The Great Big StevieSnacks Tools Roundup - 2012 Edition

Apr 3rd, 2012
This post was originally written on the blog.

10 years of misguided rock-star dreams, followed by 4 years of wildly successful online teaching, has left me with a large collection of computer equipment, software, guitars, amps, and effects. Here, as of April 2012, is a list of all the gear I own, and use on a somewhat regular basis. Where possible, I’ve included links to the equipment on Amazon.

If you end up buying anything through these links, I make a nickel, which will help fuel my coffee addiction.


  • 2005 Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Signature Strat My primary guitar. Added GraphTech saddles, pickups are still the stock Texas Specials (for now). My demo…

  • 1996 Fender Mexican Strat Not my first guitar, but the first one I really loved. It’s had many upgrades over the years

  • Stauffer Guitars Legend Made by my cousin Joe, this is unique guitar, super lightweight, beautiful, and very, very playable.

  • Don Grosh Retro Classic An amazingly resonant, articulate instrument.

  • Washburn HB35 A reasonably priced Gibson 335 style guitar that I bought used for a great price. It was used in the B.B.’s Influence and Freddie’s Influence lesson series.


  • Samamp VAC 23 Series 3 My first amp from Sam Timberlake, a simple tone machine that has been in almost every video I’ve made since August of 2009. My demo….

  • Samamp VAC 40 Series II My current main amp, just purchased. Quite simply the most enjoyable, fun, great sounding amp I’ve ever played. My demo…

  • JLH Products AxeTrak The tiniest, quietest isolation cabinet you’ve ever seen, but not heard. This cabinet allows me to shoot my lessons in a quiet office without disturbing the yoga fanatics across the hall. My demo…

  • Fender Blues Junior One of the first amps I really loved. I had been through a long series of vintage Fender amps, and some others before I found this. I used it in every video up until I got the VAC 23. My demo…


  • Korg DT-10 Tuner An older, but pretty reliable tuner pedal

  • TC Electronic PolyTune This is my gig tuner. Not as accurate as some others, and hard to read, but when you’re trying to minimze dead space during a show, this tuner gets you in tune fast.

  • Wampler Ecstasy Overdrive One of the overall best sounding overdrive pedals I’ve ever played. I primarily use it for lower gain stuff, but it is capable of so much more. My demo…

  • Wampler Ego Compressor A good, solid, transparent compressor with a killer “blend” feature. Once you start using it, it’s hard to get used to playing without it.

  • VisualSound Angry Fuzz A great sounding fuzz, with the ability to mix in octave overtones, a feature that is missing in many octave pedals. Very versatile fuzz tones, even at lower gain levels. My demo…

  • Fulltone PlimSoul A fat sounding overdrive that gives your tone a lot of thickness for leads. It could stand to be a bit brighter, but sounds good regardless. My demo…

  • Ibanez TS-808 Tubescreamer I own this just because I need to keep a reference of what it sounds like. I rarely use it, it sounds too thin to my ears, but it’s a pedal that so many others are measured by, so I keep it around.

  • Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire A very unique overdrive/distortion pedal. Also makes a great clean boost. My demo…

  • Creation Audio Labs MK.4.23 Boost A pristine clean boost pedal that makes your tone sound more ‘electric’, if that makes any sense. My demo…

  • BBE Green Screamer A decently priced alternative to the TS-808. Packs more gain, and sounds a bit fatter. I don’t love everything about it, but it’s a good sounding pedal.

  • Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer I don’t love this pedal, but when I’m after a particular “curve” it gets the job done.

  • DLS Effects RotoSIM A pretty convincing Leslie simulator pedal. Expensive, but it gives you a lot of control over the parameters.My demo…


  • D’addario EXL115 Strings These are the strings used in most of my videos. I’m not terribly picky about strings, but I like the brightness of these.

  • GHS FastFret I absolutely hate the feeling of cruddy, sticky strings. Once I discovered FastFret, I never had to worry about that again.

  • GraphTech String Saver Saddles I have not broken a string during a gig when using GraphTech bridge saddles. This is not a coincidence. Be sure to choose the saddles that match your Strat’s bridge.

  • Fender Heavy Celluloid Picks I’m not a huge pick nerd, but these feel comfortable, are easy to hold, and sound great to my ears.

  • Raw Vintage Tremolo Springs I fell in love with these from the second they went on my guitar. You can use install all 5 springs, and still use the whammy bar without having to press very hard.

Audio/Visual Equipment

  • JVC GY-HM100U Pro Camcorder All my videos since late 2009 were shot on this camcorder. It has 2 XLR inputs, allowing me to mic my voice and guitar separately, and it records video clips that are directly editable in Final Cut without transcoding.

  • Mackie 1220i Mixer This is the mixer I use for all my recording at my office. It’s a mixer and a multi-track audio interface, thanks to the Firewire connectivity.

  • Roland DS-90A These are some studio monitors leftover from a previous recording setup. I don’t recommend them, there are better, less expensive alternatives available now.

