When it comes to tone and volume, guitarists have a lot of options these days. From pedalboards to amps to switching techniques, the possibilities are almost endless. But in the following video, Tosin Abasi breaks down one of his favorite techniques: using a Melody Maker (a single-pickup Les Paul Junior with one tone and one volume knob) to control tone and volume with his right hand.
Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders is an inspiration to guitarists worldwide. His innovative style of playing, use of exotic scales, and his impressive use of 8-string guitars has made him the perfect artist to represent Ibanez Guitars. He is currently playing the Ibanez Iron Label RGIR20FE – an 8-string guitar with a pair of Dimarzio Ionizer pickups, as well as the Iron Label RGIB6 Baritone.
There has been much discussion regarding Tosin’s tone and volume controls. He doesn’t use traditional volume or tone pots, but rather uses a Melody Maker with individual volume controls for each pickup. This allows him to blend the two pickups in any way he wants and it also allows him to control his tone without having a single tone pot that controls both pickups at once.
Here is an example of what Tosin can do with this setup:
In the world of guitar playing, Tosin Abasi is a bit of a unicorn. The young, Washingtonian virtuoso has been given the mantle of “guitar god” by his peers and fans alike. His band, Animals as Leaders, has been at the forefront of the djent movement and they have released three records that feature some of the most technical and well-composed instrumental music around today. Perhaps even more impressive than his compositions is his mastery of the guitar—he can play things that no other human being can.
With all this in mind, it’s only natural to wonder how he does what he does. Some of it is talent and practice; however, a lot of it comes down to equipment and technique. In this column we will explore exactly how Tosin controls tone and volume on his Melody Maker with such ease, even while performing some extremely difficult passages.
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders has gained a reputation for his shredding skills and distinct sound. In the video below, the guitarist demonstrates how he uses one of his many custom guitars by Ibanez, the RG2228, to achieve his unique tones.
The guitar is equipped with a Melody Maker pickup in the bridge position and an Air Norton neck pickup. The first tone is achieved using a Fuzz Factory pedal by Z.Vex Effects without any distortion from the amp. It is then set to a clean tone on the guitar itself. For volume control, Tosin uses an Ernie Ball VP Jr. volume pedal that is wired to split between two amps: a Marshall JCM800 and a Peavey 5150 II. The second tone is achieved by using the same fuzz pedal but connecting it after the amplifier’s distortion channel.
What is the one effect that most guitar players can’t live without? In my opinion, it’s the volume control. We need to be able to adjust our volume on the fly and have the ability to raise and lower it based on our performance needs. A lot of us use the volume knob in a similar way to how we use a guitar amp’s gain knob – instead of using it as an actual volume control, we set it at a certain position, and then tap into our sound by rolling off the volume knob.
In this video, Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) explores his other favorite control on his guitar: the tone knob. Tosin explains how he uses his tone knob to adjust between two tones – a bridge pickup sound and a neck pickup sound. He also talks about how he uses this function to create interesting sounds when playing in different positions on the fretboard.
Tosin demonstrates this technique with an example from his song “The Woven Web”. He plays through the riff while discussing how he uses his tone and volume knobs throughout the song. After breaking down the riff, he plays through it again, but this time with both hands on camera so you can see exactly what he’s doing with both controls.
Tosin Abasi is the guitarist and founding member of Animals as Leaders. He has two signature guitars, both made by Ibanez. The RG2228 (8 string) and the RG2228-GK (7 string) are his main guitars. He also has a custom 6 string guitar, made by Strandberg Guitars.
Tosin uses a number of techniques to achieve his signature sound.
One technique he uses is called “tapping”. This technique involves using both hands on the fret board to generate notes. Tosin tends to use this technique with the guitar in a standing position.
Another technique he uses is called “sweeping”. This technique involves using the right hand to strum continuously across strings in quick succession.
He also utilizes a number of effects pedals to achieve his sound, including: three Boss TU-2 Tuners, two Boss DD-7 Delay Pedals, an MXR Phase 90 Phaser/Vibe pedal, a Digitech Whammy IV pedal and a BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal.
Tosin Abasi is an American guitarist and composer best known as the founder of the instrumental progressive metal band Animals as Leaders. He is also a member of the technical/progressive metal supergroup T.R.A.M., alongside fellow Animals as Leaders band mate Javier Reyes, Ex-The Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen and Suicidal Tendencies and former Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete de la Peña. In 2008, Tosin Abasi was named the