Nerd Stuff

We love guitars and basses. We love amps. We love pedals. We love vintage guitar tones. And cool sounding drums. And fat horns. We really dig some cool Hammond B3 or Rhodes sounds. Here we take the freedom of talking about gear’n’stuff: guitars, basses, amps, pedals and other stuff used by the Mills-Tones… Really geeky.

Steffen „Little Steve“ Strauß plays:


2002 Fender Highway 1 Stratocaster, teal green, maple neck, Kloppman ST60 Pickups w/ treble bleed circuit, Kluson steel block tremolo: I bought this guitar new in a store in Erfurt in 2002. I played hundreds of gigs with this thing (scratches are for real, no relicing involved) and it is just a very light and comfortable guitar to play. in 2019 I had the neck and frets set up properly by a luthier who also put in a new tremolo with a steel block that replaced the original die cast unit. (but it is basically locked down to the body, I don’t use it anyway and this helps sustain and tuning stability) I also installed Andreas Kloppmann’s ST60 Strat pickups and a treble bleed circuit and now there’s just nothing more to upgrade… It just twangs and sings away for bluesy and funky tunes with clean tones to die for.

2003 Fender Telecaster (MIM), burgundy red, Leosound Standard 60s Telecaster Pickups w/ treble bleed circuit, Fender Vintage Bridge Bought this used from a friend in 2004 or so. I recently replaced the stock 6-saddle bridge with a vintage correct Fender 3-saddle bridge (who needs correct intonation when you have TWANG?!) and put in some Leosound Standard 60s pickups with a treble bleed circuit. It’s now a brandnew guitar with those great Tele sounds. With the Mills-Tones I use this mostly for „Go get out there“ in Open G Tuning, capoed at the 2nd fret.

2014 Gibson SG Standard, Cherry Red, Gibson Classic 57 pickups
I always wanted a Gibson, of course. A Les Paul was out of my price range and also too heavy. I also really dug the style of the SG shaping and loved the tones of this guitar in the hands of some heroes such as Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Angus Young and Derek Trucks. So I sold my old Epiphone Les Paul Classic and saved some cash for this baby. This is a 2014 Standard SG which was originally fitted with an auto tune system at the headstock that I didn’t really need and replaced with Kluson Vintage Tuners after a while. The Classic 57 pickups can both be split via push-pull pots for some more clean twang (that I also don’t really use). It’s just a very light and comfortable guitar to play both for standard and slide playing and it sings with a driven amp. Careful with that neck though! It’s just a tooth pick.

Marathon ES335 copy with Gibson Classic 57 pickups, 60s wiring
This is my brother in law’s guitar that I upgraded with Gibson 57 pickups with 60s wiring together with my dad. This is some frustrating work changing pickups on those semis! In the end it worked out well and this sounds and plays really good I think. I wonder how it would stand up against a real 335? Anyone out there up for an A/B comparison? It has a nice flamed maple top and it sustains for days. Very much as Nigel Tufnel would say: You hit a note, go out and have a bite and it still sounds when you get back.

Cort MR710F Acoustic
Just a very usable and affordable acoustic with a solid sitka spruce top. Sounds and plays great. I always use this together with the tc electronics BodyRez pedal to make the piezo pickups sound more natural through the PA. We use acoustic guitars on our original tunes „Long way from home“ and „Where you will be“.


Marshall SV20 H
I thought about this thing since it came out in 2019 or so. A plexi head that delivers the legendary tones at usable volumes (How could anyone stand a 100 watt head on a club stage nowadays?) – what’s not to like? I just got this recently as a christmas present to myself. I only tested this with a Torpedo loadbox and a vintage Marshall cab IR at home so far, but man! This could be my go to amp for now. It has great response to picking attack and the guitar’s volume control, it goes from clean to scream in a heartbeat. It has those deep low mids that just punch you in the gut. I’m still wondering which cab I can use it with in the Mills-Tones. The 4×12 is just too impractical: big, heavy and too loud for most of our coming gigs I guess. I have some open back 1x12s from MesaBoogie with Greenbacks in them. We’ll see if those will be punchy enough to satisfy me. Maybe I will have a look around for a nice 2×12. If anyone has a good offer, get back to me!

Update: Because of some weird fortune I won a lottery thing with and they gifted me with 1000 bucks to invest in gear. Needless to say, I couldn’t resist and apart from some other things for the band I acquired this beautiful vintage style Marshall 2×12 cabinet with Greenback speakers. I am a lucky bastard…. I just love the tone both from the 4×12 and 2×12 with this awesome amp. This is my go to rig now. It has tons of tone and is plenty loud!

1996 Fender Blues DeVille Reissue w/ 4×10″ blue alnico speakers, 60w 6L6
I bought this used from a guy in Dresden in the early 2000s. At the time, I still thought „the bigger the better“. Soon found out this thing can never be turned a hair over 2 on the volume. This is a back-breaking, LOUD 60 watt beast and can only be tamed for stage or rehearsal use with an attenuator. But cranked to at least 5 on the clean channel, the MXR micro amp engaged and the bright switch on, those 4x10s deliver some classic Fender blues tone. For lack of comparison I can’t tell if this is in Bassman or Super Reverb territory, but with a Strat this one does get SRV-ish when you dig in hard. This amp really cuts through on stage, not only for the loudness but also the frequency response of those 10″ speakers. The smaller Fender BluesDeluxe is the more popular amp, but I really kind of love/hate this DeVille. On some days this seems to sound awful, but on others it’s just a beautiful thing. Really weird. It always looks the part with the tweed covering though.

