Rig Report

Live Gear Spotlight: Gary Clark Jr

Rebecca Dirks catches up with modern blues phenom Gary Clark Jr to take a look at the gear he's using at gigs.

  • By Rebecca Dirks @tonereport
  • January 13, 2014
  • 1 Comments

Guitars

Epiphone Casino Reissue 

Gary Clark Jr., true to his Austin roots, did his time on a Stratocaster before eventually settling on his signature Epiphone Casino. "I'm searching for the perfect combination of round and solid, but not too muddy," he explains, "and it's got to have some sort of a bite. The Casino gives me the biggest range of what I'm looking for." While he recently acquired an absolutely pristine vintage model that he can't seem to put down, his long-time main axe is a cherry red Korean model that he added a Bigsby to.

 

1966 Epiphone Casino

His favorite guitar at the moment, however, is this stock 1966 Epiphone Casino he acquired in London. It's incredibly clean with a worn cherry finish—the original red is visible where the pickguard once was (he removed it). Gary is in love. "It's just kind of set in its ways," he says. "The neck is beautiful. I don't know why it is, but when you put on the middle pickup, it has a cool nasally kind of BB King, T-Bone Walker type of tone. I've never found it on any other Casino. It's special."

 

1975 Fender Telecaster 

When he's not playing the Casino, Clarks' next go-to guitar is a stock vintage Tele. Inspired by Albert Collins, he's always wanted a blonde Tele and uses it for "Aint Messin 'Round" and "Travis County." He adds, laughing, "And whenever I'm trying to be Keith Richards during soundcheck."

 

Epiphone Gary Clark Jr. Casino Prototype

Amongst the other semi-hollows in his arsenal is this stunning blue Casino, a prototype from Epiphone for a signature model. It's currently stock other than the color ("I always wanted a blue guitar since I was a kid," he says), but he's considering making other changes—he's just not sure what. "I just kind of like it as-is. I'm sure i'll come up with something weird."

 

1966 Fender Jazzmaster

The oddball of the group is a yellow vintage Jazzmaster, which is a whole new feel for Clark. He's still getting used to the guitar, and plays it occasionally on "Third Stone from the Sun" and "If You Love Me Like You Say."

 

1960s Gibson ES-330

This 1966 or '67 ES-330 is also dead stock, and is currently being used live for slide on the track "Numb." He also uses a late-'50s Gibson archtop for encores (not pictured). He prefers the feel and old-school sound when playing without the band. Clark uses D'Addario 10s or 11s, depending upon the guitar, medium Dunlop picks, and Dunlop glass slides.

 

1963 Fender Strat

King Zapata complements Clark's semi-hollowbody tone with his main guitar, a refinished 1963 Fender Strat. A Strat guy ("I'm from Austin," he says, matter-of-factly), Zapata found something special in this guitar.  "It's just one of those guitars that everything works on—took me a long time to find that. It sounds good in every pedal, not a typical Strat sound…you can hear my fingers, you can hear me."

 

'70s Ibanez Flying V 

He also uses a '70s Ibanez Flying V, his tribute to the legendary Albert King, tuned to an unspecified "Albert King tuning," he explains with a smile. "I try not to be predictable, try a different route." Zapata's different routes include contrasting Clark in both playing and tone. "It's too much of the same and it gets boring and unfulfilling."

Lowell SG & Epiphone Doubleneck SG

Zapata also travels with a Lowell SG with three Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups and an Epiphone Doubleneck SG with Seymour Duncan Antiquities. He uses the 6-string in Open A for "Don't Owe You" and other slide work, and the 12-string for "When My Train Pulls In," in a "Skip James tuning."

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