Walter Trout: "You don't need pedals. If you get a kickass amp, why would you put it through a $100 pedal?"

Walter Trout playing
(Image credit: Growvision)

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.

Walter Trout's latest album, Ride, is out now. For tour dates and more, visit his website.

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

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Scott Rowley
Content Director, Music, at Future plc

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy of online and print brands like Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar, Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist and more. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock for 10 years and, before that, the Editor of Total Guitar and Bassist magazines. Scott regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club, and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie