Today we have a rig rundown from Australian space-rockers Dead Letter Circus, who are currently in the U.S. on a tour with Periphery, Born Of Osiris, and 12 Foot Ninja. The guys go in depth on their custom Canadian Breed guitars, why Axe-FX is ideal for international touring, and discuss picks with far more gusto than we’re used to seeing in these features. Enjoy.



Tom Skerlj

My name is Tom Skerlj and I play guitar in Dead Letter Circus.

I like to keep my rig as simple as possible when we’re on the road – I believe that if you have less gear, then that means there’s less that can go wrong! Saying that, playing in Dead Letter Circus means my rig needs to be flexible and versatile enough to replicate the sounds that we created in the studio – So I need the best of both worlds.

Live and in the studio I use the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II – the tonal options and overall quality is unmatched. All of my patches are unique and vary between guitars that I play. For my basic tone, I run the Mesa Dual Rectifier amp on a low gain setting with a Tube Screamer in front to scoop out some of the low rumble and tighten up the overall sound. I want my tone to be well balanced and relatively low gain so I can get the most clarity while still sounding aggressive. I love that no matter what the size of the venue that we play, I know my tone will be consistent at every show. I also use the MFC-101, and I am literally yet to experience any limitations when taking to the stage with Dead Letter Circus.

I play Canadian Breed Guitars, all my guitars are built by guitar luthier Bill Scheltma. I got my first Canadian Breed guitar before The Catalyst Fire sessions and that guitar was the guitar I used most on that album. I absolutely dig how the Canadian Breed feels – Bill hand picks all of his wood, cuts it himself and pieces it together. There’s that extra level of attention to detail that you get from working with one person that I don’t think you can get from the major companies.

I’m having two more built for me right now and I’m going to pick them up on the tour we’re on right now with Periphery and Born of Osiris. I’m getting a Baritone guitar specifically built to play some of our new material which I need to be in drop A# and a second T-class. Both of these guitars will have hand-wired pickups made by Bill and have been totally customized and designed for what I want out of a guitar.

Guitar Picks, I use Tortex .50mm – I need a balance between a pick that is thick enough to get me the aggressive attack for the rhythm sections and thin enough for me to be able to comfortably play the Dead Letter Circus style when dueling with Clint.

I use Ernie Ball strings on all my guitars. My Canadian Breed T-class is tuned to drop C# (C# G# C# F# A# D#) and I use the Slinky-Top Heavy-Bottom (.10-.52). At the moment for a couple of songs I need to play in Drop B (B F# B E G# C#) and use the Not Even Slinky (.12-.56). My favourite thing about this set of strings is the plain-steel G-string (.24) – It’s a little brighter which I need for the high-register playing which is easily lost in low-tunings.



Clint Vincent

Hey there folks. Clint Vincent (Vinnie) from “Dead Letter Circus” here. Today I’m going to give you all a run down of my live guitar rig from the fingers all the way through to front of house.

So starting with the picks… Well, I spent a lot of time trying picks when I got the “DLC” gig just trying to work out what worked for me. As the style is fast and aggressive but not riff orientated, a thin pick ended up working the best. So I have been using the Jim Dunlop .60mm. It means I can strum all the strings but mute the ones I’m not using with a finger and they don’t ring out too much.

String wise I’m all about the “Ernie Balls”. I use the Slinky top heavy bottom (.10-.52) I get them changed every day due to acidic sweat!!  But I find they are the best sounding longest lasting strings around.

So now to the guitars. Oh yeah baby!!! I’m all about the Telecaster. On the road I’m using two custom built tele’s built by a good friend Adrian at “Donadei Guitars” in Australia. They are brand new 21 fret vintage relics. I love these things. They have modern pick ups (loller) and custom wiring but look as though they are from the 50’s or 60’s. Tuning wise I’m drop C# (C# G# C# F# A# D#) on one and drop D ( D A D G B E) on the other.

Just recently I have been given the brand new “Line 6” Relay G90 wireless unit to try out. And I love it!! I have never had much luck with wireless in the past. Always hated what it did to my tone but these units are great.

Amp wise I’m all about simple but great tone. Something I can jump on a plane with and have my exact tone anywhere in the world. So I’m using the “Fractal Audio” Axe FX2 and send my signal straight out to front of house. In DLC we use a lot of FX on the guitars so it’s just the right bit of gear for that all in one set up. And they sound mennnnntal. My fave amp inside is the one modeled on the Vox Ac30 and the recto vintage 30 cab. But each patch I have set up is totally different. As I use delay 95% of the time I have each patch tempo mapped to each song. If the song needs a little extra gain I will also put the tube screamer patch in the chain just before the amp and if a little less gain is required I will put a volume pedal patch in there before the amp. My other fave effects are the synth patch and harmonizer and whammy sounds.

To control the Axe Fx I use the “Fractal Audio” MFC 101 midi foot controller and 2 “Mission” expression pedals. One expression pedal is used to control pitch and whammy FX and the other is assigned to either a Volume pedal or Wah depending on the song.

Well that’s basically it for my live rig here folks. Hope that helps you on the finding your way to your own killer tone. Sweeeeet ones!!!


Dead Letter Circus’ new album, The Catalyst Fire, is out now. You can get it on iTunes here.

Written by

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.