Frank Iero is best known as the rhythm guitar player in the emo rock band My Chemical Romance, joining the band a year after its inception in 2002. Due to Frank not being a founding member he is absent from most of the band’s debut album ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’, only providing guitar and backing vocals on two tracks, ‘Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us’ and ‘Early Sunsets Over Monroeville’.
But, Frank Iero has been a main part of every release since, including their smash hits ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ and ‘The Black Parade’.
Despite My Chemical Romance’s huge level of success in the mid-2000s, Frank typically opted to play more budget-friendly guitars, with him having a long-standing relationship with Epiphone which also released his own signature guitar.
After a hiatus, My Chemical Romance reunited in 2019 but has yet to release any new music, but it is possible we will hear some in the future. Frank has also kept himself busy since My Chemical Romance’s initial split with his solo projects frnkiero and the celebration, Frank Iero and the Patience, and Frank Iero and the Future Violents.
Here is a list and guide of Frank Iero’s key guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals that he has used throughout his career as well as some of the guitars that he is currently using to create music today.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Elitist “Pansy”
When My Chemical Romance hit the mainstream in 2004, one guitar became strongly associated with Frank Iero, his Epiphone Les Paul Custom Elitist, nicknamed Pansy. The dual humbucker Les Paul made for a perfect rhythm guitar, especially when coupled with thick Ernie Ball 11-48 strings. Frank Iero used this guitar heavily on the Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge album. It was seen in numerous music videos and was often his main guitar when performing live during this era.
The guitar was destroyed during a performance at an MTV show and its remains are now kept in his home.
The white Epiphone Les Paul Custom isn’t just your average Epiphone Les Paul. The Elitist model was made in Japan and is one of the only runs to come from the country. Japanese Epiphone guitars are nothing new. However, most of the guitars are made for the Japanese market, and they are never sold by retailers in the west. The Elitist series was released in the early 2000s for a short time and finally brought these guitars to the western market.
Many compare the quality to American-made Gibsons, which is one of the reasons why they were discontinued.
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom Elitist is virtually identical to the regular Korean and Chinese counterparts when it comes to the specs. Still, it is the craftsmanship that Japan is known for that sets it apart. The guitar will typically feature a Mahogany body and neck with 22 frets, rosewood or ebony fretboard, a bone nut, and Grover tuners. The headstock design is different from the typical Epiphone Les Pauls, with the top being more rounded.
It is worth noting that the Epiphones made exclusively for the Japanese market use the same open book headstock design as Gibson, the only non-Gibson branded guitar to do so.
Epiphone Wilshire Frank Iero Signature Phant-O-Matic
In 2011, Frank Iero teamed up with Epiphone to create his signature Wilshire model called the Phant-O-Matic. The guitar features a Mahogany body and neck, with a slim 60s taper profile. One of the most unique aspects of the guitar is the inclusion of a Varitone selector and a killswitch.
The Phant-O-Matic was released towards the end of My Chemical Romance’s initial run, with the band splitting up two years later. The guitar was mainly used during live performances with the band due to them releasing their final studio album the year prior.
Frank could often be seen playing the guitar during recordings and performances with his solo band, Frank Iero and the Future Violents, as recently as 2019. But, from 2020, Iero has been seen promoting Fender guitars, which indicates his long-standing affiliation with Epiphone has come to an end.
ESP Ltd Eclipse GH-200 Gary Holt
One of the more surprising guitars in Frank’s collection is an ESP Ltd GH-200 Gary Holt signature model. Gary Holt is best known for his work in the thrash metal bands Exodus and Slayer. Frank Iero came into possession of the guitar after becoming friends with Gary Holt due to their mutual love of their bands. Iero and Holt made a trade with Frank receiving the signed GH-200 for his Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexi, which was also signed.
Both musicians used a clear coat over top of the signatures to preserve them on the guitar.
The GH-200 is a mahogany-bodied single-cut guitar with two ESP-designed active pickups. However, it is possible that this specific one had EMGs added to it due to Gary Holt using them and this being from his personal collection. If that is the case, the pickups will likely be his signature set consisting of an EMG 81 in the bridge and 89r in the neck. However, we can’t confirm which pickups are in Frank’s specific guitar.
Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster
After spending his entire tenure in My Chemical Romance primarily playing Epiphone and Gibson, Frank Iero is now a Fender artist, so most of the guitars that he is using currently are from them. Frank currently uses a ‘Dark Night’ finished Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster that Fender to him as part of the endorsement deal, with the guitar being nicknamed ‘Batman’.
According to Frank, the guitar’s Panorama tremolo system is what sold him on the guitar due to it being “so responsive”. Another key feature that Frank enjoys is that the neck join has been carved to provide greater comfort and upper fret access compared to the traditional squared join that is seen on other models.
The Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster also features an Alder body with a Gloss finish, a Maple Deep C-shaped neck, and a Rosewood fretboard, along with the standard 25.5″ scale length. Like many Jazzmaster guitars, this model features two P-90 pickups, with them being the V-Mod II Single-Coul Jazzmaster pickups.
Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster
Frank purchased his Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster from a small music store in Canada while on tour with his solo band. The guitar is prominently featured on his album ‘Barriers’.
One interesting note about this model is that it was first released in 2014 before being discontinued in 2019, and now sells on the used market for upwards of $2,000, despite the guitar retailing for approximately $449 while it was in production.
The Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster received a mixed reception upon its original release, but today it commands a hefty price tag due to there being nothing else like it on the market currently from Fender. You would think that Fender would see the newfound popularity of the guitar and create a new alternative for players to buy. The closest guitar that Squier makes currently is the Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster.
