Lincoln Brewster’s guitar sounds have been respected by many. He also happens to be a very high profile player of POD X3 Live. His tone is sought after by many aspiring guitarists due to his using such a readily available and affordable piece of gear for his tone. While copping his patches exactly can give you instant gratification, I find it much more desirable to learn how to get better at creating my own tones by studying great guitar sounds created by others. This article is an in-depth analysis of Lincoln Brewster’s live guitar sounds as heard through his POD X3 Live.
Electric guitar tone
The hub of Lincoln Brewster’s electric guitar sound is the Line 6 model of a 1968 Marshall Plexi Super Lead run through a variable AC (or variac) transformer. This amp model is run through a modeled 4×12 Marshall cabinet with Celection Greenback 25s. The modeled microphone is a Shure SM-57 positioned on axis to the speakers. His main use of this amp is for a mid gain type of sound as shown here:
Moderate drive settings
Note: The primary lines on each knob represent the Lincoln Brewster sweet spot for the amp model. The translucent green range shows where he will fine tune the settings for a particular song or venue.
The amp’s drive and bass are kept below half while mid, treble and presence are all in the upper portion of their range. It is useful to note on most of Lincoln’s settings that he doesn’t often stray very far from his sweet spot for a given guitar tone. These moderate drive settings account for the vast majority of Lincoln Brewster’s POD patches.
High gain settings
Shown above are Brewster’s favored knob settings when he needs a higher gain sound out of the Marshall Variac. The tone controls still have their useful range around the same places as the moderate gain sound. The primary difference is the increased amp drive.
Somtimes this guitarist will use a very low gain setting to get a tasty and gritty sound out of his Fender Strat. While most of the tone controls remain at settings consistent with Brewster’s high and moderate gain tones, he uses a bit more bass on these cleaned up settings. The increased bass can counteract the thinning of the sound by the lower gain settings.
Low gain settings
In general we can see that Lincoln favors the middle, treble and presence controls in the higher end of their travel for all sounds with the Variac amp model. He keeps the bass tamed, only increasing it a bit when cleaning up his sound. Even on his highest gain tones, he doesn’t go much beyond the 80% mark on the drive, actually preferring to keep it around 40% the majority of the time.
With the Variac, Brewster uses the EQ quite frequently to smooth out the sound. No matter what the settings are on the amp, he almost always uses what I call the Brewster EQ curve (boosted mids, rolled off high shelf) on this amp model:
Brewster EQ curve for Variac amp model
While the Variac is Lincoln Brewster’s go to amp model for distorted tones, he also makes some significant use of the amp model based on the 1967 Fender Dual Showman. This amp model also goes through a simulated 4×12 cabinet but this time it is equipped with Celection T75 speakers. Though these are his main settings on this amp, he will sometimes back off on the mid control and turn up the treble.
Fender guitar sound
This amp model is usually enhanced with a wide boost in the mid frequencies using the built in EQ.
Fender EQ setting
The Double Show amp model usually has a modeled Chandler Tube Driver in front of it. The settings on the Tube Driver are tweaked to hit the front end of the amplifier a lot harder while also beefing up the low end and smoothing off the top. Lincoln uses this stompbox from time to time in front of his Variac patches as well.
Brewster plays his electric guitar with a touch of compression on almost all the time. He doesn’t vary his settings here at all, using this effect on every electric guitar patch.
Electric guitar compressor settings
Lincoln uses digital delay on many of his patches. He does a lot of lead work and plays a lot of live shows, a combination that benefits from some prominent delay. You can see he likes to roll off the treble very much while also keeping the mix somewhere between subtle and quite audible repeats. Delay time tends to center around 320 ms but goes as low as 280 ms and as high as 440 ms.
Common delay settings
He does use the analog delay model very sparingly. The included delay modulation adds a bit of extra movement to the sound.
Playing large live venues and a heavy reliance on delay means Brewster rarely needs to play with reverb on his electric guitar. When he does, it is usually the Lux Spring model with Dwell and Tone controls set to 50% and mix set between 39-48%.
Like reverb, Lincoln does not seem to be a big fan of modulation effects on his electric guitar sounds. He never uses a chorus live and has a phaser on just one patch.
Acoustic guitar tone
Lincoln has a few stand by sounds that he relies on for acoustic guitar sounds just like he does for electric sounds, though the approach is quite different. For starters, he bypasses the amp model on all his acoustic patches. Then he uses reverb on almost all of his acoustic patches and uses heavier compression. The delays are gone, though he does use a stompbox compressor on one of the acoustic guitar patches.
Acoustic guitar compression settings
You can see his compression threshold is set a lot lower for the acoustic, while also making much more liberal use of make up gain. Since the Line 6 compressor seems to do some automatic make up gain for you, I think the increased gain we’re seeing is due perhaps to the weaker signal from his acoustic guitar pickups (versus that of his Strat), though it should be noted that the sweet spot is much less extreme than some of his tweaks. When he doesn’t use the dedicated compressor, Lincoln will use the Red Comp stombox compressor (modeled on a MXR Dynacomp). Set the sustain to 30% and level to 83%.
Electric-acoustic guitars running direct into the house PA require a bit more extreme EQ settings to sit in the mix well and prevent feedback while still allowing quite a bit of volume. I think this is behind the more extreme settings we see on Lincoln Brewster’s acoustic patches.
Acoustic guitar EQ
Though there is no amp model on Lincoln’s acoust sounds (the amp is bypassed), he has placed the reverb in the pre-amp position. Normally this would affect the tone of the reverb as it is fed through the amp model but the bypassed amp model means the tone is unaffected. Instead, placing the reverb before the bypassed amp model will cause it to switch to running a mono algorithm. Since the guitar is running a mono line to the PA this will result in increased clarity and definition on the acoustic guitar. Use these reverb settings most commonly with the Chamber reverb model (but sometimes Lincoln will use the Rich Chamber, Cavernous, or Standard Spring reverb models with the same range of settings).
Acoustic guitar reverb (pre amp model)
Download Gearbox patches
I have created Gearbox patches representing each of these guitar sound strategies in five files, four of electric guitar sounds and one acoustic guitar sound. You can use these patches to get a very wide range of Lincoln Brewster-like guitar sounds by turning the various effects on/off. Every effect is set to favored settings of Lincoln with the exception of the acoustic guitar patch mod and delay settings as he never uses those effects on the acoustic. Here are some suggested configurations for these patches if you are playing in worship at your church.
If you stay on electric guitar (no switching to acoustic):
- A: LB-Variac
- B: LB-Double Show
- C: LB-Variac-logain
- D: LB-Variac-higain
If you switch between electric and acoustic during the service:
- A: LB-Variac
- B: LB-Double Show
- C: LB-Acoustic
- D: LB-Variac-higain OR LB-Variac-logain
Both of these configurations use the A patch button as your main electric sound and B as your alternate electric sound. In both cases C is your cleanest tone, either low gain electric or the acoustic patch and D is your specialty electric guitar tone (either high gain for leads, or whichever one suits your needs and style best if you are switching to acoustic). I find it very helpful to keep my live patches down to a max of four tones for a given live event. It is much easier to keep it all in my head that way. Also, it is a very good idea to get used to common patch locations in every bank, “A is always my main sound, C is always my clean sound, etc.”
Download the Gearbox files for Lincoln Brewster guitar sounds.
Who is Lincoln Brewster?
Check out Lincoln Brewster at:
His own homepage