Brian Bell's equipment
Brian Bell's Equipment has gone through many changes over the years, this page exists to list in detail the equipment that's been used in the past and present. Much of this article is derived from the old Weezer Equipment History Page on Weezer.com and was originally written by Karl Koch.
1993 - Blue
Brian joined the band in the fall of 1993, halfway into the recording of the Blue Album. Originally they attempted to get him to play the backup guitar parts that jason had originally laid down, but in the end there wasn't time to get them learned and re-done, so Rivers played the back up parts. So none of Brians equipment is present on the Blue album. Brian did sing the back up vocal parts on the album. At this point he was playing a red 1963 Gibson SG Melody maker. Anyway, Brian has said it was a '63, while some folks insist its a '66. in any case it had a very low 4 digit serial number (possibly #1030?) so it was old. The headstock was the early rectangular shape, which came before the more familiar curved style. The tremolo bar assembly was missing, but you'd never know it unless you knew it was supposed to be there. This guitar was all original except for the tuning pegs, which Brian had replaced with locking ones to help keep the thing in tune (which was an uphill battle). The pickups were the original ones, but what they were remains unknown at this writing ('hotrails' have been suggested, but perhaps they are recognizable fromn the picture below). He soon bought an extremely unreliable but awesome looking yellow Kapa "Challenger", a cheap 50's guitar, that was sort of a Fender Stratocaster copy. The thing was simply unsuited for live performance, and Brian later gave this guitar to his sister. I did some digging and learned the following: There is a 70's Kapa Challenger that looks like a big Rickenbacker, this is not it. There is also a: "USA Made (in Maryland) '63 or '64 model. Volume and tone along with 3-way selector. 2 double coil p/u's. Maple neck with rosewood fingerboard. Has Jazzmaster like tremolo tailpiece, 22 frets. Cool kind of mini Strat solid body." That sounds right from my memory.
In the background, brians 2x12 marshall cabinet and the oddball Mesa Engineering amp that Rivers bought As seen in the above photo, Brians first amp setup consisted of a Marshall 2X12 cabinet, a loud little thing that was perfect for the club touring that was to come. Since Rivers had the Marshall SL-X head now, Brian got Rivers' Mesa Enginneering 60-watt (pictured inside the Blue album) for his amp. This worked out fine for the first several months of touring in 1994.
Brian used GHS Boomer strings, in the TNT gauge, with a wound .24 G string substituted. He has always used Jim Dunlop plain gray pics, from the very thin .38 thickness up to the .73's, usually settling on the .60s.
1993 - After Blue
To replace the Kapa Challenger, Brian picked up a rare and unusual guitar, a solid aluminum necked Travis Bean.
1994 - Lush Tour
Sometime in late 1994, Brian upgraded. He found yet another "tall" Marshall 4x12 of alost the exact same vintage and specifications as Rivers's. (This one didn't say "Mercinaries" on it though!), and he picked up a vintage Marshall head, a MK2 Master Model 100 watt Lead dating from the late 70's. The head is still used frequently, in recording especially. The cabinet is still around but doesn't see much use today.
1994 - Live Tour
To do the clean sounds of "Jonas" and other songs, Brian started splitting his signal, one going to the Mesa [later Marxhall], the other going to a vintage early 70's Fender Twin amp , switching back and forth with a footswitch.
1995 - Spring/Summer Touring
Later in 1995, both the Red SG and the Travis Bean were stolen right out of Brian's car, so Brian had to start his guitar quest over again. He soon picked up a Fender Thinline, a fairly rare semi hollow body Telecaster style guitar. This has remained in use to present day (2003), usually used live during "Surf Wax America" and a few other songs. This guitar is fairly fragile and valuble, so it doesnt see too much action on the road anymore. There is some question as to the authenticity of its neck, as it doesnt say "Thinline" on it. It is possible not all Thinlines had this insignia however.
1996 - USA
In '96, Brian started sometimes using new 1996 sunburst Fender Stratocaster. It is still in use to this day both ontstage and in the studio.
1997 - USA
Brian switched to GHS Boomer .11's
When the band reconviened in 2000, Brian started using Rivers' old Gibson Les Paul Jr. , as well as Rivers original back-up guitar, the 1994 Maroon Gibson SG. in 2000, For his clean sound, Brian used a Fender Vibro King. Around here Bran Swtched to GHS Boomer .10's. touring setup: 70's MK2 Marshall driving 1 tall Marshall cab...Maroon SG, Thinline Tele, and Gibson Jr.
2000-2001 Green Album
General: The basic setup for recording Rivers & Brian' rhythm guitar tracks:
Ric Ocaseks 1960 LP Jr, run through...
