The modern guitar hero dishes on her signature Ibanez YY10s, hints at their potential successors and tweaks, and reveals the ideal pedal that hasn’t landed on her board (yet).
Since we last saw Yvette Young in 2019, the guitar-playing musical illustrator has been challenged, and proven courageous.
“I went from a situation where I was afraid of one of my bandmates, and did what I needed to do to free myself from what I felt to be an emotionally, and thus creatively draining, situation,” Young revealed to PG earlier this year. She parted ways with Covet’s members during the recording sessions for the new album, Catharsis, and had the bass parts re-done by noted touring and session bassist Jon Button.
Through the writing and recording process she found personal purification. “I feel like, on Catharsis, some of the songs are a bit darker and it was definitely me having an outlet for some stuff that was painful, but a lot of it is uplifting and very happy and dance-y,” Young said. “Music is transformative. If you’re ever feeling in a bad mood, if you write music that sounds really happy, it can uplift you. Writing music that sounds like how you wish you felt can be really helpful sometimes.”
And while processing her feelings through the guitar, she became reinvigorated with the instrument and rediscovered its inherent joy.
“I really have to be my own fortress and I have to really stay in tune with what excites me,” admitted Young. “The direction I go in becomes really clear when I focus on what gives me goosebumps when I’m playing, what makes me jump up and down ’cause I’m so excited about it.”
Her charismatic, vivid guitar stories excite us, so we wanted to get the scoop on her ever-changing tools and palette. Weeks after releasing Catharsis, Yvette Young and her Covet bandmates headlined Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl. She invited PG’s Chris Kies onstage for a conversation covering her Ibanez YY10 signature models (and their potential upcoming changes), her dream pedal, and the key switches (and the alternative tones they produce) on her stomp station since the last Rundown.
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During this headlining run, Young is traveling only with a pair of her signature Ibanez Prestige Series YY10 models with three Strat-style single-coil pickups. She has another Ibanez sig, the YY20, that is in a two-pickup, T-style configuration, but she notes in the Rundown that she prefers how the YY10 reacts with overdriven tones through her pedals and AC30. For Catharsis, she locked into F–A–C–G–C–E and wanted this set to feature fewer tuning moments and a more seamless musical narrative. Both touring YY10s have alder bodies with roasted maple necks, but “Creamsicle” has a rosewood fretboard and standard Seymour Duncan SSL52 Five-Two Strat pickups.
A fun fact from our 2023 PG interview with Yvette: These signature guitars are tuned (low to high) F–A–C–G–B–E when they are shipped. “I wanted to just kind of challenge people to try it,” she said. “I’ve been talking to a bunch of students and they’re like, ‘I never tried open tunings because I’ve always been scared of tuning it to something different.’ I was like, ‘Well what if it just came that way?’”
A roasted maple neck gives “Flubber” a different vibe, and its Wilkinson single-coils have sent Young down an experimental phase; she hints at P-90s potentially showing up in a future YY model. She says that the Wilkinsons are more “pristine and clear” in comparison to the Five-Twos that break up and get gritty in a pleasing way. This sparkly 6-string is reserved for tunings she drops down to D. Both guitars take D'Addario NYXLs (.011–.056).
Yvette has plugged into the same high input of the top boost channel of this Vox AC30 for years. Her settings reveal that she still uses the amp’s reverb even though there are two reverb pedals on her board, though Young does dial out all the amp’s trem.
Young has a lot of room to soar in an instrumental trio, so she travels with a plush pedal playground. Staples still being stomped on from the 2019 Rundown include a couple EarthQuaker Devices—The Warden and Avalanche Run—a MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe, an Electronic Audio Experiments Longsword, a Caroline Guitar Company Somersault, and a Meris Mercury7. For this tour, she’s welcomed some new noisemakers aboard, including a Universal Audio Galaxy ’74 Tape Echo & Reverb, a Hologram Electronics Microcosm, a Walrus Audio Julianna, a Beetronics Fatbee, a pair of Boss boxes—a DD-3 Digital Delay and OC-5 Octave—a double dose of DigiTech—Whammy Ricochet and FreqOut—a ZVEX Mastotron, and a Ground Control Audio Noodles. A D’Addario Chromatic Pedal Tuner keeps her YY10s in check.
