The bass lord morphs and mutates between rhythm and lead parts with a hearty Wal 4-string, Gallien-Krueger crushers, and a pedalboard that could make Adam Jones jealous.
“Will the next Tool album take more than 10,000 days?”
That was an ongoing (and agonizing) joke for Tool fans that awaited the band’s fifth album following the release of 2006’s 10,000 Days. (A cruel clairvoyance of a title.) For those counting, when Fear Inoculum was finally delivered on August 30, 2019, it was just 4,868 days from their previous album. All crummy jokes aside, the anticipation of the album was real for a reason: the music. And the rhythmic cog of their constant contorting of depth and darkness is bassist Justin Chancellor.
Sure, drummer Danny Carey is a living legend bashing everything his large frame can smash and crash. Adam Jones transforms his guitar into a Hans Zimmer production with varied textures, temperaments, and traits his tone expresses. During shows, singer and lyricist Maynard James Keenan prowls in the shadows adding to the band’s musical mysticism. This triumvirate core dished out the punishing EP Opiate in 1992, and their 1993 debut full-length Undertow was more complex and calculated in its rage. But in 1995, when Justin Chancellor replaced Paul D’Amour on bass, Tool immediately expanded their dimensionality. The original three continued to dazzle and dumbfound listeners, but the addition of Chancellor and his pocket-minded role unlocked a collective vocabulary previously unspoken. Simply put, if Tool was an octopus, Chancellor was the head. The others could be momentarily independent tentacles exploring the melodic murkiness of their respective reaches, but when they needed to propel forward, Chancellor was steering. His lines are the base for the band’s groove and attitude that became a focal point on subsequent releases with 1996’s Ænima, 2001’s Lateralus, 2006’s 10,000 Days, and eventually 2019’s Fear Inoculum. The former three went triple-platinum, while the latter three were No. 1 on the Billboard 200. (Ænima landed in the No. 2 spot.)
If you ever catch yourself playing air guitar to Tool, you’re probably mimicking Chancellor’s parts. “Schism,” “The Pot,” “Forty Six & 2,” “H.,” “Fear Inoculum,” “Descending,” “The Grudge,” and plenty of others feature his buoyant bass riffs.
Chancellor’s tone has had a longstanding relationship with Wal basses, Gallien-Krueger amps, and Mesa/Boogie cabs. The evolving part of his rig has been his pedalboard. At this juncture of the band’s run supporting Fear Inoculum, Chancellor’s board is larger than his guitar-playing counterparts. Yet everything has a place and purpose. Some of it is duplicity, some of it is to avoid any required knob-turning during the show, and as we find out in the Rundown, some of it is just for fun. Grab a seat and get comfortable as Chancellor and his tech Pete Lewis walk PG’s elated Chris Kies through his live setup.
Like a Glove
While recording Ænima, Chancelor borrowed a friend’s Wal bass that was originally fretless, but his pal did the dirty work of embedding frets into it. “That original bass’ tone immediately fit in with the band and covered the right area of sound,” remembers Chancellor. He promptly ordered his own replica of that build, and this is the second edition of it. The above 4-string has been his main bass for the last 15 years. It has a mahogany core, bird’s-eye maple caps, a neck incorporating mahogany, maple and rosewood, and a rosewood fretboard. Some minor changes to improve comfort and playability include lighter hardware and Luminlay fret markers. Chancellor’s basses take a custom set of Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky Bass strings that have the standard .045-.065-.85, but because they tune down to drop-D for most songs, he swaps in a .110 from the Power Slinky pack. And when they go to drop-C for their oldest material, he’ll put on a .135 string. He hammers on the strings with a custom Dunlop (1 mm) Tortex Tri pick. All his instrument cables come from Mogami.
