My Bloody Valentine are back! Here’s the gear guide…(UPDATED OCTOBER 2008! Exclusive new info on the Web!)

My Bloody Valentine, the influential British “shoegaze” band of early 90s are back. The tickets for their comeback gig in June 2008 went on sale last week and sold out in just 6 minutes!


Kevin Shields’ sound has been topic of thousands of message boards threads and articles since they last released an album, in 1991. My Bloody Valentine were one of the (or perhaps “the”) loudest bands on earth, and one of their songs was reportedly so loud members of the audience would faint…

Here’s what we hope is the most comprehensive Kevin Shields/ My Bloody Valentine equipment list on the web…find out all (or most) of the gear they have used in the past and in their current comeback tour, including guitars, effects pedals and amps!



READ OUR LIVE REVIEW! The Guitar Player Blog was at the Manchester Apollo gig and we wrote a review for the new Music Planet magazine. Read it here!



The big hiatus since My Bloody Valentine walked the Earth and released an album has only served to feed the myth, and one of the hot topics amongst MBV fans has always been “how did Kevin Shields come up with that sound?” With scarce info from the man himself, this subject has been an open field for speculation, wrong leads and the occasional spot on info. Here’s a look at all the info we could gather from all those sources, and some new info. We may not be always 100% correct – it’s been pretty difficult to gathar all that info already! – but this is most definitely the most comprehensive list and info source on My Bloody Valentine that you’re likely to find on the web!

Here’s a look at the gear MBV used, and how to sound like them (you can try, anyway!)

Kevin Shields Gear (Loveless Tour)

– Two Marshall Guv’Nor Distortion pedals (during Isn’t Anything era. Discontinued, replaced by the Guv’nor 2

According to a roadie, for Loveless live shows he used – Digitec Whammy, Boss EH-2 enhancer, Boss PQ-4, 2 x Boss GE-7, Boss T-Wah, Pro-Co Turbo Rat, Roger Mayer Axis & Mongoose, Marshall Guv’nor, Jim Dunlop Roto-Vibe, Boss Tremolo/Pan (Boss PN-2 to be specific), Digitech PDS-8000 (now replaced by the Jamman), ADA Pre-amp, MidiVerb2 (made by Alesis for those who don’t know), SPX90 x 2 and 3 x JCM800’s (only 2 amps were actually running) JCM’s valved with EL34′s and ECC83‘s (including phase split).

The Midiverb 2 has been discontinued, but you can still find it on Ebay or try and go for the Alesis Midiverb 4, which is really good and not even that expensive! Shoegaze bands who love MBV seem quite happy using this unit…

Unfortunately the Boss PN-2 has been discontinued. While Behringer doesn’t release their new version of it (the TP300 out next year) the best option is the Dunlop Tremolo Pan, excellent and used by artists such as Black rebel Motorcycle Club.


And here’s some quotes from Kevin Shields:

“As for effects, says Kevin, “There’s no chorusing or anything like that. But there’s one very definite effect that I do use, and that’s reverse reverb, mostly on a Yamaha SPX90. It inverts a normal reverb envelope without making the notes backwards. There are certain settings I use that, along with the way I have the tone of the guitar set up, create a totally melted sort of liquid sound. I don’t use any of the original, dry guitar signal; it’s purely the reverb. When I use that sort of effect on guitar, that means there’s one guitar on the track. A song like ‘Soon’ has got three guitars. But the bulk of the sound is just from one guitar.”

“Ninety percent of what we do is just a guitar straight into an amp.” (Alan Di Perna, Guitar World, March 1992, Pg. 25-26)

 “People think its all pedals, but all my pedals are graphic equalizers and tone controls. Its all in the tone.” (Steve Double, NME November 9, 1991, pg. 14)

The Marshall RF-1 Reflector reverb pedal has an amazing reverse reverb and is very affordable. Very good for My Bloody Valentine sounds!

The other MBV guitarist, Belinda Butcher, used a Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal, and the Boss GE-7 equalizer. She also used Marshall amps.

OF COURSE, one essential piece of My Bloody Valentine kit are the Fender Jaguar and Fender Jazzmaster guitars. Get one of those and use the vibrato arm a lot…


After attending their earth-shaking, ear-shattering, awesome gig at the Manchester Apollo last Sunday 29th June, and analyzing some recent photographs, here’s a few more details we can bring to you, previously not found ANYWHERE ELSE on the web!

Kevin Shields actually uses between 6 to 8 amps at any one gig, using a pedalboard to select which amp. The amps include not only the usual Marshal stacks, but JMI and Vox amps (AC30 head?), a Divided by 13 stack, and a Fender Tone-Master head. A couple might be switched off, like spare or whatever, but most amps onstage were definitely turned on and miked, and when the roadie was setting up the guitar you could see him using this pedalboard to select different amps:

Kevin Shields pedalboard one

Kevin Shields pedalboard one

The pedalboard is also probably used to control the rack units.