  • Impact 5 Lamp Fluorescent Lighting Kit You wouldn’t believe how much light is necessary to create good video. In the past I used construction grade fluorescent lights, but these, with the diffusion cloths provide a much smoother consistent light.

  • O.C. White ProBoom Deluxe Mic Arm The “Player’s Perspective” in my videos is made possible by this microphone boom arm. I mount my camcorder on there and clamp it to my desk, allowing me to rotate the camera into the exact right angle. The default springs were too weak, so I experimented with different combinations of heavier springs from the hardware store to find the right amount of tension to support the camcorder.

  • Shure MX184 Lavalier Mic The audio quality if my videos is the result of micing my voice and guitar separately, then mixing the audio during editing. I use this Super Cardioid Mic from Shure for the vocal portion. It rejects a decent amount of audio from the room, allowing for a pretty clean vocal track.

  • Rode NT1000 Condenser Microphone Any voiceover work I do in my videos goes through this mic. Pretty good quality for the price.

Computer Equipment

  • Apple iMac 27” Editing HD video with Final Cut Pro X requires some horsepower, the 3.4 GHz Core i7 iMac with 16GB of RAM gets it done.

  • Data Robotics Drobo All my data lives on a Drobo after it’s done, I actually own 2 of them. Over the past 4 years I’ve produced over 200 individual videos, resulting in over 2TB of data. The Drobo keeps my data safe and protects it even if an individual drive fails.

  • Western Digital Caviar Black Hard Drives After a terrible experience with another brand, all new drives I purchase are WD Caviar Black, usually 2TB.

  • Razer DeathAdder Mouse OK, so this is more about my love of Battlefield 3, but it is a very accurate mouse which comes in handy for video editing.

  • Apple Magic Trackpad For multi-touch gestures on the Mac, the trackpad is great.

  • Apple Battery Charger Probably no better than any other charger out there, but a lot prettier.

  • Apple iPad I never owned an iPad before the current 3rd generation model, but it is quickly becoming an important tool, especially the dictation feature, which allows me to answer email while lying flat on my back at 10:30 at night.


  • Capo Capo is a slow-downer application for the Mac, iPhone and iPad that allows you to slow down music, making it easier to learn. I use it every time I need to learn something too fast for my ears to pickup at full speed.

  • Final Cut Pro Xby Apple For years I used Final Cut Pro 7 and consistently ran into sychronization problems. One small slip could screw up an entire project. Final Cut Pro X, while initially quite limited, has evolved into a near-perfect solution for me. Once all the clips are imported, editing is very, very fast.

  • Curio by Zengobi Every project I do starts in Curio. It allows me to capture ideas in nearly any form and keep them together. Mindmaps, lists, tables, notecards, images, audio and video, the list goes on. It has so many features, I feel like I’m not even using half of them.

  • Evernote Whenever I have an idea, or something I don’t want to forget, it goes into Evernote. Often when driving, I have ideas about future products, or things to improve about this site. Evernote can store voice notes, so those ideas are not lost.

  • Dropbox It’s hard to overstate how much I love dropbox. Everything I make (except for large video files) goes in my dropbox folder and is therefore available on any of my computers. It just works like magic. The pro account with unlimited history is just great because you get access to every past revision of every file.

  • Logic Pro 9 The audio for my lessons is edited and mastered in Logic. While there is no direct communication between FCPX and Logic, I can export the audio tracks from FCPX, mix and master the audio in Logic, then export a master video from FCPX. The mastered audio, and master video tracks are combined in Quicktime 7, and saved into one master video file.

  • Quicktime Pro 7 Quicktime Pro 7 is a great utility for manipulating Quicktime files on a track by track basis. One common use case for me is replacing an audio track. Maybe I shoot a video clip on my iPhone that requires some audio work. I can export the audio track from Quicktime Pro, edit it in Logic, export a better audio track, and then using Quicktime Pro, replace the original audio track with the newly improved audio.

  • SimpleMovieX Quicktime Pro is great, but it’s far from perfect. I use SimpleMovieX for three important things. Creating chapter markers, fixing audio sync problems, and saving standalone copies of reference videos. An amazing tool that saves me hours of time.

  • Amadeus Pro For quick editing of audio files that doesn’t require Logic, Amadeus is my editor of choice. The killer feature is being able to open a video, edit the audio track, and resave the video, in-place, without having to export a separate audio file.

  • Waves Plugins I bought these a long time ago when I wanted to record my own albums, but they have come in handy when mastering the audio for lesson videos. I use the following plugins ALL the time: Q6 Equalizer, IR-L Reverb, Renaissance Axe, L1 Limiter, L3 Ultramaximizer.

  • Episode by Telestream Episode is a professional video encoding application. When I first bought it in 2009, the primary selling point was the speed, because it’s really, really fast. But in the latest version, they added some powerful workflow tools, allowing me to encode, and upload videos automatically.

Whew….I think that’s everything. So if you’ve ever wondered how these videos get made, this is how. Now for more coffee…