Thirty-one years after Gish, the Smashing Pumpkins are still exploring the architecture of sound in their often explosive and unpredictable songs. For their current Spirits on Fire Tour, Billy Corgan leads with his Reverend signatures and a few other carefully culled guitars, and Jeff Schroeder lends support with his fleet of Yamahas.
The Smashing PumpkinsSmashing Pumpkins' first two albums, Gish and Siamese Dream, were a huge part of the soundtrack for the early ’90s alternative rock revolution. Still sounding revolutionary all these years later, the band’s leader, Billy Corgan, recently brought the Smashing Pumpkins to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for the Spirits on Fire tour, on the heels of their 11th studio album, Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts.
The concept album is a sequel to the Smashing Pumpkins’ definitive three-LP masterwork Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, from 1995—which also brought them crushing into the mainstream. Acts two and three of Atum are scheduled for January and April 2023. But meanwhile, there are live shows … and all the gear it takes to recreate more than three decades years of the band’s signature sounds. PS: Special thanks to super-tech Trace Davis for his help with the fine points.
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Billy Corgan’s main guitar, tuned in standard, is his Reverend signature Z-One in midnight black, loaded with Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One neck and bridge pickups. This model is the third collaboration between Corgan and Reverend’s Joe Naylor, and Mr. C’s axe takes Ernie Ball Regular Slinkys, gauged .010–.046.
Those Pickup Covers!
Stare long enough at those pickup covers, and perhaps you’ll see the universe, putting a new spin on the old Zen koan. When Corgan wants things just a bit looser, in Eb standard tuning, he’ll reach for this Z-One sig in silver freeze. Oh! The strings? Ernie Ball Power Slinkys, .011–.048.
For a classic P-90 voice, Corgan lets the strings on this 1994 Gibson Les Paul Special sing. He keeps it tuned to C# standard and the switch has been modified (it's a secret), as has the sticker. Ernie Ball Not Even Slinkys (.012–.056) adorn this axe.
ES for Eb Standard
Another low-tuned Gibson, Corgan’s 1972 ES-335 with block inlays and a trapeze tailpiece, lives in Eb standard land and gets called out to play on the song “1979.”
The Silver Surfboard
For some mini-hum sting, Billy plays this Gibson Firebird with a Bigsby in silver finish. There are several switches in the headstock, which Corgan’s tech Davis says control the “secret sauce and voodoo magic.”
Corgan tours with two of his signature Yamaha LJ16BC acoustics—one in E and one in Eb standard. They’re medium-jumbos and all-stock, which means a spruce top, rosewood back and sides, a 5-ply mahogany and rosewood neck, and the company’s comfort traditional neck style.
Corgan tours with two identical amp rigs, with four different heads used separately for different tones, and all switched with an Ampete 444. This allows him to drive all four heads into one Laney Black Country Customs LA412 4x12 speaker cab loaded with Celestion G12H-75s. It lives in an iso box under the stage. The amps? There’s a Laney Supermod, an Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII, a Carstens Grace, and an Ebo Customs Del Rio.
Billy Corgan’s Pedalboard
Here’s what underfoot: an RJM Mastermind GT/16 MIDI controller, an MXR CAE Power System, Analog Man Beano Boost treble booster with Mullard-style transistors, a Lehle III switching and looping tool, a Tone Bender-inspired Minotaur Sonic Terrors Evil Eye MkIII fuzz, a Strymon Brigadier delay, a Behringer Octave Divider, and a Dunlop Volume (X), used as an expression pedal for the Strymon.
