The Complete Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Gear Guide

Nick Zinner, of New York band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, has certainly cemented his position as a true “guitar hero” for the 21st Century.

The sounds he gets from his guitar and his style of playing are truly unique, but it’s not that easy to find info on his gear on the web. We did some search for you, looked at some photographs and also dug out an old “Vice” magazine which published an interview with Nick Zinner, solely about his gear, over 2 years ago…here’s the complete Nick Zinner gear guide


His main guitars are a Fender Stratocaster and a custom First Act Delia , a pretty cool semi-acoustic.


Nick uses a Fender Hot Rod DeVille 212 (a favorite amongst several new indie bands, such as The Strokes, Bloc Party, Babyshambles and others) but also a small Vox Pathfinder 15 for his drum-machine (a Zoom RT-123, discontinued. Easy to find on ebay. There’s a new model, the Zoom RT-223). Nick said of this setup: “Lots of Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs feature a keyboard sound from this, like “Rich” and “Maps.” I like running the RT-123 through either a distortion pedal or a cheap amp…you can program loops into it. I have that through a foot pedal so I can turn it on and off with my foot while we’re playing”

FX Pedals:

According to a 2003 article, he used to have two Boss delays: the vintage DM-3 and the new Boss DD6. Nowadays, however, it seems Nick Zinner uses even more delay pedals! According to eyewitnesses, he has two Boss DD-6 onstage, as well as the Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, a Boss RC-20 Loop Station and 3 (!!!) Digitech Jamman pedals.

 DD-6Line 6 DL4Boss RC20XLDigitech JamMan

This is probably accurate…he seems to use lots of delay and loops to beef up the YYYs sound…on this photograph, you can see, on the left, a Digitech Jamman, and, on the right, the Line 6 DL4.

For Distortion, Nick used to have the classic Pro Co Turbo Rat (used by everyone from Radiohead to Sonic Youth) and now uses the Deucetone Rat. Apparently he also uses a Homebrew Power Screamer. He used to have a Octave Up Fuzz pedal as well, made for him by a Japanese company. We have no info whether he still uses it.

Procosound Deucetone RATElectro Harmonix POGDigitech XHP Hyper Phase

 Other pedals he uses is an Electro Harmonix POG, and a DigiTech Hyper Phase.

There are reports that his ever-growing pedalboard now also includes a Line 6 MM4 (Modulation Modeler), a Digitech Whammy, an Electro Harmonix HOG and an EHX 2880 as well.

Finally, in a video for the “Down Boy” song, he can be seen playing a MicroKorg.

Here’s what Nick Zinner himself said of some the pedals and FX he uses or have used:


“This pedal is advertised as a means to basically “play with yourself,” but I don’t like to use it that way. You can record a sound and have it play back as a loop (repeating indefinitely) and record on top of that, then record on top of that, and so on forever and ever. To me, it’s a sampler. I like to record and store sounds and parts of music I can’t reproduce live on it. The RC-20 is able to sample a sound that’s five minutes long.”


“Hands down, the greatest delay pedal. If you don’t know, delay is another word for echo. Play a note and it keeps repeating and repeating and repeating… triiiippy. The DL4, commonly referred to as “the green pedal,” digitally reproduces every type of delay effect and pedal, from analog tape echo to programmable backward digital delay. It also has a sample loop function, but unlike the RC-20, it’s not able to store the sound after it’s been turned off. I use this in the beginning of the YYY song “Maps” to keep that one note ringing through the whole damn song. Live, the green pedal usually gets the highest nod approval rating from the guitar players in the front row who stare at my hands and feet …”


“I prefer to use the RE-201, without the chorus, as a pre-amp/compressor with a slight amount of spring reverb. The Space Echo works by having a reel of tape which is continually fed through three heads that play back while recording, making an echo, or delay. By alternating the path of the playback within the heads, you can control the timing and pattern of the echo. All the old dub records were originally made using only these units.” [ the Space Echo is very rare and expensive, however, Boss has just released the RE-20 pedal, which faithfully reproduces the Space Echo sounds]


“Phase is produced by splitting a signal and shifting one of the sounds ever so slightly. The more you shift the signal, the more “whooooeeeeesh” effect you get. The pedal works by doing this through different frequency and sound-wave variations, recombining the effect with the original source sound at different speeds, with harmonic and non-harmonic relationships. Or something like that. Everything sounds “cool” through it, especially feedback, but please, use it sparingly. It can get very irritating.”


“My favorite new pedal. This is a Polyphonic Octave Generator, meaning you can make multiple real-time re-creations of the input sound in different registers, or octaves. I can play one note, and it sounds like a goddamned orchestra. Unlike most octave pedals, which have a slight delay in the output sound, this one is very fast and works with chords. This is all over the new YYY record [“Show Yr Bones”] Even though this pedal only came out like last year, Jack White already beat me by using one on the first single from the last White Stripes record [ “Blue Orchid”].”


Yeah Yeah Yeahs official website

Onstage interview with Nick Zinner

Vice interview with Nick Zinner



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~ by dolphinblog on September 3, 2007.

6 Responses to “The Complete Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Gear Guide”

  1. Thanks for the feature. I couldn’t find anything on Guitar Geek.

    I figured he used a JamMan or RC-something – but so many! Maybe he needs to get that big buggerin RC whatsit…

    BTW – any tips on getting an RC-thingy to sync with a drum machine? I use a ‘vintage’ DR-550 and the damn thing always goes out of sync….

  2. They say he actually uses a

    Fender Stratocaster (Japanese model, circa 1985) Not a american one

    The japanese one is cheaper and has smaller frets thats why kurt cobain used it so that he could use it to smash it at the end instead of wasting his own guitars..

  3. hi people. what channel would nick leave on his hotrod deville? cuz i heard that the overdrives don’t sound too good. cheers!

  4. Thanks a lot for very rare information!
    Was very amased that Nick use Line6, such a digital monster.

  5. Great article for a great guitar player; I love particulary Nick,I think he has a great touch on the guitar and I love the way he uses stuff for yyy songs that is very similar to mine; I mean using the loop station not to play with it,the pog… If u’re in trio these solution are the best if u don’t want to use computer;moreover for me it’s the new,modern way of indie music;see also ting tings..the 21st century do it yourself.

  6. I could really use advice on how he gets the amount of bass that he does in his songs. I’m sure a lot of it is studio work but I’ve seen him using an expression pedal for it, particularly in the performance of Down Boy on Letterman. I’m in a band and lack a bass player and I would like to keep it that way. The HOG looks like a good candidate, but I haven’t seen a demo yet of anybody playing it the way that he does or the way that I would use it.

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