The alt-rockers chat about reducing their tonal footprint and working with Schecter and Lakland on their choice axes.

Premier Guitar's Chris Kies is on location in Cedar Rapids, IA, where he catches up with Papa Roach's Jerry Horton and Tobin Esperance. The guys discuss about condensing their rigs from arena-ready juggernaut stacks to carry-on-approved size. Horton talks about collaborating with Schecter on his signature Solo 6, and Tobin explains why picks aren't his thing.

Jerry Horton Gear


Horton has rocked Schecter guitars for well over a decade. He's been one of the companies longest-running endorsees and has his own signature model that he uses almost exclusively during live shows. Horton's signature six-string is based on the company's singlecut Custom Solo 6 model with a few tweaks. He requested for his signature that they incorporate a TonePros AVT-II wraparound bridge and they took out the standard Seymour Duncan Custom Custom in the bridge for his preferred JB bridge pickup setup. And since he's been on the Carnival of Madness tour, his tech recently swapped out the standard 19:1-ratio Schecter locker tuners for Grovers. The graphics found on both of his signature models were co-designed with a hot-rod artist from Tennessee. The lone backup he has on this tour is an old Schecter Tempest. For strings, Horton uses Jim Dunlop Nickel Plated .013—.056 strings and custom Jim Dunlop Papa Roach-designed .88 Tortex picks

Amps and Effects

Horton—who once rocked a four-amp setup that included 3 different Marshall heads and a Vox AC30—scaled down his rig for an early 2013 gig in Russia and hasn't looked back. He now uses two Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II units for all his amp models and effects and relies on a lone expression pedal for wah sounds and controlling the amount of overdrive/dirt on certain patches like on the song "Hollywood Whore."

Tobin Esperance Gear


Master of the Roach's low-end, Esperance relies heavily on his custom Lakland 44-94 4-string models. At first glance, these look like standard production models, but Esperance simplified the control layout opting to get rid of the 3-band EQ for a passive sound—he always had it on 10 and he was turning the wrong knobs during dimly-lit shows—and giving the 44-94 a sleeker, more modern-metal look with all black hardware. He currently uses D'Addario .050—.120 strings and never really uses a pick onstage because he feels he can control the tone and sound of his rig best with his fingertips, how hard he plays and whether he plays near the neck for sub-sonic lows or near the bridge for cutting, ripping thumping.


Following Horton's reduction motif, Esperance is only bringing out two rackmounted Ampegs amps. His main stage head is a SVT-4 Pro and the backup is a BR5.


Esperance keeps a tidy house when it comes to his pedalboard, which only has three boxes on it--a Jim Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah, a Malekko B:Assmaster Harmonic Octave Distortion, and a Boss Tu-2 tuner. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power2 juices his modest board.


Plus, the Fontaines D.C. axeman explains why he’s reticent to fix the microphonic pickup in his ’66 Fender Coronado.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less