Welcome to a Pedalpocalypse with a difference, as Walter Trout shows us exactly why he doesn't need pedals. "What I use for pedals is my vintage Mesa/Boogie Mark IV," he says. "I just don't see any need for pedals. I have this theory that if you get a kickass amplifier, why would you put it through a $100 pedal?
It's the last episode of this first season of Pedalpocalypse, the show from Guitar World, MusicRadar and Guitar Player. Produced in LA by British guitarist Robin Davey and Growvision, every episode we ask guitar players: “If you could only take three pedals with you into lockdown, which ones would they be?”
Walter's answer? "Er, none."
So did he ever use pedals?
"When I started playing in bars in the middle-to-late '60s, pedals didn't exist," says Walter. "At the time, I was playing through a Fender Super Reverb which I still have out in my garage, and I wanted to get a little more out of it. At that time a pedal came out by Electro Harmonix called an LPB-1. It was just a gain boost and it plugged right into the input on your amp. It stuck out from the front of the amp – it was very elemental and kind of primitive – but I would plug that into the Super.
"I would turn the volume down on the Super and just run the LPB-1 cranked and it was great for playing in clubs. When I discovered Mesa/Boogies while I was with John Mayall, I realised that basically it's a Fender that's been very souped-up and modified and the overdrive is built into the amp."
So during a show, are you switching things on the amp or are you controlling things with your guitar?
"I control it all with the volume button," he says. "I have the amp set on Channel 3, which is the high-gain channel. I have the gain all the way up and I'm controlling the cleanliness and the whole thing with the volume on the guitar and I play all the time with my pinky wrapped around the volume button."
There's a little bit more to it, as he demonstrates in the video above, conjuring up a variety of tones from volume swells and pick-up changes. It's a masterclass.
Previously on Pedalpocalypse:
Episode 1: Blues-country-jazzmaster and all-round tone wizard Josh Smith
Episode 2: British blues guitarist Scott McKeon
Episode 3: Legendary virtuoso Steve Vai
Episode 4: blues wizard Kirk Fletcher
Episode 5: bass supremo Fabrizio Grossi
Episode 6: Grammy Award-winning guitarist Eric Krasno