Efficient, economical, and exacting are the key features that allow these pop-rockers’ finely-tuned setups to pump out buoyant ballads and bangers.
“‘Stumbled into guitar’ is a good way of putting our start with the instrument. [Spencer Stewart] and I formed the band in 2015 and that’s when I got my first electric guitar,” admits The Band CAMINO’s vocalist and guitarist Jeffery Jordan.
That sort of sideways T-bone collision into guitardom allows this pop-minded duo to avoid typical tonal tropes like worrying about tubes versus modeling, or imports versus custom. Their focus was and continues to be translating their danceable melodies into guitar-driven rompers and producing the best live show possible.
“We definitely enjoyed a pedalboard-and-amp-era of the band, but the tech has come so far and we’re able to eliminate so much room for error and potential inconsistencies, allowing for a freer performance,” adds Jordan.
As we quickly found out in our Rundown with Jordan and Stewart, the band’s approach favors execution over exhibitionism.In mid-September, just before the band commenced their headlining Screaming in the Dark tour, in support of the just-released The Dark album, co-frontmen and dueling guitarists Jeffery Jordan and Spencer Stewart invited PG’s Chris Kies to rehearsal for a gear talk. The main chauffeurs of CAMINO explained how grabbing guitar later in life allowed them to avoid a lot of gear gossip and find tonal solutions that enrich their performances. Plus, they both discuss the stable of studs from Fender, Gibson, and Epiphone that give bounce and beauty to their merging of indie-rock and electropop.
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A Flashy Fender
Jeffery Jordan’s first electric was a Strat. He’s long enjoyed the Fender side of things, and one of his main rides for the upcoming tour would be this MIM Fender Telecaster. Two things to note on this T would be its glow-in-the-dark paint job and the addition of the EverTune bridge, making this not only an onstage stunner but a locked-damn hammer always ready to smash. Both Jordan and Stewart exclusively use D’Addario NYXL1052 Light Top/Heavy Bottom strings (.010–.052) on their electrics. They’re normally in standard tuning, but they do explore open-D for a few songs.
This Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster joins the party if the Tele can’t dance. It comes stock with a set of EMG 60/81 pickups, but Jordan swapped in a couple of Lace Sensors. The bridge is the gold version that offers a classic ’50s Style single-coil sound while the neck Lace is a silver model giving Jordan a fat, ’70s single-coil sound with increased output and more midrange. Again, an EverTune bridge has been added for tuning stability.
For the first time, Jordan will be hitting the road with a Gibson. Three songs are allocated to this regal raptor—a Custom Shop Firebird Custom, decked out with a mahogany body laced with multi-ply binding, elegant gold hardware, and a set of 498T/490R humbuckers.
The subtler side of The Band CAMINO is handled by this Gibson J-45 Standard finished in a smoldering tobacco burst. It runs through their Neural DSP Quad Cortex thanks to the included L.R. Baggs VTC electronics.
Dancing in the Dark
Spencer Stewart joined the electric guitar cult in 2015 when forming the Band CAMINO with Jeffery Jordan. He started the band’s existence with a Strat before being seduced by a Gibson Lzzy Hale Explorer. Ever since he’s been cruising and bruising with ’buckers, but one of his current main rides revs and roars with Fishman Fluence pickups. He prefers to record with these guitars because the Fluences are so dynamic and versatile. Originally finished in a stealth black, Stewart jazzed them up with glow-in-the-dark paint and blacklight speckles that make them both dazzle onstage. The red one takes lead, while the blue one hangs in the second position.
Any songs in open-D are reserved for Stewart’s Firebird Studio ’70s Tribute, still rocking its stock mini-humbuckers. He loves its tone and the added bonus of it being a light-feathered bird.
During a quick stop at a morning radio show in L.A., the band left their acoustics in the rental vehicle. When they returned from the brief session, the unattended acoustics were gone. Stewart lost an Epiphone Masterbilt and Jordan was out a Fender flattop. Before an in-store performance and album signing at Nashville’s beloved Grimey’s, Gibson offered Stewart a chance to check out this Gibson Hummingbird Studio Rosewood. Needless to say, he’s not giving it back nor letting it out of his sight.
The Same But Not
A recent venture into a Nashville Guitar Center yielded a déjà vu moment when Stewart saw this Epiphone Masterbuilt DR-500RNS—very similar to the aforementioned looted acoustic. He took it as a sign, and plunked down the plastic to be reconnected with an old friend.
