#CoffeeAndKlon 30: My “Last Day On Earth” Rig

#CoffeeAndKlon is my occasional Sunday magazine-style series, where I talk about whatever’s on my mind about guitars, gear, music and yes, sometimes my love of both coffee and the Klon pedal.

If tomorrow was going to be your last day on Earth, and you could spend it playing just one guitar rig (that you already own), what would you be playing?

Not Your Desert Island Rig

The concept of a “desert island rig” has come up before. A “last day on Earth” rig? Not so much. What’s the difference?

With a “desert island rig”, you’re picking a rig on the assumption that it’ll be your main source of entertainment for weeks, possibly months. It’s a rig that you hope you won’t get bored of (or frustrated with) as time on the island all alone ticks by.

Now, instead of months to entertain yourself, imagine you’ve got just 24 hours left on Earth. You can spend your last 24 hours playing through just one guitar rig, assembled from the gear that you already own.

Morbid? Yeah, quite a bit. But, if we’re lucky, we’ll get that 24 hours. So what would you choose?

I had a go at this thought exercise myself this week. My choices were both predictable and surprising at the same time.

I Surprised Myself

My rig turned out to be very straight forward:

  • Deadnote (my PRS McCarty 594) and Ghost (my 2015 Les Paul Custom)
  • Klon KTR
  • Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe
  • a pair of Neunaber Slates for delay and reverb
  • into the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6

At first glance, regular readers might be wondering what’s surprising about that. All of this gear features heavily in my blog posts here.

What surprised me is that I didn’t use anything else.

Not my Synergy amps, none of my Marshall amps, no other guitars, and I never even reached for another pedal the entire day. I didn’t even fire up the UAD Apollo to enjoy my favourite Echoplex tape delay emulation.

Why not?

I Just Wanted To Play

For me, this day isn’t about exploring anything. It’s not about experimenting with tone. I’m not trying to improve on yesterday.

It’s about playing, and I went with the rig that would allow me to just kick back and play all day long.

It starts with the guitars. One of the nice thing about guitars based on the Les Paul pattern (two humbuckers, with dedicated volume and tone pot for each pickup) is just how many tones they have, especially if they’re fitted with vintage-voiced (ie PAF-style) pickups. By altering picking dynamics and manipulating volume and tone controls, I can play all day long and not even need to touch the pedal or amp settings once.

Of the two, the PRS McCarty 594 has the most versatility. Even a hack like me can go from clean to pretty raunchy just by how I pick, because the 58/15 LT pickups are just so uncompressed. And then the Custom brings that characteristic Les Paul strut and complexity for when the PRS is just that little bit too polite.

Speaking of pedals … the Klon KTR and the SHOD together bring the best out of the guitars. As always, I’ve got the KTR setup in the classic clean boost configuration (treble at 11, gain around 8 o’clock, and volume adjusted for unity), and the SHOD setup as a fairly light overdrive. Even with the KTR stacked into the SHOD, I can get all the tones that I want without touching either pedal.

The two Neunabers are configured for tape delay and spring reverb. They’re the “more fun” pedals, and I love how they don’t overwhelm my dry signal at any point.

And the amp, well … the nice thing about a real amp is that it’s always ready to go. All I’ve got to do is switch it on, and I can start playing. I haven’t touched the controls on my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 all year. It’s such a convenient pedal platform amp.

Final Thoughts

For me, this isn’t just a thought experiment.

I’m writing this on the Thursday, and tomorrow (Friday) I’m going into hospital for surgery. While it’s a small, routine operation, surgery is never completely risk free. And let’s not forget that it’s happening during a global pandemic.

Now don’t get me wrong. By the time you read this (Sunday), I’ll be back home and taking it easy as I start my recovery.

It was, however, an interesting experience to approach today like this. I’ve always struggled to nail down my “desert island” rig. My “last day on Earth” rig? That was the easiest decision I’ve made in a long time.

So, to finish … what would your “last day on Earth” rig be? Let me know in the comments below. And remember: no cheating. It’s got to be built from the gear you already have.

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