Dean DeLeo is guitarist and one of the creative forces behind rock icons Stone Temple Pilots. He's also played in 'super groups' such as Army of Anyone and Talk Show. His guitar tone and style can best be described as crunchy and psychedelic. While in the studio, the gear he uses can vary and that, by his own admission he owns more than 100 guitars, DeLeo's live rig, is kept relatively simple.
Guitar wise, DeLeo plays a number of 1978 Gibson Les Paul Standards, a '57 TV Les Paul Special fitted with P-90's, as well as a range of Fender Telecasters. In a 2001 interview with Guitar World, DeLeo discussed his fascination of 1978 Gibson's.
"The first Les Paul I got was my sunburst, which I bought brand-new at Manny's on October 29th, 1978. And for some reason, man, every Les Paul that stepped into my life was a '78. Except for my Special, which is a '57. That guitar's been in the family awhile. I got that just prior to making the Purple album, and I used it a lot. 'Interstate Love Song' is that guitar and my sunburst Tele. I got both guitars around the same time."
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Dean's main live guitar is a black '78 Standard with rewired controls. The tone knob has been replaced with a push-pull pot that in the "up" position places the two pickups out of phase and creates tone filter-style timbres.
When touring with Army of Anyone, DeLeo also played two custom-built six-string double-necks. These guitars allowed DeLeo to perform some of the tunes on Army of Anyone's self-titled debut, without the need to switch guitars mid-song, as he explained in the Guitar World Vulgar Display of Power column in 2007/08.
"I recorded some songs using alternate tunings for the rhythms and standard tuning for the solos. When it came time to tour, I got together with Fender and designed a couple of double-neck Strats. That way I can play the rhythm on the bottom neck and switch to the top neck for the lead."
DeLeo has also been known to use a PRS hollowbody electric tuned, low to high, G G D G D D, which was often seen live when the band played a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Dancing Days". DeLeo also relies on a piezo-equipped Gibson J-45 acoustic.
DeLeo has also been known to mix things up a bit, in particular on the recording of the Shangri-La Dee Da album. He used a Danelectro electric sitar on the track "Transmissions from a Lonely Room" and a Cumbus during "Regeneration", as discussed in his 2001 interview with Guitar World magazine.
There was also an exotic Turkish instrument called a cumbus. "Kind of like a banjo, with a bigger, deeper body," says Dean. "It has 12 strings [six courses with two strings each], which we tuned like a regular, 12-string guitar. The resonance of the metal body gives you this really Turkish sound. I used it just in one spot on the chorus to 'Regeneration.'"
Live, DeLeo's backline has remained relatively unchanged over the years. His signal is routed through his pedal board, beginning with a modified Dunlop Crybaby Wah into a Boss CE-1 Stereo Chorus Ensemble. One of the CE-1 outputs it sent to an S.I.B. Varidrive Tube Preamp pedal, which then goes into a Vox AC30 amplifier. The CE-1's other output is sent to DeLeo's rack, which houses a Demeter TGP-3 three-channel preamp, Rocktron Intelliverb and a VHT Classic power amp that is a 50 watt stereo unit. The VHT's stereo outputs are then run into two Marshall 4x12 cabinets. Live, his rig is usually mic'ed with four mics, allowing the engineer to mix and blend the signals in order to give the impression that DeLeo's tone is almost made up of two guitar players. His rig allows him to take advantage of the clarity of the VOX and the crunch of the Demeter. While he's often seen with three VOX amps onstage, there is generally only ever one switched on at any given moment.
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Dave Friedman, who put together DeLeo's backline for the re-formed Stone Temple Pilots, also posted images of DeLeo's 2008 backline online.
In terms of the effects he uses, the switching was previously handled via a Rockman Midi Octupus pedal. In 2008, the Rockman was retired and replaced by a RJM Mastermind midi pedal, as can be seen in the image above.
In the 2001 Guitar World article, DeLeo's guitar tech Rich Mazzetta talk about his use of effects on stage.
"It's very simple," Mazzetta notes. "Dean's only got five patches on it. And the chorus pedal is used very sparingly, only on 'Piece of Pie' and at the very beginning of 'Trippin.' The Varidrive is heard only on the intro to 'Interstate Love Song.'"
In the studio however, DeLeo's likes to experiment with different gear, including amplifiers. For the recording of the Shangri-La Dee Da, used a variety of different amps, including an old vintage Gretsch with 6x9 speakers, vintage Marshall's from the late 60's, including a 18 watt 2x10, 18 watt 1x12 and 20 watt 2x10 combos.
He also used an Ampeg B212, Sovtek MIG50 and a number of VOX's which he spoke about in the 2001 Guitar World interview.
"And remember the Ampeg B15 flip tops? Well, I have a B212, which is actually an accordion amp. It looks just like a B15, but bigger and wider and incredibly heavy. And the cool thing about it is, when you ordered that amp from Ampeg in the Sixties, they custom-engraved your name onto this clear plastic template, right beneath the Ampeg logo. So whoever ordered this amp I got, his name was Harold. You turn it on and this plastic thing light up. Adorable. It's got that Ampex blue Tolex. I used that amp in the bridges of 'Wonderful'; it's that real big, Texas-like guitar sound going on there.
"And for a lot of stuff I just used a Sovtek MIG50 through a 4x12 cabinet. Very interesting sound; very, very inexpensive amp. And of course I have an array of Vox stuff: an AC10, an AC15, and I usually bring a couple of AC30s."
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This article was put together from information gathered from a variety of sources including:
- 'Double Or Nothing', Guitar World, May 2007.
- 'We Will Rock You - On Tour with STP', Guitar World, December 2001.
- Dave Friedman's post at Huge Racks Inc.