Lighting a Fire with Candlebox and Peter Klett

Candlebox recorded their debut self-titled album in Seattle in 1993 following a wave of grunge success. That album has since gone to 4x Platinum and is hailed as one of grunge’s greatest albums. Candlebox’s sound was somewhat of a departure from their Seattle nobles, taking a slightly more bluesy direction. The band went on to record three more albums, none of which reaped the success of their first album. However Candlebox has stood the test of time when others have burnt out and faded away. And the self-titled album has remained a staple of the Seattle sound in the 1990s. In the following interview with guitarist Peter Klett, we learn about the gear that was used to define the rich Candlebox tone. Lets talk about your guitars. What are you playing these days?

Peter Klett: In the past, it’s always been late 70s Les Pauls – usually 79s. I’ve been getting into a Fender guitar that I had gotten. It was a Mexican Telecaster that I changed around a bit. So now on the road it’s usually a couple Les Pauls and a couple Fenders. My amps are the Soldano Decatone and the Marshall Super Lead 2000. I like those combined together. I put those into two cabs. I have a VooDoo Lab rack that has two dirties and a clean channel. I just use the clean and then there’s a one space power amp by Rocktron that I run my chorus, delay, reverb on that to make the sound nice and big.

Then up front I have a friend of ours at StompDmods who makes and modifies pedals for me. So I have a really great distortion and phazer pedal from them. So what I do is I split the clean signal and the dirty signal with a stereo pan pedal so that I can blend the two if I want. I’ve been doing that for a long time. I started to do that when I started a band called Red Light Music. I needed to go from clean to dirty in a smoother way. This works great for me. So the stereo pan pedal splits the signal into a clean chain and dirty chain. In the dirty chain I have a V-Wha, then I have the StompMods distortion and phazer pedals. At the moment I also have a modified Ibanez Tube Screamer (TS-808) in the dirty chain. And then I have a delay and a VooDoo Lab phazer which goes out into a DigiTech effects rack with a Hush unit to clean up the sound after it goes through all that. My rig has gotten simpler over the years. You’ve got a lot of guys now with these huge rack systems and I just don’t need it. It is cleaner for some things but I just don’t need all that stuff. What is it about the 1979 Les Pauls that make them better than any other year?

Klett: I’ve always had 79s, I had a couple 80s. It’s something about the pickups and the wood that was used in those years. The T Bucker was used in that era. There was a guy who worked at Gibson in the pickup department from like 78 to 81 and I cannot remember the name of the guy right now but he had a certain sound that was unique. It’s a tone thing. It’s got a fat bottom end. I’ve got a Fender that I put a Seymour Duncan 59 in the back and a T Bucker at the neck position and that sounds great too. At this point I think you can buy a vintage guitar, for me it’s the 79 Les Paul or you can buy a heavier new guitar and put the Seymour Duncan 59s and it will probably be fairly close. Do you do a lot of experimenting with different guitars or are you pretty comfortable with the Les Pauls?

Klett: I usually take 4 guitars on the road with me and in that past they had all been Les Pauls. Gibson is going to send me a 335, so if that happens, that will come out on the road with me. And I’ll most likely take a Fender out with me as well. Have you ever used any weird old amps in the studio?

Klett: On the song “In To the Sun” I used a little four inch Fender practice amp. We did a little guitar in the middle of that song with that amp. I would imagine the next step for you is to record a new album. Have you begun work on that and will you play around with some new amps or guitars on the new record?

Klett: I think this new record we’ve been writing is going to be a little different. I’d like to have more amp tone. I’ve been playing around with a Fender Bassman and a Twin Reverb. We do have a few songs written for the album but we don’t have any plans for a release date or anything yet. Do you remember the first guitar you ever had?

Klett: I was a big Angus Young fan but my parents couldn’t afford the SG. But Yamaha made a double cutaway – Santana played them for years. And the first electric guitar I ever got was a cheap version of that. I loved it. I don’t have that guitar anymore. I got a version of it but it’s not the same one. I was walking down University and some kid came walking by with the exact same guitar that I had first had so I bought it for fourth bucks or something like that. Have there been any guitars that you’ve had stolen from you over the years?

Klett: I had a 1964 Stratocaster. It was a perfect. And I sold that and it ended up being worth twice as much after a couple years. I have had a couple Les Pauls stolen. One was a Silverburst and the other was a Goldburst. The Silverburst I had for ten years, it’s in all the promo pics from the 90’s. I lent it to a friend and his car got stolen and my guitar was inside. I was pretty bummed about that. Is that the guitar you used on the first record?

Klett: No. I still have the first Les Paul I ever had, which is the one I used on the first record. I don’t play it as much but I kept it. I also have the original acoustic that I used on that record too. I’ll probably keep those two guitars forever. That first Candlebox record was huge for me in my high school days. It has a very definitive sound to it. What is your fondest memory of recording that album?

Klett: The demo of that record - we spent Thanksgiving weekend of 1992 recording the demo for that record. “You” and “Far Behind” are actually the demo versions remixed on the record. Recording those demos stands out the most to me. Peter, thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Greatly appreciated.

Be sure to visit with Candlebox at the site -

Just can't get enough? Check out...