Justin's instruments and other gadgets onstage (as well as in the studio, presumably):

Amp and Effects:


This information was provided by J.J. Moreno (thanks, J.J.!), who also had this to say: "First time I saw them, I went up and talked to Justin after they played. He was sitting there onstage as the audience was walking out, just kinda spacing out when I approached him. I asked him about the red guitar and he picked it up and showed it to me, said something like 'it's been torn apart...'"

Also, from Elias Jannes comes this: "Justin has a cab by a company from the late 60's or early 70's called Kustom. He also uses Kustom heads. I have never seen him use a Sunn cab. The cool tuck n roll padding cab he uses is a rare 2x15" cab. Vern uses the same setup. Note of interest: I saw Unwound at Jabberjaw in Los Angeles and Vern took a microphone and placed it up against the wall on the side of the stage about 5 feet from his amp getting cool rumbling kind of sounds that bounced off the wall."

And from Jay: "Sara uses 14" Zildjian Scimitar hi-hats, a 20" Zildjian Scimitar ride, Vic Firth 5B drumsticks with wood tips, a Remo coated Ambassador head for her snare, and transparent Ambassador heads for her toms."

Recently, I saw Vern playing through a Sunn Coliseum 300 amp and the mysterious padded cabinet, with a white distortion (or maybe delay) pedal that looked like a Boss. Frank thought Vern's bass looked like a Fender Jazz, but the neck was not a Fender neck. Sara used mallets on a couple of songs, including Sonata For Loudspeakers. Justin had the padded cabinet and the Sunn head, and all three guitars. Click here for a little info on Sunn amps.

From JJ Moreno: "Not sure if Justin's cab is a Kustom, thier cabs usually have tuck and roll padding (like on an old car's interior) and his doesn't, it was a little different. Vern's amp head was probably a Sunn Coliseum 300 head... oh well no big deal. I just thought it was especially noteworthy since they were using pretty crappy equipment (by guitarist's usual anal retentive standards) yet still they sounded phenomenal."

More from JJ Moreno: "I don't know about any [modifications that may have been made to Justin's amp] but I've seen the amp cut out in the middle of a song during their past tours. But on the last few tours it's been working just fine. So perhaps he finally got it fixed. Sunn Concert heads have, I believe, 2 channels or 2 inputs (hi and low) and some sort of boost function which also seems to raise the volume up a bit. Justin has some amp switch on the floor next to his pedals which probably activates the boost. Justin also had an Electro Harmonix small stone phase shifter and some other EH pedal, maybe an Electric Mistress."

From Trevor: "I've seen Justin use a Dan Armstrong clear lucite bodied guitar - the kind with the slide-out pickups. Cool guitars, weigh a ton. One pickup, 25" scale (like a PRS, as opposed to a tele/strat [25 1/2"] jaguar [24"] or gibson [24 3/4"]. The pickup will slide right out of the guitar without taking off the strings/pickguard/whatever. You could have a box of them and change them between songs, should you so desire."

From Jay: "Sara uses a modern ludwig kit- 22 inch bass drum w/a dw 5000 pedal (same as me), 14 inch wood snare, about 8-10 inches deep with a standard coated ambassador remo head, a 13 inch tom and a 16 inch floor tom, both w/remo pinstripe heads, and i'm pretty sure she uses some sort of echo suppression on both of them (judging by the sound). she uses zildjan schmitar hi-hats, 14" if my memory is correct, two zildjan avedis crashes (not sure if they were thin or rock), 16" and 18", respectively, a 20" zildjan schmitar ride, and pro-mark 5B or 7A drumsticks, i can't remember which, with wood tips. she also had a cow bell of some sort that she used when they played "no tech!". her floor tom was interesting... it was only like 12"-14" deep... i had never seen one like that before. then again. i haven't really looked."

From Robert Inpijn: "I have been to the first European date of this Unwound tour in Rotterdam and I noticed some differences in Justin's equipment, these are the changes:

Can someone figure out what it is and send me an E-mail about it?"

