Deathcore dealer Stephen Rutishauser dishes bludgeoning riffs on Petrucci-approved sparkly 7- and 8-string stallions.
Death metal is a genre built on precision and power. Chelsea Grin’s articulate picking and gut-rattling riffs are its foundation. But thanks to a rotating cast of ripping guitarists (including Rig Rundown alumnus Jason Richardson), their five albums have shown subtle brick-and-mortar flair by incorporating elements of djent, metalcore, doom, black metal, and even post-hardcore. The current lead guitar chair has been filled by Stephen Rutishauser since 2015. His input has given their chaotic sound a more meticulous gnarl and complex rhythmic density that binds discord and darkened melodies.
Hours before Chelsea Grin’s rare club gig at Nashville’s the End, the gruesomely heavy guitarist invited PG’s Chris Kies onstage to talk gear. In this RR, the band’s face-melter details the sparkle-covered Petrucci signatures that he carries on tour and breaks down the dialed-in digital patches that color their brutal barrage.
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Man Meets Machine
“I love these guitars [Music Man JP13s] for a lot of reasons,” admits Rutishauser. “They have a bite no other guitar can achieve. I think that’s just the conglomerate of everything they put into it. It’s piercing, with a crisp, throaty midrange. It’s just a total machine.” All of his JP13s are loaded with DiMarzio-designed, Petrucci-endorsed Illuminator humbuckers. The JP13s handle all songs in drop-A and drop-G tunings. He landed on this particular iteration of the John Petrucci signature because of its tonewood pairings: basswood body, mahogany tone block, maple top, mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard. His drop-A guitars take Ernie Ball Ernie Ball 2621 7-String Regular Slinky Cobalts (.010–.056) and his drop-G guitars (like the one above) take Ernie Ball 2615 7-String Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky Cobalts (.010–.062).
This delicious Music Man JP13 is finished in root beer sparkle. This one is an anomaly as it has a JP13 body matched with a JP15 neck. The difference is more than a number, as the 15 model shifted to a roasted-bird’s-eye-maple neck and fretboard. He notes the varied ingredients provide less spark in his pinch harmonics, but Rutishauser does enjoy how it brightens up his palm-muted chugs.
The Boom Stick
Rutishauser’s choice for his main 8-string, which handles drop-B jams, is this Aristides 080. The unique thing about this beast is that it contains no wood and is made completely of resin-based Arium. It features a 27" scale length, MEC Electronics, and Lundgren M8 humbuckers. Plus, its C-shaped multi-scale neck (26.5"-28") starts at 2.17" wide and spreads to 2.75" at the 12th fret. The Richlite fretboard has a compound (14"-19") radius and is fitted with 24 Jescar medium-jumbo, stainless steel frets. It’s laced with Ernie Ball 8-String Slinkys (.010–.074).
A Black Hole
The 080s magnificent galaxy-sparkle finish gives way to a clear back piece that shows off the blackened Arium construction at its nucleus.
This champagne-sparkle JP13 handles any required 7-string backup duties.
Light and Mighty
Both Rutishauser and bassist David Flinn rely on Fractal Audio juggernauts. Stephen plugs into the Axe-Fx II XL+, while Flinn runs into the original Axe-Fx Ultra. Rutishauser’s principal tone is based on the FAS Brutals. He intensifies that setting with putting a drive into the Brutals and parametric EQ after it. He’ll occasionally patch in a reverb, delay, and modulation at the end of his chain, but ahead of the EQ. The laptop runs Cubase for the guitar track, click track, 808 bass drops, and left-right stereo tracks.
Racked and Ready
Focusrite’s Clarett+ 8Pre interface controls their inputs. A Radial SW8 Auto-Switcher wrangles all backing tracks out of Cubase. Sennheiser EM 300 G3 wireless units cover both the stringed instruments and the band’s in-ear monitors. At the bottom rests a Behringer X32 Rack, which routes and regulates the band’s in-ear monitors.