’50s Fender Jazzmaster (Partscaster)
This guitar is a Partscaster that Frank Iero acquired while on tour. A Partscaster is a nickname given to guitars that have different bodies and necks that weren’t on the guitar when it left the factory. In this case, it is a 1950’s Fender Jazzmaster body with an official 90’s Fender neck.
Frank never stated whether the body is a 50s reissue, but he has noted that “all of the pencil has been long painted over”, indicating that the original signature and markings from the builder have now disappeared which does likely meaning that it isn’t a recently built body.
Gibson Les Paul Custom
Although Frank Iero is now a Fender artist, he still has Gibson and Epiphone guitars in his collection, with one being a Gibson Les Paul Custom in white which has begun to yellow.
After years of being associated with playing Les Paul-style guitars, Frank tried to distance himself away from that style of guitar, likely part of the reason that he moved to Fender. But he has stated he missed the style after a while and an opportunity presented itself to acquire a Les Paul Custom and he grabbed it.
The white Gibson Les Paul is a 1992 model and features a Mahogany body and neck with an Ebony fretboard and gold hardware and it is possible that the guitar has a Gibson 498T pickup in the bridge, and a 490R in the neck, a combination that is very common with these guitars.
Frank currently owns and uses both a 60’s Epiphone Coronet and a modern reissue of the guitar. The guitar retails for approximately $450 which makes it very affordable and certainly has that 60’s vibe to it and would suit more Pop and Indie music, it is a guitar that The Libertines frontman Pete Doherty is known to use.
The single P-90 pickup gives it a feel of a double cut Les Paul Junior or Melody Maker for a no thrills guitar that is very much plug in and play.
Marshall Plexi 1959SLP 100-Watt Head
For Frank’s work in My Chemical Romance, he uses a Marshall Plexi 1959SLP 100-Watt Head with the ‘Dookie’ mod for his distorted tones, coupled with a Marshall 4×12 cabinet.
The Dookie mod is a modification named after the mod that is in the same amplifier model that Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day used when recording their Dookie album. The modification adds a master volume control as well as makes the amp more crunchy sounding.
Fender Twin Reverb Combo
For clean tones, Frank uses a Fender Twin Reverb combo amp in both his solo project and My Chemical Romance. The Fender Twin Reverb combo is perhaps the world’s most popular clean tone amp, with it being on my recordings than anyone could possibly imagine, with it being used by artists including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and Keith Richards.
The version that Frank uses is the more modern Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb which digitally recreates the sound of the original tube amp with near-perfect accuracy.
Supro Black Magick Combo
Finally is the Supro Black Magick combo that Frank uses for his solo project for the dirtier tones. The 25-watt combo features a 1×12 speaker with 4x 12AX7 preamp tubes and 4x 6973 power amp tubes.
Despite being 25 watts, these amps are incredibly loud for their size but also easier to mic up in a smaller venue than a huge 4×12 cabinet, which has made it a great choice for Frank’s solo projects which typically perform in much smaller venues to what My Chemical Romance plays in.
Some notable artists using the Supro Black Magick include Joe Perry from Aerosmith and Richard Fortus from Guns N’ Roses.
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
Frank has used the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver for many years, with it being his primary overdrive pedal in both My Chemical Romance and his solo project. This pedal coupled with the overdrive from his Marshall Plexi provides the classic My Chemical Romance sound and the same combination is used by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.
The Klon Centaur is a new overdrive pedal to Frank’s arsenal of pedals. The pedal is very sought after and highly regarded among players with many clones being created over the years. This pedal has been used more for Frank’s solo project and can be heard across multiple albums that he has released.
Ibanez CF7 Chorus/Flanger
How to Get Frank Iero’s Guitar Tone on a Budget
With Frank Iero favoring more budget instruments throughout his time in My Chemical Romance, it is fairly easy to get his sound while sticking to a tighter budget. When it comes to capturing his sound, the main components you will need are a humbucker-based guitar such as a Les Paul, a British voiced amp such as a Marshall, and an overdrive pedal.
Since Frank Iero is best known for using an Epiphone Les Paul Custom Elitist, the best budget option to use is an Epiphone Les Paul. I recommend purchasing either an Epiphone Les Paul Standard or Epiphone Les Paul Custom as either will be able to do the job well. The one you choose will come down to personal preference, with the Custom typically featuring a thinner neck and more mid-ranged pickups.
But, if a Les Paul style guitar isn’t for you, any guitar made with Mahogany with humbucker pickups will do the trick. Other guitars I recommend include an Epiphone SG, an LTD Eclipse, or a PRS SE Standard.
For an amplifier, Frank is best known for using a Marshall Plexi. However, these cost thousands of dollars so are out of the question for a budget rig. If you are wanting to get a budget British voiced tube amp then a Marshall DSL 20 or 40 will certainly get the job done and can be purchased as both a head or combo. Another great option is the Orange Rocker 15 Terror amp head which gives a very Marshall-like tone.
If a tube amp isn’t what you’re after, you could go for a BOSS Katana modeling amp, which will give you the Marshall-style sound as well as effects and many other tonal options. Or, you could look at a multi-fx pedal such as a Line 6 Pod Go or Headrush Gigboard and skip using an amp altogether.
For pedals, the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver that Frank Iero is best known for is an incredibly budget-friendly pedal, with it retailing for approximately $100. If you go for a digital option you likely won’t need this, but if you’re purchasing either the Marshall or Orange amp then definitely pair them with this pedal and you should be able to get very close to Frank Iero’s tone both live and on the album recordings.
- Frank Iero Guitar Guide and Gear List - May 14, 2022