Dave Grohl is a man of many talents. From his thundering drums on Nirvana’s discography to his guitar slinging, songwriting prowess for alt-rock superheroes the Foo Fighters. You’ve probably heard something this mans talents has graced over the years.
What is really surprising is that for an artist with such a varied catalogue of work, his rig as a guitar player is very, very simple, and always has been.
Through the history of the Foo Fighters, Dave’s rig has remained essentially unchanged. His pedal board is modest. The core pedals he uses are the Boss DM-2 Delay, Boss DD-3 Delay and MXR Phase 90. On the first Foo’s album Dave used a ProCo Rat Distortion for a handful of overdubbed guitar parts but there is no evidence this pedal made it into his live rig. There are also a handful of live pedal board photographs that show the inclusion of a Keeley Katana Boost but it is assumed this was just to push a specific amp he might have been using rather than a part of his core tone.
- Boss TU-2
- Boss DM-2 Delay
- Boss DD-3 Delay
- MXR Phase 90
Most photos of Grohl’s pedalboard show a Boss Chromatic Tuner at the front. Some photos show a pair of these (Possibly one for acoustic use). It is not clear if this is a TU2 or TU3 but they are more or less the same pedal.
Boss DM2/Boss DD-3 Delay
Over the years, both of these delay pedals have appeared on Dave’s board. There is not a lot of information online about what exactly this pedal is used for and there does not seem to be any indication that Dave plays any prominent delay lines during any Foo Fighters song. This pedal could be used a slapback style pedal for ambience.
MXR Phase 90
Dave doesn’t use effects a lot. The bulk of his tone comes from his guitar and his amp. The Phase 90 makes is biggest appearance in the intro to the song Breakout. Dave set the speed knob to 11 o clock.
Dave Grohl has used an extensive collection of guitars over the Foo Fighters career. The interesting thing with Dave’s rig is that no single guitar is essential to his tone. He has maintained a consistent style through the bands career with his minimalist rig. He has used various guitars over the years and in all truth, any of these guitars can be used to recreate his tone. Here are a few of the most recognisable from over the years.
- Gibson DG-335
- Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite
- Gibson Firebird
- Gibson Les Paul Custom
In recent years, the most common guitar in Dave’s hands live is his signature DG-335 from Gibson. This is a pelham blue style ES-335 with a Firebird style headstock. The guitar was inspired by a Gibson Trini Lopez from the 1960s that Dave came into possession of. The DG-335 also has diamond shaped holes in place of the typical F holes on these style guitars.
Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite
The Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite made an appearance in the video for All My Life and subsequent tours. This guitar is made from a material called Lucite which is a form of clear plexiglass. The guitar has a rosewood fretboard and a wooden bridge as well as an interchangeable pickup system that clips in and out off place.
In 2007 the Gibson Firebird was used in the video for The Pretender. This offset body style with a pair of humbuckers was the perfect guitar to be slung low on Dave during this hard rocking era of the bands career.
Gibson Les Paul Custom
In the early days of the band, you would see Dave with his white or black Gibson Les Paul Custom. This guitar was his mainstay through the early part of the Foos career. These Les Paul Customs were used extensively on the tour for the bands first album.
Amplifiers and Cabinets
- Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier/Road King
- Vox AC30
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier/Road King
For the heavy moments, Dave would use his Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amp. All the overdrive comes directly from the amp with no drive pedals being used in the chain at all. During the recording sessions for the bands debut album, it is reported that a JCM900 was also used but for live use it has always been the Dual Rectifier. In recent years Dave has migrated to the Mesa Boogie Road King for his heavy tone.
The AC30 is the clean amp of choice and it remains in Dave’s live rig to date. He uses the amp live and switches it on using an A/B switch for when he needs to engage a clean tone.