What guitars and gear to Pallbearer use to dial in its incredible guitar tone? Here’s a guide to ALL the guitars, gear, and pedals used by one of the best doom bands around, Pallbearer…
If you haven’t heard Pallbearer, you’re missing out on some of the most iconic and best doom metal of recent years. Formed in 2008 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and led by Brett Campbell and Joseph D. Rowland, the band quickly rose to prominence in alt-metal circles.
Part of Pallbearer’s allure, besides the band’s incredible sense of melody and songwriting in general, was its guitar tone. Given all the gear that everybody has access to these days, creating a truly unique and memorable guitar sound is actually quite hard – nearly all guitars sound good these days.
But Pallbearer’s guitar tone was what set them apart from the crowd right from the get-go; it sounded amazing, and also completely unique. The band effortlessly blends elements of folk, doom, metal, and even prog together with a deftness you seldom come across much these days, with obvious exceptions like with bands like Yob.
The band’s debut album, Sorrow and Extinction, came out in 2012 and put the band on A LOT of people’s radar. Pitchfork bestowed upon it its Best New Music crown – no mean feat. Spin and NPR were also extremely excited by the record, effectively cementing Pallbearer as the new “IT BAND” of the moment.
2014’s follow-up, Foundations of Burden, picked up where S&R left off, adding in new textures, tones, and more experimental stuff. Billy Anderson produced and recorded this record. He did an excellent job too, as always – the record sounds incredible. And from there, the band just got better and better, releasing Heartless in 2017 and Forgotten Days in 2020.
What Guitars Do Pallbearer Use?
Obviously, if you’re going to make beautiful-sounding doom metal, you’re going to need a decent guitar. Brett Campbell is the founding member of Pallbearer and writes most of the songs.
Campbell’s guitar collection is actually pretty spartan for a guy in a fairly large and successful band. At the time of writing, Campbell has just three main guitars that he uses with Pallbearer – well, two, really (one of them was borrowed from a buddy for recording ).
Here’s a breakdown of Brett Campbell from Pallbearer’s guitars:
- PRS S2 Vela – Campbell has stated in interviews that he uses his two PRS guitars most for recording and when playing live. The guitars you hear on each of the band’s records will either be his PRS S2 Vela or his PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Soapbar Baritone. Loaded with a PRS-designed DS-01 humbucker and the Type-D Single coil in the bass pickup position, the S2 Vela has an incredibly bright and punchy tone, hence why Campbell loves and uses his so much.
- PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Soapbar Baritone – The PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow is an affordable (under $800) guitar that runs 2x PRS SE Soapbar pickups and features a rosewood fingerboard and a chambered mahogany body. For overall tone, this guitar is most likely largely responsible for Pallbearer’s earthy, huge guitar one. Semi-hollow guitars, when set up correctly, sound incredible.
- Gibson Les Paul Custom – When it comes to doom metal, and rock and metal music in general, the Gibson Les Paul Custom is about as common as fuzz pedals and high gain amps. Campbell has stated that he used his buddy Jordan Wagner’s 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom silverburst for a few days during a recording session. He apparently loved its pickups, saying they have a proper “bark” to them.
Devin Holt Guitars
- ESP LTD Alex Wade Signature Baritone AW-7B
- ESP DV8 Signature Model
- ESP LTD V-401
Brett Campbell is also officially a PRS artist, so he tends to ONLY play PRS guitars. But like Matthew McConaughey with his Lincolns, Campbell was using PRS guitars way before he got paid to use PRS guitars. Sadly, Campbell’s original PRS S2 Vela was stolen. I assume PRS got him a replacement pretty quickly. But that does suck. There’s a special place in hell reserved for people that steal guitars.
Campbell started using a 7-string guitar in and around 2017. According to Campbell, the reason for this was that he tends to learn, practice, and play in standard, so he needed a guitar that was essentially tuned to standard but also had a LOW 7th string for going into “Pallbearer” rhythm mode.
When using a 7-string guitar, he uses one made by ESP, Campbell has it tuned AEADGBE, while Pallbearer’s other guitarist, Devin Holt, is tuned down to Drop A which is A–E–A–D–F#–B. The guitar tuning AEADGBE is essentially standard tuning for a 7-string, just with the addition of a low A string.
Brett Campbell of Pallbearer’s Amps
Decent guitars are one thing, but the key to a really great guitar tone is the amp you use. Campbell has three main amps that he uses with Pallbearer, as you can see below:
- Mesa/Boogie Mark IV
- Ampeg 4×12 loaded with 150-watt Eminence Swamp Thangs
- Fender Pro Twin
Campbell is also a big fan of OWNING his tone as well. If you’re in the studio, for instance, and you have access to loads of exotic amps and cabinets, you can create truly amazing sounds. But if you cannot recreate this live what’s the point? Campbell likes to be able to create as much of his guitar sound live as possible.
Here’s a quote from Campbell discussing his live guitar rig:
Most of my guitar tones were recorded with my two PRS guitars — an S2 Vela and SE 277 Baritone — into my Mesa/Boogie Mark IV through this old Ampeg 4×12 cabinet that has really high headroom. I also used my Fender Pro Twin that reminds me of an old Sunn Model T. In a live setting where I can’t constantly be EQ-ing things, I have the Mesa dialed for the mids with an emphasis on lows, and then I use the Pro with some mids and then dial in the high-end treble for more clarity. We used our touring pedalboards, too.Brett Campbell
Brett Campbell of Pallbearer’s Pedals & Effects
In order to create Pallbearer’s other-worldly guitar tone, both on the band’s records and in live situations, Campbell relies on an extensive collection of pedals, ranging from chorus pedals to fuzz pedals and EQ pedals – basically, he has pretty much everything you could think of, and then a couple more for good measure.
Guitar Pedals Used By Pallbearer
- EarthQuaker Devices Hoof fuzz
- EarthQuaker Devices Arrows preamp/booster
- EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath reverb
- EarthQuaker Devices Tone Job EQ/boost
- EarthQuaker Devices Levitation reverb
- EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run stereo delay
- Strymon Ola dBucket Chorus & Vibrato
- Smallsound/Bigsound Hawk Fuzz
- Boss ME-50B Bass Multi-Effects
- Black Arts Toneworks Black Forest overdrive
- Catalinbread Naga Viper treble booster
- LDP Nu-Tron II phaser
- ZVEX Lo-Fi Junky chorus/vibrato/modulation
As noted in the intro to this post, Campbell’s main guitar is a PRS S2 Vela. This is a pricey model. But the sound quality, build material, and pickups are utterly brilliant. If you’re looking to spend in the region of $1200 on a guitar, the PRS S2 Vela is a brilliant option. John Mayer left Fender for PRS too, so that should tell you everything you need to know about just how good PRS guitars are.
Featuring a PRS-Designed DS-01 pickup in the bridge and a PRS-Designed Type-D Single Coil in the neck, the Veal delivers plenty of BITE. The coil-tap on the tone control allows the bridge pickup to split to single coils that'll cut through any mix.
Built with a longer 27.7 in. scale length, the SE 277 Baritone is perfect for heavier, more aggressive guitar playing. But this is no one-trick pony. The 277’s 85/15 pickups deliver an articulate growl, allowing the 277 to handle blues, metal, and proggier stuff with ease.
And if you’re more into baritone guitars, Campbell’s PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Soapbar Baritone is actually rather affordable for a PRS model. You can pick one up for in and around 800 bucks which, for a semi-hollow PRS, is a damn good price. And this thing will really sing as well. It might just be one of our favorite baritone guitars on the market right now for its overall tone and looks.