AMPS: I am a big fan of “Fender” style amps. I just love the clarity of the high end and crispness of the sound. I also think that Fender reverb is unmatched, at least for how I use reverb. I prefer using small, low wattage, amps with the Princeton Reverb currently being my favorite. Below are the amps I use and a little about them.
HEADSTRONG AMPS: These amps are handmade in the style of mid-60’s Fenders. Wayne at headstrong is a super nice guy and builds a great product. I am currently using his Lil’ King amp as my primary “go to” guitar rig. It is a replica of a Princeton (12 watts with Verb and Vibrato) The Lil’ King I got has a 12” speaker in it as opposed to the 10 which the original Fender model had. This helps the speaker handle the low end better I feel and gives the amp a tiny bit more headroom overall. But you can still get it nice and humming in the tubes when get over 5 on the volume. He also puts in higher watt speakers than I would normally use... his stock speaker on this amp is rated at 50 watts... I was dubious but it has never felt unresponsive or stiff... and the low end is crisp with nice presence...
For a lot of my low volume things I use a Headstrong SC-5. This is the best 5 watt amp i’ve ever used. It’s in a full sized Princeton style cab so it’s got room to breath and it can handle a full Reverb tank. For shows without drums this is the perfect amp. And for normal practice volume levels I adore it.
Milkman Sound Amps:
For bigger situations my Pedal Steel amp is made by Milkman Sound's Tim Marcus in San Francisco. It is basically a Princeton on steroids. Great amps and a great guy. I use a “Sideman” Check out the amps by clicking the logo:
GUITARS: In general I like “Telecaster” style guitars. And I really prefer single coil pickups... in fact I don’t own a single guitar with a humbucker in it! I mostly play G&L guitars which was Leo Fenders final company. Great guitars that on the whole are much better than the production Fenders today. Their P90 style pickups are amazing and their single coils really growl. They are not the best if you are looking for a ‘classic country’ sound but they do great on everything else! For classic country twang I usually go with the straight Fender tele.
PEDAL STEEL GUITAR: My main pedal steel is a Show Pro steel. These guitars are built in Nashville. Single neck E9 tuning 4X5. They harken back to the days of Sho Bud but with much better technology. My favorite steel players are the guys from the 50’s and 60’s (Lloyd Green, Tom Brumley, Ralph Mooney) that were playing single coil pickups into tube amps.. so that is the sound I go for… I use Goodrich Volume Pedals for the Steel.
ACOUSTIC GUITARS: Gibson and Martin. I am a huge fan of Gibson acoustic guitars. Especailly within the last handful of years they are making the best guitars they have ever made. They are balanced, beautiful and wonderful to record with because they actually have mid-range! I used to like Rosewood guitars but now I am into the softer wood Mahogany and Birch.. etc. I just like the way a Mahogany guitar ‘breaths’ better than Rosewood generally. But if I could become obssesed with buying way too many instruments it would definitely be acoustic guitars.
PEDALS AND EVERYTHING ELSE: Voodoo Labs, Keeley, Maxon, Fulltone, Ibanez, Ernie Ball, etc. I tend to use a compressor as the first thing in my chain and just leave it on all the time... I play with my fingers and the pick all the time and the compressor helps to make everything jump out evenly. I use Shure SM58A as my stage mic. I tend to use Elixer strings on the acoustic and D’Addario strings on the electrics. I use Cobra Coil strings on my Steel. About 90% of my gear is made in the USA with a ton being made in California and a bunch being made right here in Sonoma County!