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introduced PG to their favorite battle axes, walked us through their Odd Couple pedalboards, and Hill explained how an outdated laptop and trial version of Logic Pro provides a universal "poor man's Kemper" for guitars and bass.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.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.
The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment.
Introducing the Red Sea, an all-analog signal routing matrix, designed for countless stereo and mono signal path routing options. The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment. The Red Sea has accomplished this in a compact, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solution.
Wet | Dry | Wet
The Red Sea gives you the ability to run a FULL Stereo wet dry wet rig using only 2 amps or just 2 signals to the FOH, while also giving you complete control over your Wet & Dry mix! Use the Blend knob to control the overall mix between stereo wet effects and mono dry/drive signals.
Stereo Dual Amps
Run dual amp modelers if full stereo w/ stereo effects. Gone are the traditional ways of one amp in the Left channel and another in the Right channel. Now use the Red Sea to seamlessly blend between two separate amps in true stereo. Think of this as a 2-channel amp where you can blend anywhere between both amps.
Stereo Parallel FX
Red Sea has two independent stereo FX loops. Use each FX loop to run stereo delay's and reverb's in parallel, where each effect does not interact with each other. Huge soundscapes can be achieved with washy reverbs and articulate delay repeats while being able to blend between each FX loops mix level.
The Red Sea can also do the following routing options:
- Wet | Dry utilizing a single amp
- Clean Wet | Dry | Wet (drives DO NOT run into wet effects)
- Wet | Dry | Wet with dual delays (one in the L channel & other in R channel)
- Parallel Dual Amps (run dual amp modelers in FULL stereo)
- Convert a tube amp's serial FX Loop to a parallel FX Loop
- Stereo and Mono analog dry through (avoid latency in digital pedals)
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct amplifier models.
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct maxed-out amplifier models. An all-analog signal path with discrete gain stages featuring MOSFET transistors provides juicy overdrive tones with great note separation that clean up to that sparkly sound that we all love and heard in recordings of the past. Set gain and tone and control everything from your guitar. Sparkly clean to crunchy mean are all there.
You can select the amplifier voicing via the onboard toggle switch.
BSM: Voiced after a blackface amp head that was primarily targeted for bass guitar players but got famous for electric guitar classic rock tones.
VLX: Voiced after a chimey 2x10” combo offering the perfect amount of controllable crunch
DLX: Voiced after one of the most popular low wattage 1×12″ combo amps that have found their way in countless recording studios and clubs around the world.
Stardust V3 now comes with top-mounted jacks and soft-click true bypass via a high-quality relay. The pedal has loads of output volume and enhanced headroom provided by 18V DC (boosted internally) so that it can also be used as a preamp going straight into your Power Amp or AudioInterface when combined with a separate speaker simulation device.
Street price: 199 Euro / 199 USD.
For more information, please visit crazytubecircuits.com.