With less than 10 years under their belt as electric guitarists and growing up with tech, Jeffery and Spencer don’t have a lot of the mental pitfalls more veteran players fall into when thinking about live guitar tones. For these two, it’s all about the precision, practicality, and polished sounds they can achieve for a maximum performance that connects directly with the audience. The one-stop solution for those needs is this rolling buffet that starts with Neural DSP Quad Cortex units. Every moment of their show is programmed in these tablet-sized titans. The other hardware in their rack includes Shure PSM 1000s (in-ear monitors), Shure P10T-G10 Dual Wireless Transmitters, Shure ULXD4D Dual Channel Digital Wireless Receivers, Radial Gold Digger 4 Channel Mic Selectors, Sennheiser AC3200-II Active High Power Broadband antennas, Focusrite RedNet A16R MkII 16x16 Analog Dante Interfaces, Ferrofish A32 Pro Dante Multi-Format Converters, Midas XL48 Preamps, and Universal Audio Apollo X6 Thunderbolt Interfaces. This setup can either pilot a moon mission or make for a smooth, flawless rock show.
Originally salvaged from a clearance sale in Hong Kong in ’96, this ’50s foto flame Tele has gone through a series of mods over the past few decades.
Name: Steve Kellett
Hometown: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Guitar: Made-in-Japsn Japan Telecaster
Here’s the tale of my Fender Made-in-Japan Telecaster: I bought this guitar in 1996 in Hong Kong from the Tom Lee Music Annual Warehouse Clearance Sale. I didn’t hear about the sale until the last day, so by the time I rocked up to the rented factory unit in the depths of Mong Kok, where they were holding the sale, there were only two guitars left: a wrecked, cheap acoustic and a made-in-Japan export model foto flame ’50s Telecaster.
As you can see from Photo 2, the guitar originally had a cherry sunburst finish on the body, but as it dated from ’94 and was one of the first-run foto flames, it had a plain maple V-shaped neck and maple fretboard with vintage-sized frets.
Originally, it had the low-end export electronics: bar-magnet pickups and dime-sized pots. I played it like this for two or three years, and then I got the itch to upgrade the pickups. So, I found a Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup and a ’52 Fender reissue neck pickup, which I fitted.
Shortly after that, the tone pot disintegrated, so I bought a set of U.S. CTS pots and fitted those. This involved reaming out the holes in the control plate to accommodate the slightly larger pot shafts. To do this, I used a round file and elbow grease. About this time, I also acquired a set of brass bridge saddles to replace the original steel ones. The Telecaster Discussion Page Reissue online guitar forum has a lot to answer for.
Fast forward to about 2010, and the foto flame did what foto flame does: it started to crack. As you can see in Photo 2, it got pretty bad. I tried to address it using superglue, but that just made matters worse.
A couple of months ago, I had just had a local luthier do some repair work on a late ’60s Antoria Soundmaster. When he’d completed that, I asked if he could take the Tele and use veneer to properly achieve the effect that the foto flame had originally achieved. Well, he couldn’t find any decent figured maple veneer locally, but instead we selected some figured movingui and a tobacco sunburst finish base. Photo 1 shows the final result.
While he was at it, he also replaced the neck pickup cover with an open-topped cover exposing the polepieces, and a 4-way switch, giving series and parallel options for the pickup combination. We figured that the original white pickguard wouldn’t look that great with the new finish, so I picked up both black and faux tortoise-shell guards from Musiclily, and after the refinish, we figured that the black guard looked the best. The finished guitar can be seen in Photo 1. What can I say? It is like having a new guitar.
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Stuart Duncan, Viktor Krauss, and JD McPherson from the Raise the Roof touring band raise the curtain on their road gear.
Fourteen years after their Grammy-winning debut, Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss followed up with Raise the Roof—which was nominated for three more Grammys. Now on tour, the duo also has a new band that includes bassist Viktor Krauss, guitarist JD McPherson, and utility player Stuart Duncan. But before they hit the road, Krause, Duncan, and McPherson—and their techs Paul Ackling and Kevin Devogel— invited the PG team to a rehearsal at Soundcheck Nashville for a look behind the gear curtain. Here’s a sampling of what our team of John Bohlinger, Chris Kies, and Perry Bean saw. Watch the Rundown for the whole picture.
