Pro Pedalboards 2023
Here are 16 of our favorite stomp stations from the past year, including Chris Shiflett, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Holt, J Mascis, the Aristocrats’ Bryan Beller, Wolf Van Halen, Shinedown, and more.
The Aristocrats’ Bryan Beller
Photo by Manuela HäuBler
Starting at top right, Bryan Beller’s board has a pair of Xotic EP Boosters to bring up the output of his two passive instruments to match his Lull bass. Next comes a Demeter COMP-1 Opto Compulator that’s always on, followed by a TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, Boss CE-2B Bass Chorus, Boss DD-3 Digital Delay, and a TC Electronic Flashback Delay/Looper. Moving to the bottom left, there’s a Boss OC-2 Octave and an Xotic Bass BB Preamp (Beller’s main overdrive). The Darkglass Electronics Vintage Microtubes and MXR M109S Six Band EQ are used for a beefier, RAT-like sound. Then there’s an EHX Micro POG set to an octave up and an old DigiTech X-Series Bass Driver that pushes the BB Preamp and runs into the Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah pedal (white), giving vocal-like sweeps more definition. Beller also has a Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) Volume and Expression pedal and a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner. Beller has incorporated the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI controller into his rig so he can provide some “low-rent Geddy Lee” moments in the set via a Roland JV-1010 64-Voice Synth Module.
Beller has incorporated the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI controller into his rig so he can provide some “low-rent Geddy Lee” moments in the set via a Roland JV-1010 64-Voice Synth Module.
Using the Raven Labs MDB-1 Mixer/Direct Box/Buffer for his pedals and running the Roland JV-1010 into his amps allows Beller to employ both his bass and the synth module at the same time.
Rig Rundown: The Aristocrats' Guthrie Govan & Bryan Beller 
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff and Jaime Hanna
Jeff Hanna, who co-founded the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966, runs his acoustic guitars through a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI and a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner. The electric side of his board includes another Boss TU-3, a Paul Cochrane Tim V3 Overdrive, a Keeley Katana Clean Boost, a J. Rockett GTO, a Keeley-modded Boss TR-2 Tremolo, and a Keeley Mag Echo.
His son Jaime combines acoustic and electric pedals on one board. The acoustic side features a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI, Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, and a Radial JDI direct box as a back-up. For electric, there’s an Ernie Ball volume pedal that feeds a TC Electronic tuner. The main out hits a Mesa/Boogie Stowaway Class-A Input Buffer, a Keeley Compressor, a Paul Cochrane Tim Overdrive, a J. Rockett Archer, an MXR Super Badass Distortion, a Boss GE-7 Equalizer modded by Nashville’s XTS, and a Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler Multi-Effects pedal. A Truetone 1 SPOT PRO CS12 provides the juice.
Rig Rundown: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff and Jaime Hanna
Tetrarch’s Diamond Rowe
Photo by Amy Harris
Shredder Diamond Rowe keeps things succinct. Her stage setup features an always-on Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer and a DigiTech Whammy for pure fun and note obliterating. A pair of utilitarian Boss stomps—an NS-2 Noise Suppressor and TU-3 Chromatic Tuner—keep her strings clean and accurate. There’s also a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power ISO-5 and Ground Control Pro MIDI Foot Controller.
In a separate rack, Rowe hides her “freak tone” patch. There lurks a Boss RV-6 Reverb, Boss DD-7 Digital Delay, Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble, and a MXR Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato, plus a pair of tucked-away MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delays. The rack toys are fired by a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.
Rig Rundown: Tetrarch's Diamond Rowe & Josh Fore
Roots powerhouse MarcusKing runs his guitar’s cable into a Dunlop Volume (X) 8. Then his signal hits a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, an MXR Booster, an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, a Tru-Fi Two Face Fuzz, MXR Micro Chorus, Dunlop Rotovibe Chorus/Vibrato, MXR Phase 100, Tru-Fi Ultra Tremolo, Dunlop Echoplex Delay, MXR Reverb, and a Radial Shotgun signal splitter and buffer. Juice? That’s via a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 3 Plus.
Marcus King's Pedalboard
Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett
The mega-rockers’ Chris Shiflett starts his pedalboard with an EHX Micro POG, followed by a JHS Muffuletta, an MXR Flanger and EVH Phase 90, an EHX Holy Grail reverb, a Strymon Deco, and a Klon KTR. The next row sports a Boss CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus, a couple of Strymon TimeLines (one for each amp), and down below is a trio of Xotics—an EP Booster, SP Compressor, and an XW-1 Wah. Utilitarian boxes include a Lehle Little Dual II Amp Switcher, a Palmer PLI-05 Line Isolation Box, a Boss FS-5L Foot Switch (to toggle between clean and dirty on his Friedman Brown Eye), and a TC Electronic PolyTune.
