We're taking a look at the tools behind Matty Healy and Adam Hann of The 1975, the internet's pop-rock provocateur boyfriends.
Although The 1975’s sound has evolved somewhat throughout their decade-long career (as have their haircuts and pant-leg widths of choice), the band are known to this day for their distinct sonic signature – the slinky, sparkling 80s inspired riffage that contrasts with Matty Healy’s rich, characterful vocal.
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Today, we’re revisiting the gear that helped to define the guitar sound that has accompanied the Cheshire natives across their entire body of recordings, and their stadium performances to screaming stans.
Lead singer and guitarist of The 1975 Matty Healy’s penchant for Fender Mustangs is quite well known – since the band’s industry breakthrough in 2013, he’s acquired at least five different models. While four of his Mustangs are considered vintage, including a White 1965 model, a Sonic Blue 1968 model, a Black 1978 model and another 1967 model, Healy also mimed with a pink reissue for the band’s ‘Love Me’ music video in 2015.
Expressing his adoration of the quirky offset instrument to Total Guitar in 2014, Healy explained how his acquisition of his original ’65 Mustang helped to shape the band’s sound, having discovered its loaded with premium quality Mojo pickups:
“That guitar changed my life! I don’t use the word too lightly, but I got very depressed and I was in a bad way, just after a time when the band very much didn’t get signed. Our manager was going to Los Angeles and just said, ‘Just come with me and get away from it.’ So I went and I met loads of people and I ended up going out and looking for a guitar. I bought my ’65 Mustang and, since then, everything just changed.”
FANO GUITARS JM6
Lead The 1975 guitarist Adam Hann definitely has a lot of nice guitars on hand, and his Fano JM6’s certainly exemplify his pristine taste. Owning two of the revered custom made guitars, Hann used his JM6’s, which are loaded with Bigsby tremolos and Fralin P90 pickups, predominantly while recording and touring the band’s self-titled debut LP in 2013. He occasionally brings his black and gold model out for older songs when the band tours.
FENDER STRATOCASTER ELITE
While touring for The 1975’s ludicrously titled second album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, Healy introduced a 1980’s Fender Elite Stratocaster to his rig. Stocked with three active, Lace Sensor inspired pickups and featuring a unique push-button pickup selector, Healy tends to play this guitar for the band’s ’80s inspired funk-pop material like ‘Love Me,’ ‘The Sound’ and ‘She’s American’ for that classic, out-of-phase sound.
MUSIC MAN JOHN PETRUCCI JP6
For the recording and touring of album number two – the one with the long title – Hann began using his Music Man John Petrucci Signature model, which he first acquired when he was a teenager. He detailed the story of the guitar, which may seem like a bit of an oddity when placed in the context of a pop band, in a 2016 story with Premier Guitar:
“There’s a funny story behind the guitar used for that song. When I was 17 or 18, my grandmother passed away, and my parents bought me a Music Man John Petrucci Signature Series guitar with her inheritance. This is when I was going through a phase of being obsessed with Dream Theater and John Petrucci and G3 and Steve Vai and all these virtuoso shredding guitar players.
“We recorded the album in L.A. and when we were getting ready to leave, my manager rang and asked, ‘Are you taking that guitar?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m not taking it. We won’t use it.’ And he said, ‘No, you should take it because you never know. It’s the first expensive guitar you’ve ever owned. Take it.’ Funnily enough, we ended up using that guitar on quite a lot of the album—and just for one specific sound. It has a really great out-of-phase sound. It’s got these two humbuckers in it, but the out-of-phase position has both coils split, so you get like a single-coil out-of-phase on it. That’s what got used for the main chord part on ‘Love Me’, for the solo in ‘Love Me’, and for the rhythm guitar part in ‘She’s American’. The reason it took us by surprise is that this album has a specific sound that we had in our heads, which is this ’80s active Strat sound—like you hear on a Madonna record. That Music Man had that kind of vibe, but a really well-balanced even sound to it. I would never have picked that guitar up and chosen it to do that, so it was a bit of a stroke of luck that we had it with us.”
GIBSON LES PAUL JR.
For the band’s more fuzz heavy material, including ‘Sex’ and the shoegaze-y ‘Lostmyhead’, Matty Healy plays what looks to be a vintage sunburst Gibson Les Paul Jr., with the specs of the instrument appearing similar to that of a late ’50s/early ’60s model.
1962 FENDER JAGUAR
Hann’s pristine vintage white Jaguar, ranging back to the instrument’s first year of production in 1962, is used by the guitarist for a bunch of material from the band’s first album, including ‘Robbers,’ ‘Heart Out’ and ‘M.O.N.E.Y’, which was famously sampled on US rapper Travis Scott’s breakthrough hit ‘Don’t Play’.
EPIPHONE MASTERBILT DR-500MCE ACOUSTIC
For an NPR Tiny Desk Concert promoting the band’s first album in 2013, Matty Healy played an Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE acoustic guitar on ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate’ – although, judging by the amount of acoustic videos online, it looks like he owns plenty of nice acoustics, including some pretty expensive looking 1960’s Gibsons.
FANO GUITARS ALT DE FACTO JL6
Similarly, for acoustic sessions, Hann accompanies Healy on an electric Fano JL6, featuring similar specs to his JM6 guitars but in a Fender Starcaster inspired package.
The 1975 are renowned for their spanky, slinky clean tones, and are known for making the most out of all the best gear on the market, using a mix of heavy tube amps, solid-state combos and D.I.’d guitars live and in the studio.
Around the touring and recording of The 1975’s debut album, Matty Healy tended to favour bright, British-voiced 30 watt valve combos, rotating between an Orange AD30, Vox AC30 and Blackstar Artisian 30 between live shows.
However, Matty Healy has also taken to playing through a solid state Roland JC-120, describing his affection for the revered amp in an Instagram post stating, “I love this amp it’s valveless but it has the richest chorus you can find.”
On the other Hann (get it?), Hann has long been an endorsee of Hiwatt ampification, with his typical live rig consisting of two Hiwatt 50w Custom 2×12 Combos – although it’s not uncommon to see him rocking two Hiwatt T40’s or Fender Devilles or Vibroluxes as well.
In a 2016 Premier Guitar interview, Hann also detailed his use of a Fender Silverface Twin Reverb and a Roland JC-120 in the studio, stating the amps were “sort of a go-to. If we were in the studio and needed a clean sound for a part, that’s where we’d start and then we’d go from there.”
While both Healy and Hann’s effects setups tend to fluctuate depending on which songs are in their set, it seems both guitarists tend to operate onstage floor controllers, with their pedals being stored side of stage to fulfil their devout aesthetic the band is known for.
In this image, we can see Healy operates two seperate EHX Holy Grail Nano Reverb pedals, a BOSS DD-3 Delay, a BOSS CS-3 Compression Sustainer, and a RimRock Mythical Overdrive, with the above rack unit appearing to act as a line switcher for juggling effects combinations mid-set.
As lead guitarist, Hann’s guitar playing is usually characterised by his intuitive lead lines and use of effects pedals, and his live board perfectly reflects this. Controlled by a RJM Mastermind MIDI controller, Hann’s typical signal path consists of a Keeley Compressor, an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth, a Klon overdrive, Analog Man King of Tone, ZVEX Fuzz Factory, two Electro-Harmonix HOGs, a Wampler Plextortion, a Boss CE-1, a Strymon Mobius, a Strymon TimeLine, a Strymon BigSky and an DigiTech Whammy, which can be heard being put to good use in the guitar solo for ‘The Sound’.
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