From Jared: "The mysterious "electro-harmonix like" pedal that Justin uses for overdrive is in fact an Electro-Harmonix LPB-2 or Linear Power Booster. This pedal was made in the mid seventies. It's predecessor the LPB-1 was not even a pedal really, but a little box with just one knob on it (volume). The LPB-2 is similar but is the pedal version with a footswitch and typical seventies E.H. pedal packaging. All the LPB-2 really does is make your amp signal louder (if going completely clean)...or if overdriven a bit, it will just overdrive more with a slight volume boost. You can hear this on the song "Data" how it kicks up in volume near the middle of the song. This is all dependat, of course, on how you set the LPB-2's single volume knob. I own one of these and they're really cool. It's better than any lame, tone draining overdrive or fuzz/dist. pedals there are out there. I saw Unwound twice on their recent tour (once in Philadelphia and once in New York) and Justin carried the LPB-2 and an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser, along with his Maestro Echoplex and Univox BeatBox. However, when I saw them previously Justin did have an MXR Micro Amp with him. This seems completely logical because the MXR Micro Amp is basically MXR's version of the E.H. LPB-2. It also only has one knob....volume."

From Robert Inpijn (European tour equipment):

"Justin's equipment:

Vern's bass amp was a Peavey alpha-bass and his cabinet was an Ampeg 8X10" He had a Boss DS-1 distortion and some other pedal I didn't hear and didn't recognize. "

This is from somebody whose name I lost: "I stood right in front of the stage during a few shows, and this is what I saw:
Sunn Concert Lead guitar amp. At later shows, a Marshall head, possibly a JCM-800? would appear on the side of his Sunn, so possibly one amp was slaving off of the other. Kustom cabinet (2x15?). Univox drum machine. Maestro echoplex. MXR phaseshifter (not the orange metal one, but the cheaper plastic model), Electro-Harmonix linear power booster 2 (used to boost the Sunn amp from a clean to a super overdriven sound). For guitars, he used a black Univox Mosrite Copy, a copy of a Dan Armstrong plexiglass (possibly Univox or Electra), a red Epiphone, a weird green-sunburst surf type guitar which I have yet to figure out what brand it is (possibly his coolest guitar). Vern used a Sunn Colliseum bass head. Kustom cabinet (2x15?). A beat-up Fender Jazz bass with a replaced neck. Distortion (Ratt pedal?). I couldn't tell what Sara was using.
The bottom line is that they use cheap equipment, but sound incredible anyways"

From Jared: "Justin's tuning... is written on the back of the headstock of his gtrs. (like Sonic Youth does). However, he does change it up a bit for different goes:

Tuning #1 : D-A-E-A-A-D (low to high)
used for : All Souls Day, Usual Dosage, Sonata for Loudspeakers, Devoid, Next Exit, (and many others that I haven't quite been able to place or are just assumptions on my part.)

Tuning #2 : F#-A-E-A-A-D (low to high)
used for : Dragnalus, Abstraktions, Honourosis, Lifetime Achievement Award, and others.

Justin may also tune that second A in the pair of A's to B or something else for some songs, namely Corpse Pose or Unauthorized Autobiography (?) and he may retune that high D on the bottom...again, these are just an assumptions though."

From Gabe: "hey the concert on sat night was great. i was just wondering if anyone noticed the lack of guitars/effects though. justin only had his one clear guitar and no "feedback button" (signal magnifier) and it looked like he was useing verns ancient taped up boss distortion peddle and vern had a "new" ancient taped up boss distortion peddle. i got a good lok at it this time and its not the orange DS1 distorion peddle... its a very pale yellow and one of the knobs says "drive" and not 'distortion' so i think it may be the other peddle they make like that called something like "boss overdrive" im not sure though. why are they all taped up though??? anyway i miss the "feedback button". you could tell where the songs were supposed to get really loud and feedbacky especially on the old ones. he didnt have it last time i saw them on new years eve either. i hope he still has it and didnt decide to get rid of it. and i think the only other peddle he had there was that giant 2 button all in one thing.
"anyway does anyone know what the tuning of the clear guitar is? i think it said D-A-E-A-A-D but im not certain."

From Matthew Hartman: "just a quick note on Justin's see-thru guitar. it's actually a Japanese-made copy of the Ampeg Dan Armstrong - probably by Univox. the larger peghead is the giveaway (as these 70's made copies were otherwise quite accurate and nice playing replicas). Ibanez and Aria made copies as well, though the Ibanez had 2 humbucker pickups hard-mounted, and the Aria had a Gibson Les Paul like peghead. as far as i know only the Univox had the same "slip out" removable soapbar pickup like the originals (which seems to be the case with Justin's - as far as i can tell from photos)"

From Josh: "you list 'some Epiphone double cutaway guitar (red) w/ P-90 pickups' as a guitar used by Unwound. i thought you might be interested to know that this guitar is called an Epiphone Coronet. in the 60s, they were Epiphone's answer to the Les Paul Jr."


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This document was last updated 1 June 2001. Today it got so hot, I fried the sidewalk on an egg.