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This Fender Squier Telecaster—property of Stuart Duncan—has a palm bender for a steel-like effect, and wears Ernie Ball M Steel 2915s, gauged .010–.052.
Duncan’s vintage Silvertone is strung with Ernie Ball Power Slinky nickelwound 2220 strings, gauged .011–.048.
Stuart’s Yamaha Guitalele uses Ernie Ball Ernesto Palla 2403 classical-style guitar strings. Also in his acoustic line-up is a Gibson J-45 and a Martin D-28, which both take Ernie Ball Earthwood phosphor bronze strings.
This Gibson long-neck banjo uses Ernie Ball 5-string Banjo Frailing strings gauged at .010–.024, with loop ends.
Duncan’s Gold Tone Paul Beard Signature Series Resonator wears Ernie Ball bronze-alloy Earthwood light acoustic strings.
“Little” Amp, Big Sound
Duncan tours with a Little Walter 50 tube amp and a matched 2x12.
Stuart Duncan's Pedalboard
This comparatively stripped board does the job for Duncan. It’s got two Boss TU-3 tuners, an IndyGuitarist Effects custom OD, a Carl Martin TremO’vibe, and a Benado multi-effects with a Steel-Verb, Echo-Zen delay, and NutraDrive OD.
Victor Krauss has a distinctive sonic setup, since he covers both bass and guitar in the band. One of his main instruments is this 1967 Galanti Grand Prix.
All of Krauss’ electrics, gets pumped into an Orange OR50.
And a Yamaha RA-200R rotating speaker cabinet driven by a Groove Tubes GT Trio preamp.
Here’s Krauss’ stock 1964 Gibson SG Standard.
He also plays a high-mileage 1961 Gibson Les Paul—a double-cutaway from the era before this body design became tagged as the SG.
This ’60s Vox Octave 12—a short-scale instrument also called a mando-guitar—has been modified to a 6 string.
Among his other vintage instruments is a 1957 Danelectro UB-2 6-string bass that’s still stock.
One of the few new axes in his arsenal is this 2022 Gretsch Duane Eddy Bass VI.
For acoustic, Kraus chases two options: this 1943 Gibson LG-2.
And the other is a velvety 1953 Martin 0-18.
Viktor Krauss' Pedalboard
From his hands and instruments’ strings, the signal goes to a Boss TU-3W tuner, an Xotic EP Booster, a Guyatone ST2 compressor, another EP Booster, a Boss LS-2 Line Selector (with a send/return to an EHX Pitch Fork and a Danelectro Back Talk), a Nobles ODR-1, a Mostortion MT10, a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, a Klon KTR, a Game Changer Audio Plus Sustain (controlling a Boss RE-2 Space Echo), a Fulltone Supa-Trem2, a Strymon Volante, a Hologram Microcosm Granular Looper & Glitch pedal, a Line 6 DL4 MkII delay, a Strymon blueSky, and an Ernie Ball volume pedal for the Yamaha RA-200R, another Strymon blueSky, and a Demeter VTDB-2B Tube DI for the Danelectro.
This Fender Jazzmaster features some custom work by guitar maker TK Smith and the Fender Custom Shop. All JD’s guitars are strung with D’Addarios.
This Supro Dual Tone stays dropped down a half-step.
This custom TK Smith 6-string has long been one of McPherson’s favorites. Groove on those pickup covers and that whammy bar!
The Rest of the Best
The remaining gunslingers in McPherson's holster including a Fender Custom Shop Tele, a Gretsch G6134T-58 Vintage Select '58 Penguin with Bigsby, and a pair of TK Smith creations (right side)
McPherson plays through a Fender tweed Pro-Amp reissue and a ’68 Vibrolux, while a Texotica Presidio 15 hangs in as a backup, but gets used as his main sound source when he does his own opening set.
JD McPherson's Pedalboard
McPherson runs his guitars into a D’Addario tuner. From there, the signal hits an Echoplex preamp, a Fender ’65 Deluxe pedal, a Crowther Hot Cake, a Way Huge Havelina Fuzz, a Tsakalis AudioWorks Six, an MXR Tremolo, a Fender MTG Tube tremolo, an Echoplex delay, an EHX Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai, and a Dr. Scientist Reverberator and Reverberato—all into a Live Wire Solutions ABY box leading to JD’s amps.