Rhythm track 1: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amp; Marshall slant 4x12 cabinet w/ 25 watt green back Celestion speakers
Rhythm track 2: Marshall 100 watt (modified), formerly owned by Warren Dimartini of Ratt; Marshall slant 4x12 cabinet w/ 25 watt green back Celestion speakers
[note that it is unclear who played what rhythm track. its possible the Rivers played both on some songs, or that Brian and Rivers shared these duties depending on the song and the circumstances of the day.] See Rivers Green Album section for more guitar notes.
Specifics: song by song exceptions to the above formula, for guitar solos, etc. If the amp or other specifics arent mentioned, then they are identical to the "General" note above.
Island In The Sun: ADD'L RHYTHM TRACK: Bobby Schneck's 1979 Gibson ES-335TD [using the bridge pickup], into a Vox AC 30 amp "turned WAY up".
Knock Down Drag Out: ADD'L RHYTHM TRACK: Bobby Schneck's 1979 Gibson ES-335TD [using the bridge pickup], into a Vox AC 30 amp.
Note: The Marshall slant 4x12 cabinet w/ 25 watt green back Celestion speakers [reissue of vintage cabinet] became Brian's touring cabinet at this point, post recording.
2001 Outloud Tour
touring setup: new cabinet a 100 watt (25watts x4 speakers) Marshall "1960", powered by a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. His MK2 head was his back up. Maroon SG, Thinline Tele, and Gibson Jr.
2001 Hooptie Tour
The band made some significant changes to their touring gear at the start of the "Hooptie Tour", in order to adapt to extreme constraints of storage space and tour budget, as this tour was entirely a money-losing promotional thing. Some very compact gear was invested in, which would more than save money by eliminating the need for a huge truck. After much experimentation, the guitar techs recommended trying the Line 6 "POD" system, which is basically a very modern "virtual amplifier" which actually sounds really good, unlike the many rackmount systems of thew past which always sounded like a bad computer trying to copy an ampo sound (which is really what they were) The Pod actually DOES sound like real amplifier, so despite the extreme reservations of the band, they were tried out in rehearsals, and were an instant hit! So Rivers and Brian each got a guitar pod, and Mikey got a bass pod. The strange thing about the POD system is the POD's are kept offstage where the guitar tech's can service them if needed, so there is literally nothing on stage except the drum kit! The sound is sent directly from the POD's to the PA system, eliminating the need for speaker cabinets with microphones trained on them.
4 guitars:2 for the new songs, 2 for the old. His main standard E tuning guitar is the 1995 maroon Gibson SG, the same guitar that was Rivers's back up guitar from '94-'96. This is stock except for some custom fretwork. The backup "E" guitar, which in fact has become Brian's main guitar for the brand new songs, is a Gibson Les Paul Jr, the same one you see Rivers playing in the 1993 picture above. It continues to be mismatched with an incorrect neck, and has been determined to be a mid '70's model. Brian's main guitar for the older songs is a recently aquired 1972 Les Paul Custom, in either (aged) white or cream (I can't tell). Brian's vintage Fender Telecaster Thinline has become his backup guitar for the E-flat songs.
Brian also uses the Shure U4D wireless system, but the signal is sent back to his pedal board before going to the POD. Brian's pedalboard routing goes through the POD footswitch, to a Zevex Super Hard-on into a Ibanez Tube Screamer, into a TC Electronics chorus flanger, into a Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer (set for mid frequency boost, used in "tired of sex"), into a Boss tu-2 tuner, used only as a mute switch. Then the signal goes back to the Line 6 POD Pro. For his clean sound, Brian is set up with the "Tweed Blues" sound (similar to a Fender Tweed), but modified, with some mid and gain cut out, making it extra clean sounding. The "dirty" sound is the "Brit Hi Gain" sound, which is essentially a hot rodded Marshall jcm 800. Also, for "Crab" and "Hash Pipe", Brian adds some "vomity" flange effect, via the footswitch.
At this point, Everyone switched over to an in-ear monitor system, where tiny wireless headphones are worn by each band member, through which a custom mix is pumped, depending on what the band member requires. This eliminated the need for monitor wedges all over the stage, which made things a lot easier during the Hooptie Tour with its tiny stages. The band has fallen in love with the system (also after major uncertainty and doubts), as they get a much more consistent sound night after night. Monitor wedges can sound very different night to night depending on the stage and electronics in use, and can "feed back" at inopportune times.
2001 Europe Tour
The Europe Tour in summer 2001 had virtually an identical setup to the Hooptie Tour, as the band continued to experiment with the "ampless stage" look
2001 Midget Tour
Overall very similar to the "Hooptie" and "Summer" tours.
2001 Extended Midget Tour
Overall very similar to the "Midget" tour.
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