Gear Rundown: Jónsi Birgisson

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Gear Rundown: Jónsi Birgisson

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Dan Johnson ‘Bird’ Custom Electric Guitar

An almost signature to Jónsi is his Dan Johnson ‘Bird’ Custom electric guitar. Designed and crafted by The Black Keys guitar tech, the bridge is custom fitted, allowing Jónsi to play eeary dissonant sounds with his bow on the back, and still hold notes in front of the pickups. The Bird is fitted with Seymour Duncan ’59 pickups and a custom fitted built in treble boost circuit allowing added sustain in a live atmosphere. Adding to the worn in appearance is Jónsi’s persistence on not changing his strings, opting for an old rustic feel to his tone. The cello bow’s rosin helps give a darker and strung feel which plays directly in the heart of the bands sound. The guitar got its name from the bird pearl-inlays carved in fretboard, with one being carved by Jónsi himself on the top half of the body.


1978 PF200 Ibanez

Only being used as a secondary guitar, or a back up if Jónsi’s ‘Bird’ breaks a string, the Ibanez PF200 is a relic from the past that still holds it’s own and performs admirably in today musical climate. Having a mahogany body and carved maple top, the PF200 glides effortless for a large array of guitarist. Being used more frequently on Sigur Rós’ tour circuits, the Ibanez is fitted with a maple neck and has Super 70s pick ups, which are renowned for their gritty tone and powerful clean performance.     



EBS Valve Drive DI Signature Drive Bass Pedal

A major part for Sigur Rós’ sound is building an atmosphere. Wanting to hold the low-end while still allowing a drive signal to burst through, Jónsi recently added the EBS Valve Drive DI Signature Drive Bass Pedal to his live set up. Used for Sigur Rós’ touring circuit in Europe and Australia, The EBS Valve allows a cleaner punch when really needed, and enhances the clean channel on an amp by boosting the signal. The choice of a bass pedal is primarily centred on being able to incorporate a enhanced sound while maintaining a cleaner tone.


Boss RC-30XL Loop Station

Staying within the realm of using live/tour music pedals, onstage Jónsi helps build the atmosphere near the end of the band’s set by looping his melodies and harmonising them with a bow, giving a rich thick texture that has become a major highlight for their live concerts. The Boss RC Looper is a multi-track stereo looper that allows Jónsi to run an fx loop from his Marshall JCM straight to his set up. Jonsi accompanies the looper pedal with a reverb digi-rack that is placed back of stage, helping initiate each loop being done. The RC-300 allows Jónsi to freely control his sound without clipping or distorting any other fx that are in his pedalboard chain.   


Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb Pedal

A part of Sigur Rós’ sound comes from being eclectic and improvising parts that are eventually layered and built on. At the heart of the band’s sound lies a thick sheeted coat of texture and modulation, though for Jónsi and Georg, they keep their stompboxes to a minimum; they’re highly used within their mix and sound. Within the sea bed of modulation lies the Electro Harmonix Cathedral Reverb pedal. Allowing long drawn-out tones and harmonisation fx, the EHX Cathedral pedal is to Jónsi’s pedalboard what a chorus pedal is to David Gilmore’s set up. Being used in the studio and on tour quite frequently, the pedal is incredibly diverse and allows you to bend and shape your sound at your will.



Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100 Amp

Giving rich and wamring sounds, with Celestion V30 speakers fitted in a 1960A 4 by 12 Marshall cab, Jónsi’s choice in amplifiers is a testament to having a right and royal tone that speaks volume. The classic head is only used for its clean channel live, allowing pedals like the EBS Valve drive to carry the boost and drive. The JCM 2000 has been used all through their headlined tours as well as major festivals throughout Europe and the UK. For Jónsi carrying a large, diverse assortment of sounds and fx, the JCM helps assemble and project a coherent tone while adding warmth and luxurious sound.


Watch Jónsi’s guitar tech talk about his music gear to Premier Guitar.