Witness how this Ecuadorian-via-Switzerland duo evokes everything that’s beautiful and bleak from the desert, using hollowbodies, a serendipitous Strymon, and rhythmic hypnosis to paint an Ennio Morricone soundscape.
When some people travel, they take photos on their phone to remember the trip. Old-soul voyagers will recount their adventures with pen and paper. But for Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez, who together make the globetrotting Ecuadorian-Swiss duo Hermanos Gutiérrez, their experiences conjure soundtracks, and a visit years ago to the American Southwest changed their sound forever.
A couple years after forming their duo, the brothers took a trip through Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. “It just blew our minds,” Estevan told PG. The desert, he says, “is where our music was born.”
“Part of what we’re doing is traveling together as brothers,” Alejandro told PG in 2022. “We go to places, we come back and we’re feeling inspired, and we feel like we’ve gotta write something about this place.”
After finding bountiful inspiration in the West, the duo began turning out mystical compositions, like sonic souvenirs and passport stamps on their consciousness. “It’s just beautiful where we can go with this music,” Alejandro said last year. “It’s just my brother and I together, and we’re so happy to have this.”
The sold-out Hermanos Gutiérrez concert at Nashville’s Basement East on June 20th marked their first time performing in Music City since recording El Bueno Y El Malo with Dan Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound in 2022. The pair invited PG’s Chris Kies onstage to decode their spellbinding cinematic sounds. The conversation touched on their symbiotic alchemy, enchanting hollowbodies, and how a single Strymon reset their slow-burn backdrop.Brought to you by D’Addario Nexxus 360 Tuner.
Like their muse the desert, the brothers’ setups are sparse. Each one totes a single hollowbody. Alejandro travels with his 1963 Silvertone 1446, which is stock except for a refret and custom-made, snake-like Bigsby arm, both done by longtime Dan Auerbach tech Dan Johnson. (You might recognize Dan from his three different Black Keys Rig Rundowns. Check out the latest one from 2019!)
Alejandro is a fingerstyle player (inspired by Estevan) and, at the suggestion of Johnson, uses Pyramid Gold Heavy (.013–.052).
For songs like “Tres Hermanos,” Alejandro gets down with this 1940s Rickenbacker Electro NS lap steel.
Estevan connected with Dan Auerbach’s 1958 Gretsch 6120 “Rudy” while tracking El Bueno Y El Malo at Easy Eye Sound last year. For road duties, he never leaves home without his own Gretsch G6120T-59 Vintage Select 1959 Chet Atkins hollowbody. Inspired by a random YouTube video of an older gentleman playing Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” Estevan built a partnership with the 6120. “I’ve tried many, many guitars, but none of them gives me the sound that is me except this Gretsch,” he says. Estevan puts D’Addario EXL 115 (.011–.049) strings on his creamy crusader.
Check out all the hip hardware substitutions and rattlesnake-approved artwork on Estevan’s 6120.
Given that Nashville and Easy Eye have become an oasis for Hermanos Gutiérrez, it makes sense they would take advantage of the studio’s library of vintage and vibey gear. For the Basement East show, Alejandro borrowed a 1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb from Easy Eye and plugged into the first input of the vibrato circuit.
Spaghetti in Stereo
When creating El Bueno Y El Malo, Estevan plugged into Auerbach’s vintage Magnatone for the whole recording process. (You can really hear the amp’s magic vibrato pulsing during the album’s opening title track.) For this show, he compromised by running his 6120 into a modern Magnatone Panoramic Stereo model.
Alejandro Gutiérrez’s Pedalboard
Alejandro packs light with a compact board that holds a MXR Dyna Comp Mini, a Boss GE-7 Equalizer, a Strymon Flint, and the influential Strymon El Capistan. While Estevan discovered the El Cap and unlocked its magic for Hermanos Gutiérrez (more on that in a second), Alejandro has molded it to his sound in different ways. “I use it as a layer,” he explains. “Really subtle. My brother uses it more as a delay. He has this horse sound, like this galloping sound he can create with his slapping, which only he can do.” A Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner keeps the Silvertone in line.
Estevan Gutiérrez’s Pedalboard
You can see that Estevan utilizes nearly every square inch of his pedalboard. Overlaps between the brothers’ boards include the MXR Dyna Comp Mini, the Strymon Flint, and the aforementioned Strymon El Capistan. You might think their setup is basic now, but they used to play sans pedals. Eventually, Estevan discovered the Strymon El Capistan, and their sound was never the same. “I remember that day,” he recounted to PG about first playing the pedal. “I fell in love. I knew it was gonna change something in our sound.” As soon as he purchased the El Capistan, he called his brother and said, “You have to buy this. This is gonna be next level for us.”
The remaining effects for Estevan include a Malekko Omicron Vibrato, a Boss RC-500 Loop Station, and a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner (off the board) keeps his Gretsch in check. Lastly, you’ll notice a G7th Performance 3 ART Capo on the pedalboard, too.
Wayback machine voyagers return with beautiful, re-energized, and super-sounding relics from the hidden corners of Orange's vaults.
A deep dive into pedal compression possibilities.
Rich, authentic, and plentiful sounds on tap. Easy to use basic functions. Deep, flexible programmability.
Getting the most from the Atlas likely requires more work than some analog purists or traditional-pedal seekers might want to put in.
Source Audio Atlas
The divide between pedal compressors and professional studio stuff has always been pretty wide. More recently, though, crafty digital builders have wrangled sound closer to studio-grade in stompboxes—Origin Effects’ Cali76 line or Strymon’s Compadre, for instance. The new Atlas Compressor from Source Audio takes that effort to new heights. It’s a simple 4-knob comp when you want it to be, or an almost limitlessly adjustable compression utility tool when you need more control. And, as we’ve experienced in many clever Source Audio releases, there’s lots more lurking behind the streamlined face of the pedal.
It’s helpful to think of the Atlas as an amalgam of guitar pedal, studio compressor, and software plug-in. And the fact that it moves between the three worlds is cool, because while you don’t have to obsessively pore over every feature and possibility to make great sounds, you can take a very deep dive into its impressive under-the-hood capabilities. Those capabilities are too extensive to cover completely here. But the ability to move between simplicity and complexity is a big part of what makes the Atlas so fun and capable.
The Atlas comes with six basic compressor modes, which you access via the 3-way toggle. Studio 76 (an 1176-style comp), optical rack (an LA-2A), and dual band are available in standard mode. Studio snap (an aggressive VCA comp emulation), cubic zirconia (a more textured LED optical compression), and dual jangle are accessed via the “alt” button. Those six modes alone provide a wealth of tone massaging options, but additional programmability extends the possibilities of those modes significantly.
The ability to move between simplicity and complexity is a big part of what makes the Atlas so fun and capable.
The Atlas comes in Source Audio’s more compact One Series enclosure, an extruded-aluminum box that measures 4.5" x 2.75" x 2"—knobs and all. The four knobs control threshold, ratio, blend, and output, but also function as gain, tone, attack, and release when you press the alt button. The same button enables the 1/8" TRS control input, which can be connected to a dual expression pedal (not included) and other features. Additionally, the footswitch can be configured for analog-buffered output or relay-based true bypass.
Inputs 1 and 2 and outputs 1 and 2 mean the Atlas can be used in true stereo with the dual comp engine set appropriately. There’s also a USB port for MIDI functionality and connection to Android and iOS devices or Source Audio’s powerful Neuro Editor, which is where the lion’s share of the pedal’s extended capabilities lie. Neuro enables detailed and comprehensive preset editing and facilitates loading sounds into the pedal itself. And the potential for control via mobile devices makes live access and on-the-fly changes possible at a gig. Have I mentioned the bass optimization mode, 128 user presets, Neuro preset sharing, and look-ahead mode? Again, there’s little room to cover those in detail here, but Atlas is rich with sounds that you’ll miss if you just plug in and play.
I tested the Atlas with a tweed Fender and Marshall-style amps as well as a Les Paul and Rickenbacker 365, and these very simple rigs yielded a dizzying number of possibilities. Fundamentally, the Atlas sounds good—as in really good. If you’ve done the rounds with all the great compressor pedals currently available and never found the example that nails the sound you’re looking for, the Atlas’ expansive, minutiae-level controllability could make it the one that does the trick. I turned most often to variations of the optical mode—perhaps because it offered a compressor template most familiar to my ears. But within just that one style of comp, the Atlas offered what felt like near-infinite adjustability—everything from singing, sustaining, squash-and-swell sounds to detailed, harmonic-rich, and muscular jangle.
Digital compression is not easy to execute at this level of detail. So, the quality and number of sounds here is genuinely impressive. The core sounds would probably fool a lot of analog studio hounds. It’s impressively quiet, too. And while the Atlas’s basic sounds are compelling, its editability and preset capabilities can lead to unexpected discoveries and cool performance possibilities. You’ll need to spend some time with the manual, but the Atlas pays major dividends to those willing to study up