Ever since working with Khalil Fong in 2012, we have constantly been working on new projects and ideas to push the boundaries of tone. From custom made guitars to pedalboards and pedals. It is fair to say that Khalil is one of the few artists out there that are meticulously picky about his own tone, and knows what he wants. This quality not only shows in his custom gear, but most certainly in his music.
Custom Built Black/Gold "Oats" Strat
This is the first custom guitar we built for Khalil Fong. This guitar was the result of Khalil’s search for a more comfortable and lightweight Stratocaster-type guitar. This guitar features an alder body, quartersawn maple neck and an ebony fretboard. Sporting a hardtail bridge and Schaller locking tuners, this guitar was built for stability and reliability. It also features a custom hand-painted gold edged pickguard, a set of custom Lindy Fralin pickups, and custom wiring to achieve his desired tone, with maximum noise suppression for live use.
Custom Built Black/Gold "Grits" Strat
This is the second of twin custom builds we did for Khalil Fong. "Grits" has been a main staple of his live performances since 2013. It made it's debut on the Chinese celebrity TV show "I Am A Singer", when Khalil was invited to perform alongside G.E.M. in the final round of the competition. It was mainly used on the "Dangerous World" tour where Gavin was his tour technician. Most of the specs of this guitar are the same as "Oats". The main difference between “Grits” and “Oats” is that “Grits” has hotter pickups, a 6-point vintage style tremolo (as opposed to the hardtail bridge on “Oats”), and a slightly thicker neck profile.
1936 Martin OO-16
This is a vintage Martin that Khalil picked up in mid/late 2015. Considering it's age, the guitar was in great condition. Despite the lack of an adjustable truss rod, there was only minor neck bowing. Unfortunately the combination of this, top bellying from over the years, and worn out frets, rendered the guitar unplayable due to incredibly high action. The usual repair process would be to do a neck reset, top flattening and a refret, but we wanted to keep repairs to a minimum and keep the essence of the guitar, so we decided on doing the repair without a neck reset. So off came the bridge, and on came the belly reducer. After the top was flattened to an acceptable level, we proceeded with a refret, choosing taller frets to compensate for the neck angle, where we could level the frets at an appropriate angle. Following the refret, the bridge was inspected before proceeding to a bridge reglue. Unfortnately, the bridge was warped, so it had to be flattened and planed to match the radius of the top. After the bridge was finally reglued, a new saddle was made, and the guitar was strung up with new snakewood bridge pins to replace the old plastic ones that were beginning to crumble. End result: a beautiful sounding guitar that plays well, is very light, and still as vintage as it could practically be.
This resonator guitar may be one of the lesser seen guitars that Khalil plays. It is a modern reproduction he picked up at a local shop while trying out different types of guitars to give him new inspiration for tones and musical styles. Unfortunately, the stock action was too high for his liking so it came to us for a setup and a check-up before heading back to the studio
Khalil's live rig is constantly evolving to keep up with his changing taste in tone. However, there are a few staples of his live setup nowadays. The recent system can be thought of in 4 parts: Control section, Effects board, Amp board and the Remote board. The control section is where all the tuning, wireless systems, and controlling of live guitars takes place. The effects board is ever changing but the constants, since we built the 4 part system, are a 'remote' wah, a compressor, an overdrive, a reverb and a delay. The amp board is where the core of the setup - an Ethos Overdrive Amp, is housed along with other controllers and DI boxes for electric and acoustic guitar signals. The remote board (not pictured here) stays in front of Khalil on stage when he's playing guitar. It consists of a small MIDI controller and a wah 'remote' controller. These allow him to have some degree of control over his guitar tone, where Gavin controls most of it from off-stage.
Above are a few of the many custom built pedals for Khalil. On the left is a Tubescreamer-type pedal, built with more gain, controlled by the toggle switch, and a more sensitive tone control. The "BITE ME" pedal is a clean, transparent boost pedal. On the right is a mid-boost "FRAG" pedal built with a toggle switch, instead of a footswitch. It is designed to stay on or off, usually to compensate for different tones from different guitars.