friedman amplification

Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher (guitar), Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brann Dailor (drums/vocals), and Brent Hinds (lead guitar).

Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

With a gripping new album and a new direction in their music, the band continues to raise the stakes for what it means to be one of America’s most feverishly creative—and unreservedly beloved—heavy-rock guitar duos.

It’s a chilly night in late November, and the line for ticket holders has snaked all the way around the block. “Wow, that’s what I call dedication!” yells a passerby, marveling at the size of the crowd. Strict COVID protocols are causing delays at the doors to New York City’s sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom, but no one here seems to mind. After all, it’s been more than two years since the four prog-metal horsemen of Mastodon last descended on Gotham. What’s another half-hour in the cold, especially when the payoff is a sweat-soaked live set packed with brand new songs and some of the band’s most feral old-school headbangers?

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The Swedish prog-metal sorcerers dish on their longstanding PRS ties and uncover why they traded traditional tube amps for swappable high-gain Synergy modules.

Holding down lead guitar duties in Opeth since 2007, Fredrik Åkesson knows his way around the fretboard. And before the band’s first Ryman performance, the self-admitted “gear dork” shows off the cavalcade of PRS 6-strings he and singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt use onstage, explains the band’s move from tube heads to miniature modules designed by Dave Friedman and Steve Vai, and demos the core colors of his live tone.

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Rick Beato gets the string-gauge experiment started with a Les Paul Standard running through a Marshall JCM2000.

...There's a lot more to it than whether Billy Gibbons or SRV was "right."

Greetings, tone hounds! I'd like to discuss two terrific YouTube videos Rick Beato and Rhett Shull recently made regarding string gauges. In Rick's video, a group of players recorded themselves playing the same Les Paul and Marshall JCM2000 setup with the only variable being four different gauged sets: .011, .010, .009, and .008. Both videos reveal the differences in tone between different gauges, and I'd like to expand on this by adding a few observations I've discovered over the years.

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