There comes a time in every guitar player’s life when they fantasize about the rig they will have one day: the tone to end-all searching and scouring, to bring forth a sense of nirvana gear-wise. Finding the most expensive, hand-painted flanger on the market just to have it, or even uncovering a vintage grail amplifier tucked away in someone’s attic. The possibilities are endless, yet there’s this thing called “life” that’s always wriggling it’s way into our pockets. However, what if there weren’t any limits? What if gear could just be obtained, and you were actually praised for spending ludicrous amounts of money instead of being scolded by family and loved ones?
This week on TPS, Dan & Mick do just that. Running as a counterpart to the previous weeks’ show, the guys set out to create their dream tone without any restrictions. No dollar will be spared, and no price will be checked. Let the chaos ensue.
Following suit from last week’s challenge, the rules are very simple. To emerge victorious amidst the glitz and glam, the guys must assemble a gig-ready ensemble of one guitar, one amplifier, three pedals, a pedalboard, and a power supply and any patch cables necessary. With all jokes aside, Mick adds a disclaimer before they begin the episode and where the “points” will come in: “this [challenge] is half tongue-in-cheek and half-serious, it’s supposed to be fun not insulting.” The goal of this challenge is mainly to show the opposite spectrum in reflection to the barebones episode from last week. To make it more fun, bonus points are given for the high cost of equipment, exclusivity, and celebrity connection. However, if there is even a single strand of practicality, convenience, or low volume points will be taken off. This is a challenge filled with ostentatious flexing: there will be no prisoners!
Knowing the rules and how to spend his money to the fullest extent, Mick chooses some powerful pieces of gear that allow him some sense of familiarity while also letting his tone soar to new heights. For his guitar, he anoints the quickly becoming infamous ’61 Fender Stratocaster. Lent to him by Simon Greene, this Stratocaster has been praised by the guys in every single video it’s been in, and the Internet is showing just as much love for it. With a price tag of an estimated yet hefty 10,000 pounds ($13,121), this guitar really puts its money where its mouth is. Matching the sheer magic of the ’61 Strat, Mick chooses the Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature amplifier. Having the capacity to switch between 50- and 100-watts modes, the Two-Rock has been a favorite of Mick’s ever since he heard Doyle Bramhall use this on stage. Also being quite hefty in price, Mick adds another 5,328 pounds ($6,991) to his claim to gluttonous glory. With such a powerhouse of amp/guitar combo, what sort of pedals would Mick gravitate towards?
Turns out he had quite a few more tricks up his sleeve. Mick decides to grab a Dan Drive Austin Pride Fuzz pedal, a Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive, and a Free The Tone Flight Time FT-2Y Digital Delay. While the Austin Pride and the Flight Time are incredible pedals, the real showstopper here is the Centaur. Due to its exclusivity and having a history shrouded in mystery, the Centaur has gained a reputation of being a tonal placebo in some players’ eyes, while being the king of tone for others. With all three pedals mounted into Mick’s standard Schmidt Array pedalboard, how does the sound add up?
One word can sum up his tone: MASSIVE. The 100-watt mode on the Two-Rock really pushes the vintage Strat pick ups to the point of breakage while still maintaining clarity. The Austin Pride Fuzz brings texture to the sound, making it chunky and warm without ruining the signal strength. The Flight Time adds variety to the delay time because you can modulate the high and low end of the tone itself, which adds so much versatility to repeat times. Lastly, while the Centaur will always remain controversial, it is easily understood that the overdrive pedal really focuses the tubes of the Two-Rock. In the words of Dan, Mick’s tone made him feel as if “it’s like I was in a storm, but it was warm.” It’s a tone that’s as over-the-top as the gear it comes from.
Dollar Sign Dan
While Mick brings an impressive and extensive spec sheet to the table, Dan hasn’t gone home without a fight. For guitar, Dan pulls out all of the stops for a ’65 Fender Telecaster. Coming packed with an impressive set of rewound ‘50s era pickups, this guitar isn’t as factory-standard as Mick’s Strat, but it’s still a grail of a guitar worth around 6,000 pounds ($7,872). To pair with his Telecaster, Dan doesn’t stray far from the path that he’s recently been on. Dan goes with his trusty Matchless HC-30 with the vintage Hughes & Kettner 2×12” cabinet. While the Hughes & Kettner cabinet is a priceless piece of gear Dan and Mick have owned for years, a brand new Matchless HC-30 will run you 2,600 pounds ($3,400). For arguments sake, let’s say altogether the Matchless with cabinet is 3,400 pounds ($4,500).
For pedals, Dan also decides to grab two modern day pedals, as well as a niche choice that is sure to help his exclusivity ranking. He adds an Effectrode Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp, a Thorpy Camoflange, and a Roland RE-201 Space Echo to a standard metal pedalboard to complete his setup. The Camoflange has become a favorite of Dan’s since he used it a few episodes back, and Dan goes into detail about how he discovered the Blackbird Preamp and how it can be used as a two-channel overdrive pedal. However, much like Mick’s Centaur the Roland RE-201 is the cherry on top of his rig. It is an extremely impractical, loud, heavily modded echo/reverb machine that packs quite a punch. While looks do help an argument, what really matters is how it sounds.
In the words of Mick, “with everything on, that entire sound is all you.” The Matchless never disappoints, and the Telecaster is more sonically balanced than Dan’s standard ’63 Red Telecaster. The Blackbird is a great pedal for creating two signal channels with low output impedance. The Camoflange adds movement to the top end without sacrificing any aspects of the tone. Lastly while the RE-201 is unreasonable, and loud, it adds a vintage swell and movement to the sound that is immeasurable. Dan’s rig is extremely versatile, and while he did spend a robust amount of money, the entirety of his tone is his personality. “When I have that tone behind me,” Dan explains, “I get emotional. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Okay, So Who Won? HOW Expensive Was It Really?
After the dollar bills settled to the floor and credit cards were done glowing red-hot, the final tallies were revealed. For Mick, he spent a whopping 18,802 pounds ($24,671) while Dan spent an estimated 12,309 pounds ($16,151). While Mick was very humbled about winning, he commended Dan for creating such a versatile sound that was entirely ‘him.”
That’s it for this week’s rendition of That Pedal Show! Stay tuned for the next episode of shenanigans and the mayhem/wisdom that follows!
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: ’61 Fender Stratocaster, ’65 Fender Telecaster
Pedals: Dan Drive Austin Pride Fuzz, Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive, Free The Tone Flight Time FT-2Y Digital Delay, Effectrode Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp, Thorpy Camoflange, Roland RE-201 Space Echo
Amps: Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature w/ 2×12” cabinet w/TR1265B speakers, Matchless HC-30 w/ Hughes & Kettner Vintage 212/Celestion G12M speakers