Rig Rundown: My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero
A gift from Gary Holt, a bastardized Jazzmaster, a Squier baritone, bountiful boards, and stacks of amps litter the rocker’s tone bunker.
The 2000s were an odd period for music sales. The decade was a tale of polar opposites. Songs and albums never exchanged hands faster (thanks to file-sharing services like Napster and LimeWire), and thus the industry's sales plummeted.
During the aughts, one of the few acts growing through the free-streaming floodwaters, were the dark, theatrical rockers My Chemical Romance who melded punk, post-hardcore, indie, and glam. Singer Gerard Way started the band in late 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. He recruited drummer Matt Pelissier (replaced by Bob Bryar in 2004), lead guitarist Ray Toro, his brother Mikey Way for bass, and in early 2002 Frank Iero joined.
As a result of their skyrocketing success, the quintet went from opening dive bars to selling out arenas in eight fast years. 2002's debut for Eyeball Records, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, was a scorcher (and sold over 3 million copies). The follow up, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, had the fist-pumping hooks for TRL, but still retained the edge for the pits. 2006's soaring anthemic concept album, The Black Parade, learned from past classics (A Night at the Opera, Sgt. Pepper, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness), became a triple-platinum smash with the title track perching them on top of two charts (Billboard's U.S. Alternative and U.K. Singles Chart). And 2010's Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys dialed back the rage and ramped up the fun producing a rushing ride.
While the band did release new music (collection of singles eventually becoming a compilation, Conventional Weapons), they took a hiatus. Iero took this an opportunity to step out from just rhythm duties and added frontman to his resume.
First releasing Stomachaches as frnkiero and the cellabration in 2014. He followed that up by forming Frank Iero and the Patience who produced Parachutes (LP) in 2016 and Keep The Coffins Coming (EP) in 2017. After surviving a harrowing accident where he was drug approximately 10 feet by a passenger bus in Australia, he found catharsis in music and created Frank Iero and the Future Violents. So far, they've dropped Barriers (LP) in 2019 and earlier this year Heaven is a Place, This is a Place (EP).
Just after putting out his offbeat, stirring 4-song collection (complete with a ghostly cover or R.E.M.'s “Losing My Religion"), the good-time guitarist virtually welcomed PG's Chris Kies into his Jersey-based home and gear haven.
In this episode, Iero introduces us to his oddball offsets and sentimental single-cuts, he explains how unusual tunings and pinky rings give his “broken" riffs an extra off-kilter sound and extra gunk, and we witness how a pandemic turned his basement into a pedal warehouse.
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard:https://ddar.io/xpnd.rr
One of Iero’s newest guitars is this Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster finished in dark knight. (Iero calls this 6-string “Batman.”) His two favorite appointments are slight tweaks on the classic design—the responsive Panorama Tremolo and the sculpted neck heel improving access and comfortability.
Depending on the instrument and tuning, Frank will go with Ernie Ball Slinkys in various configurations of .011s to compensate for lower tunings and looser tension.
For My Chemical Romance, they’re typically tuned to standard for Future Violents stuff he rides in Eb standard.
Here’s a signature guitar owned by Iero, but it’s not his namesake instrument. He and Gary Holt become fast friends and the thrasher for Slayer and Exodus offered a guitar swap. So Iero got Holt’s ESP LTD GH-600 sig and Holt requested his Ampeg Dan Armstrong AMG100 BK reissue featured in the video for Iero and the Future Violents’ rollercoaster “Young and Doomed”.
When touring with his first solo band (Frank Iero and the Celebration), they visited a guitar boutique in a Canadian mall. He picked up a Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster and quickly began coming up with fresh ideas on the spot. Not wanting to deal with customs, he went online, ordered his own Antigua model and it showed up to his New Jersey doorstep before he finished the tour. Tuned to A#, the baritone was workhorse for his last full-length release, Barriers, and his just-released EP.
Always on the lookout for something unusual and different, Iero was on tour in Cincinnati scooped this Frankenstein Fender offset that has a ’50s body matched with a ’90s neck.
During My Chemical Romance’s rise, Iero’s main guitar was a white Epiphone Les Paul nicknamed “Pansy.” He’s since retired it from the road and was tired of playing similar same single-cut, humbucker-loaded guitars. As seen in this Rundown, he’s got instruments of many shapes, sizes, and configurations, but he’s always loved a white Les Paul. Wanting to bring one back into the fold, a serendipitous phone call from Thunder Road Guitars’ owner Frank Gross put this 1992 Gibson Les Paul Custom into Iero’s growing collection.
“If you’re looking for something affordable that you can rip on, I don’t think you can beat this one,” says Iero when playing this 2020 reissue of the Epiphone Coronet.
With touring plans still up in the air for 2021, Iero is unsure if he’ll go fully digital, full tube, or a hybrid approach, but he did admit that this Fender Twin Reverb will for sure be the clean tone. (And for those keeping track at home, this is the amp he played during the Rundown.)
The last Future Violents tour saw Iero bring out the aforementioned Twin Reverb and the above Supro Black Magick.
Like most of us, during the pandemic, pedalboards became fluid and tone hunting was a mind-saving pastime. Iero was no exception as you’ll see in the next few slides he has some mainstays, but nothing is permanent.
Here’s his closest gig-ready stomp station that has time-based effects and modulation on the left side (Fender Marine Layer Reverb, vintage Pearl CH-02 Chorus, old Boss DM-2 Delay, Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger, and Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail). The right side is home to menace (Marshall Blues Breaker, SNK Pedals VHD Distortion/Preamp, Keeley-modded Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, and Klon Centaur). Everything is controlled by the Carl Martin Octa-Switch MkII. Utilitarian units include a TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini, Ernie Ball VPJR volume pedal, and a Strymon Zuma power supply.
Here’s his mess-around-the-house board (with a fine tribute to EVH) that has a pair of Strymons (BigSky and Volante), an Ibanez DE7 Delay/Echo, gold Klon Centaur, Fuzzlord Effects Drone Master, Bowman Audio Endeavors The Bowman (company ran by Rig Rundown alumnus and Against Me! guitarist James Bowman), and a Ernie Ball VPJR Tuner Pedal.
His recording board is made up of versatile staples including a 4-pack of Strymons (Ola, Flint, El Capistan, and Iridium), Bowman Audio Endeavors Fortune and Glory, and a Templo Devices Model 33 Supa vibrato.
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Holiday Gear Finds 2022
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Faded
SE Standard 24-08
MONO FlyBy Ultra Backpack
JBL 3 Series Studio Monitors
Guitar Tech Screwdriver Set
Xvive U2, U3 and U4 Wireless Systems
Elixir® Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB® Coating
Elephant Foot Risers and Frames
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
Caparison Horus-WB-FX MF
The Woman Tone
Templo Devices Holiday Specials
Taylors Guitars GS Mini
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Sennheiser MD 421
Orangewood Guitars Oliver Jr.
Marshall CODE 50 Digital Combo Amp
Line 6 Catalyst 100
LR Baggs Venue DI
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
Eventide H90 Harmonizer®
Wilkinson R Series Trev Wilkinson Signature Pickups
Hercules Stands Five-Piece Guitar Rack with Two Free Expansion Packs
ISP Hum Extractor Pedal
LAVA ME 3
Gator Cases Transit Guitar Gig Bags
DeLoach Guitars DL-225
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
LegendaryTones Announces the Mr. Scary Mod
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio Unveils Mini Version of NVMBR Gain Pedal
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.