
the flag of their own uniqueness high the way Jimi would’ve wanted them to.
When you combine their incredible playing with the fact that we—and you—are as gaga for gear as they are, it was a no-brainer
that PG had to check in with them. So our team packed up the cameras and mics to head north and go behind
the scenes at the March 21st show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There we got the lowdown on all the guitars, amps, and
effects being used to revere Jimi and his legendary tones.
But we soon realized we had to talk about more than just the gear. It was also about the relationship these guitarists had
with their gear—how they got their known tones—as well as how they approached the daunting task of covering Hendrix
properly. Some used Strats, Marshalls, and vintage effects, while others used the same gear they’ve been using for years.
But no matter the formula, the result was original and unique renditions of tunes from Hendrix’s illustrious catalog.
The following pages chronicle our fly-on-the-wall encounters during the soundchecks, backstage hangs, and the epic
performances that night in Milwaukee. For one night, Jimi was alive and well in the form of 10 guitarists sharing a stage
to achieve a single goal—to experience Hendrix:
Pictured here with his well-worn ‘70s Fender Jazz bass, Cox opened the show with the famed Ernie
Isley on guitar. Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton joined them for a great rendition of “Stone Free.”
Out of everyone in the 2010 Experience Hendrix lineup, none had a closer relationship
to Hendrix than Billy Cox. They met at Fort Campbell in Kentucky in the early
’60s when they enlisted in the US Army. Cox was Hendrix’s original choice for the
bassist slot in the Experience, but Cox had several other musical projects going at
the time so he declined. History would eventually be made when Hendrix and Cox
reunited to form Band of Gypsys. The combination of the two, with the late Buddy
Miles on drums, gave the world some of Hendrix’s best compositions, including
“Machine Gun” and “Changes.”
Cox ripped through the Milwaukee set with cuts like “Stone Free,” “Message to Love,”
“Them Changes,” and the closing “Red House” using a classic combination of a ’70s
Fender Jazz bass rumbling through an Ampeg SVT Classic head and a matching Ampeg
8x10 cabinet. The setup was simple yet legendary, just like Cox’s thumping bass work.
Cox’s amp setup consisted of an Ampeg SVT Classic tube head with a matching Ampeg 8x10 cabinet.
Ernie Isley started off the Milwaukee show by playing “Stone
Free” on his Custom Shop Strat. His pedalboard included a
Dunlop Rotovibe, Voodoo Lab Proctavia, Boss BF-2 Flanger,
ProCo Rat, and a Dunlop Crybaby wah.
Of all the guitarists on the tour, Ernie Isley holds one
distinction none of the others can claim. Isley—who
first found wide exposure as the guitarist for famed
R&B/funk band the Isley Brothers—watched Saturday-morning
cartoons with Jimi. As Isley described during
his three-song set—which included “Stone Free”
and “Message to Love” with Cox, as well as “Manic
Depression”—he knew Hendrix before all the funky
outfits and guitar antics, back when Hendrix was an Isley
Brothers sideman. He recalled how he knew Hendrix
would become something remarkable.
In fact, before each song in his set, Isley waxed poetic
about Hendrix. He first remembered Hendrix getting
a white Strat, just after joining his brothers’ band, and
then he recalled seeing Hendrix after his first stint in
England, dressed, as he said, like a carnival performer
with bell-bottoms and several rings. But what really
struck us was Isley’s last story. He remembered when
Hendrix stayed at his family’s house for weeks on end
and how he’d never be without that white Strat. How
Hendrix would hunch over that Strat for endless hours,
crafting licks and chord progressions. Isley mimicked a
few of the licks on guitar while telling the story—some
were unfamiliar, others recognizable. Isley then paused,
looked up at the heavens, and said he recalled one riff
more than the other. Then he launched into one of the
most inspiring performances of the show. We won’t
ever hear “Manic Depression” without thinking
of that night.