Chris Shiflett's Pedalboard
Mammoth WVH's Wolf Van Halen
Wolf Van Halen brought every EVH pedal (aside from the 5150 Overdrive) for his band’s 2022 tour. The Dunlop EVH95 Cry Baby Wah gets a workout for the solo of “You’ll Be the One.” The MXR EVH 5150 Chorus and the MXR EVH Phase 90 have become interchangeable for him. The MXR EVH117 Flanger gets sprinkled in, and for the solo on “Distance,” he always uses the Boss DD-3 Digital Delay and the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath. An acoustic DI and tuner consume the rest of the real estate.
Wolf Van Halen's PedalboardFull Rig Rundown: https://bit.ly/MammothWVHRRSubscribe to PG's Channel: http://bit.ly/SubscribePGYouTubeMammoth WVH's leader details and demos the series of ...
Mammoth WVH’s Ronnie Ficarro
Ronnie Ficarro’s bass stomp station hosts a trio of EVH-inspired pedals: an MXR EVH 5150 Chorus, a MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive, and the MXR EVH Phase 90—plus an EHX Pitch Fork for approximating the low B roar that Wolf recorded on the song “Epiphany.” The nondescript silver box is a channel switcher for his Fender Super Bassman, and a Peterson StroboStomp HD does the tuning.
Rig Rundown: Mammoth WVH
El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn
As half of this bass and drums duo, Kristian Dunn used to use three pedalboards, crouching down and manipulating settings all night. Today, he depends primarily on a Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler, although it’s two Boomerang III Phrase Samplers that make an El Ten Eleven show happen. In line, they’re separated by the DigiTech Bass Whammy. Dunn routes his signal this way so he can use the Whammy to shift octaves or keys on entire loops in Phrase Sampler one. The second Phrase Sampler, after the Whammy, allows him to pitch-shift specific loops without impacting the whole song or other loops. The Strymon TimeLine conjures precise repeats and specific delay settings not in the M9. The EHX Superego Synth Engine is a secret weapon, for reverse-sound passages. When he holds down the freeze function and plays the next note, it’s not audible until he releases the switch, and then the ongoing audible note blends into the second note. Cool, right? The remaining two pedals are a Nu-X NFB-2 Lacerate FET Boost and a Marshall GV-2 Guv’nor Plus. His tuner: a Boss TU-3 Chromatic. A Custom Audio Electronics RS-T MIDI Foot Controller makes Dunn’s scene changes easier, talking with the M9 and Strymon to alleviate some tap dancing.
Rig Rundown: El Ten Eleven's Kristian Dunn
Shinedown’s Zach Myers
For the Shinedown guitarist, everything starts at the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx IIIs—a main and a backup. There are four channels of Shure UR4D+ wireless units (three for electric and one for acoustic). An AES digital out runs to an Antelope Audio Trinity Master Clock and Antelope Audio 10MX Rubidium Atomic Clock. This helps fatten the fully stereo, digital rig by converting it to analog. After that, IRs off the Axe-Fx (left and right) channel into a pair of Neve DIs that then feed a Fryette G-2502-S Two/Fifty/Two Stereo Power Amplifier. (There’s another for backup.) And finally, parallel signals go to two ISO cabs and two Universal Audio OX Amp Top Box reactive load boxes. Altogether, there are eight channels of guitar.
While tech Drew Foppe handles the racks, Zach still has some control at his toes via a Dunlop MC404 CAE Wah, DigiTech Whammy 5, Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal, and the Fractal Audio FC-6 Foot Controller. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus gives life to these pedals.
Rig Rundown: Shinedown's Zach Myers & Eric Bass 
Shinedown's Eric Bass
Eric Bass’ Prestige basses hit the Shure UR4D+ wireless units (similar to Myers, he has three channels for electric and a channel for acoustic), then a Neve DI, and then a Radial JX44 signal manager that feeds into an Ampeg SVT-7 Pro for clean tone (with an extra for backup).
His onstage pedalboard includes a Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah, a DigiTech Bass Whammy, and an MXR M299 Carbon Copy Mini Analog Delay. The ‘Gas’ switch engages a Mojotone Deacon, and a Radial SGI-44 1-channel Studio Guitar Interface connects with his rackmount JX44, while a Boss TU-3W Waza Craft Chromatic Tuner and Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus complete the lineup.
