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Tony Iommi Shares Gear Choices for Black Sabbath’s ’13’ Album

Mary Ouellette,

Living legend Tony Iommi recently spent some time with Guitar World talking all things Black Sabbath. He spoke candidly about his ongoing battle with cancer, working with Ozzy Osbourne for the first time in nearly 35 years and other topics including how he got the grimy guitar tones for Sabbath’s latest album, ’13.’

When Iommi walked into the studio, producer Rick Rubin presented him with a huge collection of vintage amps, including an old Laney Klipp, with which Iommi already had some experience. He plugged it in despite his own warning that it would blow up. After an hour, it blew up. He put his foot down when they brought in four more the next day. “I’ve gone through all this and now I’m here, and somebody is telling me how to get my sound,” said Iommi. “That’s a bit weird. So I had to draw the line.”

He used his own Laney signature amps instead. He said when guitar players first got those vintage amps, people like the Who’s Pete Townshend always modified them to get their signature sounds. Iommi was no different. He used his signature Laney TI100, which had two inputs. He plugged into the bass channel, with a treble booster in front. After Rubin told him his sound was “too metal,” Iommi switched over to the treble channel.

As for guitars, he used a handful of his Jaydee custom-built “Old Boy” SGs. John Diggins, who’d toured with Iommi before, hand-built half a dozen SGs, which the guitarist has been playing ever since. He said that, while he liked his custom Gibson-built guitars, he didn’t use any on this record. Effects on the album were sparse. He only used an unknown chorus pedal and an old Tycobrahe wah wah pedal.

Black Sabbath is touring throughout the U.S. until Sept. 9. Then they go out on the South American leg of their tour before heading to Europe. For tour dates and news, check out their website.

Next: Bill Ward's Says He's Not Left Black Sabbath

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