The bluesy psych-rock trio shows off its souped-up import axes, pricier amps, and carefully planned pedal playgrounds.
Hailing from the land of ice and snow, aka Rochester, New York, guitarist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds, and drummer Scott Donaldson dropped their mammoth-sounding debut, Orion, in 2016. The opening title track best exudes King Buffalo’s MO: darker Pink Floyd “Echoes” vibes with the eventual punishment of tectonic-shifting power of fellow power trio Sleep. KB may never go full doom, often subbing in hazier psychedelic strokes for monotonous monotone riffs, but they can still rumble with heaviest bands. “Goliath Pt. 1” and “Goliath Pt. 2” strongly showcase their Jekyll-and-Hyde stoner-rock tendencies that teeter between Floyd’s Live at Pompei and Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality.
With leftover Orion material, the band released an EP Repeater in early 2018. The 3-song collection would be a perfect soundtrack to a time-lapsed, mountain-climbing video. The expansive 13-minute opener starts calmly like any ascent, but as it continues, things begin to speed up, intensify, grow darker, before a crescendoing crash of celebration on the successful summit.
Later in 2018, the trio released their sophomore album, Longing to be the Mountain. The pace on LTBTM is much like the smooth cadence and perpetual hypnotic groove of hip-hop star NAS—it’s deliberate, powerful, and always bobbing forward. Space is much more prevalent than on Orion. Bookend bloomers “Morning Song” and “Eye of the Storm” exude the group’s blossoming confidence (and patience) providing air for suspense, tension, and timely, forceful apexes. With the added breathing room, the explosive parts build and powerfully bust through like a blues-tinged, psychedelic, kraut-rock-powered tsunami best felt in the doubled solos of “Quickening” and the thunder-cracking climax of the title track. (Full disclosure: I picked Longing to be the Mountain as one of my favorite albums of 2018. And time has only further solidified this vote.)
Before their headlining show at Nashville’s High Watt, guitarist/singer Sean McVay and his bass counterpart Dan Reynolds explain and demo how a couple of cheap, afterthought instruments paired with scaled-down boards create breakneck dynamics from Ms. Priss to monstrous.
Strapped with a single guitar on this run, King Buffalo’s lone axeman Sean McVay hits the stage with this gold-sparkle Hagstrom D2F that’s been given a complete overhaul. It has new tuning machines, pots, knobs, and a set of Seymour Duncan SH-1 Vintage Blues 59 humbuckers. It gets strung up with a D’Addario NYXL Light Top/Heavy Bottom (.010–.052) set.
Sean McVay’s longtime partner in crime is this 1973 Fender Twin Reverb that required some TLC. For a wider-spectrum sound (plus the ability to mic two different speakers and have it panned hard left/right), he took out the stock 12" speakers and put in an Eminence Texas Heat and a Warehouse Guitar Speakers British Invasion ET65.
Admitting that on previous tours he had a pedal problem stretching over two boards, Sean McVay has downsized this manageable setup. He has a Vox V847 Wah, Moog EP-3 Expression Pedal, Build Your Own Clone E.S.V. Fuzz Silicon (BC109 chip transistors), Lightning Boy Audio Soul Drive, Analog Man Buffer, Whirlwind “Orange Box” Phaser, Strymon TimeLine, and TC Electronic Hall of Fame. A TC Electronic PolyTune keeps his Hagstrom in check.
Like his 6-string bandmate, bassist Dan Reynolds travels with one, budget-friendly instrument, but his is the way it left the factory. His lone road dog is a 2003 Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray34. It gets DR Strings PB-45 Pure Blues .045–.105.
Originally an all-tube Ampeg dude, Dan Reynolds’ back enjoys the slight-but-mighty Bergantino Forté that shockingly puts out 800 watts.
Here is Dan Reynolds reduced pedal playground that only has the essentials, starting with the always-on Lightning Boy Audio NuVision that “makes up for the flat, digital-ness of the Forté.” The rest of his colors include Way Huge Electronics Green Rhino, smallsound/bigsound Team Awesome Fuzz Machine, TC Electronic Helix (unplugged), MXR Phase 90, and a Dunlop MC404 CAE Wah. A TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini keeps all four strings in the sweet spot.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
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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 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.