I believe that your ‘sound’ is in your fingers, so all that’s needed is an instrument that will facilitate your technique in the most positive way possible. I don’t use loads of effects, there’s too much coloration to the tone down that route. If the guitar is built well, with decent pickups, then you’re going to have a good tone. Effects can just get in the way of making a good sound with the hands.
I guess I go for more of a jazz tone at the end of the day; that ethos of plug in and play; let the fingers do the talking.
That said, I do like to have valves/tubes in the preamp stage and power amp stages of my setup. These are important to my sound. I like a glacial, clean, chorused tone with a small amount of gain to break things up a bit and the valves give it a coloration that I like.
My current guitar (and I’ve owned a few…) is a Charvel Pro Mod DK24 in Okoume. I have no qualms about saying it is the best guitar I have ever owned. I love the natural wood finish, though it does pick up marks and dings like a small child. The neck is ebony and the whole build reeks of class and care.
The Yamaha DG Stomp, below, in the rack case on the left. Developed by Allan Holdsworth w/ Yamaha, this is the main source of my sound. Great chorus effect and loads of EQ possiblities. I have the chorus depth on 10 but the rate on 0.3 !!
I really like the Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor (right of the DG Stomp) – used purely for the single 12ax7 valve coloration before running into the DG. A fantastic pedal. I use the Koch ATR-4502 all tube power amp (bottom of the rack). The best on the market and I have tried ALL of them!
I get my ‘synth-like’ guitar sound from the BOSS PS-6 Harmonist (blue pedal), set one 8ve up with a tiny amount of concert pitch and a massive amount of mids, it sounds very powerful – not like those horrible pitch-shift devices that try to imitate 12 strings. This has a wonderful sound that makes soloing much more fun.
For monitoring the Charvel I have a pair of 10″ cabs that house the underrated Celestion Tube 10 speaker. A great little cone that suits my sound much better than the Vintage 30s et al… The Tube 10s are very similar in tone to the Celestion V-Type.
For recording the John Irvine Band albums, I use the compact and bijou Alesis Q49 for all MIDI keys, and a 2009 MacBook Pro, running the latest MOTU Digital Performer 9.