These Fender Custom Shop Strats were
commissioned by Isley’s wife as birthday
presents. They both feature maple
(right) and flamed maple (left) tops and
roses handcarved by George Amicay. The
rosewood fretboards have several inlays,
including a hummingbird, two doves, and
the word “Zeal.” Both guitars also feature
custom single-coils and gold hardware. The
flame maple guitar was built by Art Esparza.
The legendary Hubert Sumlin donned a Custom Shop Strat for an all-star jam of
“Killing Floor,” in addition to helping close the show with a spectacular rendition of “Red
House” with Joe Satriani and Robert Randolph. Sumlin’s Fender Custom Shop ’56 Relic Stratocaster was given to him by Mike
Eldred at the 2007 Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival.
It’s difficult to sum up a player like Hubert
Sumlin. Rock ’n’ roll as we know it would
most certainly sound very different if he
hadn’t picked up the guitar back in the ’30s.
And not just because Jimi was a huge fan.
Meeting him was fascinating. He was raised in a
little town called Hughes in eastern Arkansas—
an area that spawned a major music revolution,
one that is not simply confined to just the great
blues that came from there. As Part of Howlin’
Wolf’s band this man helped change people’s
perception of what music could sound like,
and we could definitely feel the energy in the
room when we were speaking to him. Sumlin is
a walking tome of amazing musical history and
knowledge, and we just sat back in awe as he
recalled fond memories of Hendrix and his very
own modest childhood.
“Jimi loved [the famous Howlin’ Wolf tune]
‘Killing Floor,’ and he liked the Wolf,” Sumlin
calmly said. He seemed to replay some
memory in his mind’s eye for a moment, and
then he emphasized the point, “He recorded
Killing Floor!” He seemed truly honored that
Hendrix had covered the tune—including
during a BBC session and at the Monterey
Pop Festival in 1967.
Sumlin then recalled the first time he played
with Hendrix, during a gig with Howlin’ Wolf
in England. “It was at this really nice, big
place. He came up through the front, and the
crowd just moved for him.” Sumlin’s hands
were pressed together, and he spread them
wide to illustrate how the crowd parted
like the Red Sea when Hendrix walked to
the stage. “You could drive a car through it
down to the bandstand!” he laughed. The
crowd gave the legend a deafening round
of applause before he’d played a note.
Sumlin watched Jimi go on to play “Killing
Floor” with his teeth, and only one thing
was running through his mind: “I’m fired. He
played it so beautiful, man. I think he played
it better than we recorded it.” Hendrix got a
15-minute standing ovation after his set.
Being in the presence of a figure as influential
was humbling. It was like listening to a
living, breathing part of America’s musical
heritage. He shared stories about playing a
guitar strung with baling wire and making
his brother cry with jealousy because he was
so good. He retold road tales and stories of
recording with Chuck Berry and the Wolf. But
what was most fascinating was his energy.
The man is 78 years old and has the drive
and passion of a rambunctious teenager. He
still lives and breathes guitar like it was the
first time he played it. He’s inspiring on and
off the stage. And getting to share a few
moments of his time to talk about the blues,
Arkansas, and Hendrix are moments we’ll
cherish for the rest of our lives.
Sumlin’s amplifier setup was one of extreme simplicity: a tried-and-true Fender
Bassman 4x10 combo mic’d with a Sennheiser e609.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Kenny Wayne Shepherd digging into his Fender Custom Shop Signature
model during “I Don’t Live Today.” The Strat features an alder body, a thick
maple neck with a rosewood fretboard, and custom-voiced single-coils.
Of all the players who took the stage in
Milwaukee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was
the most like a man possessed of Hendrix’s
spirit. He wielded an array of Strats ranging
from Custom Shop models based on his ’61
to a replica of Hendrix’s Monterey guitar,
but it wasn’t his gear choices that were so
reminiscent of Jimi. It was the fact that he
gave the most provocative and aweinspiring
performance of the night.