Chancellor recalls auditioning for Tool with an Ernie Ball StingRay, but it just didn’t work with the band’s sound at the time. Fast forward two decades and the StingRay has found a cozy place in the Tool setlist. The 2018 Music Man StingRay Special is used on “Descending” from Fear Inoculum. Anyone keen on details will notice the high-tech solution of duct tape and marker that allows Justin to incrementally notch up the volume during the song’s blossoming midsection.
Pretty Practice P
Justin scooped this beautiful 1963 Fender P bass from Norm’s Rare Guitars. He does have a small collection of old instruments, but they have to meet two requirements before he makes the buy: They have to sound amazing and they have to be players so he can “bang away on them” without remorse. He doesn’t play it onstage (the vintage P’s output doesn’t have enough horsepower for Tool), but he does bring it on tour because he finds it inspirational to play, so it’s often with him backstage, on the bus, or in the hotel room.
Welcome to the Thunderdome!
This configuration of Demeter preamps and Gallien-Krueger power amps has been the nucleus of power for Justin’s studio and stage sound for years. The Gallien-Krueger 2001RB heads each hit their own cabinet. The “clean” RB runs into a Mesa/Boogie RoadReady 8x10. The middle RB head in the rack is the “dirty” amp that goes into a prototype Mesa/Boogie 4x12 that is EQ’d gnarlier and takes all of Chancellor’s pedals. He feels the 10" speakers retain the integral low-end bass tone better than the 12s, while the larger speakers are better suited for offering his distorted or effected tones an overall warmth that can disappear in the 10s. (The bottom 2001RB is on deck in case either head fails.)
Above the G-Ks are the Demeter Bass Tube Preamplifiers that give FOH a pure sound to mix in as needed. (The second Demeter unit is a backup.)
And up to the Radial JD7 Injectors are amp switchers that also help remove noise, signal loss, or hum and buzz.
Here are the two Mesa/Boogie cabs—the 8x10 on the left and the custom prototype 4x12 on the right.
Justin Chancellor's Pedalboard
This setup is either a bass player’s dream or nightmare, but for someone as adventurous as Chancellor, this is where the party starts. At a glance, you’ll notice many of his pedals are available at your favorite guitar store, including six Boss boxes, an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal, and MXR Micro Amp. Crucial foot-operated pedals are in blue with the Dunlop JCT95 Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah with a Tone Bender-style fuzz circuit (far left) and DigiTech Bass Whammy (middle). He really likes using the Tech 21 SansAmp GT2 for distortion and feedback when the Whammy is engaged or he’s playing up the neck. Covering delays are three pedals—he has the pink Providence DLY-4 Chrono Delay for “Pneuma” that is programmed to match Danny’s BPMs, which slightly increase during the song from 113 ms to 115 ms. The Boss DD-3s are set for different speeds with the one labeled “Faster” handling “The Grudge” and the other one doing more steady repeats. There’s a pair of vintage Guyatone pedals—the Guyatone VT-X Vintage Tremolo Pedal (Flip Series) and Guyatone BR2 Bottom Wah Rocker (a gift from Adam Jones). The Gamechanger Audio Plus pedal is used to freeze moments and allow Justin to grab onto feedback or play over something. The Boss GEB-7 Bass Equalizer and Pro Co Turbo Rat help reinforce his resounding, beefy backbone of bass tone. The MXR Micro Amp helps goose his grimy rumbles. The Boss LS-2 Line Selector is a one-kick escape hatch out of the complicated signal chain for parts of “Schism.” The Wal and Music Man stay in check with the TU-3S tuner, a pair of Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Pluses help bring things to life, and everything is wired up with EBS patch cables.
Shop Justin Chancellor's Rig
Music Man StingRay Special HH
Dunlop JCT95 Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah
Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
Boss BF-2 Flanger
Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble
Boss GEB-7 Bass Equalizer
ProCo Turbo Rat
Tech 21 SansAmp GT2
DigiTech Bass Whammy
MXR Micro Amp
Boss LS-2 Line Selector
Ernie Ball VP Junior 250K
Boss TU-3S Tuner
JHS Switchback A/B Effects Loop Switcher
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus
Radial JD7 Injector
These two bass overdrive and preamp pedals use Analogue Amp Recreation circuitry and an analogue cabinet-simulated DI output. Plus, Origin Effects offers the all-new Cali76 Compact Bass compressor pedal with matching finishes.
