"My set-up is so simple... there's nothing to it"
Guitarist recently caught up Journey's Neal Schon on the band's European tour and alongside an in-depth interview (buya digital edition of issue 344 to find out what Schon had to say), we couldn't resist a look at his impressive live rig.
"My set-up is so simple... there's nothing to it" claims Schon, in the understatement of the year. Click onwards to check it out...
Schon uses just one of his three Blackstar amps – alongside a trio of 4 x 12 S1-412B cabs – and he then runs the dry signal into his current favourite piece of kit, the rack-mount Fractal Axe-FX Ultra.
"It’s light years beyond anything I’ve played,” he beams. “It’s loaded, man. It’s a processor, but it doesn’t sound or react like a processor. I’ve been able to get any sound I want out of it. [One of my favourites] is a brown-sounding Marshall with the mic away from the speakers just a bit.”
Other rack equipment includes Gibson’s Echoplex Digital Pro, the Roland M-120 Line Mixer and Fantom XR, plus the Lectrosonics R400A Dual Receiver.
Neal's pedalboard includes three FV-300L volume pedals, EV-5 Synth and Compression Sustainer (all Boss), the EWS FD-1 Fuzzy Drive and Wampler’s Nirvana Chorus.
These days, he stresses , it’s more about quality of tone than mindless blasting. “Stage volume is way down,” he concludes. “You don’t need it to go warrghh! I don’t want people’s ears to bleed or their hair to blow back…”
Echoplex foot controller
Alongside his pedalboard, Schon uses the Echoplex foot controller - complete with gaffer tape - to trigger delay effects.
Customised PRS Singlecut
After jumping ship to PRS from Gibson, Neal's gigging workhorse is now a customised 22-fret PRS Singlecut madefrom mahogany and curly maple, with a Floyd Rose vibrato, DiMarzio Fast Track (with sustainer) in the neck and ’57 Plus at the bridge.
“I have one guitar technician in San Francisco who does all my work,” he notes. “This guitar is like a giant Ebow! I like Seymour Duncans in the studio, but onstage, I find them a little oinky, so I’ll go for a more straightforward ’58 or ’57 PAF. I don’t get output out of the guitar as much live, I punch the amps more.”
Custom PRS doubleneck
With 18 strings and a Floyd Rose vibrato on this beauty, all we can say is that we're glad we aren't his guitar tech!
Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster
When it comes to playing Lights, or other classic Strat-powered Journey moments, Schon turns to this rather lovely sunburst example.