Dave's Gear

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YamahaKeyboard900x900Dave VanAmburg is close to a minimalist compared to many musicians. His working philosophy is "Every tool's a toy, and every toy's a tool." (Of course, it does help to have a partner who owns enough equipment to produce three main stage acts simultaneously.)

He doesn't collect instruments. In fact, he has only owned four guitars in his life, three of which he still uses.

But he believes strongly in the quality of sound, which influences the equipment he chooses to use.


Dave's first guitar was his 1965 Gibson J-45, purchased new, which was originally modified by Pat Murphy and Tim Shaw, founders of Sunrise guitars and Sunrise pickups when they shared space with Charlie Wick's Sound Factory in Kalamazoo, MI.

The floating bridge was replaced with a Martin solid bridge for better sound transmission, and a Sunrise pickup installed. Subsequent work included installation of a Fishman pre-amp and pickup.

Luthier and guitarist, James Paolello now maintains Dave's guitars, and has modified the pre-amp for easier access to the battery. You can see some of James' work on his Facebook page.

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He briefly owned a Gibson ES-120, but sold that, and waited until 1980 to purchase a new-old stock 1970 Gibson ES-345 stereo.

The ES-345 has less than 100 hours of playing time on it and remains in pristine original condition.

Dave's friend, Ricky Borgia, former lead guitarist for Mink DeVille, played it one night, and fell in love with the guitar's gorgeous tone.

Despite its sound, Dave only pulls the ES-345 out for special occasions. He expects to sell the guitar this year.

Rather, he loves playing his 2017 Line 6 James Tyler Variax guitar. It has the look and feel of a Les Paul, with double humbucker pickups.

The guitar is fitted with extensive active electronics, including 28 modeled guitars, electric and acoustic.

It's pretty obvious that Dave has a love for red-toned guitars.

Other Instruments

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While Dave currently only plays guitar in live settings, his past performances have included many other instruments, which still get pulled out for recording sessions.

He has collected flutes from various custom craftsmen to complement a 1960s Gemeinhart flute purchased in 1970.

His prize possessions may be two Toots Thielmanns series Hohner chromatic harmonicas, since Toots signed them for him.

Dave works with keyboards in his studio, but will not take them on the road for live performances until 2020.

Outboard Gear

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Dave's approach to outboard gear is also simplistic. Rather than using pedal boards with multiple controllers, he has three pedal controllers, usually working  with just one.

He consistently uses a TC Helicon Voice Live 3 Extreme for guitar tone modification, including playing bass lines on select songs. He sometimes uses it for voice harmonization as well. The TC Helicon provides pre-amplification of the guitar signal, enabling him to plug directly into his PA for most performances.

He also has a Boss RC-300 Loop Station, using it for solo and some duo performances.

When playing the J-45, he sometimes uses a Tonewood amp.

When practicing and recording, he uses a Beat Buddy pedal for drum and percussion sounds, using MIDI to sync it to the other pedals.


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An advantage of having a music partner who owns a sound company is access to both deep knowledge and excellent equipment. Dave and Phil believe strongly in quality sound at volume levels that are comfortable to their audiences.

Their friend, drummer Tony Faranda was founder of A-Line Acoustics, which he since sold to Atlas Sound. Tony designed a wide-range of array systems, including the A-Line Elijah columns and a custom dual-amp sub which Dave and Phil use in stereo for most of their club gigs. The number of columns used varies to fit each room.

The A-Line arrays can be placed behind musicians, usually eliminating the need for typical monitors, and giving musicians the same sound mix as the audience. The arrays take little space are visually unobtrusive.

In almost all settings, they use Soundcraft UI-16 and UI-24R digital mixers with built-in WI-fi, controlled on stage by iPads.

As venues increase in size and sound complexity, they can bring in the appropriate equipment, up to large concert rigs.


Dave uses Dell Precision workstation laptops and Apple iPad Pros to control the mixer during performances, to select songs for performance and display charts for musicians.

He may also use the laptop to access backing tracks or video files, and the iPads to control MIDI functions if desired.


Read 3537 times Last modified on Friday, 31 May 2019 16:24
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