Although older 2-channel Rectifiers have risen in price over the past several years, they haven’t gotten to the level of vintage Mesa/Boogie Mark I and Mark IIC+, or Marshall Super Lead amps. Brock says this is mainly because of an unfair stigma. “I’m telling you, people knock on them now because they were nu-metal machines back in the day, but those old Dual and Triple Recs are really sweet. A lot of people complain that the lows are flubby, but you just have to know how to set them and not be afraid to use the midrange knob. A lot of players’ inclination is to scoop the mids and crank the gain—but you’ve got to have those mids in there, otherwise they can sound kind of goofy.” Brock also points out that he gets his best Rec tones by setting the master volume as close to noon as possible so that the power section is really working and allowing the amp to react more dynamically.
When playing live, Brock and Jensen each run their 2-channel Triple Rec heads into a full stack of Marshall 1960 cabs loaded with a mixture of Celestion Vintage 30 and GT-75 speakers. Each cab is lined inside with egg-crate foam, which Brock says makes the bass “pop out” a bit more.
While the Les Pauls-into- Boogies recipe has long been a staple for Early Graves, Brock says that when he recorded Red Horse he had in mind a very specific set of tones that required a little something more. “I’m a huge fan of Metallica’s older stuff, but I’ve spent the last 20 years fighting the ‘Black’ album. But it just sounds so damned heavy, and I wanted that aspect of it. So I basically went into the studio wanting the guitars to sound like a mixture of the Black album and … And Justice for All.” To accomplish this, producer Tim Green mixed in Brock’s “revision blue”-era Bogner Überschall and two of his own late-’70s Marshall Super Lead amps to give the guitars more crunch. “The Überschall is really cool in that it’s kind of in the middle of a hot-rodded Marshall and a Mesa Recto,” says Brock. Green also used his vintage Marshall Guv’nor overdrive pedal to boost the Marshalls, which were in turn mixed down into their own track and layered against the track that combined the Überschall and Triple Rectifier.
However, even with that new amp combination in the mix, Brock still felt the tracks lacked the Black album’s crisp detail. Because the guitars on Red Horse are tuned to B standard—three steps below the Black album—he decided to double each riff with a Danelectro ’56 Baritone reissue. “We used it a bit when we recorded Goner, but we used it for everything on Red Horse. It just made everything sound clearer—and it just sounded great when everything was put together.” In addition to the Danelectro, a new baritone built out of spare parts by Jensen—the band’s resident “fix-it” guy, according to Brock—has already been inspiring new material for the next Graves album.
For live shows, Brock and Jensen keep effects use to a minimum. Brock’s pedalboard contains a Dunlop Dimebag Darrell wah, Boss TU-2 tuner, MXR Carbon Copy delay, Boss NS-2 noise gate, and an Electro-Harmonix Small Clone chorus. Jensen’s is barren in comparison, consisting of just a Boss TU-2 tuner, Boss NS-2 noise gate, and a Robert Keeley-modded Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive. “He keeps it on at all times, and has it set as a boost with the volume up and the gain almost all the way down,” says Brock. “It slams the front end of his Rectifier and makes it grind more.”
Despite their relatively simple rigs, Jensen and Brock are both avowed gearheads constantly on the lookout for new stuff to try. “I want to try the new Bogner Überschall pedal, and the new pedals from Mesa/Boogie,” says Brock. “And I know that they’re not new, but I’d love to get my hands on a vintage Roland JC-120 combo, and I’ve been on the hunt for an old rackmount Triple Rectifier for years. If I find one for the right price, I’m snapping it up.”