Rig Rundown: ALEXIS PAREJA of The Number Twelve Looks Like You

Alexis Pareja

Alexis Pareja is the guitarist of the highly technical band The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and has recorded many outstanding albums over the last decade. His guitar tone is flawless, and his skills impeccable. So for this week’s article, we are going to talk with Alexis and see what’s inside of his arsenal.

GS: Can you break down your rig for us? Let’s start with your studio rig first, and then go onto your live rig.

AP: My current rig is a Voodoo Modded Marshall JMP-1 running through a Fryette 2/90/2 Poweramp with a T.C. Electronics G Major 2 multi effects processor running through the fx loop. I have not used this rig to record so I can’t comment. The band was on hiatus for many years so I recently put this setup together because I had sold off my old gear and have been playing other styles of music. Interestingly this setup is like a frankenstein of the full rig I used awhile back when I was touring with #12 more often. That rig was a VHT UL with an old Ampeg V4 slaved and a T.C. G system. In the studio I used that and layered other amps like a Diezel VH4 and Bogners.

I’ve been through many changes of setups constantly tweaking tone to the point where I realized that I preferred to just stick to something that is good enough quality and has articulation. In the end I do believe tone is in the touch and that’s why I look for amps that respond well to all the dynamic techniques you can do with a guitar. That is an area where a good portion of the digital amp market falls short. That being said if I play something digital that delivers I’d make the switch for convenience.

GS: When rehearsing for shows, do you try to accurately replicate tones from your albums live, or do you go with whatever rig you’re currently using? How do you accommodate the harmonies live?

AP: I don’t try to replicate the exact tones from the albums. When I reflect on some of my old albums I usually hear room for improvement so I take the opportunity to bring different elements in a live setting. Parts may be extended, chord voicings change, different effects could be added. I like the idea of songs changing over time or interpreting them differently. In my opinion it’s more exciting to offer the audience something they can’t get from listening to the recording.

Harmonies are addressed by rearranging lines with my bassist to cover that harmonic texture or I might use a pitch shifter in my multi-fx and split it stereo so it sounds like 2 guitars.

GS: What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t do without, and why is that so important to you?

AP: It has to be reverb. I love it because when experiencing any instrument in any setting you are always going to hear the space. Some places are dead or have more reflections so having the ability to alter that helps quite a bit. Hearing a dry sound is uninspiring to me but at the same time if reverb is not balanced well you can easily wash away the details in your playing which is also counterproductive.

The Number Twelve Looks Like You live

GS: Your guitar tone on “Sad. Nuclear. Sad.” has to be one of the finest sounding guitar tones in the genre. How do you go about dialing in your tone? Do you start with tweaking anything specifically first? Any advice for fans out there struggling with this?

AP: Thank you for that compliment and I appreciate it because it reminds me the invested time pays off. I have to mention that a big part of that was the room and micing techniques we used. The studio which is called the Clubhouse in upstate NY has wonderful acoustics. I experimented at the time also by running my Voodoo modded 5150 II head through various cabinets including a vintage 15″ bass speaker. Back in that time I also used an old Furman parametric eq. That unit helped me sculpt frequencies even more so.

Mid frequencies play a large role in what I want to hear in my tone. The guitar naturally sits in that range of 80 Hz to about 1200 Hz but I think you should evaluate what you want to highlight in your own playing style or genre of music. I want to cut through the mix and when I compose any music I strive to make it balanced with what the bass is doing. I start with all the tone controls at noon. After I address the mids of the amp I cut or boost bass and treble frequencies accordingly.

An external eq can then help fine tune specific frequencies in your rig. Though it is best to get everything in your raw base tone right and then add external effects.

There is not general advice that applies to all players because each guitarist has to evaluate their own pickup selection, tone woods, guitar setup, string gauge, fx chain, etc. The list goes on and then if you are recording there is an addition amount of things to consider.

GS: Thank you for taking the time to go over your rig with us here at Guitar Sphere. Is there anything you would like to add?

AP: There are so many variables in guitar tone that when you find a combination you think is amazing it is best to stick with it. Get to know every little piece of gear well. Many times artists endorse certain products but always make sure it is something that works for you because their signal chain might be entirely different. Recorded tone is also very different from a live situation. Discover your own unique sound that inspires you to keep playing and writing.

Despite of the overwhelming nature of tone just use your ears and work on your technique which is more important. If the tone is stellar but the song content and technique is questionable then most listeners will not bother to give up their time.

  • astronauta69

    nice, this man is a genious