See how this badass Texan uses her signature Epiphone Sheratons to create pop-music earworms that get wrapped in barbed wire thanks to a “patent-pending,” 3-pedal-combination trademark.
Emily Wolfe doesn’t play guitar. She bends it to her will. Like a bronco buster taming a stallion, she saddles up on her signature Sheratons and lets it rip. Much of the magic felt and heard on her self-titled debut was pure adrenaline hitting your speaker. Her second album, 2021’s Outlier, incorporated Wolfe’s love of Motown grooves and modern-pop stickiness, both of which refreshed her songwriting with backdrops of more polished, waxy tones, but tumbleweed oscillation, helicopter, square-wave chops, and barbed-wire fuzz are still howls welcomed in this Wolfe pack.
“When I go up there, something could hit me at any point—an emotion that I felt 10 years ago could come out in a bend on the low E. There’s so much rawness [to classic rock]; the edges are not perfect, but there’s a magic in that,” Wolfe told PG in 2021.
But how do you marry earworm poppiness with a gunslinger’s approach to guitar?
“Some of my rock friends say, ‘Pop isn’t relevant,’ and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about—it’s everywhere!’ It’s so sticky for people, and that’s really fascinating to me. I want my music to have that quality … but also the realness of a raw guitar tone. [With Outlier] I wanted to make something that would be classic 10, 20, 30 years from now,” she explained in our profile. “That was the goal, and I think we achieved it.”Before Wolfe’s headlining show at Nashville’s Blue Room (located inside the Third Man Records compound), PG’s Chris Kies joined the shredding songwriter onstage to talk shop. The resulting conversation covers the development behind her Epiphone Sheraton, how a boring night in Cleveland spent with her “Chex-mix-crushing, brother-in-tone” bass player Evan Nicholson convinced her to play a doubleneck guitar, and we discover what three pedals work together to make what she describes as “the sound that belongs to me.”
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Emily Wolfe’s first “real” guitar was an Epiphone Sheraton. (She really wanted a Gibson ES-355 like blues hero B.B. King, but Wolfe was just a strapped college student.) That first experience with a semi-hollowbody guitar had a seminal influence on her guitar-playing journey, contributing to her singular sound. “Every decision I made with my gear was as a result of building my tone around that first Sheraton.” Now honored with a signature Epiphone Sheraton of her own, the Stealth is a modern take on John Lee Hooker’s longtime favored ride. It has a layered maple body with a mahogany neck, signature bolt inlays, a Tune-o-matic bridge, CTS pots, two volume controls and one tone control, and Epiphone’s Alnico Classic PRO pickups. She discreetly put her John Hancock on the back of the headstock. She uses Ernie Ball Slinky Cobalt strings (.010–.046) and strikes them with Dunlop Tortex Jazz III .88 mm picks. This one stays in either standard or drop-D tunings.
The White Wolfe
The “White Walker” edition of Emily’s signature Stealth features all the same specs of the black model aside from the aged bone white finish. This one does take a custom set of Slinkys (.012–.060) and holds a Wolfe-tweaked open-C tuning (C–G–C–E–A–D).
How does a boring night in a Cleveland hotel lead to Wolfe owning a doubleneck Epiphone? Well, her bass player (and best friend) Evan Nicholson wondered if Wolfe had ever tried a doubleneck guitar. She said ‘no,’ and so started the quest to prove that women can rock a pair of necks, too! She acquired this Epiphone G-1275 and uses it mainly for her cover of T. Rex’s “The Slider” by using the lower 6-string (in drop-C) for the rhythm parts and the 12-string for the song’s solo. The two necks tuned separately allow her to put both guitar parts under her hands with one guitar.
Dancing with the DeVille
Saying an amp has “no character” might be seen as negative by some, but Wolfe prefers the “middle-of-the-road” base tone in this Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410 III. It packs plenty of volume, and Wolfe adds, “I get to pick what character I want with my pedals.”
Emily Wolfe's Pedalboard
“If I get a new piece of gear, I have to figure out every single part of it before I can really use it,” Wolfe confessed to PG while talking about Outlier. That sensible curiosity has led her to dialing in precise parameters on the pedals and creating colossal combos with singular Wolfe gain staging. Her silver bullet is the EarthQuaker Devices Tentacle analog octave-up pedal, running into a Fulltone OCD, and an MXR Six Band EQ. She claimed to PG, “That’s the sound that belongs to me.” The sequence creates a “crazy fuzztone” from the overdrive. Then she uses the EQ to reduce some of the lows and boost the mids for a sound she says will get her guitar to cut through any mix.
