The modern Southern rockers recently played Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and guitarists Charlie Starr and Paul Jackson displayed a bevy of gear every bit as hardworking as these road dogs.
Right now, they’re in Europe, but Atlanta-based rockers with a distinctly Southern musical accent, Blackberry Smoke, smoked Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for two nights in February before jumping the pond.
Their latest album, You Hear Georgia, was produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville, and hit the top of the Billboard Americana/Folk chart when it was released in mid-2021. PG’s John Bohlinger caught up with guitarists Charlie Starr and Paul Jackson before their sold-out show at the Ryman to run down their ever-expanding universe of gear.
Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.
Battered, Not Fried
This 1956 Gibson Les Paul Junior was professionally refinished in the ’70s, but Charlie Starr has put some serious miles on this one-pickup wonder. The battered badass with a dog ear P-90 and all his electrics are strung with D’Addario XL Nickel Wound strings, .010–.046. He uses InTuneGP Heavy picks and a ceramic Charlie Starr Signature Osanippa Creek Slide.
Like Ernest Tubb and other guitarists from the classic annals of entertainment, Starr has a greeting on the back of his ’56 Junior for the fans.
For some semi-hollow tone and feel, Starr goes with his stock 1964 Gibson ES-335 in Cherry Red with a Bigsby. The guitar belonged to a friend’s grandfather, and when Starr acquired it, he says, “It had gouges at the C, G, and D,” positioning his hand over the open chord shapes. He had it re-fretted by Stan Williams in Georgia, who told Starr, “This guitar looks like it's been sitting outside in a barn since 1964. And I don't know how the dude was able to get a bird to shit inside that f-hole.”
Starr maintains that this 1965 Fender Esquire in factory black, like his other single pickup guitars, sounds larger than most as there are less magnets interfering with the string vibration. He adds, “I’m told that it’s a physics thing. And I’m a physicist, so I subscribe to that theory.”
The Rest of the Best
Here are the Starr's other main stage rides (clockwise from the top left): a 1956 Gibson Les Paul Jr., a 1963 Fender Esquire, a Fender American Nashville B-Bender Telecaster, and a 1964 Gibson SG Jr..
“This is on all the time,” Starr says of his Echopark Vibramatic 23, which he pairs with a tall cab. “It's basically a tweed Deluxe, and it adds that 6V6 creamy sweetness all the time.” The maker of Blackberry Smoke’s 50-watt Germino heads, Greg Germino, personally recommended this Germino Lead 55LV (left) to Starr, and is paired with a 4x12 cab. And the other Germino is a Master Model 50.
Charlie Starr's Pedalboard
Starr’s pedalboard features a Cry Baby Wah, a PCE-FX Aluminum Falcon Klon clone, an Analog Man Sun Face, Chase Tone Secret Preamp—“a preamp that accidentally made everyone’s signal a little sweeter,”—Wampler Faux Tape Echo, Fulltone Supa-Trem, DryBell Vibe Machine, Analog Man-modded MXR Phase 45, and a Polytune 3. XTS XAct Tone Solutions supplies the juice. Starr tapes a few of the pedals’ knobs to make sure his settings don’t go missing in action.
Paul Jackson's Ol’ Reliable
Paul Jackson’s number one is his 1979 Les Paul, which has been modded with a Seymour Duncan ’59 neck pickup and a Pearly Gates bridge pickup. He says he got it at a Guitar Center in Atlanta about 18 years ago—it also sports Dickey Betts’ autograph. Jackson strings this and all his electrics with D’Addario .010-.046s.
This black Gibson SG Standard—one of Jackson’s pair of SGs—was a gift from Frank Hannon of the band Tesla, who signed the back of it.
Keep It Together
Jackson’s Martin D-28 currently has gaffer tape holding down its binding.
The other three touring staples for Jackson include a 1978 ES-335, a 40th Anniversary Les Paul Ebony 1991, and a 1998 Gibson SG Les Paul Custom Shop Historic.
De-Modded For Classic Tones
One of the two amps Jackson tours with is a pre-’85 Marshall JCM800 50-watt with a stock 4x12 cab. You’ll see it has a sticker that says “Paul Jackson Mod”—he had it modded at one point, but later took it to Andrews Amp Lab in Atlanta to have them “turn it back into a Marshall.” Along with the Marshall, Jackson’s Vox AC30 is on “all the time.”
Paul Jackson's Pedalboard
Jackson and Starr’s pedalboards have more than a few things in common—Jackson’s also equips his with a Cry Baby Wah, Wampler Faux Tape Echo, and a PCE-FX Aluminum Falcon Klon clone—although Jackson’s is an Aluminum Falcon III. Other pedals on his board include a Radial Twin-City ABY Amp Switcher, JHS 3 Series Reverb, MXR EVH Phase 90, Way Huge Overrated Special Overdrive, and an Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer. Power comes from a Truetone power supply. Of the EVH Phaser, Jackson says, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, hit the phase pedal. nobody will ever know.”
DryBell Musical Electronic Laboratory Announces the Unit67
A tone shaper that includes a boost, Rangemaster-like mid control, and an 1176-style compressor.
Krapina, Croatia (November 16, 2018) -- DryBell is pleased to announce their latest product: Unit67.
The Unit67 is a fully analog device that has a highly versatile EQ set including a Rangemaster-like mid control, a boost, and an 1176-style compressor all in one extremely practical compact guitar pedal. It is a versatile multi-functional tone shaping tool which will improve almost every tone to the next, harmonically rich level. Also, you can experience a feel like you’re playing through loud or overdriven amp but on lower volume. Amazing!
The Range (Master) control will help you cut through the mix and will enrich your tone with the glorious sparkle often associated with the old classic Rangemaster. In situations when you’re using darker toned amps or guitar pickups, “The Range” will always add a harmonically rich sparkle to your tone.
Combined with a touch of sustain and boosted just enough to give you that tone, “The Range” will give some serious bite to your sound which is another way to push you through the mix while playing lead.
It features 3 different type of effects combined together:
- Boost - The gain of the boost stage is 22,4dB (with the EQ turned off)
- Compressor – The low noise FET compressor stage is inspired by the legendary UREI 1176 studio compressor
- EQ - The EQ section contains 3 controls: range, low, and high
Standard power supply: 9-18V, 100mA
DryBell Unit67 is available for $289.
Watch the company's video demo:
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DryBell Announces the Vibe Machine V-2
The latest version features three "set and forget" controls.
Krapina, Croatia (January 12, 2017) -- DryBell is pleased to announce the latest evolution of their highly praised modern classic: The Vibe Machine V-2.
The Vibe Machine series is the worldâ€™s first smallest vibe pedal, produces classic, analog Uni-vibe sounds.
The Vibe Machine V-2 features the same optical system as the V-1, they can sound similar or very different from each other, depending on how you set the versatile custom sound options (side controls) which are useful for matching your V-2 with different gear.
It features three new "set and forget" side controls:
- Chorus (adjusts the 'chewiness' and depth of vibe modulation)
- Grit (overall presence of the V-2)
- Custom (adjusts the input impedance)
Each of these controls can help you achieve that classic deep throbbing pulsating sound which can be adapted to any type of gear you use.
Besides that, the new Vibe Machine V-2 has a several new functions that are controllable with an expression pedal or with the new DryBell F-1L Footswitch:
- Cancel function (gives you the specific sounding bypass tone of the original Uni-Vibe)
- Tap tempo feature
- Fast/Slow with adjustable Leslie ramp delay (not only on/off like on the V-1)
- Two speed function (user defined speed settings)
- Different footswitch type compatibility
- Expression pedal pot taper adjustment
The Vibe Machine V-2 requires standard 9V, 170mA power supply.
DryBell Vibe Machine V-2 is available for $298.75. Optional F-1L Footswitch retails for $33.00. All products can be purchased directly from the DryBell web shop or from selected dealers featured on dealers page.
Watch the company's video demo:
For more information: