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Frank Zappa tone?

3/17/2000 3:35 PM
Mark Frank Zappa tone?
Does anyone know what amps/pedals/etc. Frank Z. was using in the mid to late seventies? I know he used sgs and modded strats as far as guitars go but what kind of amps did he use? He seems to get such a unique tone and it goes into feed back in such a beautiful way.
3/17/2000 10:59 PM

I think he was using a Pignose amp through a wah.  
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3/18/2000 1:03 AM
Doug E

Frank commonly used parametric equalizers on-board his guitars designed at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. Can't remember his tech's name. I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't find out more by going to his site. I remember reading he would constantly remove and customize the equalizers to suit his taste. I don't think the amps had as much to do with it as his parametric equalizers did. Actually, I believe he used rack-mounted amps during that period.I could be wrong.
3/18/2000 5:05 AM

There are articles on how Frank good his tone. I can't remeber a lot of details though. By Joe's Garage he was using a Carvin X-Amp for clean.  
Apparently live he use an amp for clean and an amp for distorted and used to mix the signals from both mics get the sound he wanted before it went to the PA. Apparently he saved live solos he like and mixed them into studio recordings when he could.  
3/18/2000 5:21 AM
I wonder if he used any distortion pedals to enhance his overdrive tone? I know Steve Vai used to use a Boss Super Overdrive to kick his Marshall into hi gear.
3/20/2000 2:32 AM
J. Gajan

I remember reading in a Guitar Player interview he was using some Oberheim stuff and some Mutron device around the Zoot Allures period. This article was either '76 or '77, (he was on the cover with the burnt Hendrix Strat).
3/20/2000 9:56 PM
Jim S.

I think that during the latter half of the 70's, FZ used a non-master volume Marshall head going into a custom made 4x12 cab loaded with JBL's. My guess is that a lot of his tone had to do with signal processing gear that went between his guitar and the amp, along with boost/EQ circuits built into the guitars themselves. On stage, FZ tended to play loud, so there was probably a certain amount of amp distortion happening as well. OTOH, he was able to get INCREDIBLE sounding crystal clear clean sounds as well. I don't believe FZ relied very much on standard commercially available stomp-boxes, except for possibly wah pedals. He was probably one of the first guitarists to make extensive use of rack-mounted processing gear.  
I think FZ's guitar gear tended to change a lot from one tour to the next, so it's hard to get a handle on exactly what stuff he used on any given occasion, except for which guitar he used. This could be the subject for entire book, I'm sure. I'd be the first in line to buy such a book!
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