Other spices in the rack include an Analogman King of Tone, an EarthQuaker Devices Dirt Transmitter fuzz, an Ibanez Analog Delay Mini, an Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe, a Walrus Audio Julia chorus/vibrato, and a Strymon Flint. The Empress Buffer puts the Delay Mini and Flint outside the RJM Mastermind PBC’s control.
But Wait... There's More!
Underneath the hood, Wolfe has tucked in a pair of MXR M109S Six Band EQ pedals (one hitting the King of Tone and the other hitting the OCD), an Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, an EarthQuaker Devices Tentacle analog octave up, and a couple of Strymon power supplies (Ojai and Zuma).
Shop Emily's Rig
Epiphone Emily Wolfe "White Wolfe" Sheraton
Ibanez Analog Delay Mini Pedal
Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2
Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork
MXR M109S Six Band EQ Pedal
EarthQuaker Devices Tentacle
How I’ll always remember Edward.
One memory often triggers another, so, while writing about my experiences with Metallica over a crucial decade in their career for this issue, I kept flashing back on my sole encounter with Van Halen—the man and the band. It was during 1988’s Monsters of Rock, and I was on assignment for the tour’s two-day stand in Akron’s Rubber Bowl, a decrepit concrete pit turned convection oven by the summer heat, to interview all the guitarists on the tour: Kingdom Come’s Danny Stag, Dokken’s George Lynch, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs of Scorpions, and, of course, Edward.
For the first day I was there, Van Halen’s publicist kept nudging me aside. Nonetheless, I enjoyed their headlining set, save for the perplexing choice of a Sammy Hagar ballad about burying the placenta from the birth of one of his children under a tree. (If you know what that song is called, please let me know so I can more purposefully continue to avoid it.) Edward was especially brilliant, of course.
I was literally and anxiously sweating it out as Van Halen’s second-night performance neared, when the publicist finally ushered me back into the band’s dressing room, in the distressed bowels of the Rubber Bowl. Their green room was actually a casbah created within the area’s grim concrete walls. There were hanging tapestries, plush furniture, floor lamps, and other homey appointments, all cooled by giant fans at its edges. But the most impressive sight was Edward, Sammy Hagar, and Michael Anthony plugged into a vertical-standing road case packed with practice amps, jamming out some blues. Alex had a practice pad atop the case, and pounded so hard he cut through the astonishing web of sound. They tossed me a few nods, and I sat on the couch next to a table with a bowl of M&M’s on it—I did not check the colors—and watched them wail on for a good 10 minutes. Edward, plugged into what I think was a Fender Champ, still sounded every bit like himself. I thought, “Well, even if I don’t get to ask a single question, this is worth the trip.”
But they did unplug, and suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon—or maybe an episode of The Monkees. They all raced toward me and piled onto the arms and back of the couch. I was surprised and surrounded. They answered my questions, but Eddie kept playing his unplugged 6-string, and nearly every reply came with a silly joke or a pun that left them in stitches. They all talked at the same time, sometimes completing each other’s sentences—always answering me but spinning off into all kinds of wild digressions. At one point, Sammy did a decidedly un-PC Ray Charles impersonation that put Edward, Alex, and Michael on the floor. And when I asked a guitar-centric question, Edward slid off the back of the couch and landed next to me to reply.
“But they did unplug, and suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon—or maybe an episode of The Monkees.”
It was hilarious—almost sketch comedy. But it was also beautiful, because it was obvious that at this point they were deeply connected by friendship and the joy of still discovering what this line up of the band, which had released OU812 a month earlier, could do. There was a tangible, open-hearted purity to them—at least about this music they were making and the experience of making it—and it wasn’t drugs, because Edward had recently been through rehab and not even beer was allowed in their green room. They were, in June 1988, truly a band of brothers.
Somehow, amidst all the crosstalk and antics, I managed to get all my questions answered, and spent a few more minutes hanging out with them, enjoying a cold cola and avoiding the near-100-degree outside temperature, as they bantered with each other and prepped for the stage. Then it was time for the publicist to reappear and throw my butt out, and for them to hustle theirs into the spotlights.
