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Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Signal Chain: MXR CAE wah > Boss TU-3 > Switcher Loop 1: Dunlop Uni-Vibe > Switcher Loop 2: MXR CAE wah circuit mounted inside board > Switcher Loop 3: Chicago Iron Tycobrahe Octavia (modern) > Switcher Loop 4: MXR Blue Box Fuzz > Switcher Loop 5: Analog Man King of Tone (newest version) > Switcher Loop 6: Ibanez Hand-Wired TS808 Tube Screamer > Switcher Loop 7: Analog Man Bi-Chorus > Switcher Loop 8: BK Butler Tube Driver (new model with Bias knob) > JAM Pedals Delay Llama. Photo by Michael Helweg
Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s board—recently rebuilt by custom builder Helweg Custom Pedalboards—is packed with all the bluesy goodness any Stevieand Jimi-inspired player could ask for. But the heart of his tone lies in the combination of a recentissue Analog Man King of Tone and stock Ibanez TS-808HW Tube Screamer. “It’s basically the sound of the amps and this King of Tone pedal and the Tube Screamer,” explains Shepherd. “Everything else is just for one or two songs here or there.”
Photo by Chris Kies
The King of Tone—which he called “one of the greatest overdrive pedals ever built”— has its low (red) and high (yellow) gain sides set similarly, but the real magic happens when you combine the two. “It’s over-the-top awesome,” he enthused. Shepherd adds in the TS-808HW for even thicker tones. “When you use the two together, it’s got everything to it,” he told us. “It’s got the fat low end, and the nice, sparkly, high ends, and it’s got a really nice midrange capability. I don’t really know of a better combination to be honest with you.”
Beyond this combination, which he says comprises 90 percent of his tone, Shepherd uses the Dunlop Uni-Vibe for the rhythm tone on “Blue On Black” and Hendrix songs, Electro- Harmonix POG 2 (with the King of Tone) for “Your Blues,” and the Analog Man Bi-Chorus (one side set slow for Leslie tones, the other slightly faster) for the band’s slow version of “Voodoo Chile Blues.” Shepherd, who has an original Tycobrahe Octavia for studio use, uses the Chicago Iron Octavia reissue for Hendrix songs as well, and calls it, “as accurate of a reissue as anything I’ve ever seen.” He gets his favorite tones by rolling off the tone slightly, stacking on a Tube Screamer, and hitting his Strat’s neck pickup.
Shepherd’s board actually contains two of his preferred Dunlop CAE Cry Baby wahs— one on the board, and one circuit set to a specific pot setting and mounted under the board for the song “Show Me the Way Back Home.” Shepherd prefers the CAE wah for its sweep and vocal qualities, and tends to stay on the yellow setting without the built-in overdrive.
The board is rounded out with a recent issue BK Butler Tube Driver, a JAM Pedals Delay Llama+ modified with an on/off instead of hold switch and tap tempo, and a Boss TU-3, which he also uses as a mute switch when switching guitars. Michael Helweg wired Shepherd’s board with two Voodoo Lab switchers and a Voodoo Lab Commander set with loop presets for controlling his pedal combinations.
Watch the Rig Rundown: