What Guitars Does Trey Play?

The FAQ is currently in the process of being updated in the new system. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be updating this page as soon as possible.

Trey has played these guitars, in this order, and still plays those with asterisks:

  • Pearl-white solid-body Ibanez
  • Time Guitars
  • Europe acoustic
  • Original blonde (1987) *
  • Padauk blonde (1990)
  • Koa hollowbody (1996) *
  • Wentzell acoustic *

PICKS: Trey uses 2mm Adamas Graphite picks, made famous by Jerry Garcia. He plays them on the rounded corner. Whereas Garcia tended to pick lightly, with his levels way up to emphasize subtleties, Trey (who played drums first) picks harder and percussively. The pick size and shape allow him to do so while maintaining speed. (From a 1/20/98 Brad Sarno 1/20/98)

STRINGS: Trey uses DR .010-.046 gauge strings, and Mike plays DR Lo-Rider 40-100's, with 125 (low B). (Thanks to Marcus Johnson 11/16/95 and Kris Kelley 12/4/95.)

The real reason I don't have to tune or break strings is because of the pact with the Devil that I made. That's just one of the clauses in the pact with the devil. Actually, contract negotiations for artists have improved since Robert Johnson. You gotta have a good lawyer when you're dealing with the devil. My contract is way better than Robert Johnson's.
~ Trey Anastasio

PICKUPS: Trey uses Schallar pickups. They are not soapbar pickups, but normal humbuckers, and they are not Schectars, but Schaller Golden 50 humbbukcers with chrome covers, just like an old Gibson PAF in a Les Paul. Check theStewart-Macdonald Luthiers catalog (p. 59 in the fall 1997 issue). Paul told Guitar World (12/98) that they "are Seymour Duncan PAF-style. 'The wiring is very simple, too,' says Languedoc. 'Just a selector switch, volume and tone knob.'"

Related FAQ pages:

The first guitar Trey used live was a pearl-white solidbody Ibanez . Next, he played (and endorsed) Time Guitars located in Burlington, VT. Trey's good friend, Paul Languadoc, worked at Time, and made his guitars for him. Time Guitars went out of business shortly after that, and Trey asked him to join the band as their soundman.

Trey's first guitar made by Paul Languadoc after Phish hired him was a short-scale acoustic travel guitar he took to Europe with him after getting kicked out of school. Pete and Dudley (both also of Space Antelope) joined him on his trip.

The first guitar Trey got made by Paul was a short-scale travel guitar he took to Europe with Pete and Dudley (both also of Space Antelope). Prior to that, he used a pearl-white solidbody Ibanez (which he used to write "I Am Hydrogen" in his father's basement), last seen at his bachelor party jam session. (Thanks to Dave Abrahams, 3/97)

The Wentzell acoustic

Trey's newest acoustic guitar was made by Michael Wentzell, whose website includes this description: "This guitar is a very unique combination of woods. The sides and back are made of Quilted Hon. Mahogany, the top is Larch, the bridge and bindings are made of Flamed Maple, and the rossette and headcap are also of Quilted Mahogany. The neck is Hon. Mahogany and the fingerboard is ebony."

Three Electrics: Trey Anastasio has three Languedoc guitars, all built by Paul Languadoc, soundman for the band who also built Mike's bass. (A second bass was stolen during the summer of 1992.)

Trey's guitars include:

  • Old reliable, a blonde beauty built in 1987 from a combination of spruce and maple, with 2 humbuckers and a piece of plastic filling the middle pickup hole (where a single once was). This became Trey's backup until the koa was built in 1996.
  • His main guitar, built in 1990, with the same (blonde) finish as the main one but made from padauk, with a different inlay on the headstock, a large inlay from frets ~11-13, and two chrome soapbars. (This is the one Paul is talking about below.)
  • A koa hollowbody built 1996, with a darker, redder finish, almost like mahagony, with different inlays, and two soapbars. He used this for the first three or four tunes at Hartford, which included PYITE and AC/DC Bag, and for the Waste encore 10-16-96 and for PYITE, Poor Heart and AC/DC Bag 10-23-96. (Thanks to Julia Mordaunt) Mainly a backup, it was used increasingly throughout 1996 and into 1997, though the padauk remains Trey's main axe.

Trey Anastasio has thre"index.html"ul Languadoc electric guitars, all built by Paul Languadoc, the soundman for the band. Trey's guitars include:

1. "Old Reliable," Trey's first custom electric guitar. This blonde beauty was built in late1987 for Trey when he told Paul that he wanted a fatter sound. Paul built it from a combination of spruce and maple, with 2 humbuckers and a single coil in the middle. The back and sides are spruce and the top is maple. This became Trey's primary guitar until his next one was built in 1992. When Paul began to build Trey's second guitar, he removed the single coil from the middle, and covered up the hole with plastic. Photos from 1992 show Trey using the spruce guitar with the plastic pickup cover, indicating that construction had begun on #2. When #2 was complete, Old Reliable became his backup guitar. 2. Trey's second Languadoc, built in 1992, became his main guitar in the beginning of 1993 primarily, until late 1996. This one has the same natural finish as the first one but the body is made from padauk (as opposed to spruce). There is a slightly different inlay on the headstock, and the inlay on frets12 and 24 are larger while the rest have been thinned down. The upper and lower bouts of this guitar are also not as curved as the original. Paul put the single coil pickup from the spruce guitar into this one, replacing the vacant hole in his old one with a plastic cover. 3. Trey's third, and current Languadoc is a koa hollowbody built during 1996. This guitar is all koa with a maple neck, and the same tapered body shape as the second one. The finish on this one is a darker, redder stain, with a slightly different headstock shape, different (even smaller) inlays, and two chrome-covered humbuckers. The saddles are bronze on this guitar as opposed to the bone of the first two. He used this for the first time in October of 1996, and sporadically for the remainder of the year. In 1997, it completed the transition to his main axe, leaving the two blonde ones as backups. Languadoc states that "The koa guitar is the best of all of them because the wood has the most elegant and solid sound of the three."

According to Guitar World (12/98), "Each has a carved top and bottom (with minimal interior bracing), exquisit fingerboard inlays, and six-in-line headstock, a custom tail-piece, and a hand-carved bridge. (The padauk and maple/spruce guitars are made of bone, but the koa's is bronze to give it a more brilliant sound.) The hand carved, arched top hollowbodies have a shape reminiscent of a scaled down Fender Starcaster. The tops, backs and F-holes have multiple layers of white and black binding. The laminated curly maple necks are set and glued to the body with carved heel-joint, and have 24 fret, bound ebony fingerboards with a 25-1/2" scale. The shaped headstocks (with chrome plated Schallar tuning machines all on one side) have multiple binding and black faces with exceptional mother-of pearl inlay work depicting Trey's dog Marley. Bone was used for the nuts and two piece bridge saddles and bases on the first two guitars, and bronze was used for the saddles of the koa one, for a more brillian sound. The cello-style tail-pieces are all hand carved ebony. Trey's primary Languedoc (before the koa one) has a top of European curly maple - preferred by cello builders - and the back and sides are padauk with no back bracing. The guitar's wiring harness and controls are painstakingly accessed through the F-holes. The electronics consist of a pair of Schallar Golden 50 humbucking pickups with individual volume controls,,a tone Control, and a 3-way pickup selector."


Surrender to the Air: Eric Liebman posted (3/7/96): "Trey used the following gear on his solo album: Vox AC30; Paul Languedoc guitar; wah pedal; Digitech WP II whammy pedal (for pitch-shifting and pitch-bending); Ibanez digital delay; Alesis Microverb; Univibe (recreated for Trey from other components)."

Thanks also to Jonathan Epstein (11/4/96), Charles Dirksen (3/18/97), Julia Mordaunt (10/27/98), Chris Mcmillan 10/22/97, Brad Sarno 1/20/98, Mike Flouton (6/30/98), and Jeffrey D. Goldberg (4/2/2000), and Andy (8/16/00).

See also: The official site (phish.com) offers a picture of Trey's rig -- click the red picture to the left of the discussion about Amy's Farm on the band page to see it. (Thanks to Adam Gallina 12/3/97.)


Rigs/Amps: There are (at least) three eras of amp/rig setup: 1992, 1995, and 1996. (Thanks to Steve, Trey's guitar technician, who sent the rig diagram and legend 10-19-95.

1996 Rig: PGM emailed (7/14/96) that the August 1996 issue of Guitar Shop [p.28] "features the lowdown on Trey's live setup, as well as the Languedocs. As an added bonus for you bass players with $35K or so to throw around, Mike's bass rig is featured as well. ... Trey uses a midi-switchable rig with multiple loop paths, which many of you might not be familiar with; for an excellent description of such a setup, consult the fantastic book "The Complete Guitarist". There, amongst _tons_ of other great info which you can't live without if you're a guatarist, you'll find a very detailed description of rigs of this sort. -- An interesting thing is that the article shows the tone settings of the preamp, which if accurate are _very_ different from the Boogie settings described in the HPB (as I recall, an inverted "V", analogous to cranking the midrange and cutting the highs and lows; I've tried these settings on Boogies, and it really sounds kind of harsh...perhaps Trey footswitched the EQ out on the Boogie except when he really wanted a stinkin' sound...." The article also notes that Trey uses Schaller pickups (Joey "wwbohl@aol.com" said (5/28/98) that they're Schaller humbuckers -- which, Eric Christman emailed (9/13/97), are "somewhat hard to find": he had to order his from Germany.

Jeffrey D. Goldberg emailed (9/26/96) that, "as far as effects are concerned, Trey uses two Ibanez Tube Screamers (the classic TS-9 model... NOT the re-issue, the TS-808, TS-10, and certainly not the TS-5 soundtank). Trey most consistently uses only one of the pedals with the drive set just below halfway. This is the sound you most frequently hear (listen to the beginning of 'It's Ice' on Rift for a clear example of what I'm talking about.) This sound is a distortion, but not as you might think. The Tube Scremer has a smooth distortion at this setting. There is no muddiness, but it is definitely distorted. The other 'Screamer is turned on only during certain songs (Chalkdust Torture, Sloth, etc.) In this case, the first is shut off, and the second is turned on. The difference is that the drive is turned up all the way on this one. The only time Trey turnes on both of them is at the end to a crazy jam (Maze, Bowie, etc.) This makes his guitar wail. --- Trey uses a Mesa Boogie Pre-amp and celestain speakers. [Mark Powers corrects that "He _used_ to use a Boogie Mark III _amp_, but as far as I know has never used a Boogie preamp. He uses a CAE three-channel pre with a Groove Tubes stereo amp."] He also has a roto-Vibe [Mark Powers adds that "Jimi Hendrix popularized this effect. It simulates the sound of a rotating speaker."], a phase shifter, a wah-wah, and a volume pedal. -- Oh yeah, and trey switches to his neck pickup for clean sounds. He also switches the channel of his pre-amp, and turns on the vibe. This is for songs like Mano Song, and the beginning of the guitar solo in Foam. I hope this helped, if you have any more questions, send me a mail!"

Mark Powers posted (9/27/96) the portion of an August '96 Guitar Shop article that details Trey's setup at that time: "Trey's new amp rig is a monster, allowing instantaneous access to an infinite variety of sounds. It was co-designed by Steve Dikun, a professional guitar tech from Cleveland. Its brain is a Custom Audio Electronics 3-channel preamp with a Bradshaw switching system to control multiple effects. Power is supplied by a Groove Tubes Dual 75 selectable stereo tube amp. "There are actually no new GT tubes in there", says Trey. "Steve Dikun collects old tubes, new-in-the-box, ane he loads up the amp, and my preamp, with those. I'm using this Bradshaw, 3-channel preamp now, and even that has old RCA tubes." The GT's 75 watts per channel [a highly inflated rating imo with EL-34 or 6l6-GC output tubes] drive a pair of 2x12 speaker cabinets also built by [Paul] Languedoc [which as far as I know still contain Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, which are awesome speakers ;-)]. Sharing the same rack with the CAE preamp and the GT D-75 are a pair of CAE 4x4 Audio Controllers [used to switch between different combinations of effects], four reverb units (three Alesis Microverbs labeled Reverse, Vast, and Full, and a Peavy rackmount reverb/tremelo), a CAE Super Tremelo, and a CAE Black Cat Vibe, about which Trey says "Bob Bradshaw recreated the UniVibe with quality parts, so it's not so noisy. It's silent and sounds great--I love that thing!" [obviously ;-)]

"The second rack contains another pair of CAE 4x4's and many more effects. These include an Ibanez DM2000 Digital Delay, an old Electro Harmonix Small Stone Phase Shifter, Roland MS-1 Digital Sampler, a pair [;-)] of Ibanez Tube Screamers, a Ross Compressor, and a Tone Works DTR-2 Digital Tuner. A 24-switch control board [which controls the 4x4's to select the aforementioned combinations of effects, aka "loops"] shares floor space with a number of pedals: a volume pedal, a wah-wah, speed and waveform control for the CAE trem, and a Digitech Whammy Pedal, one of Trey's favorite toys. [This is a pitch-shifting device which can be used to emulate the dive-bombing effects normally produced with a vibrato bar; it can also make a guitar sound like a bass and vise-versa, which is what Trey and Mike do when they "switch places", as was done in the ALO Tweezer]. Topping it all off, literally, is the horn and crossover unit of a Leslie rotating speaker, which sits atop the first rack, surrounded by four microphones for quadrophonic feed to house or board." [Trey's rig also includes an additional reverb (a Midiverb), used only in the quad configuration (its outputs are DI'd into the board), an A-B switch for the D-75, a panner for the stereo/quad setup, and a partridge in a pear tree. ;-) ]

1992 rig: R. Stern posted, "Trey uses a Mesa/Boogie MkIII head pre-amp, (with Russian tubes: "Sovtek 5881" -- shelly). Here's the best I can remember off the top of my head. Some could be off by +-1.

    Pre Volume: 10 !! Lead Drive: 2.5 Treble: 5 Lead Master: 6 Mid: 4.5 Master: 3 Bass: 4.5 Presence: 2 (on back of the amp) Reverb: 0 (he uses the Microverb)

There is an Alesis Microverb (not II) sitting on top of his amp. He uses a Large 2 or Large 3 setting. He doesn't vary it at all...reaches for it quite often and just touches the knobs without changing the settings :-). His pedalboard has a volume pedal, a cheapo Ross(?) compresser, 2 Ibanez tube screamers, and the lead/rhythm switchbox for the Mesa (maybe more...). The Tube Screamers are the new version Tube Screamer Classic. Both have the volume turned all the way up, which really confused me at first. He doesn't seem to get much of volume boost when switching them on, and mine gives a huge boost if I set the volume all the way up. What I think happens is this: since his Mesa Pre-Volume is at 10, the input is already overdriven. So when he switches in the Tube Screamers, they can't drive any more volume out of the pre-amp, and simply give more overdrive. That's my best guess anyway :-). .... One of the keys to his cool tone is the way he uses the Tube Screamers and the Mesa lead mode. He has the Mesa eq switched to only work for lead mode, and he sets the eq in an upside down V (lots of mid boost, lots of high cut). One Tube Screamer is set for a very light crunch, and the other is set for full screaming overdrive. Trey will often start with a light crunch, then turn that off and turn on the full overdriver. Then he'll turn back on the crunch (so he has both Tube Screamers on!). Then he'll kick in the Mesa to lead mode for a final push over the edge :-) !! By mixing and matching any combination of the 3 distortions, he gets an incredible variety of tones. Add in the unique feedback properties of his semi-hollowbody guitar, and wow ... Yes, he does sound quite amazing!!"

In Guitar Shop Magazine they said Trey played a white Late 70's early 80's Ibanez ES-335 Copy (posted by botchalism@aol.com 11/19/97)


What guitar amps does Trey use?

Trey is no longer using the traditional two 2x12 speaker cabs, but now has two smaller, vintage combo amps: Fender Deluxe Reverbs. The one on the right (facing the stage) is from 1967, has four mics taking sound from the single 12-inch speaker, and is (usually) the only one on; the one on the left (beside Page, and with only one mic), a backup, is from 1968. They are both silverface (not the currently manufactured reissues with black knobs). Much thanks to Eric V. Segalstad 7/30/98 and 11/11/98 and to Richard Akers 11/17/98 who found one of the amps for Trey; as well as to Joe Olnick 8/14/98, Frank Zeletz 11/13/98, and JDandry 12/2/98. Aaccording to Alden Griffith 11/18/98, the older wooden cabs stopped working in 1996 or 1997, and Trey kept them on stage anyway and just finally got rid of them.

Jeff Rostis reported (8/25/98) that "over the last tour or so Trey has ditched the Groove Tubes Amp and now plays thru a pair of [1965] Fender Twin Reverbs.

Carl Frank Zeletz (12/7/98): Apparently, Deluxe Reverbs are the reissue of the Fender Twin, since they don't make the Twin anymore.

