Rig Rundown: Thunderpussy's Whitney Petty
The guitarist of Mike McCready’s favorite new band uses a straightforward setup that proves a swaggering, punk attitude and greasy rock ’n’ roll isn't just a man’s game.
After talking about federal court battles and copyright protection, PG’s Chris Kies turns the conversation with Thunderpussy’s sole guitarist Whitney “Shreddy” Petty back to gear where she explains how Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready gifted her a Custom Shop Les Paul in the men’s room of the Showbox in Seattle. The interview at Nashville’s High Watt then details how Whitney turned McCready onto a new amp company, and lastly, she puts on her’59 Les Paul reissue to show the increasing levels of filth on her pedalboard and how she cascades them into prime grime.
Building a grassroots buzz for over five years and being based out of the Seattle area, Thunderpussy quickly earned the fast friendship of Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. The PJ cofounder has been a mentor to Whitney Petty, signed them to his Stardog Records, and laid down some guitar tracks on songs “Velvet Noose” and “The Cloud.” While recording the song “Velvet Noose,” McCready let Whitney use his stock 1959 burst (among other dream-list guitars during tracking). After Thunderpussy opened for his UFO cover band Flight to Mars at Seattle’s Showbox Theater, McCready had Whitney follow him into the men’s room and gifted her this Gibson Custom Mike McCready ’59 Les Paul. Ever since that fateful restroom rendezvous it’s been her No. 1. The guitar is mostly stock to the scan of Mike’s OG ’59, although during a concert-ending-jam Whitney was embracing the feedback of the instrument and let it drop to the floor resulting in a headstock snap. Luckily, she knew Mike Lull and he hooked her up with some neck surgery and gave the Les Paul a clean bill of health.
“Shreddy” Petty’s first electric guitar was a red Strat that her dad bought her for Christmas and is called “Old Reliable.” While hitting the road hard over the last few years, it’s proven to be more of a home guitar and she’s upgraded to this Fender American Original ’50s Stratocaster. She is not partial to any brand of strings (although she wasn’t a big fan of the .009s on this Strat), she prefers to play .010s in a heavy-bottom/light-top configuration.
Another fan of Thunderpussy is amp builder Derek Springer who is behind Rola Amplification and Union Jack Audio. Springer approached Whitney about building her a custom, handwired amp and the result is this one loosely based on two popular circuits (with a switch between them)—a JTM and plexi.
On most nights, Petty will go with a stereo setup, but before the Nashville gig her Marshall Club and Country died so her Radial BigShot ABY was just running her signal through the Rola. (Typically, she runs the effects through both amps.) Her pedalboard currently is home to a Roland Double Beat AD-50 Fuzz Wah, Electro-Harmonix Black Finger, ProCo Rat, MXR Phase 90, an Xotic EP Booster, and a pair of EarthQuaker stomps—an Afterneath and a Disaster Transport SR. A TC Electronic PolyTune2 Mini keeps everything in check.