After a long wait, Pearl Jam are finally out on tour in support of 2020’s gigaton album, and eagle-eyed fans have already spotted some substantial changes to their onstage rigs.
Most notably, tube connoisseur Mike McCready has a pair of fresh Fender guitar amps stacked behind him, both of which bear a telltale Tone Master badge in the bottom right-hand corner, confirming them as combos from the Big F’s foray into digital versions of its classic amps.
The series’ Deluxe Reverb and Blonde Twin Reverb feature in McCready’s rig alongside a Lead Custom from Seattle amp builder Rola, which runs into a Marshall 4×12. Presumably, the Fenders handle clean tones, while the Rola gets switched in for dirtier sounds.
McCready’s live endorsement is one of the biggest seals of approval for the digital amp series yet. Of course, Fender no doubt hooked the Seattle soloist up with a combo or two when working on the Custom Shop replica of his ’60 Strat, which is set to be released as a more affordable production-line model in the near-future.
The tour has served up a few other surprises on the gear front, too, not least from co-guitarists Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder, who have dug deep into their collections to pull out two rarely seen Gibsons for the run.
Gossard has been sighted with a Gibson Les Paul Signature Semi Hollow Gold Top – notable for its ES cutaway up top and Les Paul cutaway on the lower bout.
Launched in the early ’70s, the Signature Semi Hollow was the fourth and final guitar designed by Les Paul as part of a late-’60s reunion with Gibson, and features a pair of low-impedance pickups that excel at clean tones.
Judging from footage of recent shows, the rare semi-hollow has become one of Gossard’s main guitars on the trek, seeing use during standard-tuned tracks including Glorified G, Not For You and Seven O’Clockas well as setlist staples Black and alive.
Eddie Vedder, meanwhile, has further indulged his love of Pete Townshend and added the Who guitarist’s signature Gibson Les Paul Deluxe to his onstage arsenal.
A 2005 replica of Townshend’s heavily customized 1976 Cherry Sunburst #9 Les Paul, the guitar boasts a pair of mini-humbuckers and a DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker – just 75 were made and came with a #9 decal, not displayed on Vedder’s model.
The guitar is currently employed for standard-tuned tracks including Corduroy, Not For You and lightningbolt.
Both guitarists are still playing their regular squeezes alongside the new additions – so, for Gossard, that’s a Bigsby-equipped Les Paul Sunburst, while Vedder uses his target-sticker-adorned Telecaster for tracks that require a cleaner tone, such as Better Man. McCready, of course, sticks to his ’60 Stratocaster, but a Les Paul with uncovered humbuckers and a P-90-equipped Firebird have also seen some action.
Pearl Jam kicked off their 2022 tour in San Diego on May 3, with the run set to conclude on May 20 in Las Vegas, after which the band head over to Europe for a series of summer dates, before returning to the US and Canada in Sept.
The treks mark the touring debut of former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who officially joined the live showup last year.
Last week, the band paid tribute to Taylor Hawkins with a cover of Foo Fighters’ Cold Day in the Sunled by PJ drummer Matt Cameron on guitar and vocals.