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Famous Guitar Gear

Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Thom Yorke and Radiohead

With Radiohead announcing some long-overdue tour dates in support of the okay-but-could-be-better-live The King of Limbs, it feels like an appropriate time to take a look at the gear they employ onstage, which will hopefully see use in some UK venues. As with previous “Famous Guitar Gear” posts, I will enlist the assistance of other online web resources, in this case Radiohead Gear and The King of Gear.

Jonny Greenwood

Jonny bowing his Fender Starcaster (photo: angela n. on flickr)

Jonny “the fringe” Greenwood has maintained a fairly consistent set-up throughout Radiohead’s considerable career. His main guitars are a Fender Telecaster Plus (modified with kill-switch ala Paranoid Android guitar solo) and a 1975 Fender Starcaster, the latter of which is a rare and therefore highly desirable beauty of an instrument.

For amps, we’re looking at various Vox AC30s for clean tones and a Fender Eight-Five for distortion. Jonny uses his Boss LS-2 Line Selector to switch from the Vox clean to the Marshall Shredmaster distortion pedal-equipped Eight-Five tones.

Speaking of which, below is a recent shot of Jonny’s pedalboard(s). Pretty basic stuff, aside from the increasingly rare Digitech Whammy I, and this core setup has stayed almost exactly the same since The Bends.

The two halves of Jonny's board at "Radiohead for Haiti" (photo: Radiohead Gear)

Ed O’Brien

Ed O'Brien: the sexy one (photo: wonker on flickr)

Ed forms the ying to Jonny’s yang, with an unending cycle of gear changes. Thus, his rig becomes rather more difficult to analyse. He tends to employ Fender Strats and Teles, as well as a selection of Rickenbacker six and 12-string models, but has also been linked to a wide variety of Gibson axes. In terms of amps, they also tend to be of the Vox AC30 variety but with Mesa/Boogie Trem-O-Verbs for distortion.

Pedals are where things get interesting with Ed, as he tends to change his setup for each tour. However, in this shot from the stripped down “Radiohead for Haiti” concert, we can see the bare essentials which Ed employs above all others, identified below.

Ed's stripped-down, but still rather large, boards at "Radiohead for Haiti" (photo: Radiohead Gear)

Peterson StroboStomp 2 Tuner, Catalinbread Super Chili Picoso, Demeter Tremulator, Analogman-modded Boss OD-1, Dunlop Cry Baby, Line 6 DL4, Boss TR-2, Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, Electro-Harmonix HOG, Digitech Whammy IV. In addition, there’s a Boss DD-3 on the floor, as well as a number of expression and volume pedals for various devices.

Of course, there’s no knowing what will be on Ed’s board for the full-length The King of Limbs tour, as indicated by this photo of him with loads of stompboxes.

Ed doesn't just play guitar: he plays pedals too (photo: The King of Gear)

Thom Yorke

Thom onstage with one of his Jazzmasters (photo: Duncan Geere on flickr)

Ah yes, the dancer. Like Ed, Thom employs a number of guitars, from Fender Teles and Jazzmasters to Gibson SGs. Also like his fellow guitar-playing bandmates, Thom makes fine use of a Vox AC30 but, unlike Ed and Jonny, uses it for both clean and dirty tones.

Finally, here’s Thom’s pedalboard from the Atoms for Peace tour, with a Boss TU-2, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, Telenordia Kompressor, Bixonic Expandora, Boss LS-2 and Fulltone FullDrive 2. Will it stay the same for Radiohead’s forthcoming performances? Only eagle-eyed, concert-attending guitar aficionados will find out.

Hydration is often just as important as equipment (photo: The King of Gear)

Well, that’s your lot. The gist of the last few paragraphs is that Radiohead really love Vox AC30s but we can’t be sure of much else. I’ll just keep hoping for some UK dates so I can get a better look at what’s getting used onstage. (Tree) fingers (and limbs) crossed.

About Michael Brown

Michael is a journalist, musician and general guitar geek who works for Total Guitar and Guitarist magazines. He also freelances on the side, most often for Drowned in Sound. You can view his work here.


2 thoughts on “Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Thom Yorke and Radiohead

  1. I figured Ed uses loads of pedals as a distraction because he isn’t need on stage.

    Posted by Nick Chen | December 5, 2011, 1:38 am

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