Derek Trucks Tone Info and Arcane Tone Secrets

June 1, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

trucks_derek_bluelightLeaving the Allmans Soon?

Lots of slide typically doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But I do love what Duane Allman, Sonny Landreth, Derek Trucks and a few others can do with a slide. They are truly expressing themselves, not just playing the guitar. And they’ve got TONE – of a Woody nature, of course.

The June Guitar Player magazine, with Hendrix on the cover, has a good interview with Derek – who’s about to turn 30. In that interview he talks guitars, amps, amp settings – and says right at the end of the interview that he could be leaving the Allman in the “very near future.” Why? To “dig in firmly with my thing, or the band with my wife,” he says, adding: “and I welcome the transition.”

He also said this in a recent interview: “Now that we have the [home] studio, I’m looking forward to focusing on more recording with my band and Susan [his wife, musician and singer Susan Tedeschi]. I think we have a few great albums in us in the vein of Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Delaney and Bonnie. If we spend the right amount of time and get people like Doyle [Bramhall II, who wrote and guested on Derek’s new CD Already Free] and [Derek Trucks Band singer] Mike Mattison in to write tunes, we can come up with something great.”

Anyhow, here’s what he says about gear. Info is taken from the Guitar Player interview, as well as a recent interview and other web sources (noted).


> He’s using a couple of the new PRS amp heads (see the video below), but not the matching PRS cabs. With the Allmans it’s a “Blue Sierra head through a Randall [yes, Randall!] 4×12 cabinet [no speakers listed].”

> On his new Derek Trucks Band CD Already Free [get it if you don’t have it – full WoodyTone review coming soon] he uses the PRS Original Sewell head through a Marshall 4×12.

> But he still loves the sound of his SG through [an early ’60s] Super Reverb. Settings: Reverb 3 (“beause I want to feel the effect, but I don’t want it to be too loose”); Treble 8; Mids and Bass 3 or 4; Vol 8.

> He also used a “cranked vintage Marshall,” apparently a 50- or 100-watt Superlead which he is said to own, for the second solo on “Something to Make You Happy” on his new CD.

Derek on PRS Amps


> His main axe is a 2000 ’61 Reissue SG with ’57 Classic hums, the vibrato bridge replaced with a stoptail, tuned to open E. “On my reissues, I put in stop tailpieces. That’s what I use the bulk of the time. I love the look of that big silver plate on the front, but I found I was breaking strings and my tuning would go haywire.”

> “When I first started playing at nine or 10 years old I wanted the sound on Allman Brothers records like Live at the Fillmore. That Gibson tone is exactly what I wanted. Originally I wanted a Les Paul, but I only weighed about 80 pounds at the time, and I had a picture of Duane with an SG. So the SG had the tone I wanted and weighed quite a bit less. Now it’s years later and anything else I try to play feels foreign to me. When I pick up the SG it is second nature.”

> He also used a “funky old Airline guitar through the built in amp in its case” on “Down in the Flood” on his new CD, as well as a “beater Silvertone/Supro guitar.”


> Apparently none.

Other Stuff

> He likes glass slides, usually a Coricidin bottle per Duane.

> Strings: DRs, .011 to .046.

More: Tone Secrets

Also dug this up from archives (2007), from user rockeye, a self-confessed Derek fanatic:

> His tone is the Seymour Duncan Antiquity [pickup], vintage Super Reverb loaded with Pyle Drivers, and his two main amps set up with tubes from Lord Valve. The 65 Super has: V1-empty [apparently for more gain], V2-NOS Beijing “Silver Special” 12AX7, V3-NOS PHILLIPS JAN 12AT7-WC, V4-NOS BEIJING 12AX7 (GREY PLATE), V5-ANY 12AX7, V6-NOS MULLARD CV-4024/12AT7 WA, V7 & V8- NOS PHILLIPS JAN 7581, V-9 NOS PHILLIPS 5AR4.

> His 1966 Super Reverb has: V1- empty, V2-Reflector/Tung-Sol 12AX7, V3-NOS Phillips JAN 12AT7 WC, V4-Reflektor/Tung-Sol 12AX7, V5-any 12AX7, V6-NOS Mullard CV-4024/12AT7 WA, V7 & V8-Reflektor/Svetlana 6L6GC, V9-Sovtek GZ-34.