Sunil 8/14/98: Gone (at least from sight) are the two speaker cabinets that flanked his rack. Instead there were two different Fender combo amps on the ground angled up in front of the main rack. Looking at the new poster from Dry Goods of the Worcester fall show, the Fender amps were used during the fall tour. (and possibly summer 97?) I noticed at either Shoreline or Riverport a proliferation of microphones on his amps. Perhpas Paul and Trey were experimenting with mics to find one good for live sound and one good for SBD taping. (just a thought) One mic was touching the speaker grill, another several inches off, and another about one foot away.

Gil Guajardo 10/26/98: The 12/98 issue of Guitar World has an interview with Trey and a small side article about his gear. In it, they say that he is running his effects rig into a '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb; this is a 1x12 combo amp. They mention that he has two of them on stage, but one is there as a backup. I don't know if these are the same amps that Jeff Rostis referred to as Twins, but a Fender Twin is a 2x12 combo amp with a lot more power than a Deluxe Reverb. There is no mention of his Custom Audio Electronics(Bob Bradshaw) preamp, nor of his Groove Tubes power amp.

Richard Akers 3/1/99: You mention in your page that the deluxe reverbs Trey has are silverface. In fact the amps Trey has are both Black face Fenders produced in 67 and 68. They're modified by a guy in vermont who's a friend of the band.

Mini Leslie:

Charles 'RubberChickenTwo' 1/23/97
> The leslie (yes, that's how you spell it) was a type of speaker that they 
> used to use on organs.  The Allmans use it on their B3, and so does the 
> organist for BB King.  It is just a big speaker that rotates to give that 
> airplane effect.  Trey must use a digital pedal version.  He also adds:  
> "They're [leslies] awesome."

Trey has a mini leslie speaker mounted on top of his effects rig. It is NOT a digital imposter. If you notice, that huge hunk of brown furniture behind Page is a leslie. Nearly every Hammond (of Goff Professional redux) player uses the Leslie speaker. Basically it is two speakers inside a cabinet. The top speaker handles the high end frequencies (sort of like a tweeter but different) and that speaker spins around creating a whooshy doppler effect vibrato like tone. The bottom speaker (or woofer kinda) is stationary but has a baffle that spins around it in the opposite direction creating a different effect. The combination of these two effects is very difficult to exact in the digital domain. In fact music gear companies are pumping out unreasonable facsimilies at an astounding rate. Jimi Hendrix used this effect to a great degree on Electric Ladyland, his later live albums features a late 60's early 70's effect called the Univibe which is supposed to simulate the leslie but is portable (about the size of a small lunch box) The truth about the leslie is that it is heavy both mentally and physically.

from 12/98 guitar world: The signal also splits and goes into a 100-watt Boogie head powering a Goff Leslie in a custom cabinet, built by Goff. Then it feeds into a Morely AB pedal, and from there into a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb. (There are actually two onstage, but one is a backup). The amps were rehabbed by Bill Carruth, a Fender amp specialist, in Vermont who custom tuned each amp by, among the other things, swapping out the vintage resistors until the tone met Anastasio's approval. The amps also includes a cathode bias switch to pull a few more "clean" watts from them, but Corruth says, "Trey hasn't discovered that yet."

EQ: Brad Sarno posted: 1/20/98 I guess the main part of his amp that effects the tone is the midrange heavy EQ with very little low bass or treble. Generally his amp was run quite clean (except for the occasional overdrive channel switch) and the pedals did the tone forming. I'm talking about his older rig with the Boogie head.

Preamp mic: Jonathan Dennis Kirshbaum mailed: "In the rear-center of the stage is a speaker in a wooden cabinet w/ a mike just a bit in front of it and aimed at it. That cabinet is part of Trey's electric guitar system. Placing a mic right in front of a speaker seems counter-intuitive. After all, we could just take the signal directly and cut down on the distortion caused by the speaker and mic. But consider the speaker actually part of the musical instrument, and it starts to make more sense. The speaker's coloring of the sound is part of the overall sound the guitarist is trying to achieve. The _whole_ instrument is the combination of the guitar, amp, and speaker. ... Some guitarists, and most bassists do choose to send their signals directly to the PA instead of through the mic. The speaker's coloring is favored for lead guitar but is often undesirable for other guitar and bass."