There were more troubles to come for Edward—struggles with addictions, divorce, and cancers—and a lot more music to be made, until he died, too young, in 2020 at age 65. But because of that day, I always think of him as happy-go-lucky, practically exploding with positivity and elation. And I’m very glad for that. Seeing somebody at their best and happiest is always a gift, and when it’s somebody like Edward Van Halen, it’s a treasure.
A treasured (and tattered) ’67 Jazzmaster, a dismembered doubleneck, a double-dose of stereo Jazz Chorus, and a surprisingly simple stomp station colors the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots—and the rest of Wayne Coyne’s twisted Willy Wonka-esque adventures.
Over the last four decades, the courageous and creative Flaming Lips have put out 16 studio albums. Their genre is an alphabet soup that ranges from acid rock and ambient to zany psychedelia, all while pumping on a pop heartbeat. They’ve won three Grammys, written and filmed an alien colonization movie and soundtrack (Christmas on Mars), reimagined Dark Side of the Moon with Henry Rollins, had their hit “Do You Realize??” named the official rock song of Oklahoma, and of course, performed in bubbles before and during the pandemic.
As members of one of rock’s most adventurous bands, founding frontman Wayne Coyne and his longtime collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd (who originally joined the band in 1991 as a drummer), have tried almost everything, including transforming their sensitive-smash album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, into a Broadway musical. And Yoshimi was back in the spotlight this spring as the Lips toured for its (delayed) 20th anniversary, playing it front to back for their show dates later in the season.
Before the band delighted a sold-out crowd at the Ryman Auditorium with Yoshimi and 11 other of their greatest hits, Drozd invited PG’s Chris Kies onstage to catalog his bizarre-yet-basic setup. Steven details the origins and deterioration of his 1967 Fender Jazzmaster (and why there’s a Hot Rails in the bridge), explains the superficial reason why his doubleneck only has one fretboard, and shows off a pedalboard that’s probably smaller than yours.
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1967 in Heaven
If you’ve seen the Flaming Lips over the last 30 years, you’ve witnessed this guitar slung over either the shoulder of Coyne or Drozd. Steven purchased it during the summer of 1992 from Horn Trader Music in Oklahoma City. What was the price tag? $700!
He talked to PG in 2010 about the experience of meeting the guitar: “[Horn Trader] sold all this vintage gear, and the moment I walked in the store, that ’67 Jazzmaster just called to me. It’s weird to say, but there are times when you walk into a store and it just hits you—that urge or voice that says, ‘This is the one.’ Just to make sure I wasn’t nuts, I picked it up and played it for a minute, and all that did was confirm my subconscious urge. It is just one of those guitars that anyone who picked it up would comment on the neck and just how easy it is to play.”
Shortly after the purchase, he took it over to Wayne’s house and left it there. When he returned to reclaim his offset, there was a big surprise for him.
“I was still the drummer when I bought that guitar, so I had left it over at Wayne’s for a few days and he tinkered with it. I think he got the idea he was going to use it for touring, so he dropped a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails in it. I came over later and I was pissed because I had this idea of keeping it original and pristine. But the fact of the matter is that the Hot Rails were a saving grace. The original setup with JM pickups would have just howled with all of our fuzz boxes.”
Long ago the Jazzmaster’s rhythm circuit was removed. It takes .010–.046 strings and stays in standard tuning. All of his guitars share a single Sondery Wireless Guitar Transmitter Receiver System.
Rust Never Sleeps
A close-up proves that the ’67 has been a part of every Flaming Lips show since 1994.
Double Made Single
Drozd believes this is an Epiphone G-1275 Double-Neck guitar, but if you look closely, the truss rod cover reads “Gibson,” just like the neck plate. He removed the bottom 6-string neck for a repair, and both he and Coyne agreed that the guitar looked way cooler with just the single 12-string neck on the doubleneck body. Another peculiar thing is that Drozd only puts 11 strings on it (losing the second G string) to prepare it for a particular song—where he uses the doubleneck with a Line 6 FM4’s Octisynth setting—because having only one string for a specific note of the scale allows the pedal to track clearer.
