Ron 'Bumblefoot': Gear Talk
Exclusively For UG
FEB 18, 2011
Though no introduction is needed in this guitaristís case, nor could any words do his playing justice, Iíll say this: having had the extreme pleasure of chewing Ron "Bumblefoot"ís ear off about guitars, the man is more than just a guitar player; he is a professional.
And as smart and skilled as the man is with a guitar heís twice that in business smarts and life lessons. So, without further ado, check out Ultimate-Guitarís exclusive look at his gear.
With a long resume of gigs from Guns Ní Rose to his own solo albums, weíd be here till next year going through Bumblefootís archive of guitars so instead he gave UG.com the 411 on his favorite guitar; the Vigier Double Neck.
"I think my absolute favorite is the one I take on tour, itís a double neck and itís got a fretted neck on the bottom, and a fretless neck on top. The company is Vigier, theyíre a company out in France thatís been around for a little over thirty years and Iíve been playing their stuff for about thirteen years now and whatís cool about them is thereís no truss rod in the neck, instead they have a sheet of graphite and Iíve beaten the hell out of these things for a dozen years and thereís never been a problem. All the other guys playing their Les Pauls on stage under the hot lights and suddenly the tuning changes or you get a dark spot. Iíve never needed to retune, it stays, and itís just perfect, no matter how hard I abuse them. I beat the hell out of these and no matter what the conditions it's just great. My tech is happy as hell! Another thing thatís cool about their guitars is they have a zero fret and it just feels better and tunes better. I pretty much play their stuff exclusively; they produced my series of guitars and the crazy flying foot guitar with the moving wings. I like them the best, they feel the best."
For that warm, heavy doused sound Bumblefoot uses DiMarzio Tone Zone in the bridge and a chopper pickup in the neck for a beefier kick in the mid and low-end. The combination of the high out put in the Tone Zone mixed with chopper is sure to give any guitarist a nice thick, bright sound.
"Itís got DiMarzio Pickups - a tone zone by the bridge and a chopper by the neck. And I have a toggle and the way I have it set up is, first position is tone zone by itself, second position is like a single coil, third position is the two together, and the fourth position is the two of them out of phase so you get weird open, quacky kind of sound out of them, and then the fifth position is just the neck pickup- the chopper. Itís the set up in most of my guitars."
"Iíve got Ernie Ball Super Slinky 46 on the bottom and 9s And on the fretless I used 12s"
Effects / Pedal Board
"I try to keep it as simple as possible because to me, everything just gets in the way. I fought to use a long guitar cable because I felt like the wireless changed the sound too much. I definitely like to keep it pure, so I donít use a lot of effects or crazy shit besides the Dunlop WAH. Any other ambient stuff or any special needs Iíll use TC Electronic stuff. I have a Nova System and I just run that through the effects loop and thatís pretty much it."
Amp Heads and Cabs
The most important thing for Ron is his Engl Invader 100 Watt Head. For any guitarist who wants flexibility and control in any given playing situation the Engl delivers with its unique 4 channel layout.
"So Iím going from the guitar right into an Engl Invader 100 Watt head - man I love those things! I think the Engl head is a major part of my sound. The one thing I need the most, to do what I do onstage, is that head."
"For cabinets I took a Marshall 4x12 on tour - and Iíve gone through about every combination of speakers and cabinets and wattage and mics and what ended up sounding the very best is this ISO cabinet that this company makes called Hermit Cab. They make these ISO cabs with the door in the back, a little flap where you can adjust how much it stays open or closed and it lets some of the sound out and it shapes your mid range so it doesnít sound boxy or anything. The thing sounds fucking great! So I loaded the Celestions into that with two mics and thatís what goes to the front of house."
On Writing For Scarlet Haze Vs Guns N Roses
"Their label hooked it up - DirtBag. They had the song, they had the singer and she was cool as hell so I went down and just did it! With Guns doing my thing it was a lot more organic. If I tried to do something fancy the producer will be like ďCut it out with that Steve Via shit!Ē Now when Iím alone in my studio and I can do whatever I want, thatís how it was for recording the song ďReach DownĒ. When Iím off the road I just live in the studio and bust out shit. Most of the time people just say ďDo your thingĒ when Iím writing for other bands and fortunately, I havenít had any complaints so far! Every single thing you do has its own boundaries and with Guns I wouldnít say itís pressure, itís just more to consider. Itís more about the individual challenge that comes with playing or writing for each project; deciding for each thing what itís going to sound like."
Quirkey Guitar Habit
"One thing Iíve been doing for over twenty years is I play with a little thimble on the pinky of my picking hand and I use that to tap all the notes that are higher than whatís on the fret board. So when I need to get another note out and Iím out of frets - letís say I wanna hit what would be the 27th fret, like an octave above the highest G, I can just hit the metal thimble down and it acts as if you were pressing the fret up against the string. Thatís how I get a lot of the high notes."
On Making A Successful Career Out Of Playing Guitar
"First thing is
diversity! Think of yourself as a portfolio - I know that sounds
cheesy but you need to think that way! Donít put all your money into
one stock. If you want to make a living youíre going to be teaching,
and while your doing that youíre going to be doing cover gigs, and
while thatís going you're going to be writing songs and
collaborating with other bands, and youíre going to be putting out
your own music as well. Do as many things with music as you can.
Whatever it is, thereís a million things that a person can do in
music and when you put it all together you can make a living. But if
youíre saying, well ĎIím going to sit home for ten hours a day and
practice and think Iím magical going to become a rockstarí no! It
doesnít work that way! The other thing is why would anyone want to
work with you? I chalk it up to three things: (1) Donít be late
ever! I know coming from a guitarist in Guns Ní Roses right?!? But
seriously when youíre supposed to be somewhere at 2 oíclock pull up
at 1:45 and sit in the car till 1:58 and then walk in two minutes
early and then youíre on time! (2) Be overly prepared. Donít just
learn your part, learn the other guitarist's part because I
guarantee you heís going to step on his cable right when heís
supposed to play that cool melody and its going to pop out and
youíll be able to cover it and save the song. So know everything!
Know all the parts, even with recording. Be aware of the drum beat
and what the bass is hitting and where the accents are because some
guy is gonna say ĎDo something that goes along with the drumsí and
this way you know, youíve got a feel for what the drummer's doing
and you can just bang that out. And (3) Just donít be a dick!
Seriously, be cool. No matter how good you are if no one can stand
being in the same room with you it doesnít matter. In the end it's
about quality of life; you can be a fucking rockstar and be doing
everything but if youíre fucking miserable it doesnít mean anything.
So attitude goes a long way. Just roll with shit, be easy but be on
time and be prepared and have that as the philosophy for everything