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vintage ’52 & ’54 goldtop test p.9 0 Issue 424

SEPTEMBER 2017

Br a d pa isley roa d wor n

telecaster ExclusivE first test of Brad’s Hot-rod tElE

e x c l u s i v e

clapton’s ‘blackie ’ strat! slowhand on his most famous fender

PLay ers

Hawkwind adrian BELEw Steve earle Lit tLE BarriE

Jimi Hendrix by roger mayer THe inside sTory of His ‘Axis: Bold As love’ sessions

kenny wayne sHepHerd gives us THe Best Blues lesson you’ll learn all year

reviews

Eastman sB59/V supro neptune Chapman mL1 pro traditionaL busHmills x lowden Knaggs doug rappoport KEnai


Future Publishing Limited, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA Telephone 01225 442244 Email guitarist@futurenet.com Online www.guitarist.co.uk

Time, Please As we went to press with this issue, we learned of the passing of Glen Campbell. Known to millions as the voice of Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy, fewer people knew that he was also a very fine guitarist. Campbell was an original member of the famous Wrecking Crew – a group of first-call LA session musicians who defined the sound of hits by Phil Spector and who ghosted on tracks by The Byrds and The Beach Boys where their magic touch was required. We’ll be remembering Glen properly next issue. No less saddening was news that master luthier Bill Collings (see Obituary, p32) also left us, in July. He created some of the finest instruments we’ve had the pleasure to play – guitar-making at that level requires an extraordinary clarity of purpose and a degree of craft that touches on art. He’ll also be much missed. When you reflect on what people like Glen and Bill were able to achieve in their time, it throws the casual frittering of time that most of us suffer from into even sharper relief. I’ve often fantasised about having six months magically available to retire to a cave somewhere like a monk to do nothing but get better at guitar. But such extreme measures aren’t really necessary, just regularity – little and often beats binges of learning. Devote a lunch-hour here (provided nobody minds you bringing a guitar into work…), an hour after dinner there, to picking up licks and it’s gratifying how quickly you advance. But the real revelation is that the more frequently you sit down to learn new chops, the faster your ability to pick up yet more new stuff gets. In other words, the more you learn, the more you can learn. I’ve been working my way back through Richard Barrett’s brilliant Blues Headlines column of late, so I’ve still got this month’s lesson to tuck into (see p149), plus the second instalment of Chris Corcoran’s classy and evocative jump blues licks to have a go at. Yep, getting better at guitar is always worth making time for! Have a great month and see you next time.

Jamie Dickson Editor

Editor’s Highlights Hawkwind!

Veteran space rocker Dave Brock entertained our man Rod Brakes with tales of Clapton, strange guitars and wild lysergic adventures of yore p58

Kenny’s Blues

Yes, we knew Kenny Wayne Shepherd was good, but to sit in a room with him and jam is a real education in top-drawer blues moves p70

A Cut Above?

Is there really a sensible alternative to a Gibson when it comes to classic mahogany single-cuts? We’ve found two serious contenders… p104

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Future Publishing Limited, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA Telephone 01225 442244 Email guitarist@futurenet.com Online www.guitarist.co.uk

EDITORIAL Editor

Jamie Dickson

Art Editor

Reviews Editor

jamie.dickson@futurenet.com

Luke O’Neill

Dave Burrluck

luke.oneill@futurenet.com

Deputy Editor

Managing Editor

david.mead@futurenet.com

Senior Music Editor

Group Editor-In-Chief

jason.sidwell@futurenet.com

dave@daveburrluck.com

David Mead

Lucy Rice lucy.rice@futurenet.com

Jason Sidwell

Daniel Griffiths daniel.griffiths@futurenet.com

Contributors Michael Astley-Brown, Richard Barrett, Rod Brakes, Adrian Clark, Trevor Curwen, Chris Francis, Adam Goldsmith, Nick Guppy, David Hands, Martin Holmes, Richard Hood, Rob Laing, Bernie Marsden, Neville Marten, Roger Newell, Elliott Randall, Davina Rungasamy, Gary Stuckey, Mick Taylor, Henry Yates In-House Photography Joseph Branston, Olly Curtis, Neil Godwin, Joby Sessions, Jesse Wild Advertising Clare Dove clare.dove@futurenet.com  director of agency sales Matt Downs  matt.downs@futurenet.com  head of strategic partnerships Clare Jonik  clare.jonik@futurenet.com  senior advertising sales manager Lara Jaggon lara.jaggon@futurenet.com account sales director Leon Stephens  leon.stephens@futurenet.com  account sales director Alison Watson  alison.watson@futurenet.com  advertising sales manager Simon Rawle  simon.rawle@futurenet.com commercial sales director

MArketing Sharon Todd  sharon.todd@futurenet.com subscriptions marketing manager Will Hardy  william.hardy@futurenet.com head of marketing

Print & Production Mark Constance  mark.constance@futurenet.com production controller Frances Twentyman  frances.twentyman@futurenet.com senior ad production coordinator Gemma O’Riordan  gemma.oriordan@futurenet.com head of production uk & us

head of licensing 

Licensing Matt Ellis  matt.ellis@futurenet.com circuLAtion Michelle Brock  0203 787 9021

trade marketing manager

Future PubLishing LiMited Graham Dalzell  graham.dalzell@futurenet.com art & design director  Ross Andrews  ross.andrews@futurenet.com creative director  Aaron Asadi  aaron.asadi@futurenet.com chief executive  Zillah Byng-Thorne  zillah.byngthorne@futurenet.com   Future MediA store online www.futuremediastore.com  email mediastore@futurenet.com group art director

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Future is an award-winning international media group and leading digital business. We reach more than 49 million international consumers a month and create world-class content and advertising solutions for passionate consumers online, on tablet and smartphone, and in print. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR). www.futureplc.com Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand © Future Publishing Limited 2017.All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Future Publishing Limited is at Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Future a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage. Full Competition Terms & Conditions can be found at: http://www.futureplc.com/competition-rules/

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Contents cover feature

Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

98

alternative tonewoods, unorthodox finish and a stetson on the headstock. What does it add up to? a classic tele... Find out why inside

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Contents ISSUE 424 September 2017

reGulars 003 ......... editor’s Welcome 026 ......... the Wishlist 029 ......... the lineup 036 ......... Opinion 040 ......... substitute 042 ......... perfect 10 045 ......... readers’ letters 048 ......... New music 050 ......... One For the road 116 ......... subscribe 121 ......... tone makers 125 ......... board Games 130 ......... longterm test 135 ......... Gear Q&a 138 ......... Classic Gear 141 ......... Next month 142 ......... Old Gold 152 ......... reader ads

