Rigged: Grandfather Guitarist Michael Kirsch


grandfathe rrigged

MS scribe Kip Wingerschmidt described Brooklyn’s Grandfather thusly in a highlight piece he wrote in June: “Somewhere near the intersection of 90s grunge, catchy pop, and moody indie/alt-rock.” We’d say that’s pretty darned accurate, but you can find out for yourself by checking out a new jam called “Metamorphosis” here. Their new album from whence it came, In Human Form, comes out tomorrow! Here’s Grandfather guitarist Michael Kirsch to tell you all about how he achieved the gnarly tones within:

Mike 1

Mike 2

I’ve had this ‘62 Reissue Fender Stratocaster for 10 years and have a hard time playing anything else; I bought a second one as a backup in black, though I only use it if the sunburst one breaks a string. It’s a really solid guitar and never fails me no matter how badly I abuse it on stage. If there was a fire, this is the first thing I would grab.

Mike 3

I run two amps: a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb into a Hiwatt 4×12 w/ Celestion Blue Speakers and a Orange AD30 into an Orange 2×12 with Celestion V30 Speakers. They’re always on at the same time, blended together in mono, not stereo. A Zvex Super Hard On splits the signal. The Orange takes care of the low-end and low-mids and the Fender handles the upper-mids and highs. It sounds massive and I can balance the two amps based on the sound of the room.

Though the Deluxe Reverb is only 22-watts it’s blistering loud, especially through the 4×12. I run a Weber Mini-Mass in between the amp and the cabinet, which acts as a master volume so I can crank the amp and push the power-tubes into overdrive without making my ears bleed. It’s a really responsive amp. If I play soft, it’s relatively clean. If I dig into the strings, it gets dirty really fast. It’s an original from 1965 that I got it on eBay for a steal; that’s the year they modeled the reissues on. It hasn’t broken down on me once, unlike every new amp I’ve ever played. They really don’t make them like they used to.

Mike 4

T.C. Electronics Mini-Polytune > Loopmaster Dual Looper – Loop 1 ||: Black Cat OD-Fuzz > Analogman King of Tone :|| Loop 2 ||: Analogman NKT-275 SunFace > Fridgebuzzz Land of the Rising Fuzz > Z-Vex Fuzz Factory > Analogman Beano Boost :|| > Sweetsound Mojo Vibe > Lehle D.Loop – Loop A: Boss OC-2 Octave | Loop B: Boss DM-2 Analog Delay | > Boss DD-6 Digital Delay > Demeter Tremulator > Mute Switch > Roland RE-201 Space-Echo > Z Vex Super Hard On > Amps

I have an obsession with fuzz and overdrive pedals and spent all my money growing up trying to replicate the sounds I hear in my head. Notice how the volume knobs are maxed out on every OD and fuzz pedal.

I run some loops and switchers in the rig so I don’t have to do as much tap-dancing when switching sounds. They also keep certain pedals out of the signal chain when they’re not in use. Even after running through 15 pedals, I get no tone-loss. It’s taken a long time to figure it all out, but it works and I’m not fucking with it from this point forward. It’s much easier to use than it looks.

Other than the DD-6 in “warp” mode I really don’t use many effects live, although the Boss DM-2 delay and Roland Space Echo get a lot of use in the studio. If my guitar needs ambience in the mix, I’d rather get it at the source, though in a live setting too much ambience makes my parts lose focus. The Tremulator is used on only one song to help a part trail off into the verse smoothly. Currently, I’m not using the Octave or the Mojo Vibe, though I’m sure they’ll make an appearance somewhere down the line.

I really don’t like to hide behind effects, though having a multitude of overdrive and fuzz pedals gives me a wider range of dynamics and expression. They all respond to my playing so differently. It’s all about what’s right for the song.

I use DR Tite-Fit .10 gauge strings and Dunlop 2.0mm picks. I like heavier picks because they give me greater control over the dynamic range, though I probably break more strings by playing too aggressively at times. Oh well…

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