Rig Rundown: God Is an Astronaut 
See the transformation from digital efficiency to a sprawling setup for Ghost Tapes #10 that now includes Gretsches, Jazzmasters, traditional tube heads, and more stomps than a store.
Facing a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 40th video in that format.
For over 20 years and two handfuls of records, God Is an Astronaut have been exploring emotive, shape-shifting atmospheric instrumental anthems. Most instrumental post-rock bands follow a build-and-crash formula, whereas GIAA eschews those conventions in search of movement, melody, musical suspense.
Now PG has done some rig reprisals (Joe Bonamassa, Mastodon, Russian Circles, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, The Black Keys, Baroness, Gary Clark Jr, Primus, 311, Mr. Big, and others), but none of those compare to the overhaul God Is an Astronaut underwent during the COVID-19 quarantine. Every instrument, amp, and pedal (aside from a few preamps/DIs) are completely different than our previous 2016 Rundown. We can’t say any other setup has been rethought, restructured, and reformed to the degree that Torsten Kinsella (guitars), Jamie Dean (guitars/keyboards), and Niels Kinsella (bass) executed in the search for superior soundscapes.
Just before releasing their 10th album, Ghost Tapes #10—a 7-song collection that seamlessly navigates from spacy and delicate to surly and destructive—the stirring post-rock powerhouse piled all their gear into Windmill Lane Recording Studios to showcase what was used on the new record and possibly heard on future tours.
Inside this episode, we find out why Torsten and Jamie swapped out humbucker-loaded semi-hollows for single-coil offsets and Gretsch solidbodies, while Niels explains the move from a P to a snappy short-scale Mustang. And they pour over all the 50+ pedals (including 10 Muff or Muff-inspired clones).
[This recording was supported through funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media of Ireland as administered via the Music Industry Stimulus Package 2020 and Bad Apple Music. Video by Jaro Waldeck. Visit@DeptCultureIrl (website) and @fmc_ireland (website).]
Ghost Tapes #10 (new album) — https://smarturl.it/GhostTapes10
“A lot of the earlier material—TheEnd of the Beginning through All Is Violent, All Is Bright—definitely suits this guitar,” suggests God Is an Astronaut founder Torsten Kinsella when introducing his Fender Deluxe Strat HSS. It has the stock Twin Head Vintage humbucker still complimenting the pair of Vintage Noiseless Strat pickups. The bridge is blocked to help intonation since the band uses several tunings.
If you recall our 2016 Rundown, Torsten Kinsella was exclusively using a 1968 Gibson ES-345. This Stephen Stern-built, red-sparkle Gretsch Custom Shop Penguin has replaced the 345 and typically lives in drop-A tuning. It features TV Jones Filter’Tron pickups and to keep tension up, he employs a custom set of Optima 24K Gold Strings (.060-.044.-.032-.020-.014-.011). For lighter-tuned guitars, he will swap out the .060 for a slimmer .056 or .058.
Here’s Torsten Kinsella’s second custom-built Gretsch Penguin that has a set of TV Jones Classics (bridge and neck) and a TV Jones Magna’Tron in the middle. The only thing he’s changed on this green machine is putting in the wooden bridge that’s more harmonious to his ears.
Torsten Kinsella’s 1961 National Glenwood is a studio tool that never sees the road because it’s a vintage piece and was once owned by The Who’s John Entwistle. Kinsella had his tech put in a truss rod to make the guitar more playable and Curtis Novak re-wound the bridge pickup.
Here is Torsten Kinsella’s Fender American Original ’60s Jazzmaster that’s been upgraded with a Staytrem tremolo (constricting the arm movement so its intentional) and Staytrem bridge with Mustang-style saddles.
Torsten Kinsella’s stomp stations deserve their own zip code. As he states in the Rundown, the Axe-Fx II was crucial when flying around the globe and wanting a consistent sound, but with COVID-19 shutting down touring for over a year now, the band rekindled their love for amps and pedals. And coming out on the other side of the transformation, Kinsella asserts that the traditional gear setup better captures their full sound and dynamic range.
