was doing the record, Vantage Point, which
came out in September 2008, and they sent
me out their Humbolt head, which is like a
master volume Marshall. They also sent me out
a Bassman and a little Kingston combo. And I
really liked the Humbolt head, so they sold it
to me and threw in the Bassman. The Humbolt
sounded really good, so I just started working
on that and trying to adjust myself to it, and
now I sound great on just that one amp.
I also have a Hoochie-Mama pedal, built by
a guy out of North Carolina, and it’s just like
a boost. On occasion, I’ll have that on all the
time if I have to play real quietly. I’ll turn the
Output up and the Drive down so it rounds
out my tone. And then I have a Univibe sort
of pedal handmade by a guy over in Japan.
It’s called the Sobbat Glow-Vibe. He’s given
me one, and Eric Johnson gave me his.
What do you like about the Humbolt?
It gets a good range of clarity. I have to
hear all of my strings when I play. I can’t
just have it grunge out. With the style of
music I play, I have to hear all of the strings
when I hit that big 9 chord. I don’t want it
dirty on one end and twangy on the other.
And that amp’s doing well with it; I’ve
learned how to work with it.
Final question: You’ve been a lot of places
and have played with a lot of big names in
your career. How have you matured as a
player over the years?
When you’re playing through such a
simplified rig, do you have many pedals
in front of you, or do you just run straight
into the amp?
Well, I used to use a Cesar Diaz Texas Ranger
pedal, which Cesar personally gave to me,
and it was actually a great pedal with my
other rig. But now with my new rig, the tones
have changed and it doesn’t work as well,
so I’m using the Xotic BB Plus as my main
distortion right now… mostly for low-volume
situations. I’ve also got a CE- 5 Chorus that
I use for a Leslie sound—turn the Rate and
Effect all the way up, and turn back the
Depth so it’s not detuning. I also use a BOSS
DD- 3. I used to use Echoplexes, and I still
have three of them, but they’re temperamental when you get them out on the road. So I
just learned to use the DD- 3.
You know, I think I’m starting to use space
more, I’m starting to phrase things more. I’m
still just as hungry as I was when I was a young
man, but I use space more and I try to be a little more tasteful. Because I think everybody’s
got what I call “Young Man’s Disease,” where
you play as many notes as you can as fast as
you can to fill up all the space available. And
of course I went through that phase, but after
working with [producer] Mike Varney on the
last couple of albums, and seeing how a song
is really built… the way he changes things has
made me look at songs differently.
Before, I would write a song and that was it.
It was like, “What do you mean I’ve got to
change it?” But I’ve learned to look at a song
after I’ve written it, and ask myself, “Is this the
right way? Can we try something else?” It’s
made me look at a lot of things differently.
When Chris Duarte hits the road or the studio, here’s the gear he’s packing.
Fender American Standard Strat, stock
Fender 1963 Strat, serial #71699
Xotic XS Series Strat
Chicago Blues Box Humbolt head
Chicago Blues Box Bassman
1970s Marshall 4x12 cabinet
BOSS CE- 5 Chorus
BOSS DD- 3 Delay
Brown Tone Hoochie-Mama Boost
Guyatone CB- 3 Cool Booster
Peterson Strobe Tuner (used with ABY)
Sobbat GV- 1 Glow-Vibe
Xotic BB Plus