This page is dedicated to the equipment geek in all (or some) of us...
• Mike's Gear -
Over the past 10 years, I have spent in incredible amount of time, research, sweat, solder, money (and even some blood!) pursuing the unique sound of Jerry Garcia's playing. It has been an intensely fun (yet simultaneously frustrating) never ending process for me and here's some pictures of those components:
* Click on any of the pictures for a larger image
1 - Paul Reed Smith - "Custom 24 - 10 top" - Fully Jerrified
PRS guitars have always been my favorite and in 2006 I finally bought one of these. In my obsessive "search for the sound" I had ripped out the electronics and pickups and experimented in "Jerryfying" it. I had an aluminum pickup ring made which house 3 Dimarzio super 2 pickups, a Wald Electronics unity gain buffer, 2 toggle switches for coil split selection (Hum/Single/Parallel), 1 toggle switch for an effects loop bypass, 1 ganged tone pot and a 5 way rotary pickup selector. I have never held a guitar that felt so natural in my hand.
This shows the 2 outputs - one is actually an effects loop send AND return, and the other is the final send to the amp. You can also see the battery compartment for the preamp.
2 - Paul Reed Smith - P24 - 10 Top -
I recently bought this with the intention of modifying the electronics the same as my main guitar - and I still might... But, once I got it I was completely amazed at it's tone. Aside from the regular magnetic pickups, it has a piezo pickup in the bridge with a separate output. So, with a flick of a switch, I can toggle between a very tasty acoustic sound, to fully electric - or a blend of the two. It's been a joy to play around with.
** Update - 4/16/2014 - I have brought the guitar to Andrew Olson of AO Guitars in Freeport, ME to do the "Jerrification" modifications. I have decided to have the guitar electronics rebuilt in a very similar fashion to Jerry's "Tiger" guitar. It will have a Dimarzio SDS 1 for the neck pickup, 2 Dimarzio Super 2's for the middle and bridge pickups. These will be enclosed within a hand carved Cocobolo pickup ring. It will also feature a Wald Electronics unity gain buffer/pre-amp, 2 tone pots, a 5 way blade pickup selector switch, coil tap toggle for the Super 2's (humbucking/single) an onboard effects loop system (OBEL) and a toggle for the OBEL bypass. I will be sacrificing the piezo system to do this - but it's well worth it for what I will be getting!!
- I use a Shakedown Amps modified 73 Fender Twin Silverface. It has been modified to Blackface specs and has the most complete "Jerry mods" that I believe Jerry's amp actually had. There is no definitive specs on the exact mods that Jerry had done to his Twin - among a select group there is a general idea of them. Some folks consulted on the modification of this amp that are "as close as you get" to those that worked on Jerry's gear. I wanted the speaker cabinet separate from the amp so, I cut down the amp section and put it into a head and built a speaker cabinet.
I also always have on hand this little backup amp. It's a Fender Jazzmaster ultralight. At only 7 pounds it packs a mean punch. I actually use it often for a quick set up kind of a show - like a festival. It does a great job of sounding like a Fender twin - and in a worse case scenario, it has a direct out with a speaker emulator that sounds really good.
- 2 x 12 Hard Truckers cabinet that houses 2 - JBL E120 speakers. These speakers are the same type that Jerry used as well as the main speaker used in the Dead's "Wall of Sound" in the early 70's. Its a monster of a speaker that can provide a crystal clear tone even at high volumes. It's benefits in tone come at the expense of it's monstrous weight though. All worth it for "the sound". I also have another identical cabinet that I made that I use for a backup, or if I need to push some serious volume, like an outdoor large stage venue.
- My effects are run in a pre-volume loop configuration directly from my guitar. They are all also mounted on a PedalPad MS9 pedal board. Here's the current list of effects that I use:
- Loop I/O breakout box
- Digitech Harmonyman
- Boss OC-2 - since this picture was taken, I went back to the OC-2.
- Electro Harmonix Q-Tron
- Boss OS2 Overdrive
- MXR Phase 90 - Analog man mods
- Ibanez Tube Screamer - TS808HW
- Boss Blues Driver (It was Collin's - I love the sentimental value of it...)
- Boss GE7 EQ
- Boss DD20 Giga Delay