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introduced PG to their favorite battle axes, walked us through their Odd Couple pedalboards, and Hill explained how an outdated laptop and trial version of Logic Pro provides a universal "poor man's Kemper" for guitars and bass.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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We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Fender honors the indie-legend with signature pickups and accessories.
Fender announces the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickups, an ode to one of alternative music’s most prolific shredders. Throughout Dinosaur Jr’s twelve album discography and his rich solo career, Mascis has established himself as one of guitar playing’s most tone-savvy and ferocious players.
At the heart of his genre-defining, nearly four decades-long legacy is the Fender Jazzmaster. Not only does the bold and angular design of the Jazzmaster lend itself to a player as subversive as Mascis, but there is no instrument that sounds quite like it. That is, until now.
Compared to the tones on the Fender J Mascis Signature Telecaster and the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, Mascis notes,“The new pickups have a sweeter more vintage sound,” and as his hopes for what people might feel when they test out the new pickups, J Mascis adds, “I hope they feel like playing their guitar, ideally they could make a song that could be my new favorite record!”
Key Features Include:
- Neck Pickup: 7.27K and Bridge Pickup: 7.31K DC Resistance
- Neck Pickup: 3.6 Henries, Bridge Pickup: 3.7 Henries Inductance
- Enamel-coated magnet wire delivers warm vintage-style tones
- Alnico 2 rod magnets for warm, sweet output
- Flush-mount pole pieces produce even string response
- Installation hardware include
Exploring the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickup Set | Artist Signature Series | Fender
The pickups are being released as part of a larger collection of signature J Mascis Accessories which include J Mascis Magenta Flower Strap, J Mascis Yellow Burst Strap, J Mascis Coiled Instrument Cable and J Mascis Dinosaur Jr. Pick Tin.
For more information, please visit fender.com.
Charvel unveils its new collab with guitarist Marco Sfogli.
Charvel unveils its new collaboration with PFM and Icefish guitarist Marco Sfogli. To pay homage to a guitarist whose sonic capabilities seem to know no bounds, Charvel has sought out to create a signature instrument as limitless as the player who inspired it. A pair of active EMG SA single-coils in the middle and neck positions effortlessly evoke classic Stratocaster bell tones, while an EMG ‘89 bridge humbucker provides a powerful bite. The signature model’s bolt-on maple neck has received a unique “caramelized” heat and drying treatment that imbues the wood with a warmth and comfort that is usually unique to expensive vintage instruments.
- Alder body with quilted maple top
- Scalloped lower back bout and cut heel
- Bolt-on maple neck with graphite reinforcement, 22 jumbo frets, and Luminlay side dot inlays.
- EMG SA single-coil neck and middle pickups, EMG ‘89 humbucking bridge pickup.
- Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo bridge system
- Five-way blade pickup selector, tone control, and volume control with push/pull coil splitting capabilities for the bridge pickup.
Marco Sfogli Presents His Signature Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS FR QM
- Signature S1-style guitar designed in collaboration with Marco Sfogli
- Classic alder body with an unmistakable California sound
- Quilt maple top for added tonal depth and a premium look
- For more information, please visit charvel.com.
A highly versatile sonic tool, the pedal can deliver a broad range of tones – everything from mild, wonderfully organic overdrive to medium-gain crunch with a richly satisfying midrange kick.
The pedal is a collaboration between Shnobel Tone and guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer Frank Simes. Based in Hollywood, Simes‘ long list of credits includes work with A-list artists such as Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, RodStewart, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, and Martha Davis from The Motels. Additionally, Simes was the musical director for The Who for many years.
Its touch sensitivity makes it a perfect choice for guitarists who rely on precise right-hand technique, and it cleans up nicely when you roll back your guitar's volume knob.
Frank Simes Overdrive features include:
- Three knobs: Volume, Gain, and Tone controls
- True bypass foot switch
- Top mounted power and in/out jacks
- Hand-built with through-hole components
- Crinkle-coated diecast aluminum enclosure, dimensions 4.7 x 3.7 Inches
- Standard 9v center negative power – no battery compartment
Frank Simes Signature Overdrive
Shnobel Tone’s Frank Simes Overdrive has a suggested retail price and MAP of $249.
For more information, please visit shnobeltone.com.