My name is James Dean (yes, like the actor..). I am one of two guitarists for the Australian punk band BARE BONES, and I am here to share with you all that I have learned relating to guitars and guitar gear through my time with the band.
(UNIFY Gathering 2017 – Photo: Brooke Golder)
Welcome to the first instalment of “It’s All about the Tone” – my weekly blog that will take an in depth look into everything TONE! Here you will find rig-rundowns, interviews with guitarists and gear spotlights, where I will take a look at all the new and exciting trends from the gear world.
To start this section off I thought it would only be appropriate to give my own Rig-Rundown, and talk through what gear I use while playing live (and recording) for Bare Bones. So let’s get into it!
For anyone who has seen the band play live before, you would most likely be aware that I have a penchant for Gibson. My main guitar (my baby) is my Black Beauty – also known as a Les Paul Custom. The history of this guitar are unknown to me, I do however know that whoever owned the guitar before me lived in Japan and was very fond of their punk bands given the hundreds of stickers adhered to the case. The Les Paul custom has served as my go to guitar for both live and recording, with it being the main guitar used on all our recordings.
Alongside my custom, I own a beautiful Gibson Explorer (Golden Axe) and a Fender Blacktop Telecaster. I rarely use the Explorer live as I find it to be a little on the light side compared to the heft of my custom. While the Telecaster was rendered out of action from a live show in Perth and has been on the sidelines for a while now.
Onto my pedal board. I have always been a fan of keeping my board to the bare minimum, not because I am a purist, rather, I am lazy and don’t enjoy carrying a hefty board on tour.
The signal chain leaves my guitar and is send across the airwaves care of a Sony wireless system. I have always been a fan of using wireless; it gives me a peace of mind that my cable won’t become disconnected during the set (usually by an overzealous front man’s size 12 foot). From the Sony the signal hits the all important tuner, I use a Polytune mini, it’s tiny, it’s got a bright display and it gets the job done.
From there we travel into my custom made tube screamer, essentially it is a clone of a Maxon 808 circuit but in a way more badass enclosure (check my upcoming rig rundown video!). The tube screamer is always on, I mainly use it to tighten up the amp and give it a bit more bite.
After the signal has been nicely boosted it enters the Dunlop Cry Baby Mini, again I like to keep space to a minimum so swapped out my Dimebag wah in place of the mini, but don’t let the size fool you – it packs the same punch as its big brothers. The mini was used for all the solo’s and wah passes from our record “Bad Habits”.
Leaving the Wah the signal hits my EHX Pitch Fork, this is a fun pedal, essentially it operates as a pitch shifter/detuner but I utilise it for two main purposes – a Whammy and an Octave. The Pitch Fork doesn’t see too much action in the live set, but when it does you sure know about it.
Coming in on the end of the chain is a tried and true ISP Decimator. In my opinion this is the be all and end all of pedal based noise suppressors. I have it permanently switched on and wouldn’t leave home without it.
Once the signal has been boosted, twisted, distorted and polished it comes to the coup de grace, the one and only Marshall JCM 800.
My JCM800 sits alongside my Les Paul Custom, and my Nudie Jeans Denim Jacket as 1 of 3 items that I would flee my apartment with should it ever go up in smoke. It is an original 1983 2203 model, and oh sweet merciful Christ is it loud.
I was fortunate enough to come across the JCM by pure miracle; a gentleman was selling the rare amp for a mere $500 (for those playing at home an original JCM800 83 will easily fetch $2k on the second hand market). Needless to say I was at this man’s house within the hour, exchanging my hard earnings and the rest is history.
Once in my possession I had the JCM serviced, with the EL34 standard valves swapped for the much broodier KT88’s. Why? Because Zakk Wylde did it, Kerry King did it, so I did it.
And that wraps up my rig. Leave any of your gear questions in the comments section below, and be sure to tune in next week for the next instalment of “It’s All about the Tone”!