Premier Guitar’s Ted Drozdowski met with virtuoso Jimmy Herring, frontman John “JB” Bell, and techs Joel Byron and Paul Agostino before the second of three dates at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater to get the scoop on how Widespread Panic’s string-stretchers get their sounds.
Jimmy Herring’s main guitar with Widespread Panic is a custom-built Paul Reed Smith with Lollar Imperial pickups, two volume controls and a single tone control. He favors jumbo frets with medium action for more clarity and definition, and strings them up with D’Addario .010 sets. The back of its headstock bears the legend “Custom built for Jimmy Herring,” and is signed by Smith. His backup axe, which also has Lollar Imperials, is a David Grissom signature PRS that he mostly pays in drop D.
John “JB” Bell’s main guitar is the latest in a line of Washburn HB35 semi-hollowbody models he’s been playing since 1990, with a distinctive custom red finish and white binding. It’s got Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates humbuckers and is strung with .012 sets with a wound G. His backup is an all-black HB35 he uses for slide—mostly in open G, open D, or drop D. His slides are brass, and he also tunes the guitar down a whole step to play some Vic Chesnutt songs. The pickups are a Duncan Alnico II Pro in the neck and a Custom in the bridge. He tends to use both pickups at all times, for both guitars.