COver Feature 098 ......... Fender brad paisley road Worn telecaster

Features 054 ......... Headstock: adrian belew 058 ......... Hawkwind 064 ......... roger mayer on Jimi Hendrix 070 ......... Kenny Wayne shepherd 082 ......... eric Clapton’s ‘blackie’ 090 ......... Historic Hardware: 1952 & 1954 Gibson les paul Goldtops

NeW Gear 010  .........  Knaggs Doug rappoport Kenai 016  .........  chapman ml1 pro traditional & ml2 pro modern 022  .........  supro 1685rt Neptune reverb 2x12 104  ......... eastman sb59/v & Godin summit Classic ltd 118  .........  Hotone Xtomp mini 120  .........  electro-Harmonix Wailer Wah 122  .........  compressor round-Up: maxon, earthQuaker Devices, emma electronic & Fairfield Circuitry 124 ..........  Green carrot Pedals pumpkin pi 126 ..........  Martin 00lX1ae 128 ..........  samsystems im12

teCHNiQues 144  .........  Jump blues bootcamp with Chris Corcoran 149 ......... blues Headlines: sixes & sevens

viDeO & auDiO cover photography by

Neil Godwin

to enjoy all of the video and audio content in this issue, type the following link into your browser and follow the instructions in the post entitled ‘Guitarist video and audio’: http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

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f i r st p l ay

Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai £3,890 Superb solidbody signature single-cut with chunky muscular voice

Muscle Man

The second signature guitar from Knaggs aims to hit the pro-spec workingman’s single-cut spot Words  Dave Burrluck  Photography  Neil Godwin

W

hile many makers obsess about the replication of vintage ’Bursts, Joe Knaggs isn’t one of them. As this signature Kenai illustrates, it’s obvious where the inspiration lies. It’s the second Knaggs artist model, after Steve Stevens’, and regular Guitarist readers should be very familiar with the skills of Doug Rappoport who joined us for a blues-rock masterclass earlier this year. Steve’s signature model slightly downsizes the Kenai blueprint, but here Doug’s uses the original plans with its almost Tele-meets-Les Paul outline measuring approximately 344mm (13.54 inches) across its lower bouts, with a trimmer-than-LP maximum depth of 52mm. It appears even trimmer (and is tapered from base to heel) when you look at the rim: while the top has a beautifully graduated carve, the back is flat with a rib-cage cutaway and noticeable chamfering around the edges, reducing that rim to approximately 43mm. Neither chambered nor weight-relived, this Kenai weighs a near perfect 8.5lbs. “Very much pain goes into finding the right weight wood,” considers Joe from Knaggs HQ in

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Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai

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Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai

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1. Doug’s signature has an (optional) kill switch; you can have a bridge pickup tone if you want. In fact, his own guitar simplifies things further: “The wiring, for me, is a master volume, a master tone and a kill switch.” A peek inside the rear cavity reveals a simple setup with no tricks, just 500k CTS pots and a .022 microfarad ‘orange drop’ tone cap 2. This zebra-coiled Duncan Custom Shop ’78 is based on the pickup Seymour Duncan rewound for a certain Eddie Van Halen. EVH disciple Doug Rappoport describes it as “a highquality PAF with just a little more ‘poop’ on it” 3. This Macassar ebony ’board is another example of makers moving away from rosewood in light of the new CITES restrictions. Note the pearl block inlays that replace the Kenai’s standard Tier 3 dot inlays

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Greensboro, Maryland. “It is getting more and more difficult. I’m not sure if weight relief or chambering is the future: there are other woods out there that are lighter in weight. I do think harder/heavier woods tend to be a bit more dominant on the treble side, but this is not always the case. I’ve heard great-sounding heavier guitars. I’ve heard crappy-sounding light guitars, too – not ours, I might add!” On first playing a Kenai, weight played its part for Doug. “I was struck by how light it was,” he tells us. “I realise weight – where guitars are concerned – is unpredictable and varies widely. I am also aware there is a lot of debate about wood density, weight and what it means to tone. Fuck all that. I tell people to go tour for 15 to 20 years and then tell me how important having a heavy guitar is to you!” Following the classic Gibson-style ingredients, the mahogany back here is one piece, likewise the neck. The Tier 3 maple top has quite thick cream-coloured edge binding and an inner black/white/black purfling, plus quite a classic but not overdone figure toned down here by the satin nitro finish. The neck is raked back in classic style, and while the unbound headstock has a lesser back-angle, it still looks very old-school with that classy

understated logo on a black ebony facing with Doug’s signature truss rod cover. Fret wire is medium gauge, immaculately installed as you’d expect, on the Gibson-like 305mm (12-inch) cambered, bound Macassar ebony ’board. We’ve said it before and have to say it again: Knaggs makes exceptionally good guitars. If you’re looking for flaws, good luck. The dual-humbucker layout with its shoulder-mounted pickup selector is par for the course, though where we’d usually find a bridge pickup tone control there is a momentary action kill switch (you can order it with a standard tone control if you prefer). The double-black ’bucker at the neck is Duncan’s classic SH-2N Jazz (described as a “bright, vintage-output humbucker, which stays clear even under extreme distortion”); the bridge is a lesser-known Duncan Custom Shop pickup, a zebra-coiled ’78. “As an EVH fanatic/ devotee/disciple/worshipper, I had to have one,” enthuses Doug. “Honestly, it was more the concept of the pickup that interested me – a clone of the pickup Seymour rewound for EVH back in 1978. A PAF supposedly from an old ES-335. I was a Duncan JB player for years! “I’m really savvy with that pickup,” he continues. “When I got my first Knaggs, it


Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai

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came with a much lower-output ’59. My intention was to immediately swap it for my usual JB, but I was enjoying it so much with the ’59: clarity, open sounding… all the usual benefits of lower-output pickups. So now I’m in love with PAF-type pickups. The thing I liked about the ’78 was that it was basically a great PAF with a little more output. I had found that the lack of output in the ’59, and other PAF-type pickups, to be a little too gentle – not pushing the amps hard enough for me. My range as a player goes from straight-ahead blues all the way

through classic rock, hard rock through heavy metal. The ’78, as a low-medium output pickup, lets me comfortably cover all that on guitar. And it does a fantastic Van Halen! So if you can forget that it’s a EVH pickup, you’ll just have a high-quality PAF with just a little more ‘poop’ on it. Very versatile.”

