Reggie Young’s Gear

With Bill Black’s Combo, Reggie Young played a Gibson ES-335. Since moving to Nashville, Young’s main guitar has been a black ’69 Fender Telecaster with body binding and a maple neck. At one time, the pickup in the neck was changed to a mini-humbucker but is now a Bill Lawrence single-coil Strat-style. The bridge pickup is a Ron Ellis. It has a Seymour Duncan rail-type Strat pickup in the middle that can be switched on with a mini-toggle or blended in with a knob. “I mainly blend it with the bridge, because the bridge pickup alone will cut your head off,” Young explains. He uses a Fender Relic Tele with a similar setup as a backup guitar for touring overseas.

Young’s other go-to guitar is a ’57 Fender Stratocaster. Once equipped with EMGs for quiet performance in the studio, it’s now fitted with Bill Lawrence pickups. Young was one of the first to record a Coral electric sitar. It appeared on “Cry Like a Baby” and B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked on a Feeling.” The 1967 Garcia nylon acoustic he played on tunes like “In the Ghetto” resides in the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. Young’s guitars are strung with D’Addario strings (.0095–.044) and picked with a Fender medium pick using the round side for a fatter sound.

Young used a Standel amp in the early days, primarily because it only had one input. “If somebody sitting in wanted to plug in the amp along with you—that stopped that,” he says. “That was a killer amp.” At American Sound Studio he began using the ’65 Fender Deluxe Reverb he still employs. He now has two, and a Little Walter 50-watt head and cabinet. Live, he uses Fender Twins or 4x10 Fender Bassmans.

In the ’50s and early ’60s, Young might pull one power tube out to create distortion. Later he used a Garnet Herzog unit from Canada designed for Randy Bachman. The Herzog was a small tube amp that could distort the main amp. It can be heard on the fade of “Drift Away.” In the psychedelic era, he used an early Bosstone fuzz. For pedal steel-style swells, Young uses an Ernie Ball volume pedal. “When I moved to Nashville no one was using volume pedals, so that got me a lot of work,” he recalls.

He has a Whirlwind compressor on his current pedalboard, though he doesn’t use compression anymore, and a Boss GE-7 EQ. “I get my amp sounding as good as I can and then use the equalizer to tweak it a little more and add a little boost,” he says. The board also contains a Boss TU-2 tuner, Boss DD-6 Digital Delay, a Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, a TC Electronic chorus, and a Voodoo Lab Tremolo. “The board sounded so good on the road that I started bringing it into the studio. It sounded better than my rack,” he says.