Equipboard is the world’s largest database of artists and the gear they use, also providing music gear ratings, reviews, and buying guides. It’s 100% community-built, so anyone with an account can submit gear used by a pro artist. What sets Equipboard apart, however, is authenticity; If an artist is spotted with gear, there needs to be proof – an interview, a YouTube video, Instagram photo, etc. – removing doubt that the artist uses the gear.
Today, we’re teaming up with Sam Ash to highlight some of the gear used by one of our favorite guitarists, Gary Clark Jr, a modern blues guitarist who hails from Austin but has quickly achieved worldwide acclaim. We’ll discuss some of the gear Gary plays and how his equipment choices affect his sound.
About Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr’s career got its first start when he met legendary promoter Clifford Antone, who was the founder of the venue Antone’s, Austin’s renowned blues venue. From these initial performances at Antone’s, he quickly became a staple of the Austin blues scene, releasing a few self-produced records that eventually lead to a deal with Warner. Clark’s skills were validated when he earned an invite from Eric Clapton to play the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010, received a Grammy Award in 2013, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Clark’s most recent release is The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, a 13-song album released in September of 2015. His style is known primarily as blues, but features an eclectic mix of other genres. Notably, jazz, rock, hip hop, and soul. Clark started playing when he was twelve years old, inspired by guitarist greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, and B.B King. However, he’s serious about venturing outside traditional blues and making sure that people know that he’s “not going to play straight-ahead I-IV-V things all the time, although I do love doing that. Clark once remarked. “There’s a lot of influences that are in me and they come out in my music. Some things are crazy and trippy, psychedelic, loud and fuzzy!” 1
Gary Clark Jr’s Guitars
“I pretty much knew from day one that I needed a few things for my arsenal and the Epiphone Casino is the one guitar that always stood out,” said Clark. “Getting my first Casino changed my life.”2
He tends to prefer the combination of P90s and hollow body guitars, claiming that this combination gives him “Round, pretty tones.”3 The P90 equipped Casino gives a warm, soft tone, as opposed to more aggressive humbucker equipped solid body guitars, such as the iconic Gibson Les Paul. Clark has fallen in love with the Epiphone Casino – and hollow body guitars in general – and cites their lightweight body, pleasing “unplugged” tone, and the guitar’s ability to mimic the tone of classic players he admires such as B.B King and Otis Rush, as reasons why.
Speaking of hollow bodies, Clark acquired his “dream guitar”, a 1967 Gibson ES-330 in a beautiful burst finish in New York in 2012. When it comes to the ES-330, we can list many of the same traits that we did for the blue and black casino as reasons for why the sound matches Clark’s preferred tone.
Clark has also been known to use a Gibson 1961 Les Paul Tribute (or what one would typically think of as a modern Gibson SG) when he wants something different than from his normal hollow body guitars. The ’61 Les Paul Tribute, being a solid body, Gibson ’57 humbucker equipped guitar, is much more aggressive and bass heavy, in comparison to both the 330 and Casino, but still warm enough to be suitable for his blues styling’s. Clark says, “I use that guitar when I want lots of attitude.” You can check him out with this guitar in action when Clark plays “When My Train Pulls In.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPYLVQfjCts
Gary Clark Jr’s Amplifiers
As far as Guitar amplifiers go, Clark seems to utilize Fender Amplifiers the most. The Fender Super Sonic line of amps are known for being very versatile, which is very likely why Clark uses them, usually relying on the 1X12 model. The Super Sonic series are great amps for having a pristine, classic Fender clean tone on one channel, and a higher gain lead tone on the other channel. Essentially, this amp can cover all grounds if need be.
Along with the Champ, Twin Reverb, Bassman, and Vibro-King, the Fender Princeton Reverb is one of the most historically significant Fender amps. Clark uses the Princeton Reverb because of its ability to nail the classic blues tones, as these amps are very warm sounding, with a surprising amount of bottom end for a smaller combo. Princeton Reverbs have a reputation for being incredibly dynamic both when clean, and when overdriven. They also take pedals very well, making it easy to make place an overdrive or fuzz in front of the amp.
Gary Clark Jr’s Guitar Effects
Clark also has some interesting Guitar effects stomp box choices although he typically keeps his pedalboard relatively minimal. The Electro Harmonix B9 Organ is famous for being able to mimic a vintage organ. Clark often uses this to mimic organ lines from old blues songs. The pedal also allows the player to blend their guitar signal with the organ sound from the pedal using a combination of the dry, organ, and mod knobs, which allows for some interesting tonal combinations.
Clark’s VOX V847A Wah is a reissue of Vox’s original wah pedal from the 60s. The only difference between this and the original pedal is that this one is buffered, and has AC power as an option. Clark used this pedal because of its ability to mimic the very early wah sounds from artists like Hendrix, but not have tone-suck like a vintage wah would have (hence why it’s buffered). He has also developed a Custom Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal which sounds like an “underwater wah”. Gary will often switch between the Dunlop and Vox models.
A fuzz pedal with Octave control, the MXR La Machine is also utilized so that Clark can add an octave above his playing, giving him a lot of versatility with his fuzz tones. The actual fuzz tone of this pedal is intended to be thick and dirty. Clark uses this pedal in more upbeat or rock driven songs, since a fuzz like this makes lead playing really stand out in a band setting.
With a ton of skill and creativity, Gary Clark Jr uses this equipment to get the job done! You can see his complete list of all the gear he has ever used on the Gary Clark Jr Equipboard page.