Tone Freak: Talking Gear with Adelitas Way Guitarist Rob Zakaryan

I'm definitely a tone freak. Getting my tone to come out of my amps the way I hear in my head is actually an exciting journey, and a never-ending one! On the road right now, my signal starts from my hands.

The most important part of my tone is how I play, because that's the sound that goes into each of my four guitars:

  • Gibson 2011 Wine Red LP Traditional Pro
  • Gibson 2012 Black LP Traditional
  • Gibson Custom '57 Reissue LP Junior TV White
  • James Trussart Custom Steelcaster

I used a lot of Telecaster on our new album, Stuck, and I really dig the Custom Trussart Tele live for songs like "Dog on a Leash" (See the video — and more info about the new album — below), "We Came" and "Stuck." My main guitar is the '57 Junior, and the P90 pickup is a big part of my sound. My Les Pauls are about to be fitted with the new Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbucker pickups, which focus more on the mid-range, Jimmy Page/Angus Young-style bark I'm into.

Moving away from my guitars and into my pedal board ...

My main modulation/filter effects have been Dunlop/MXR from the beginning. Starting off the chain, I use a Polytune into the Dunlop Slash SW-95 Wah, then into some of my favorite little pedals, the EP Booster and the SL Drive from Xotic Effects. They have really killer clean boost and overdrive, derived from classic U.K. guitar sounds.

Next in line is the trusty Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal, followed by the one of best fuzz boxes I've heard, the ProAnalog MK III. That thing is hand built by Scotty Smith, and it's a crushing fuzz/drive pedal made with high-quality vintage transistors.

At the end of the pedal chain are all my colorful sounds, MXR Phase 90, Analog Delay and Micro Chorus. They all sound killer and are super-simple to dial! (Be sure to check out all the photos in the gallery below, by the way!)

All my effects and boosts/drives aren't used the same way every day. I dial in my pedals and amps a little differently for each show, as the same setup can sound "off," depending on the environment I'm playing in.

Finally, all this gets blasted out of two heads I use simultaneously using a Lehle splitter. That sends my guitar to a 100-watt Marshall JCM 800 2210 and a 30-watt Cornford Hellcat. Those are British-built and tube-powered! I love the combination of the Cornford Hellcat with my Marshall. They both come out of straight Marshall 1960BV cabinets loaded with Vintage 30 speakers. This all ends up in someone telling me turn down my stage volume somewhere, but that's rock and roll!

Rob Zakaryan is the lead guitarist in Adelitas Way. Their new album, Stuck, was released July 29 through Virgin Records. Check out the video for “Dog on a Leash” below. For more about Adelitas Way, visit Also be sure to check out Stuck on iTunes!

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