you're reading...
Famous Guitar Gear

Chris Cornell

Anyone who knows me will know how much I love Chris Cornell. That voice, the songwriting and his often overlooked guitar playing all transfix me perhaps more than any other artist. Depending on who you ask, the last five years or so have been a bit shaky (see: Scream) but one thing has remained consistent throughout this time: Chris’s stellar live show.

These gigs currently alternate between Chris’s frontman duties with grunge pioneers Soundgarden and his highly-rated acoustic tours, encapsulated on last year’s Songbook album (although, in my opinion, it could have been a lot better). So, with the announcement of UK dates (recently expanded to include Scotland and Ireland), I thought it appropriate to take a look at the surprising amount of gear behind these acoustic shows.


Chris's acoustics: note the tuning stickers on the sides (photo: niceguyollie)

With acoustics, Chris tends to gravitate towards Martin. He has to bring a hell of a lot of them with him wherever he goes too: his penchant for unusual tunings usually requires at least half a dozen or so guitars per night. These include [low to high] DGDGBC for Like Suicide, as well as EEBBBE for Seasons. Chris also uses a Fender Telecaster for Badmotorfinger-era tune Mind Riot, which offers perhaps the most awkward tuning of all: DDDDDD (EEEEEE on the original recording). Yeesh. As much as I love the guy, I’d hate to be his guitar tech.


Divided By 13: real good-looking amps (photo: niceguyollie)

Cornell’s gone all boutique amp-wise, taking a few cues from his ex-touring guitarists Yogi Lonich and Peter Thorn and making fine use of a Divided By 13 FTR 37 with matching 2×12 cab, miced up with a Shure SM57. I can’t be 100% sure whether he’s running the acoustics through this or just using it for the occasional electric tune, but, whatever he’s doing, his tones have been fantastic on every night of the Songbook tour.


Chris's tasty selection of pedals for both acoustic and electric (photo: niceguyollie)

Considering his reputation for being a vocalist rather than a guitarist, Chris clearly knows his stuff when it comes to pedals. He runs two pedalboards, one for acoustic and one for electric. The acoustic board consists of an Ernie Ball volume pedal, Boss FRV-1 reverb, TU-2 tuner and a Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre acoustic preamp. Electric-wise, there’s a Menatone King of the Britains, Electro-Harmonix HOG, Digitech Jamman, Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man and MXR 10-Band Graphic EQ, all powered by a Dunlop DC Brick. It’s an impressive selection and one that ensures Cornell’s acoustic shows are so much more than just, well, acoustic.

Okay, that’s the fanboy-a-thon over with for now, at least until I cover Soundgarden’s current gear in a future post! Thanks to niceguyollie over at the Harmony Central gear forums for the photos. EDGG over and out.

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 “Chris Cornell

  1. Nice article. The tuning for Seasons is FFCCCC. The EEBBBE or EEBBBB tuning is used for the songs My Wave,” and “The Day i Tried to live” I believe. Just a heads up.

    Posted by Jason | October 18, 2015, 2:41 am
    • On the original recording it is but live he plays seasons down tuned half a step so EEBBBE is correct. I think Seasons originally was also in FFCCCF

      Posted by RoobRants | May 5, 2016, 3:51 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

%d bloggers like this: