Most people who are interested in this sort of thing have probably seen the videos of Trey Anastasio giving a rundown of the guitar rig he plays through when on tour with Phish. Even if you’re not necessarily a Phish fan, I think you’ll find these videos absolutely fascinating.
A few thoughts:
1. I’m absolutely struck by the fact that Trey has been using a significant portion of his rig literally since the 1980’s. Some of that gear–the power amp and the reverb unit come to mind–is not even particularly high-quality gear (in fact that Microverb is really an old piece of crap!). Even his famed Ross compressor was really just an inexpensive, consumer-grade pedal when it was manufactured.
2. Love the quote “being familiar with your gear is more important than having really good gear.” True dat. I’m a big fan of getting things where you want them, and not messing around too much.
3. I can definitely relate to the idea 8 million hours listening to Band Of Gypsies when he was growing up. I am getting goosebumps right now, just thinking about that “Machine Gun.”
4. He uses a capo on Let It Loose! Haven’t really seen him use a capo on an electric.
5. How cool is it that his compressor was bought for him by some people online (I’m guessing this was a response to his tone in ’02-’04, which was pretty raunchy).
6. Interesting that, as much stuff as Trey has, most of the night he’s playing through the simple rig, which basically consists of two Tube Screamers and a compressor. And that’s what his rig was in the 1980’s.
7. I had no idea that his newest guitar has the ability to switch to single coil, and that he does it quite a bit. Always thought of Trey as a humbucking kind of guy.
8. Love that “once” button thing. No idea that’s how he did Heavy Things.
9. This is the heaviest quote of the whole thing, IMO:
“You really don’t want to listen to yourself, ever. It’s crucially important to hear what somebody else is playing, and if you just listen, you’ll never run out of ideas.”
Those are some words of wisdom from a true Jedi.
I think that the really important message here is that it’s not necessarily the gear that makes a player sound the way he sounds. A good player sounds good, even through gear that’s nothing special. Gear is just a means of shaping your sound. But if your sound and style are lacking to begin with, new gear isn’t going to solve your problems.
Lastly, I’m struck by the unabashed passion that Trey obviously has for what he does. He’s like some kind of loveable geek, who still hangs with his high school buddies 30 years later. It is that infectious passion that makes Phish what it is.