"Alvin's Setup"


Alvin ordinarily uses his familiar Gibson ES-335. (That one with all the stickers on, "you know.") It is fitted out with a single-coil in the middle, that gives the sound of a Fender Telecaster. He mixed the single-coil with the humbucker to get a fat, but clean string sound.

There's another way to get the 335 to sound like a Telecaster, he instructs. The humbucker actually has two pickups inside of it, and he takes the cover off so he can tip up the back one, to get more treble. There's a way of cutting out the main pickup with the screw holes and leaving the flat one on. And then the guitar sounds almost like a Telecaster, Alvin says.

He picked up the ES-335 for something like 100 dollars from a guy who needed money more than his guitar. One might add that 100 dollars was a lot of money in the early sixties. This Guitar has been his trademark for a long time, and still is.

He has also been using a Heritage "Alvin Lee Signature" guitar which is almost a copy of his ES-335. He uses one with a Kahler tremolo system.

His strings are .010-.056, and his picks are custom made and heavy gauge.

The ES-335 has a great sustain and it sounds best when you put it through a tube amp. Whack it right up and it sings. It's distorting, but it doesn't sound like it's distorting; it's clear. That's the basic sound Alvin likes best.

He owns several other guitars, such as: ES-345, Les Pauls, Stratocasters, and Telecasters.


In the early days Alvin built his own amps. He is an electronics freak, he declares. He ended up using the amplifier he built for a couple of years. Altogether he built about four cabinets.

He later went over to Marshall 50 and 100-watt Amps and cabinets with four 12" speakers. Alvin feels that a Marshall 50-watt power amp with four 4*12" cabinets fits most of his needs, he uses the 100-watt model when he plays for large audiences.

Generally, he sets the bass at 2, treble at 5, midrange at 5, and presence at 4. Alvin believes that the volume on a Marshall has to be set at least three-quarters full to get the singing sound he's after. The 50-watt amp sounds great all the way up. He usually backs it off slightly, but it gives him that overloaded sound that he likes.

Alvin also uses some unusual amps in the studio. He uses a 15 watt WEM and a very old little Fender with a 10" speaker, depending on what kind of sound he wants.

"Keep on Rocking"

1997 Please feel free to E-mail me with any coments, or questions. Benny

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