Fender `65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue w/ 12″ Celestion Greenback speaker, 22 watts 6V6
This is just a go-to amp for all stages that sounds great on not too loud volumes and takes all sorts of pedals well. You basically never go wrong with a Deluxe Reverb. JP plays one, too, so I try to use a different amp to get some distinct second guitar sound on stage. So far we have never A/B-ed both our Deluxes. They should sound differently though, since I have a Celestion Greenback speaker in there and Johannes has the stock Jensen. I bought mine used from a jazz guitarist in Göttingen who needed more headroom from a Fender Twin or something.

Marshall JCM900 (Hi-Gain Master Volume Mk III 2500 Model) single channel 50w head (EL34) and matching 4×12 cab
This one I bought from some kind of private vintage dealer in Göttingen for a relatively small price. It was mainly used by the other guitarist of my rock band deathmetaldiskoclub. I always wanted a Marshall stack. They are too big, too heavy, too loud for any stage nowadays – but still cool anyways. Those single channel JCM900s were only built in small numbers by Marshall in the early 90s. Basically a hot-rodded JCM800 with more gain and two master volumes. It is capable of producing some vintage-y tones, but just plain too loud and to „hard rock“ for Mills-Tones gigs. Fun fact: those things not only go to 11, but to 20! This combination of head and cab was in some weird „hand-spray-painted in white“ condition, so I replaced the cloth with Bluesbreaker style striped cloth on both the head and cabinet.

Orange Terror Stamp
This is a very practical backup amp in a pedal format, the Tiny Terror in a pedal enclosue. With a tube driven preamp and a 20 Watt digital power amp, this thing delivers great and loud tones into any cabinet or directly to the PA with a speaker simulated output. With a 4×12 this is loud and punchy and delivers great crunchy Orange rock tones. Dial back the gain and it is a great clean pedal plattform including an effects loop for reverb etc. JP plays this in our rehearsals through a Mesa/Boogie 1×12 cab and he gets great tones with his drive pedals.


TC electronics tuner
Nothing to say about this…

Fulltone 69 Fuzz
Still trying to get a grip on this thing. It sounds great, but it’s not a regular on my pedal board and I need to think about which song it would fit in. It sings and screams, but also cleans up very nicely, especially with a Strat.

Crybaby Wah
Not a regular on my board, but I use it on „Break in the road“ or some of the Clapton tunes we do.

Ibanez TS7 Tubescreamer
This particular version of the screamer is some ugly f***er, but it sounds just about the same as the standard green reissues. Plus it has knobs that stay in position!

Fulltone OCD
My standard go-to overdrive. Some love/hate relationship here. On stage I sometimes think it sounds awful, but when I listen to the performance on a recording it is really quite the opposite. It’s just a nice natural overdrive that gets you in quite some blues-rocking territory.

Nobles ODR-1 Mini
This is a great little drive that pushes some bass and sounds great especially with single coils. It doesn’t focus on the mids or cuts bass as a Tubescreamer, but sounds much fuller. I really like this one for the Strat and Tele.

MXR Micro Amp
This is mostly on for single coil guitars to match the signal strength of humbucker guitars. It also pushes the amps nicely to get some more grit and volume for solos and gives the tone something extra „sparkly“.

Dunlop EP103 Echoplex Delay
Just recently aquired, this is sounds great but I find it a little hard to use, since the Mix control goes from „very much in the background“ to „too much noisy echo“ in a very small space in my opinion. But great for clean tones of course.

TC electronics viscous vibe (Univibe)
I love those late Hendrix UniVibe tones on „Hey Baby“ or „Machine Gun“. For modulation I never liked Chorus pedals, I’d rather have a UniVibe or a Leslie. This tc electronics pedal is a cheap and very flexible way to get those UniVibe tones. It has this crazy TonePrint option, with which you can beam presets from your phone app through the pickups to the pedal. It’s a kind of magic…

Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere (Leslie)
I found this on ebay for a good price (they don’t build them anymore). It is a Leslie simulation with a built in tube for some drive. It has the slow Leslie (instant „Badge“ by Cream) and fast Leslie (instant „Cold Shot“ by SRV) as well as a breaker switch to stop the swirl. It sounds awesome and I’m really proud to own one. It was designed by the now famous German guitar player Thomas Blug. It is a big and unpracticable thing as well, but what can you do… It goes into the effects loop of the amps for less noise.


Ernie Ball Slinky strings (10-46), Tube Amp Doctor Silencer (attenuator), Dunlop 1mm picks, Sennheiser E609 and Tbone R700 mics

Steve’s corner of loud

Johannes Park plays:


Fender Classic Player Baja Telecaster Vintage Blonde
Everything stock except the S1 switch, which I replaced with a standard volume pot after it broke. Didn’t use the out-of-phase sound very much anyway.

American Standard Strat 2007 Olympic White
Everything stock but I replaced the original pickups with Custom Shop 69s and got rid of the no-load tone pot and wiring.


Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb RI
Everything stock.

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 1993
Used as a backup. Sounds nice but is plenty loud.

pedals (in order of signal chain)

Korg Pitchblack Tuner
It’s a tuner. That’s what I tune the guitar with. It seems to work.

Xotic EP Booster
It’s a booster, that replicates the old Echoplex preamp sound. I use it to lift up the volume of the CS strat pickups to match the slightly hotter ones of the tele. It also gives the Strat a little push in the low mids, which works well with the low output vintage pickups.

Xotic RC Booster
Is used as a solo boost. Great boost pedal.

Xotic BB Preamp
Replicates the old Bluesbreaker circuit. Great sounding OD, I pretty much leave it on all the time.

Ibanez TS9
A classic. Bought it new in the 90s. Still going strong.

Proco Rat 2
Just the standard rat. Used for more gainy stuff. With distortion way down, and filter way up it sounds good.

TC Electronic Flashback 2
Pretty much always on. Either a slapback (Josh Smith tone print) or a slightly longer delay Robben Ford style (love Robben).