Frank Turner Gear Breakdown
Described as an ‘English Folk and Punk singer-songwriter’, Frank came to prominence as the lead singer of post-hardcore band Million Dead.
He has since carved out a successful solo career with hits such as ‘I still believe’ picking up 2.2m hits on Youtube.
Frank was only too happy to discuss band gear, it’s always great to have a chat with someone who genuinely loves the subject…
So, Frank can you tell us what guitars you use on tour?
And not only that but I also play guitar hard. I hammer the crap out of my guitars, both in terms of my actual technique and the fact that I jump around and into and on top of stuff and all the rest of it. Over the years I’ve had some incredible guitars that couldn’t take the beating.
In the last couple of years I have finally settled down with some Martin D-90’s which are beautiful guitars to play.
For strings, I use medium gauge Ernie Balls
They take a bashing then?
And weirdly it was actually going thinner rather than thicker made a difference. And also about the pick that I use, because if you use really thick strings it kind of instinctively just made me hit the strings harder which doesn’t help. So I came down a gauge, I was using heavy strings.
Is it a psychological thing do you think?
The grey ones?
So how do you amplify the acoustic on stage?
And we use Fishman Aura Spectrum DI’s, which are bloody great. And again I’ve been through a lot of different types of DI’s over the years and they are the ones that I have definitively settled with, and actually funnily enough, the Aura Spectrum DI’s have, well there’s a whole load of controls on them and you can do the guitar modelling thing.
Over the years I tend to use less of the modelling sound than I used to because the actual DI inside them is so good, you know particularly if you’ve got a good guitar plugged in on the other end.
So you don’t use a specific acoustic amp on stage?
We use Sennheiser gear for all the wireless stuff and there’s a little bit of tone leaching that goes on, so you get a better tone out when you’re plugged in with a direct lead, but unfortunately I also want to run around everywhere, but we’ve got the best wireless system that they do and that sounds good.
So, electric guitars?
So they had this hollow body Les Paul and not only that but I have a real thing about white guitars. I love white guitars, and then Gibson called me up and told me they had this white hollow body Les Paul and would I like to try it.
And I was just like Holy shit. Yes. And then I tried it and completely fell in love and then they gave it to me which was a wonderful thing.
Is that with a single humbucker?
What amps do you use with the electrics?
If I had to pick an amp that I love most I would pick orange amps. I love orange amps they’re great.
‘First of all, like the whole thing that modelling technology has now finally reached a point where they sound good. There was a long period of time where I think that wasn’t the case, the Line Six pods and that kind of thing. It was a good idea, but the sound quality wasn’t up to scratch in my opinion.’
I feel like, particularly in a room this size (Cardiff Motorpoint Arena), the control that a Kemper gives my sound guy. He is over the moon that I use a Kemper these days because of his control of my tone. As is my guitar tech because there’s a huge world of kind of messing around with the tone that you can do, but it’s just it’s effectively an electric DI that sounds good.
And the other thing that’s great about Kempers is that when we tour internationally, which we do, we have a separate backline in the USA that we use when we’re over there and we just literally take a USB stick with us and that has all my settings. Easy.
So who controls the Kemper? Is it from the desk?
No that’s my guitar tech that does all that. So if there’s tweaks to be made, it’s just off stage. I have to say that my guitar tech is somebody who is considerably better versed in the world of gear and amps and all that kind of thing that I am.
He was playing with Jetplane Landing and bands like this and had a great tone himself and I trust him fully. So if he occasionally makes a little tweak to the tone then that’s fine with me.
‘Even my bass player started going through a Kemper now as well and it’s a funny thing. I mean I guess that kind of an analog purist in me wants to be a bit more suspicious of them than I actually am but they just work really well.’
The only thing about a Kemper which I find annoying is that there’s no possibility of generating feedback because there’s no speaker that you can put your guitar up against