Bob Mould’s pedalboard: what the influential Hüsker Dü and Sugar guitarist sees when he looks down – and why a good compressor is so integral to his rig

Bob Mould and his pedalboard
(Image credit: Kieran Frost/Redferns; Bob Mould)

“This ’board covers the foundation of my guitar sound,” says Hüsker Dü and Sugar guitar icon Bob Mould.

“After my Boss tuner, the first pedal in the chain is my signature Sky Patch distortion. Those are made by a company called Tym Guitars in Brisbane, Australia. I started working with [founder] Tim Brennan back in 2013. 

“He gave me one of the pedals he’d made based on the MXR Distortion+, which was something I’d been using for decades. It’s the sound I started out with as a kid. I had a Sears catalog SG copy and then moved onto the Ibanez Rocket Roll Sr. 

“The MXR gave me a sustain that wasn’t far from what Johnny Ramone was getting with a Mosrite and Marshall stack. As a kid who didn’t have the money or headroom for a 100-watt Marshall head with two cabinets, I appreciated them packing that sound into something the same size as a pack of cigarettes.

“I don’t go into the back of the amp with anything; it’s all wired into the front. I use the TC [Electronic] Flashback [delay pedal] for one setting, which is a subtle shadow using the reverse setting. I dial everything at around 10 o’clock for a little more density. I try to keep it as invisible as possible, avoiding massive repeats. I love the Electro-Harmonix Freeze [Sound Retainer] for building layers.

Bob Mould and his pedalboard

(Image credit: Kieran Frost/Redferns; Bob Mould)

“My current modes of touring are either as a three-piece or completely solo with an electric, so the Freeze is a wonderful way of creating solo sections. If I’m the only instrumentalist or guitarist on stage, it can get a little naked… which is fine. But it’s nice to imply or suggest other things are happening. 

“On a song like The Descent from my [2012] album Silver Age, as I’m heading into the solo I’ll just hit the one chord, capture that and do my solo work over the top. For me it’s almost like a portable Hammond organ!

“I can’t recommend finding a good compressor enough. I started using them at the end of my signal chain in the early ’90s. The Wampler Ego is a great one because it gives you a lot of sensible controls, like the blend feature. Touring overseas, I never know what the tubes in my rental amplifiers are going to do for me… or against me!

“Having something like the Ego means I can control my sound going in, which can be a delicate dance. It’s the best end-stage packing device I’ve found. It takes away some of the 8k build-up from the Sky Patch, Flashback and Freeze. Those pedals can exacerbate that ‘sizzling bacon in a skillet’ sound. The Ego brings it down a bit for extra clarity.”

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).