Megadeth leader and frontman Dave Mustaine recently discussed his decision to switch over to digital modeling amps for live shows, as opposed to conventional amps and rigs. During his appearance on The Jeremy White Show, Mustaine was asked about using Neural DSP Quad Cortex and why he and Kiko Loureiro opted for such a solution compared to the widely-used Bradshaw rigs, developed by Bob Bradshaw and made by Custom Audio Electronics.
Asked on the matter, Mustaine replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):
“Well, let’s be honest about what the Neural [DSP Quad Cortex] is. It’s quite an incredible piece of machinery. And I stopped using Bradshaw long time ago for a reason. And I went over to Rocktron. And we were using Rocktron and then we switched over to Furaman.”
According to Eqipboard, Dave used the Rocktron Prophesy processing unit. And as Dave further explained, it all came down to trimming down the extra fat and just using what they needed to use, not only making their setup simpler but their tone better in the process as well. He added:
“And as we did that, we started to narrow down all the extra peripheral gear. All of it was rack-mounted, but still, it was a lot of extra stuff in the signal path that you don’t really need and you don’t really want.”
“So you try and get that sound out of the amp. Make sure that the guitar’s got a good sound too. Because if the guitar sounds like a dog, all you’re doing is polishing a turd. You’re not going to really have sound that you’re going to love hearing.”
Going more into the matter, Dave also explained how excited he gets to play live when his guitar sound is good:
“I love my sound, it makes me so excited every night to go out there and play. My favorite time every night, when we played this song, is the breakdown within the ‘Conjuring.’ That is the epitome of a heavy metal sound and a heavy metal riff.”
Going back to the Neural DSP Quad Cortex unit, Dave also elaborated on how important it is to have something compact and practical on the road today, especially with today’s rising costs:
“So I think if you took all the little elements that’s inside of the Neural and you laid them out, I don’t think it would be quite as underwhelming. But part of why we did that is so that we can travel more and we can travel more economicaly so that we can go to countries that aren’t as blessed as Canada.”
“For example, we’re going to Estonia, very small country, not a lot of people live there in the first place. So it stands to reason the demographic and the percentile of the heavy metal fans there is going to be even if it’s 50% of the population, it’s still gonna be not a lot of people.”
“Because you have to factor in on top of the fact if they’re a fan whether they go to live music or not. So you’ve got situations where you’re playing places that are smaller and and it’s really important to get there and having economy with your gear is really important.”
Neural DSP has launched their Quad Cortex unit sometime in the late 2020. And now, almost three years later, the Quad Cortex is one of the most popular digital-based alternatives to real tube-driven amps.
In an interview from earlier this year, Mustaine also discussed his somewhat unexpected decision to switch over to Gibson guitars. One of the planned models is also his signature 24-fret Les Paul and he said of it:
“It’s got my Seymour Duncan pickups and Grover tuners. It’s got my handpicked burst finish. We’ve shaved the back of a neck down where it meets the body for easier access for soloing. [With] most Les Pauls, access stops around the 21st fret, but with mine, you can get all the way to the 24th.”
“That extra access lets you nestle your hand in the cutaway on the back, which is a significant design change. The headstock is the classic Les Paul headstock. But it does not have the Gibson Custom Shop inlay; I’ve got my little insignia. The part I’m still working on is the poker chip. I can’t decide if I want cream or black. I’m leaning toward black, but I’m still mulling it over.”
Asked whether his Gibson Flying Vs inspired the new Les Paul design, he replied:
“I’m known for using Vs, but I’ve been planning this with Gibson for around 18 months. I’ve always wanted to design a Les Paul for thrash players but never got around to it. And Gibson was pleasantly surprised with the orders for my V, so we made it happen.
“I went to the Gibson factory a couple of weeks ago, and when I got there, every room had my Vs stacked up and being built. The success of the V has been incredible; I’ve never seen anything like it when I’ve visited the ESP or Dean factories.”
“My first electric guitar was an $80 Gibson SG copy; after that, I got a Les Paul copy. Not long after I started playing in Panic, I started using an Ibanez Destroyer, a copy of a Gibson Explorer. And when I joined Metallica, I came upon the V, but I didn’t think much of it because of the weird shape. I didn’t think it was very playable, but I soon realized its versatility because I could do a lot with it once I got comfortable.”
“Once I learned I could rest the guitar between my legs, that was a game changer in the studio. With that, I could take my hands off the guitar and have them float instead of holding the neck upright to keep a grip. And I eventually got comfortable with it live, too. After that, I became fascinated with its beautiful shape; it’s iconic. So much so that it’s become a signature of what I do in Megadeth.”