The Original Amp Rig Used on the Old Guitar Methods
"Over the years, my setup has changed a lot. To the right are the 2 Marshalls I used to record the original Heavy Metal Rhythm Guitar and Heavy Metal Lead Guitar methods back in the 1980s. The bottom head is a 1970s 100-watt with master volume, paired with vintage greenback 25s in a beat-to-hell, slant-front 4x12 cabinet.
"The top head is a 1980s JCM800 50-watt amp. That is the amp I used for Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar in 1990. These days the beasts just stand quietly in the corner, now retired; silent guardians of rock, their work completed.
"Below on the right is my old Boss PD1 Rocker Distortion pedal that I used to front end the Marshalls on those old recordings. It is also retired. It's a pretty noisy pedal, but it offers good, crispy tone with plenty of attack.
My Main Guitars
"For Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, I used the Jackson soloist guitar below. It has a Seymour Duncan Distortion pickup in the neck position. Back in the late 80s, it was a muddy brown color; as of late, however, it's sporting a gaudy new neon-glitter paint job that I accomplished with a few cans of spray paint in a moment of overconfident swagger with a clear disregard for outcome. A Sustainiac Sustainer pickup is in the neck position.
"Below on the left is my red McCarty PRS. This one was given to me on the set of Fret12's Sound and Story DVD; my first real endorsement deal! Free guitars are good guitars, and PRS always makes great instruments so you just can't beat that. On the right is my newest addition: A custom built shred machine made by Dimis guitars of Greece. Thin frets, thin neck with a full, clear and articulate tone. Some people don't like the look of it, but I love it. The idea was to trade on the classical look and feel, with Dimis' characteristic scroll.
Amp Rigs and FX
"On the right is my main amp--an Engl Special Edition with EL34s. It has a great high-gain tone with lots of options. This my primary recording amp when I'm after a heavy tone.
"At times, however, I will opt to use the VOX Tonelab LE pedalboard below and run direct into the board. It's a modeling amp with a lot of tweakability combined with an internal tube.
"Of course no guitar rig would be complete without the pedals. Here's the stash of pedals I've collected over the years. There are about 20 of them or so and I may pull a few out on occasion for recording.
"When it comes to playing live, though, I like a simple setup. And you just can't beat the simplicity and convenience of tone and FX all stored inside a single modeling amp pedalboard! For me, the ability to store and recall different tones complete with FX and levels, all accessible at the touch of a button, outweighs the slight tone loss inherent in modeling amps.
"So I opt for the Vox pedalboard above running into the power amp and speaker setup here on the right. I use a Peavy 50/50 guitar power amp into the oversized 4x12 Vader cabinet along with the extra 2x12 ported Genz-Benz. Note the cool Troy Stetina Series logo that Vader was kind enough to attach!
In the Recording Studio
For music recording and production I use Steinberg's Cubase. I prefer it to Pro Tools, actually. I use Steinberg's Groove Agent for drums (at least in demo stages) and sometimes Hallion for keys and synths. I also use a range of different plug ins depending on the need. I prefer Native Instruments' Battery, Massive and ABsynth for industrial and modern synth sounds. The heart of it runs on a Mac Pro.
Update January 2021
Now I'm using Fractal Audio Systems' Axe FX III. This release was the first song recorded with Axe FX, and I love it! Definitely in a league of its own when it comes to modeling amps. Fractal rules!!