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Rig Rundown: Gwar (2014)

Simulated mutilations and fake blood aside, GWAR are gear junkies like the rest of us.

GWAR was gracious enough to let Premier Guitar sit down and talk with their human servants, Brent Purgason and Mike Derks, who know a few things about the rigs of the aliens Pustulus Maximus and Balsac the Jaws of Death. Before Nashville was covered in fake blood and sweat, we were “allowed” to talk to the guys about the trials and tribulations of keeping guitars and gear in working order under such hellacious conditions.

Brent Purgason's Gear (Pustulus Maximus)

Purgason plays his signature Blakhart model, the Whargoul Pustulus Maximus. Even though the guitar takes a beating every night, Purgason says he’s only had to make minor adjustments. His guitars are strung with .010-.046 D’Addario sets. Amps
The stage is packed with props, but Purgason’s amps and cabs are cleverly hidden in set carts to prevent damage. His rig is fairly simple: a pair of 4-channel Engl E530 tube preamps and a 6L6-powered Engl 850/100 tube power amp running through a blood-soaked Krank 4x12 cab. Effects
Purgason keeps his signal chain pretty straightforward, as well. After running through a Sennheiser ew 572 G3 wireless unit, his guitar signal hits a Peterson Stomp Classic strobe tuner (even aliens need to tune), before going into a Stereo Mod version of an ISP Technologies Decimator ProRack G. A Dunlop Cry Baby Rack Module DCR2SR wah is next, followed by a Radial Twin-City Active ABY amp switcher.
Each side of the Twin-City goes into one of the Engl preamps, which have a TC Electronic G-Force and MXR M108 10-band EQ in the effects loop. (Purgason uses the 10-band EQs to impart a more “British” sound to his guitar.) Before the signal hits the cab, it flows through a Radial JDX Reactor Guitar Amp direct box that feeds the house sound system. The E530 preamps’ right and left frequency-compensated outputs feed a pair of Livewire DIs that are tapped in the event of a cabinet or power amp failure. Managing all the effects is a well-hidden, barely visible Behringer FCB1010 MIDI foot controller.

Mike Derks' Gear (Balsac the Jaws of Death)

Derks plays a signature model Schecter Balsac the Jaws ’o Death 6-string. Nicknamed “Jaw,” it’s a jagged version of a classic V-shape body loaded with a single Fishman Fluence humbucker. His backup guitar (shown here) is identical, except it has a Seymour Duncan AHB-1 Blackout pickup. Amps and Effects
The signal chain starts with a Sennheiser ew 572 G3 wireless unit feeding a Peterson Stomp Classic strobe tuner. A Radial Twin-City Active ABY switcher splits the signal: One side heads into a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II XL and the other feeds a Mesa/Boogie TriAxis programmable preamp and Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Stereo 2:One Hundred power amp. The Axe-Fx II XL feeds both the house system and a modified Krank 4x12 cab. The cab has been wired up as a pair of 2x12 cabs to accept signals from both the Axe-Fx II XL and the TriAxis rig.

To cover cabinet or power amp failure, a signal from the TriAxis also goes through a Lexicon MPX G2 and BBE Sonic Maximizer for some sweetening, then into a Mesa/Boogie Stereo Simul-Class 295 power amp (which Derks has taken on the road since 1990), and finally a rackmount Palmer PDI-03 Speaker Simulator.