The BassRIG Super Vintage captures every nuance of the Ampeg SVT and its 8x10 speaker cabinet. Released in 1969, the SVT was the world’s first purpose-built, high-powered bass amp and it remains the first choice for the biggest names in bass guitar. The BassRIG Super Vintage boasts all the versatility of this classic stack, with deep low end, growling distortion and wide-ranging controls.
The BassRIG ’64 Black Panel harks to the mid-Sixties and pays tribute to the Showman and Bassman amps which, along with their 2x15 cabs, were relied on by everyone from Soul session players to Rock ‘n’ Roll royalty. Both pedals have distinctly different, vintage-inspired personalities but share the same forward-looking feature set. Their recreated amp circuits have all the controls you need to craft the perfect bass amp tone, while the BLEND knob adds clean signal to preserve clarity and low-end. Origin’s proprietary Amp Out EQ filter ensures compatibility with any amp and cab, while the XLR-equipped DI output’s analogue cabinet simulator provides a huge and authentic tone direct to your mixing console. The BassRIG pedals are aimed at home, studio and stage players alike.
Also, to celebrate the release of the BassRIG Super Vintage and BassRIG ’64 Black Panel, Origin Effects are now offering their Cali76 Compact Bass compressor pedal in matching Super Vintage Blue and ’64 Black Panel finishes.
BASSRIG Super Vintage & '64 Black Panel || Official Product Trailer
The Origin Effects BassRIG Super Vintage and BassRIG ’64 Black Panel are available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide. Find out more at www.origineffects.com.
Panic! At the Disco, Idles, the Sword, Torres, and more appear in this gallery of our 14 favorite boards from the last year’s worth of Rig Rundowns.
The bad news: Covid put in-person Rig Rundowns on hold till mid 2021. The good news? Zoom episodes were every bit as compelling! Here are our favorite stomp stations from the last year.
It may not look like a lot, but Panic At the Disco bassist Nicole Row (who’s also a prolific session player) says these half-dozen pedals cover all the bases for any gig, session, or audition she might find herself at.
Nicole Row's Pedalboard
For Panic’s snarling indie-rock anthems, two of her most-stomped stomps are the Aguilar Fuzzistor and Darkglass Electronics Vintage Microtubes. Meanwhile, she often stacks an EBS OctaBass with other pedals to mimic vintage synth sounds. For silkier, “underwater” sonics, she engages an EBS DPhaser, and for funkier lines she uses an MXR Bass Envelope Filter. Her go-to for sending signal to the house board is a Noble Dual Vacuum Tube Preamp/DI Box.
Rig Rundown: Nicole Row
More often than not, famed metal producer/Converge guitarist/God City Instruments proprietor Kurt Ballou’s biggest pedal need is violent distortion—but he’s got plenty of other toys, too.
Kurt Ballou's Pedalboard
Going clockwise (from top left), we have a Demedash Effects T-120 Videotape Echo (“one of the coolest analog delay pedals”—when bypassed, holding down the left footswitch engages a momentary freeze/shimmer/oscillator), then a Shift Line A+ Astronaut III Multiverb Space Unit from Russia. The red, single-knob God City Instruments design is a “mid-forward, ultimate thrashy, djenty, clanky, articulate, heavy guitar pedal,” while the God City SBD (Super Beatle Distortion) features an active mid boost in front of its fuzz circuit and gonzo bass after it. The GCI OGR (Optical Gain Reduction) is a compressor that Ballou uses on every bass track recorded at God City Studio, while the Foxrox Electronics Octron2 comes in handy for thorny solos bristling with weird overtones and elastic ghost notes. Inspired by the Rangemaster, the GCI Crimson Cock treble booster has an added range control and a switch that adds a Big Muff-style gain stage at the end of the circuit. Lastly, the GCI Ape Eye is based on a vintage API 2520 op amp, and the GCI Jugendstil is a silicon fuzz that Ballou says stands at the crossroads between ’90s British shoegaze and ’90s Swedish death metal.
