Walter's stage gear
1973 white Fender Stratocaster
I bought my original white 1973 Fender Stratocaster in a guitar shop in California in 1974. Everything on it is still stock, except I've had to put a brass nut up at the top because of the bends I do. The old ones on there were made of bone and they kept breaking. But the pick-ups, everything is stock on it.
On a standard stock Strat there is three pick-ups, what I call a bass response pick-up, a mid range response and a treble. Starting at the neck going down to the bridge. On a regular Strat there's two tone controls, one is connected to the neck pick-up, one is connected the middle pick-up, and the bridge pick-up, which is the high tones, has no tonecontrol. So if you're using that there is no way rolling some of the highs off of the sound and I would find it would get too bright sometimes. So I've had the tone control taken off the neck pick-up and connected to the bridge pick-up, so that trebly pick-up, you can control the amount of treble that comes out of the guitar.
I used my original Strat on tour until the terrorists and liquids on the aeroplanes problem came up I realised I couldn’t take the chance of it being damaged or losing it as I could not bring it aboard as hand luggage.
1973 (current) Fender Stratocaster
I now use another 1973 Stratocaster with a maple neck and a hard tail. The neck was changed and sanded down and calibrated to make it the same size as the neck on my old Strat. Seymour Duncan, made me a set of custom pickups, which I had put on the guitar for this tour. I think they are amazing. On the back they say SWD for WT. Seymour had signed them. I think he did an incredible job really capturing the sound of my old axe. I’ve had this theory for a long time that this old vintage guitar thing is kinda an illusion. This goes to show you if you can get a good set of Seymour Duncan pickups and put them on a guitar and it will sound as good as any ’54 Strat ever made.
Touring Guitars - 2 Stratocasters + Vigier
I use gauge 9, 11, 16, 24, 32, 42 and change the strings every day on tour. I still break 'em because I am using thin strings.
Mesa Boogie mark 5
I currently use an Mesa Boogie Mk 5. Settings and stage set up below
Mesa Boogie mark 4
I previously used a Mesa Boogie mark 4. I basically have used the same amp head for years. So I have an older mark 4. Since then I bought a newer mark 4, and it doesn’t have the same sound to it, and they told me this at the company when I called them and said to them that the mark 4 I just got from you doesn’t sound like my older one. They said they had changed some of the circuitry in the amp, so when my broke really bad two years ago and I had to send it back to the factory, they said, “we’ve got to replace the circuitry”. I asked if they were going to put in the new circuitry because it doesn’t sound as good. They said “yea, we have to do that” and I threw myself on their mercy and I said I have a new one and it doesn’t sound the same, it’s more generic sounding and less warm, and they went through their old cabinets and found an old circuit board and put that in, so it managed to keep it’s same sound.
I run that thing through a 4 x 12 cabinet where the two speakers on the top are a Mesa Boogie version of a Celestion, which are in Marshall cabinets. The bottom two speakers in my cabinet are Electro-voice, and the are like a JBL, they are much clearer brighter sounding, not as much kinda crunch to them. So between the two I get this blending of a very clean speaker sound and a very crunchy Marshally speaker sound, and what that enables me to do is run a lot of gain on the amp and play very fast but you can hear every note, they don’t mush together.
I can also tell you that when you buy a mark 4, or any amp new, you get a manual with it, and it has suggested settings for different kinds of music. For Country music set it like this, for Rock music set it like this, and I have my boogie set for Death Metal!!! (laughter) So it’s as overdriven as I can get it, but I control the amount of sustain and distortion by using the volume on the guitar. For instance, when I’m playing the rhythm part on Faithful I have the guitar on like, one, and if you do that you get a very clean, but a kinda beefy clean sound and you can control the amount of sustain and everything by where you set the volume on the guitar. If you set the guitar on five or six you can get a pretty Marshally, bluesy, sound that’s not too overdriven, and between about six and ten, the sky’s the limit.
Mesa Boogie Leslie
I’m also using a Mesa Boogie guitar Leslie, which is a revolving speaker. It’s a little cabinet, if you look at my rig it’s to the left of my speaker cabinet, and it’s got a twelve-inch speaker, which is spinning, just like an organ speaker. All that they basically did at Mesa Boogie was take a motor from a ceiling fan, and they hooked a speaker up to it. I have a foot switch which is an on and off, and a fast and slow. And I never run it fast, because if you run it fast speed, instead of a nice chorus, you get this weird vibrato.