Belinda also had Marshall stacks and a Vox head/ cab combo. We could find no images of any pedals.

Here’s a good pic of the amp setup (click to enlarge):

Besides playing the usual assortment of Jaguars and Jazzmasters, Kevin Shields also played an electro-acoustic guitar in one song (Cigarette In Your Bed) but unfortunately the make wasn’t clear. It looked like the same one he had way back in 1989:

Kevin Shields in 1989 playing an electro-acoustic (Takamine?)

Kevin Shields in 1989 playing an electro-acoustic (Takamine?)

The electro-acoustic guitar seems to be a Takamine…they’re really good! For all we know, it could even be a cheap one like the EG260C, rather than a more expensive one, but who knows…

Belinda Butcher, on the other hand, also plays Fender Mustang guitars, as the pic below shows.

The most mysterious guitar is the next one here, which Belinda used and looks like a semi-acoustic fender Mustang, with Bigsby? No info about it…

And here’s a GREAT photograph we managed to find on Flickr, which shows some of his pedals:

We can clearly see the Digitech Whammy, some volume pedal(s), and a Snarling Dog Mold-Spore Wah (discontinued now) The Mold Spore is the yellow pedal, here’s a better pic:

Info about the Mold Spore pedal, which is very interesting, you can totally see why Kevin Shields would want to use one:

Blast off to the Cosmos or come in for a landing with our award winning MOLD SPORE. This pedal starts off with our three basic wah sounds, WHITE ROOM (thick and creamy), VOODOO (midrange growl), and SHAFT (sharp and funky). It also has an adjustable wah pre-amp and can be used as a conventional wah. STEP ON THE MOLD SPORE SWITCH IF YOU DARE! Enter a new dimension as it activates a sort of ring modulator that can be used alone or in conjunction with the wah.

The internal freakwincy tone can be set with a chickenhead knob on the side of the pedal, or changed by the foot pedal. Used in this fashion with the wah turned on, you have a filter freak out. Adjust the balance of the modulated and normal signals. Play a chord with a dissonant sound and then bring it into blissful tune with the foot pedal. Create robot voices, spaceships taking off or landing, tribal drums, cracks in the universe and Godzilla alarms. If you want weird … you want a MOLD SPORE.

• Controls: ON/OFF, Psych-ON/Psych-OFF
• 3-way switch: White, Voo Doo, Shaft
• Preamp volume boost
• Freakwincy
• Scum Freakwincy Volume
• Straight Jacket Volume
• Freakwincy switch
• Mold/Spore

JULY 2008 UPDATE: we found a new pic on the web that shows Kevin’s pedals better!

kevin Shields FX pedals and racks

kevin Shields FX pedals and racks

Besides the pedals on the floor, there were lots of pedals on top of his rack.

A more or less complete list of Kevin’s pedals (on teh floor) and rack units is:

Volume Pedal
Roger Mayer Stone Fuzz
Digitech Whammy
RMC Wah?
Effector 13 Rocket (not Micro Pog as previously stated here. It looked liek one from teh distance, the white knobs were misleading…)
Effector 13 Truly Beautiful Disaster
MG That’s Echo Folks
Snarling Dogs Mold Spore
Roger Mayer Vision Octavia
Pete Cornish Custom? NG-2?
Ernie Ball Volume
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Mike Hill Services Midi Foot Controller w/ External Mute Switch (for rack effects)

Alesis MidiVerb II
Yamaha GEP-50
Yamaha SPX-900
Yamaha SPX-90
Alesis MidiVerb II
Mike Hill Services Midi Effect Preset boxes x5

Now…the following AMAZING pics show ALL the FX pedals Kevin Shields brought on tour, including a good look at his rack – God knows if he actually used all of them, but here we go!


A few things we can see:

Ibanez AD-9 Delay (could be Maxon, too); Z-Vex Seek Wah II; Danelectro Back Talk Reverse Delay pedal; Boss PN-2; Boss GE-7 Equalizer; Electro Harmonix Big Muff; Coloursound Fuzz; Boss SD-1; Boss Delay (DD-3?); Boss DD-20 Giga Delay; Coloursound Tremolo; Z-vex Super Hard-On; Z-Vex Tremolo Probe; Dunlop Rotovibe; Tech 21 SansAmp; Electro Harmonix Q-Tron

…and many, many more, that we can’t find out what they are…and we are too tired to find out now!

Amongst the guitars, you can see a Fender Jazzmaster J Mascis Signature…


If you got all the gear Kevin Shield got (yeah, right) and still can’t create as much noise, fear not. It’s not your fault! How often do you play massive venues with massive PA System? At least as important as the gear Kevin Shields & Co. use, is the work of their sound engineer, who have to mix everything, boost signal as and when required as, after all, most of the sound you hear at a MBV gig will, as usual, come from the PA System not from the amps onstage.

So, it was with great delight that we found an interview with Michael Brennan, the MBV sound engineer, on the latest issue of the Audio Pro International magazine.

Interesting Things We Learned:

1) The set features the sampled sound of a Jumbo Jet taking off

2) They use exactly 12 guitar cabinets

3) The Main mixing board is a Midas XL4. Shields only uses analogue outboard.

Brennan said:

“I went round to Kevin’s studio in London and picked up from processors and compressors and preamps to use for the tour. I have Manley compressors and some Alan Smart C2 compressors. The outboard rack are also filled with Empirical Labs EL8, Manley stereo variable limiter/ compressor, a TC Helicon VoicePro, an Eventide Harmonizer (H3000-D/SE), a XTA SiDD and a Drawmer 1960 Tube Compresoor”

He continued:

“I picked up some really tasty Manley valve compressors to use across Kevin’s guitars and the drums as well as a C2 compressor…”

4) The P.A. was partially inspired by the “Wall Of Sound” PA that The Grateful Dead used in 1974.

Brennan said, of his rold during You Made Me Realise:

“I have control over every element of the PA, so during You Made Me Realise I can just turn up a few knobs an dthe mix comes out of every speaker. It is getting pretty interesting now; we are starting to think about surround sound for the live show. I want to start talking to Shields about putting up some speakers in the back and just f****** with people’s heads for a bit”

It seems we can expect EVEN LOUDER My Bloody Valentine gigs in the future…

5) Kevin Shields guitar alone go as loud as 116dB.

Michael Brennan final words about Kevin Shields:

“Shields’ has a total plan; it is totally orchestrated. If you really listen, he is playing little parts and little bits and looping them during You Made Me Realise and still keeping that outrageous noise going. He has a master plan of the jorney that he wants to take people on sonically. He knows exactly where he wants it to go, and i put in some sub stuff to add to the dynamics of what is going on.”

Well, we hope that was interesting for you, too!

And here’s a couple more pics from the ICA gig, also from Flickr, where you can have a good look at the guitars and amps.

Well, that’s as much as we could gather…we hope you liked the info, and let other MBV-fanatics know about it!


We found this on some web forum…

1) One of  Kevin’s pedalboards. We cut and pasted two different pics so you could have a better view of how the full pedalboard looks.

Kevin Shields pedalboard. Click to enlarge

Kevin Shields pedalboard. Click to enlarge

2) On this next board, we can see that Kevin has another Digitech Whammy. he also uses teh super-cool Z-vex Lo-Fi Looper Junky, which is ace!

Kevin Shields secondary board. Click to enlarge

Kevin Shields secondary board. Click to enlarge

3) The next board, is Kevin’s Mother Of All Boards. So massive and ridiculously (or…excitinigly, for us!) full of pedals, that it’s not on the floor. This board sits on top of Kevin’s rackmount gear, to his left. Of course, he doesn’t use all his pedals at the same time, but because those pedals can’t be easily reached, and lots of them are labelled (“Patch 1”, “Patch 2”) we can gather than most (if not all) of them are switched on at all times, and Kevin uses his controller (photo #4) to select patches….However, i remember Kevin, during The Holocaust, actually reaching to this board and controlling a few things…

The Mother Of All pedalboards. Click to enlarge

The Mother Of All pedalboards. Click to enlarge

Some pedals he uses: an old Vox Tonebender; Homebrew Power Screamer Overdrive; Boss DD-6; Boss TW-1 ‘T-Wah’; Digitech JamMan; Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah; modded Ibanez AD-9 Delay, probably by Keeley (“The stock foot switch operates as a feedback/self oscillation control! Hold the footswitch down and your notes will go into feedback! Just as if you turned the repeat control all the way up, this is great for sustaining notes or adding a bit of craziness to you music, music, music, music, music!”); proving that he’s not a pedal snob, Kevin uses an Electro-Harmonix  Little Big Muff; other Boss pedals include the Dynamic Filter, Acoustic Simulator, two GE-7 Equalizers, another DD-6 Delay, the famed PN-2 Tremolo/Pan and a PS-5 Super Shifter; A few Roger Meyer and Peter Cornish custom pedals; a Z-Vex Box Of Rock; MXR M-109 Graphic EQ and a few other boutique pedals… 

4) Setlist, MIDI Foot controller and A/B Switch. That’s how he controls his beast…teh controler has a “Mike Hill Services” label on it.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge


Read The Guitar Player My Bloody Valentine live review of their Manchester Appolo gig!

And on a final note…if you love Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, 2008 will be a GREAT year!



Buy Safe with UK’s Award-winning Music retailer!safebuy

~ by dolphinblog on November 24, 2007.