Rig Rundown - Kurt Ballou
Alt-roots rocker Bones Owens’ signal first hits a Boss TU-3 tuner, then a Spaceman Saturn V Harmonic Booster, which is always on. After that, the signal zips into a Pete Cornish A/B/C amp splitter, whose A line provides rumbling bass by feeding an Electro-Harmonix Micro POG (used for octave down only), a “tall font” EHX Big Muff (rehoused by Mike Hill), and a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver/DI, which in turn feeds both Owens’ Hiwatt DR103 head and a mixing or recording console. Pre-Covid, the splitter’s B path featured one effect—an Echopark Echodriver preamp—which then fed Owens’ Echopark Vibramatic 4T5A amp, while the splitter’s C line would feature the bulk of Owens’ effects routed to a third amp.
Bones Owens' Pedalboard
However, at the time of our Rig Rundown only the Hiwatt and Echopark amps were being used—so his C-line stompboxes were also being routed to the Echopark head. These include a plethora of Cornish gear—a TB-83 Extra treble ooster, an NG-3 fuzz, an SS-3 overdrive and P-2 distortion (in the same housing), a CC-1 boost/overdrive, and an NB-3 linear boost. Other noisemakers include a silver Klon Centaur, an Endangered Audio Research AD4096 analog delay, a Skreddy Pedals Skreddy Echo, a JHS-modded Boss TR-2 Tremolo (rehoused by Barry O’Neal at XACT Tone Solutions), and a Toneczar Halophaze.
Rig Rundown - Bones Owens
Canadian slide master Ariel Posen toured and did session work with this setup for over a year before Covid shut everything down.
Ariel Posen's Pedalboard
Starting at the top left, there’s a Chase Bliss Tonal Recall, a Walrus Audio Monument, and a Chase Bliss Dark World. There’s also a Vemuram Jan Ray overdrive, a KingTone Germanium miniFUZZ, a Morningstar Engineering MC6 MIDI Controller, and a TC Electronic PolyTune3 Mini Noir.
But wait … there’s more! The top panel of Posen’s board lifts to reveal a trio of stomps—a Mythos Pedals Argonaut Mini Octave (delivering up tones), an Eventide H9, and Posen’s signature Hudson Electronics Broadcast-AP, which is always on.
Rig Rundown - Ariel Posen
My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero
During the pandemic, My Chemical Romance rhythm meister Frank Iero’s pedalboard saw a lot of change as tone hunting became a mind-saving pastime. He has some mainstays, but at the time of our Rig Rundown not much was permanent.
Frank Iero's Pedalboards
The board that was the closest thing to gig-ready had a Fender Marine Layer Reverb, a vintage Pearl CH-02 Chorus, an old Boss DM-2 Delay, an Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger, and an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail (left side). Meanwhile, the right side of the board was home to menace: a Marshall Blues Breaker, an SNK Pedals VHD distortion/preamp, a Keeley-modded Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, and a Klon Centaur. Everything was powered by a Strymon Zuma and controlled by a Carl Martin Octa-Switch MkII. His tuner was a TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini, and his volume pedal was an Ernie Ball VPJR.
Here’s his mess-around-the-house board (with a fine tribute to EVH) that has a pair of Strymons (BigSky and Volante), an Ibanez DE7 Delay/Echo, gold Klon Centaur, Fuzzlord Effects Drone Master, Bowman Audio Endeavors The Bowman (company ran by Rig Rundown alumnus and Against Me! guitarist James Bowman), and an Ernie Ball VPJR Tuner Pedal.
