I have been blessed to record in some of the finest studios in the world. From Rumbo Recorders in Canoga Park, Ca. where such classic albums like Rust In Peace, Appetite For Destruction, and Use Your Illusion to name a few, have been recorded, to Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. where Bullet For My Valentine, Damageplan and Tesla have layed down the tracks for their very well known albums. Along the way, DevilDriver have been able to use some of the finest equipment available for recording and engineering tracks. Although the studios play such an important part in the overall tracking and recording of our albums, it all starts with the basic instruments that each player uses. We play metal, which is a very guitar-driven style of music, of course. It starts with an awesome guitar and a great amplifier, some microphones and then some killer playing. I am a huge gear aficionado and love, love, love to talk about musical equipment. Watch out when I am around other musicians – anyone not into the conversation will surely walk away! For this week’s Kendrick’s Corner, I have compiled a list of my top favorite amplifiers of all time to record with. I hope you enjoy my thoughts…
Diezel Herbert: My all time favorite amplifier. There is nothing that this amp cannot do and on Beast we utilized this bad boy for part of our rhythm guitar tracks. German engineering at it’s absolute finest! A little side note: when Cannibal Corpse recorded one of their recent albums, they wanted to compare their guitar tone on the record to Beast. Enough said!
Kendrick Combo Amp: It’s not just coincidental that this amp bears my name – in fact, my father told me he thinks that we are related as distant cousins. As I mentioned before, some of the studios that we have been at have top level gear. This particular amplifier was something that Sonic Ranch had custom made and we used it on the clean tones of The Last Kind Words and Beast. We looked up the value of the amplifier and it was set at $12,000 USD! Definitely not the first amplifier you go out and pick up, but the absolute best clean tone we have ever had on our albums. I am not surprised considering the last name – the Kendricks have been known to do great things!
Peavey 5150 “EVH Block Letter” Circa 1993: The classic 1990’s amplifier that I purchased from Guitar Center in 1993 for $300.00. I am proud to say that this was completely motivated by Machine Head and the classic record Burn My Eyes. I knew back then that I completely had to have this amplifier and ever since then it has been pretty much the main tone on all of our records. There is something about the searing gain and punch and the way the guitar is voiced through this monster of an amp head. A must for any classic metal head!
Diezel VH-4: Again, German engineering. This head is literally one of the biggest and most awkward amps that has ever been created. But the sound is just incredible. The voicing is completely different than the Herbert; a lot more open and – I feel – more suited for leads and overdubs, or at least less palm-muted and heavy stuff. On Beast this was used to record a lot of the overdubs and solos. Just a “Beast” of an amp (pun intended.)
Marshall JCM 800 (modified): This amp will make your leads tasty and searing and cut right through the mix. Our excellent and knowledgeable producer Mark Lewis purchased this amplifier years ago and if I am correct, it is from the early 1980’s. As with many Marshalls, people really like to have them modified – there are several guys here in LA that will gladly upgrade the current circuits in favor of more gain, different voicing or what have you. I don’t think that you get any more classic than when you use a Marshall. It’s like the Rolls Royce of amplifiers – just killer!
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier: For some people, the boogie stuff is really hit and miss. The tone can be very “spongy” at times which makes it harder to keep the palm-muted stuff tight or really audible. For big, open chordal stuff this amp rocks. But as with pretty much all of our albums, a little tube screamer in front can really tighten up the gain and punch through a lot more. I also own a Triple Rectifier but have to tip my hat to this fine piece of gear – made in California too!
Blackstar Series 100 6L6: These guys have really been great to me, for the past few years they have provided great amps and awesome support for my touring needs around the world. There are several amplifiers that these guys make that are really outstanding, but for my tastes I have to say that the 6L6 is the best one! Thanks so much to Blackstar for all you do for Mike and myself.
Engl Powerball: Another fine feat of German engineering and probably the most versatile amp on this entire list. All the awesome buttons on front allow the player to literally mix and match different tones and the output and sound is just crushing. I have only used this amp overseas but every time the normal back line was not available I was very happy to see this up there as a stand in.
Bad Cat: Not exactly the model we used at Sonic Ranch, but this guy also has been perfect for some mid-way distorted overdubs to be recorded on our albums. I remember that during Beast we really used this a lot for some of the halfway distorted parts. It just stands out perfectly and although not the type to record any of our main rhythm parts – it does what it’s supposed to do.
Fractal Axe Fx2: This is my choice for all my home studio stuff and recordings and also what I use live to get my effects. The power of this thing is incredible and the emulation and features make it a tad bit overwhelming. It’s not a “plug and play” amp. You just have to sit down and put the time into getting the tones and effects you want and read a horrendously long manual. But hey, who said getting great tone was easy?
I probably could go on and on about gear but this is the list I have compiled for today. What are your favorite amps? List in the comments below!