Potent Pairings Part II: Recreating 6 Classic Rigs with Pedals

More so than ever before, modern players have a wealth of gear to deploy when trying to recreate the sounds that inspire them. While it's not feasible to buy a new guitar or amp for every occasion, creative pedal usage can get you pretty close.

In the first edition of Potent Pairings, we looked at five more modern rigs and some pedal substitutions you can put to work. We heard plenty of comments asking us to take the same approach to old-school rigs, so let’s go back 50 years and see how we can replicate classic tones with the latest modern gear.

The Beatles

Talking about The Beatles’ amp tones could take hours, weeks, months or years to cover, especially the specific those on Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's. One of their more famous tones used during those recording sessions came from the Vox 4 and 7 amplifiers. The solid state preamp found in this series produced a more aggressive tone and distortion circuit.

To get this exact tone, you could invent a time machine, go back to 1965 and get a couple studio assistants to help lift the amp back into said time machine. Or you could use one of Lumpy’s Tone Shop Lemon Drop pedal which accurately reproduces that famous sound of the 4&7 amps. The Lemon Drop (or ZII for Zeppelin fans) now comes in a mini enclosure making it a no­-brainer and extremely budget-friendly.

For those of you looking to create those more psychedelic and experimental sounds, try combining the Lemon Drop with effects like reverb, a Leslie simulator, wah or delay pedals. The new Digitech Polara, for example, features a fantastic reverse mode as well as classic flavors of reverb including spring and plate. For a more standard Vox sound, the Joyo AC Tone does a respectable job putting an AC30 to at your feet.

The Kinks

Three words: ­ Little, Green, Amp. What’s this "Little Green Amp", you ask? It’s an Elpico AC­55 which helped Dave Davies of The Kinks produce the famous sound on their 1964 song "You Really Got Me." As the story goes, Davies was fed up with his sound so he did what we would all do: he slashed the speaker cone of his Elpico amp. He also had help from a Harmony Meteor guitar with low output gold foil pickups and ran the Elpico in to his Vox AC30 amp.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford an Elpico AC­55, let alone find one. A good alternative would be a Peavey Decade solid-state amp, which Davies used to record the track, “Little Green Amp”. For those of you not wanting to invest in another amp try experimenting with turning your bass and treble up on your amp and rolling back the tone knob on your guitar. Using a Way Huge Red Llama or Prescription Electronics Overdriver in to a Tech 21 Liverpool will get you those pseudo twangy guitar riffs of the '60s. Whatever you do, don’t slash your speaker cones. Well, unless you’re really, really committed to your Kinks fandom.

The Police

Writing the guitar riffs on such songs as "Message in a Bottle" and "Can’t Stand Losing You", Andy Summers used a relatively simple setup to achieve complex tones. For the early classics, his most used effects included boost (mainly from his modded Fender Telecaster), flanger (that sounded like a chorus), compressor and analog delay. Keeping the effects simple allowed Andy to master certain pedals, one in particular: the Electro-­Harmonix Electric Mistress. With the recently announced XO version, fans can get that chorus-­like flange without paying ridiculous vintage gear prices. For those classic Andy Summers flange sounds, set the filter matrix on to disengage the rate function of the effect. This freezes the flange sound enabling users to “tune” in their frequency.

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Led Zeppelin

Most of us know Jimmy Page for using a combination of his Gibson Les Paul in to a Marshall Super Lead. What some might not know is that during the recording of Zeppelin I and the "Stairway to Heaven" solo, Page used a small Supro combo amp that has been subject to countless debates. With the re-­release of Supro amps, players will be able to decide for themselves which amp works best to capture Page’s tone. After hearing 2000 Pound Bee by The Ventures, Page became obsessed with that fuzzy guitar sound. Later in his musical career, Page would team up with engineer Roger Mayer which spawned the Tone Bender fuzz unit.

For those wanting to recreate those two famous sounds with effects, try taking a look at the JHS SuperBolt and Firefly Fuzz pedals. The JHS SuperBolt pedal emulates the sound and tone of the '60s-­era Supro amp. In addition to the SuperBolt, JHS also offers the Firefly Fuzz: their take on the famous Tone Bender sound Jimmy Page used throughout his career. By cascading the fuzz generated by the Firefly in to a high­volume, low­gain setting of the SuperBolt pedal, players can finally recreate the coveted Page tone without spending a fortune on vintage gear. Stairway not denied!

See The Gear of Led Zeppelin on Reverb

Jimi Hendrix

Are you experienced... with Jimi Hendrix? If not, there are plenty of obsessed pedal companies replicating those infamous sounds created by one of the most iconic musicians of all time. The four effects to focus on are fuzz, wah, octave and the uni­vibe. It’s best to note that there has been an endless amount of research on Jimi’s gear, including fan-based websites documenting everything from effects signal order, make and model of each effect pedal and debates on whether or not he was the first to use a wah pedal. It seems safe to say that taking those four effect types and experimenting with the signal order is probably what Jimi would have wanted his fans to do. Well-known pedal companies such as Dunlop, FoxRox, Fulltone and Prescription Electronics have tirelessly recreated their own versions of the pedals Jimi made famous making this easier than ever before.

Pink Floyd

With the departure of founding member Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd asked guitarist David Gilmour, a quasi "fifth member" already, to take over singing and guitar playing responsibilities. What Gilmour did not know was how much of his effect-enriched playing would influence generations to come. To this day, fans want to replicate the illustrious fuzz tone used on a number of solos such as "Time", "Echos", "Dogs" and "Comfortably Numb." By pairing a number of fuzzes, overdrives along with multiple amp and guitar combinations, Gilmour created an aggressively smooth fuzz that progressed from album to album. At the time he joined the band, Gilmour employed the use of a Dallas Arbitor Fuzz Face. Not until the recording of Animals did the infamous Electro Harmonix Big Muff become the new number one lead tone for both his work in Pink Floyd and later in his solo work.

To capture the tone of Gilmour’s varying fuzz sound we turn to Texas based pedal company, Mojo Hand FX to see first hand their obsession with crafting the perfect pedal for an all­era Pink Floyd (or solo) fuzz tone. If you’ve got a desire to be an animal (see what I did there?), start with the Iron Bell Fuzz. With simple EQ controls and an added "colour" knob, the Iron Bell Fuzz delivers harmonically rich Muff-­like sustain which can last just as long as a David Gilmour guitar solo. For those grittier sounds found on Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon try using the Mojo Hand FX Pompeii Fuzz which is based on Gilmour’s Fuzz Face tone during their notable performance from, you guessed it, Pompeii. Adding the Catalinbread Echorec delay to the equation gives players the authentic sound of another Gilmour favorite: the Binson Echorec.

See The Gear of Pink Floyd on Reverb

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