Jeff Schroeder plays Yamaha guitars. And he’s got four Revstars on tour. This one has an especially elegant finish. They came stocked with P-90s, but now one has Black Cat Vintage Repro Minis, another features Lollar Low Wind Imperial Humbuckers, and the one he keeps in drop D is totally stock. Schroeder goes with Ernie Ball Paradigm .009 sets for standard, .010s for Eb standard, .009s with a heavier .046 on the bottom for drop D, and .011s for C# standard.
Cutaway to the Pacifica
This Yamaha Pacifica has a scalloped fretboard and Seymour Duncan Hunter humbucking pickups in the bridge and neck, and an SSL-5 single-coil in the middle. It also features a Floyd Rose whammy upgraded with titanium parts.
For a semi-hollow, Jeff goes with his Yamaha SA2200 guitars, with Lollar Low Wind Imperial Humbuckers.
As with all his axes, his plectrum choice is Dunlop Tortex 1.14 mms, including the the just-for-fun Dunlop YJMP03YL Yngwie Malmsteen picks (yellow), but the Dunlop YJMP02RD Yngwie Malmsteen picks (red) are beefier at 2 mm.
Schroeder tours with two Revv Generator 120 MKII tube heads—big, beefy, and versatile.
Don’t Call a Cab
No big boxes for Schroeder … at least onstage. He uses a pair of Two Notes Torpedo Captor X simulators, emulating a 4x12 mic’d with a Shure SM57 and Sennheiser MD421 on Celestion V30s. As a back-up, there is a Marshall 4x12 in an isolation cabinet—with a Shure SM57—under the stage. And Jeff’s “icing on the cake”—a suggested addition from tech Trace Davis (of Voodoo Amps)—is a Retrospec Juice Box. This inconspicuous box is a transformer-less, all-tube DI that has upped his live tones to a studio quality.
His effects array has two Line 6 Helix Rack units that live in his rolling rock case.
At his feet he has a Line 6 Helix Control Foot Controller that works with an Analog Man Beano Boost, like Billy’s. These are fired up for solos. Also, Schroeder has a pair of Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) pedals (one for volume and another for pitch-shifting effect from the Helix) and a Dunlop JB95 Joe Bonamassa Signature Cry Baby wah.
These intergalactic GMO mutants honor two things: metal and cheeseburgers. See how Earthly gear guideposts Iommi and Butler influence their tasty setups.
If you were to ask my wife, “What two things sum up Chris?” … she’d likely respond with “grilled meats and heavy metal.” So, given the chance to interview the self-appointed (and unchallenged) founders of “Drive-Thru Metal” that solidified their crispy claim with classic cuts “Frying Pan,” “Sweet Beef,” and “Pair-a-Buns,” I ordered a full plate.
The thing is, you don’t just interview guitarist Slayer MacCheeze and bassist Grimalice. Not because they’re from the “bowels of outer space” and don’t speak or understand English. They converse quite well. But these seasoned freaks don’t do anything for free. Everything’s on the menu and it’s all for sale. Thankfully, minutes before doors opened at Nashville’s longstanding rock beacon, Exit/In, Mac Sabbath’s techs Bill Woodcock and Jonathan Hischke summarized their monster masters’ tangy tone tools. The flash-fried, seedy conversation quickly taps some key signature gear of another Sabbath that equally sweetens and thickens the band’s sound like a condensed and chilled milkshake. Plus, there’s a story about how one fateful Black Friday deal provided an iconic, golden-arch bass. Here’s to a fun-hearted Rundown with the Milky Way marauders that fight back against stale food and rotten riffs. And by the end, we bet you’ll be saying “I’m loving it.”
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“I don’t know much about these guitars, but legend has it, Slayer MacCheeze came through the time-space continuum with a guitar in each hand,” states MacCheeze tech Bill Woodcock. With no help from Woodcock, we can deduce this devilish doublecut has an eerie lineage descending from (or influenced by) an early 2000s Gibson Tony Iommi SG that was possibly grabbed during the first full production run of signature models for the other Sabbath’s riff lord. This cherry cruiser rides in standard tuning, and all Slayer’s beefeaters take Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinkys (.009–.042) for optimal cheese shredding.
