These country boys talk about how gear from EVH, PRS, Gibson, Sadowksy, Peavey, and more, works damn good for their new-school, arena-ready twang-rock sound.
PG’s Tessa Jeffers chats with members of the backing band for country act Jason Aldean, including guitarists Kurt Allison and Jack Sizemore, as well as bassist Tully Kennedy. While Sizemore is a Les Paul die-hard and Kennedy swears by Sadowsky, Allison’s gear is a little less predictable for a country player—the guitarist rocks out with EVH gear and a special hollowbody he says is unmatched in tone.
Jack Sizemore's Gear
Jack Sizemore says he and his co-guitar comrade, Kurt Allison, are “masters of Craigslist,” trying to out-deal each other by scouting deals in each location they travel to. Sizemore had seven guitars on the road with Aldean, but prefers mostly Les Paul-style axes. His favorite is a Deluxe LP, one of 200 made. “As far as Les Pauls go, it’s pretty light, which is a good feature for me,” he says. His new Gibson goldtop gets most of the onstage action, but he switches it up with a very heavy ’83 Ibanez LP-style axe that he scored for $300 on Craigslist.
Jason Aldean’s music requires the players to keep multiple models around for tunings, so Sizemore’s longer scale PRS is tuned a whole step down and sometimes dropped-D tuning. Rounding out the bunch is his “string breaker” ’61 Gibson SG reissue and an ESP with a Floyd Rose. Sizemore’s guitars are strung up with D’Addario .010-.052s, and he uses Fender heavy picks.
Effects and Amps
Sizemore depends on his “old school” Seymour Duncan Twin Tube distortion so much that he keeps three or four on hand in case one breaks. Other effects in his drawer include an Xotic Effects RC Booster, Budda OM Overdrive, TC Electronic G-System, and a Radial Tonebone Head Switcher that allows him to route his two amp heads (a Peavey 6505 and Budda Bully) through one cabinet: a Budda 4x12 cab with Celestion vintage 30 speakers.
Kurt Allison's Gear
Guitarist Kurt Allison has some interesting genre-bending gear that might be considered atypical for a country band. He likes to switch it up, but his current favorite find is a hollowbody PRS JA-15. “You don’t think of it as being a good lead or crunch guitar but the tonal qualities are great in this thing—I love it,” he shares. Allison’s pals at EVH recently turned him onto a Wolfgang Custom, and he swapped Seymour Duncans into it for more country bite.
Allison has a stock Tele for when he needs a definitively Tele sound, like on the track “Hicktown.” Rounding out his artillery are three more PRS models: a top-carved satin PRS single-cut with Lollar P-90s, a P-90-equipped PRS SE (dropped a whole step to D), and a PRS 305 with Duncans. He strings them up with D’Addario .011-.052 strings.
A longtime Mesa/Boogie guy, Allison recently switched to EVH 5150 III amps. He loves the first channel because it has punch and is “blackface-like.” When playing live, he drives his 50-watt head through 25-watt speakers because he prefers the way it breaks up, but he keeps a 100-watt head for backup.
Allison prefers a raw tone, but his favorite pedal is a Roger Linn AdrenaLinn II, which he uses to arpeggiate sounds in time through a MIDI sync back to the drummer. Allison’s pedalboard is further equipped with a TC Electronic Flashback, MXR 90 Phaser, Klon Centaur, Line 6 MM4, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Vox Wah, DigiTech Whammy, and an Electro-Harmonix Micro POG and Q-Tron.
Tully Kennedy's Gear
“The Sadowsky P/J 5-string is my calling card,” says bassist Tully Kennedy. He brings the same basses he records with on the road. His number one is a white model, which has endured “20 years of getting its ass kicked.” His blue P/J 5 bass is tuned down a half step for Aldean’s tune called “This Nothin’ Town.” Kennedy uses Dean Markley Blue Steel nickel-plated medium gauge strings.
Amps and Effects
In Kennedy’s rig, an Aguilar DB 750 drives two single Aguilar 1x12s. He has an Avalon preamp, which is sent to the front of house and then the signal is split with his secret weapon: an Aguilar tube pre. For effects, Kennedy uses a Crybaby Bass Wah on three songs, a Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus, and a Fulltone Mosfet Bass Drive on the song “Johnny Cash.”