During his four songs, he plugged his
Strats into a handwired Fender ’64
Vibroverb reissue and a Tycobrahe Octavia
and played with a passionate, fearless
stage presence that dripped with
Hendrixian charisma. Others played with
their teeth and behind their back—as did
Shepherd—but he raised the bar by playing
under his leg, squatting down with his
headstock pointed skyward (just like Jimi
in the liner notes of Axis: Bold As Love),
slid on his knees during solos, and covered
the gamut of Hendrix-inspired
without shame or inhibition—and without
coming across as cheesy or schmaltzy.
Tonally, Shepherd lit the place on fire during
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” The first five
seconds of the song had barely reverberated
through the soldout
Riverside Theatre before
the crowd was on its feet, pleading for him
to take it to another level. And he obliged.
He worked his Crybaby wah with precision to
ensure the proper wah-chuk-a-wah sounds.
The extended solo contained some of the
finest guitar playing of the night—it closely
resembled Hendrix’s recorded rendition but
also had Shepherd’s own bent. He ended the
tune on his knees, reenacting Hendrix’s 1967
Strat burning at the Monterey Pop Festival.
The way Shepherd owned the stage was an art
form in itself. For his set, KWS was Hendrix.
Shepherd plugged into the first input of his Fender ’64 Vibroverb
reissue’s Vibrato channel. The mic is a Sennheiser e609.
During “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Shepherd played this Fender
Custom Shop Hendrix Monterey Pop Festival Strat, which has a maple neck,
rosewood fretboard, and three vintage single-coils. The alder body features a
recreation of Jimi’s original artwork that was hand-painted by Pamelina H.
To get Hendrix-style tones, Kenny Wayne Shepherd mixed up his pedalboard for this particular tour. He went with a Boss TU-2
Chromatic Tuner, an Analog Man AR20DL Analog Delay, Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2, an Analog Man BI-CHORUS, a handwired
Ibanez TS808HW Tube Screamer, an Analog Man King of Tone overdrive, a Tycobrahe Octavia, and a Dunlop Crybaby wah.
Eric Johnson and his signature Fender Stratocaster expertly navigating the
classic “Are You Experienced?”
Striking up a conversation with a player like
Eric Johnson—a guy who personifies flawless
tone—was one of many fantastic moments at
the festival. “I don’t know if you can ever build
the ‘right’ sound,” he explained, “it just has to
happen serendipitously. I’ve spent a lot of time
trying to manipulate my tone, but sometimes it’s
like trying to capture wind in a jar. You just have
to experience and enjoy it when it’s there.”
Johnson is notorious for his gear obsession—
for stuff like being able to hear the
difference between battery brands in his
pedals. But while many guitarists know
about his guitar and amp proclivities, he
spoke to us about less-obvious
of his tone. “The way [the gear] sounds is
very important, but it’s more about how it
responds to my picking technique. When
the flow and bounce are working together
just right, it just facilitates being able to
move to different places musically. The
amp, for better or for worse, is part of the
instrument. It can be a great tool, but also
an Achilles’ heel. If the amp is matching
your picking technique and blooming and
interpreting your fingering style well, it just
helps you be a better guitarist.”
Like Hendrix, Johnson is a noted fan of plugging
Fender Stratocasters into non-master-volume
Marshall stacks. His rhythm tones are
often projected from vintage Fender Deluxe
Reverbs, but he decided to change it up a
little for this tour. “For rhythm tones, I have
two Fender Twins driving a semi-openback
Marshall 4x12 cabinet. I’m also using my
Marshalls onstage to keep the volume
from getting too out of control.”
