A cool band I’ve been recently introduced to that’s not quite in the metal scene, but that nerds should probably be aware of, is Dopapod. These guys play an extremely catchy, highly danceable form of prog rock, with the kind of gorgeous analog instrument layering and organically performed parts that are somehow becoming a rarity in the modern era of revived interest in this sort of music.
So we obviously jumped at a chance to check out these guys’ rigs. Check it out below and salivate. And if you live in the Worcester, Massachusetts area, you can catch these guys play a special New Years Eve show with Turkuaz and Kung Fu (details for that here).
Rob Compa, Guitars
Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II (Amelia)– I bought this guitar new in 2005 when I was about 18 years old and its basically my favorite guitar ever built. Up until this year, it was more or less my only gigging guitar for about ten years. It has a maple top and back, and mahogany sides and neck. It’s all stock, although the tuners, nut, and bridge have been replaced. This era of Paul Reed Smith is a bit different than how they build hollow bodies nowadays. The neck is a wide/fat neck, which I don’t think they offer anymore. Also, the pickups are the old PRS archtop pickups, which are just amazing. They’re really low output and super clear (which is a great thing or a terrible thing, depending on how sloppy I am on any given night ;-) ), but they sound beautiful. The finish is violin amber sunburst. I love this guitar because it’s incredibly light, versatile, and it has a really beautiful brightness to it that allows it to achieve even spanky Fender-ish sounds remarkably well. I can’t stress enough how special this guitar is to me. I’ve been through practically everything with it.
Gibson CS-336 w/ non-reverse firebird headstock (Martha II)– I stumbled upon this guitar at a shop in New Jersey back in January, and I just immediately fell in love with it. The firebird headstock really caught my eye, and once I put it in my hands it was all over. I went home and tried to sleep off the urge to spend a shitload of money, but when I researched the guitar on the internet the next day, I discovered that Gibson only made 25 of these guitars, period. I knew if I didn’t get it, I’d probably never see one again. Anyhow, I’m just totally in love with it, and have been using it extensively this year.
Sonically, this guitar is super different than my PRS. It’s much more mid-rangey and fat, and the pickups are much, much hotter. Also, the shorter scale length and slim taper neck make it pretty much play itself. The top is maple, and everything else is mahogany. The pickups, to my knowledge, are ’57 classics.
Oldfield 6440 head w/ 2×12 cabinet– I’ve only had this amp for a couple weeks, but I really love it and get it a little more dialed in every night. It was built by Paul Gussler in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Paul is one of the nicest, most accommodating dudes I’ve ever met. It’s a 40 watt, single channel head with reverb and tremolo, although I haven’t really experimented with those much yet… Baby steps! It’s also got standard controls for volume, mid, treble, and bass, and has switches for mid-boost and treble boost (haven’t messed with those much yet, either). The knobs on this amp are super responsive, and the amp sounds beautiful at really any volume.
Also, there are a ton of options for how to use this amp at any size of room, big or small, which is something I really need since my band plays at just about any size place you think of. We’ve literally played a tiny, 200 person room one night and then played red rocks the night after, so I need a versatile amp that can sound good in multiple situations. The amp can run at 4, 8, or 16 ohms, not that I really know what to do with that yet. That stuff gets confusing, and I tend to just to set it the way Paul told me to. I can also run the amp at either 40 or 20 watts, which is pretty useful. I can use either both speakers at the same time, or set it so I can use one or the other, which is great for smaller rooms. The cabinet is loaded with a 12” Jensen blackbird speaker and an Eric Johnson Eminence speaker. So far, I like the Jensen a little more because it’s a little clearer sounding, so I’ve been putting the mic on that one. I’m most likely going to swap out the Eric Johson speaker for a 10” Celestian Gold Alnico speaker.
1978 Fender Vibrolux– I’m not really using this amp as of late since I got the Oldfield, but up until now it was the only I amp I owned since before Dopapod even existed. It’s a really important piece of gear in my sound. It’s had a blackface modification done to it, and a bunch of other things too, although I don’t really know the exact details because all of that was done to it before I bought it. I do know that it was modeled by Roy Goode in Boston. That’s about it. Also, every time I’ve ever taken it to a repair guy he’s told me that pretty much every part of the circuitry isn’t really even a fender anymore.
Like any other Vibrolux, it has two ten inch speakers. One speaker is a Kendrick speaker, which was in it when I bought it. It had a matching Kendrick speaker, which died a few years ago. I had that one replaced with a Weber DT10 speaker, which is basically Derek Trucks’ signature speaker. I don’t know much about speakers, and that one was the only one the repair guy had when the other one blew, so that was my only choice. It does, however, sound noticeably warmer and more soulful than the Kendrick, so I always mic that speaker.
This amp is really beautiful sounding, and can get really dirty. For smaller clubs, I don’t think there’s a better amp in the world. It sounds great in bigger rooms too, but it doesn’t stay very clean at louder volumes. I’m not complaining about that. Dirty is awesome. I love this amp.
Orange Micro Terror– This is a tiny little 20 watt solid state/tube hybrid that’s more or less my Alamo amp. It’s my last resort should my other two amps fail and there are no backline amps available. It honestly gets a pretty killer overdriven sound if I just crank it all the way up, and I’m toying with the idea of getting an AB/Y switch and using it for some dirty sounds.
Pedals (in order of signal path):
Digitech whammy pedal– The whammy is run through a little true bypass loop pedal, which my friend Brian Dodds built for me. The bypass also has a buffer, which is on all the time.
Tuner– ya know… it tunes.
Maxon VOP9 overdrive– This is essentially a tube screamer, but it’s by far my favorite tubescreamer incarnation I’ve ever used. Has a bit more gain and low end if I need it, and it’s just warmer and prettier sounding. Maxon, in my opinion, makes the best overdrives money can buy.
