Forget broken guitars – what the TSA did to Vernon Reid’s pedalboard is something else

Vernon Reid of Living Colour performs on stage at The Mill on July 17, 2019 in Birmingham, England.
(Image credit: Steve Thorne/Redferns)

We’ve all heard horror stories about broken guitars on airplanes (thankfully less commonplace now you can bring them as carry-on luggage). But Vernon Reid faced another more unlikely, yet no less undesirable, fate: his pedalboard was torn apart before he even boarded the plane.

The Living Colour guitarist recently shared a photo of what appeared to be a mess of cables and pedals – making the reveal that this was once his pedalboard all the more shocking.

“Another @tsa MASTERPIECE,” he commented. “My @livingcolourofficial pedalboard-remixed by @tsa security @flymemphis. Thank you 🙏🏾 for this Cubist Experience executed in High Southern Style. Hallelujah & Huzzah”.

We admire Reid’s good humor under the circumstances – he has more reason to be upset than most given the sheer scale of his tech-loaded ’boards, which weave together a vast array of MIDI-connected stompboxes, including old-school analog pedals, modern tech-loaded multi-FX and everything in between (you can check out a recent awe-inspiring build over at Source Audio).

Amongst the rubble that was once his pedalboard, you can just about make out a trio of Eventide H9 units (one white, one gold and one black), along with a DOD expression pedal, Strymon CloudBurst, Red Panda Tensor and Rainger-FX Deep Space Pulsar.

As for the rest, you’d have to ask the Transportation Security Administration at Memphis International Airport, who clearly inspected the build very closely indeed.

Fellow touring guitarists were shocked by the destruction they saw. “The disregard/disrespect is unreal,” said Tosin Abasi. Alex Skolnick chimed in with “Dang my friend. WTF ??”, while Bartees Strange shared a succinct “Boooooooooooo!!!”

Eventide, whose products Reid champions, said, “Not exactly what we had in mind when we said flexible routing…. So sorry this happened! What a nightmare”.

Hopefully the rest of Reid’s rig made it through unscathed – the guitarist recently signed on with UK amp brand Laney to rep their Ironheart series of amps and pedals.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.