Brad Sarno posted: 1/20/98: Regarding the use of a microphone on Trey's speaker. It is very very rare that a guitarist will run directly to the PA system. Any guitar player or soundman knows that the tone of a speaker is very much a key part of getting guitar tone. The Celestion Vintage 30 speakers that Trey uses play a key roll in the tone. Direct guitar generally sounds like a knife in the ear and is seldom used. Also the Sennheiser 409 microphone that Paul uses on Trey's cabinet is also a key player in that full warm tone.

from 12/98 Guitar World: Languedoc uses two pairs of mics on the Deluxe Reverb - two Sennheiser 409's and two AKG 414s. "One pair goes to one side of the PA and the other pair goes to the other side," he explains. "By doing that and panning them hard, you get a really big sterio image." Languedoc adds that the second set of mics is set off about eight inches from the speaker, "so there's a slight tonal difference from one pair of mics to the other."





The FAQ is currently in the process of being updated in the new system. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be updating this page as soon as possible.

In a letter (circa 1995) to Tony J. Went, posted to rmpPaul Languedoc wrote,: "There is no big mystery about the construction of Trey's guitar (except the secret 'Sonic Enhancer'). It is not a semi-hollow body, but atrue hollow body, built the same way those big arch-top jazz guitars were built, but, of course, much smaller. It's not like a Gibson ES- 335, with a wooden block down the middle.

Paul was quoted in the 12/98 Guitar World as saying, "It's not like a 335, that has a wooden block down the middle. It's really built like one of those old, big-bodied jazz guitars with an arched top and all that."]

"Again, it's really built just like one of those old, big-bodied jazz guitars with an arched top and all that. Incidentally, the woods used are European Curly maple for the top, domestic curly maple for the neck, Ebony for the fretboard, tailpiece, etc., and padauk for the body and sides. Yes, padauk is a rain-forest wood, and I don't buy it anymore. What really makes the guitar unique, however, is the size and thickness of it. No one builds guitars that way [i.e. too large] because they tend to feed back at any volume to speak of, but Trey likes that because he can hold any note he wants to (with careful muting of the other strings) where most electric guitars would only feed back certain notes, and at a much higher volume level. [In other words, Trey uses that feedback as part of his tone.] Incidentally, the woods used are European Curly maple for the top, domestic curly maple for the neck, Ebony for the fretboard, tailpiece, etc., and Padauk for the body and sides. Yes, Padauk is a rain-forest wood, and I don't buy it anymore."

No one builds guitars that way because they tend to feed back at any volume to speak of. Trey, however, uses that feedback as part of his tone. Add some compression, and he can hold any note he wants to (with careful muting of the other strings) as long as he needs. Most electric guitars only feed back certain frequencies, and only at a much higher volume level."

"Its a conglomeration of different things," says Trey. "It has a longer scale length (25 1/2") like a strat because I like the twang. The neck has 24 frets. The padauk body, which is completely hollow, is small, and the curly maple top is braced like on an acoustic guitar."

Languedoc describes the hollowbody's design as a collaborative effort. "Trey and I talked about it a lot," says Languedoc. "He wanted something unusual. He was going in a jazz direction at the time, so he asked me to make it completely hollow. I was responsible for the look of the guitar. We went through some complex wiring schemes at different points, but now its back to being pretty simple."

From JamBands.com (http://www.jambands.com//aug99/features/languedoc.html)

JW: I'm very curious about how the whole collaboration happened when you built Trey's guitar. Did you guys listen to a lot of music together? Did he give you examples on tape of other guitarists that he wanted to kind of emulate?

PL: No, nothing like that. We were just talking about it. He was playing a Time guitar at that time, and then that company had closed down. This was like 1987 and I was working for the band at that point, but I also had a job as a cabinet-maker. So, he came to me and was interested in getting something different. I made some drawings and we looked at the drawings. He had some ideas and I had some ideas, but I can't remember exactly who contributed what. It was his idea, I think, to make it a hollow body. He was interested in something different.

JW: It's definitely a pretty unique sound and he rarely tunes on stage. He's got this outrageous sustain. He only plays the one guitar, yet he can get many different tones. I was just curious if he came to you and said, "I'm gonna be bending a lot of notes, I don't want to have to re-tune." So many players at the club level re-tune between most of the songs. Was that a special design you came up with?

PL: I don't know if I was thinking about that in particular, but I had built some jazz guitars and hollow body guitars with tail pieces on them. I think that's the major contributing factor that it stays in tune, you know? It's the type of bridge it has and the type of tailpiece. So I just sort of preferred that. And, it was a hollow body guitar, so it seemed to make sense to do it that way. A typical electric guitar bridge I think puts the strings under a lot more tension, like a Fender style bridge where the strings come through the back and then over the bridge saddle. There are very high stress points on the strings at certain points with that type of design and that contributes to the thing going out of tune and strings breaking, especially when someone is really bending a lot of notes, you know? Whereas in this case, with a tailpiece and a separate bridge, there's no point where the string is really under that incredibly high tension like that.