> Another secret to his tone is changing the capacitor in his SG from a .22 to a .1. It takes some shrill away and adds some balls to his tone. Keep in mind it only really works if you have your Super Reverb dialed pretty high. If you notice he always has his Treble really high, and keeps the tone knob on his guitar down really low, about 2 or 3. This makes things pretty sensitive. That’s why he’s always messing with his knobs at shows.

There’s also the following amp info, attributed to the aforementioned Lord Valve, from this link dated 2005:

> [Derek’s] main amp is a ’65 Blackface Super Reverb, loaded with Pyle Driver MW-1040 speakers. (These are not “car audio” speakers as you may have read on the Net.) The speakers were made in 1980, same year Derek was born. The circuitry has a few minor tweaks: There is a ground lift switch on the tremelo circuit, which gives a bit of extra output on the Vibrato channel. Derek also runs the Normal channel with no tube installed, for another (very) slight gain increase on the Vibrato channel.

> The 5AR4 rectifier feeds a 50uF input capacitor, rather than the stock 35uF value. The EXT speaker jack has been converted to a line out, using a 20-to-1 resistive voltage divider. Tube compliment is as follows, looking at the amp from the REAR and numbering the sockets from RIGHT to LEFT:

1) No tube installed (Normal channel preamp)
2) NOS Beijing-production Silver Special 12AX7 (Vibrato channel preamp)
3) NOS PHilips JAN 12AT7WC (reverb tank driver)
4) Reflektor-production Tung-Sol 12AX7 (reverb recovery/mixer)
5) Any 12AX7 that still lights up (tremelo oscillator)
6) NOS Mullard CV-4024/12At7WA (phase inverter)
7) NOS JAN Philips 7581A (power tube)
8) NOS JAN Philips 7581A (power tube)
9) NOS JAN Philips 5AR4/GZ-34 (rectifier)

> Lately, Derek has been runing two BFSRs in larger venues, set up in a V configuration with the speakers firing across each other at about a 90-degree angle. When this is done, the line output on the ’65 feeds a Behringer volume pedal, the output of which is plugged into the Vibrato channel input on his ’66 BFSR. The ’66 has the same circuitry tweaks, with no line out jack installed. It runs a different tube set, as follows:

1) No tube
2) Reflektor-production Tung-Sol 12AX7
3) NOS JAN PHilips 12AT7WA
4) Reflektor-production Tung-Sol 12AX7
5) Anything that still lights up
6) NOS Mullard CV-4024/12AT7WA
7) Reflektor-production Svetlana 6L6GC
8) Reflektor-production Svetlana 6L6GC
9) Sovtek GZ-34

> This amp is outfitted with a custom speaker made by Ted Weber, called the DT-10 V1.1. This speaker was originally developed for use in the custom design Super Sixes I built for Derek to use with the Allman Brothers. It’s essentially a clone of the 1980 Pyle Driver MW-1040. The ’66 BFSR is occasionally used as the number one amp in venues with live acoustics, as it is a bit darker than the ’65. When both amps are run together, Derek uses the volume pedal to add in as much of the ’66 as is necessary to produce his feedback effects. (Stage level for the DTB has been creeping upward lately, what with the larger venues they’re working, hence the extra amp.)


> Derek played drums on the track “Sweet Inspiration” from his new CD.

> One thing he found enlightening when playing with Carlos Santana was that Santana “would show up an hour before his band trying to improve his tone.” Yeah!

> Here’s his website:

Category: Derek Trucks, Marshall, PRS, SG, Super Reverb

Comments (1)

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  1. Elijah Lamp says:

    I went to see Eric Johnson at Bogart’s in Cincinnatti and Derek opened for him. Right next door to Bogart’s was Mike’s music a fantastic vintage guitar mecca, so of course we ran into Eric and Derek before the show shopping. Derek tried out an ancient plexi pa head in the back room and had it roaring! His guitar tech was chatting out front and mentioned the pyle speakers with a hearty chuckle. I got the impression Derek wasn’t a real serious gear head but was an obsessive ARTIST. Seems to work for him cause his tone is beautiful. Eric sat on some blackface combo’s trying out various old Les Paul’s without even using a pick and had that tone oozing out of his supernatural fingers. He also had the lightest handshake I’ve ever felt. No doubt a much needed precaution against injuries to his breadmakers!

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