This alt-metal power trio proves that one focused, low-tuned guitar, pounding drums, and inventively effected bass can sound as huge live as a band rocking multiple guitars and keyboards.
On April 22 in Nashville, Premier Guitar met with guitarist Pete Loeffler and bassist Dean Bernardini of the band Chevelle before their sold-out show at the Cannery Ballroom. Loeffler gave us the lowdown on tuning to C and answered a questions posted by our Facebook followers. Bernardini showed us some cool mods on his Ibanez basses and explained how to make a stage look appropriately creepy.
Pete Loeffler's Gear
Loeffler does not travel with a ton of guitars, just a few favorites to get the job done. A Fender Subsonic Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan pickups does most of the heavy lifting. His #2 is a heavily modified Fender Strat featuring two Seymour Duncan humbuckers. Like many gearheads, Loeffler can’t remember the actual models or names of these Duncan pickups, he just digs their sound.
Loeffler remains a life-long Boogie man, having played the same rig for his entire professional career. The Chevelle sound ends with a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV plugged into two Mesa/Boogie 4x12 cabs. A second Mark IV functions as a backup.
Relying primarily on his guitar, amp, and hands to deliver a tight-but-chunky sound, Loeffler has a surprisingly modest pedalboard. His signal path starts with a Shure UR4S wireless that feeds a Peterson StroboStomp2 tuner and then runs into an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano Reverb. For extra spice, he switches on a Boss TR-2 Tremolo or MRX Phase 90. For more gain and grit, he adds a Tech 21 SansAmp GT2, and a Boss GE-7 Equalizer gives him a nice midrange boost. The last link in the chain is a Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby wah with a G Lab True Bypass Wah-Pad. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus provides the juice for all of it.
Dean Bernardini's GearBasses
Bernardini is a visual artist with a background in painting, woodworking, and design, and this becomes evident when you look at the general aesthetics of the Chevelle stage, which features cool/creepy appointments on the cabinets. His basses also have a unique aesthetic twist. Bernardini’s custom white Thunderbird-inspired bass is made by Ryan Loux of Loux Custom Instruments. It features Nordstrand pickups and unique fretboard inlays inspired by Picasso. This bass has an extended 35.375" scale length, which is ideal for low tunings. When not playing the Loux, Bernardini pounds one of his highly modified Ibanez BTB basses. Not only did Bernardini paint each bass himself, but he also crafts a one-off pickguard for each instrument. These give them all a futuristic, industrial look. Each Ibanez has been retrofitted with Bartolini pickups.
Much like his bandmate, Bernardini plays through Boogie amps. Two Mesa/Boogie Big Block 750 heads drive a pair of Mesa/Boogie PowerHouse 4x12 cabinets. He has painted the latter to give them an ashy, white washed patina.
While Loeffler’s pedalboard is clean and orderly, Bernardini’s looks a bit more chaotic—like an unfinished art project. The path starts with a Peterson VSS-C Stomp Classic tuner, and from there a XLR cable runs a clean signal out to the front-of-house mixer. But at this point, the signal leaving the 1/4" output gets a bit weird. Unlike most traditional bassists going for a pure signal, Bernardini uses a Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb and a Boss DD-7 Digital Delay to the imbue the Chevelle sound with a spacey, scary ambiance. He then turns up the crunch with a DigiTech Bass Driver and a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI. He also uses a Boss GE-7 Equalizer for a boost. Bernardini works the amp with his Mesa/Boogie Big Block 750 footswitch. Reportedly, he has crushed many of these Big Block pedals over the years with his heavy stomp.