Rig Tour: Mar­cus King

The young South Carolina blues ace in­vites TG into his world of tone…

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS - Words Amit Sharma Pho­tog­ra­phy Olly Cur­tis

Be­fore his sound­check and rig tour at Is­ling­ton As­sem­bly Hall, Mar­cus King is giv­ing TG his guide to the one thing ev­ery gui­tarist feels like they need to work on: feel. It’s some­thing that, de­spite his years, the 22 year-old Amer­i­can knows an aw­ful lot about and the ad­vice he pre­scribes is telling in­deed.

“When it comes to note choices, it all comes down to the at­ti­tude of how you play them,” he ex­plains. “That’s ex­actly what Miles Davis said: ‘Twenty per cent is the note… and the other 80 per cent is the moth­er­fucker play­ing it!’ That’s some­thing I agree with whole­heart­edly. Put your heart and soul in there through vi­brato, scratches, at­tack, what­ever you feel!

“I guess I do play fast some­times,” he adds. “But mainly I love play­ers like Les­lie West, Duane All­man and Derek Trucks – who took a lot of in­flu­ence from Mid­dle Eastern mu­sic. He stud­ied with Ali Ak­bar Khan in San Fran­cisco and learned a lot from that. The flu­id­ity in Derek’s slide play­ing is in­cred­i­ble to see and he’s be­come a good friend of mine. As for my ap­proach to chords, that comes from the whole Steely Dan/ Don­ald Fa­gen thing, where you’re play­ing the 7#9 with­out play­ing the third. You are sug­gest­ing it’s a mi­nor chord but leav­ing a lot of am­bi­gu­ity. That re­ally helps who­ever is im­pro­vis­ing, the soloist or singer is given a much wider range of sounds to ex­plore… it can open doors!”

1965 Fender Te lecaster

2 “I ac­tu­ally picked up this 1965 orig­i­nal maple-cap on this tour. I use it on 8am and Wherei’m Headed, which were record­ing us­ing an Esquire. I also use this on Homesick for that nice clean bell-like tone… it’s a gor­geous gui­tar! I was in Frank­furt, Ger­many, and found this shop called Guitar­point. They were re­ally nice folks and very un­der­stand­ing of my fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, which is not great be­cause I’m a tour­ing mu­si­cian. The owner there, Detlef Alder, was re­ally sweet and we worked out a way of me get­ting it. This gui­tar re­ally spoke to me, it’s the kind of Tele I’ve had my eye on since I was a kid, that blonde Tele from the mid-60s. It re­ally tells a story, which is my favourite kind of gui­tar. I’ve played show­room pieces like a 1958 335 that’s never been touched and they never have that much of a story to tell. I want to feel the mojo of who­ever played this gui­tar be­fore me. There are some ’59 bursts that I’ve played, which don’t have that mojo be­hind them, while other [fa­mous ‘58s and ’59s] like Hank The Plank or Spot re­ally do.”


Fender Supe r Re verb

3 “I like my gui­tar tone to cut through while stay­ing warm – it’s all about the mid­dle ground. A Su­per Re­verb has al­ways been the truest in­di­ca­tion of what a gui­tar sounds like, it gives very pure am­pli­fi­ca­tion of the in­stru­ment. There’s a bit more com­pres­sion on it com­pared to a Twin, which al­lows the gui­tar to open up and speak.

“I picked this up on this run too, in Paris where we had our first gig of the tour. There was a Twin wait­ing for me there and I kinda felt like it couldn’t do any­thing for me, it’s not an ideal amp. They work great for low vol­ume sit­u­a­tions, like if I’m play­ing an arch­top like I do in my booga­loo jazz-type side projects. But we were in this beau­ti­ful the­atre and I had this Twin that I re­ally didn’t want to use. I called the near­est mu­sic store and I asked them if they had any vin­tage Su­pers – luck­ily, I man­aged to move things around enough to get the amp for the tour!”

Or­ange Rock­erverb 50 MKII

4 “I run both in stereo, with the Or­ange on the left and Fender on the right as you see it on­stage. I love Or­ange amps, as does my bass player, but I use them over here pri­mar­ily – back home in the States I use a bou­tique com­pany called Home­stead to get the dry sig­nal. That’s the whole idea, dry and wet. The Su­per has the re­verb and the other amp doesn’t. That makes for a good tone, it’s some­thing I learned from [North Carolina gui­tar le­gend] Jimmy Her­ring. The Or­ange has the lower end and the Fender has the highs, it’s a fan­tas­tic blend of sounds. Or­ange amps break up rather quickly and re­ally con­tour well with the Fender cleans. Gen­er­ally, I pre­fer the 6L6 tubes you get in Su­pers, so Home­stead make me a 100-watt head with 6L6s that’s a bit like a Fender crossed with a Mar­shall, which is great!”


“I use the Plex­i­glass shield in front of the amp, which is bet­ter for stage noise, but it also al­lows me to change the tone a lot more from the stage. I can push it in a bit more to sharpen the sound if I feel it needs it. I change how I dial in my tone for each venue, it de­pends on the room – usu­ally the Su­per has higher tre­ble and midrange with less bass di­alled in and re­verb on about four. In­ten­sity and speed are al­ways on zero be­cause I don’t use the tremolo. And I still don’t un­der­stand the hi­ero­glyph­ics on those Or­ange

amps, man! I keep the gain around 11 o’clock and crank the vol­ume for some Nashville dirt.”

PED­AL­BOARD Jim Dun­lop GCB 95 Orig­i­nal Cry Baby

5 “I like things you can find in a pinch, so the orig­i­nal Cry Baby works great. I loved how Johnny Win­ter used it. Also there’s Frank Zappa, who is like the fore­fa­ther of the wah-wah. And ob­vi­ously Jimi Hen­drix and Clap­ton too… you can’t beat those guys. The beau­ti­ful thing about these ped­als is how you can use them to in­ten­sify mo­ments. I might use it in a more funky way or more as an en­ve­lope fil­ter way for that [Grate­ful Dead] Jerry Gar­cia tone.”

Ernie Vol­ume Vol­ume Pedal

6 “I don’t re­ally use a vol­ume pedal for any­thing other than a chan­nel muter. It’s either all the way on or all the way off. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I might use it for what it was in­tended, which is to have the full gain of the gui­tar but slightly backed off. To be hon­est, while I do have this vol­ume pedal out in front of me, I mainly use my vol­ume knob… that’s the best way to clean up the tone.”

Fender Mir­ror Im­age De lay

7 “I rang my friend who works at Fender in Nashville just to stop by and see the show­room. They had all these ped­als there, they’d only just been de­signed so they weren’t avail­able yet, and he ended up giv­ing me one of each. In the stu­dio, I was us­ing the Full­tone Tape Echo for more war­bly and slap­back sounds. This pedal felt re­ally close to what I was look­ing for. I don’t use it that of­ten, but I didn’t want to carry around the Tape Echo just yet… maybe it’s some­thing I’ll move to. The de­lay is in the loop for both amps. You can hear it on most of the Tele stuff like Homesick and Where I’mheaded.”

Ibanez Tube Screamer

8 “I keep my Tube Screamer on pretty much through­out the whole of my set and use it more like a master vol­ume or an at­ten­u­a­tor, so I keep that low and crank the Su­per as much as I can. It will add just a lit­tle kick too, of course! And when I switch to the Tele­caster I usu­ally turn the Tube Screamer off.

“Ste­vie Ray Vaughan was a big hero of mine grow­ing up, but weirdly enough I got into these ped­als be­fore I knew how big a part they played in his sound.”

Ana­log Man Be ano Boost

9“This was ac­tu­ally a gift to me from my buddy [Black Keys singer/gui­tarist] Dan Auer­bach. I use it very spar­ingly be­cause it re­ally does its job and gates the hell out of ev­ery­thing. It’s kinda like my self-de­struct but­ton, when I want shit to re­ally go off the wall and start con­trol­ling feed­back, though I’ll usu­ally use it on Wel­come around here.”

Full­tone Cus­tom Shop Mini De jav­ibe

10 “I hon­estly don’t know what it is about this pedal… I have just al­ways re­ally liked the sound of it. I al­ways said to my­self that I’d never have a proper ped­al­board, but I was head­ing out on tour with Chris Robin­son in our band, As The Crow Flies [play­ing Black Crowes songs], which needed a few dif­fer­ent sounds and was why I built it.

“I had some­thing like this in mind for The Black Crowes’ song Half­way to ev­ery­where– that needed a re­ally good-vibe sound. So I got this one and ended up us­ing it on my next record. Ac­tu­ally, I think I might kick it in at spo­radic mo­ments through­out the set.”

“Put your heart and soul in there through vi­brato, scratches, att ack – what­ever you feel!”

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