The URL for GuitarGeek.com may no longer exist was a meaningful internet entity – it now goes to the YouTube page for some guy who will teach you Led Zeppelin riffs – but in the early days of the web, it was a magical place for guit nerds like myself who were a) unhealthily obsessed with knowing what gear their favourite player used, and b) whose tastes were rather left of the dial from most mainstream music publications that would otherwise cover that stuff.
And so GuitarGeek.com, with its cleanly illustrated rig diagrams, became a favourite bookmark for either deciphering what I thought I was hearing on records or daydreaming about what kinds of noisemaking toys I might someday have at my feet or both. That there was no actual citations as to where they got their information wasn’t important – in lieu of any actual verifiable information, it was good enough and as years went by, their schematics became taken as gospel and are frequently cited in places like Equipboard as proof itself.
At its peak, the site was regularly updated and also hosted a lively discussion forum but as with many things online, the updates eventually slowed and then ceased and the site itself went fallow and eventually offlined. According to this article, the site founder – Adam Cooper of Tempe, Arizona dreampop outfit Alison’s Halo – had trouble finding a way to monetize the site and eventually went on to other things. Understandable, but unfortunate. Because even though finding out what such-and-such artist plays isn’t such a mystery anymore – you can just ask them on socials or wait for them to post a pic on Instagram – there was just something about those illustrated schematics that I loved.
Thankfully, though the Guitar Geek brand lives on only in the memories of folks like me, the diagrams – for a while available only by scouring archive.org – have resurfaced on guitar.com, the online home of the UK’s Guitar Magazine. Sometime last Fall they went to the trouble of posting the entire archive online – the original shoegaze/dreampop-centric ones, the more rock-leaning entries in the ’00s from the stretch where Guitar World partnered with Cooper, and a smattering of more recent indie acts. And while it seems they’ve found a permanent home – Guitar Chalk has also been posting them, if you prefer a single-page, thumbnail view – you best be sure I’ve saved my favourites locally, just in case.
Browsing through them, I get nostalgic as I remember staring at these same images a quarter-century ago, thinking these pedals must be so magical and esoteric to be able to create the sounds on my favourite records… Of course, what I didn’t appreciate at the time was that most of the artists were dirt poor and there was very little affordable or available to them besides the super-conventional Boss boxes. And that’s all they needed, so there’s really no excuse for the fancy-pants shit I’ve been buying.
Anyways, here’s some favourites. So. Many. Rats.
And by way of thanks to Adam Cooper, here’s some Alison’s Halo, and an interview with Cooper about non-Geek things in 2013: