Gear Talk with Jon Schaffer - "I'm a gear-head but not a Gear Whore ."
With Jon and Jim locked up at Morrisound this week to mix the forthcoming album, "Framming Armageddon", IcedEarth.com checked in with Jon before he left for temporary exile in Florida to inquire about what gear he has and will be using for the upcoming string of new material to commence with the release of the single, "Overture of the Wicked", on June 4 (Europe) and June 5 (USA). Here is what Jon had to say...
"I play Gibson guitars, mainly Les Pauls but any Gibson Explorer, SG, 135, 335 will do. They all rule. I also used a guitar by David Thomas McNaught called "Phoenix Rising" for almost all of my lead work on the new CD's, it's an incredible instrument and possibly the best made electric guitar I've ever played. I typically use Fender Stratocasters for clean parts in the studio but used my "Red Baron" Gretsch on several clean parts this time around. I play Taylor acoustics exclusively, they are simply amazing guitars and among the best made.
I have been using amplifiers custom made for me by Larry Grohmann for about 15 years now. That is and will always be my main amp because Larry developed it for my playing style and it is by far the best amp that I've ever played, and I've played ALOT of different amps! My Larry Amps and Marshall cabinets have always been my main rig for touring and recording. I did however use several different amps on both parts of the "Something Wicked" epic because I wanted different dynamics and shades of tone to tell the story. I used a great amp for all of my lead parts called a Splawn Quick Rod. I also really enjoy amps by Divided By 13, Orange, Engl, Roccaforte, Vox, Voodoo, VHT, Trainwreck and of course Marshall and Fender; all of which appear on the new CD's at some point or another.
Another hugely important element is the choice of pickups for my guitars. Besides stock Gibson pups, which are often great just the way the are, I really love Jim Wagner Pickups, especially the Goodwood Set and the Bet Set, but they all rock. I also really dig several sets that Tim Mills of Bare Knuckle Pickups has developed, namely the Black Dog and the Riff Raff being among my favorite but they're all great as well, it depends what you're looking for. Then of course I have a few Seymour Duncan pups in a few of my axes, I have an SG Supreme with a Dimebucker in it that is a smokin' combination.
I've been using D'Addarrio strings for 20 years now. .13 - .56 is my gauge normally. I use 12's for my lead work and 11's on my Strats. On the bass tracks I recorded I used a Gene Simmons Punisher Bass, an Ibanez 5 string and a Steve Harris signature series Fender Precision Bass. I ran them through an Ampeg SVT head and 8 x 10 cabinet in conjunction with a Marshall VBA 400 watt all tube head through a Marshall Jubilee series 4 x 10 cabinet. I also used a Fulltone Bass Drive pedal in front of the amps to kick the signal in the ass a bit, and it worked very well. For the songs Dennis recorded he used his Warwick Bass through the same rig but tweaked slightly to compliment his style.
I bought a bitchin' Drum Workshop Black Satin Oil kit with black hardware for Brent to use for this recording. It will officially be the Iced Earth recording kit, it sounds absolutely amazing. I would love to take it on tour but it will get trashed on the road and I just can't sacrifice it. We have a great Pearl kit that will be used on tour.
I'm a gear-head but not a Gear Whore. A Gear Whore is someone who uses their celebrity, no matter how insignificant it may be, to go to events like the NAMM show and con people/manufactures out of free stuff. I'm sure the name droppers and gear whores come from the same mold, and they show up in droves. These people are losers, don't be like them!!
There are a few companies that I support deeply and have special arrangements with, but we only deal with companies that I believe in. I prefer my integrity over free crap, but that's just me, call me a nut."