Tim Schweiger is everywhere these days it seems. When not playing with his band the Middlemen (and every once in a great while his previous band the Obsoletes), he can be found playing guitar with everyone from power pop icon Paul Collins to legendary Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson. Tim was kind enough to chat with me about his guitar and amp setup.
Sahan:Lets start out with guitars.
Tim: I've used countless guitars over the years when tracking. The last session I did I used a 2007 Epiphone Casino (bought in 2008 from Cream City Music, to replace a stolen 76 Fender Telecaster Deluxe)
For the Middlemen and Tommy Stinson live shows, I use a 2008 Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special (Bought in 2008 from Island Music to replace a stolen 2005 Fender Stratocaster). I tried it out and loved how hot the pick-ups [single coil p90s] were and loved how it felt. I liked the bigger body and longer scale. It's my favorite guitar that I've owned so far.
For the Paul Collins Beat live shows, I use a 1994 Fender Stratocaster (Wayne’s World 2 Model!) and a 2004 Fender Telecaster, both of which were given to me as gifts from friends. I prefer the Strat because it has a warmer tone and the action is fantastic. I also have the option of playing out of phase, which I use a lot for the rhythm position. However, that Tele is the best sounding Tele I've ever played. Not a big fan of the slab body, though. The ‘76 Tele Deluxe that got stolen had a contoured body. It fit me like a glove.
photo: Renate Winter
For solo acoustic shows I have a 2006 Epiphone EJ200. I bought it cheap at a pawn shop on a whim. It’s got a cool jumbo body with a nice dark tone.
I string up all my electrics with Ernie Ball 11 gauge Power Slinkys. I like the thickness because I tend to press much harder on the fretboard live than I would in the studio or at home. I like to use Fender Phospher Bronze 13s on my acoustic for the same reason.
S:Very nice variety there. Those newer Jazzmasters are really impressive and totally affordable. What about your amp and cab?
TS: For the Middlemen and Tommy Stinson shows, I use a stock Silverface Fender Bassman 70 head. I found it 10 years ago at a Mars Music in Brown Deer, WI for $140. I picked it up randomly not knowing anything about it and have played out of it in one way or another ever since. My theory with amps is the less knobs, the better. This has two channels with volume, treble and bass knobs with a master volume. It sounds great. I have the channel volume at about 8ish. The master volume differs each time. Every show, I start with the treble and bass at 5 and then adjust them depending on the sound of the venue.
My cab is an oversized Fender 2x12 bass cab that I bought 7 or 8 years ago for a tour. I replaced whatever speakers were in there with two Celestion Greenbacks. I blew the bottom one and replaced it with a Celestion Rocket 50, which added a warm low end to perfectly compliment the crisp mids of the Greenback. I lucked out on that one because I only bought the Rocket 50 because it was the cheapest Celestion I could find with the best reviews.
For the Paul Collins Beat, we generally fly out to shows, so the backline is supplied for us. I usually get a Vox AC30, a Fender Deluxe/Twin Reverb, or a Marshall JCM 900.
S: Awesome. I have a Silverface Bassman 50 head that I love to death. What about effects? I understand that you’re a fan of the Pro Co Rat distortion.
TS: Yep. A vintage Pro Co Rat [with the infamous LM308N chip] switched on. I control the gain with master volume on my guitar. I have the gain set at about 11 o'clock, the filter at about 10 o'clock and the volume at about 2 o'clock. I traded it for something I can't remember from Simple Studios during the making of the first Obsoletes EP.
Also, I always have my own Shure SM57 mic for live gigs. I love how it sounds and the fact that there is no one else's spit all over it.
S: Haha, I don’t blame you. Mic grills are a breeding ground for all sorts of gnarly stuff. This is an interesting and unique setup you’ve got. What is it about your setup that you love?
TS: The simplicity of it all. It gives me the ability to play chords where people can hear every note I'm playing without being lost in my gain. I think a lot of players crank up the gain when what they are really looking for is sustain. It's a trap that results in a lot of really good players having really bad tone.
S: I couldn’t agree more. You can get so much more out of having lower gain at a higher volume. Are there any additions you would like to have?
TS: A Fender Twin Reverb amp or a 1970s Fender Bass.
S:Very cool. Finally, anyone else's setup and/or tone that you dig?
TS: Paul Westerberg’s tone for his solo stuff. He tends to use a lot of hollowbodies through [Marshall] JCM 800 heads. Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead. Jack White's White Stripes tone. Pete Donnelly's [The Figgs] bass tone. Pretty much any late 60's/70's Fender Jazz Bass through an Ampeg. [Paul] McCartney's bass tone has always been one of my faves. Geddy Lee, too. The best tone is always dictated by what is best for each performance of the song. I could go on and on, so I'll just leave it at that.
Tim Schweiger is currently on tour with the Paul Collins Beat. Check the video and tour dates below.
Paul Collins Beat On Tour::
July 04 | Sacramento, CA | Sol Arts Collective
July 05 | San Francisco, CA | Thee Parkside
July 06 | Chico, CA | Cafe Cody
July 07 | Redding, CA | Maxwell's
July 08 | Portland, OR | Slabtown
July 09 | Seattle, WA | The Funhouse
July 13 | Mobile, AL | Alabama Music Box
July 14 | New Orleans, LA | Siberia
July 15 | Jackson, MS | Ole Town
July 16 | Memphis, TN | Hi-Tone Cafe
July 18 | Chattanooga, TN | JJ's Bohemia
July 19 | East Atlanta, GA | The Earl
July 21 | New York, NY | Bowery Electric