Rigged: F*ck the Facts Guitarist Topon Das
Fuck the Facts‘ new EP, Amer, is out now via (or a 10″ vinyl and/or cassette copy here, or a digital copy here). Founding guitarist Topon Das was cool enough to tell us all about the gear he uses, from the guitars, amps and effects he plays through live to his recording studio setup. Here’s Topon:
Starting with the basics, I use these Dunlop nylon 1mm picks. Pretty standard, but I like them mainly because this grip shit makes it easy for me to actually hold onto them. My hands can get really dry in the winter and I pick like an asshole, so any sort of normal flat smooth pick usually just flies out of my fingers within a few minutes. I hate buying picks, so I usually try and use them until they become circles. I have a million of these things lying around everywhere.
My main live guitar is a LTD Viper 300. It’s by no means a great guitar, but it’s the one I’m the most comfortable with. I bought it on a whim about 8 or 9 years ago to replace an Ibanez SG that I wasn’t really digging anymore. I actually didn’t really like the LTD at first either, but I forced myself to get used to it and also made some modifications so that it worked better for me. The first thing I did was move where the neck end of the strap is. The guitar is neck heavy, so I moved the screw to under the top horn, so that it wouldn’t dip down if I wasn’t holding it up. I got rid of the tone knob and moved the volume knob to its place. I don’t really play any leads or solos live, so I got rid of the neck pick-up and pick-up switch. I also leave the peg of the volume pot bare so there’s minimal risk of it getting nudged by accident. It’s pretty much as bare bones as I can make it. I’ve actually started designing a custom guitar that’ll be made by an old friend that lives out in BC: Egan Custom Guitars. I’ve never really found a guitar I love and that works for everything I need in FTF, so I’m putting together something that’ll work well for me live and in the studio.
We recorded the albums Stigmata High-Five and Disgorge Mexico with the LTD, but since then the guitar never really gets used in the studio. I have a Jackson SLSMG that we usually use for all the guitars when we record now, and I also have a Gibson SG1 that we used on all of Die Miserable as well as a few other recordings here and there. The SG1 also has a coil tap switch that I plan on using on our next recording. Having it set to single coil gives it some of that Tele style twang, which I think sounds really cool in grindcore and reminds me of the band Asterisk (who are awesome, check them out).
For strings I use Dean Markley 13-56, just because that’s what I’ve always used. We tune to B standard and I’ve never felt like I needed a heavier gauge.
For ages the pick-up in my LTD was an EMG 81, which I like, but I had been looking to go back to a passive pick up, mainly for convenience and simplicity. So when we were on tour in the US earlier this year, a guy from Nordstrand pick-ups came out to one of the shows and hooked me up with one of their NVH humbuckers. I’ve been using it ever since and I find it has a very tight and clear sound. I have an EMG 81 & 85 in my Jackson and a Dimarzio Deactivator in my Gibson at the moment. With all these I have more than enough variety to play with in the studio.
Ok, here’s my pedal board. It’s a cheap piece of shit, but it does the job.
What pedals I have in my pedal board really depends on what songs we’re playing live. I have a ton of different pedals, but there’s no need to complicate my set-up with extra ones that could be a liability and cause technical issues.
First off my guitar goes into a Boss TU-2 tuner (always have a back-up).
From there I go into this pedal made by a local company called Fairfield Circuitry. It’s an overdrive pedal that they named The Barbershop. I’ve used this pedal as a straight up distortion, and it works great like that. Recently I’ve been using it more like I would a Tube Screamer, just to add more bite and tone to the distortion from the head. In my opinion, it has even better gain control than the Tube Screamer. We use the Barbershop and different Tube Screamers on pretty much every guitar and bass we record.
Fairfield also has a really cool external effect loop pedal. I use it whenever I have more than one pedal running through my amps effects loop, because those Peavey footswitches are totally pieces of shit.
The last pedal before I plug into my amp is a Boss NS-2 noise gate (always have a back-up). I just crank it so that the stops are tight… hopefully. Sometimes I’ll put a second NS-2 through the effects loop of my head just to kill amp hum and tighten up the sound a bit more.
The Boss SD-1 runs through my effects loop and is used to create a sort of “lo-fi” effect that we have in a few of our songs.
The other pedal on my board is a Digitech JamMan. This is used solely as a sampler. My guitar is never plugged into it. It’s loaded with samples that we have throughout the set and I trigger them with my feet.
This silver thing with the red buttons is a foot switch that I built into my pedal board so that I can switch up and down through the samples on the JamMan. It was really easy to make and cost way less than if I was to buy the pedal they try to sell you.
The main head I use live is a Peavey 5150. I find them extremely reliable, affordable and have a nice mid heavy, distorted sound that works well with what we’re doing. The main rules I have when it comes to using a tube head are: crank the mids, keep the pre gain low and the post gain high. This really pushes the speakers and gives me the gritty sound that I like. Everything else is adjusted to taste and depending on the situation. In the studio, I’ll usually use my Garnet 200 or Garnet Rebel to get more raw attack and warmth mixed in with the more typical metal crunch of the 5150. Garnet is an old Canadian amp company from Winnipeg. I bought the 200 used, again on a whim, and just feel in love with it. Now I always have my eyes open for any old vintage Garnet amps.
For cabinets, I have an Orange 4×12 and a 2×12 (both with vintage 30s) on my side, but I’m actually only plugged into the 4×12. Our other guitarist is plugged into the bottom 2×12, so that I can hear him on my side of the stage. He has a similar setup on his side, which gives us a well-rounded stage sound. I really like the tight low end and strong mid range of the Orange cabs.
If you see us live you’ll notice that we often have a couple of PA speakers stacked on our amps. That’s so we can run our sampler on the stage and we can also put a bit of kick and snare in there if we want. Having this as well as our crisscrossed guitars makes it so that we can always hear what’s going on, and we don’t have to worry about jaded sound guys (who always want you to turn down). Our focus is always on achieving a balanced sound rather than relying on sheer volume.