Photo by John VandeMergel
Blueser Hannah Wicklund’s pedalboard is stacked for bruising. Once the signal gets past her MXR Talk Box and Dunlop JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby, it hits the channel switch for her Orange head. That stays in overdrive mode for about 75 percent of her set, which she says gives her sound its grizzly-bear lows. Next up is a classic—a Boss BD-2 Blues Driver. But this one has a Keeley mod that opens up the low end and keeps mids and highs better defined. The BD-2 gets some atmospheric help via a Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay, and the J. Rockett Archer also pairs with the BD-2. There’s an MXR Micro Flanger and an EHX Nano POG, a T. Rex Room-Mate Tube Reverb (on a hall setting), and a Peterson StroboStomp HD, plus an MXR Carbon Copy and a Keeley Rotten Apple OpAmp Fuzz.
Rig Rundown: Hannah Wicklund
Code Orange’s Reba Meyers
Reba Meyers’ tone starts with her signature ESP LTD RM-600 guitar and her 5150 head, but from there her sound is processed via a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx III run through the effects loop of her amp and used to coordinate channel switching. Meyers notes that for some songs she uses it only as a gate, while for others she adds in precise modulation, delay, reverbs, and “noise.” The rest of the rack features a Two-Notes Torpedo Captor X that she uses for cab sims and sending a pure, direct signal to FOH so they can mix that with the SM57 mic on the 4x12s. A Shure GLXD4 Wireless unit keeps her untethered and a RJM Mini Amp Gizmo uses MIDI to switch the amp via the Axe-Fx III.
Her actual board has two always-on pedals: the ISP Decimator II Noise Reduction and the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. They’re joined by a Moog MF Ring Mod, a Boss PS-6 Harmonist, an AMT Electronics WH-1 Japanese Girl Optical Wah, and an Universal Audio Astra Modulation Machine. Everything is controlled by the RJM Mastermind PBC/10.
Reba Meyers' Pedalboard [Code Orange]
For his 2022 tour, Joe Bonamassa kept his pedalboard stocked with a Way Huge Smalls Overrated Special Overdrive, a Tone Mechanics/Racksystems Loop Box, a Tone Mechanics/Racksystems Splitter, a Fulltone Supa-Trem, a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, a Boss DD-2 Digital Delay, an MXR Micro Flanger, an Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, an EHX Micro POG, a Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face, a Lehle A/B/C Switcher, a Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Signature Cry Baby Wah in Pelham blue, and an on/off/fast/slow dual switch for his Mesa/Boogie Revolver rotating speaker cabinet. Juice came from a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.
Joe Bonamassa's "Boomer" Pedalboard
Exodus’ Gary Holt
Thrash-metallurgist Gary Holt trusts most of his switching to his tech, Steve Brogdon, who triggers everything with a rack-mounted Voodoo Lab GCX Guitar Audio Switcher that coordinates with a Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro MIDI Foot Controller. The pedals in Brogdon’s care include a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive, Pro Tone Pedals Gary Holt Signature Mid Boost, Maxon OD-9, MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, Maxon FL-9 Flanger, TC Electronic Corona Chorus, Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and a Darta Effects Bonded by Delay. A BBE Supa-Charger provides juice.
Holt still stomps these boxes himself: a Does It Doom Doomsaw, Mooer Tender Octaver, Mooer Green Mile, and a Dunlop JC95SE Jerry Cantrell Special Edition Crybaby Wah. A Shure GLXD16 Digital Wireless Guitar Pedal System lets him rock untethered.
Rig Rundown: Exodus' Gary Holt 
Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis
For at least 10-plus years, J Mascis has used a Bob Bradshaw-built Custom Audio Electronics switcher as his mission control. His longtime stomps include a Tone Bender MkI/Rangemaster-clone combo pedal made by Built to Spill’s Jim Roth (bottom right corner), Mascis’ first EHX Ram’s Head Big Muff Pi (top right), a vintage EHX Deluxe Electric Mistress, an MC-FX clone of a Univox Super Fuzz (lower right, blue box), a pair of ZVEX pedals—a Double Rock (two Box of Rock stomps in one) and a Lo-Fi Loop Junky (both bottom left), a Tube Works Real Tube Overdrive, a Moog Minifooger MF Delay, and a Boss TU-3S Tuner. His recently added pedals are a Homebrew Electronics Germania 44 Treble Booster (lower right), a JAM Pedals RetroVibe MkII, an Xotic SL Drive, a Suhr Jack Rabbit Tremolo, a Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler fuzz, an EHX Oceans 11, and a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix ’69 Psych Series Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato. Everything receives juice from an MXR MC403 Power System or an MXR M237 DC Brick.
