See how Sigur Ros guitarist Jonsi por Birgisson's rig is customized for his bowing technique and more
Premier Guitar's Rebecca Dirks is on location in Chicago where she catches up with Sigur Ros guitar and bass tech Silli Ragnarsson to discuss guitarist Jonsi Por Birgisson's one-off guitar, bow and accessories, and surprisingly sparse pedalboard, bassist Georg Holm's effects-heavy pedal rig, and the more traditional guitar-board-amp setup of touring guitarist Kjartan Dagur Holm (Georg's brother).
Jónsi’s main guitar was handcrafted by former tech Dan Johnson with a single Seymour Duncan ’59 pickup and built-in treble boost circuit. The guitar is called “Bird,” due to the bird inlays. The bird on the body (below the neck) was carved by Jónsi himself. He plays with a cello bow, bowing both in front of and behind the bridge, and is not particular about his rosin, which Ragnarsson says darkens the tone. He uses a ’60s Epiphone semi-hollow bass for "Hoppipolla."
Georg uses a ’90s Japanese Fender Jazz bass with flatwounds. The guitar has a distinctive wear pattern due to him playing with a drumstick onstage. He also uses a '75 Fender P bass strung with roundwound strings with a factory Jazz bridge pickup and DiMarzio neck pickups that bears the scars of being thrown each night during the performance and a recent-issue Jaguar bass that he uses with an EBow.
KD alternates between a recent-issue stock Jazzmaster, Jónsi’s old stock '76 Les Paul, and a recent-issue semi-hollow 335-style.
Jónsi uses a regular Marshall JCM2000 through the clean channel without much gain. He uses a first-generation Marshall Power Brake between the amp and 4x12 cab to attenuate the JCM2000 and keep stage volume down.
Georg uses a Mesa/Boogie Walkabout combo that's modded to power two cabs. It has a second 10" passive speaker inside for monitoring, and the signal to the house is blended between DI and an SM57.
KD uses a standard Vox AC30 with Celestion Greenbacks.
Jónsi uses a duo of TC Electronic M350 Reverb Processors (one for backup) for reverb only—he has no delay in his signal chain—in the effects loop of his amp. The reverb is set to Cathedral and is on all the time. In addition to a Boss RC-20XL looper, Keeley Katana used as a volume boost, and Ernie Ball Volume Pedal, Jónsi uses an EBS ValveDrive bass pedal to complement the darker tones achieved by the bowing technique.
Georg's pedalboard has an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal for swells, an EBS OctaBass, EBS ValveDrive set to just crunchy, EBS MultiComp, a second EBS ValveDrive set for modern drive, and an EBS MultiDrive.
KD also uses an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal for swells, an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral for short reverbs and a Strymon blueSky for longer reverb, a Strymon El Capistan, Boss EQ with the semi-hollow to take out low-mids, EBS Multi-Drive bass pedal, MXR Micro Amp booster, DigiTech Whammy used as an octave, and Electro-Harmonix Freeze for droning during the last song of the set. The reverbs are on most of the time. He also uses an EBow for one song.