John Petrucci Explains Why He’s Not into Vintage Guitars, Recalls Odd Effect He Used on Dream Theater Classic

It’s been well over three decades since Dream Theater broke onto the scene and changed the game in metal music. Even to this day, they’re regarded as a go-to band for everyone looking to expand their horizons and approach the genre in a new way. Needless to mention, John Petrucci is still a synonym for virtuosic guitar playing, innovative songwriting, and overall great musicianship.

John Petrucci - Terminal Velocity (Official Video)

Since he’s someone who’s always approached the instrument in an unconventional way, Petrucci might cause some raised eyebrows in the guitar community. While chatting recently with Guitar World, the Dream Theater guitarist admitted that he’s “completely illiterate” when it comes to the vintage stuff.

During the chat, Petrucci was asked about “the most incredible find or bargain” in terms of gear. He answered:

“I feel like, if anything, I overpaid [laughs]. One of the things I got into for a while was Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ amps – obviously, they were made in the ’80s and they don’t make them anymore. I have a pretty good collection of those, but they can get expensive. I don’t know if I ever got a really good bargain where I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I got this for this.'”

The Holy Grail of Mesa Boogie Amplifiers | 1984 Mark IIC+

“But then again, I’m not a vintage guy at all. I’m completely illiterate in the world of vintage guitars and Les Pauls and Strats and all that stuff. I have a really big collection of my own models, my Ernie Ball Music Man guitars, and lots of Mesa/Boogie amps, and racks through the years. But I never really got into buying. Some guys are super into it, like Bonamassa, but for some reason, I never did that.”

Elsewhere during the interview, Petrucci was presented with one of the classic questions – would he rather go with an expensive guitar paired with a cheap amp or a cheap guitar paired with an expensive amp. He responded:

“I think it needs to start with the guitar, honestly, I really do. Because that’s the part you’re physically connecting with. It doesn’t mean the guitar has to be ridiculously expensive; it just has to be right for you.”

“But I know with a lot of young players, when they start out, and if they get something that’s not great, it could just make the learning experience that much more difficult. It’s a big learning curve with guitar – there’s that physicality you have to develop – and if you’re playing an instrument that’s really getting in your way, it could make that process slower.

He then recalled an old and unexpected piece of gear that he used on a Dream Theater classic song:

“On the second Dream Theater record, Images And Words, our most famous song on that album – actually the band’s most famous song [outright] – is Pull Me Under. That was our only radio hit. Well, the song opens up with a clean guitar line that was recorded on a little practice thing by Zoom.

“Remember the little Zoom thing you could clip on? That’s what that was recorded on. So if you know how to record and you have a good engineer, you can make a lot of things sound really good.”

The processor in question is most likely an old Zoom 9002, as the source suggests.

Zoom 9002 Guitar Effects with Headlong Preset Used By Brian May on Queen Innuendo

Photo: MorganaPhotolive (Dream Theater (27153401432))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.