NAU Spoonful overdrive– This is an overdrive that also has a clean boost button. I set the drive pretty low and use it on its own for dirty rhythm. When that’s combined with the clean boost, it achieves a really good scofield-esque soloing sound. For a more sustainy, saturated solo sound, I’ll use this pedal and the Maxon at the same time.
Electroharmonix micropog– It’s an octave pedal. Works great, tracks really well. Actually, it’s the pedal that’s been on my board the longest.
Maxon AD999 analog delay– This delay is really beautiful and warm sounding. It only has three knobs, and I can’t tap tempo with it, but it just really adds warmth and dimension to my sound for solos or long, sustained chordal stuff.
Boss dd20 giga delay– It seems kinda weird to use two delays, but it has been really useful for me. This delay is great because I can tap tempo with it and make presets with it. I leave it on pretty much all of the time, with a really subtle slapback sound that makes my sound a little more three dimensional. Most people probably don’t even know it’s on until I turn it off. This pedal can do ton of other stuff too, and I also use it for a dotted eighth delay (alla “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 1”), and a backwards delay. I also use it for a primitive sort of looping, where I just put the repeat knob all the way up with my foot and then build a sort of pad underneath everything. Then, when I turn the pedal off, it trails, so the delay continues even though the pedal isn’t engaged, so I can solo on top of it without anything I’m playing getting fed into the delay.
Maxon Phaser– It’s a phaser. It phases. This one does it really well.
Strymon Flint Reverb/tremolo– This is maybe my favorite non-overdrive or delay pedal out there. It sounds amazing. The tremolo has three different settings, all of which are super useable. The first is really more like a vibrato, the second is just classic bread and butter tremolo, and the third is a really choppy, dramatic trem. The reverb side also has three settings: The first is a spring reverb, which is where I usually leave it. It also has 70’s and 80’s settings, both of which sound great and are very useable.
Scotty Zwang, Drums
DRUMS: I play a Tama Starclassic Performer. The shells are made of mostly birch, with an inner ply of bubinga. Bass drum is 22×18, and my tom sizes are 10×8, 12×9, 14×12, 16×14. These are all in a Molten Brown Burst finish. I have been playing Tama Starclassic Performers for the last 8 years, and they have the perfect blend of attack, resonance, and tone, that I have always wanted.
For the snare drum, I wanted something a little bit brighter and louder, so I use a Tama Starphonic Mappa Burl Maple Snare. It really cuts through everything great, and has the precision I look for in a snare drum. What I really love about this drum, its the hoops and tension rods. The hoop is solid, and has no holes for the tension rods. They just clamp right on to the hoop. Soooo SICK!!!
My side snare is a 12×5.5 Tama Metalworks. For years I had used a maple piccolo snare, but for this new drum kit I wanted something with a little more body. Also, the metal snares have a little more crack to them. When the snares are on, it makes for a great little drum and bass snare. With the snares off, it’s great for little timbale cracks in a reggae jam.
HARDWARE: I use all Tama Roadpro cymbal stands and snare stands, which are double braced and very strong. For my pedals I have been using the new Tama Speed Cobra pedals, but for years and years I used Iron Cobra’s. I love both but I love the long boards on the speed cobra’s these days. They are dynamically much easier to play, because of the size of the board.
CYMBALS: These days I have been working with a great company out of Canada called Dream Cymbals and Gongs. Love the sound of these cymbals, and all the options they provide. They make a great product, at a great price. I have an assortment of cymbals by them but right now I am using….22’ Contact Ride, 18” Vintage Bliss Crash/Ride, 17” Contact Crash, 14” Bliss Hi Hats, 14” Stack, 18” Lion China, 10” Contact Splash.
STICKS: Promark Select Balance Rebound 565 Wood Tips
HEADS: Evans Heavyweight EMAD bass drum, G12 Coated on the toms, and Genera HD Dry on the Snares w/ Hazy bottom heads.
AUDIO: All my drums are mic’d with Telefunkens and the overheads are AKG 414’s. We do use an Audix D6 on the porthole of the kick drum, and a Shure Beta 91 on the inside. Which sounds awesome. My vocal mic is a Telefunken M80, which also sounds incredible on the snare drum (trust me, this is what you want). For my monitors, I use Ultimate Ears UE11 in ear monitors. Which run stereo through a 4 channel Mackie. One of the channels is used as a talkback for Chuck (Jones, bassist) to talk to me about improv sections or to just tell jokes.
Eli Winderman, Keyboards
My rig consists of 5 keyboards.
Hammond C3 organ– I consider this my main keyboard in the rig. It was chopped by BC organ and service in Worcester MA, but I’ve had some current modifications done by Retrolinear, which is located outside of Philly. I run it through a Leslie 122.
Hohner D-6 clavinet– This is on top of the organ. Not much to say about it, just that classic funky sound. I run it through a Vox hand wired wah into a boss giga delay pedal. I use a Fender super reverb as my amp for this.
Rhodes 73 suitcase– I’m not sure of the exact year of this keyboard. It has the speaker cabinet underneath with built in vibrato, EQ, and effects loop.
Moog Prodigy– This is my other “main” keyboard. I use it for a lot of our melodies and synth bass stuff. I love this board. Got my first one when I was in high school and have been using them ever since. It’s a very simple analog synth with a big fat sound. I run it through a Strymon El Capitan delay pedal and digi-tech hardwire reverb pedal.
Roland Juno-60– The Juno was one of the first polyphonic analog synthesizers. It’s used by a lot of different artists. I just love the pad sounds and the clunky “video game-y” sounds you can make with it.