4. The Influence bridge is an original Knaggs design combining a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge connected to the proprietary anchor block that “creates more sustain and harmonics in different ranges”, says Joe Knaggs

Feel & sounds

There’s an elegant simplicity to this guitar that belies the craft. The guitar disappears: its good weight, the full rounded depth of

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Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai

5. Unlike the flat, uncontoured back of a Les Paul, the Kenai has a rib-cage cut and edge chamfering that aims to create a “wrap-around feel”, reckons Joe Knaggs

6. Part of the Knaggs’ timeless, classic design ethos, this three-a-side head looks like it could have been designed in the 50s – or before. Unlike the body and neck, it’s unbound and ebony faced

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the neck, the classic, relatively small fret wire, the resonance, a full, luscious acoustic ring and sustain, the switch and control placement… It feels like a guitar you’ve played all your life, a road-buddy that’s never let you down. Warming up our test rig with our ’57 Les Paul Junior, we’re reminded of the Kenai’s heritage, not least its big rounded neck profile, although the DR slightly expands it (and it’s fractionally bigger in the higher positions than an older Knaggs we have with its ’59 profile). Whatever, it feels like a big neck and like the sounds it helps to produce… well, ‘meaty’ springs to mind. Continuing with a 2017 Les Paul Standard, we’re bang up to date in terms of single-cut tone, but plug in the Knaggs and we’re treated to a single-cut voice that’s hugely organic, more muscular with a clarity combined with a thumpingly hugesounding, resonant midrange grind and fat low-end. It simply sounds huge. Did we say that already? But it’s far from a one-trick pony. Pull back the volumes and the Jazz creates a surprisingly rootsy Americana voice that – mixed with the ’78 – is springy, expressive and almost single coil-like. While it excels at Doug’s signature AC/DC/Van Halen

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crunch, rolling the volume back also summons up plenty of single-cut greats: cleaner Peter Green through Mick Ronson’s Spiders-era edgy rhythm and plenty more besides. It’s a guitar that allows you to suggest styles, not the other way around. Like we said, it feels and sounds like a guitar we’ve had for years. The truth is, with time and playing, it’ll only get better.

Verdict

We’re constantly criticised for writing about elitist high-end instruments, and while sometimes it is very difficult to justify an instrument’s cost, that’s not the case here. Elsewhere in this issue we look at lower-cost single-cuts that are perfectly valid, yet none of those capture the muscular power of this one on full tilt. Kill switch aside (and that’s optional), there are no bells or whistles: its calling card is the vast experience of its maker, married with intelligent twists such as the body’s geometry, that unique bridge design, its top-drawer materials all presented – by design – in this workingman’s blue collar vibe. No, it’s not cheap, but bundle all of the above into the equation and not only would we strongly suggest you try one, we’d simply say, start saving.

Knaggs Doug RappopoRt Kenai PRICE: £3,890 (inc case) ORIGIN: USA TYPE: Single-cutaway, carved top, solidbody electric BODY: 1-piece mahogany with carved Tier 3 maple top NECK: Mahogany, DR Custom profile, glued-in SCALE LENGTH: 629mm (24.75”) NUT/WIDTH: Bone/43.2mm FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony, pearl block inlays, 305mm (12”) radius FRETS: 22, medium jumbo HARDWARE: Knaggs Influence bridge base/tailpiece with Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge; Grover Rotomatic w/ ‘kidney’ buttons STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51mm ELECTRICS: Seymour Duncan SH-2N Jazz (neck), Custom Shop ’78 (bridge), 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, individual pickup volumes, master tone and kill switch WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.87/8.5 OPTIONS: The base price is £3,495; the bound fingerboard adds £395. Other options: dual volume/tone controls, gold hardware, rosewood ’board, Tier 1 top, quilt top (£POA) RANGE OPTIONS: The Kenai, in three ascending levels from Tier 3 to Tier 1, starts around £2,695 LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Vintage ’Burst (as reviewed), large range of colours (see website) – satin nitrocellulose World Guitars 01453 824306 https://worldguitars.co.uk

9 PROS Top-drawer design and build; muscular single-cut tonality and workingman’s vibe CONS The non-LP looks won’t appeal to everyone


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Chapman ML1 Pro TradiTionaL & ML2 Pro Modern

Guitarist september 2017


Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

f i r st p l ay

ChaPman mL1 Pro TradiTionaL £869 WHAT IS IT? Modern bolt-on with numerous high-end tweaks

ChaPman mL2 Pro modern £1,049 WHAT IS IT? Neck-through single-cut with liquid playability

Crowd Pleasers

Conceived by YouTube star Rob Chapman with input from his online community, the new 2017 range boasts impressive modern spec at tidy prices Words  Dave Burrluck  Photography  Neil Godwin

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here’s a strong and welcome whiff of people power when it comes to Chapman guitars. Brand founder, Rob (aka the Monkey Lord), isn’t a dusty tonewood tappin’ guitar maker; he’s a guitar-toting internet celebrity-cum-entrepreneur who’s gone from creating a smattering of electrics in 2009 to a full-blown range of some 29 new models. “The culmination of 18 months worth of feedback, comments, chats and meetings with the guitar-playing public,” says Chapman Guitars’ MD, Matt Hornby. The guitars are now available in over 20 countries worldwide. The range is split into three tiers – Standard, Pro and Signature. We selected a duo of Pro models that start with classic benchmarks then give them a modernist makeover. The ML1 Pro Traditional, in this ‘naked’ ultra-thin natural satin finish, is about as raw as it gets. The light ‘swamp’ ash body (35mm deep at the rim with a maximum depth of 45.6mm) has a typical thick, wavy-grained figure that is smooth to the touch but you can certainly feel the grain. The smoother satin back of the maple neck feels equally as good – this whole thing feels like a custom shop construct, not a product from the Korean World Music factory that builds for numerous brands, including PRS (SE range)

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The ML1 has just about everything going for it: weight, acoustic resonance and positive playability and certain Guild Newark St models. There’s a PRS-ish aspect to the top carve with a flatter centre than many, its thinner horns adding to the modernist vibe. The edge radius is tight, but we have a good rib-cage cut adding to the sculptural feel, while smaller details such as the recessed back covers and washers for the four neck screws continue the classy vibe. The reversed and pointed-tipped Tele-style headstock boasts Hipshot rear-locking tuners. The two-post vibrato is unnamed but features a sharply machined brass block with deepdrilled string anchor holes and brass saddles with what appears to be a slightly textured plating. Simplistic, stripped-down quality applies to the electrics, too: a trio of Chapman Venus Witch single coils (with Alnico 5 rod magnets), direct mounted to the body (with height adjustment), master volume and tone, and the ubiquitous S-style five-way pickup selector with the output passing to a sidemounted socket securely fitted to its oval metal plate. Schaller-style strap locks are standard. Equally obvious in terms of its original inspiration, the ML2 Pro Modern nonetheless impresses with a sharp, if not sharper

