THE CANADIAN MUSIC SCENE

CONTACT US | CONCERTS | FESTIVALS



RUSH - Time Machine Road Crew Interviews RUSH - THE ROAD CREW INTERVIEWS

Scott Appleton - Alex's Guitar Tech


 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Scott Appleton Alex Lifeson Guitar Tech with Les Paul Axcess with Tea Burst

Scott Appleton with Les Paul Axcess with Tea Burst

 
  What is the average show day like for Alex's hard working guitar tech?

Scott's day usually starts shortly after 10:00 when all of Alex's equipment gets unloaded off of the truck. Alex's guitars and Scott's cases containing the equipment he needs to work on the guitars are moved to the stage right area. These are followed by Alex's backline, pedals, and mic stand.

Scott starts working on the guitars while waiting for the stage to become available for the on-stage gear.

Depending on the usage of the guitar during the show, re-stringing ranges from everyday-ever other day for the signature axcess, and ES-355 guitars to once every 7-8 shows for the black Les Paul that is only used a few times during the show.

I asked Scott if there was any special tuning for this tour... 2112 is dropped a whole step and Stick It Out uses Drop D...

I also asked if there are any venues that present more challenges than others... indoor venues are more difficult... he first tunes after re-stringing, the venue usually starts cooling down getting ready for the crowd so there is a temperature change, then the crowd arrives, another temperature change, when the show starts with all of the lighting there is another temperature changes... finally some indoor venues only have a thin layer of wood covering the ice, this also adds fluctuations in temperature... so basically tuning is an all show task...

After prepping the guitars Scott usually tries to grab some lunch.

The stage is usually available sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Alex's backline is rolled into place followed by his pedals, mic, and keyboard. Video and CO2 are hooked up providing all of the steampunk effects.

Scott and the sound engineers try to do a complete line check around 4:00 pm, this ensures that all of Alex's sound sources are working and being fed to the monitor and FOH (Front Of the House) mixers.

The guys show up at 5:00 pm to run through a 30 to 45 minute soundcheck.

After soundcheck Scott hopes to get a quick dinner in, if the show start time is at 7:30 pm, Scott needs to back at his station around 6:30 to check the tuning on all of the guitars again, get towels, water and such ready for Alex.

As soon as the show is over, Scott starts putting away the guitars, his work area and packing up the rest of the equipment and ensuring that is gets back stage ready to be loaded on the trucks. How long does this take, surprisingly not that long. Scott figures it takes 30-45 minutes. Then time to head to the bus to relax, enjoy some refreshments and get ready to head to the next venue.

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex and Geddy's Backline Waiting Backstage

Alex and Geddy's Backline waiting backstage...

 
  Let's get into some of Alex's gear...

Alex is using Hughes & Kettner Alex Lifeson Signature amps, in his rack he has two, the top amp has all of the effects running through it. All of the effects are in mono. The next signature amp is run dry (no effects). This is done to help Brad Maddix with the FOH sound. In some venues using only the wet or effects amp can be way to distorted. Brad will mix the effects sound with the clean to obtain a more listenable sound. The bottom amp is a Hughes & Kettner Coreblade which has built in effects. Examples of when Alex uses this amp are the last note of the solo for Limelight and the spacey type sound Alex gets for Presto. As you will see in a picture of Alex's amp setup below, there are two sets of these amp combinations, this of course is if one fails, the system will switch over to the other set of amps.

In the Effects Rack...

Cry Baby DCR2SR Rack Mount Wah, Mesa-Boogie Proessional High Gain Amplifier Switch, Behringer XR4400 Multigate Pro, Axess Electronics GRX4 Guitar/Router Switcher, Digital Music Corp - Dual Stereo Line Mixer, TC Electronics - TC 1210 Spatial Expander + Stereo Chorus/Flanger, 4 TC Electronics G-Force Effects Processor, 4 Palmer PDI-03 Speaker Simulator, Fractal Audio Systems - Axe-Fx Ultra Pre-amp - Effects Processor, Furman Power Conditioner

The first two TC Electronics G-Force effects processor units are used for delay, the third unit is used for reverb with occasional pitch shifting, flanging, the fourth unit is used as a stand alone flanger. The Fractal Audio Axe-Fx effects processor is used as a backup in case any of the G-Force units fail.

The smaller rack contains all of the wireless gear (sorry we did not get into the details on this gear).

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's Backline Setup on the stage

Alex's Backline setup on stage...

 
  Some other facts and information on Scott...

On this tour Scott makes 14 guitar changes...

Besides being used on Vital Signs, the Fender Telecaster is Alex's primary guitar when writing songs...

Several of Alex's guitars, including the two new Axcess Signature models, have Piezo acoustic pickups built into the guitar's bridge, these pickups provide the acoustic sound using the electric guitar...

When the guys were working on BU2B and Caravan at Blackbird Studios, Alex brought his own guitars but used amps already at the studio and a few that producer Nick Raskulenecz brought including a 30 Watt HiWatt (Scott thought sounded amazing and is looking for one), a Bogner Uberschall, and a VOX Vintage '63 AC30.

Scott has played all around the world as a touring musician, guitar of course. A friend recommend that he move to Nashville where he worked at music store and various other gigs until one day another friend (who was the drum tech for Peter Frampton's band) recommend he apply for the guitar tech job for Peter's band, which he landed, looking after Bob Mayo and also bassist, John Regan. he also tech'ed with the B-52's (Rock Lobster), Styx, before tech'ing for Journey's, Neil Schon for 7 years. Before working with Alex he tech'ed for Def Leppard's, Phil Collen. Alex's old guitar tech, Bucky signed up with Rascal Flatts and could not leave, he called Scott and hooked him up with Alex.

So what does a great guitar tech like Scott do after the Time Machine tour... the very next day after the tour ended, he joined Def Leppard on the road once again tech'ing for Phil Collen...

Once again thanks to Pegi and Anna for allowing this to happen, Meghan and Kevin for your help on the road... and definitely not last or least, Scott Appleton, I ended up taking up a fair bit of your time but your stories in this article and just between us I thoroughly enjoyed, THANK YOU and I hope to see you again backstage for RUSH or whoever!

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Back of Alex's Hughes & Kettner Custom Cab

What's inside one of Alex's custom Hughes & Kettner Cab...

In the bottom are all the video cables...

On top are the CO2 feeds for the steam effect... plus an H&K Speaker Cabinet...

Did you notice that Alex had a lot less sound problems on the 2011 leg of the tour...

The speakers were not being used, and not being picked up in his vocal mic, much cleaner mix in his ear...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Scott Working on Alex's Black Les Paul

Scott working on Alex's black Les Paul...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Closeup of some of the steampunk effects on the cabinets

Close up of some of the steampunk effects on Alex's Custom Hughes & Kettner Cabinets...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Closeup of some of the steampunk effects on the cabinets

Close up of some of the steampunk effects on Alex's Custom Hughes & Kettner Cabinets...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's Guitar Rack

Alex's Guitar Rack...

Each guitar has the wireless transmitter on the strap...

Some have two... the second transmitter is for the piezo pickup which makes the guitar sound like and acoustic guitar...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's Hughes & Kettner Amps and Effects Rack

Stage Right...

Alex's Hughes & Kettner Amps and Effects Racks...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's Hughes & Kettner Amps

Alex's Hughes & Kettner Amps...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's Effects Rack

Alex's Effects Racks...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's On Stage Area

Alex's on Stage Area...

 
 
RUSH Time Machine Tour - Alex's On Stage Area

Alex's on Stage Area...