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PG's Chris Kies caught up with The Black Keys guitar tech, Dan Johnson, to check out Dan Auerbach's live rig. Watch our video below:
Auerbach often switches out the guitars he takes on the road, and according to guitar tech Dan Johnson, "What he records with and what he plays live with are rarely the same." When we caught up with him, Dan was playing (right to left) a Harmony H78 with D'Armonds (he favors the bridge pickup), used on most of the two-piece sections of the show; a '64 Guild Thunderbird (his current favorite) that's mostly original except the bridge pickup was restored by Lindy Fralin; a black National with a piezo in the bridge, fiberglass body, crunchy single-coils, and a Bigsby used for "Howlin' for You"; a Harmony Stratotone that was acquired nearly stripped with new Lindy Fralin P-90s and a Bigsby tuned to open G for "Run Right Back"; and a white Supro that's almost identical to his National used for most of the songs on Brothers. Dan uses SIT .011 - .050 gauge strings on all of the guitars.
Auerbach uses a three-amp setup where all three are on all the time. The amps are a reissue Marshall JTM-45 (cabinet with Jensen speakers), Fender Quad Reverb (with two Celestion Greenbacks and two Vintage 30s), and Victoria Dual Deluxe (with Eminence Red Coats). All three are set slightly dirty - just on the verge of breakup - and the effects run through all three except for a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo which only goes through the Marshall. The amps face 45 degrees away from Dan onstage to control noise and feedback, and a Palmer PDI-03 speaker simulator is also used. He uses a Divine Noise curly cable between his guitar and amps.
Dan's effects are set in a rack and controlled by an RJM Effects Gizmo and dual Mastermind controllers - a customized one at Dan's feet and a standard one switched by his tech. The MIDI setup allows Dan's tech to make more complicated changes while Dan sings (mostly for newer songs). In the rack is a Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Boss OC-2 Super Octave, and Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter (used for "Tighten Up"), a Radial JX-2 Switchbone that's used only for a warm boost, vintage Shin-ei Companion fuzz wah pedal (only used for the fuzz) run into an MXR Ten Band EQ to replace the mids that the Companion scoops out, and a vintage Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. He uses Lehle switchers to route the pedals.
On the floor, Dan controls his volume via MIDI with a Mission EP-1 Expression Pedal and Sound Sculpture Volcano volume control. The only pedal on the floor is a Boss PS-5 Super Shifter used for the intro to "Lonely Boy."