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1. The reverse headstock here will have a subtle effect on the bending feel of the strings, not the actual string tension


Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Chapman ML1 Pro TradiTionaL & ML2 Pro Modern

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build. Based on a maple through-neck with mahogany wings and nicely violin-like dished centre-jointed maple top, it’s thinner than a Les Paul with a similar depth to the ML1 (around 36mm at the rim with a max depth of 45mm). It comes with a more substantial weight, but not off the scale at 8.4lbs. There’s a slight PRS-like scoop in the treble cavity and a sharp-pointed horn – both enhancing its modernism – and again a custom shop vibe is suggested with the matt jet black ebony ’board and 24 stainless-steel frets. With the almost faded blue colouration of the maple top and muted black hardware, it all ties in smartly. Less so perhaps the rather foreshortened headstock with a brown striped ebony facing – it doesn’t tie in colour-wise and its square top looks uncharacteristically unimaginative. Powering here is from a pair of black-coiled Stentorian humbuckers, again using Alnico 5 magnets and mounted directly to the body without mounting rings. The cavities are very cleanly cut, but in combination with the raked back neck pitch, the bridge pickup does sit rather high – its baseplate is virtually in line with the face of the body. Both pickups are set

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a little further than most from the strings and need firmer support underneath to raise them.

Feel & Sounds

With such sharp, clean presentation, there’s a danger that – like many modern instruments – these could feel rather sterile. They really don’t. The ML1 has just about everything going for it: a light weight, nice snappy acoustic resonance, shallow flattened C profile neck (around 20.6mm at the 1st fret, 21.7mm at the 12th) and hugely positive playability. Despite two string trees and that reverse headstock, tuning stability from the vibrato is really good: up-bend is limited to around one tone on the G string; down is virtually to slack. Like the ML1, the ML2 ships with 0.009s, which feel slightly floppy; we’d go up a gauge here. But the supplied slinky setup is hard to criticise, especially if you want a fast drive. The neck profile is pretty similar and virtually untapered (around 20.5mm at the 1st fret, 20.7mm at the 12th). All the controls fall easily under your hand – they look a little cramped, but in use are intuitive and fast, while the Telestyle knurled knobs are very grippable, not

2. The ML1 Pro is equipped with a good-quality two-post vibrato with push-fit, tension adjustable arm, deep-drilled brass block and saddles 3. Stainless steel frets are fitted on both these Pro Series Chapmans – they’ll last longer than standard frets

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Chapman ML1 Pro TradiTionaL & ML2 Pro Modern

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4. Rarely used on solidbodies outside of the modern-rock ‘shred’ world, and found throughout the Chapman range, a through-neck like this potentially adds a smooth sustain and, some believe, brightness and attack. The body ‘wings’ under the maple top are mahogany 5. Another ‘Marmite’ feature, a volute strengthens the weakest, thinnest point of the neck, especially when there is a cavity to adjust the two-way truss rod, as here 6. Rather un-singlecut-like, the controls nonetheless fall right under your picking hand. Here, we have two volumes and a master tone with pull-switch to split both humbuckers, voicing the inner single coils

With its hot bridge pickup, the ML2 quite is a ride for driving a cranked Vox or Marshall least for pulling up the tone switch to voice the pickups’ split coils. It’s these tuned-in features that make these models seem more like artistdesigned guitars, which in reality they are. Irrespective of the design tweaks, plugged in, the ML1 is a ‘Strat’ through and through. And if you prefer yours on the brighter side, dry, crisp and resonant, then you’ve hit pay dirt. While many of us might wrestle with a big ol’ 50s-style neck, heavy strings and big actions, this is the antithesis – it’s a fast player with a sensible ’board radius that doesn’t fret out and the neck feels as comfortable for thumbaround as it does with thumb-behind. It almost has an active ‘edge’ to the crisp highs, which can easily be tamed by the master tone: it’s springy and funky, does a great Edge or equally Nile Rodgers studio-Strat. If you asked players what they don’t like about a Strat, this might well be the answer. It would make a superb platform for a pair of hot PAFs, too. The ML2 drops right into the modern-rock single-cut slot. Yes, it’s thinner than a more classic LP-style – both in size and sound – but with the hot bridge pickup selected, it’s quite a ride for driving a cranked Vox or Marshall, with a couple of boost pedals for good measure. These pickup heights are a little low, but we’re not sure it matters. Likewise, the splits (which voice both inner single coils

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Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Chapman ML1 Pro TradiTionaL & ML2 Pro Modern

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ChaPman ML1 Pro ChaPman ML2 Pro TradiTionaL Modern

6 of the ’buckers) hardly add woody ‘Strat’ – they’re altogether more pristine – and dialling in a few Helix LT presets with some dense modulation and reverb, the ML2 really sings in a contemporary fashion. A modern single-cut that is an effortless player but with a big kick.

Verdict

Helped by direct-to-retailer pricing, both guitars offer a spec that’s hard to beat at these prices – and you get good cases, too. The ML1 Traditional is very nicely put together: a crisply voiced modern Strat-alike (though far from a clone) that’s light, lively and resonant. It’s a slinky player with obvious potential for any modders, although it’s ready to funk and rock straight from that case. The ML2 takes the single-cut platform but – in a more ergonomic size – adds a through-neck, different but very viable control positions, and creates a lighter but nicely hot single-cut voice. Neither shoot for vintage voicing, but the ML2 does suggest a thinner, brighter Les Paul Deluxe style, and both are directly aimed at effects-savvy players who are after a fast playing platform with plenty of pro-spec features that won’t break the bank. Yes, the pickup mounting on the ML2 could do with a little more thought (or simply conventional pickup rings), but it doesn’t ruin the fun. Really good guitars.

