I would not describe myself as a gear freak. I like to keep things as simple as possible in that respect – I guess more of a jazz approach than a rock approach, ultimately. I like my gear to facilitate ideas as quickly and as easily as possible. Too much tech can get in the way of capturing a flash of inspiration – rare as that is.
As an ex-classical guitarist, I have grown accustomed to playing with a very flat fretboard. As a result, the radius on my electric guitars needs to be at least 12″ for me to feel at home. Additionally, classical guitar action tends to be quite high. It’s just a result of the physics of sound projection on such a quiet, acoustic instrument. Needless to say, I find a high action to be very difficult to play on. Luckily, action on electrics can be much, much lower, and I like to exploit this feature. The action should be so low as to not actually be apparent. If a guitar won’t get down to my required level then it is out the door as quickly as it came in. So, with that in mind, here’s what I’m using at the moment…
For a few years now, I’ve mainly used a 2019 Jackson Pro Dinky DK2M in Snow White. The DK2M has an alder body, 24 jumbo frets and a 12”- 16” compound radius maple fingerboard. The pickups are Seymour Duncan, with a JB (bridge) and ’59 (neck) plus a Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo. The fretboard is flat and wide, it has the two 8ve range per string and is relatively lightweight. I just find this guitar has the best feel and tones for the music I’m writing at this time.
Below, the Yamaha DG Stomp. Developed by Allan Holdsworth w/ Yamaha, this is the main source of my sound. Great effects and loads of EQ possiblities. An Old-Skool piece of kit, but I’ve never come across a modeller pre-amp that is as good as this. I gather Frank Gambale had some input into creating patches for this as well so it has a certain stamp of quality to it. I find the distortions to be very realistic, without that sterile sound that you get from some more well-known modellers 🙂
I get my ‘synth-like’ guitar sound from a Donner Harmonic Square pedal. Set at one 8ve up with a tiny amount of concert pitch and a massive amount of mids, it sounds very powerful. This method creates a more ‘trumpet-like’ sound that makes soloing much more fun. The Donner tracks really well and doesn’t mind playing two notes at once – something which my old Boss pedal didn’t like to do.
For all The John Irvine Band recordings I have used MOTU’s Digital Performer DAW, a program I’ve used for over 25 years now. It houses the terrific MX4 virtual instrument set that provides all the synth sounds on my albums. I’m currently using DP10.
I use the Focusrite 2i2 audio interface, a Gen 3 that includes the Air pre-amps. For the price it’s the best, easiest to use converter on the market.
Finally, I currently use an M-Audio Keystation 49 keys MIDI controller (compact – yet big enough for playing two hand chords) and I’m running all of this on a 2017 iMac currently set up with OSX Catalina.