The Mars Volta's Juan Alderete

TC Electronic PolyTune > Boss CS-2 Compression Sustainer > Boss VB-2 Vibrato > Boss OC-2 Octave > DOD FX32 Meatbox SubOctave > Wren And Cuff Pickle Pie B > Earth- Quaker Devices Ghost Disaster Delay and Reverb > DigiTech PDS 20/20 > Boss PN-2 Tremolo/Pan > Pigtronix EP2 Envelope Phaser > (not pictured) Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder > WMD Geiger Counter. Photo by Chris Kies

The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodr’guez-L—pez and bassist Juan Alderete have long been known for having expansive pedalboard setups that border on extreme. Alderete admits that he once had a multi-station setup with one “standard” board, one dedicated to ring modulators and whammy effects, one stocked with micro-synths, and one with an array of delay pedals and flangers for tweaking on the fly. Alderete had slimmed down to this “economy version”— as had Rodr’guez- L—pez who had replaced many of his effects with a Line 6 M9—for their summer tour with Soundgarden.

Part of the reason for slimming down, he explained, was because the band was playing shorter sets and weren’t employing lengthy soundscape breaks between songs, during which he would tweak away at his effects. In fact, he says, “All these are pretty stationary.” His Earthquaker Devices Ghost Disaster Delay and Reverb is one of the few pedals that still gets hefty tweaking during a set. Alderete appreciates the two-in- one quality when it comes to pedalboard space, but also praises the effect for its tone. “It’s a great sounding delay, but the reverb is really cool, too,” he says. “I love a dub bass line with the flatwounds.”

Alderete’s vast pedal collection came in handy when he surrounded himself with three pedalboards. Photo by Juan Alderete

Because he’s using flatwounds, he’s also more selective about which effects he employs—not all effects come through the same. The Pigtronix Envelope Phaser is one of his preferred effects with flatwounds, and he often pairs it with the discontinued Boss VB-2 Vibrato.

Always in use on the board is Alderete’s trusty Boss CS-2 Compression Sustainer. This pedal has been a staple since his days with Racer X in 1986 and is almost always on. Alderete says that it’s the most musical compressor he’s tried and he uses it for adding high end and harmonics. Musicality is high on Alderete’s list of demands when it comes to choosing pedals for his board—he also lauded the Envelope Phaser and Boss OC-2 Octaver for that same quality.

Of course, some pedals are just plain fun as well. Alderete achieves literal earth-shaking levels with his DOD FX32 Meat Box. “It’s just a speaker popper! When it hits those subs out there, it vibrates everything onstage,” he told us.

Though he’s simplified his rig already, Alderete still may go the route of Rodr’guez- L—pez. He told us, “I have an M9 with all of this stuff in it, but I haven’t gotten my learning curve in there yet. I should discipline myself and I probably will.”

Watch the Rig Rundown: