Premier Guitar’s world-famous Rig Rundowns take you backstage to explore the live gear used by your favorite guitar and bass players. Whether you’re into shred, country, indie, or classic rock, Rig Rundowns give you the lowdown on the instruments, pedals, and amps powering the biggest acts on the road today—and often we even coax them into demoing their favorite settings. Listen now and pick up new tricks for how to set up your rig!
Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr & Paul Jackson 
39:11Right now, they’re in Europe, but Atlanta-based rockers with a distinctly Southern musical accent, Blackberry Smoke, smoked Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for two nights in February before jumping the pond.Their latest album, You Hear Georgia, was produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville, and hit the top of the Billboard Americana/Folk chart when it was released in mid-2021. PG’s John Bohlinger caught up with guitarists Charlie Starr and Paul Jackson before their sold-out show at the Ryman to run down their ever-expanding universe of gear.Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd 
40:22It’s been 11 years since Kenny Wayne Shepherd filmed his previous Rig Rundown. PG’s John Bohlinger caught up with the blues-rocker before his recent sold-out show at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium to hear some killer playing and see some untouchable—by anyone but Kenny and his tech—gear.The tour stop was supporting the December 2022 release of Trouble Is … 25, a re-recording of his 1997 breakthrough album, which had four top 10 hits when it was originally issued: “Slow Ride,” “Somehow, Somewhere, Someway,” “Everything is Broken,” and “Blue on Black.” There have been seven other studio recordings since then, and while he’s still mostly a Strat player, some other instruments have joined his armada, too. And Dumbles … he has lots of Dumbles.Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.
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Lake Street Dive
35:00College internships can run the gamut. They can lead you into a career or dissuade you from pursuing one altogether. In 2004, while still attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, singer Rachael Price, bassist Bridget Kearney, guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson, and drummer Mike Calabrese joined forces to perform as what they dubbed a “free country band,” where they intended to play country music in an improvised, avant-garde style. As it goes with many college-years experiments, it didn’t stick, but the fervid foursome pushed forward in continuing to develop their own sound. They quickly graduated to a bona fide band cultivating a buzz with infectious concerts, creative covers, and complex, groovy originals. Through their mutual influences and complimentary counterpoints, their sound matured into a harmonious fusion, as if Berry Gordy produced the Beatles in Nashville’s RCA Studio.If starting a band and shaping their sound was an internship and bachelor’s degree, self-releasing records and organizing U.S. tours would be their master’s and doctorate. They self-released 2007’s In This Episode... and 2008’s Promises, Promisesbefore joining Signature Sounds, who put out 2010’s Lake Street Dive and 2014’s Bad Self Portraits. (The latter slotted them on the Billboard charts—No. 18 in the 200 and No. 5 in Top Rock Albums.) They then signed to Nonesuch, where they’ve dropped three more albums—most notably 2016’s Side Pony, which put them atop the Top Rock Albums chart, while 2021’s Obviously netted them their highest single, with “Hypotheticals” hitting No. 2 on the Adult Alternative Airplay chart.And while the band has continued to evolve, experiment, and expand their signature sound, they have kept to their core identity—having fun. They seem never to miss a Halloween dress-up show, and still aren’t gun-shy about covering classics and making them their own. Setlists are often littered with audience requests and reinterpretations of the Beatles, Hall & Oates, George Michael, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis, Shania Twain, the Pointer Sisters, the Jackson Five, the Kinks, Steely Dan, Annie Lennox, Sly & the Family Stone, and countless others.The afternoon before their second consecutive sellout at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Lake Street Dive’s Bridget Kearney and James Cornelison welcomed PG’s Chris Kies on stage for a casual gear chat. Kearney explained how she uses a pair of octave pedals through her standup double bass, and what she’s doing with four tuners! Plus, she explains what restarted her slow-burn courtship with electric bass. Then, Cornelison walks us through his setup, which includes leftover pieces from cofounding guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson and a ratty pickup bought off a former PGstaffer. It both honors the band’s catalog and carves his own musical fingerprint.Brought to you by D’Addario Nexxus 360 Tuner.
Jared James Nichols 
46:16“I feel like a lot of people, when they see me play, they think, ‘Oh, it's going to be super aggressive, and there's a lot of shades of that,” shares Jared James Nichols. “But I'm so obsessed with the tone, the feel of it…. Growing up listening to Jeff Beck, Albert King, guys like that; the super feel stuff to me is where it's at.”That sentiment is overwhelmingly clear when hearing just a single note of Nichols’ playing. And what makes his musicianship that much more compelling is his abandonment of the pick—most of the time, he’s not really “fingerpicking,” but he uses his fingers to shred like any picking guitarist. He explains, “I'm a lefty, so that's where it originated. I tried to use a pick, and I was really uncoordinated. I can play a lot of the same riffs that someone could do with a pick, but play ’em and they sound a lot different.”Earlier this year, Nichols came out with his third full-length release, Jared James Nichols, which adds to his catalog 12 more dirt-covered, gritty tunes that dig in with his infectious passion and signature, glistening tone. The album comes on the heels of Nichols’ growing success, bolstered by his extensive touring and tens and thousands of new fans.Given his commitment to Les Pauls, it’s fitting that Nichols was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the birthplace of the guitar’s namesake inventor. Now, Nichols is a global ambassador of Gibson Guitars, an honor shared by only four other guitarists. And, since his last Rig Rundown, he was honored with a signature Epiphone guitar. In this new look at his rig, he shares his legion of trusty Les Pauls, as well as why he prefers simplicity when it comes to amps and pedals.Brought to you by https://ddar.io/XSE.RR.
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
1:14:50Since their debut, Before the Sun Goes Down, in 2014, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley have made a name for themselves as some of the hottest country and bluegrass players in the business. As individuals, their credits range from Willie Nelson to Earl Scruggs to Merle Haggard—and as a duo, they’ve toured and recorded with artists including Tommy Emmanuel, Taj Mahal, Jorma Kaukonen & Hot Tuna, Luther Dickinson, and Molly Tuttle. It’s likely their forthcoming full-length release, Living in a Song, will only bolster their already impressive reputation.Out on February 10th, Living in a Song is a new collection of two covers and 10 originals that were inspired by Ickes and Hensley’s life on the road. They collaborated with long-time producer Brent Maher (Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson) along with some award-winning songwriters to compose a total of 40 songs, which were then trimmed down to the resulting selection. That final cut of material leans into a classic country sound, with some Americana and bluegrass thrown in.Along with the aforementioned credits, Ickes and Hensley have long been established, separately, as formidable musicians. Ickes has been International Bluegrass Music Association Dobro Player of the Year an incredible 15 times, and Hensley made his debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry at just 11 years old. In other words, the two have been around the block, and especially know their way around dobros and flattop acoustics.Earlier this month, PG’s John Bohlinger met up with the duo at 3Sirens Studio in Nashville, where they played some mind-blowing music, and gave a rundown of some of their favorite guitars and gear.Brought to you by D’Addario Humidipak.
58:32“You gotta remember, I wasn’t really shit until about a year-and-a-half ago,” Bartees Strange reminds the crowd at Nashville’s Basement East just before performing his song, “Hennessy.” “I was just in my basement playing guitar. And my wife was like, ‘Do the dishes ... Do something other than play guitar.’ Now all I do is play guitar again [laughs].”Strange (born Bartees Leon Cox, Jr.), is a sponge and synthesis of everywhere he’s been and everything he’s seen or heard. Born in England and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his experience performing with Brooklyn-based post-hardcore outfit Stay Inside and a later move to Washington D.C. have all contributed to his singular cosmic sound. He notes during the Rundown that, as an adolescent, his guitar heroes were Thomas Erak of the Fall of Troy and Omar Rodríguez-López of At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta. But in the next sentence, he confesses his love for Nelly.“I always thought people aren’t really honest all the time with what they’re listening to,” asserts Strange. “I think a lot of people like a lot of things. I grew up in a pretty country town, and everyone would say they just like country music. But I was like, ‘You like the Nelly record, dog. You like Get Rich or Die Tryin', man, and you also like LeAnn Rimes and Toby Keith songs, and Brad Paisley’s guitar playing. But you also jam B2K and pop songs, too.’ I’ve never been afraid or ashamed of what I like, so it all goes into my own music.”What he’s been saying through 2020’s Live Forever and 2022’s Farm to Table has been connecting with fans and critics alike. The magnetism is Strange’s smooth synergy. This allows him to touchpoint influences from albums like Nelly’s Country Grammar, At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command, the National’s Boxer, and Phoebe Bridger’s Punisher into one harmonious, original package that has landed him on dozens of year-end lists and earned him an 83/100 rating from Metacritic for both of his full-length releases. [Editor’s Note: The Metacritic website uses their proprietary Metascore to distill the opinions of the most respected critics’ writing online and in print to a single number.]Finishing his earlier thought to the Nashville crowd, he summarized: “‘Hennessy’ is a song I wrote when I was a kid, and growing up I thought there was all these weird stereotypes I had to get over to become who I am … [The hook of the song is meant] to kind of say, I know there’s all these expectations of what a black person does … but I just want you to see me for who I am and for what I’m trying to say.”He might not have been “shit” 18 months ago, but he’s certainly on his way to becoming the something of the sort in the coming years. We’ll be here listening and appreciating.Ahead of Strange’s final 2022 tour date supporting Farm to Table, Bartees and his guitar-playing compatriots welcomed PG’s Chris Kies onstage at Nashville’s Basement East to talk shop. During the interview, the trio explained how their “guitar wars” create a compatibly melodic arms race and structure their cohesive sound. We get introduced to a collection of oddball axes and go through their collective...
25:50When it comes to jazz virtuoso Julian Lage, you’d be hard-pressed to find an electric guitarist who uses less gear. “Any time I’ve [used too much equipment], there’s an awkwardness where I’m still grappling with the fact that I play here,” he says, gesturing to his guitar, then gesturing to his amp, “but the sound comes out there.” He continues, “It sounds like a joke, but it’s been a struggle for me. Any time there’s layers or filters or anything, I feel dissociated.” Of course, Lage’s rig, which buoys his clean, no-frills tone, makes sense for a musician like himself—whose playing often comes across fluidly, and as gently as his personality.For Lage, that fluidity stems from his conception of music as a language. “I think that the way people speak is often more unfettered,” Lage told Premier Guitar in 2021. “There might not be an obvious correlation between the way people speak in a lecture and the notes on the guitar. But it's just a little stretch of the imagination to see that those are pitches, those are rhythms, those are phrases."On View with a Room, Lage’s second release on the hallowed Blue Note Records, he’s offering a fresh, bold continuation of the conversation he’s created over the years. The album features his latest ensemble, made up of himself, bassist Jorge Roeder, and drummer Dave King—but this time, he’s added the legendary Bill Frisell. Together, the musicians help to expand Lage’s body of work with performances of 10 of his original compositions.While on tour for the album, Lage invited PG’s John Bohlinger to the soundcheck before his show at Brooklyn Bowl inn Nashville to share his insights into why he likes a straightforward rig and “honest” tone. In the interview, Lage elaborates on his three main guitars (his Nachocaster, Collings signature, and ’55 Les Paul), explains why he prefers low volume on his amps, and offers a remarkably brief tour of his pedalboard.Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.
45:11We’ve featured loud rigs. We’ve stood strong in front of Matt Pike’s octet of Oranges, been washed over with waves of volume from Angus Young’s nine Marshalls for AC/DC’s “small gig setup” in an arena, trembled from J Mascis’ three plexi full stacks, and even withstood Bonamassa’s barrage of seven amps at the Ryman, but nothing prepared us or compared to the Godzilla-rising-from-the-Pacific roar that is Sunn O)))’s auditory artillery. And it’s more than the sheer sight of 14 amps and 16 cabs or the dishing of deafening decibels; it’s the interplay of these characters and their conductors.“The third member of the band is the amplifiers!” laughed Greg Anderson in a 2014 interview with PG. “We use vintage Sunn Model Ts from the early ’70s. They’re a crucial part of the show. I’ve got more amps than I have guitars.”Stephen O’Malley takes a more metaphysical outlook to the connection between him and the thundering Model Ts. “My philosophy is that I’m just part of this bigger circuit of the instrumentation,” he says. “You have, of course, the amplifier valves, the speaker, effects pedals acting like different and various voltage filters, the air in the room, and the feedback generated from all this equipment, so who’s in the band is immaterial.”We learned more about O’Malley’s perspective when, following a 90-minute drive southeast from Nashville to Pelham, Tennessee, and a short descent into The Caverns, the Sunn O))) guitar tag team welcomed PG’s Chris Kies onstage for an amplifying chat. O’Malley details his signature Travis Bean Designs SOMA 1000A, while Anderson explains how a broken guitar led him to his beloved Les Paul goldtop. Both pay homage and reverence to the eight Sunn Model Ts that form the band’s foundational tonal force, and explain why the LM308-chip Rat influenced their Life Pedal collaboration with EarthQuaker Devices.Special Silver 25th anniversary edition of the V.3 Life PedalSunn O)) Official WebsiteBrought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
Ariel Posen 
