Video: The Walkmen's Very Vintage Live Rig

A lot can change between a beloved band's hiatus and their subsequent reunion. With the passing of time might come a drastic change in sound. Luckily, this isn't the case with quintessential NYC band The Walkmen. Since making their glorious return to the stage this spring after a ten-year break, the post-punkers have stayed true to their roots, particularly their affinity for vintage instruments.

When the quintet played to a packed house at Chicago's Metro in Wrigleyville earlier this month, we spoke with each member about their respective rigs. "I think we just like old stuff," founding member Walter Martin told us after soundcheck. "We like old music, and a lot of the direct references we use when we write are old. It's very rarely something new."

For this recent run of revival shows, frontperson Hamilton Leithauser has paired his prized 1965 Fender Telecaster with a Fender Vibrolux Reverb, an amplifier in "pristine condition" from the same year that he acquired from an unnamed member of Fleet Foxes after an "elaborate trade" of some of his guitars. Hamilton's Tele has all the original electronics intact, and was recently set up by his friend Jimmy Carbonetti. "I don't use any pedals," he admits. "I don't use that much reverb on the amp anymore either, I like to be almost dry. I used to use a ton, but I didn't know what I was doing." These days, Leithauser has a growing interest in collecting microphones: he recently bought two RCA KU-3A ribbon mics, as well as their 44-BX.

Meanwhile, Paul Maroon's guitar of choice is a 1962 Fender Jaguar—an instrument he bought from Gary's Classic Guitars in Ohio. "I like it live, but I'm not crazy about the way it records," he says of the instrument, which was refinished at the Selmer factory in the UK. "It has a sharp attack and dies quickly." He prefers to record with his refinished 1961 Fender Telecaster, which he's brought on the road for the first time for these shows. Maroon's guitars are run through a pair of 1965 Fender Pro Reverb amplifiers—one that he's had in the band for 20 years, and the other that he bought at the start of the run.

A stacked pair of Farfisa organs serves as the centerpiece of multi-instrumentalist Peter Matthew Bauer's setup: a Mini Compact that was newly acquired for the reunion, and a Fast 3 that they've had since the beginning of the band. "It's held up for years, but it's starting to go down," Bauer says of the combo organ, which he runs through an Ibanez Tube Screamer with the amp reverb cranked. "It spent years getting the shit kicked out of it and it never had anything go wrong with it." When he isn't standing behind the organs, he plays a 1957 Gretsch Corvette and a Melodipro piano with Helpinstill pickups, an instrument he "tunes every day". All of Peter's instruments are run through a Fender Pro Reverb, as well as a Super Reverb Amp that was recently serviced by Colleen Fazio.

"I just fell in love with this thing," Walter Martin says as he holds up his 1966 Fender Precision Bass. "I love the black and I love the finish." He hasn't changed the strings on the bass since he bought it, choosing to run it through a "loud as hell" Super Bassman which he received from Fender's team.

When the band got back together, drummer Matt Barrick deferred to the kit that he bought in San Francisco and used in the early days of the Walkmen: a 1950s WFL Duco kit, the brand name that William Ludwig used before changing the brand name to the one drummers know today. Barrick uses a Ludwig Supraphonic as his snare drum, while the original floor tom was swapped out for a converted marching snare. To top it all off, he uses Istanbul Agop cymbals.

To catch The Walkmen on tour, keep up to date with the band at their website.

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