PRICE: £869 (inc case) ORIGIN: Korea TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solidbody electric BODY: Swamp ash, carved top with natural edge NECK: Maple, bolt-on SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”) NUT: Graph Tech Tusq/42.25mm FINGERBOARD: Maple, 12th fret black Infinity inlay, 250mm (9.84”) radius FRETS: 22, jumbo stainless steel HARDWARE: Chapman 2-Point Tremolo with Brass Block with Brass Saddles, Hipshot Grip-Lock Openback tuners – chrome-plated STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53mm ELECTRICS: 3x Chapman Witch single coils, 5-position lever pickup selector switch, master volume and tone controls WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.3/7.26 OPTIONS: None RANGE OPTIONS: The ML1 Pro Modern (£969) features dual humbuckers, hardtail bridge and through-neck. The Standard series ML1 Traditional retails at £429 LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Natural (as reviewed), White Dove – satin finish

PRICE: £1,049 (inc case) ORIGIN: Korea TYPE: Single-cutaway, solidbody electric BODY: Carved maple top, mahogany wings NECK: Maple (3-piece quarter-sawn) through neck SCALE LENGTH: 635mm (25”) NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech Black Tusq XL/43.6mm FINGERBOARD: Ebony, pearl bars and 12th fret pearl Infinity inlay, 305mm (12”) radius FRETS: 24, jumbo stainless steel HARDWARE: Chapman tune-o-matic with stud tailpiece, Hipshot Grip-Lock Open tuners – black-plated STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51mm ELECTRICS: 2x Chapman Stentorian humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, individual volumes and master tone (w/ pull/push coil-split switch) WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.83/8.4 OPTIONS: None RANGE OPTIONS: The Standard series ML2 Modern costs £449 LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Dusk (as reviewed), Fireburst – satin finish

Chapman Guitars 01273 251993 www.chapmanguitars.co.uk

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PROS Build, weight, playability and modern voicing

PROS Build and playability; modern hot ’n’ light single-cut sounds

CONS Not the ‘woodiest’ Strat-alike we’ve ever heard

CONS The pickup mounting needs some attention

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first play

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Supro 1685RT NepTuNe ReveRb 2x12 combo

Guitarist september 2017


Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

f i r st p l ay

Supro 1685rT NepTuNe reverb 2x12 combo £1,499 WHAT IS IT? 2x12 all-valve combo, developed from a request by SIR, with authentic 1960s styling and tone

Neptune rising Supro goes big on size, 60s styling and vintage sounds with its latest combo release Words  Nick Guppy  Photography  Neil Godwin 

S

upro is one of the world’s oldest musical instrument brands, so it’s been good to see them revived and back on the shelves again with an everexpanding range of original and classic designs. The latest model to be released is the 1685RT Neptune Reverb, a 2x12 combo with reverb and tremolo, decked out in Supro’s 1964 reissue vinyl. This amp was developed by Supro in partnership with SIR (Studio Instrument Rentals), the USA’s largest backline rental company, and is apparently a response to artist requests for a 2x12 Supro with reverb, as an alternative to Fender’s Twin and Vox’s AC30. The 1685RT is a substantial amp, with a wide-body cabinet housing two of Supro’s British-voiced BD12 drivers, which were developed for the award-winning Black Magick amplifier. Despite the Neptune’s size and weight, there’s just one single carry handle on the top: it’s a high-quality leather affair, but that doesn’t make the amp any lighter – 25kg is a lot of weight to swing on one hand and playing a guitar with an arm or wrist injury is no fun. In fairness to Supro, for pro backline rental use you’d expect the Neptune to be carted around in

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first play

Supro 1685RT NepTuNe ReveRb 2x12 combo

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3 1. The Neptune’s vintageinspired circuit has controls for volume, treble and bass. No master volume means you have to turn it up for natural overdrive sounds 2. Note the classic Supro badge and mid-1960s Supro styling, with silver sparkle grille cloth and blue rhino hide Tolex 3. The built-in valve tremolo effect has controls for speed and depth, with plenty of range to cover most players’ needs

a flight case with wheels by road crew, where the lack of carry handles would be irrelevant. Inside the smart blue cabinet is a robust tray chassis containing Supro’s typically highquality printed circuit boards, which hold most components, including the valve bases. Component quality is good, with metal film resistors to keep hiss levels down and neat, tidy wiring. The Neptune uses a pair of 6973 output valves, a type more commonly found in vintage jukeboxes but also used on some early Supros and considered to be a key part of the vintage Supro sound. The 6973 looks similar to an EL84, but isn’t interchangeable because the pin connections are different. Also inside the cabinet is a long pan reverb spring, which is valve powered, along with the amp’s vintage tremolo effect. The Neptune’s control panel is very easy to navigate; it’s a straightforward single-channel affair with a single input jack and knobs for volume, treble, bass, reverb level, tremolo speed and depth.

Feel & Sounds

We tried out the Neptune with a variety of single-coil and humbucking guitars, including a Strat with Duncan Alnico Pros and a PAF-

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Guitarist september 2017

equipped Les Paul Standard. The Neptune has no preamp gain control, so most of the amp’s overdrive effects come from turning it up. At lower volume settings, the Neptune produces fat ‘blackface’-inspired cleans with lots of headroom. The tone controls interact smoothly and it’s easy to dial in any guitar; adding a little more treble for humbuckers is all that’s needed to retain a nice even balance. Turn the volume up and things get progressively raunchier, with Supro’s characteristic edgy overdrive balanced by a punchy midrange producing a great classic rock lead/rhythm crunch. With no preamp gain, the amount of drive you can get depends on how high up you turn the volume control and what kind of guitar you use. Low-output single coils have a nice crunchy clarity; however, you need a good beefy humbucker if you want to drive the Neptune hard. Alternatively, any decent stompbox will do the trick. Indeed, the Neptune’s medium-gain preamp makes it an ideal partner for effects, although everything has to go in through the guitar input as there’s no built-in effects loop. The Neptune’s built-in tremolo sounds excellent, with a good range of speed and


Video demo

Supro 1685RT NepTuNe ReveRb 2x12 combo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

first play

4

Supro 1685RT NepTuNe ReveRb 2x12 combo PRICE: £1,499 ORIGIN: USA TYPE: All-valve preamp and power amp, with solid-state rectifier OUTPUT: 25W RMS VALVES: 4x 12AX7, 1x 12AT7, 2x 6973 DIMENSIONS: 710 (w) x 460 (h) x 265mm (d) WEIGHT (kg/lb): 25/55 CABINET: Birch ply CHANNELS: 1 CONTROLS: Volume, bass and treble, reverb level, tremolo speed and depth FOOTSWITCH: 2-button footswitch selects reverb/tremolo effect ADDITIONAL FEATURES: None OPTIONS: None RANGE OPTIONS: None JHS 01132 865 381 www.suprousa.com 4. A pair of Supro’s custom-made BD12 loudspeakers feature here, which are fitted to several other models in the Supro range including the awardwinning Black Magick

depth control. The reverb on this sample was less inspiring, with a pronounced cyclical fluctuation that makes it sound more like a short delay with the feedback control turned up, rather than a splashy cavern. We’ve heard better spring reverbs from Supro in the past, so maybe this was a one-off. Both reverb and tremolo can be foot-switched if needed.

