Jesse Davey kicked off his six-string career with the Hoax, a cult U.K. blues outfit that released a killer debut album, Sound Like This, in 1994. The record, which features the ultra-funky “Scaramouche,” got respectable airplay around the world. But what really caught listeners’ ears was the way Davey and his fellow Hoax guitarist, Jon Amor, convincingly nailed the late Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tone, style and feel. Davey—in particular—turned it into an art form.
“I discovered Stevie when I was 15—only three days before he died,” Davey says. “Although I’d only known about him for a short time, his death was completely devastating to me. He’s gone on to have a massive influence on my life.”
Davey’s been busy since Sound Like This. Besides touring with the Hoax and the Davey Brothers, he’s directed videos, recorded soundtracks and played on sessions for Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and Ringo Starr. He also launched King Tone Guitar, a southern California–based company that builds—entirely by hand—pedals, pickups and a secret weapon called the King Tone Switch, all of which help guitarists dial in a tone that’s fat and thick but graced with top-end bite—à la SRV.
King Tone Guitar’s line includes:
1. THE DUELLIST: “I grew up with the Tube Screamer and Klon but found the drop in bass too much,” Davey says. “The Duellist was created out of the need for a more versatile, organic-sounding overdrive. It’s actually two pedals in one.”
2. KING TONE SWITCH: “For years, there was a tone that was out of reach. I just couldn’t get the edgy, warm sound I heard in SRV’s and Albert King’s playing. One day I was experimenting with putting guitar tones through pickups, as in, using pickups as components, and I heard a glimpse of what I was after. It took three years till I worked out how to put it in a switch!”
3. VINTAGE FUZZ: “Germanium transistors are so varied, and most don’t sound good in a fuzz. I bought and tested thousands of germanium transistors. Only around three percent sounded good—and those are the ones I use in the Vintage Fuzz.”
4. F•U•Z•Z: “The same tone as the Vintage Fuzz but in a smaller, pedalboard-friendly enclosure.”
5. BLUEBIRD J1 PICKUPS: “The things that make a pickup stand out—louder, brighter, more bass—are often detrimental to tone. For me, the best pickups are slightly under-wound with an extreme scatter-winding pattern. Also, fewer windings on the bridge is preferable, which goes against what’s done on most modern pickup sets.”
Davey says King Tone Guitar is growing fast and will be expanding in 2018. Check out the rest of his line at kingtoneguitar.com.