Gear Up! : Will Birchall, Guitarist with Muto Leo

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    Gear Up! : Will Birchall, Guitarist with Muto Leo

    Stephen at Newpath recently got in touch asking if I’d like to write a short piece on my gear. There was no way I could resist indulging my inner gear-pig so I hope there is something interesting for you in this article even if you haven’t listened to Muto Leo. 



    I’ll start by prefacing this with a brief overview of what my set up is trying to achieve. The guitars in Muto Leo rely on each other to keep sections interesting whilst our bassist and drummer pound out solid rhythms. We use squeaky clean as our bread and butter and only use overdrive and distortion when we want to emphasise sections. I wouldn’t say I was a purist but I like to keep things simple. Reverb and delay are the effects which I love.


    Guitar


    My guitar is a 1981 Fender Bullet. I often get questions at gigs about it as the model which I have is pretty rare. Fender only made it for one year before altering the body to a Stratocaster shape. The guitar was designed as an entry level instrument with the idea of competing in the same space as cheaper Japanese copies which were dominating the market at the time.


    It’s pretty similar to a telecaster on the rhythm pickup, but I love just how clean the tone is. It’s not flawless however, it’s a 32 year old instrument and the maintenance required to keep it in gig condition is a bit of a pain and the pickups have started to die a little so the signal is a little bit weak.


    Amp

    Amp

    OK, I admit it, I’m a bit of a cheapskate. I dream of owning a Vox AC30 or a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe but my finances just can’t justify it. When we recorded our latest EP, Liam from This Is Two (Post- Hardcore nutcases) was kind enough to lend me his Hot Rod Deluxe but for day to day use, my Vox Valvetronix AD120VT is a nice compromise. The Vox Valvetronix series is a valved pre-amp/solid state amplifier and lots of other manufacturers use similar technologies. Bomb-proof and loud, exactly what I need when playing impromptu gigs with no PA system.


    Pedals

    Pedals
    Working along my signal chain (right to left). Boss TU-2 tuner, Boo Instruments O/D TS, Electro Harmonix Freeze, Electro Harmonix Pulsar tremelo, Boss DD-3 Delay and Boss RV-5 reverb.


    My reverb and delay are my most used pedals and both are Boss units. I chose the RV-5 reverb because it has a cool ‘Modulate’ function which adds this super ambient, chorus-like effect to the reverb tail. My DD-3 delay is my oldest pedal, and I’d love to update this with a newer unit with some extra features like reverse. Saying that, it does exactly what is says on the tin and doesn’t colour the overall sound at all. The EHX pulsar hasn’t found much use with me yet, but I am working it into more stuff. It was a birthday gift from the rest of Muto Leo and it turns out they have good taste in pedals.


    Boo

    My two favourite pedals are my overdrive and the Freeze. The overdrive is an Ibanez Tube Screamer clone. Boo Instruments pedals are hand-made in London and the O/D TS use the same JRC4558D chip as the original Tube Screamer. I have to admit it was a bit of a punt, but I love it. It has a really good range of drive and sustain that lasts forever.


    Freeze

    Finally, the EHX Freeze. I love this thing! I don’t play a lot of chords so sometimes riffs can sound a bit thin, especially in slow sections. The Freeze allows me to capture the sound going through it at a given moment and drone it out infinitely. I can then play the rest of the riff over the top and it helps to add depth. It can be a bit tricky to use sometimes but nothing beats the total shoegaze majesty of this little box.



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    Tags: Gear Up!, Will Birchall, Guitars, Muto Leo

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