Premier Guitar’s Shawn Hammond is on location in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he catches up with Steve Stevens on the Billy Idol 2013 summer tour. Stevens discusses his new signature gear from Knaggs Guitars and Friedman Amplification, as well as his go-to Gibsons, Suhrs, and Roland synth-equipped Godins. We also get the straight story on how he got the ray-gun sound in the original studio version of “Rebel Yell”—and see the modified toy ray gun he uses onstage.
Stevens’ “main rock ’n’ roll” guitar—the second prototype of his Knaggs signature model—weighs about 8.6 pounds and features a maple-topped mahogany body, a solid-aluminum bridge, and custom, vintage-voiced Bare Knuckle pickups. His main recording axe for the last few years has been this goldtop Les Paul, which has the same aluminum wraparound bridge and Motor City PAF-style pickups.
For most of his dirty and semi-clean tones, Stevens relies on his 2-channel, EL34-powered signature Friedman Amplification head (top). One channel is based on his ’69 Marshall plexi, while the other is voiced to respond like a Fender Twin Reverb. Stevens uses the first prototype of his signature Friedman (second from top), which doesn’t have the clean channel, as a backup for dirty sounds. For super-clean tones, like on the verses in “Flesh for Fantasy,” he brings along two Custom Audio Amplifiers PT100s, one for backup.
Stevens has a single fridge-sized rack that includes Egnater and Axess switchers, Line 6 Mod Pro and Echo Pro units, a TC Electronic D-Two, an Eventide H7600 Ultra-Harmonizer, and a couple of drawers stocked with pedals from Moog, Source Audio, MXR, Joemeek, Boss, and more.
Onstage, he keeps several items within stomping distance, including a 27-footswitch system controller, a DigiTech Whammy DT, a Dunlop Cry Baby wah, and a Roland GR-33 synth module.