John 5 has pulled back the curtain to offer a tour of the rig that he will be taking with him as he makes his live debut with Mötley Crüe as Mick Mars’ replacement.
And while it might come as little surprise that his electric guitar of choice is the Fender Telecaster, with various custom variants of each, his rig is remarkably straightforward for what is sure to by an OTT show of box-office LA metal. Maybe, however, that is the rationale behind having a scaled-down pedalboard featuring a handful of pedals from Boss’ Compact Series.
When you’ve got all that pyro and all kinds of things to contend with onstage, it makes sense to pack light instead of messing around with a custom-built MIDI switcher the size of a coffee table.
For guitar amps, John 5 is running a trio of Marshall JVM 100-watt heads, one in custom yellow Tolex with a “5” on the grille clothe. These are housed in a rack unit alongside a Radial Engineering JX series amp switcher, a Palmer PG-1 speaker simulator that allows you to send a signal direct, and a Palmer PG-1 Power Conditioner to cut down on noise and protect the amps from power surges.
All bar one of his touring guitars are Teles, with one acoustic guitar, a Gibson Chet Atkins, for playing the Crüe’s evergreen power ballad Home Sweet Home. None of those Teles are what you’d call stock. John 5’s number one is his gold mirror finish model, and this is joined by the all-white ‘Ghost’ Tele which he assures us will be available as a signature guitar sometime in the future, a Seafoam Green model which is his favourite finish, a couple of black Teles, and one that lights up for effect. This illumination is controlled via a toggle switch and can be always on or strobing.
These Telecasters have all been converted into high-performance shreddable six-strings and feature dual-humbuckers and Floyd Rose double-locking vibratos. Not available in stores. But pretty much anyone could put together his Crüe pedalboard. All the pedals are Boss, and are fed through a Radial SGI-44 Guitar Signal Extender – a line driver that allows him to run a remote ‘board without any signal loss.
John 5’s pedals include an SD-1 Super Overdrive, an OC-5 Octave that he uses for the intro to Kickstart My Heart, a CH-1 Super Chorus, a NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and a DD-8 Digital Delay that he uses on Dr Feelgood. Now, the SGI-44 is an expensive piece of kit, retailing for around £549, but that really is for those occasions when you’re playing large stages. The rest of us don’t need that, and we could easily put this all together for £532 street – not including the ‘board.
John 5 was confirmed as Mötley Crüe’s touring guitarist in October last year after co-founder Mick Mars had to step down for health reasons. Mars has lived with the degenerative condition ankylosing spondylitis (AS) since he was a teenager.
“While change is never easy, we accept Mick's decision to retire from the band due to the challenges with his health,” said the band. “We have watched Mick manage his ankylosing spondylitis for decades and he has always managed it with utmost courage and grace.
“To say ‘enough is enough’ is the ultimate act of courage. Mick’s sound helped define Mötley Crüe from the minute he plugged in his guitar at our very first rehearsal together. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ll continue to honour his musical legacy.”
Mötley Crüe’s first date in their 2023 world tour with Def Leppard is scheduled for 18 February in Mexico City. Should be a lively one. See below for dates.