The Bluetones Gear Breakdown

by | Oct 22, 2018 | Band Gear Breakdowns | 0 comments

The Bluetones have been touring and making records since the mid 90’s and came to the nations consciousness with the release of their debut album Expecting to Fly in 1996, which entered the UK album charts at number one. The album featured the absolutely essential Slight Return catapulting them to the spotlight.

22 years later I sent my trusty brothers in arms, Chris and Alex to meet the band to see what gear they are using currently on their UK tour. They caught up with the band in the Globe Club in Cardiff.

Are you still using Vox AC30 amps?

‘I do, but I don’t really use them live, I use a Marshall live and use the Vox amps for recording. The Marshall is better for live stuff because it’s more of a blank canvas, the Vox is quite ‘Honky’, bassy and low and in some venues it doesn’t work so well’

‘The Marshall is a Valvestate Combo which I’ve used for years now, I put it on clean channel and use Tube Screamers. I use 3 Tube Screamers.


(No better amp than a Marshall stack)

What guitar do you use, still using Rickenbackers?

‘Yeah sometimes, I’m generally using a Gretsch Silverjet, that’s my go to guitar. I use a Gibson 335 a bit and occasionally a Rickenbacker. We didn’t bring the Rickenbacker on this tour, we had plans to but Jimmy didn’t bring it! I got it out in rehearsal, they are just hard work, they go out of tune really easily and I find once I play my other favourite guitars I just don’t need it.’

‘I still play a telecaster a bit as well. I farmed most of my guitars out because I just had too many.’

(Gretsch Guitar and Telecaster)

I remember you using a Premier drum kit at one stage, do you still use it?

‘No, it’s a Ludwig kit now, we used to use a Premier kit in the early days, that was because I had a Yamaha kit which got nicked after a gig in Leeds and the next day Premier were on the phone saying come and get some gear, so I used them for a while, a couple of years I think. Then I saw this lovely Ludwig 66’ called Sparkle, I loved it then started using it.

For cymbals I use a Zildjan Sweet Ride (22) and a Zildjan Thin Crash (16). My favourites are old school Paiste 602 Hi Hats but they are really hard to come by these days, so I use Turkish Vintage Soul which are fairly close to those great Paiste hats. Oh and I use a chain on the ride to make it a sizzler.’

(Ludwig Drum Kit)

What about bass guitar?

‘I had a Hofner in the early days, but I could hardly use it at all because of feedback, then I had a Gibson SG which was really long and heavy…..I use a Gretsch now.’

‘What you do when you get in a band, is you buy all the stuff that you think looks cool, like he bought his Hofner bass, which was a lovely looking thing but it was a nightmare. He had to stuff dusters inside it to stop it feeding back.’

‘Same with me and my Rickenbacker, i’ve just always wanted one, but then you start using other guitars and they don’t look as good but they’re better.’ 

Do you think that some of your choices of instruments have dictated the style of tracks you write?

‘Yeah I would say so, you can certainly hear that on our records. I’d say our first album is definitely a Rickenbacker record, and the second album is when I got into Gretsch’s and Gibson’s and Tele’s, just sort of dirty sounding, no acoustic guitars at all, so yeah I think so.’
(The band didn’t go into each pedal they use so here is a snap of one of the pedalboards)

So are there arguments about the type of sound one of you wants to use in the studio?

It’s been such a long time since we’ve written anything, we haven’t put out a record since 2008 so it’s hard to recall. Technically we split up in 2011. We might make another one though, we have thought about it. We haven’t actually written anything, but we’ve thought about it! But no, we never used to argue in the studio, no more than any other band.

‘I remember when we made Luxembourg, we had a little glockenspiel and we had an argument then because I thought everything should just drop out and everyone else disagreed! So again, no major issues!’

Thank you to The Bluetones for their time and for giving us an insight into the gear they use for their live shows.

You can check out their upcoming shows here.

If you like this kind of article be sure to keep checking our site for similar ones. Our gear breakdown for The Proclaimers is here.

Leave us a comment below, we will always respond.

John has been in and out of bands all his life, toured and recorded in some of the UK’s most prestigious venues and studio’s. Also worked on stage with some of the world’s biggest acts setting up amps and breaking down stages.

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