Asked about being on the tour with so many
notable guitarists, Johnson couldn’t have
sounded happier. “I’m so glad they got a hold
of me to do it again, because it was such a blast
last time when I got to meet Billy Cox and Mitch
Mitchell, it was the last tour that he did before
he died,” he said. “There’s a real nice, fraternal
vibe to it, where you all get to concentrate
together on someone else’s music, which happens
to be really wonderful music, too. And
the fact that everybody is a really good player,
but they all have a different take on Hendrix’s
music, just showcases how diverse his music
is. Everybody has his or her own version of his
blues style, or his psychedelic style. It’s just very
powerful.” Johnson was particularly fond of a
recent jam with Sacred Steel lapsteel
Aubrey Ghent, who performed with Robert
Randolph’s band. “We just did that a few hours
ago, and that was one of the highlights of the
tour for me. He’s just great, and he taught
Robert a lot of stuff. He’s a wonderful player.”
What struck us most during our time with
Johnson was that he is most certainly a tone
chaser, but he’s not a tone snob. One might
have expected him to talk only of his legendary
gear and tone, but he was very cordial and personable.
He was particularly interested in the
vintage Marshall Super Bass head PG associate
gear editor Jordan Wagner mentioned owning,
and he asked several friendly questions about it
during our conversation. It felt like hanging out
with a regular Premier Guitar reader.
A true classic—Johnson’s 1962 Fender Stratocaster. This instrument was stolen
from him almost three decades ago, but was returned in 2006.
Johnson’s Maestro Echoplex EP-3 tape delay.
The infamous pedalboard of Eric Johnson. In addition to a few custom
switchers, the board houses a vintage Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, a Boss DD-3
Digital Delay, a late ’60s Vox wah, a BK Butler Tube Driver, an early ’70s Dallas Arbiter Fuzz
Face, a TC Electronic Stereo Chorus, a ToadWorks Barracuda Analog Flanger, a Prescription
Electronics Experience octave fuzz, and a Maestro Echoplex EP-3.
Johnson ran his mid-’80s BK Butler Tube Driver and Maestro Echoplex EP-3
through this 1968 Marshall 50-watt Lead head, which drives the lower of two stacked
Marshall 4x12 cabinets. Its cab is loaded with 80-watt Celestions. The 50-watt Lead and a
Marshall Tremolo head were the core of Johnson’s dirty rhythm tones.
Johnson’ signal hits a Fuzz Face before going into his 1968 Marshall
50-watt Tremolo head. It drives the top Marshall 4x12 in his stack, which is loaded
with Celestion 30-watt speakers.
A rear view of the stereo Marshall open-back 4x12 cabinet used for Johnson’s clean tones. Each side of the cabinet was fed by a mid-’60s Fender Twin Reverb. The cab was loaded with two JBL Lansing D120s and two Electro-Voice EV12L’s.
A frontal view of Johnson’s 1968 Marshall Tremolo head sitting on a specific
wooden folding chair positioned at a 90° angle behind the Marshall stack.
Wielding his Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Les Paul reissue,
Jonny Lang rips through the Hendrix classic “Fire.”
Jonny Lang first got attention for being something
of a prodigy. Between the time he picked up the
guitar at age 12 and the 2010 Experience Hendrix
Tour, he’s accomplished more than most musicians
twice his age. His aggressive, soulful playing and
gritty vocals have earned him a Grammy nomination,
tour slots with the likes of the Rolling Stones
and Jeff Beck, and even a call from Eric Clapton
himself to play at the Crossroads Festival. His obvious
Hendrix influence makes him a perfect fit for
the Experience Hendrix Tour.
However, of all the guitarists on the tour, Lang
was a standout because he didn’t use Strats,
or Marshalls. “I was thinking about
taking out a Fender Strat with a Marshall and
a Fuzz Face, but I just couldn’t do it without
feeling like I was trying to copy Jimi,” he confessed.
“So, I just brought out the rig that I
would normally use for my own music. It makes
me interpret his music in a way that sounds like
me. That’s what makes a tour like this really
cool, because everybody interprets Jimi’s music
in their own way.”
