Premier Guitar caught up with Lucinda Williams’ band in the midst of their recent tour. Williams’s music blends the best of Americana and blues with nods to folk and rock. Bassist David Sutton and guitar slinger Stuart Mathis stay true to the music with a wonderful array of classic gear, while Williams’s minimalist setup reflects her rootsy songwriting approach. Williams’ stage tech Justin Bricco and Mathis give us the lowdown.
Lucinda Williams' Gear
For her acoustic side, Lucinda Williams favors a recent but well-worn Gibson J-45 that sounds warmer than her other 45s. Williams plays with a heavy-handed style, so she strings up with D’Addarios gauged .013-.056.
An all-original ’72 Fender Thinline Tele Deluxe satisfies her electric jones. When fingerpicking, Williams uses a plastic thumb pick and steel fingerpicks, which is why she favors a relatively warm, dark-toned guitar.
Williams’ acoustic is simply fed to a Radial DI, and a Victoria 5112 handles her electric side. No pedals or effects are needed—just the dirt from the amp.
Stuart Mathis' Gear
Stuart’s gear reflects his love for authentic vintage tone. His main guitar is a ’64 Gibson SG Special, all original except for its TonePros bridge and new tuners. He strings it with Ernie Ball .010-gauge strings.
He also carries a ’63 Gretsch G120 that he likes for its effortless feedback control.
His other '60s Gibson is a 1964 ES-355 “mono block” that came from the factory with the pickups out of phase, which Mathis loved for its “skanky” tone.
Gibson is a a ’70s Les Paul fitted with a Bigsby.
And lastly, he uses a Teisco Del Rey for songs that need an axe tuned with a low A.
Mathis’s pedalboard tones range from smooth and subtle to downright nasty. His signal path: Fulltone Octafuzz, Boss DS-1, Menatone Red Snapper, ZVEX Fuzz Factory, MXR Phase 90, Electro-Harmonix Freeze, Jack DeVille Dark Echo, ZVEX Super Duper, Ernie Ball volume pedal, and finally a Radial Switchbone ABY.
One line from the Switchbone feeds a blackface Fender Deluxe, modded back to original specs. The other line is routed through an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man and a DigiTech DigiDelay, which splits the signal yet again. One side hits a Malekko Spring Reverb on its way to a blackface Fender Pro Reverb. The other side runs through an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb pedal to a blackface Fender Bandmaster and a Fender Vibratone cabinet.
David Sutton's Gear
Sutton handles acoustic and electric with only a few instruments. There are two vintage ’60s basses onstage: an all-original Fender Precision and an Old Kraftsman. (The brand was an offshoot of the Kay company.) He strings both with flatwound strings. His upright is a 3/4-size Kay from the ’70s.
Sutton’s signal path is about solid tone rather than effects and frills. His electric signal hits a tuner, and then a Radial Tonebone Master Loop Controller, with a SansAmp Bass Driver DI and a Danelectro Tuna Melt tremolo inserted on the effect loops. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus provides the juice.
His signal then hits a 300-watt Ampeg SVT-VR head and an 810-SVT cabinet. Sutton’s upright signal hits a Boss tuner then a B-band DI, which feeds FOH and monitors.