20 Responses to “My Bloody Valentine are back! Here’s the gear guide…(UPDATED OCTOBER 2008! Exclusive new info on the Web!)”

  1. The Valentines are back–hooray!

  2. Hi. This is very interesting but I wanted to say that a shadow is cast over all the recommendations that Dolphin shop people make due to the fact that you are recommending the Marshall Rf-1 Reflector here.
    I just read a whole page of bad reviews of it at harmony-central dot com.

    Anyone who’s been around the internet for a while knows that for any one product you’re going to find one dude with a bee in their bonnet about it, but 8 out of nine saying that the thing breaks in a couple of days is hard to ignore.

    What say you, Dolphin?

  3. Hello, there…

    Ever tried this range of Marshall pedals? They’re very well built and sound great. I’d be surprised if any pedal of this range was not reliable…even some signed bands use them (i’ve seen the Guv’nor in a few pedalboards, such as #1 act The View when they played in Liverpool)

    All the ones i personally owned (Supervibe Chorus and the Tremolo/ Vibrato one) were great value for money, offered great sounds and I never had any problems with them…we only tested the RF-1 and were impressed with it. I want to get one myself! As a cheap option if someone wants have the “reverse reverb” effect, you can’t go wrong, really.

    And of course, in the (hopefully unlikely) eventuality of some problem, most respected retailers (like Dolphin) would refund the money or exchange the pedal for a new/ different one etc.

    Like you, I always check the harmony-central reviews before buying anything, so its a bit worrying indeed…but there is no bad faith in any recommendation we make.

  4. MAN!! what a blog you got! really amaze by what you done with this blog, and huge thanks for unveil the secret of SHields effects systems! he’s really a profesor majoring noises! unbelievable! those tons of pedals?!! crazy as fuck! 🙂

  5. ok I own both a midiverb II and yamaha spx 90…any clue for mbv settings? I know for midiverb supposedly its setting 46 and yamaha its setting 17 and then you fool around with the setting but any more info?

  6. OMG!

  7. thanks but what about Debbie Googe gear ?
    her sound on songs like “slow” is impressive.
    thanks in advance…

  8. great blog. & most guitarists interested in sounds can certainly figure it out on their own with some experimentation, but its nice to see how kevin does it up. neat.

  9. hi,
    great research.
    the guy that built the custom guitars for the 2008 tour is here:

    dan (kana) of CMOS

  10. one of the pedals on the “mother of all pedalboards” is death by audio’s fuzz gun. kind of ironic seeing how oliver ackerman’s band “a place to bury strangers” could be seen as very derivatie of MBV

    • AND Kevin Shields plays the Devi Ever tribute to shoegaze pedal (named… SHOE GAZER :D). He’s totally opened to use new gear inspired by his own sound. The perfect life circle 🙂

  11. great article and research!
    just one non-gear correction to the British band reference in the opening line of your article,
    Shields and Colm are both from Irish families and formed the band in Dublin 😉

  12. A lot of devi ever fuzz boxes in the reserve there, as well as larger models on his board. I think I saw a godzilla octave fuzz, and the shoegazer fuzz, which was probably created with him in mind! Ha!

  13. just fyi – the black ‘morley volume pedal’ on the far left of kevins main board isnt a morley volume pedal. its a custom distortion/filter/oscillator/everything AND the kitchen sink i made for him, housed in an old morley. its used in the ‘…realise’ part of the set. it was custom designed and developed, and amongst other things features some VERY HEAVY DUTY shockproofing internally to stop it from being damaged by stage vibrations(!) from the PA. ive made him a couple, the main one and a spare. i have no plans to market it. every genius guitar master needs a secret weapon, and thats one of kevins… ;c)
    all the best-
    rich gorbutt,
    pedal and amp tech,
    london, UK.

  14. […] better brace yourself for the pedalboards (plural). The shots below all come courtesy of the Guitar Player Gear Guide blog. While Loveless-era shows predominantly relied on a number of different parametric and […]

  15. […] da qui, merita una […]

  16. I can´t find the Boss Enhancer in the pictures , where is it?

  17. I met the whole band after their February show this year in Australia at the Palace Theatre,I actually asked Bilinda about that white hollow body guitar! She said it was her personal favourite,all it is is a custom built semi hollow fender mustang,its not a bigsby tremolo system its a standard fender floating tremolo bridge which she has built into all her mustangs which i may also note all have a custom sparkle paint job!

  18. […] My Bloody Valentine are back! Here’s the gear guide… The Guitar Player blog gets the details on all the gear that MBV are using currently. Kevin Shields guitar alone can go as loud as 116dB. (tags: music my.bloody.valentine effects guitar) […]

  19. […] to repost: Here are the details of Kevin’s guitar set-up and the band’s sound […]

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