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Kid Congo Powers's guitar resting on a Fender Twin from Tonic's backline.

Welcome to our first installment of the gear section. Here Kid Congo Powers walks us through his rock arsenal and discusses the tools of his trade:

Strictly a Fender person, I always play out of a Fender amp. The last Fender Twin I have purchased and owned is a 1970s issue Fender Twin remade with JBL speakers. And I have been playing a Fender Squier guitar. But I always get the first issue ones and those were made in the mid-1980s. Because they’re still like Fender guitars, they’re not the same as the ones like they make now. And I’m not sure where those ones are made. I’m not sure if they’re Japanese or what. They’re really great sounding guitars and I really love them. I actually don’t even bother to find a real Fender – a vintage Fender. In vintage clothing, the Eighties are now vintage so I think maybe my Squire is a vintage Eighties Squier guitar. Right now I’m using a mustard color MXR distortion box, and also sometimes the traditional Cry Baby wah-wah, and an analogue delay pedal. I like the Squire because it has – like I said, it has to be that year, like 1983/1984 issue, because they have a certain sound that I really like. I’ve played other Squiers and bought them and they just didn’t sound right to me or very good to me. And it has kind of a trashy sound but it’s still very full sounding. I am a guitar snob because I really want that guitar but I’m not a crazy gear-head.

In New York City I’ve started playing a modern Blues Jr. combo. The real reason is because I saw Nels Cline playing one and it sounded amazing. And he told me that they’re so loud and so powerful and they’re tube amps and they sound great. And so I actually bought one and its actually serving me very well. On the tour I actually ordered a Seventies Twin but here at home I actually condone the Blues combo by Fender. And I’m using picks by Wedgie.

Past Guitars, Amps, and Effects

The first guitar that I had in The Gun Club was a weird weird solid-body Rickenbacker guitar. I don’t know what the fuck it was. Jeffrey (Lee Pierce) had given it to me. Then I just got an email from a really old friend from my childhood neighborhood and he sold me my first guitar. So maybe he sold that to me. So maybe Jeffrey didn’t give that to me at all.

In The Cramps I played an Ibanez Explorer. And that was quite a thing. But that was really good for fuzz guitar because it had the longest sustain of anything I’ve ever played. You could just hit it once and it would sustain like crazy – which was very good for “Human Fly” and “Caveman.”

Then in The Gun Club I think I had a real Fender guitar and it got stolen. And then I got the Squier because I had to get something fast and then I fell in love with that sound. And I’ve played that ever since. And I’ve only had two of them because that one got stolen.

And my favorite acoustic guitar to play was a Goya guitar that Jack (Martin) got a pawnshop somewhere that I used a lot when I was interested in the acoustic guitar.

In the Gun Club I never used a pedal so there was never that. I just had a Fender Twin and that weird Rickenbacker guitar. And in The Cramps I used a Univox Superfuzz – very classic and very great. I wouldn’t mind getting another one. Then I went to a Boss Super Overdrive for a while. And then I got the mustard colored MXR distortion and I really loved that and I have one now - and that was kind of Bad Seeds. I like to use tremolo. That’s why I like to use the Fender Twin because they have tremolo on them.

Recording Equipment

At home for making demos, especially for making electronic stuff, I actually use a Roland VS1680 sixteen-track hard drive studio. I have that at my house and I like that because it has a lot of plug-ins. You can plug guitars and instruments into each track which is really good and really different than a computer interface. And I have a Sennheiser mic - and I like that. And I have my favorite pair of crystal clear headphones that are actually Sennheiser as well. I learned this from my German friends.


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