The Presidential Pedalboard! What The Candidates Are Stepping On (Besides The Little People..Ha Ha!)

One of the many things COVID-19 has put a lid on in 2020 is the U.S. presidential campaign. It’s likely we’d be hearing and seeing a lot more campaigning from the incumbent and the presumptive Democrat nominee and challenger at this stage, but everyone’s attention is justifiable turned elsewhere. Except here at


Now, we make it a practice to steer clear of politics, particular partisan politics, as much as we can. Unless you’re a jerk, anyone who’s into gear and getting the most of it is welcome in our party. But some political issues are too important to ignore so, in an unprecedented move for, we’re going to tackle one of the toughest questions of our time*. What’s on the candidates pedalboards?


Joseph Biden


Joe Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and re-elected to seven terms before moving on to the office of Vice President. His electoral success is partly attributed to what political writer Howard Fineman called ” …that great Irish gift”; an ability to connect with people on a personal level. So it makes some sense that Biden’s pedalboard starts off with a JHS The Clover preamp pedal to sweeten his signal chain.

Though Biden is from Delaware, he’s also famously proud of his Scranton, Penn., roots. So, when he wants an even hotter signal, he kicks on his Emerson Scranton Screamer for even more dirt and grind for some sick, syrupy leads.

Now, we’ll address the elephant (donkey?) in the room. Ol’ Joe is known to fumble his words a bit at times. Hey, when you’re a politician you have to talk a lot; verbal confetti is bound to happen. Biden addresses this personal challenge head on with the Boss Vocoder pedal. If he’s going to generate something goofy it might as well sound funky, right?

Bernie Sanders


Bernie Sanders isn’t in the race anymore, but he’s an interesting dude that has made two strong runs at the Democratic nomination even though he’s technically not a Democrat. One of the many headlines he made during the 2016 presidential campaign was stating the following during an interview with the news network CNBC:


You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.”


With that quote, we can probably make a reasonable guess where Sanders comes in regarding the glut of TS and Klon-style clones out there (he and Joe Biden could have a colorful debate about that). It also gives us some insight into Bernie’s board.


So how does Sanders roll? Classic MXR, of course. MXR was started up in Rochester, New York in 1974, when Bernie’s political career was just coming into full swing. Even before Jim Dunlop bought the brand in 1987 they were known for great durability, sound, and value much as they are today. And no need for multiple brands; MXR has every single one of your tone tweaking needs covered. Going with what he knows, Bernie sticks with the classics: a Distortion +, Dyna Comp, and Phase 90 in their famously unfussy enclosures and straightforward paint jobs.  Sanders is also pretty hip to the times so MXR’s modern classic, the Carbon Copy delay, is on the board as well.


Donald Trump


Look, complexity is not Donald Trump’s game. He’s a “crank it and spank it” type of player. True bypass? Who cares? A refined TS-clone with a slight shift in response to bring out more of the lower-midrange? Nerd. Three different modulation pedals providing three different textures? WRONG.


Trump, is all about volume. And bling.


The board kicks off in classic fashion: a Boss DS-1. Not the standard issue orange one, though!


From there, we hit a Dunlop Crybaby, placed after the DS-1 for maximum screechy “waaaahhhhh” goodness. Again, he leaves the boring black one at home.


Bad ass!


And then, for just a little texture:

The Democratic presidential field was pretty well stacked until a few weeks ago and it would’ve been daunting to cover everyones board here in this article. So, that’s where you come in! What’s Buttigieg rocking? What kind of stuff is Andrew Yang hooking up (should be good since he was going to give everyone a $1,000 a month if he had been elected)? Tell us in the comments!


* This may or may not fall under the category of “fake news.”


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