verdict

Turn the volume up and things get progressively raunchier, with Supro’s characteristic edgy overdrive balanced by a punchy midrange

Big 2x12 combos aren’t for everyone: they’re often unwieldy, heavy brutes that demand an extra degree of dedication if you’re responsible for your own carriage. However, the second loudspeaker adds considerable depth and projection, and on a big stage where it can be wound up properly, the Neptune’s relatively low output is ideally suited for players who like to drive everything from their guitar. As USA-assembled amps go, the price is about right, but bear in mind the Neptune is all about vintage appeal, with no modern features such as effects loops or built-in attenuators. Aimed more towards the professional end of the market, the Neptune is a credible alternative to other vintage-type 2x12s and is definitely worth checking out.

8 PROS Classic Supro edgy drive sounds when wound up; a good live amp for the bigger stage CONS The reverb on this sample isn’t the best we’ve heard; not the most portable combo out there

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wishlist

Bushmills X Lowden F-50 Limited Edition

theWishlist

Dream gear to beg, borrow and steal for…

Bushmills X lowDen F-50 Limited edition £8,500

ContaCt  George Lowden Guitars Ltd  Phone  02844 619161  Web  www.lowdenguitars.com

Words David Mead  Photography Joseph Branston

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1. The sinker redwood used for the Lowden’s top has a distinct belllike tap tone and the timber’s stiffness gives the guitar a little more volume, too 2. Bog oak, used here for the Lowden’s back and sides, has been reclaimed from peat bogs and is estimated at being 5,000 years old 3. Each guitar in this extremely limited edition comes with a specially designed label

4. The Bushmills logo, made from superfragrant whiskey barrel oak, is inlaid at the guitar’s 12th fret

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5. A cooper’s hammer and luthier’s chisel are crossed on the instrument’s back to signify the collaboration between the two crafts 6. Barrel oak is used once again for the bevel at the guitar’s lower bout in order to significantly enhance player comfort

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Guitarist september 2017


Bushmills X Lowden F-50 Limited Edition

wishlist

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he connection between musicmaking and alcohol is, of course, well  established, but the folk at Lowden  Guitars and Bushmills Irish Whiskey are  celebrating it in a way that might not have  crossed your mind. The association here is  not only the craft and experience that goes  into making both whiskey and fine acoustic  guitars, but wood as well – oak, to be precise  – and, even more to the point, the oak from  which whiskey barrels are made.  There’s a further link, too, in that most of the  wood used in the manufacture of the guitar  has, at some point, been immersed in liquid.  Take, for instance, the soundboard timber:  sinker redwood has been submerged in river  water and reclaimed, dried out and used as a  premium tonewood. Its life under water has  given it a unique look, with dark stripes amid  the grain of the russet-coloured wood.  “Typically,” George Lowden tells us,  “when you dry it out it’s quite stiff and has  that bell-like tap tone… It has that ability to  vibrate a bit more quickly because it’s stiffer.  Also, because it’s lightweight, the degree of  excursion when you pluck the string gives it  a little bit of extra volume as well.”  So much for the top wood, but the  submarine story doesn’t end there because  the back and sides are made from bog oak –  wood that has been engulfed in peat bogs for  5,000 years meaning the trees that yielded  their timber for these guitars were growing  before the pyramids were built. To top it off,  the wood from the whiskey barrels has been  used for the back inlay, soundbox bevel,  bindings, rosette and the 12th fret inlay.  We were curious as to whether the barrel  wood – known as ‘staves’ – still carries the  fragrance of the liquid it once embraced?  “The aromas coming from those staves was  amazing,” George confirms. “It takes a long  time for it to leave the staves completely.  I remember when I was bringing the individual  parts of the barrel back to the workshop, I had  the back of the car filled up and if I had been  stopped by the police I think they would have  impounded the car, never mind me!” 

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The Lineup Don’t miss it! Must-see guitar goings-on for the coming weeks…

The Darkness

Pinewood Smile, 6 October

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ith a new album, followed by a tour  and even a film, The Darkness are  coming back in a big way. We talk  to Dan Hawkins about why the band is in the  best place it’s ever been now, and his love of  the Marshall Super Lead… 

It seems like the band is in a really good place, but what’s it been like for The Darkness since the reunion in 2011? “When we got back together, the manager,  label and band thought it was going to be  a ‘Ta da!’ kind of moment and it kind of  misfired a bit. But I was talking to someone  today and he was comparing our last three  albums to the three albums Aerosmith  did when they got back together. And it’s  interesting how they mapped ours with this  latest one being our Pump. And I love Pump,  so I was happy with that comparison.  “It’s cool, but we’ve had so many different  issues – things not related to the actual  music and the element of the Darkness that  is about fun. More legal stuff, management  issues and drummers departing… just so  much crap. We’re now in a place where we’ve  finally got through it all. All the people we  didn’t want to work with have gone forever,  all of the lawyers who were chasing us for  this that and God knows what have all been  paid and have gone away. We’ve got the  ultimate line-up and we all get on so well.  Plus we’ve got an awesome management  team and a great label.”

The stuff that he’s singing on the album is  generally lyrics he’s written. I’d say he and  I were the nucleus of the music. We would  work on riffs and musical arrangements,  get them up to a point while the other guys  were doing the flowery stuff and working  out where it’s going to go. He and I worked  incredibly close together on all the music.  So I guess we are branching out because  there’s a new writer in the band.” Is it still Gibson/Marshall for you? “I’ve been on this sonic experiment for  God knows how many years now. I started  working with this guitar technician called Ian  Norfolk, and it’s terrible, really – he eggs me  on because he’s an into experimenting with  amps as I am, just trying to find that perfect  tone. We’ve gone through mountains of  gear in the last couple of years, but the one  thing I keep coming back to is the Marshall  Super Lead. I made a real breakthrough in  that department recently. I tried boutique  versions and hand-wired versions or  Marshalls and modded Marshalls. I tried  every different make you can imagine  trying to find the tone in my head, and  the unequivocal thing I’ve found is that –  unfortunately for me and the first five rows 

– is the sound in my head is a 100-watt Plexi  with no power break or attenuation through  four 4x12 Greenbacks. That’s it and there’s  nothing on this planet that beats that sound  for me. But it’s so loud I can’t have it facing  towards me; I now have to have it facing off  towards the monitor guy! And it’s amazing  how versatile that amp is, just with you  volume control.” There’s a Darkness documentary coming next year, too… “Yes, with this guy Simon Emmett, who is  an award-winning photographer who’s shot  everyone from Jay Z to supermodels. He also  made this film about his local football club  Barnet FC called Underhill. What he does  is kind of like human interest stories and  focuses on underdogs and the commitment  of fans, things like that. Then he asked if he  could do one on us. We were very flattered.  “That was about three years ago and the  cameras haven’t really stopped rolling since.  It’s one almighty editing job. That’s the main  element of the crowdfunding campaign, to  find someone worth their salt to go through  the footage and pull the film together. We’re  hoping it will be finished next year.” [Read  more about the Indiegogo campaign at  http://bit.ly/darknessfilm.] 

Pinewood Smile will be released on 6 October via Cooking Vinyl. The Darkness start their tour in Ireland this October before UK dates in November www.thedarknesslive.com

Apart from the Pump comparison, how would you describe your new album, Pinewood Smile? “It’s like for the last [two] albums we’ve been  looking back at what we liked about what  we’ve done in the past and trying to take  elements of that and redo it. But this album  is so not like that. Let’s do whatever, let’s  have a laugh and not worry about whether  we’re going to have any hits. I think you can  hear that. The album doesn’t really care!” It sounds like your chemistry is branching out as a band on this record… “Definitely, and Rufus [Taylor, drums] is  heavily involved in the writing on this record. 

The Darkness’s powerful new dynamic is being captured on film for a forthcoming documentary

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The Lineup

What’s Goin’ On

All the best guitar events happening over the next few weeks, in one place Sonny Landreth 24 September 229 The Venue, London Anyone who needs a reminder as to why the Louisiana bluesman is regarded as one of the most expressive players to ever wield a slide would do well to pick up the recently released Recorded Live In Lafayette. And while that showcases a master at work, it’s refreshing to hear that Landreth had to work hard on his chops just like the rest of us. “God, my slide playing was awful at the start,” he reveals. “I don’t know if it was harder on me, my family or my dog. I knew I was getting a little better when he quit barking! The thing with slide is that it’s a totally different approach than traditional guitar, and the fact that you gotta control the pitch, that’s the beauty and the beast of it. When you start improving, it’s quite the elation.” Be sure to catch Sonny later in the month for his only UK date on the European leg of the tour. www.sonnylandreth.com

Andy James & Angel Vivaldi

The Kentucky HeadHunters

Various UK venues

Various UK venues

Andy James is one of the UK’s foremost metal lead players, releasing solo instrumental albums and also working with the bands Sacred Mother Tongue and, more recently, Wearing Scars. Now he’s teaming up with US counterpart Vivaldi to showcase their solo work. www.facebook.com/ AndyJamesOfficial

Although both well established and well travelled in the US, the Southern rockers HeadHunters only toured the UK for the first time last year at the behest of guitarist Richard Young’s son John Fred, who is the drummer in Black Stone Cherry. Richard’s brother Fred also features on drums. www.kentuckyheadhunters.net

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

2 to 15 October

24 to 30 September Various UK arenas Cave’s return to touring follows the aftermath of his son’s tragic death in 2015. “We’ve been in a strange place,” says Cave. “I’m coming out and blinking into the light… It’s good to be playing again.” www.nickcave.com

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Guitarist september 2017

2 to 10 October

The War On Drugs

Various UK venues

Glasgow, Manchester, London, Portsmouth

9 to 30 October

This solo acoustic tour comes in support of two new albums. The first, Acoustic Classics II, is a follow-up to 2014’s Acoustic Classics and again features acoustic versions of classic Thompson songs. Acoustic Rarities will surface later this year with a focus on his more obscure material . www.richardthompson-music.com

Andy McKee

Manchester Folk Festival

Various UK and Ireland venues

Various Manchester venues

Andy impressed fellow acoustic virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel so much when he saw him play, he was the first signing to Tommy’s CGP Sounds label (we recommend their live version of Toto’s Africa on YouTube). Andy will be hitting our shores in October and also playing dates in Ireland. www.andymckee.com

This new festival will be focused on venues in the city centre and promises “the spirit of a festival in a field – minus the chemical toilets and the mud”. The bill showcases very good reasons to be excited about the UK folk scene with John Smith and Ben Walker among the players. www.manchesterfolkfestival.org.uk

19 to 22 October

9 to 15 November

With forthcoming album, A Deeper Understanding, set to further raise the band’s profile, the guitar playing and vision of Adam Granduciel will reach more ears – a thoughtful musician melding the 80s euphoria of Springsteen and The Waterboys with leftfield tonal approaches. www.thewarondrugs.net

Robbie Mackintosh & Michael Messer 17 to 19 November

Pocklington Arts Centre, York This blues and roots weekend is an opportunity for guitarists to learn from two of the finest blues players in the UK. Mackintosh has toured with McCartney and Mayer, while Messer is a virtuoso slide player with a 30-year career dedicated to the blues. www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk

PhotograPhy by travisgauthier

21 to 27 September

Richard Thompson


The Players

The Lineup

News and happenings from the world of your favourite guitarists Ed O’Brien’s EOB Sustainer Strat will be launched in November

Yngwie Malmsteen: “It’s important for me to feel like I’m doing my own thing”

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Strat Spirit Fender to launch Radiohead man’s signature model

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espite being a band with three guitarists for 32 years, no member of Radiohead has ever hinted at a signature model until now. Keen-eyed fans may have already spotted it at the band’s Glastonbury headline appearance in June, but now it’s official: Fender has partnered with the band’s Ed O’Brien to create the EOB Sustainer Stratocaster (£949) for a November launch and some tantalising sonic potential in its pickup configuration. As its name suggests, the most notable feature here is the Fernandes Sustainer pickup in the neck position. Providing near-infinite sustain, it’s further manipulated with three modes (Fundamental, Harmonic-Only and Blend) plus an intensity control. The other two pickup positions are further into classic territory – a Seymour Duncan JB Jr in the bridge and Texas Special single coil in the middle position. The Mexican-made Stratocaster also features a 10/56 V neck profile, 21 narrow-jumbo frets and the subtle signature touch of a neck plate engraved with a custom ‘Flower Of Life’ emblem. Keep an eye on future issues for more from Ed O’Brien. www.fender.com

