Pedals? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Pedals!
One of the greatest things about being a Frank, I learned that he has had two of his Les
touring musician is having the opportunity to Pauls customized to accommodate a push-pull
see, hear and play with some of the greatest tap switch on their tone knobs. In the normal
guitarists on the planet. Over the course of my position he has full control of his Seymour
career, I’ve performed with legendary guitar- Duncan humbuckers; in the pulled-up position
ists like Ted Nugent, Steve Cropper, and Glen he goes to a single coil “spin-a-split” configu-
Campbell, to drop just a few names. Playing ration that allows him to get more of a “Tele”
lead for a headline act like Toby Keith also tone at zero—or he can dial in a bit more of
allows me to watch fantastic guitarists like the other half of the pickup to emulate more of
Keith Urban and Brad Paisley take the stage a P- 90 sound. The thinner “Tele-ish” tone cuts
before me. better, allowing more clarity on his leads and
the old-fashioned way, by driving the tubes
in their amps.
In this modern world of in-ear monitors and
digital consoles, both guitarists’ amps face
the back wall of the stage rather than forward
toward the audience. This allows them to crank
their amps as loud as they need to achieve
their signature Skynyrd-like drive without blowing out the Front of House engineer or the first
three rows of the arena they’re performing in.
Every year we bring a new opening act on tour
with us, and every year I have the harsh task of
going on stage after some of the finest players
in the business.
tour was no
Gentry in the
support slot of
the Toby Keith
I had my work
cut out for me.
Two of the best
axe slingers the
music scene has
Garrett—have some of the greatest chops and
sounds on the circuit today.
Interestingly enough, they have completely
different approaches to the job. Bo cranks
his Gibson Firebird straight through a Peavey
6505 half stack with nothing in line but a
tuner, while Frank rocks out on his Gibson Les
Paul Customs through a Digitech GSP-2101
preamp, a Mesa/Boogie TriAxis preamp, a TC
Electronics G-Major processor, a Mesa/Boogie
2: 90 power amp, and a Marshall 4x12 cabinet.
During their show, they each take jaw-dropping
solos, and they share the spotlight on some of
the best-executed twin leads since Thin Lizzy’s
“The Boys Are Back in Town.”
Bowers loves combining incredible chops with
strong melodies, and his influences read like
a “Who’s Who” of guitar heroes. Included are
such high-tech players as Steve Morse, John
Petrucci, and Steve Howe. While talking with
Strongly influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn,
Albert King, and Johnny Winter, Garrett is
also a longtime fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Allen
Collins. Following the path that led Collins to
his biting, cutting tone, Bo plays the same type
of guitar as the Skynyrd legend, and gets tremendous versatility from his Gibson Firebirds.
Incidentally, Winters and King are also notorious Firebird pickers. Bo says that his Firebirds
(one of which is a rare collectible) allow him to
go from nasty drive flavors to cleaner, Strat-like
tones when he needs them.
Neither player uses any sort of stomp boxes
in their rigs. In an effort to emulate his
heroes, Bo keeps it straight ahead, using no
effects at all, while Frank opts to program
his effects via rackmount gear and to make
setting changes through a MIDI controller.
The advantage is that he can change gain
levels, EQs, and effects instantly with one
tap, instead of having to do the stomp box
break dance in time for the next down beat.
Both axemen prefer to get their overdrive
Both guitarists have been a large part of the
Montgomery Gentry sound since the beginning. Garrett had been working the bars
ended up becom-
ing the first-call
guitarist for singer
Troy Gentry. When
he and Eddie
teamed up to con-
quer the Nashville
music scene, Bo
was the natural
pick for lead guitar.
When the time
came to expand
their sound by add-
ing a second gui-
tarist to embrace
their Southern Rock
roots, bassist Andy Bowers recommended his
brother Frank. Being the consummate profes-
sional that he is, Frank did his homework and
nailed the material his first day out, earning
him his spot on stage with the group for more
than eleven years now.
Together, Bo Garrett and Frank Bowers create
a wall of guitar sound that is distinctly theirs.
No pedals required! Not bad for a couple of
good ol’ boys from Kentucky.
Rich Eckhardt is one of the most sought after guitarists
in Nashville. His ability to cover multiple styles has put
him on stage with singers ranging from Steven Tyler
of Aerosmith to Shania Twain. Rich is currently playing
lead guitar with Toby Keith. His album Soundcheck is
available now, with another due this summer.