Primus' Ler Lalonde

Signal Chain: Maxon PH-350 Rotary Phaser, Strymon Ola dBucket Chorus and Vibrato, MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay, Fulltone Ultimate Octave, Dunlop UV1 Uni-Vibe, and Custom Dunlop Wah (half Slash signature, half Dimebag signature).

Primus guitarist Ler LaLonde’s creative use of effects has helped define the band’s unconventional sound since the beginning. And while the effects are called into action to recreate album tones, a big part of their duty is to aid the spacey jams that happen live.

Two of the keys to Primus’ sound include the Maxon Phaser and EBS OctaBass—both have been staples of his board for decades. “Basically, it’s whenever you want to sound like Gilmour, that’s the pedal,” says LaLonde of the Phaser, which is used on open jams, while the OctaBass is geared more toward old-school, Jimmy Page octave tones. Why a bass pedal? “I didn’t know any better,” he admits.

Top Board: Empress Tap Tremolo, TC Electronic Nova Delay, Haz Mu-Tron III+ (replica), and EBS OctaBass. Bottom Board: Electro-Harmonix Ring Thing and Radial Bones Twin-City ABY switcher. Photos by Jeremy Hauskins

LaLonde’s board has three delays—two MXR Carbon Copy pedals and a TC Electronic Nova Delay—each set for different uses. The first Carbon Copy is set for short delays like those in “Jilly’s on Smack,” and the second is set for soloing and tweaking out into wild, spacey jams. The Nova Delay is set for longer, swell-type delays suited to a cleaner digital sound.

Other song-specific pedals include the Strymon Ola Chorus used throughout “Moron TV” and a custom Dunlop Cry Baby used for the intro to “Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers.” LaLonde had chased that tone live for some time. “I don’t know what I was using at the time,” he explained, “so we went through and tried all these pedals [at Dunlop] and they put together a custom one.” The wah is half Dunlop’s Slash signature model and half the company’s Dimebag signature model, and can be switched between the two.

This board also marks LaLonde’s first foray into distortion boxes with the Fulltone Ultimate Octave, used on “Hoinfodaman” for Neil Young-style breakup. The Mu-Tron III+ is a reproduction—“Sounds just like Garcia!” he enthused —and the Electro-Harmonix Ring Thing is on the board because, “Everybody has to have robot sounds.”

It’s not just tone he’s after, however. Quite the abusive stomper, LaLonde is always swapping pedals for more durable ones. The Ultimate Octave replaced an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, while the Nova Delay and Electro-Harmonix Ring Thing are routinely rotated with a Strymon Brigadier and Way Huge Ring Worm, respectively. Another crucial feature for LaLonde is tap tempo in time-based effects, due to the band’s jamming tendencies. “So many songs where we’re opening up, we’re jamming, tempos are changing,” he explains, “so it’s great to just tap it in and sort of get The Smiths sort of tremolo sound but in time.”

But what’s with the arrows? LaLonde’s approach to marking his settings is idiot-proof: set the knobs, then mark with an arrow that should always point straight up. However, he adds with a laugh, “As you can see, everything is usually pretty much maxed out and drastic, we’re not very subtle with the effects.”

Watch the Rig Rundown: