New Website Alert: Trey’s Guitar Rig Details Phish Guitarist’s Setups
We recently came across a website called Trey’s Guitar Rig which documents nearly every aspect of Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio’s ever-changing guitar rig. Trey’s Guitar Rig features posts about the rigs Trey has used over the course of each Phish run dating back to 2013 as well as TAB tours and his setup for last summer’s Fare Thee Well shows. In addition, the site offers “Gear Deep Dives” detailing Anastasio’s guitars, amps, rack and pedals.
Trey’s Guitar Rig is run by Colorado-based attorney, musician, gearhead and Phish fan Ryan Chiachiere. We chatted with Ryan about his site, the recent changes to Trey’s rig and other topics on the eve of Phish’s Dick’s ’16 run:
JamBase: When did you launch the site?
Ryan Chiachiere: The site is only a few months old, but I’ve had the idea in my head for a long, long time, and I’ve been compiling research for a while.
JamBase: When did you come up with the idea for the site?
RC: My big brother took me to my first Phish concert (October 22, 1996 at Madison Square Garden) and I remember the whole time thinking “how did the guitarist possibly make that sound?” The tone was – and is – so unique for a rock guitar player, and it really spoke to me. It could be vocal, clear, and cutting, and remain unbelievably articulate even when he was in “full scream” with all gain-stages firing, but it also had at turns this wonderfully ethereal and ambient quality. As a budding young guitar player, all I wanted was to replicate it. I could also tell there was more there than met the eye; the Whammy effects, the delays – there was enough to keep my curiosity piqued.
It was relatively early in the internet era, and I remember surfing around a very slow internet connection in the following weeks, months, and years scooping up any lit bit of information I could find about the rig. Over time, some great sites popped up providing a good amount of information, but they were mostly static shots of the rig at one particular moment in time.
In the 3.0 era, Phish started releasing a lot more high-definition photography of the band, including, most importantly for me, HD live streams of the shows. So for the last few years I would flip through the band’s photos and videos and see if I could spot changes in Trey’s rig. Over time, I got to know the rig really well and would bore my musician friends (or anyone who would listen) to death yammering on about the addition of the vintage Shin-Ei Univibe or the switch from the Fulltone Tape Delay to the Supa-Puss Analog Delay. Eventually, I had accumulated a lot of information about the rig, and I figured there’d be a lot of folks out there who might be curious about it. There were a lot of chat room and forum discussions and snapshots of the rig here or there. But I thought it would be valuable and interesting to show how the rig evolved tour-by-tour and to provide a single, illustrated, one-stop-shop clearinghouse for all the information you’d need if you were curious about Trey’s guitar rig. I created the site I wish had existed in the weeks after that first show I saw at the Garden when I was 16.
Ultimately, I’d like to add audio clips, too, so that folks who aren’t as familiar with the amps and effects can get an idea of what each one is doing to influence the overall sound.
JamBase: Do you plan to continue to profile older tours?
RC: Definitely. To the extent possible, I’ll go back as far as I can. And of course I’ll do all tours and big events going forward. I’ll be at all three Colorado shows this weekend, so I’ll be live-tweeting updates and posting an update to the site with any changes I see. In terms of looking back at older tours, I’m relying heavily on the HD videos and photos available during 3.0, and it’s hard to find such good quality photography of pre-3.0 shows. So that’s a limitation.
The site will always be a work-in-progress. I’m learning more about Trey’s current and prior rigs every day, and a lot of what I’m doing is making educated guesses about what’s happening on stage, since there aren’t that many definitive answers about this stuff out there. I’d obviously love to speak to Trey’s tech, Brian Brown, at some point and soak up as much information as possible from him.
I also have the advantage of being able to tap in to Phish’s amazing online community, where there are lots of smart, curious, and dedicated folks who are also interested in figuring out how this stuff works. So I’ll post a thread on phish.net or the Phantasy Tour forum and get all this incredible feedback from people who’ve seen a photo of this or that. So there’s a great crowdsourcing element to it, and I think that’s reflective of the great community Phish has built over so many years.
JamBase: What’s your history as a musician and gearhead?
RC: My dad is a huge audiophile and stereo gearhead, so I come by it naturally. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 15. In college and for some years afterward, I played in a jam band based in Charlottesville called Cannonball Coming that was heavily influenced by the jam band community, and particularly by Phish. So I spent a lot of time learning Phish songs and Trey licks during that time. That’s also when I started collecting guitar gear in earnest, and I started trying to emulate sounds that I was hearing from Trey and some other guitar heroes.
