Rig Rundown: The Tallest Man on Earth
Take a look at how Kristian Matsson, one of Sweden’s most enigmatic songwriters, crafts layers of sonic magic with a handful of open tunings and a pile of pedals.
Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, met with Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger after his soundcheck at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. As a solo performer, Matsson needs to cover a lot of sonic territory, laying down complex tone beds to accompany his voice. He offered up a step-by-step guide to the ingredients that go into being The Tallest Man on Earth.
Matsson plays a vintage ’50s Harmony Stratotone. The Stratotone remains all stock as far as he knows and in spite of the primitive bridge, the intonation is solid.
The acoustic equivalent of the Stratotone is Matsson’s vintage Kay acoustic from the 1950s. An L.R. Baggs M1 passive soundhole pickup sends the signal to front of house.
For a 12-string vibe, Matsson goes with this 2015 Gretsch Country Gentleman G6122-G212 with TV Jones pickups.
Matsson uses this 1965 Martin D-18 equipped with a an L.R. Baggs M1 pickup for more folk-based tunes. A feedback buster has been trimmed to accommodate the pickup.
This replica of a 1960s T-style was built for Matsson by luthier Kresimir Juricic. It was patterned after Mike Bloomfield’s classic axe and features Fender Custom ’62 pickups.
Matsson’s 2017 Fender Stratocaster has been upgraded with Lindy Fralin pickups.
Matsson’s Epiphone Serenader FT-85 is a late-’60s 12-string that has also been equipped with an L.R. Baggs M1 pickup.
One of the newer guitars in Matsson’s stash is this 2019 Gibson ES-335. It offers that classic humbucker sound combined with the warmth of a semi-hollow.
This 2015 Martin 00L-17 gives Matsson a bit more acoustic tonal variety. Like the others, this acoustic has been equipped with an L.R. Baggs M1.
A pair of Fender Blues Jr IVs serve as Matsson’s backline. Here’s a look at his settings.
Matsson has quite an expansive pedalboard that includes a Strymon blueSky Reverberator, an EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run, a Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo, a Strymon Flint, an Industrial Electric RM-1N, an Electro-Harmonix Nano POG, a Cornish Acoustic Preamp/DI, Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger, a Strymon Deco, a Chase Bliss Tonal Recall, a JHS/Keeley Steak & Eggs, a Fulltone True Path ABY-HT, Korg tuner, and a Gamechanger Audio Plus.
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