Starting with the left-side Pedaltrain Classic PRO pedalboard you have a couple Strymons (Mobius and BigSky), a custom Moose Electronics HM23 distortion (based on the classic HM-2 circuit), Chase Bliss Mood, Secret Audio Red Secret DI, Red Panda Particle, ChiralityAudio Splinter Drive, a pair of Boss pedals (MT-2 Metal Zone and DD-500 Digital Delay), two large-box black-Russian Electro-Harmonix Big Muffs, Friedman BE-OD Deluxe Overdrive Limited (clockworks design was exclusive to Thomann), Recovery Effects Bad Comrade, Meris Hedra (“special weapon for Ghost Tapes #10”), Boss DS-1 Distortion (with Keeley mod), Dr. Scientist The Elements, and a Chase Bliss Brothers. Bottom center rests a Meris Preset Switch that allows Torsten to quickly access up to four different sounds on the Hedra. And off both boards in the middle sits a Moose Electronics Nomad (inspired by the Foxx Tone Machine).
The right-side Pedaltrain Classic board starts with two utilitarian (but vital) Empress boxes—Buffer+ and Compressor—followed by a DigiTech Whammy (set to chords), and two more EHX Big Muffs. And keeping everything in check is a TC Electronic PolyTune3 and harnessing dynamics is the Ernie Ball VPJR Tuner.
Torsten Kinsella now uses an Orange AD30 and matching 2x12 cab.
And on top of the AD30 sits a pair of Two Notes tools—a Torpedo C.A.B. M Speaker Simulator/DI and a Torpedo Captor Loadbox/Attenuator/DI. Also there is a LNDR Line Driver MIDI Range Extender and a T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon.
Like Torsten, Jamie Dean rocked a single guitar (1985 Yamaha SA800) into an Axe-Fx II in our last Rundown. Above you see he’s gone offset with a Fender American Vintage ’65 Jazzmaster reissue. He’s subbed in a Mastery bridge and a Staytrem tremolo, while the rest of the guitar is original.
Seen here is a Fender American Professional I Jazzmaster that has been modded with Curtis Novak JM-Fat (bridge) & JM-V pickups and locking tuners.
Jamie Dean spends most time on six strings, but above is a 1980s Fender Bullet Bass (with a capo on the 13th fret) for “All Is Violent, All Is Bright” and “Fireflies and Empty Skies.”
An impressive Pedaltrain Terra 42 board in his own right, Jamie Dean has plenty of colors to paint with thanks to a lineup of pedals that includes a Strymon BigSky, Moose Electronics Elk Head (based on a ’70s Violet Ram’s Head Big Muff with additional mids control), Boss MT-2 Metal Zone (instantaneous feedback), Stomp Under Foot Pumpkin Pi, Recovery Effects Bad Comrade, Empress Buffer+, Strymon TimeLine, Ernie Ball VPJR Tuner, three EHX Big Muffs, Friedman BE-OD Deluxe, Meris Hedra, Empress Compressor, Boss DS-1 Distortion (with Keeley mod), Red Panda Particle, and a ChiralityAudio Splinter Drive. He also has a Meris Preset Switch (for the Hedra) and a TC Electronic PolyTune3.
Throughout the Rundown, we were hearing Jamie use a 2000s Orange AD30 into a 2x12 cab that was mic’d with a SM57.
Mainly for monitoring purposes, Jamie Dean also uses pair of Two Notes tone tools—a Torpedo C.A.B. M Speaker Simulator/DI and a Torpedo Captor Loadbox/Attenuator/DI.
Back in 2016, Niels Kinsella visited Nashville with a Fender American Vintage ’63 P Bass, but now he’s aiming for an upper-range low-end tone, so he landed on a short-scale Fender Justin Meldal-Johnsen Mustang Bass that is completely stock. He goes with custom set of Optima Unique Chrome Strings (.115–.080–.060–.045) and is typically tuned D-A-D-G.
Niels Kinsella’s signal flow out of the bass hits the Boss TU-3W Waza Craft Chromatic Tuner, then hitting the Noble Preamp, Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal, ChiralityAudio Black Swan Bass Distortion/Fuzz, and the Darkglass Electronics Microtubes X Ultra preamp. Everything calls a Pedaltrain Classic JR home.
Five years ago, he used the Noble Preamp as a DI that went out to FOH, but now Niels Kinsella is going big and bad with the Ampeg Heritage Series SVT-CL 300-watt tube head pumping into a matching Ampeg Heritage Series SVT-410HLF.
Even. More. Pedals.
Are you serious??
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D'Addario Backline Gear Pack:https://ddar.io/GigBackpack-RR
Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Les Paul Desert Burst Satin
Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed
Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain
Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater
Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System
Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface
Apogee BOOM 2x2 Audio Interface
Gibson Unveils New Digital Amp
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
Belltone Announces P-90 Foil-Tron Single-Coil Pickup
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.