Neil Finn’s Fleetwood Mac guitar rig tour with Marcus Catanzaro

Photo: Justin Wysong

Last week I had the immense pleasure of seeing Fleetwood Mac at Rod Laver Arena here in Melbourne. As you no doubt know, the 2019 incarnation of the Mac features Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (I’ll be bringing you a podcast episode with Mike when his new record comes out next year). Neil used plenty of gorgeous guitars during the show and his tones were impeccable. The man responsible for wrangling this stable of axes is Marcus Catanzaro, and he graciously lent his time to talk us through what’s what.

What are Neil’s main guitars on the Fleetwood Mac tour? He seems to mainly go between a red Gretsch and a Les Paul Goldtop.

Neil has about 17 guitars out on this Fleetwood run right now. Ten of them are Gretsch Duo Jets in some form. We tend to always default back to his 1958 Firebird Duo Jet as a reference for ideal tone and gain structures. Actually, whilst we were in Los Angeles rehearsing last year, I had the privilege of spending a bunch of time with Mike Taft and Gretsch Master builder Stephen Stern. We spent hours taking detail from Neil’s 58’ Firebird, and Stephen, along with help from Tom at TV JONES pickups, managed to create a custom shop replica that looks and sounds mind-blowing. We also have a 1956 red Firebird, a 1964 black Duojet and then a whole bunch of brand new factory reissues. These newer models sound and feel incredible, but more importantly, are so much more rock solid than the vintage ones they followed (a hugely important factor on the road and in extreme climates). 

Photo: Jason Paul

Tell me about the Maton acoustic and how come it sounds so damn nice!

Neil plays the 808 classic body Matons. They are significantly smaller-bodied than most other Matons which means they don’t need as much of a heavy hand to really push sound, and they can put out a seriously balanced and controlled tone. I believe Neil worked closely with Maton to develop this particular model a decade or so ago, he found that the guitar performed well across all stage sizes and between multiple playing styles. We have about six of these in total on the road, each varying slightly in timbers. The AP5 pickup system that sits inside each of these is stupidly stable, so much so that we never use feedback busters on stage! Thats a big win for tone! 

Photo: Justin Wysong

What’s the deal with that Maton 12-string electric? It’s beautiful!

It’s the ultimate 12-string tone….. I will never divulge the secrets! 

What’s on the pedalboard? What amps? 

Right now on Fleetwood Mac we have a new system that we built in rehearsals last year. The extensive setlist meant covering new tones and sounds that Neil wouldn’t normally look for, whilst trying to maintain Neil’s iconic sound in there. Neil and I went through about 30 vintage amp combinations, wet/dry/wet rigs, stereo rigs etc etc etc. We finally settled with an offstage and on stage rig to balance volume, feel and tone. Offstage you will find two isolation cabinets next to me. Cabinet 1 holds two vintage 1968 VOX AC30s (main and spare) and Cabinet 2 holds two (main and spare) Fender Bassman 69 reissues from the team at Fender. These both run mono (so both get all sounds and effects evenly). The concept is that the Vox is allowed to run loud and a little harsh (as Voxes do best) and then the Bassman can come in with a lower-end frequency and balance out that tone.

On stage, Neil has a 60’s Fender Princeton Reverb and a 1950 Gibson GA50. Same again; both amps get all signal, the Princeton is the bulk of the tone and the GA50 helps round out the bottom end and smooth it all over. Neil’s pedalboard is pretty simple and features two vintage Electro-Harmonix Memory Man delays, the famous kiwidesigned HOT CAKE, a Bondi Effects SICK AS over drive, a Boss DD-3 delay, an Electro Harmonix Freeze pedal and then two of amazing new Echo Fix Australia analogue tape delay machines, which can be controlled by pedals at Neil’s feet. 

Photo: Jason Paul

Tell us about your background and some of your tech adventures! What do you like to play for fun?

Well, I grew up in Western Sydney and from the age of 13, played in or worked for almost every punk, hardcore or rock band ever (it felt like anyway!). Later down the line I was a guitar player on the X Factor and for Sony Music’s artist roster, then went back to teching around the world for a whole bunch of excellent Australians bands. I was introduced to Neil a few years back by another one of his techs, Rowan ‘Digga’ Johnston and I’ve been lucky enough to keep working for him ever since. It’s been a wild ride on tour with Fleetwood Mac, the lessons have been totally invaluable and the caliber of crew out here is mindblowing. I’ll either know how to do everything ever or be able to write a killer ’behind’ rock and roll book by the end of this! Haha. 

Thanks to Heath Blows and Fender Music Australia.

Photo: Justin Wysong

Photo: Jason Paul

Gretsch Tom Petersson Signature Basses!

 

USA Custom Shop Tom Petersson Signature 12-String Falcon Bass

This is the douchiest, namedroppiest thing I’ve ever posted here but this one time I was hanging out with Duff McKagan outside the Fender booth at NAMM (an awesome publicist introduced us to each other to do an interview while we were both in town) and Duff introduced me to Tom Petersson, who proceeded to hilariously mock my Australian accent for a solid five minutes or so. I liked him before that but now I love that guy. Okay, namedrop over, here are Tom’s new Gretsch basses.

Buy Gretsch guitars and basses here Read More …

Gretsch Upgrades Electromatic Collection

G5420T Electromatic® Hollow Body

You’ve probably noticed my rampant Gretsch love on this blog before. They were among the very first instruments to ever get me excited about guitar when I was a little kid – all that metal and the fancy f-holes just seemed really significant, y’know? – and there’s a certain magic inherent in the slightly gritty voice of a Gretsch ringing out in song. But they can be pretty darn expensive, which is the only reason I still don’t own one. The Electromatic collection is a more affordable take on classic Gretsch designs, and they’ve just been upgraded with some new premium features. Here’s the press release.

Buy Gretsch guitars here

Read More …

My Five Favourite Semi-Hollowbody F-Hole Guitars

fholesWhen I was a kid I was obsessed with semi-hollowbody guitars. I blame The Beatles, The Cure and Ratcat. Basically if it had F-Holes or similarly-shaped soundholes, I wanted it. These days I tend to either play Les Pauls, Strats or Superstrats but I’ve always had a fondness for big boxy guitars with F-holes and Bigsby vibratos. I still don’t own one but if I did it’d be one of these… Read More …

Introducing The Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery

Gretsch

PRESS RELEASE: The world of playing, recording, writing, composing and managing music is explained at the new Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery at Music City’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located just two blocks away from the Summer NAMM show. The Gallery allows visitors to mix a band recording, cut a vocal track, understand the dynamics of guitar building and more, plus displays a variety of historic guitars and other instruments. Read More …

SPONSORED POST: YourInstrument.com

As you guys know, I’m a huge guitar geek and my tastes range from pointy, neon-coloured shred axes with Floyd Roses to classic semi-hollowbodies with Bigbsy vibratos. So when the fine folks at YourInstrument.com asked me to write a sponsored post, I thought the perfect thing to do would be to have a look around at the wide variety of instruments for sale. Because a) it’d be a great way to show the diversity of instruments that folks like you and I are using the site to buy/sell, and b) because nothing is more fun than looking at electric guitars for sale, except for playing them. So let’s see what’s there this week. And you can always keep up with what’s online at this very moment by checking out the site.

prs-se-mikael-akerfeldt

PRS SE Mikael Akerfeldt
This is the signature model for the Opeth frontman. It’s one of the first SE models to include old-school bird inlays, and it rocks 24 jumbo frets, PRS designed tremolo bridge, SE HFS and SE Vintage Bass pickups, volume and tone control with a 3-way toggle switch. You can see Mikael playing these on the road. Read More …

New Gretsch Center-Block Series Guitars

G5622TCBElectromatic-1Every now and then a guitar comes along that’s so fist-bitingly gorgeous, so ‘everything I’m looking for in a guitar,’ that it kicks off that bittersweet ‘I’m never going to be able to afford that… why the hell do I do this to myself?’ feeling. And then you realise it’s from a company’s more affordable range and you start digging down between the sofa cushions looking for spare change to start squirrelling away so you can get one, and woohoo! I forgot there was ten bucks in my jacket pocket! I’m coming to get you, Gretsch G5622T-CB Electromatic Center-Block… It will be mine… oh yes, it will be mine… Here’s more info. Read More …