Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Rig Rundown: Derek Wells

Rig Rundown: Derek Wells

PG’s John Bohlinger joins Derek Wells in the studio to check out the decorated Nashville hit-maker’s recording rig, which includes a custom-built pedalboard and a six-pack of tube amps.

It might actually be easier to list the artists Derek Wells hasn’t worked with, than the ones with whom he has.

The Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist and producer has lent a hand to more than 100 number one singles over the years, with household staples like Kenny Chesney, Maren Morris, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, even Shakira. He’s also piled up production credits with artists like Hardy, Lainey Wilson, Maddie & Tae, and Scotty McCreery, and over the years he’s collected a flashy mantle’s-worth of awards: the Academy of Country Music named Wells their Guitar Player of the Year two times, and he was MusicRow’s 2022 Guitarist of the Year.

Wells invited PG’s John Bohlinger to the studio to run down his main recording rig.

Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.

Make It Rain

“The Money Maker” is Wells’ 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG with original PAF pickups.

Twang Town

Wells’ 1953 Fender Telecaster features a Fralin neck pickup and a Fender lap steel pickup in the bridge.

Golden Hour

This 2008 goldtop Gibson Les Paul also sports a Fralin in the neck position, while a vintage PAF pickup holds down the bridge.

Atkins Diet

Wells’ sharp 2003 Gretsch 6120 runs TV Jones FilterTron pickups.

Red Rider

This bloody good 2000s Danelectro Baritone has been upgraded with custom saddles and bridge from Jeff Senn.

Black Cat

Last but not least, Wells’ 2000s Duesenberg Double Cat is dressed up with an Asher Double Palm Bender.

The Magnificent Six

When Wells goes into a studio session, he doesn’t travel light. This time, he’s brought six trusty friends with him: a Supro Black Magick head, a 1960 Fender Tweed Deluxe, a ’67 50-watt Marshall Plexi, a Matchless HC-30 from 1996, a 1961 white knob Fender Bassman, and a quirky custom amp titled The Knob.

This heavy-hitting tonal bullpen runs through either a Matchless 1x12 or a Bogner 4x12.

Drowned In Tape

Wells’ amp rack houses a gorgeous old Roland Chorus Echo RE-501, while the rest of his effects are on his pedalboard built by Nashville’s XAct Tone Solutions (XTS).

XTS Ecstasy

XTS constructed Wells’ do-it-all-and-then-some board utilizing a Gig Rig G3 Switching System. Right now, the stomp headquarters includes a Line 6 M9, Strymon’s Mobius and Timeline, a Mission Engineering Expressionator, Electro-Harmonix’s Micro Synth, a MXR Bass Compressor, and doubles of the Boss GE-7 Equalizer (which have both been modded by XTS). Wells gets his dirt from an Ibanez MT10 Mostortion, a REVV Shawn Tubbs Tilt Overdrive, XTS’ own Winford Drive, and Xotic’s RC Booster. A modded Digitech XP series pedal, a Boss FV-500H, and a Dunlop DVP3 round out the collection.

Full Slash Interview
Full Slash Interview on New Blues Album, S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival, Guitar Gear, Pedal Steel & More

The guitar icon shares what went into making his chart-topping blues album and what gear fans can expect to see at the S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Blues Festival tour.

This 1968 Epiphone Al Caiola Standard came stocked with P-90s and a 5-switch Tone Expressor system.

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

The session ace’s signature model offers a wide range of tones at the flip of a switch … or five.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. Not long ago, I came home late from a band rehearsal, still overly excited about the new songs we played. I got myself a coffee (I know, it's a crazy procedure to calm down) and turned on the TV. I ended up with an old Bonanza episode from the ’60s, the mother of all Western TV series. Hearing the theme after a long time instantly reminded me of the great Al Caiola, who is the prolific session guitarist who plays on the song. With him in mind, I looked up the ’60s Epiphone “Al Caiola” model and decided I want to talk about the Epiphone/Gibson Tone Expressor system that was used in this guitar.

Read MoreShow less

Slinky playability, snappy sounds, and elegant, comfortable proportions distinguish an affordable 0-bodied flattop.

Satisfying, slinky playability. Nice string-to-string balance. Beautiful, comfortable proportions.

Cocobolo-patterned HPL back looks plasticky.


Martin 0-X2E


Embracing the idea of an acoustic flattop made with anything other than wood can, understandably, be tricky stuff. There’s a lot of precedent for excellent-sounding acoustics built with alternative materials, though. Carbon-fiber flattops can sound amazing and I’ve been hooked by the sound and playability of Ovation and Adamas instruments many times.

Read MoreShow less

The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

Read MoreShow less