This week on Pedals with the Pros, we catch up with Ken Susi, guitarist for the metalcore band Unearth. Ken uses very few effects live, but when he does, the H9 and Eclipse are his go-tos.
As the guitarist for Unearth for 20 years, your pedalboard has probably seen some huge shifts. What’s in your live pedalboard/signal chain right now?
My rig has been incredibly simple over the years: Amp>Gate>Overdrive>Wireless w/Tuner. I used to use some kind of digital delay with a boost/EQ in the back for more volume and tone shaping. I cycle through amps a lot. I like my ReVV 100P, KSR Artemis, EVH 5150III and Mesa Multiwatt Dual Rec.
Unearth’s music is very heavy in distortion. What bears the load of most of that distortion in your chain?
Even-though we use hi-gain tones, I’ve been known to keep my gain relatively low (3oclock to 4 o’clock) on my head and use a Maxon 808 (Upside down V) for compression. I do pick as hard as I can to get the most out of my playing and what the head offers. This method offers me the most out of my playing and tightness from the amp.
What role does MIDI play in your performances?
Unearth runs a laptop at the drum kit to keep time and to trigger our MIDI FX. This is to switch patches without having to touch a pedalboard. Back in the day, we used to pay techs to hit our pedals for leads and FX. Now we can run around like idiots and not step on our pedals by mistake or pay anyone to touch anything.
With the H9, what are the algorithms you use the most?
I love to use Digital Delay and shape my tone there. Basically, when I’m playing live and go to a lead patch, it’s just the H9 with my adjustments and an output boost. The H9 has a totally iconic sonic quality and it reminds me of every Eventide effect that I grew up using. I’m about to create more patches for the next album cycle and start using more effects.
How did the H9 help with streamlining your live rig?
The H9 made my touring life so much easier! It’s reliable and always syncs with our computer. The second you plug it in, the H9 makes a connection and it just starts working. My favorite feature is the Bluetooth accessibility from my iPhone to save, adjust or re-patch settings. Anytime I want to adjust something, I don’t even need to walk over to my amp. I can just sit in the dressing room or on the side of the stage and fix anything that I want.
You used to use an Eclipse. Are there any major sonic differences between your Eclipse and your H9? Do you ever miss the Eclipse live?
I actually use both units. I use the Eclipse in the USA and take the H9 to Europe. In the past year, I’ve been taking the H9 out on my US runs because it’s so easy to travel with.
Do you have any projects you’re working on right now?
I’m using Eventide on all my projects moving forward. I’m currently working on my side grunge band’s record SWIVEL and getting ready to switch gears for some new Unearth Material.