With new Godsticks album Faced With Rage, South Wales shredder supreme Darran Charles has honed his potent blend of prog-meets-grunge to produce the band’s most accomplished effort yet.
In between live and studio stints with his own band and Bruce Soord-fronted faves The Pineapple Thief, we caught up with Darran to get the lowdown on the gear he just can’t live without, from custom seven-strings to clip-on tuners…
Faced With Rage is out now via Kscope.
Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II
“I’ve written a lot of articles over the years about my experiences with digital modellers, but even after four years of my owning it, I can still confidently say that the Axe-Fx II is the single most inspirational piece of gear I’ve ever bought.
“I’ve used it on the last two Godsticks albums exclusively, and I don’t envisage a day where I wouldn’t use it to record an album. The sounds are wonderfully authentic, to the point where I defy most listeners to tell the difference between the profile and an actual mic’d up cab.
“Where it has also proved immensely useful is that when my tonal tastes change (as they invariably do), I’ve always been able to locate a new sound because there so many classic and modern amps onboard.
“They’re expensive units, but for me at least it has proved to be worth every penny, especially when considering how many virtual amp setups I’ve been through in the last few years – the physical equivalent would have cost me a small fortune!”
Charvel Custom Sam Dimas seven-string
“I swore I’d never go down the custom route again as I’ve eventually sold every single one I ever had made. However, the Charvel was an exception, because I had very specific requirements and there just isn’t a great deal of choice out there for the seven-stringer who isn’t just wanting to play metal.
“I’ve always wanted a Strat-style seven-string, and if Fender ever made one available I’d be the first to snap one up. However, I suppose it’s fortunate that they haven’t, because these days, I seem to gravitate towards tonewoods other than alder, and so this one was constructed with a basswood body and maple cap.
“I have a Bare Knuckle Nailbomb in the bridge, which is exceptional: plenty of gain but still retaining the character of the guitar (which is very resonant indeed). I’m not a fan of Floyd Rose bridges, so I chose one of the very few non-locking trems available for seven--string guitars, made by Hipshot.
“I even determined what the neck carve would be: a ‘D’ shape with a hefty set of shoulders that slightly tapers towards the headstock. Also included were oversized side fretboard markers, as I need a clear reference point when singing and playing simultaneously.”
TC Electronic PolyTune Clip
“A somewhat flippant inclusion for an article entitled ‘essential gear’ on the face of it, but in all honesty, this has been one of the most useful things I’ve bought because it’s given me the gift of time!
“Prior to this, I had to interrupt recording sessions to check my tuning by unplugging my guitar from the amp and into a wall-mounted Boss TU-3 (I chose this method because running it between the amp and guitar caused the battery to drain quickly, due to my forgetting to disconnect each evening!).
“There are many other cheaper clip-on tuners out there but I love the TC display, and its accuracy is second-to-none.”
Line 6 Relay Guitar Wireless G70
“I’ve only recently been inducted into the wireless club, so it seems strange for me to elevate it to my list of essential gear so quickly. I treated wireless as a novelty at first, and in fact only began using it as part of longterm test for a magazine article, but it’s very quickly become indispensable.
“It’s surprising how subconsciously apprehensive I must have been about stepping on my guitar cable or getting it tangled in the litany of gear on the stage, because since using it I think my performance has improved – I definitely I feel more relaxed onstage.
“On the other hand, the other band members are starting to get annoyed at this newfound freedom as I now nonchalantly trot up to them on stage quite regularly.”
“I’d wanted a 335-style guitar ever since I heard Guthrie Govan play one for an article he wrote for Guitar Techniques magazine about 12 years ago. I bought this one from the USA back in 2005 during the halcyon days of the pound being very strong against the dollar.
“The versatility of this guitar cannot be overstated: it does everything from rock to jazz. I tend to use it for guitar parts that are clean or only slightly overdriven, as the humbuckers tend to produce a much richer sound than the single-coil Strat I previously used for such parts.
“It’s the airiness that gets me every time, though: there’s a 3D quality to the tone that cannot be emulated by any other guitar. And to date the best guitar tone I’ve ever recorded (the solo on the track We Are Leaving) was provided by my 535 through a cranked AC15 profile.”