J Mascis' Dinosaur Jr. Pedalboard
Session guitarist/demo guy extraordinaire (and PG Tone Tips columnist) Pete Thorn joins us to discuss the latest gear from Ernie Ball, Alexander Pedals, Waterloo, Sound City, and more.
Signal to Noise: In the Beginning
Can a lawn-mower flywheel lead to a “horrendous and beautiful” guitar sound?
From the age of 5, I'd begun taking things apart—toys in particular. For as long as I can remember, I've had an unyielding drive to learn how things worked. How my parents dealt with this was to either threaten never to buy another toy or, later, by offering more complex toys along with a stern warning that if it got taken apart, I had better figure out how to put it back together. What came of that was a developing gift for not only putting things back together, but to ensure that one couldn't tell I'd ever had them apart. Such was the intellectual battle in our house between young adults learning to be parents, and a kid struggling to outwit them.
One great respite from this tug-o'-war was spending two weeks every summer with my grandparents on their farm in rural Washington state. In a small familial community of Italian immigrant homesteaders, there were two ways of handling broken-down cars and appliances: Fix 'em yourself or put 'em out to pasture. For a super-curious kid with plenty of time on his hands, watching the grown-ups apply their dogged determination to eke out another season of utility from a lawn mower or chainsaw was a revelation. Grown-ups took things apart and put them back together, too! But what was, for me, merely a gnawing curiosity was, for them, perhaps having extra money in the savings jar for the electric bill.
One day I watched as Grampa Joe and Uncle John pulled apart a lawn mower engine to change the points and adjust the spark plug gap. I was consumed. If there was one thing you learned in an environment like this, it was how many barns in a half-mile radius housed a sidelined power mower. I remember lying awake most of that night waiting for the rooster to call out the sunrise, and soon I was off searching out an abandoned mower to play mechanic on. I struck pay dirt in Uncle John's barn, and in no time, I was hard at work—and a bit nervous. Could a lone 9-year-old kid with only rusty tools and zero experience replicate what two adults had accomplished the previous day?
I soon ran into my first major obstacle. Joe had rented a wheel-puller the day before to get that flywheel off. I'd never seen a wheel-puller before that, let alone a flywheel, but I understood the concept. The rented tool had been returned, so I made do by splitting a small block of wood into two doorstop-shaped pieces and gently inserting them under opposite sides of the flywheel. By carefully tapping alternate sides, I gradually lifted the flywheel off the main shaft, and soon I was filing the corroded ignition points and spark plug using Grandma Letizia's nail file. I had no way to gap the plug, so I had to wing it, tapping it with a rock to close the gap, and prying it open with a screwdriver until I thought it looked about right. Satisfied, I put the whole thing back together, poured in some fresh gasoline from a jug in the back of Letizia's Model T and gave the cord a yank. You can't imagine my surprise when that thing roared to life, and I just could not believe my luck.
Letizia had a garden around back of the house, and John's house was right next door, so I mowed a small patch of lawn near the garden to make sure everyone heard the noise of the newly revived mower. Sure enough, they all came out to see what was up. Uncle John was the first to ask me how I got that thing running. “I just did what you and Grandpa did yesterday." Uncle John's face went from surprise to a big, broad smile. He then reached into his pocket, pulled out a $5 bill and held it out to me. “No thanks," I said. “I don't want money." “Well, what do you want?" asked Grampa Joe. “I want that Philco radio in the spare bedroom."
I'd been eyeing that imposing 1936 floor-model radio for over a week. Grandma said it didn't work, and that's all anyone knew. Now it belonged to me and I immediately plugged it in and turned it on. It stood silent for a few minutes and then gradually a hum emerged from the large 13" electromagnetic speaker. Just a low insistent hum. No other sound, and no determined adults around to bail me out. Still, I was fascinated with that beast and I got permission to take it back home with me when my folks came to pick me up.
Within a couple of years, I was learning about electronics, reading library books, and making regular weekend bus trips to First Avenue—skid row—in downtown Seattle to visit a funky little surplus electronics store called Standard Radio. The place was dingy, with row after row of bins full of familiar and unfamiliar bits of mostly obsolete electronic parts and tangled cloth-covered wire that smelled of burnt varnish and decomposing wax. After a number of visits, the owner, a self-proclaimed “First Avenue Philosopher" gradually warmed up to the precocious kid with endless questions.
