John 5 is a guitar playing maniac, he can go from shred to chicken pickin’ in the blink of an eye. Perhaps best known as former guitarist with Marilyn Manson, and currently Rob Zombie, John 5 is also an accomplished solo artist. If you haven’t picked up one of his instrumental solo albums yet, and you’re interested in playing guitar, listen to one now, and you’ll instantly feel inferior. world’s John 5 is also the first person to release an R-rated instructional DVD.
Guitar wise, John 5 plays a mix of customized telecasters live:
Fender J5 Telecaster (Drop D down half a step) with a Fender Enforcer humbucker in the bridge and a Fender Custom Shop Twisted Tele in the neck and strung with D'Addario .010's.
Guitar 2: Fender J5 Telecaster with Bigsby Vibrato (Drop D down a whole step) with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail in the bridge and a Fender Custom Shop Twisted Tele in the neck and strung with D'Addario 0.011's.
Guitar 3: Fender Subsonic J5 Telecaster (Drop D down one and a half steps) with a Fender Enforcer humbucker in the bridge and a Fender Custom Shop Twisted Tele in the neck and strung with D'Addario 0.012's.
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In the studio he uses a mix of guitars. In an August 2007 interview with Guitar Player to promote the release of “The Devil Knows My Name” John 5 spoke about the guitars he used for recording.
For the rhythm tracks, I generally used a Les Paul, and then doubled the part with a Fender Sub-Sonic Telecaster. For the solos, I typically chose one of my signature Telecasters for each of the two takes. I’m really comfortable with Teles. All I would do to differentiate the overdubs was switch pickups and/or amps.
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Amp wise John 5’s rig is all Marshall. His main line up features two Marshall Mode Four MF350 heads, as well as an additional MF350 and JCM800 2203 for back up. A Morley A/B/Y box is used to switch between the amps. For cabinets, John 5’s backline is made up of Marshall 1960BV Straight-Front cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30’s. He also uses Samson UHF Wireless units. A Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor and Klark Technix D.I. Box are also rack mounted.
As with his guitars, John 5 varies amps somewhat in the studio. He was asked what amplifiers he used in the recording of “The Devil Knows My Name” in his 2007 Guitar Player interview.
A Marshall Mode Four, a Fender Tone-Master, and a Peavey 5150. For the cleaner stuff, I plugged into a ’55 Fender Champ. Pedal-wise, I used the Coffin Case Blood Drive, a CryBaby wah, and maybe a chorus pedal.
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His guitar rig has also been profiled in the Guitar World column, Vulgar Displays of Power. The scan of which is below.
Currently, John 5’s pedal board is quite stripped back, as opposed to when he was playing with Marilyn Manson.
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One of the weirder tones John 5 has produced is the trippy nightmare tone on “First Victim”. In the 2007 Guitar Player interview he was asked how he achieved that sound.
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That’s an Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer, a doubleneck Gibson SG with 6- and 12-string necks, and a violin bow. I got the idea for that when I was playing with Rob Zombie, and we did a song called “The Devil’s Rejects” with a horror film clip running on the screen behind the band. I grabbed the doubleneck because the song is played with a 12-string, and I added the bow to get a scary sound that matched the movie images. I thought, “Aw, man—that’s a cool sound. I’ll add it to my record.” You know, I’m such a Tele nut, but I can only play that part on the SG, because the fretboard has a curve to it that helps my bowing. A Tele neck is too flat for using a bow—at least for me. For “First Victim,” I mostly played on the bass strings of the 12-string neck.
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