JW: So, as the years have gone on, Trey's tone has gone through a lot of changes. A couple of years ago, you built a new guitar for him. How did that come about? Did he come to you and say, "I want something new"?

PL: I think I decided to build a guitar. I don't know if he came to me or not. He needed another back-up guitar and I had the time to do it, so I decided to build this guitar. We had a few conversations about some changes, but there are really only two big changes. The bridge has a metal saddle on it. It's a fixed bridge. It doesn't have adjustable intonation on it. I think that helps with the tone. It doesn't have all those little metal parts in there to rattle around and stuff. The old bridges on the other guitars, his first two guitars, have bone saddle pieces and this one has like a bronze metal actually set into the wooden, ebony bridge. So, that was one thing and then I thought changing the type of wood would give him. He talked about having a clearer sound and a more cutting sound. So, those were the two main things. This one is made out of Koa, where as the other ones had maple tops on them.



The FAQ is currently in the process of being updated in the new system. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be updating this page as soon as possible.

The guitar itself: "Trey has a very complex setup on his guitar. There are many effects that he uses here and there, but there are three main components to his unique sound. "First off, his guitar accounts for most of the ripe sound. Paul Languadoc, Phish's soundboard manager, made the guitar for him. Although many people believe his guitar is a semi-hollow body, it it not. It is a true hollow body. "What makes it unique, however, is the size and thickness of it. There is no doubt that it is very small for a true hollow bodied guitar. Most musicians who use hollow bodies have large guitars. This is because if the body is too small, the sound feeds back when the bridge pickup is used. Trey, however, likes this, and uses it to his advantage. By skillfully muting all strings but the one he is playing, we hear long sustains like in Divided Sky and YEM." (Posted by Jeff Goldberg 9/26/96) Mark Powers clarified, "Actually, a larger guitar would be more feedback-prone; the greater surface area would absorb more vibrations from the speakers, which would result in more feedback. All hollow-bodies are very feedback-prone; Ted Nugent used his Gibson Byrdland to get an interesting array of feedback noises."

A bridge: trey uses a 3-position locking tremolo bridge mechanism. notice he'll finger a chord and then flick his right hand and bing! he's in a different key without moving his left hand at all." (richard miller 10/4/99) 

Pedals: As Guitar Worled noted (12/98), "Onstage the guitar is fed through an effects chain that includes a Digitech Whammy II, a Dunlop Crybaby, two Ibanez Tube screamers (each with a different setting), a Ross compressor, and Ernie Ball volume pedal and a Bradshaw remote switcher, which has four pre-programed effects loops. Each loop includes an Ibanez 2000 digital delay, an Alesis Microverb cable, a C.A.E univibe and a C.A.E. tremalo."

Wah: Trey plays a Teese Real McCoy Custom 3 Tunable Wah-Wah, not a Jim Dunlop Crybaby. It has controls for low, mid, high, sweep range, contour, and gain all hidden inside the pedal. It is numbered and signed by builder-designer Geoffrey Teese. (Thanks to Andy Hunt 10/30/98, harpua1083 12/23/98, and Guitar Shop. And Sunil posted 8/14/98 that "Trey is using the Whammy pedal much more than he ever has before. 4ths and 5ths pop up in funk jams and the 2 octave jump is what you hear when Trey motions with his right arm up to the sky and back down at the end of some songs. (Gorge 2nd night, maybe 2001)"

Tube Screamers: Trey has two Ibanez Tube screamers. They are shown on p. 28 of the 8/96 Guitar World -- a TS-10 (on the left, next to the Ross Compressor) and a TS-9 (on the right; possibly a re-issue). (Gil Guajardo 10/10/98.) They use the same circuitry, and the difference is neglibable. Brad Sarno 1/20/98) Originally, he had two original TS-9 models. (Mark Goldberg)

Compressor: Brad Sarno posted (1/20/98): "I hear so much talk abou Trey's amp but really, for the most part his tone gets formed well before the amp. The most overlooked device of all is the Ross (not Boss) compressor pedal. In my opinion it is THE secret weapon of his tone. If you ever plug into one you will go "aaaaah". There is no other compressor that sounds like that. It is this pedal that lets Trey go from a single note to a full chord and have it all come out full and even and sustaining. His guitar doesn't really sustain that well, but with the compressor he can add sustain and also induce feedback easier. The key also is that the tube screamers come before the compressor. This lets Trey turn on a tube screamer, turn down the guitar volume to control the distortion level, and the compressor keeps the overall volume nice and loud and even. This is probably why he gets away with having the Tubescramer's volume on 10 without sounding so loud when he kicks it on. This evenness that the compressor provides, lets Langudoc keep him real hot in the PA without fear of suddenly getting too loud."

