Skip to main content

Doyle Bramhall II: Building Blues Tones with Fuzz and Drive Pedals

Guitarist Doyle Bramhall II recently sat down with Reverb to discuss how he stacks drive and fuzz pedals—and his unusual left-handed/upside-down technique.

Bramhall—who I first spotted in concert in 1989 when he backed Jimmie Vaughan as part of the Fabulous Thunderbirds' touring band—has spent ages working with Vaughan, Derek Trucks, Gary Clark Jr., B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Roger Waters, so he knows a thing or three about tone.

Ergo, take note at the 1:35 mark, when he starts discussing his impressive pedalboard.

As you'll see in the clip, his 1964 Fender Strat is plugged into a Shin-Ei Vibe-Bro pedal (“the closest thing I’ve ever come to a Uni-Vibe”), followed by a Vemuram Jan Ray for volume control. After that, you'll see a Berkos Third Stone, Zonk Fuzz Machine and Cob Fuzz., not to mention a JHS Honey Comb Deluxe Tremolo, Source Audio Nemesis Delay and a Hammond Leslie G rotary pedal.

All this finds its way into a Blankenship Master Plex amp head.

Last year, Bramhall released Rich Man, his first album since 2001’s Welcome.

“This feels monumental to me,” he told Guitar World. “I spent a year and half recording it and 16 years gathering inspiration and influences.

"I’m like a musical hunter-gatherer. Every experience I have, every artist I work with, becomes a fragment of my journey. I’m always learning craftsmanship and artistry and striving to find an ever deeper, higher connection to music. That’s why I listen to a lot of classical, jazz, Arabic, Indian, Moroccan and Sufi music—the highest forms of pure music without any idea of a marketplace.”

For more about Bramhall, visit

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.