Monster Rig Simplification

Back in the day, I had a monster guitar rig.

Well, I thought it was monstrous.

When I started playing electric guitar, I had three main influences…

  • Nuno Bettencourt, of Extreme
  • Eddie Van Halen himself
  • John Petrucci, of Dream Theater

Much of my philosophy on tone and style of play came from these guys. But Petrucci playing was, hands down, the reason I wanted to play guitar.

My first real amp was a Marshall Valvestate 2X12 combo. I needed versatility in tone, but couldn’t afford a Triaxis/Simul 2:90 rig like Johnny P. Plus, I think all players go through some trial and error in the beginning before their style and ability reveals the kind of gear they should use.

I traded the Marshall in for an ADA MP-2 with a MicroTube 100 power amp. Later, I added an Alesis MidiVerb for reverbs and delays. Other units swapped in and out, but that was my core sound for about twenty years.

A few months ago, I sold it all for one pedal, and I’m very glad I did.

There are a lot of haters against Line 6 in the guitarist community. And I get it. Does my HD500X sound exactly like a Marshall stack? No, not exactly. Does it have the features and options of an AxeFX or a Kemper? No.

Does it come darn close for $500? All day every day.

Still, I firmly believe that I could plug into that old Valvestate today and still sound like me. Amps and pedals are just tools.

I primarily play while leading worship, so I really only use two sounds – clean and dirty. I use a sparkly Metallica “Unforgiven” clean sound, and my dirty sound is EVH’s pedals running into a Line 6 Epic amp (which doesn’t actually exist, and I LOVE that. It’s like my signature model.)

Bottom line: I sound great, and I can carry my rig, guitar, and cable bag in one hand. Can’t beat that.

Do I miss tha Monster? Yeah, occasionally. But the pros outweigh the cons.

Here’s a video of me leading at my church from earlier this year. Judge for yourself. 

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