Carefully chosen pedals and a vintage laptop become "a poor-man's Kemper," enabling the Atlanta quartet to bridge psychedelia, post-hardcore, and four-on-the-floor rock.
Music—and guitar—are therapeutic. The songs we write and riffs we play help reduce the pain, alleviate the stress, and produce some positivity in our lives. Microwave's singer/guitarist/lyricist Nathan Hardy has been using the studio and stage as his leather couch for nearly 10 years.
Stovall, in 2014, saw him question his Mormon missionary upbringing. Two years later, Much Love focused on realities versus the romance of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. And 2019's Death Is a Warm Blanket is a dark, heavier, raging deep dive into his nihilistic thoughts. All three albums are honest, coarse evaluations of the pushing and pulling in Hardy's head and heart.
Musically, the band has matured alongside Hardy's contemplative subject matter. Stovall and Much Love harness the teeter-totter dynamics mastered by Nirvana and also felt in Microwave's post-hardcore contemporaries like early Citizen and Turnover.
While their loudest, most aggressive tendencies were unleashed in Death Is a Warm Blanket, Microwave's melodies and hooks can still be sticky and sweet as honey. Finally able to tour in support of that album, Microwave packed Nashville's Mercy Lounge on October 15. Just after soundcheck, Hardy and guitarist Travis Hill introduced PG to their favorite battle axes, walked us through their Odd Couple pedalboards, and Hill explained how an outdated laptop and trial version of Logic Pro provides a universal "poor man's Kemper" for guitars and bass.
[Brought to you by D'Addario XPND Pedalboard: https://ddar.io/xpnd.rr]
Travis Hill took just one guitar with him during Microwave's fall U.S. tour—his beloved early 2000s Gibson Les Paul Classic 1960 reissue. (A guitar he swears he'll never sell.) The wine red beaut is completely stock including its 496R and 500T humbuckers. It takes Ernie Ball 2215 Nickel Skinny Top/Heavy Bottom strings (.010–.052).
The band practices in Atlanta using the Overloud plug-in on Pro Tools, and they're accustomed to its amp tones. Nathan wanted to travel with Kempers, but Travis suggested he could run guitars and bass through a free, bundled Slate version of Overloud via a trial version of Logic Pro and an old Focusrite Saffire Pro. Bass has one track, Nathan has two, and Travis has three with two going to FOH and one hitting his onstage cab for monitoring and feedback.
I Gotta Be Heard
While most of Hill's tone gets pumped through the PA and into his in-ear monitors, he still does require stage noise for live monitoring and feedback. He takes out the Orange Rockerverb 50 combo (bypassing its circuitry) and treats it like an extension cab. He prefers the open-back design and hasn't touched the stock Celestion Vintage 30s.
The majority of Travis' tone comes from here. And at a quick glance you have two takeaways: He loves grimy gain (see the top row) and keeps a tidy workspace. His Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is always on. ("It's just a slight push, but you notice it when it's not there.") The other top-row terrorizers are a Fulltone OCD, Fuzzrocious Cat Tail, Way Huge Swollen Pickle, Fuzzrocious Demon King, Walrus Audio Iron Horse, and, off to the side, an EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter. Anything that includes repeats, modulation, and clean sounds is supplied by the Boss GT-1000CORE. For maximum control, he has a Boss ES-8 Switching System and Boss EV-30 Dual Expression pedal.
Off Travis' main stomp station is an auxiliary board that holds a RapcoHorizon Straightline Passive Direct Box and an Electro-Harmonix 22500 Dual Stereo Looper that keeps some pre-recorded tracks.
Go For the Gold!
Frontman and Microwave cofounder Nathan Hardy unsuspectedly strolled into Atlanta's Earthshaking Music and walked out with this Rivolta Guitars Mondata II HB finished in a marvelous capo gold. The used score still has its original Rivolta "Brevetto" PAF-style humbuckers. Other highlights include a mahogany body—with a raised center block à la a Firebird—and a maple neck paired with a pau ferro fretboard.
Microwave's 2019 album Death Is a Warm Blanket requires some beefy bari parts, so Hardy found this Fender Blacktop Baritone Telecaster that originally started life in an HSS format. When he bought it, the previous owner had swapped in a set of TV Jones Filter'Trons. To better fit the crisp heaviness Microwave heats the stage with, Hardy had a tech friend drop in a set of EMG 81/85s. Nathan employs Ernie Ball 2220 Power Slinkys (.011–.048).
Nothing Stays Forever
If Travis Hill's pedalboard is Felix Unger, then Hardy's has to be Oscar Madison. Nathan admits in the Rundown that everything on his board has an expiration date. He loves swapping in and out stomps, chasing perfect pedal pairings. The current construct of his tone-tweaking platform harbors some powerfully paranormal boxes—specifically the Gamechanger Audio Plasma (high-voltage distortion pedal) and the Hologram Electronics Dream Sequence (sequencer, envelope shaper, pitch shifter, sampler, and more). The rest of the pedals are fairly standard: Boss BF-3 Flanger, DigiTech Whammy, Ibanez TS Mini Tube Screamer, EarthQuaker Devices Gray Channel, Greer Amps Super Hornet, Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter, Boss DD-500 Digital Delay, Boss GE-7 Equalizer, and TC Electronic Mimiq. The pair of guitars are kept in check by the Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner and a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus juices the pedals.
Hardy hits his voice with some effects from the Line 6 DL4, Electro-Harmonix Small Clone, and Pro Co RAT.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.