Sign Me Up
A zoomed-in shot of the G-1275 reveals a pair of signatures from Stephen Colbert and Mick Jones.
The Only New One
During his 2010 interview with PG, Drozd mentioned that he had never bought a brand-new instrument. He still hasn’t, with the exception of this 2011 Gibson SG Standard he bought the following year in Oklahoma City. It splits stage time with the Jazzmaster during the Yoshimi set. The new kid on the block takes .009–.042 strings.
Rolan' on a River
Drozd had been a user of Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus combos since the mid 2000s, but has since downsized to the compact JC-40 models using a pair in stereo. He doesn’t use the reverb or modulation circuits, and instead relies on just the clean tone, opting to color his tone with pedals.
Steven Drozd's Pedalboard
Given the nature of the band’s expansive and deranged sounds, you wouldn’t be blamed if you thought Drozd would have a rack of pedals or three tethered boards. But you’d be wrong—as he’s currently touring with nine stomps and an Ernie Ball volume pedal. Doing a lot of the heavy lifting is the Boss GT-1000CORE. The other sonic scalpels and sizzlers are a Subdecay Liquid Sunshine, a duo of Universal Audio units—a Starlight Echo Station delay and Golden Reverberator—a TC Electronic Spark, a ZVEX Fuzz Factory, a Source Audio Nemesis Delay, a Keeley Electronics 30ms Automatic Double Tracker, and a Boss EQ-200 Graphic Equalizer.
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.
The guitarist rolls into Nashville with a crew of Les Pauls and Firebirds, a pair of 100-watters, and a fine spread of stomps.
Maestro Warren Haynes invited PG’s John Bohlinger to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, where they hang out after Gov’t Mule’s soundcheck and take a tour through his live rig. This Gibson-heavy collection has been a 40-year-work in progress for the guitarist, who has spent his career playing with David Allan Coe, Dickey Betts, The Allman Brothers, The Dead, leading Gov’t Mule, and much, much more.
New Gov't Mule Album Peace...Like A River out 6/16.
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“Chester,” the guitarist’s own signature Gibson Les Paul, was inspired by a ’58 body and ’59 neck, and is loaded with Burstbucker pickups and a switchable buffered preamp.
Big Red Two
“Big Red Two” is another of Haynes’ signature models, this time an ES-335, which is a copy of the guitarist’s PAF-loaded ’61 model.
Thanks to a pair of extra screw holes that were a factory accident, this flame-bedazzled tobacco ’burst LP was marked as a flaw and spent a couple years hanging around, unable to be sold. But back when he was in the Allman Brothers, Haynes visited Gibson and fell in love. He installed Classic ’57 pickups and he’s toured with it since.
The Dead Bird
Haynes picked up his blue mini-humbucker-loaded Gibson Firebird, “The Dead Bird,” when he was playing with the Grateful Dead in 2009 and says it “has a unique sound that’s somewhere between a Gibson and a Fender.”
Three's a Crowd
This Gibson Custom Shop Firebird is loaded with a trio P-90s and, like his other Firebird, stays tuned down a half step. Each of Haynes’ 6-strings are strung with GHS Nickel Rockers .010–.046.
It takes a massive headstock to fit a dozen strings on this Les Paul. Haynes keeps “Railroad Boy” tuned to drop D, and he uses its coil-tap switch for extra flexibility when needed.
100 Watts for Might
Haynes runs a two-amp rig and calls on each at different times—never both at once. On one side is his Soldano SLO-100, which the guitarist had modded by Mike Soldano to boost low-mid response at his preferred low preamp volume settings. The 100-watt head is paired with a Marshall cab loaded with a quartet of 75-watt Celestions.
Home Is Where the Tone Is
On the other side is a 100-watt Homestead head that Haynes runs into a 4x12 cab loaded with 25-watt Celestion Greenbacks.
Warren Haynes' Pedalboard
Haynes uses a Custom Audio Electronics MIDI foot controller to access most of his pedals, which live in an offstage rack. His Ernie Ball JP Jr. volume pedal, signature G-Lab WOWEE Wah WH-1, and a D’Addario tuner sit alongside.
And on the other is a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, G-Lab DR-3 Dual Reverb, DigiTech Hardwire DL-8 Delay Looper, MXR Carbon Copy, and a Boss GE-7 Equalizer.