Guitarist John Lee Shannon and bassist Dan Horne explore the sonic space with a mix of vintage amps, DIY cabs, and plenty of pedals.
Founded by the late Neal Casal, this instrumental band of sonic explorers was born out of a request for set-break music during the Grateful Dead’s final run of shows in San Francisco and Chicago during 2015. Originally, CATS was going to be a one-off project, but fan feedback pushed Casal and company to release it as Interludes for the Dead. This wasn’t simply wordless Dead covers, but new creations formed in essence and spirt of the Dead.
In 2018, the group released their second double album, Let it Wander, and followed it up with a completely improvised EP featuring drummer Joe Russo. Sadly, a week after tracking their self-titled album Casal took his own life. Casal urged the group to carry on without him. The group recruited Eric Krasno and Scott Metzger for various tours before settling in with John Lee Shannon in July of 2021. Shortly before a gig at Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville, John Bohlinger caught up with Shannon and bassist Dan Horne to talk gear.
[Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings: http://ddar.io/xs.rr]
The Lone Ranger
John Lee Shannon tours with a single guitar: a 2017 Fender Custom Shop 1969 Journeyman Relic Strat. It’s outfitted with handwound ’69 pickups in the neck and middle with a Texas Special in the bridge. “It’s really barky,” mentions Shannon. “It’s not a ‘tame’ Strat,” He puts D’Addario NYXL (.010–.046) strings on it and uses Pick Boy Vintage Celluloid Rainbow .75 mm picks.
Amp on the Run
Due to somewhat complicated logistics, Shannon had been looking online at various Nashville guitar shops for an amp he could pick up at the last minute and use on this run. After flying in from Brooklyn the morning of the show, he headed straight for Rumble Seat Music to check out this 1968 Sunn 100S and matching 2x15 cabinet. Shannon put down a deposit before getting to town hoping the amp would work for him. Obviously, it did. Later he found out this amp was on consignment from Nashville session king Tom Bukovac.
After experimenting with various pedals on the band’s West coast run, Shannon shifted some things around and even took inspiration from Casal’s board to form this mothership. The centerpiece is the Road Rage true bypass looper which allows Shannon to individually bring each pedal in and out of the signal flow. Right before the looper is a JAM Pedals Wahcko, which was custom ordered solely based on the finish. Other highlights include a Greer Amps Super Hornet, Strymon Lex, a trio of Catalinbread stomps (Belle Epoch, Echorec, and Topanga), a Walrus Audio Monument, Lovepedal Rubber Chicken and a pair of BearFoot FX (Pale Green and Honey Beest OD).
Circles Around the Sun take plenty of musical risks, but that fearlessness stretches over into their gear choices as bassist Dan Horne also takes a single bass on the road. This 1978 Alembic Series 1 has an unusual setup. Although you can power the active pickups with batteries, Horne uses an Alembic DS5 power supply to provide power via the cable. (The DS5 also has dual outputs, but Horne only uses the bass output.)
Tower of Doom
The Grateful Dead’s “Wall of Sound”-era speakers served as the inspiration for Horne’s triple-cabinet tower. The top cabinet was built by Bag End while the bottom two were DIY affairs created by a friend. All three cabinets feature a Weber speaker.
Under the Hood
The engine behind Horne’s sound is this rack, which includes an Alembic F-1X tube preamp—powered by a 12AX7—and a Crown XLS 1502 power amp. All of Horne’s effects are behind him on the pedal drawer and he controls them via a Voodoo Lab PX-8 Plus.
Horne's Tone Zone
Horne’s pedal rack includes a Sonic Research ST-300 tuner, Boss BF-2 Flanger, MXR Carbon Copy, MXR 10-Band EQ, a vintage Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phase Shifter, MXR Bass Envelope Filter, and a BearFoot FX Pale Green compressor. He wrangles them all with a Voodoo Lab HEX loop switcher that’s controlled by a PX-8 Plus.
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Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
The Royale was designed to deliver loud and vivid clean tone with a responsive, tactile low end.
Designed to offer massive headroom, the 50-watt Royale Head lets you indulge in smooth clean tones at even higher volumes on stage without any breakup. Select between class A and class AB modes, with its variable mode switch, so you can choose between gushing Supro tone or a punchier, tight midrange response.
Introducing the Royale Head & Extension Cabinet | Supro
The Royale 1x12 Extension Cabinet features the custom Supro BD12 high-power driver, offering the same mid-range punch and clean articulation as the Royale combo but with additional stage volume. More info: suprousa.com.
Royale Head | $1,499.99
Royale Cab | $669.99
D'Addario Foundation's education project sets out to help schools throughout the country and kicks off with an online auction.
The D’Addario Foundation will host a virtual auction from November 9 to November 30, 2022, with the overarching goal of raising $30,000 for the D'Addario Foundation’s Immersive Music Challenge.
Inspired by a new study published in the Journal of Youth Development, the D'Addario Foundation recently launched the Immersive Music Challenge. This ambitious project will help school districts and charter systems throughout the country boost academic achievement by implementing effective, multi-day-per-week music-based mentoring programs that include training, administration, and evaluation. The D’Addario Foundation has invested in an incredible team of consultants that include school superintendents, public health experts, and data analysts to ensure sound results. In addition, D’Addario is actively seeking corporate partners to support the establishment of these programs and champion their success.
Thanks to the generosity of D'Addario artists and industry partners including Gibson, PRS Guitars, D'Angelico, Taylor Guitars, and more, one-of-a-kind items & experiences are up for bidding. Some of the items include:
- Evans Drumhead signed by Anderson Paak
- ESP Mirage Deluxe '87 Signed by Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
- Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar
- D'Addario bass string set signed by Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats
- PRS S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
- Virtual Lesson with Marty Schwartz
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.