While people’s feelings about their own team and what it does can often affect how they play psychologically, that doesn’t mean the team is doing exactly what they think it’s doing. Lill jokes about a friend, whose playing, for the record, Lill insists he loves and learned a lot from, uses a Two Rock amp setting on a digital amp to get a sound he calls “that rock thing.” John Mayer”. The problem is that when Lill asked his friend which Two-Rock amp model John Mayer plays and which amp is in the modeler, he didn’t know.
“It’s fun,” he says. “It’s like saying ‘Oh man, I love Dale Earnhardt. That’s why I drive a Chevy, you know, like Dale’s.’”
Perhaps what strikes me most about Lill is that, in a world of influencers actively growing their social media following, she doesn’t aim to make her videos her full-time livelihood. Instead, he’s just a musician sharing what he learns with those of us who don’t have the time and resources to do the same experiments.
When asked why he started making the videos, he said: “I’ve noticed that knowing the answer without having any proof doesn’t always work the same as when you actually capture it on video. So I try to make sure I capture things on video as much as I can.” They have a surprisingly large production value, for a man who admits that he didn’t really have a camera in the beginning.
Instead, Lill gave me a free gift: the knowledge that the speaker cabinets and tone settings matter more than the piece of wood and strings in my hand. This is valuable information, given the amount of time I’ve spent searching for guitars and not play around with the tone knobs.
“I’ve seen many different approaches to how people transmit information on the internet, and the way I’ve chosen to do it is as unbiased and friendly as possible,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter if someone believes me or not. It’s just a guitar.
Jim Lill’s current signal chain
Given his experience and testing history, what does Jim Lill actually use? Here’s the audio equipment you’ll find in his studio.
Lill says, “Anderson Tele has been my number one since high school.” The other guitars and basses are for specific sounds, but are not used as often.
The Tom Anderson Telecaster features a 2018 Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack bridge pickup, a 1980 Bill Lawrence Black Label S2 middle pickup, and a 2009 Seymour Duncan Mini Humbucker neck pickup. Lill notes that he only uses the bridge pickup on the telecaster. All other guitars feature stock pickups.
Lill uses a 2001 Boss CS-3 compressor pedal to even out the different volumes of different guitars. That goes in a Xotic RC Booster for solo volume and a 2020 Nobles ODR-1 overdrive (painted black) and 2017 Paul Cochrane Timmy V2 (added white tape to read “Jimmy”) for some grit in your tone. The cue then hits a 1990s Ernie Ball volume pedal and a 2018 Sonic Research ST-300 Turbo Tuner Mini for volume and tuning control. For the final steps of his chain, he adds a Boss TR-2 Tremolo (painted black) and uses a 2020 Line 6 HX Stomp, primarily for his legacy delay algorithms. “The tuner, the CS-3, and the delay are the most used,” she says. “Tremolo is usually for Bass6. Everything else is just in case.
Lill owns a 1966 Fender Bassman head (standard AB165 circuitry), a heavily modified 1965 Fender Bassman head, and a 2001 Carr Slant 6V 1×12 combo head. “I’m working on figuring out where my amp is right now,” he says. “I imagine one of these three will end up being my head amp.”
Lill pairs his own homemade 2022 2×12 with a 2001 Celestion Vintage 30 (closed-sided) and a 1967 Fender Utah (open-sided). “I’ve mostly been using the one I made,” says Lill, “but I also have two booths that JT Corenflos used on sessions and a booth that Tom Bukovac used on sessions.” Jim’s cabinet impulse responses are available for sale on his website.
Lill uses a Shure SM57 (one for each speaker). On placement, he says, “At my favorite studio I was taught to put the mic about two fingers from the grill cloth, straight on axis, pointing at the line between the dust cap and the cone. That’s where I start.”