Rig Rundown: Keith Urban
PG's Jason Shadrick is on location in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he catches up with Keith Urban's guitar tech Chris Miller who details the country-fried rocker's setup that's overspilling with mash-up Fenders and classic Gibson guitars, iconic amps, and a condensed pedalboard (see his 2011 Rig Rundown to fully understand Urban's gear geekery).
Anytime Urban wants to get that classic, twangy Tele sound, he reaches for this custom Danocaster made by Nashville luthier Dan Strain. Simply for esthetics, Urban chose to remove the pickguard. The Voodoo pickups give the guitar a bright snap on tunes such as “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me?”
This 1952 Gibson Les Paul goldtop is tuned to dropped-D and capoed at the first fret for “Stupid Boy.” Nashville guitar guru Joe Glaser created a custom bridge that’s compensated for improved intonation and tailored to Urban’s heavy-handed picking and palm-muting technique.
This Fender Cabronita Tele’s original neck was donated to one of Urban’s Strats and now the guitar sports a meaty replacement neck. The original pickups were swapped out for a pair of Lindy Fralin P-90s, but the guitar still has Fender’s Greasebucket tone circuit, which is accessed via a push-button volume pot.
Originally, this Strat began as a Robert Cray signature hardtail Strat. Joe Glaser modified it with a mirrored pickguard and a Cabronita Tele neck. The electronics include a Clapton mid-boost circuit along with a pair of DiMarzio pickups: an Area 67 in the bridge and an Injector in the middle position.
On this latest run, Urban brings out a quartet of Holy Grail amps. First, he has a pair of high-power Fender Tweed Twins (a ’59 and a ’60) that run in conjunction with an early model Dumble Overdrive Special combo he purchased from Dan’s Chelsea Guitars in New York City. The backup for the Dumble is, yes, another Dumble. This one is a newer Overdrive Special that Urban purchased from a friend. Originally, it was voiced for someone looking for more low end, but Urban is able to dial it in to make it work for his setup.
Since our last Rig Rundown, Urban has scaled down his pedal stash considerably. He now only uses a single drawer of effects that includes a Wampler Ego Compressor, Visual Sound VS-XO Dual Overdrive, Xotic BB Preamp MP, Xotic BB Preamp, Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, Mesa/Boogie Flux-Drive, and an XTS Custom Pedals Atomic Overdrive. According to Urban’s tech, Chris Miller, about 80 percent of his lead tone is the Flux-Drive with the other pedals floating in and out, depending on the song. A Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II handles all of Urban’s delays, reverbs, and modulation effects. Each pedal is routed through an RJM Effect Gizmo, and Miller controls the entire rig via a Liquid Foot 12+ MIDI controller.
He runs various combinations of these amps through four one-off WhiteBox Engineering 2x12 cabs with partially open backs.