Still, Lang has a rather traditional rig for a blues-rock
guitarist. “For guitars, I normally use my
Custom Shop Fender Thinline Telecaster with
humbuckers,” he said. “I’ve recently been using
a ’58 Gibson Les Paul Standard reissue that was
custom made for me. I’m running them through
two Fender Deluxe Reverbs, and the sound of
that setup kills me!” For effects, he turned away
from an old friend—the Ibanez TS808—
plugged into a Route 66 Overdrive. “They’re similar,
but the Route 66 has more headroom.”
Lang’s pedalboard was a rather simple one: It featured
a Boss TU-2 Tuner, a Visual Sound Route 66 Overdrive, a Vox
reissue wah, and a Boss DW-3 Dynamic Wah.
Lang’s amp setup consisted of two handwired Fender Deluxe Reverb reissues. This one is
mic’d with a Shure SM57. He plugged into both the Normal and Vibrato channels simultaneously
for extra thickness and texture.
Lang’s second Deluxe Reverb reissue was mic’d with a Shure SM27. He prefers to have
the amps facing to his left, not directly to his back.
Shredder Extraordinaire and major Hendrix enthusiast Joe
Satriani was fortunate that the stars aligned so he could
do the full Experience Hendrix Tour. He had played the
San Francisco date of the first tour, but scheduling conflicts
always seemed to prevent him from joining the nationwide
festivities. But after finishing the last Chickenfoot tour, Satriani
finally had the time to pay homage to the man that inspired
him to make guitar his life. And, going through the whole
experience facilitated some new gear and tone discoveries.
“At the start of the Chickenfoot tour, I noticed that my
Peavey JSX rig sounded more specialized for someone playing
lead guitar all night,” he said. “I had Marshall send me
some different stuff to try out in Vienna, and I ended up
using a JVM410 for the rest of the tour. It made such a profound
difference, because I’m playing rhythm guitar most of
the time in that band.” After his last stint on the road with
Chickenfoot, he decided to have an amp shootout at SIR
studios in San Francisco, and there he rediscovered his love
for a certain Marshall head. “I was shocked to find that using
a Vox Saturator into a Marshall 6100 Anniversary head’s clean
channel was really the best sound. Part of it was the fact that
it was a better 6100 than the older ones I had. Plus, I didn’t
have the Saturator back when I was using those amps.”
Satriani is well known for his dual-humbucker
But for the Experience Hendrix tour he decided to bring
into the picture. “I have some prototype
Ibanez JS guitars with three DiMarzio singlecoils,
sound great combined with the Marshall and Saturator.
Those three work together really, really well.”
Satch’s guitar rack cradled the new Ibanez
JS2400WH (the first 24-fret Ibanez JS) and two
prototype JS series guitars with DiMarzio single-coilsized
dual-rail pickups. His set for the night included
“Third Stone from the Sun,” “Foxey Lady,” “All Along
the Watchtower,” and the show closer “Red House.”
Powered by a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus,
Satriani’s versatile pedalboard featured a Vox Big Bad
Wah, Boss OC-2 Octave, Voodoo Lab Proctavia, Vox
Saturator, Zvex Ringtone, Boss DM-2 Analog Delay,
and two of the guitarist’s signature Vox Time Machine
Satriani’s Marshall 6100 Anniversary 100-watt
head and 4x12 cab. The head and 6101 combo were
released in 1992 to commemorate Marshall’s 30th
year in the amp business.
Susan Tedeschi playing a D’Angelico NYSD-9 on
“Spanish Castle Magic.”
Before the show began, Tedeschi was bolting
back and forth between instruments
during soundcheck. Whether it was guitar,
guitar and vocals, or drums, if it could make
music she was playing it. She made sure
everyone—the crew and us included—had
fun and was in a great mood for the show.
Later on that night, she owned the stage
with her sweet, soulful vocals as she accompanied
Eric Johnson on a fantastic rendition
of Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish.” She also
joined in on “Killing Floor” with Hubert
Sumlin and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. For
her rig, she relied mainly on a D’Angelico
loaded with Kent Armstrong humbuckers,
though she also had a blue paisley
Fender Telecaster in her arsenal.
For Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford, the Experience Hendrix Tour was a family affair. His sons
Graham, 18, and Harrison, 14, jammed with Doug Wimbish and Vernon Reid of Living Colour during
soundcheck, (both were quite accomplished players) and Graham even joined a jam during the
show itself. “We kind of play together all of the time anyway,” Whitford explained. “Graham played
a few shows on the Hendrix tour in the fall of ’08, and he has played with me in Aerosmith a few
times. No fear. It’s just a ‘get me on the stage’ kind of vibe for him, because he just loves to play.”
Tedeschi’s pedalboard housed a Boss
TU-2 Tuner, Moollon Overdrive, and Vox wah
As far as rigs paying tribute to Hendrix,
Tedeschi’s hit the nail on the head with the loud,
clean power of a reissue Marshall Super Lead 100-
watt head driving a Marshall 1960BX cabinet loaded
with Celestion Greenback 25-watt speakers and
mic’d with a Sennheiser e906.
Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford chose Fender
Stratocasters for the tour. He’s pictured here with a Mexican-made
For the tour, Whitford went with a setup he’s used for years. “Ever since I can remember playing,
has been my frame of reference,” he said. “Being really young and
listening to Eric Clapton in Cream—and, of course, Hendrix—made me think, that’s what guitar
sounds like.’” Whitford drove the amp with a seafoam green Strat recently loaded with Duncan
Antiquities. “You sort of have that journey that you go through, looking for whatever tone that
you’re after. Then you realize that you just lost it. Everybody’s got a better mousetrap. I’ve gone
through a lot of different stages with guitars and pedals, but I think the minimalistic approach is
the best. The more naked it is, the more honest it is.” He’s even rethought wirelesses. “The last
few shows with Aerosmith I stopped using it. Mentally, it’s hard to wrap my head around my guitar
signal being some invisible thing in the air.”
Experience Hendrix has allowed Whitford to not only share the stage with his sons, but other
performers he wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do so with. “Usually the show
closes with ‘Red House,’ and that includes Joe [Satriani], Robert [Randolph], and Billy [Cox],”
he explains. “It’s been really fun playing with Joe, he’s such a great musician. It’s not one of
those competition things with him—it’s all about the music.”
Two Fender Stratocasters belonging to the
Whitfords: an American Fat Strat with Gold Lace Sensors
and a Mexican-made Standard.
Whitford’s sons, Harrison and Graham, joined
him on the Experience Hendrix tour this year. Here Harrison
holds his seafoam green Fender ’62 Stratocaster reissue.
The Whitfords depended on the time-tested—and
Hendrix-approved—Marshall Super Lead and a Marshall
4x12. The head is a reissue 100-watt model, and the cabinet
is a 1960BX loaded with Celestion Greenbacks. It’s mic’d
with a Shure SM57.
Whitford’s pedalboard features a Dunlop
Crybaby wah, Seymour Duncan Tweak Fuzz, Fulltone Deja
Vibe, MXR Carbon Copy analog delay, and an original
Marshall The Guv’nor overdrive.
Robert Randolph throwing down on “Purple Haze” with his Sierra 13-string
pedal steel guitar.
Robert Randolph’s best friend is a wooden chair. The steel-guitar
doesn’t go anywhere without it. He’s even had it flown to China in a special
flight case for a single show. It just goes to show that there’s so much
more to a player’s tone than meets the eye.
When he sat in that special comfy chair in Milwaukee, Randolph wailed on
Sierra pedal steel running through a two-of-a-kind
amplifier—a ’57 Fender Twin reissue that’s one of two originally built for Jeff Beck.
During his set, Randolph rocked out passionately through the Twin and
an extension cab on “Purple Haze,” “Them Changes,” and a barn-burning
rendition of “Red House.”
