Thanks to T.C. Electronic We Got a Good Look at Both Metallica Guitar Rigs

T.C. Electronic has uploaded a slew of videos over the last day or so, and they should be keeping me busy with posts throughout the week. I figured I’d start with the big guns though and pass on the links to the gear rundowns of James and Kirk from Metallica.


Two things jumped out at me with James’ setup. First of all: damn, he’s still featuring the Mesa/Boogie Triaxis preamp in his rack? I love Mesas as much as the next guy, but I’ve never gotten one of those units to sound as good as their heads no matter what power amp was involved. I remember he briefly flirted with a Triple Rectifier years ago but I haven’t paid much attention to his setup recently so I guess he’s pretty much stayed true to the Triaxis throughout the years. I admire his dedication. And John Petrucci has also been using the Triaxis again as of late. So maybe there’s some mojo to that unit that I’ve been overlooking. Of course, that’s only half of his distortion tone. He balances it out with a Diezel VH4.

The second point of curiosity for me was that James and Kirk both use G-Major 2 processors, which got me thinking about how the G-Major line used to be T.C. Electronic’s mid-tier guitar processors but as processing power becomes cheaper more pros are choosing them over the very old G-Force units still in production.

I could rant on and on about the rest of their rigs like the Voodoo Lab Ground Control/GCX setups they share, or point out how Kirk has a custom rackmount version of his signature Cry Baby Wah, or even theorize how much James paid for the Klon Centaur that he uses as a lead boost, but why don’t we just get to the videos? And if you want some better pics of their racks, he’s a Mesa/Boogie article that will do the trick.



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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.

Latest comments
  • These are re-uploads btw, saw these at least a year ago.

    • Those T.C. guys are sneaky with their re-uploads.

      Also, I wonder if Metallica intentionally keep their non-Mesa heads in separate racks just for the photos. But yeah, Kirks Randall is mentioned in the video.

  • A veces Vince tiene que tomar una decisión … caca en los pantalones o en el vómito en la orina, como un mono comiendo pollo frito. Estos son re-subidas por cierto, vi estos por lo menos hace un año. También ese artículo Mesa deja muy convenientemente VH4S de Het y Randalls de Kirk (si estaba usando en ese momento). Aquellos T.C. chicos son elusivos con sus re-subidas. Además, me pregunto si Metallica mantener intencionalmente la cabeza no Mesa en bastidores separados sólo por las fotos. Pero sí, Kirks Randall se menciona en el video. O segundo ponto de curiosidade para mim foi que James e Kirk ambos usam G-Major 2 processadores, o que me fez pensar sobre como a linha G-Major costumava ser TC Processadores de guitarra mid-tier de eletrônicos, mas como poder de processamento se torna mais barato mais profissionais estão escolhendo-os sobre as muito antigas unidades G-Force ainda em produção.
    El segundo punto de la curiosidad para mí fue que James y Kirk ambos utilizan G-Major 2 procesadores, lo que me hizo pensar acerca de cómo la línea G-Major solía ser TC Procesadores guitarra electrónica de nivel medio, pero el poder. Thnx.

  • ” I love Mesas as much as the next guy, but I’ve never gotten one of those units to sound as good as their heads no matter what power amp was involved.”

    James’ Triaxis is heavily modified. Yet, Chad nor James will elaborate on the modifications. If one would have to guess, he’s obviously using the Mark IIC+ mode modified to sound close to his C++ rig with the old Aphex eq’s in the loop. In this rig, if you notice any of the settings of his ‘Heavy’ Triaxis, you’d see the presence controls are at 10. A stock Triaxis sounds terrible on any setting with the presence maxed out, so that leads to much speculation as to what is actually going on there? However, If you notice towards the bottom of the rig, above the 2:90 power amps and Mesa Amp Switcher, you’ll see a custom Mesa 2U rack piece that looks like it has two large black caps. This is a custom Mesa dual, 5 band EQ modified from an old Mesa Studio Preamp. This runs in the FX loop of the ‘Heavy’ Triaxis. There are pix of this unit on Metallica’s website uncovered and it looks as though the settings are the typical ‘V’ shape most set their Mark series amps to.

    There’s so much Chad didn’t discuss about James rig in this video. Obviously, it wasn’t really about the rig as a whole, it was about the TC GM2 and how its used within the setup. Chad didn’t mention anything besides the Mesa Triaxis and Diezel VH4 work together to create the “Heavy” tone. The 2nd Triaxis is also blended with an Line 6 POD X3 Pro, (Racked above his set of redundant Diezel VH4) modeled after the Roland JC120 to create his ‘Clean Tone’. Otherwise, Jame’s GCX seems straight forward, 8 loops: 1) Boss NS2, 2) Klon, 3) Line 6 Distortion unit (Used for extra OD for ‘Sad But True’, 4) TC G-Major 2, 5) Triaxis (Clean), 6) Triaxis (Heavy), 7) Diezel VH4, 8) Line 6 POD X3 Pro. There are also a set of DBX 1174 Quad Gates in front of the Heavy/Clean Triaxis’ and the Diezel (Triaxis DBX Located below the G-Major/Diezel DBX located in rack with Diezel).

    Kirk’s rig isn’t to complex either…He’s also blending both amps together. A Mesa Dual Recto and his newly crafted Randall Mike Fortin Meathead signature amp for both Heavy/Lead and Clean tones. Notice: Justin states the Phase issues he encountered with the Randall having 3 channels and the Recto having 2 channels with the Lead boost? They had to figure out the phase cancellation that was happening once the Lead channel was engaged (3rd Ch. on Randall) the volume would drop so they had to be careful and dial the tone in accordingly. Kirk also uses a DBX Quad gate pro for gating both amplifiers. His GCX loops are as follows: 1) Dunlop Custom Rack Wah, 2) Ibanez Tube Screamer, 3) Line 6 Delay, 4) TC G-Major 2, 5) MXR EVH Flanger, 6) Randall, 7) Mesa Dual Recto, 8) Not Used?

    The Custom Dunlop Wah unit is not to be confused with being modeled after his Signature Crybaby unit. It’s definitely the other way around. They simply A/B’d the prototype with what he had dialed in on his rack units. Also, there is an Boss NS2 located in the rear of the rack that is in front of the Mesa Dual Recto. This may or may not be utilizing a loop on the GCX? The Amp switching is then accomplished via G-Major 2. The G-Major 2 has two relay contact switches which are used like Justin mentioned, to switch channels on the Mesa. The switching for the Randall is done via GCX Ground Control via midi.

    I may or may not have had a conversation with Justin and Chad at a gig a few years ago? :) Cheerz!

    • and what about phase 100? where is it in chain?

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