Gear Rundown: Incubus' Mike Einziger

One of the Most Inventive Guitarists of His Era

For more than 20 years, Incubus has been at the forefront of alternative rock as one of the rare bands able to achieve commercial success and still retain the attention of music critics and fans along the way. Taking influence from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More, Incubus' fusion of funk rock, alternative and nu metal was made interesting by the guitar work of Mike Einziger, a talented and effects savvy instrumentalist who made the band shine through contemporaries of their era like Korn and Limp Bizkit. As well as playing in Incubus, Einziger has also experienced success as a session player for a huge variety of artists, including collaborations with Avicii, soundtrack writing with Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr, and string arrangements for 30 Seconds to Mars' LP 'This Is War'. In celebration of Incubus' recent Australian tour announcement, we analyse Einziger's evolving rig throughout the years.






As of 2012, Einziger has endorsed the Music Man Albert Lee Signature for touring with Incubus, taking three different models fitted out with dual humbuckers on the road. In his Premier Guitar interview, Einziger explains how he came to play the Albert Lee and why he began to tour with the guitar, as well as discussing how Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has impacted the way he plays guitar. “I’d been having a lot of problems with my wrist over the years and I had been changing my equipment around a little bit," he explains. "So as a result I needed to find a guitar that would be the easiest to play … I kind of accidentally discovered that this guitar is really comfortable to play.”




Einziger can also be seen performing with a thinline 60’s reissue Telecaster in recent years, fitted with two traditional single coils and a maple neck and fretboard, which he's used frequently since the mid-2000's.




Einziger actually owns three different Jazzmasters - an original 1965 model, and two recent reissue models. Talking to, Einziger discussed his extensive use of Jazzmasters in the studio while recording Light Grenades, stating, "On most all the songs, the main guitar parts were played on a Fender Jazzmaster … I just like the way it feels and I like the way that it sounds.”




While the Incubus instrumentalist was frequently seen playing various PRS guitars, including this Silver Sparkle Standard and a PRS Hollowbody II in the early 2000's, Einziger apparently cut his endorsement with PRS after a dispute with an employee who worked for the guitar giant. According to, the last time he used a PRS was for the ‘Adolescents’ video, which he later auctioned off for charity for $15,000.




Appearing to be from the mid 60's, Einziger’s Gibson SG is actually a Junior model, distinguishable by its lack of tone controls and different pick guard to traditional SGs. It also looks like Einziger has added another P90 in the neck position of the guitar, presenting an affordable way to source the tone of a vintage Gibson without mutilating your guitar or bank balance.


MARTIN 000-15M



One thing you probably didn't know about Einziger is that he co-wrote Avicii's hugely annoying 2013 country-EDM-strumfest "Wake Me Up"; just imagine the amount of money that would have made him off of a four chord song. You can see him in this video explaining how to play the song with a mahogany, small bodied Martin 000-15M.




Created by the biggest name in analogue synthesiser technology, the E1 is one of Moog’s experiments beyond the realm of synthesisers, creating an extremely versatile MIDI guitar unlike anything heard before. Einziger owns a butterscotch model of the E1, and while it’s unknown whether it’s ever been implemented on any of his band's records, you can check out how the guitar sounds here.





Around the touring and recording of Incubus' two seminal records Make Yourself and Morning View, Einziger used to play through a huge Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Head, plugged into two 2x12 Mesa cabinets loaded with Celestion 30s.



However, some time around 2006, Einziger drastically altered his guitar rig, opting for a split-rig system to compliment the plethora of shifting tones across the band's records. Throughout this era, Einziger tended to favour a Marshall Plexi Lead 100 head through two Marshall 2x12 cabinets for heavier sounds, as well as having a Vox AC30 combo to the side to handle his clean signal.



Nowadays, Einziger has returned to Mesa amplifiers, plugging into two Mesa Boogie Trem-o-Verb combo amps which are hooked up to 2x12 extension cabinets. You can also see Einziger has taped the slogan ‘Veritas’ onto the grill of one of the speaker cabinets, the Roman translation of the word ‘truth'. This is in reference to the motto for Harvard University where Einziger studied composition during Incubus' hiatus.




If there’s one thing Mike Einziger is known for in the guitar world, it’s his ongoing affinity with effects pedals. Einziger often alters the settings of his pedals mid-song to create entirely different textures from the version played the night before, and the man certainly knows how to concoct some incredible sounds by combining the effects of various pedals in his signal chain.



This diagram illustrates Einziger’s typical touring pedalboard for Incubus in the 90's. Throughout the majority of his career, Einziger has retained the majority of the effects pictured in this rig, notably the two BOSS PH-2 Super Phasers, OC-2 Octave Pedal, CS-3 Compressor Sustainer and RV-3 Reverb, as well as a Ring Modulator, Envelope Filter and Flanger by DOD.



Around 2006, it’s apparent that Einziger has retained the majority of these original pedals, as well as adding a Dunlop Crybaby, Danelectro Reel Echo, LINE 6 Pod and Electrix Filter Factory, allowing him to delve further into sonic experimentation. Note that he’s also using two different overdrive pedals for his split amp signal, with a Digitech Tone Driver feeding the Vox and a DOD 250 going into the Marshall.



In this picture from one of Einziger’s recent tours with Incubus, you can see that he’s swapped a few of his older pedals out for EHX stompboxes, including a Memory Man, a Micro POG and a Holy Grail Nano Reverb, as well as swapping out his old MXR 90 for a Van Halen signature version. It must be nice to own so many different pedals - a man can only dream.




(Feature image: Incubus Facebook)