36:02KingTone’s The Duellist is currently Ariel Posen’s most-used pedal. One side of the dual drive (the Bluesbreaker voicing) is always on. But there’s another duality at play when Posen plugs in—the balance between songwriter and guitarist.“These days, I like listening to songs and the story and the total package,” Posen told PG back in 2019, when talking about his solo debut, How Long, after departing from his sideman slot for the Bros. Landreth. “Obviously, I’m known as a guitar player, but my music and the music I write is not guitar music. It’s songs, and it goes back to the Beatles. I love songs, and I love story and melody and singing, and there was a lot of detail and attention put into the guitar sound and the playing and the parts—almost more than I’ve ever done.”And in 2021, he found himself equally expressing his yin-and-yang artistry by releasing two albums that represented both sides of his musicality. First, Headway continued the sultry sizzle of songwriting featured on How Long. Then he surprised everyone, especially guitarists, by dropping Mile End, which is a 6-string buffet of solo dishes with nothing but Ariel and his instrument of choice.But what should fans expect when they see him perform live? “I just trust my gut. I can reach more people by playing songs, and I get moved more by a story and lyrics and harmony, so that’s where I naturally go. The live show is a lot more guitar centric. If you want to hear me stretch out on some solos, come see a show. I want the record and the live show to be two separate things.”The afternoon ahead of Posen’s headlining performance at Nashville’s Basement East, the guitar-playing musical force invited PG’s Chris Kies on stage for a robust chat about gear. The 30-minute conversation covers Posen’s potent pair of moody blue bombshells—a hollow, metal-bodied Mule Resophonic and a Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster—and why any Two-Rock is his go-to amp. He also shares his reasoning behind avoiding effects loops and volume pedals.Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
19:04Swarms of musicians and guitarists have found social media’s current 60-second attention span inspirational and fruitful. But what happens after that first minute? Well, for TikTok bass tycoon Blu DeTiger, you become a shooting star. However, her story isn’t that sudden or serendipitous. She’s been working towards the spotlight since she first picked up the bass to jam with her drummer brother, Rex, at age 7.“He was playing drums and I wanted to play an instrument,” recalls DeTiger. “As a girl, I thought guitar was ‘mainstream’ because I saw that everywhere and thought bass was rare and it would be more unique to play. I fell in love with it and my passion took over.”Further fanning her musical flame, she joined School of Rock and performed semester-ending concerts covering Zeppelin, Bowie, Prince, the Stones, and others. She collaborated and performed with Chromeo and Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers. Inspired by horn-playing DJs, she even toted her bass to DJ gigs, where she laid down the funkiest lines she could muscle out over the top of her playlists.“I saw people playing saxophone or trumpet over songs they were DJ-ing and I had really never seen bass used in that context. Bass is fire and it should feel good in a club because of the low frequencies hitting you.” An added benefit of the symbiotic sets was elevating her improvisational skills.Then, the pandemic hit and DeTiger took to social media, finding a creative outlet on TikTok by adding dance-y flourishes and bouncy thunder to classic tracks. She earned a spot helping announce Fender’s Player Plus P and scored a deal with ALT:VISION Records, releasing the How Did We Get Here? EP in early 2021. She’s since graduated to being an UMG Recordings/Capitol Records artist and continues to embrace the snippet culture by churning out singles: “Blondes,” “Blutooth,” “enough 4 u,” “Crash Course,” and “Hot Crush Lover.” Yeah, you might only see 60 seconds of her talent before the algorithm pushes you by, but she’s put in years of sweat to get this far. What’s the plan going forward? To throw one helluva party, of course!Ahead of her headlining set at Nashville’s Basement East, the booming bass star jumped at the chance to give her eager fans what they’ve been asking for—a Rig Rundown. In the chat with PG’s Chris Kies, she covers why she saw the bass as an underdog, how a Jazz tops a P bass, and explains the reason behind not going through her “crazy pedal phase” yet.Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.