I also just love every single thing about guitars: beautifully figured tone-woods, staggered pole pickups, chrome humbucker covers, bone saddles, vintage tuners, maple necks, ebony fretboards, whammy bars, and on and on. I can’t get enough of magazines like Fretboard Journal that are packed with beautiful, high-resolution pictures of guitars old and new. If I had my way, I’d have dozens of guitars at home (including a Paul Languedoc!) and probably amplifiers, too. At the moment, I use the PRS, a Danocaster S-style, a parts-Tele built by a friend, and two acoustics built by Rockbridge Guitars, a small Virginia-based company that is making really gorgeous instruments.
Over the last few years, I’ve been doing more ambient, studio-based music (which is great for gear accumulation!), and while the influence of Trey’s rig on my own rig is still pretty heavy, I’ve branched out into other directions, as well. I have an unreasonably large pedal array in my home studio, but a big part of my core tone is still based on what I learned from Trey: I use a Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II, two Analogman TS-9 Tube Screamers, a Keeley Compressor, and either a pair of Blackface-era Deluxe Reverbs in stereo or a Mesa Boogie Mark III, depending on the application. I’m also learning to use the Whammy II a bit better; Trey has really become one of the definitive users of that pedal.
One of the cool things about Trey’s gear is that, while he has used it to develop a particular sound all his own, there are tons of other directions you can go with it – it’s really versatile stuff, and a lot of it is really classic stuff that is the bread-and-butter of great guitar tone. I mean, a dimed TS-9 into a Blackface-era Deluxe Reverb? That’s about as good as it gets.
JamBase: What were some of the biggest changes to Trey’s rig this summer from previous tours?
Well, there’s a question I’ve raised this week on the site and in the forums as to what role the Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb was playing in the rig this summer and at LOCKN’. It appears as if the Deluxe Reverb was the exclusive guitar amplifier on stage at LOCKN’, running a speaker line out to the 2x12s, which I believe would be the first time we’ve seen the Deluxe Reverb powering the rig in the 3.0 era (Fender fans: rejoice!). The last time we saw this with Phish was at Coventry in 2004, with the Deluxe Reverb powering the Bruno 4×12 Cabinet. The Deluxe Reverb may have also been the primary amplifier during the rest of summer tour, as it held a place on stage to Trey’s right throughout the summer, although the Mesa Boogie Mark III was on stage all summer as well. I’d need some time for a closer look and listen to figure out what was going on there. The Bogner Shiva, which was appearing on and off for the last few years (including as recently as Riviera Maya earlier this year) did not appear this summer as far as I know.
More broadly, there have been quite a few changes to the rig in recent years. To name just a few: the vintage Leslie rotating speaker cab was replaced by a modern Leslie G-37 Guitar Rotating Speaker; the Beigel Tru-Tron 3x envelope filter was added; the Tube Screamers have moved off the floor and on to the rack; the Black Cat Vibe was replaced with a vintage Shin-Ei Univibe; and we’ve seen various delays at various times, including a Fulltone Tape Delay, a Way Huge Supa Puss, and a TC Electronic Nova Repeater. It’s an exciting time to be following the rig!
JamBase: What do you use as source material for each post?
The HD videos and photos released by the band are key to making the site possible. I’ve also used some of my own photos taken up-close at Phish and TAB shows over the years. Then I also do research on all the individual effects to see what else I can learn about them that might be interesting to readers. Sometimes my research requires me to purchase the effects to get a more fulsome idea of their capabilities…
JamBase: If you could ask Trey one question about his gear what would it be?
There are a hundred things I’d love to ask Trey, about music, his gear, and a lifetime of doing a job that I’ve always wanted. If I were limited to gear questions, I’d start with “Can you ask Paul to add me to his guitar waitlist?” My backup would be, “Can I play through your rig for ten minutes?”
When he said “no” to those, I’d ask him about his approach to amplification and what he’s looking for and hearing from each of his amplifiers. Trey always sounds like Trey no matter what he’s playing, but I think it’s interesting that he goes from a studio and small gig-oriented amplifier like the Deluxe Reverb (22 watts, 2x6v6 tubes, tube rectified) to a powerhouse prog/metal amplifier like the Mark III (up to 100 watts, 4x6L6 tubes, solid-state rectified). The Mark series was certainly influenced by the Blackface-era Fender amps, but the end result is in many ways a much different beast, as I’ve discussed on my site. And yet he uses them interchangeably. I’m curious as to how he thinks about that.