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Pat Metheny’s Guitar Rig revealed

Join us for a deep dive into the complex touring experience of the only artist to win Grammy Awards in ten different categories.

Jazz guitar god Pat Metheny recently played Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on his solo tour in support of his latest record, dream box. Before the show, PGJohn Bohlinger of caught up with Metheny tech Andre Cholmondeley, who pulled back the curtain on what may well be the most complex solo rig ever designed. Subsequently, Cholmondeley painstakingly wrote down Metheny’s signal path to help clarify the platform. Buckle up and keep going if you can.

Presented by D’Addario.

Soft yellow

A longtime Gibson ES-175 player, Metheny became friends with Ibanez in the 1970s while touring Japan. In 1996, they released their first Ibanez PM100 Pat Metheny Signature. This PM100 is equipped with a .080 gauge flat wire string tuned from one octave to one weak Low E. The rest are normal D’Addario NYXL 10s from Metheny.

The Ax is equipped with a single Charlie Christian single-coil pickup and a microphone inside the guitar running to a separate output. On some occasions, the Christian emits more noise or buzzing depending on the electricity in the room, or even the presence of wifi. When necessary, Metheny and his team use an EHX Hum Debugger or Ebtech Hum Eliminator.

The Axon Ax

This Ibanez PM120, nicknamed “Axon Guitar,” lives on a stand so Metheny can play it with a second guitar on his back if needed as a MIDI controller. It has a Roland GK-style mic with 13-pin output, connected to a 2007 AXON AX 50 synthesizer controller, which drives Orchestrion percussion instruments via Ableton. Pat can also send MIDI to any software synthesizer and create loops in Ableton or any connected hardware other than the Orchestrion. (The Ableton 11 software runs on a MacBook Pro, and throughout the show it receives audio from three different guitars.)

Meanwhile, the normal audio output of this guitar reaches an IK Multimedia TONEX, then a DI to the house and monitor systems.

Rockin’ and Roland

The Roland GR-300 synthesizer and G-303 guitar synthesizer controller have been a part of Metheny’s music since the invention of the combo in 1980. The GR-300 is built around an analog polyphonic synthesizer with oscillators that should be adjusted daily.

The G-303 is equipped with D’Addario NYXL (.010-.046).

Acoustic Arsenal

Each of Metheny’s acoustic guitars has two outputs: one from a standard internal 1/4″ bridge pickup and one from a condenser microphone mounted inside the guitars with a gooseneck or rigid metal arm Metheny uses a variety of mics including Fishman, Go Acoustic Audio, LR Baggs, and gut mics include offerings from Applied Microphone Technology and DPA Microphones.

All acoustics are handled with unique mixing, EQ and effects and monitored through a pair of Meyer UM-1P and Bose L1 speakers, plus a custom “thumper” in the Yamaha DSM100 mesh drum throne which Metheny sits on during the performance.

Crazy 8

Metheny’s Taylor 8-string acoustic takes different tunings. Sometimes he acts as a baritone with a unison in the middle. Other times it is set to FCD#-EC#-A#-A#-A. Surprise, surprise: Metheny is still experimenting.

Monster Manzer

In 1984, Metheny asked Canadian luthier Linda Manzer to build an instrument with “as many strings as possible.” The resulting collaboration is the Pikasso 42-string guitar. Although it is equipped with an internal pickup as well as a hexagonal pickup, it currently only takes the standard 1/4″ output, which is an aggregate of the four neck/zone pickups. Each pickup can be turned on and off with a toggle switch, and there are independent volume pots for each neck, as well as an EQ and master volume.The volume module is powered by two 9V batteries.

Here’s a closer look at the different angles of the Pikasso’s silhouette.

Follow Kemper

Various guitars run through a Kemper Profiler Power Rack. Each has a unique patch, but most often uses models from a Fender Twin or Roland JC-120, with verb, delay and different gain stages.

This is where things get complicated. Metheny runs a silent 1/4″ cable from his guitars to a Lehle 3-in-1, allowing three stereo inputs – A, B or C – which can be chosen with silent footswitches or via midi. A is designated for Ibanez guitars., B takes the Roland configuration and C is home for the Taylor 8 string.

The outputs of all three are sent to a Gamechanger Audio Plus pedal. (The Plus’s effects send feeds a mini Leslie amp set to slow rotation.) The Plus’s mono output feeds the Kemper’s “alternate input.” The Kemper sends a number of outputs: the XLR heads to a pair of Yamaha DXR-10 speakers; the 1/4″ goes to a Radial stereo DI, then to home and monitor systems; and the Kemper’s own monitor output feeds a rack-mounted AUDAC EPA152 power amp. The latter route is programmed with a slightly different effect , “less humid. mix than its companions. The AUDAC unit is configured to operate as two discrete amps and sends audio to the Metheny drum and a conventional 4×10 acoustic cabinet.


For the acoustic baritone that Metheny is currently looping in this show, the looper of choice is a Pigtronix Infinity 3 (bottom right). It is powered by the Radial DI thru/send for acoustics. A mono loop sent from the Infinity goes to the front of the house and is monitored through a Countryman active DI, and Metheny keeps track of the acoustic loop in his Meyer and Bose monitors. The rest of Metheny’s color and signal manipulation comes from these tone tools, including a Source Audio Soleman MIDI foot controller, a pair of Blackstar Live Logic 6-button MIDI foot controllers, an Electro-Harmonix 95000 stereo looper , a Gamechanger Audio Plus pedal, and the aforementioned Roland. GR-300.

Accompany the Maestro

Here are the percussion mechanisms that accompany Metheny during his solo dream box tour.

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