Over time, things my Standard Radio sage taught me began to mesh with the stuff I'd been reading at the library. On one of these visits, I took the plunge and bought a power supply I'd become fascinated with. It had a large power transformer, a big Coke-bottle-shaped rectifier tube, a couple of cylindrical metal capacitors, and a thing that I later learned was called a choke. I had purchased a voltmeter that I built from a kit, so I had a real piece of test equipment and just as the label on my new gadget said, this power supply was reading 450 volts! My folks never had a clue what I was up to. It all seemed harmless and only elicited the occasional “be careful" from Mom. Interestingly, the parts in that power supply closely resembled some of the parts in my prized Philco radio, and I began to realize I might actually have a shot at getting it to work.
From what I learned messing with that power supply, I replaced the filter cap and brought the Philco back to life. And the funny thing is, now that I knew a bit about what was going on in there, it started to lose its mystical hold on me. I guess I felt I'd conquered it. And then right about that time, something else happened: the Beatles. In an instant, my whole world changed.
I'd always been musically inclined, and music was omnipresent around our house, but this was something altogether new and exciting. It just obliterated everything else. My older brother and I started a band. We played local dances and people our age came over to play, and the neighbors were getting pissed off. From then on, I knew what I was going to do with my life.
Over time, however, the electronics bug reappeared, and I'd saved up enough money to buy a hi-fi amp kit. It started with a stereo preamp. I needed to save up for the power amp, and I was building speaker enclosures for my dream stereo system in wood shop at school. About that time, my brother got a Fender Concert amp for his birthday. It was big. And loud. It looked professional. And it was off limits.I was still the kid bro who took things apart and this amp wasn't going to be anyone's guinea pig.
Curious thing about that Concert: It had two big tubes in it with 6L6 printed on them, and they looked a lot like two of the tubes in the Philco, which had a pair of tubes labeled 6V6. By then I had learned that the first number designated the tube's filament voltage, and a trip to the library confirmed that the 6V6 was a lower-powered cousin of the 6L6. I was convinced the Philco housed a super power-amp stage behind that Clark Kent exterior, and I was determined to find out.
The Concert amp had the newer “miniature" preamp tubes in it, but I had learned that they were mostly modernized versions of those big Philco tubes, so I went about trying to determine which one was the preamp stage for the power amp. I didn't know what a phase inverter was yet, but I knew you needed the little tubes to boost the signal up enough to push the big ones. And I knew what a grid was. I also learned that touching some of the circuit parts gave you one hell of a shock, while others just made the amp give off a buzzing sound—a clue that noise was being amplified. For those of you wondering if I was ever going to get around to the point of this column, well, here's your first clue.
Without the benefit of a schematic diagram, which I had recently learned how to read (I was 12 at about this time), I had divined the input tube on the Philco power amp. Not only that, but its grid was conveniently located on top of the bottle. The number on the tube was 6K5. I know this because I still have that radio, and it still has the RCA plug I installed on it to use as an external input jack.
What happened next was as life changing as the first British Invasion. I plugged my stereo preamp into the Philco power amp, put an album on the turntable, and out came a loud, distorted, one-channel rendition of whatever that album was. What changed my life was not listening to the record, but the realization that I was just a short hop away from turning this contraption into a bona fide guitar amp. And that I did (Photo 1).
Fate had made our basement a rehearsal room and there were plenty of football practice sessions to keep my brother occupied after school. This afforded me the time to spirit his guitar up to my room and plug into the auxiliary input of my preamp. I flicked on the power switch, turned the volume all the way up, and there it was: a fearsome howling noise that was at once horrendous and beautiful. That feedback, crackling, and heinous speaker overload opened the door to a whole new universe for a musically inclined electronics nerd to explore.
About that time Jimi Hendrix had burst onto the scene, and the sound of that first album put the noise emanating from my Philco amp into sharp perspective. Later, Chicago Transit Authority was released, and the liner notes described the Bogen preamp-driven rig Terry Kath used to create the screaming sonic fury that was “Free Form Guitar." I couldn't believe the coincidence of these events, given the trajectory of my recent discoveries.
Something was pulling on me, and I was all in….
Welcome to my new column, Signal to Noise. My name is Steven Fryette. I took you on this long, convoluted introduction to illustrate, as best I can, where I came from, how I got here, and maybe attempt to explain why I can't imagine following a different path than the one I'm on today. This is where I live and where I belong. I hope you'll enjoy seeing this column unfold as much as I enjoy exploring the phenomenon of turning a small signal from the strings under your fingers into the glorious wall of harmonics that make up the beautiful noise of our lives.