His recording board is made up of versatile staples including a 4-pack of Strymons (Ola, Flint, El Capistan, and Iridium), Bowman Audio Endeavors Fortune and Glory, and a Templo Devices Model 33 Supa vibrato.
Rig Rundown - My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero
In addition to vibey guitar work, Third Man Records artist Olivia Jean dedicates much of her onstage energy and focus to singing—which means keeping pedalboard tap dancing to a minimum. Even so, her streamlined stomp station serves up an enviable variety of tones.
Olivia Jean's Pedalboard
Always-on pedals include her Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail and MXR Sugar Drive, while the Third Man Bumble Fuzz gifted to her by Jack White avails stinging solo sounds (the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor is handy for reducing unwanted fuzz buzz). She’s also got a TC Helicon Mic Mechanic for vocal reverb, and a TC Electronic Wiretap for recording song ideas. Everything is powered by a T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic, and tuning is monitored with a Korg Pitchblack.
Rig Rundown - Olivia Jean
The Sword’s Kyle Shutt
Kyle Shutt’s pedal playland keeps it classic.
Kyle Shutt's Pedalboard
His pedal playland just a Dunlop Cry Baby 95Q wah, a signature Idiotbox Effects Wild Kyle distortion, an Electro-Harmonix Micro POG, an EarthQuaker Devices Levitation reverb, and a Boss TU-3 tuner. Nearly every square inch of J.D. Cronise’s flight-friendly board is filled with an effect. His guitars hit a TC Electronic PolyTune 3, then a pair of oddballs—a DigiTech Drop and an Electro-Harmonix Freeze—then basics like a Way Huge Conspiracy Theory overdrive, an EarthQuaker Devices Tone Job, MXR Phase 90 and Carbon Copy pedals, an EHX Holy Grail, and a Rocktron HUSH.
The Sword's J.D. Cronise
J.D. maximizes his flight-friendly board by filling nearly every square inch with an effect.
J.D. Cronise's Pedalboard
His guitar hits the TC Electronic PolyTune 3 before reaching a pair of necessary oddballs—the aforementioned DigiTech Drop and an Electro-Harmonix Freeze. The bottom row contains the basic food groups for most rockers: Way Huge Conspiracy Theory (drive), EarthQuaker Devices Tone Job (EQ), MXR Phase 90 (modulation), MXR Carbon Copy (delay), and EHX Holy Grail (reverb). The Rocktron HUSH pedal helps control any unwanted noises and buzzing.
Rig Rundown: The Sword 
Folk-rock activist Steve Earle’s guitar signal first hits a Boss TU-3 tuner before running into a pair of MXR Carbon Copy analog delays (one set as a 1-second delay for a pre-song rippling effect, and one for slapback) and a Fulltone Full-Drive 2 with two levels of gain. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 supplies the juice.
Steve Earle's Pedalboard
Chris Masterson's Pedalboard
The first stop on sideman Chris Masterson’s pedalboard is an Analog Man Sun Lion. From there the signal hits a Boss TU-3w Waza Craft tuner, an Origin Effects Cali76 compressor, an Analog Man King of Tone, and two Strymons—a Mobius and a TimeLine. A Strymon Zuma supplies power, while a Radial BigShot SW2 controls amp reverb and tremolo.
Rig Rundown: Steve Earle and the Dukes
Torres’s Mackenzie Scott
Little on Mackenzie Scott’s pedalboard could be described as subtle or “transparent”—even her delays and reverbs accentuate the weird.
