Warren Haynes Reveals One Special Feature of His Signature Les Paul, Explains Why He Takes So Many Guitars on Tour

While recently appearing in the new episode of Premier Guitar’s “Rig Rundown” show, Gov’t Mule leader and frontman Warren Haynes shared a few details behind the guitar and gear that he takes on tour. Among a lot of stuff that they looked into was also his signature Gibson Les Paul model, popularly known as “Chester.”

And while discussing it, he also explained how one of the instrument’s non-standard features works. Asked about this Les Paul, Haynes said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“This is my signature model Les Paul that is based on a ’58 body, ’59 neck, Burstbucker 1, Burstbucker 2 [pickups]… But the most unique thing about it is this switch that engages this buffer preamp that when when you turn the volume down, the tone doesn’t change.”

Warren Haynes Inspired By Les Paul

“So you can have it like a traditional Les Paul or you can have it where the tone doesn’t change when you adjust the volume. So it gives you more variety.”

What Haynes is explaining is that, in the normal mode, lowering the volume works as usual where you can even notice less gain when your distortion is on. But when the buffer is switched on, it works as if you’re turning down your master volume. So the sonic characteristics remain the same, only the overall volume is affected.

However, as he explains further, he’s still using the conventional mode most of the time. He just likes to have more options at his disposal. Warren continued:

“Most of the time, I don’t have it engaged. I only engage if I’m turned down really low and want to get the treble back. Otherwise, I’m so used to playing Les Pauls and I thrive on that tonal change. But it just gives you a lot more options. And, you know, I’ve been playing Les Pauls for so long that that’s kind of part of the vocabulary, so to speak.”

Warren Haynes Signature Les Paul At Guitar Center

When asked whether this is the same kind of guitar model that anyone can buy, Haynes replied:

“This is a prototype of the actual guitar. But yeah.”

He further added that this is his main instrument but that he also needs to carry a whole lot of other guitars on tour with him:

“And I play these guitars more than anything else. Even though I carry a lot of guitars, they’re mostly for different tunings. And then occasionally, some of them just to get a different sound. I have drop D, open D, open G, 12-string in open G, 12-string in drop D… At one point, I was carrying open A guitar around because it’s a pain to change them during the show. Because, as you know, guitars take a little bit to settle in.”

Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule) Talks Guitars

“And then also, all my Firebirds are tuned down a half step. And I have one guitar that’s tuned down a half step with the bottom string tune down an additional whole step that I play on the song ‘Bring on the Music.'”

“I have two different open C tunings. One has two Cs on the top and a drone for the first two strings, and the other one has an E on the top and then a C on the second string.”

“So sometimes if I write something or we record something in a certain tuning, then I need that guitar in case we play it. But we don’t play the same show every night, we play a different show every night. And it’s part of the reason that I have to drag around all these guitars which I would prefer not to do.”

Warren Haynes nearly brought to tears "Wish You Were Here" 11/8/20 Morris, CT

Going more into his guitars, Haynes also brought up his ES-335 and explained how it came to be:

“So this is a signature model [ES-]335 that Gibson made which is a copy of my 1961 Dot-neck 335. And they did an amazing job. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s my guitar.’ It looks exactly like my guitar. The neck feels exactly like my guitar. And it sounds as similarly as they could possibly make it.”

Asked about the pickups in this 335, Haynes replied:

“[They copied] the original PAFs. This has the newer pickup but you know I don’t have the ’61 with me on the road, I leave it at home but this one definitely sounds and plays very much like my guitar.”

Warren Haynes plays Gibson Signature ES-335 / Soulshine / The Allman Brothers Band

After playing a few licks, Haynes then added:

“You can hear the difference in the way the bass pickup and the treble pickup on those guitars work. They’re very different from each other. You have to like blend them in to get a lot of cool sounds.”

Photo: (Warren Haynes 2016 (12 von 14))


  • 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.