The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner explains why his first-ever guitar is still his main one, and we get a detailed look at the four-amp, four-pedalboard rig he uses live.
Premier Guitar's Rebecca Dirks is on location in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she catches up with Yeah Yeah Yeahs' guitarist Nick Zinner and his tech Jesse Quitslund.
Zinner’s main guitar (which he uses 60-70 percent of the show) is also his first guitar: an ’80s Japanese Strat he received in a trade for some comic books at age 14. The guitar was originally designed as a shred machine, but the locking nut screws have been removed, as well as the tremolo bar (though Zinner still uses the trem with his palm). Sometime during his youth, the neck pickup was also swapped (the new model is unknown). The guitar carries stickers—and battle scars—from Nick’s entire life as a musician.
He’s also playing one of Johnny Marr’s signature Jaguars, gifted to him by Marr himself, as well as a 1960s Fender Jaguar that he uses for songs with lighter guitar parts. The Jaguars are recent acquisitions, inspired by his favorite guitar player Rowland S. Howard. Also on the road is his second custom First Act semi-hollowbody with two Kent Armstrong vintage-style humbuckers, Bigsby, and built-in fuzz (deactivated), used for songs that require a “thicker, rockier sound.”
He uses four amps: the pictured Fender Deluxe 2x12 (set brighter) and Fender Deville 4x10 (set darker) combine for his main guitar sound, with an Ampeg combo behind them to enhance his low-end. The sideways Fender Twin Reverb (far left) amplifies his Zoom RhythmTrak RT-123 drum machine, which he’s used for years. The drum machine goes through a Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive. Atop the Twin Reverb is a Roland RE-201 Space Echo, which he just uses as another gain stage—the tape is broken.
Zinner uses his vast array of effects to achieve the band’s recorded sounds through samples and looping, as well as compensate for the lack of a full-time bass player with a broader tonal spectrum. His main board (far right) is home to a DigiTech JamMan, Line 6 MM4, ProCo DeuceTone RAT (his primary fuzz tones), Boss DD-7, HBE Power Screamer, and Electro-Harmonix Graphic Fuzz. To the left of that, his second board has a DigiTech Whammy, another DigiTech Jam Man, a Line 6 DL4, Electro-Harmonix POG, and TC Electronic Flashback Delay. His third board contains a second Line 6 DL4, and three Eventide pedals: TimeFactor, PitchFactor, and Space. Finally, by his amps, is a fourth board with two more sample-loaded DigiTech JamMan pedals. Before his signal goes into his amps, it hits a TC Electronic Classic Booster + Distortion.