Mackenzie Scott's Pedalboard
Filth and fury come courtesy of a Joyo Vintage Overdrive and an EarthQuaker Devices Palisades. Next is a Death By Audio Echo Dream 2 modulation/delay/boost/fuzz, which Scott says is her most-used pedal. An EarthQuaker Afterneath provides deep, ambient reverbs, which she often beefs up with faux-synth vibes from an Electro-Harmonix POG2. (Another favorite application for the POG2 is pulling its attack all the way down and dramatically gliding into the notes.) Scott uses an Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay to sprinkle in modulation, reverse delay, and compression, as well as tape-echo-like grit. The last pedal on her board is a Meris Enzo, which she half-jokingly says is equal parts inspiring and frustrating. “I have a hard time getting it under control and taming the beast, but that’s what I love about it.”
Rig Rundown: TorresMackenzie Scott (aka Torres) likes a good juxtaposition. Her music is a tightrope act between vulnerability and violence. Scott’s lyrics often reflect intros...
IDLES’ Mark Bowen
To accomplish all the fantastic and outrageous tones captured on Idles’ last two records, Bowen brings a whole cast of characters to accomplish that feat.
Mark Bowen's Pedalboards
Mark Bowen’s main board features two Death By Audio units—a Reverberation Machine and an Echo Dream 2—an Adventure Audio Dream Reaper, a pair of Moogs—an MF Delay and an MF Ring—a Death By Audio Waveformer Destroyer, an Electro-Harmonix POG2, a 4ms Pedals Mini Swash Full (which serves up fuzz, distortion, and self-oscillating LFO craziness), two Red Pandas—a Particle and a Raster—and a JHS Haunting Mids. A Boss TU-3w Waza Craft tuner keeps his guitars in check and a GigRig G3 controls preset changes.
Near his amps, Bowen has another batch of tone morphers. Up top he’s got a 4-pack of Moog Moogerfooger monsters—MF-107 FreqBox, MF-102 Ring Modulator, MF-108M Cluster Flux, and a CP-251 Control Processor—and another no-name glitch/synth device. Below those we have an Electro-Harmonix 95000 Stereo Looper, a Strymon TimeLine, an Electro-Harmonix POG2, and an Old Blood Noise Endeavors Minim (reverb/delay and reverse). Lastly, he has a Nord Electro 6D at his disposal. Everything is powered by GigRig Timelord power supplies, while two Strymon Iridiums handle cab emulations.
The last part of Bowen’s setup is this board under his keyboard/Moogerfooger workstation. Here, he has another GigRig G3 switcher, another Electro-Harmonix 95000 Stereo Looper, a GigRig Three2One (to help balance levels between instruments), and three Mission Engineering EP-1 expression pedals (controlling some of the effects in the previous photo).
IDLES' Lee Kiernan
The time spent mentioning everything Kiernan does with these pedals is better served watching the Rundown, listening to Idles’ music, or attending one of their shows. But in doing our due diligence, here are the stomps that corrupt, challenge, and ravage his tone.
Lee Kiernan Pedalboard
Lee Kiernan relies on (upper right) a Strymon Flint, a couple of Drolo Fx stomps—a Twin Peaks tremolo and a Stamme[n] looper/glitch delay/tape machine/sustainer/reverb—and a pair of Death By Audio devices—a Micro Dream delay and a Space Bender prototype. The bottom row of this board is also home to a DigiTech Whammy, an Electro-Harmonix Synth9, an Intensive Care Audio Vena Cava Filter, a Moog MF Ring, and a Boss TU-3 tuner. A GigRig ABY-Baby (top right) is used for amp switching. (The small black box labeled “in/out” was built by tech Gavin Maxwell so Kiernan could quickly test out a pedal without having to rip his setup apart.) The board on the left begins (lower middle of pic) with a Mission Engineering EP-1 expression pedal, a Boss PS-6 Harmonist, an EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter, a Death By Audio Interstellar Overdriver Deluxe, and a Death By Audio Evil Filter. The top row of this board features a quartet of EarthQuaker stomps: an Organizer polyphonic organ emulator, an Arrows preamp, a Gray Channel overdrive, and a Tone Job EQ/boost—then proceeds to a Moog MF Chorus, a Death By Audio Reverberation Machine, and a Jam Pedals TubeDreamer.