Rigged: Twelve Foot Ninja Guitarist Steve “Stevic” Mackay’s Live and Home Studio Rigs
My name is Stevic and I’m the guitarist and producer for Aussie band Twelve Foot Ninja.
I’ve tried to keep things very simple with my setup to negate as many “worst case scenarios” as possible, minimize gear I have to lug around and give me maximum versatility.
I use a Line 6 HD500 POD live and in the studio. They are affordable, intuitive and self-contained. I keep all of my patches pretty basic and balance everything level-wise off the one distorted tone, based on a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier with the default Vintage 30’s quad. I use just a bit of noise gate before the amp model and that is it!
I bring two guitars on the road: the JTV-89-US (pictured) and a Variax 700 (in case I bust a string). Part of the reason I stick with Line 6 is the versatility you get with a Variax and POD combo. I build my guitars using Variax Workbench software (GUI interface that allows easy customization of guitar body, pickups & positioning, tuning, tone settings etc.) and save them into the guitar. For heavy stuff I generally go with a Les Paul styled guitar with the bridge pickup positioned a bit closer to the bridge for a little more bite in the tone. Then I switch between Teles, Strats and acoustic guitar models — often mid-song — and usually with different tunings. I can program all of these switches into my patches so I never touch the guitar settings live; it’s all done with my feet. The great thing about this guitar is that all of the low tuned stuff keeps the same six string standard tension. Sometimes when I play an 8-string guitar it feels like I am playing a fence or something so I like keeping that tight tension. I use D’Addario .10 to .52s on all of my electrics.
I don’t use an amp at all, so I have in-ear monitors. I’m used to recording with cans so this method essentially brings that experience to a gig environment. When the band decided to go with in-ears everything instantly got tighter; you can just hear things with a lot more clarity. The big issue with in-ears is the massive reliance on your mix. I’ve found that trying to communicate to a monitor engineer or FOH dude what I wanted in my ears was like trying to explain to someone with no head how to make a birthday cake. “Turn that UP and that DOWN” is fairly vague and everything impacts everything else; times that by four other band members and the time sensitivity of sound check, and it’s a massive problem. We needed another solution. ENTER OUR CUSTOM MONITORING RIG. This beast weighs 88kg (about 194 pounds)!
We use an Allen & Heath Mixwizard 3 and all Sennheiser transmitters through a combiner with a paddle. That blue thing is a Lexicon FX unit that gives us a bit of verb on the kit and vox. This gives us each a custom 16 channel mix directly into our ears. We get our looms made in the states by Pro Audio LA and plug all of the channels from the stage box into the monitoring rig, and then from the monitoring rig back into the stage box. The mix wizard is quite unique in its structure as you don’t need to use any other gear to make that happen problem free (hopefully).
We are in the process of making a scaled down version of the monitoring rig for flying and we’re also looking at digital desks that multi-track. The case is made by Martin at TransitPak cases in Melbourne – he is a case artist!
I use molded dual drivers for in-ears. I won’t recommend the company I bought them from because they are a rip-off and I am looking at getting new in-ears. Apparently one of the dudes from Animals As Leaders or Tesseract uses like 32 drivers or something mental — I want that! The little foam things help stop sweat moisture from getting into the in-ears.
I use XL Jim Dunlop picks. I prefer them vs the Jazz IIIs because there is a bit more to grab onto and I feel like I can dig in more.
This is my home studio setup. Pro Tools 10, Superior Drummer 2 (Toontrack are fucking awesome; I use a lot of their stuff) and a bunch of other bits and pieces.
A bit closer up on my fairly sparse rack. I use an RME Fireface 400; the converters and pre-amps just sound great to me. I use a Universal Audio 6176 because it is a fool proof, rock solid vintage channel strip used on many awesome recordings. The Behringer Powerplay Pro-XL is just a neat little headphone preamp. I run two Genelecs and a Genelec Sub for my monitoring.
My three other favourite guitars:
This is a PRS Hollowbody II, 10 Top, and it is absolutely beautiful. So beautiful that I probably admire it more than I play it. I am thinking of putting flat wounds on and using it more as a jazz guitar. Has a really nice sounding piezo dual input thing going on where you can sweep between magnetic to piezo pickups. Such a nice guitar.
This is my Custom 22 PRS. This was the first ‘professional’ guitar I ever bought. It has this kick arse Helmet-esque heavy tone that is tough as shit. I love this guitar. I feel like a bit of a giant playing this one because of the scale, but it is rad.
This is my custom Cargill acoustic, built by Jim Cargill just for me in a small beach town in Victoria. This guitar has been with me forever and I write most Ninja stuff on it. All solid wood; couldn’t tell you what type, although I do know that it started out as a tree… all I know is it sounds great to me! Next acoustic on the list is a Taylor 514-CE, which I love as well. Too many awesome guitars out there!
Twelve Foot Ninja are currently running a crowd-funding campaign to finance a new music video. Watch the trailer, featuring members of Periphery, below: