Since the early ’70s, the guitar legend has trusted his 1960 “Hitmaker” Strat to turn out chart-toppers that have changed the course of music history and shaped cultures around the world. We explore its unusual origins and DNA as well as uncover some ordinary tools making extraordinary grooves.
Guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers has received virtually every significant honorific that exists for musical achievement. He’s a hall-of-famer twice over, having been inducted to both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s won six Grammys, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award.
The accolades hardly begin to capture how monumentally important and influential Rodgers’ music career has been. Since beginning with his disco-funk-rock fusion outfit Chic in 1972, Rodgers has been pioneering musical language that, among other things, sparked the advent of hip-hop. He’s also the producer who introduced the world to Stevie Ray Vaughan via Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”Rodgers invited John Bohlinger and the PG team to the Chic show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where they met with his trusty tech Gert Marckx. Marckx took us through Rodgers’ streamlined touring rig, capped off with Rodgers’ holy grail guitar—the instrument that’s at least partially responsible for the sale of half a billion records around the world.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
Need To Make a Hit? Get a Hitmaker
Rodgers’ primary guitar since the ’70s is a 1960 Fender Stratocaster called “The Hitmaker.” We probably don’t need to spell out what it does.
Rodgers acquired the “The Hitmaker” when Chic was just starting out through a fateful trade at a guitar shop in Miami Beach. It features a 1959 neck paired with a 1960 alder body that’s just a touch smaller and more contoured than your average vintage Strat, and shortly after he got it, Rodgers refinished it in white as a tribute to Hendrix. (As you can tell, it's been a while since that initial refinish.) The custom ’59-profile one-piece maple neck has a 9.5” radius fingerboard, and medium jumbo frets.
Up Close with the Hitmaker
Here's some detailed shots of the 1960 Strat that's made the world shake their moneymakers.
Marckx keeps “The Hitmaker” strung with nickel wound D’Addario NYXL .009-.042 Super Lights, and Rodgers prefers D’Addario Duralin Standard Super Light Gauge .50mm picks.
Chip Off the Old Block
Rodgers tours with a backup guitar just in case the original “Hitmaker” should need some time off, but it’ll look pretty familiar.
His number two is his Fender artist model, the Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster. It sports the same appointments as its predecessor: a Slim Alder body with special contours, a ’59-profile one-piece maple neck with a 9.5” radius fingerboard, medium jumbo frets and a satin finish.Rodgers keeps his factory standard, with Fender’s own Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Single-Coil Strat Pickups, hard-tail bridge, and locking tuners. And like the original, junior here stays strung with D’Addario NYXL .009-.042 Super Lights.
On stage, Rodgers has two Fender Hot Rod Deville 410s behind him. Only one is in use at a time; the other is a backup.
Nile Rodgers' Pedalboard
Rodgers doesn’t drown his sound in effects, but he maintains a simple, sophisticated signal chain into his Hot Rod Deville. He uses a Pedaltrain Classic 2, loaded up with an Eventide PowerMax Power Supply. The Eventide feeds a Korg Pitchblack PB01 Chromatic Tuner, a Boss DD3 Digital Delay, an Ibanez CS9 Chorus, a Mad Professor “Snow White” AutoWah, an Ibanez TS808 “40th Anniversary” Tube Screamer, and a Jam Pedals “Wahcko” Wah Pedal. The stompboxes are all wired together with Reference Laboratory RIC-01 cabling.
Guitarists from around the globe give us tours of their stomping grounds.
Aldo Rossi: Peruvian Pedalboard
Peruvian picker Aldo Rossi shares his six-pedal setup. First up is a Boss Blues Driver BD-2. (“I like tone at 9 and full gain,” says Aldo. “It really gets a nice, fat, fuzzy sound.) Next come a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, DigiTech Whammy Pedal, Boss DD-6 Digital Delay, Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, and a handmade fuzz. “I have to admit the fuzz alone doesn’t get too crazy,” confides Aldo. “But when I play it with the BD-2, it gives a hell of a sound!
Ready for some self-inflicted pedal envy? Just check out the extraordinary setups from some of our fellow players. These recent submissions include a crafty “skateboard,” a fuzz “smorgasboard,” and submissions from a few players who may have gone “overboard.” (Puns intended.)
Pedal lust has no end—these pedalboard pics keep rolling in, and there are plenty more where these came from. Check out other reader boards at premierguitar.com.
New models include the Nano+, the three-model Metro Series, the three-model Novo Series, the refined Classic Series and its new large-format flagship pedal board, Terra 42.
Nashville, TN (January 16, 2015) -- Pedaltrain, the world’s most popular pedal board brand, has reinvented its product line for 2015 and beyond. In a private meeting with some of Nashville’s top professional guitarists and bassists, the company revealed its new product range to resounding applause.
New models include the Nano+, the three-model Metro Series, the three-model Novo Series, the refined Classic Series and its new large-format flagship pedal board, Terra 42. All will be released in early Spring 2015.
“We are true pedal-junkies,” says Pedaltrain President John Chandler, “we are deeply invested in our community and the needs of musicians who trust Pedaltrain to support, enable and protect their valuable gear. Our commitment is demonstrated in what we believe are absolutely the best Pedaltrains we’ve ever made.”
Pedaltrain highlighted unique design improvements like its new modified rail system, which improves the stability of smaller-sized pedals. The company also demonstrated its portable grab-and-go Metro series and the true-bypass-switching-friendly Novo Series.
The company’s vastly improved soft cases and new strength-weight optimized tour cases were a big hit, especially when it was revealed it’s new professional-grade cases now weigh up to 35% less than previous models.
“We enjoy a close relationship with our customers - from the touring professional to the student jamming in a garage band,” says Chandler. “Our new products incorporate their valuable feedback; each new model meets specific player needs. Only Pedaltrain has this deep domain expertise.”
For more information: