We get the scoop on the gear behind Mick Thomson’s and Jim Root’s brutal sound thanks to their signature guitars and 100-watt rock-boxes.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Mother’s Day 2015, Slipknot guitarists Mick Thomson and Jim Root took some time before their somewhat hometown show and hung with PG to talk about signature guitars, tube heads, and the handful off effects they need to punish arenas each night.
Mick Thomson is a creature of habit—give him a few of his Ibanez MTM signature guitars packed with his Seymour Duncan EMTY Blackout pickups and he’s a happy dude. Each one of his guitars features a mahogany body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard.
As far as he’s concerned, the best guitar he has out on the road right now is his white-and-black “storm trooper” Ibanez MTM that’s kept tuned to dropped-B. According to Thomson, it’s perfect for rhythm work and can stand up against any other 6-string in his collection for leads. Nearly all of 2008’s All Hope is Gone and the bulk of the rhythm material for last year’s .5: The Gray Chapter was done with the storm trooper. For this run, the band is primarily using two tunings and he uses a different set of D’Addario EXL117 strings for each one. For dropped-A tunings, he goes with .011–.058 and for dropped-B tunings he goes with .012–.068. Thomson recently worked with Dunlop to create a custom Jazz III pick made of a graphite composite because he feels they’re slicker, harder, and doesn’t make any scraping or scratching sounds when they wear down.
This is #7’s backup to the storm trooper—his very first prototype he got for his signature line back in the early 2000s.
Thomson starts the night out with this Oakland Raiders-themed Ibanez MTM that’s tuned to dropped-A for “Sacrastrophe.”
Thomson’s newest signature model features a carbon-fiber cap on the body and headstock and is tuned to dropped-A.
All of Thomson’s Audio-Technica wireless packs on his guitars are protected by Trojan condoms to keep them from getting wet from water, beer, sweat, and blood.
Much like his guitars, Mick rocks only the gear with his name on it—for this tour, he’s been using two Rivera KR-7 heads. One head goes to front of house and the second head runs through a 1x12 iso cabinet with a Celestion G-12K-100 because it meshes well with the third channel of the KR-7 and allows more headroom giving more clarity to the drop-tuned notes.
The secret weapon of his amp setup is the Rivera RockCrusher because he runs the FOH signal through the unit allowing him and his tech to color and dial in the sound from room to room or venue to venue. In addition, the RockCrusher can emulate most speakers on the market making it an invaluable tool for Mick in the studio.
Thomson’s rack of effects is slim—but utilitarian. He only uses six effects plus a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power ISO-5 and Peterson Stomp Classic tuner. His noisemakers include a Maxon OD-820 Overdrive Pro for lead boosts, an Electro-Harmonix Bassballs that’s kicked on for “Disasterpiece,” an MXR Carbon Copy Delay for parts of “Vermillion,” a Death By Audio Fuzz War, and a custom-made octave fuzz created by Thomson’s tech Kevin Allen. Mick commissioned his tech to make the filthiest, gnarliest, most obnoxious-sounding fuzzbox possible because as the guitarist sees it, “the fuzz better fuck your sound up.” He uses the custom octave fuzz on parts of “Duality.”
His rackmounted gear includes Audio-Technica wireless units, a Furman power conditioner, a Boss GT-Pro, and a Dunlop Custom Shop DCR-2SR Cry Baby Rack Wah. Thomson uses the GT-Pro to mimic the vocal sounds he originally recorded on tracks like “Spit It Out,” “Surfacing,” “Prosthetics,” and others off their 1999 self-titled debut. He switched to the GT-Pro from the Boss GX-700 during the recording of All Hope is Gone because of the updated algorithms, added MIDI capabilities, and to preserve the 700’s life.
Tech Kevin Allen uses a Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro backstage to do all of Thomson’s switching throughout a show.
Like his 6-string counterpart, Jim Root uses various body stylings of his signature Fender guitars that feature mahogany bodies, maple necks, rosewood fretboards—ebony for his Jazzmasters—single volume knob, and EMG pickups. All of his axes are equipped with Dunlop .011–.056 strings for dropped-A and .012–.058 for dropped-B tunings. And for guitar picks, #4 recently collaborated with Dunlop to customize a Jazz III nylon pick that is the shape of a Tortex III pick.
His newest signature guitar is a sandblasted Jazzmaster that he recently created with Fender. The company describes the process as “leaving the surface grain pattern wonderfully textured with parallel ruts and grooves in which the black grain-filler coat shows beneath the color finish coat.” Root commented that he feels the removal of some of the wood makes this particular Jazzmaster more resonant. This sig offset has an EMG 81 in the bridge and a 60 in the neck.
This signature model Jazzmaster is a flat-black model that is loaded with the EMG JH Het Set pickups that Root feels has more headroom and offers a more “rounder” saturation than the standard 81-60 pairing.
Jim’s favorite stage guitar has been his first signature Tele that was conceptualized with Fender in the early 2000s. The dual-humbucker, mahogany-bodied Telecaster has been used on every album and every tour since he received it nearly 10 years ago. Root hopes to convince Fender to do a limited run of relic’d copies of this guitar in the future.
His lone signature Strat has a matte silver finish with a patina copper pickguard. He currently uses this one the least because it is extra bright.
While he does a have a signature Orange head—#4 Jim Root Terror—he’s currently using a pair of Rockerverbs for his live sound. His main live amp is a Rockerverb 100 that runs into an isolated Orange 4x12 cab loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s that is close-mic’d with three Audio-Technica AT4050s.
His backup head is a Rockerverb 100 MKII.
Root’s batch of effects are fairly simple and straightforward as he has an old Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor—he claims the updated circuitry and lead-free solder in the new versions are less desirable and impact his sound too much—an MXR Auto Q Wah, a Maxon AF-9 Auto Filter, a Maxon PT-9 Pro+ Phase Shifter, two MXR Carbon Copy Delays—each is set with varying decay and repeat lengths—an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb, and an Electro-Harmonix Micro POG. A T-Rex FuelTank Classic powers his stomps.
His satellite board that sits out front onstage includes a Cry Baby controller for the rack-mounted wah, a third MXR Carbon Copy so he can create oscillating chaos, a Maxon FV10 Fuzz Elements Void, an MXR GT-OD for a backup dirt box, and a Dunlop JH1D Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah. He feels the Hendrix wah has a different vibe that is a bit more traditional sounding effect that harkens back to the earliest Vox models. The Hendrix wah sits on a G-Lab True Bypass Wah-Pad that allows Root to leave the wah half-cocked without having to ride the foot pedal.
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Recreating the preamp in Silvertone’ssignature ’60s amp results in a surprisingly multifaceted overdrive.
Great drive sounds, ranging from characterful boost to low-gain overdrive. Unique personality. Powerful, flexible EQ.
Arguably a bit expensive for what it does.
Jackson Audio Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve
Once harvested for peanuts at garage sales and pawn shops—or free for lucky dumpster divers—the Silvertone Model 1484 Twin Twelve amplifier of 1963-’67 graduated to legend status over the past couple decades. Like a lot of ’60s gear with department store catalog origins, Silvertone amps and guitars provided great bang for the buck when they were new. But perhaps no Silvertone product—apart from the company’s Danelectro-built guitars—is as revered as the Twin Twelve. Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Steve Turner discovered their charms early in their career, and Twin Twelves and their siblings remained backline fixtures for punks, garage rockers, and indie kids. But once the likes of Jack White and Dan Auerbach got on board, the market heated up considerably.
Now a collaboration between the revived Silvertone Guitars and Jackson Audio brings us the Twin Twelve pedal, an overdrive/EQ/booster designed to replicate the tone of the original 1484 piggyback tube amp. To accomplish this, Jackson essentially recreated the topology of the 1484’s preamp, effectively replacing vacuum tubes with JFETs. This method is common for many amp-in-a-box-style pedals. But the result here is a drive of many personalities.
Listen to the demo: https://soundcloud.com/premierguitar/sets/twin-twelve-review
The 1484 pedal does a beautiful job of evoking the look of the original 1484 amplifier, including the silver control panel, simple and elegant black lettering, black knobs with silver insets and red indicator lines, red amp-style jewel light, and even the humorous “Foot Switch” legend over the footswitch. What’s more, this pedal seems built to fend off home invaders and stage divers. It’s notably hefty in its heavy-duty folded-steel chassis, which measures 5" x 4" x 2".
Controls include treble, bass, volume, and gain—the latter of which never appeared on the original amp. A look inside the enclosure reveals a lot of space and few components. Juice comes from 9V DC that hits an internal voltage-doubler to improve headroom.
I tested the Twin Twelve pedal with a Fender Princeton combo and a 65amps London head and 2x12 cab as well as a Gibson Les Paul with humbuckers and a ’50s-style Fender Telecaster, and the first impressions were surprising. Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles. Fundamentally speaking, the Twin Twelve adds lots of character via a combination of thickness and edgy harmonic content. There’s a barky midrange bite that calls to mind the voice of many catalog amps. But it also has a lot in common with low-gain overdrives, like the Klon and Tube Screamer. Those similarities aside, it has a flavor and sound all its own.
Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles.
Silvertone may talk a lot about the 1484 as an exact recreation of the Twin Twelve circuit. But in some ways that might sell this pedal short. It’s a great-sounding overdrive by any measure. And, interestingly, it is better at generating American-toned twang, bite, crunch, and lead tones than just about any pedal I’ve played in a while. Clarity and articulation are good, and it makes a great clean boost at lower drive settings while retaining amp-like personality and sensitivity. The pedal is made even more flexible thanks to the 2-band EQ, which provides a lot of room for cutting and boosting the low- and high-frequency bands to taste. It means you have a very flexible boost before you even push your amp into overdrive. It pays similar dividends in overdriven settings, enabling players to explore both the dirtier, thicker side of the American amp tone spectrum or more sparkling variations.
The 1484 Twin Twelve is a great overdrive pedal. And the fact that it doesn’t simply clone one of the already popular drive circuits is a major bonus. The EQ is a great asset, too. But while the 1484 excels at capturing the spirit of the amp that inspired it, I’d argue that with most decent tube amps it sounds better than many real Twin Twelves I’ve played. Certainly, it’s more versatile. And that combination of tone and flexibility make it a very appealing overdrive alternative.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.