Randolph’s handwired ’57 Fender Twin 2x12 combo stacked on a Fender
2x12 extension cab. The combo is one of two specially made amps that were originally
owned by Jeff Beck.
Randolph is so proud of the fact that
his ’57 Twin and 2x12 cab were owned by Beck that he
left the guitar god’s ID tape on back.
Randolph’s must-have piece of gear—an old
wooden table chair that he’ll never do a show
without. The chair even has its own custom flight
case to ensure utmost security and safety.
Randolph’s Sierra 13-string pedal
steel and 2x12 extension cab mic’d with an early
Sennheiser Evolution series mic.
Randolph’s pedalboard is pretty similar to what he uses with his Family Band.
The Experience Hendrix setup included a Peterson VS-F StroboFlip Tuner, Boss FT-2
Dynamic Filter, Crowther Audio Prunes & Custard Harmonic Generator-Intermodulator, and
Radial Engineering Tonebone JX-2 Pro Switchbone. The small box in the lower left-hand corner
holds spare slides and medium and large Dunlop White Plastic Finger and Thumb picks.
Two additional foot pedals sit under
Randolph’s pedal steel—a Dunlop Crybaby Multi-
Wah and a Goodrich L120 Volume Pedal.
Vernon Reid and Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover rocked a high-energy
rendition of “Power of Soul.” Glover’s vigorous stage persona and
Reid’s articulate style were a highlight of the night. The band also played on
“Crosstown Traffic,” “Third Stone from the Sun,” “Foxey Lady,” and “All
Along the Watchtower.”
If there’s one word to describe Vernon Reid’s playing, it would have to be “eclectic.”
The man has a masterful ability to meld musical genres, some of them polar opposites,
and end up with a sound that is uniquely Reid. That’s why it’s so fitting that he and
his groundbreaking band, Living Colour, were on the Experience Hendrix tour paying
tribute to another legendary guitarist who had the same talent and critical ear. For this
tour, Reid kept his rig simple. “I’m using a Roland VG99
with an FC300
that has a bunch of custom programs. It’s a device that has kind of a cult following.”
His axe was a Parker DF824VR Signature Dragonfly. It’s based on the DF824 Dragonfly
but the company modified to fit Reid’s wild playing style. “It’s notable because it’s a
big change in the Parker design,” he explained. “They changed the headstock and the
body style, and my signature model is the first Parker with a Floyd Rose. The thing about
Parkers is that they have kind of an angularity to their design, and there’s a delicacy there
that I like.” Parker based his Dragonfly on his old Hamer, giving it a shallow V-shaped
and an ebony fretboard. It also has EMG X pickups—an 81X in the bridge and two 81 SAX
for the middle and neck positions—along with a Roland hex pickup.
As for amps, Reid was the only performer on the tour that wasn’t using a Fender or
Marshall. He opted instead for a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier halfstack.
The only other
effect he used was an Eventide PitchFactor.
Since he’s been on the tour, Reid has noticed the effect that Hendrix’s music has had
on his fellow tour mates both in terms of playing and gear. “It’s very interesting seeing
all of these players together, and how they make their sound. Some are more intricate,
others less, but we’re all brought together for the love of one cat. That’s what has always
happened because of Hendrix. Whether you’re Robin Trower, Eddie Hazel, Ernie Isley, or
Stevie Ray Vaughan, they’ve all had his influence and their own respective sounds.”
Reid’s guitar rig had a much more modern vibe than the other
players on the tour. In addition to his signature Parker guitar and Roland
processor, it featured a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier with a matching 4x12
loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s and mic’d with Sennheiser e906 (left) and
a Shure SM57 (right).
Reid’s Roland VG-99 V-Guitar System interface, which is fed by
the Roland GK pickup on his signature Parker Dragonfly.
An over-the-shoulder view of Reid controlling his VG-99 with
a Roland FC-300 MIDI Foot Controller. Also pictured is an Eventide
PitchFactor and a Roland expression pedal.