Boomerang: Richard Akers (11/17/98) reported that Trey is "using a Boomerang looping device but has began experimenting with an Oberheim Echoplex digital pro (an extremely nice looping device)" and added 3/1/99 "Trey seems to be very satisfied with the boomerang and uses it to it's full advandage."

Pedal quotes: According to wahfuxx (via email 8/18/96): Trey has put these quotes on his footpedals in this order: "The end and the begining of all philosophy is freedom", I've been all around the world and I have never seen a statue of a critic", and "A man has to shoot his own dog" (Not Jim I hope).

Other effects:

  • Chris Glushko posted (12/19/97) about noticing "the subtle use of Midi horns by Trey during the fall tour. For a good example, check out the Bowie from Philly 12-3. I know he's always messing around with Midi sounds, but I don't believe I've ever heard him use the Midi to produce another instrument before this tour. Could be wrong. ...The sound is evident every once in a while [during summer 1997 shows] but not to the degree as it was during the fall."
  • Paul Roth posted (10/23/97) that "During the summer tour of this year trey has been using a new guitar effect quite frequently and i would like to know what it is. He uses it in songs like Free and the jam after Harry Hood at Darien Lake and Ghost at Virginia Beach. It is kind of a spacey effect." Anyone have an answer
  • Spacey effect 4/28/99: The spacy effect Trey is using now at the end of songs and during jams is a Uni-Vibe. He has a homemade version that someone made him, but original maker it was a Dunlop Uni-Vibe. Also this effect can be heard very good on Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix and on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.


What guitar tricks does Trey use?

Full odd steps: "When building up a solo try tends to hit (and hold) the 3rd of the key he's soloing over, then hit's the 5th (and holds) then moves up to the b7th, then finally the high octave root (the ole musical orgasm trick) so it kinda sounds like this noodle 3rd noodle 5th noodle b7th noodle 8ve. he doesn't do this every solo, just that i noticed he does this from time to time." (Chris "JZZTP" 8/30/98)

  • Learn modes: "Trey tends to use the Mixolydian and Aoelian mode a lot it seems." ( 8/28/98)
  • Making bends: He does (according to Jeff@TAMU) have a tremulo pedal, but not (according to Andy Adelewitz ) a typical tremulo (aka a "whammy bar"). He also (according to Noah McGee ) "pushes down on the strings below the bridge to get a similar bending effect."
  • Play with scales: "Ok, for a lot of Stash he switches between the D harmonic and D natural scales. He also uses the chromatic scale for a lot of different passing tones. It's crazy I tell you." (Nathan Eldridge, 8/27/98)
  • Learn melodies: "Trey said that rather than focusing on scales, focus on melody. If you hear something in your head, sit down and figure it out on guitar. When you hear Trey play something you like, take the time to learn it yourself." (Colby "Kritter" 8/28/98)
  • Give up: "Yes there are things that make a Trey solo a "Trey solo" like hitting the major 6th. But in general there's no way to put a finger on what Trey does. He's so diverse, so complex, right when you think you have him figured out, he totaly reinvents his playing. All you theory majors and overall theory know-it-all should field this question, I'm merely a drummer, a musician who knows nothing about music." (FMJ, 8/28/98)

Note that Trey may have played slide on some occasions, including possibly Great Gig from Tinley Park '93 (or maybe the 8/11/93 grand rapids version?), the page song final flight at worcester 03

"My three all-time-favorite guitarists are Jerry [Garcia], [Jimi] Hendrix, and [Frank] Zappa. They are all totally unique from one another, yet oddly similar. They were all striving for this depth where a solo would take you on a journey. But the journey was their own vibe: Zappa was sarcastic, Hendrix was bluesey, Jerry was downhome. I guess I have a suburban vibe. But I still want to get to the places that they got to."
-- Trey Anastasio
New York Post 1/1/99



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