Pedalboard space be damned! Andy Timmons’ signature time machine delivers dual-delay potential in a single compact stomp.
Tons of delay tones and rangeful, powerful tools for shaping them.
A lot of functionality in a little box means close quarters for switches and dual-function controls that are tricky to change on the fly
There’s a zillion reasons to be excited about the Keeley Halo—a collaboration between Keeley and guitar ace Andy Timmons. For starters, it’s an express-train ticket to Timmons’ carefully honed delay sound: a spacious playground of echoes that dwells partly in the realm of reverb and lets Timmons’ fretwork breathe and gather momentum and size. It’s also a great pedal for players hooked on the possibilities of a dual-delay setup who have space constraints to consider. And it’s a perfect delay for players that want to dabble in multiple delay textures without the headache of programming and managing a million controls and presets.
While it’s fairly easy to dive headlong into the Halo and get great sounds, the interface is more complex than a simple analog or digital delay. And because so many of the factory presets and delay types are characterized by delay subdivisions, it’s best to get your sea legs by setting the pedal for quarter-note delays. Even in quarter-note mode, though, it fast becomes apparent how much delay-shaping power you have at your disposal.
None of the five primary controls here will surprise experienced delay users. There’s delay time, feedback, effect level, and modulation depth and rate. But pressing and holding the feedback knob gives you access to a high pass filter, a tone control for the delayed signal, a tape saturation control, and the 5-position selector that moves between tape-style, BBD-style, quarter note, and dotted eighth modes as well as Timmons’ own Halo mode that is the pedal’s namesake. The Halo also has stereo ins and outs, a remote connection jack, and an expression pedal jack via which you can control any of the five primary parameters. You can also set up the pedal for tap-tempo functionality and an infinite hold or “freeze” function. Needless to say, Keeley left few stones unturned putting the Halo together.
Once I got familiar with the Halo’s controls, it was pretty easy to get carried away with its capacity for tone sculpting. The Halo is powerful and spurs creativity. But it’s also easy to get lost in the early going, and if you’re aiming to get the most out of the Halo it’s vital that you embrace presets and, in some cases, a balletic sense of toe dexterity. These are not knocks on the Halo. Setting up and clearing presets is relatively easy, and so is scrolling through them. But practice at working through these footswitch commands is highly advised.
Once you do have the preset dance down, you may find yourself filling them up pretty quickly. Halo gives you the potential for crafting many and varied tones, and you may get hooked on the power of having so many at your disposal.
Timmons’ own Halo settings are lovely. The repeats tend to bloom ever so slightly and are tastefully backgrounded, even at extra-dry effects mixes, and this characteristic makes it a great fit for high-gain pedals. Most voices, in fact, tend to sit nicely with overdrive or fuzz. Both the bucket brigade and the tape delay voices in particular became favorites, largely because they sounded so fat with the addition of virtual tape saturation and darkening from the high-pass filter and tone control. Even in this dusky tone state, the Halo had plenty of room for fuzz and distortion without becoming a mess. This mix of headroom and personality isn’t an easy balance to maintain. Keeley executed that tightrope walk with aplomb here.
Nine times out of 10, a collaboration between a veteran pedal builder and a seasoned session and touring guitarist will yield a very practical piece of kit. The Halo is indeed that. The feature-rich design, dual-function controls, and the fact that it’s packed in a compact enclosure means that there’s a learning curve. And that might dent the aura of practicality for some. Players that like to keep it simple might find the Halo to be a handful, too. But it’s hard to imagine a do-it-all delay more capable than this cooperative effort from two crafty vets.
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For the 20th anniversary of the original BJFe Honeybee Overdrive, Björn Juhl has now brought the sound of his classic low-gain overdrive to the One Control Mini pedal platform, featuring both the classic Honeybee warm syrupy texture with Modern/Vintage Switch and a special new Custom version, with enhanced gain and a hot crimson finish. Gold finish is classic, Crimson finish is the high gain variant.
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