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How close is the signature “Budokan” Les Paul to your actual model?
I can’t tell the difference.
Do the middle pickups in your Les Pauls ever get in the way?
I keep the rhythm and middle pickups really low. You know why? Because they’re disconnected. My tone is the treble pickup—usually a DiMarzio Super Distortion. I like Duncans too.
For some reason, I thought you had a signature pickup.
No, I don’t. I should have one. I just never got around to it. I should get together with either Larry or Seymour, and come up with an Ace pickup. I am working on a travel guitar that I think is gonna be good.
Can you give us some details on it?
I can’t talk about it yet. I’ve been playing with a bunch of different prototypes, and it’ll be coming out soon. Just trying to figure out who will make it. It’s for the traveling musician—something that doesn’t take up a lot of space. There’s a bunch of them out there, but I don’t think there’s anything that really sounds great.
Do you have any string preferences?
For a while, I exclusively used Gibson .009–.046 sets, but for the last couple of tours, I’ve been using heavier strings. I’m using .010s now. When I’m in the studio, I’ll string up guitars all sorts of different ways. Sometimes I’ll have super-light strings on one Les Paul, mediums on another, and then heavy ones on a third Les Paul. Obviously, the heavy ones I’m gonna use for a rhythm track, and the thinner ones are for a lead track where I’ll do a lot of bending. So it gives me a lot of flexibility.
Sometimes I’ll also vary the thickness of my picks. I usually use mediums, but sometimes I’ll use a heavy pick if I’m doing a hard riff. Sometimes I’ll use a thin pick when I’m doing a light-picking thing or a lot of strumming.
Ace jams his cover of Hello’s “New York Groove” with the Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
What about amps?
I have a couple of choice old Fender tweeds, Gibsons, Voxs, and of course, a couple of Marshall stacks that I use to thicken stuff up. A lot of the tracks I cut with the Marshalls and then I use the smaller amps for overdubs. Another amp that I used on this record that I’d never used before was a Bad Cat, the 1x12 model with a Celestion. It’s about 30 or 40 watts. It was just in the studio, so I tried it. It had a different texture than any of the other amps I was recording with—that was a nice surprise. I also used an EVH amp in Vegas when we tracked “Past the Milky Way” and “Immortal Pleasures.”
How about effects?
The only pedal I used was the Zoom G3 [pulls pedal out of duffle bag]. I’ve been using Zoom stuff for a long time. It’s quick and you can dial up sounds fast. It’s like having three boxes in front of you. I was using Echoplexes, but I got sick and tired of the tapes breaking and the noise.
What sounds are you using from the G3?
I like the tape delay effect and the Big Muff sound, because I used a Big Muff years ago. In general though, I try to stay away from effects as much as I can. With Pro Tools now, you get a good sound, and you can play with it using plug-ins. Sometimes it’s better to go that way when you’re recording because you’re never married to the effect. You get more flexibility in the mixing process. If you record the effect into the mic, you can’t get rid of it.
Hopefully! I don’t want to jinx anything but so far just the pre-orders have been huge. So far, all of the reviews of the album have been pretty favorable. But the final say is with the fans. That’s what I’m waiting for.