Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Rig Rundown - Blondie's Chris Stein and Tommy Kessler

PG's Tessa Jeffers is on location in Chicago, IL, at the Chicago Theatre where she catches up with Blondie's Chris Stein and Tommy Kessler.

Presented by:
and



PG's Tessa Jeffers is on location in Chicago, IL, at the Chicago Theatre where she catches up with Blondie's Chris Stein and Tommy Kessler.

Guitars
Blondie’s original guitarist, Chris Stein, uses one guitar only—his “very sexy” XOX Audio Tools Carbon-Fiber guitar (not pictured). Stein loves the lightness of this long-scale model and says he’s finding it hard to go back to hardwood guitars. The carbon fiber weighs only 4 lbs. and is unaffected by weather and temperature. Stein brings a gunmetal DBZ hollowbody on tour, but according to him, he plays one guitar and he never breaks strings. He plays his XOX with National metal fingerpicks and Dunlop plastic fingerpicks.

Kessler works extensively with Doug Kauer on made-to-order guitars. Kessler opens up the show with his custom sparkle blue Daylighter semi-hollow carved top with a Bigsby. It’s set up like a Les Paul with two tones and two volumes. But his number one guitar is his black Kauer, a single-cut solidbody Starliner prototype. All of his Kauers have WolfeTone humbuckers. For his extended solo on “Atomic,” Kessler uses a Schroeder equipped with Seymour Duncans and a 3-way toggle. He also has a goldtop Les Paul on hand but it’s his backup guitar used mostly only in the studio. In addition to his four electrics, he uses a nylon-string Taylor NS74ce for the song “Wipe Off My Sweat.” He strings his electrics with Ernie Ball .011s and uses Couch straps made out of old automobile material.

Amps
Stein plays through a 3-channel Mesa/Boogie Rectifier, but he mostly sticks to the middle channel for crunch, using the clean channel and distortion for only a few songs. Stein says it’s reliable, “doesn’t crap out,” and the house sound guy likes the tone. Kessler plays through a Soldano SLO100 on the clean channel on a crunch setting at 100 watts with two 2x12 Soldano cabs with Weber speakers on either side.

In addition, Kessler uses a Line 6 wireless system, Furman Power Conditioner and a THD Hot Plate, and also has a Weber MASS Attenuator onhand.

Effects
Kessler’s pedalboard for Blondie has been virtually the same for three years. He uses a Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone, Fulltone Clyde Standard wah, DigiTech Whammy 5, Pigtronix Envelope Phaser, Pigtronix Tremvelope, Pigtronix Aria, Boss DD-5 Digital Delay, Line 6 DL4, Cusack-modded Z.Vex Seek Wah, and an Ernie Ball Volume Jr.

Stein’s effects for this tour are very minimal. He says he really only uses the Seymour Duncan Deja Vu Tap Delay, an Ibanez Tube Screamer, and a Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer. When we talked to him he was trying out a DigiTech Hardwire Metal Distortion, and he also had a Hardwire Stereo Reverb, Boss PSM-5 Power Supply & Master Switch, Boss TU-2 Tuner, Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive, and Boss DD-5 Digital Delay on his board.

The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview
The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview on Johnny’s New Songwriter Album

The Man in Black returns with the unreleased Songwriter album. John Carter Cash tells us the story.

Read MoreShow less

This 1968 Epiphone Al Caiola Standard came stocked with P-90s and a 5-switch Tone Expressor system.

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (guitarpoint.de)

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (guitarpoint.de)

The session ace’s signature model offers a wide range of tones at the flip of a switch … or five.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. Not long ago, I came home late from a band rehearsal, still overly excited about the new songs we played. I got myself a coffee (I know, it's a crazy procedure to calm down) and turned on the TV. I ended up with an old Bonanza episode from the ’60s, the mother of all Western TV series. Hearing the theme after a long time instantly reminded me of the great Al Caiola, who is the prolific session guitarist who plays on the song. With him in mind, I looked up the ’60s Epiphone “Al Caiola” model and decided I want to talk about the Epiphone/Gibson Tone Expressor system that was used in this guitar.

Read MoreShow less

Slinky playability, snappy sounds, and elegant, comfortable proportions distinguish an affordable 0-bodied flattop.

Satisfying, slinky playability. Nice string-to-string balance. Beautiful, comfortable proportions.

Cocobolo-patterned HPL back looks plasticky.

$699

Martin 0-X2E
martinguitar.com

4
4
4.5
4

Embracing the idea of an acoustic flattop made with anything other than wood can, understandably, be tricky stuff. There’s a lot of precedent for excellent-sounding acoustics built with alternative materials, though. Carbon-fiber flattops can sound amazing and I’ve been hooked by the sound and playability of Ovation and Adamas instruments many times.

Read MoreShow less

The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

Read MoreShow less