From Parts Unknown
This blackheart has some DNA particles from the Iommisphere, but has been updated and intensified with a set of active EMGs that char MacCheeze’s sound to a well-done crisp. This is Slayer’s main C# guitar.
The Wham of That Burger Man
Slayer decided to do some covers on this run (Kiss and Motorhead), and he needed something unusual for those special songs. So, MacCheeze tricked his tech Bill to borrow the hammer of the gods of ground chuck—his Gibson Custom Shop ’64 Lonnie Mack Flying V. The whammy bar that was Mack’s signature addition to his Vs has been removed for use as a spatula.
After several tours supported by a Soldano Avenger—a 50W head featuring the heralded SLO-100 circuit—MacCheeze is plugging into this Marshall 1987X 50W plexi reissue, because the Avenger was burnt to a crisp during rehearsals. The modern plexi hits a custom 2x12 cab and a Fender 4x12 that was a cabinet for a solid-state M-80, but appears to have been customized by a stripe-shirted burger bandit who later sold it to MacCheeze.
Woodcock—not knowing how to make a Marshall melt like a Soldano or even a Laney LA100 BL—uses this JHS Little Black Amp Box to attenuate the plexi so it can sizzle like a SLO-100.
Slayer MacCheeze’s Pedalboard
The Soldano Avenger required no pedals (other than the Vox 847A Wah). However, Woodcock scrambled to build this board for big Mac. The burger man has a tray of greasy tone treats including a TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster, Ernie Ball Ambient Delay, Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face Mini, and an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. Wireless and tuning duties are covered by the Shure GLXD16 Guitar Pedal Wireless System, allowing MacCheeze to shred here, there, and everywhere.
Taste Bud Cashes In on Turkey Day
Like his guitar-playing weirdo brethren, Grimalice (an overgrown and questionable taste bud) refused to talk to PG, but we found Ampeg-hoodie-wearing grifter Jonathan Hischke nearby and convinced him to cover peculiar purple’s setup. Shady character Hischke believes Grimalice scored this unique M-style bass during a Thanksgiving Day sale at Sweetwater. It’s completely stock except for the fretboard being painted barn-red, leaving the playing surface tacky as tar. Don’t let Grimalice’s lackadaisical demeanor fool you. He likes a good tussle when tangoing with his instruments.
Did Somebody Say M?
It’d be hard for any human or alien to miss these golden arches from this solar system or beyond.
Never Say Fry
If Grimalice was from this universe, you could understand why he’d have a 4-string modeled after a ’70s custom piece used by Geezer Butler for Black Sabbath’s Top of the Pops performance of “Never Say Die.” But he’s not lord of this world nor from it, so we must assume this stripped stallion that has more definition than a Merriam-Webster Dictionary gets worked for the lower-tuned jams.
Grimalice has never met an animal he wouldn’t grill, fry, or sauté, and a bat is no exception. So flying vermin decorate his fingers’ dancefloor.
The large, lavender governor of gustation plugs his doom brooms into a Fender Bassman 100T bruiser that feeds an Acoustic B410C that seems to have come from the same sandwich-stealing gear hoarder that sold Slayer his M-80 4x12.
Putting all the toppings on his beefy bottom-end are these to-go boxes that include a DigiTech FreqOut, an Electro-Harmonix Steel Leather Bass Expander, a Doc Lloyd Photon Death Ray compressor, a Broughton Audio Always On High Pass Filter, an Aguilar Tone Hammer preamp, an EarthQuaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound, a Behringer BEQ700 Bass Graphic Equalizer, a Mantic Effects Vitriol, and a Dunlop Geezer Butler Cry Baby Bass Wah. And like MacCheeze, Grimalice employs a Shure GLXD16 Guitar Pedal Wireless System.