Photo by Chris Anderson

Monda’s Tone Toys

Tom Monda’s go-to guitars are the Vigier Excalibur, Expert, and Surfreter fretless. Vigier guitars have a dense carbon strip down the middle of the neck instead of a truss rod (the 10/90 neck system). “The neck is dead straight,” Monda says. “You can leave it in the cold trailer with all the gear and it won’t shift. The intonation won’t get screwy. That is a major, major plus: I don’t have to fiddle with the truss rod or intonation before a gig.” The guitars come equipped with tremolo bridges, but Monda doesn’t use them. “I usually put a block in. I do some pedal-steel-type bends where things are ringing with open strings and it’s easier to have it blocked off to stay in tune.”

In the studio, Monda also uses his Parts-o-caster Tele. “It has a Seymour Duncan Little ’59 in the bridge and a Seth Lover in the neck position. It has a lot of random Allparts and Fender parts on it as well. It was my go-to guitar for a long, long time and I used it a lot on Maps.”

Monda’s amps are the 100-watt Soldano SLO-100 Super Lead Overdrive and a Mesa/Boogie Mark V for backup. He runs both heads through a Marshall 4x12, which Booya! Amplifier Services loaded with two Celestion G12M Greenbacks and two G12T-75s.

His pedalboard is simple. “It’s nothing exciting,” he said. “I have a DD-7 Boss Digital Delay, a DigiTech Whammy 5, a Line 6 M9, which recently took the place of a DL4, and a TC Electronic Spark Booster, which I use as a clean boost.” He also has a Red Panda Particle Granular Delay. His distortion comes from the amp.

Monda strings his fretted guitars with D’Addario .011 sets, and uses Ernie Ball .010 sets on the fretless. “It’s just the standard packs. I don’t know what the bottom is,” he says. “I used to use heavier strings but my hands were taking a beating. I’m always changing my mind about string gauges. I’ll pick up a guitar with lighter strings and think, ‘Wow, it’s so easy to do things.’ But the next day I’ll pick up a guitar with .011s and think, ‘The tone is so much better, I want to play these.’ It’s that never-ending guitar player thing.”