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
One of contemporary music’s most influential producers, songwriters, and guitarists gets his own signature Strat—with a built-in fuzz surprise.
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation(FMIC) today announces the launch of the Steve Lacy “People Pleaser” Stratocaster, a collaboration with California-born-and-raised Grammy-winning artist, guitarist, songwriter, and producer Steve Lacy. This Signature Stratocaster guitar is not only an homage to a player whose guitar-playing style is as technically proficient as it is emotionally evocative, but a celebration of Lacy’s indelible impact on culture at large. Named for his trailblazing reputation, crowd-pleasing sounds, and stage looks, the “People Pleaser” Stratocaster showcases Lacy’s evolution from a hungry musician into a chart-topping artist and guitarist.
Rising to fame in 2015 as part of the alternative R&B and soul band THE INTERNET, the singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer has established himself as one of the music industry’s foremost innovators–blurring genre lines while keeping a keen focus on expressive musicianship. Since his earliest days, Lacy has collaborated with notable artists such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Solange, and Vampire Weekend, and has made a name for himself in the couture world when he walked the runway for high-end fashion houses including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Lacy’s first chart-topping solo hit, “Bad Habit,” was released in 2022 as the lead single from his Grammy-winning second studio album Gemini Rights. Now, marking the next milestone of his career, Lacy’s signature Fender Stratocaster combines his stylish swagger and undeniable musicality, celebrating a career built on subverting expectations and inspiring a new generation to challenge conformity and establish a sonic palette entirely their own.
“This guitar means so much to me. It’s a full-circle moment. My first guitar was a Squier Strat. It was the box set that came with an amp, case, quarter inch-the whole 9. Now I have my very own FenderStratocaster guitar,” said Steve Lacy. “The People Pleaser Strat, in a nutshell, is my dream guitar as a kid when I first started playing and my dream guitar as the guitarist I am today. An ode to the old classic design that Fender is known for with all the new specs that make a guitar feel like home. I hope everyone gets to experience the feeling of this guitar. I’m excited to see what people make with it.“
The “People Pleaser” Stratocaster is designed with a keen focus on innovation and disruption. Lacy’s playing is rooted in robust melody and razor-sharp technicality, but his chord changes and lead playing never conform to any tropes or norms. Thanks to the People Pleaser’s broad tonal range and clear, crisp sound, guitarists everywhere can tap into that same boundless creative space that has made Lacy the eminent artist he is today. The soul of the instrument is its magical combination of Player Plus Noiseless pickups and onboard custom-voiced Fuzz circuit, which can create classic dirty tones ranging from overdrive to all-out fuzz. Raw and gritty with heavy distortion and rich harmonics, the custom-voiced Steve Lacy Chaos Fuzz circuit is both aggressive and expressive with sparking crystal-clear high ends, throaty mids, and taut deep lows. Whether you are seeking to emulate Lacy’s warm, oaky timbres and smooth chords or conjure your own personal chaos with the expressive Fuzz circuit, The Steve Lacy “People Pleaser” Stratocaster keeps your guitar at the forefront of the music-making process.
Finished in a brand-new “Chaos Burst” finish that Steve dreamed up, the unique colorway is an embodiment of the guitarist’s extraordinary tones. Modeled after Steve’s favorite vintage Fender®guitars, the “People Pleaser” Stratocaster®features hallmark Fender design elements from its alder body and synchronized-tremolo to capture the ineffable magic of a well-worn instrument, though it’s also loaded with modernized features players seek to create their own singular sound. Giving the instrument a distinctly personal feel, the custom neck plate is stamped with Steve’s original artwork and the backplate has a unique blue and green checkered pattern, which ties the vibrant model together. Finally, a custom dice inlay provides a subtle, visual motif to denote Steve’s signature touch. Ahead of its official debut, eagle-eyed fans even caught a glimpse of the signature guitar during his recent SNL and Grammys performances, as well as on stage at his latest tour.
Learn more here.
England’s foremost volume dealers resurrect four U.K.-made stomps that inspired players from Johnny Greenwood to John Mayer.
The sound of the 1962 ‘Bluesbreaker’ amplifier became a legend, with the smooth tone, rich warmth and full character that gave guitarists more expression than ever before. The original Bluesbreaker pedal took this and put it in a stompbox. Today, this reissue accurately delivers the timeless tones and style once again. It captures the magic of those classic vintage amps with added sweetness, crispness and extra edge to carry solos and squeeze out those vital harmonics.
The Drivemaster is based on the original Guv’nor but takes things a stage further with a new tone and drive network. It’s three band tone network acts as if adding an extra amp to your set up, with real Marshall tone and overdrive. The iconic look has also been accurately recreated, right down to the finish of the control knobs and unique shape. There’s plenty of reasons the first edition is so heavily sought after today. This reissue takes everything that made the original so special and replicates it for today’s player.
Released in 1988, the Guv'nor set the bar for future generations of distortion pedals. This reissue faithfully recreates the classic sound of The Guv’nor, providing a smooth overdriven sound with a touch of compression. The pedal is housed in a casing that is accurately modelled on the original, from the unique shape right down to the individually coloured control knobs. All that’s missing are the stories collected over 30+ years of use, but that’s where you come in.
The original Shredmaster was our first ever high-gain pedal and has become synonymous with game-changing music throughout the 90s and beyond. The ultimate care has been taken to ensure that this reissue accurately recreates that iconic Shredmaster sound. The pedal casing is accurately modelled on the bespoke design of the original. The gold Shredmaster name, embossed Marshall logo and the heavy-duty casing are all right here, exactly as you’d expect.