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


"It's always addition or substitution, never subtraction," says tech Dave Holman of Clark's ever-changing board.

"It's getting hard to tame, all of this madness," says Clark in reference to his pedalboard. His original board was smaller—an RMC Wah, Analog Man Analog Delay, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Analog Man Astrotone Fuzz, and Fulltone Octafuzz—but as his profile increased, so did his access to effect experimentation.

Clark's board sees a lot of additions these days, but when I caught up with him, it started with a Korg Pitchblack tuner and custom-voiced Dunlop Cry Baby ("Gary wanted it to sound like it was under water," Holman explains. "It came out perfect."). Next is the Strymon Flint, set for the '70s setting for reverb (it's a little dirtier) and '63 for tremolo. His custom Hermida Audio Zendrive—which replaced his standby Tube Screamer—has a cherry wood box and a hotter voiced midrange and is used as a boost between clean and dirty to warm things up a bit. After that is a prototype of MXR's La Machine, a fuzz with octave control. Clark keeps the gain high and distortion low. Finally, he has a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini, which he settled upon after trying a slew of different Fuzz Face pedals and clones. "[This is] the longest evolution of the pedalboard I've seen him with," says Holdman.

With all of the firepower at his toes, Clark takes full advantage. "He likes to mix it up. He knows what he likes to go to on certain solos, but pretty much every pedal is used at least once on every song," Holdman explains.


While Gary is still wavering in and out of gear lust, Zapata is a veteran of the feeling. During soundcheck, he tried three different pedals on his already expansive board. The pedals are largely covered in black tape to keep the board unified and to keep from being distracting onstage. His signal chain is (counter-clockwise, starting at bottom-left) a Vox wah (used like a volume swell, "Almost like a paintbrush with the wall of sound that I create," he says, "I feel like I'm painting with it."), a Korg Pitchblack tuner, vintage Ibanez AD9, Endangered Audio AD4096 Analog Delay (Zapata likes the infinity switch for ambient parts and the momentary switch for self-oscillation), Moollon Tremolo, Palmer Kaputt Octave pedal, Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octavio, Moollon Locus Octah, Analogman Sun Bender, Analog Man Sun Face, vintage late-'69 Fuzz Face, Analogman Buffer, Moollon Revibe, ???, and ???. Despite the wide array of options, Zapata says he only uses them here and there for specific songs, other than the Fuzz Face. "The tone is mainly the amps," he explains.

On his backline he has a Fender '62 Brownface reverb tank that's always on and an EBS DynaVerb set to Hall.

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