uitarist was saddened to hear that Ray Phiri – the South African guitarist who backed Paul Simon on the hugely successful Graceland and The Rhythm Of The Saints albums – passed away from lung cancer in Nelspruit on 12 July, aged 70. As well as his influential work alongside Simon, Phiri founded Stimela, an Afro-fusion band actively involved in opposing apartheid throughout the 80s. Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes will reunite on stage for two UK gigs with Black Country Communion in January next year, following the release of fourth album, BCCIV, on 22 September. They’ll play Hughes’ home turf of Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall on 2 January and London’s Hammersmith Apollo on 4 January. This looks like your only chance to catch the band for a while. Ahead of a rumoured reunion of Smashing Pumpkins’ classic line-up, mainman Billy Corgan’s first acoustic signature model was announced at the recent summer NAMM show. Corgan co-designed the limited-edition jumbo with Yamaha, based on its LJ16R model. Features include his ‘zero’ logo on the headstock, Gotoh vintagestyle tuners, passive under-saddle pickup, brass bridge pins and ARE treatment to its spruce top. 100 of the limited run of 400 will ship in a Brown Sunburst finish.

Yngwie Malmsteen has told us that he believes, with the exception of himself and the late Allan Holdsworth, guitar heroes all have one thing in common: “It’s a strange thing to say, because I’ve been on the road with Steve Vai and all those guys a few times. We’ve spent a lot of time together and I’ve gotten to know how they think… and they all have that in common – they love other guitar players.” In contrast, while Holdsworth drew from the saxophone for inspiration, the Swedish shredder looked to the classical violin of 19th century firebrand Paganini. “You may run the risk of having slightly less identity,” he says of only looking to guitar for influence, “but I wouldn’t want to knock anyone for that. I understand how it feels. When I was a kid I wanted to be like Blackmore because he was cool, but it’s important for me to feel like I’m doing my own thing.” Specials bassist Horace Panter was recently reunited with the Fender Precision bass he used on the band’s 1981 single, Ghost Town. After trading it in later in 1989, he regretted his decision, but as luck would have it, he stumbled upon the bass again for sale at Coventry music shop Noise Works. “I bought it back for considerably more than I paid for it!” notes Horace. “To say that I am pleased to have it back is something of an understatement.”

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obituary

Bill Collings

BILL COLLINGS 1948 – 2017

William Ralph ‘Bill’ Collings, founder of Collings Guitars of Austin, Texas, died on 14 July 2017, aged 68, after a short but severe battle with cancer. He was much loved and highly respected both within the guitar industry and by a loyal group of customers worldwide

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ill Collings’ story began in August  1948 in Midland, Michigan, born  into a family of engineers. His  parents encouraged him towards  medicine, but after a stint as a pre-med  student in Cleveland, Ohio, he took a job at a  machine shop, fascinated by the process of  manufacturing. He moved to Houston, Texas  in the mid-70s where his interest in “figuring  out how to make stuff” became increasingly  focused on acoustic instrument building,  albeit in his spare time. Arriving in Austin in ’79,  his building and repair work began to attract  the attention of local musicians, notably  Lyle Lovett who remains a Collings Guitars  endorsee, friend and ambassador to this day. By the late 1980s, Collings had hired his  first employees following a more concerted  effort to “take guitar building seriously” and,  in his words, “quit partying”. His intention  was to build a business as his wife, Ann, was  expecting their daughter, Sara. The word  spread and the reputation grew as Collings  Guitars began turning up in the hands of  players including Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell  and Keith Richards. Fast forward to 2017,  the artist roster is extensive and there are  currently close to 100 staff at a purposebuilt manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas,  meticulously balancing precision engineering  and hand-crafting across some 3,000  acoustic and electric instruments per year.  In 2014 a sister brand was added, Waterloo  Guitars, focusing on Depression-era flat-tops. His interests weren’t solely in guitars. He  was a keen sailor. In fact, he met his first  employee – master luthier Bruce VanWart –  over a conversation to build a boat. He was  also never far from car or a motorcycle, or at  least part of one. There were various engine  components and panels bustling for space 

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in Collings’ ostensibly chaotic ‘office’, while  body shells, chassis and works-in-progress  filled an adjacent building. In the same way he  acquired a machine to beat his own car body  panels, he insisted on installing machinery to  make and press the company’s own laminate  timbers for certain thinline electric guitars,  starting with the I-35LC in 2011. Collings’ no-compromise doggedness with  new developments often resulted in extended  trial and error: what most big companies call  R&D, yet what most guitar companies would  laugh out of the boardroom at inception given  its open-ended ‘it-will-be-done-when-it’sdone’ nature. In his view, perfection didn’t  exist, but “you can get real close”. It might  have been a manifold or simple piece of trim  for one of his hot-rods, or a two-year project of  reimagining the humble guitar case. He was  both fortunate and canny in having a highly  dedicated, skilled and loyal team to help bring  the ideas to fruition. By any measure, that  team remains the bridge between one-off  artisan and perhaps the most peer-respected  acoustic guitar manufacturer of all. Yet  despite the achievements and consistent  development, Bill Collings was uneasy with  personal accolades or recognition, no matter  how frequently they poured in.  When meeting him for the first time, there  was a sense of reverence, though closer  friends and colleagues would point more  readily to the irrepressible and irreverent  practical joker – eye-rolling schoolboy antics,  perhaps as the levity against the innate focus. In conversation, it would take a minute  to engage, whereupon his directness and  humour were both arresting and disarming.  He’d freely give you everything he knew in a  way only he could phrase it, punctuated with  loud laugh. He gave just as freely to other 

luthiers and guitar companies should they ask  for insight or advice. And ask they did. We asked Doug and Tina Chandler, close  friends of Collings and European distributors,  for their thoughts: “Tina and I loved Bill from  the moment we first met him. He was a loyal  friend and a totally trusted business partner.  His directness often took people by surprise;  he did not suffer fools and frauds gladly, but if  he liked you he never left you in any doubt how  he felt about you. After the Brexit vote and  following the new CITES ruling, Bill was the  first one to check in on my mobile, concerned  about the impact on us and our business. “There’s no denying Bill was a tough guy to  work with – his own standards were beyond  those of most of his peers, and you had to up  your game just to stay in the same room, but  humour was never far away. Bill’s was the kind  of intrusive slapstick that often forced you to  laugh at your own shortcomings, and be the  better for it. We will miss him dearly, and we  won’t see his like again.” Bill Collings leaves a peerless legacy in  guitar making. Unequivocally, he and his  team have raised the bar for quality and  consistency in high-end acoustic and electric  instrument manufacturing. He was no genius  mad scientist, rather his was an instinctive  synergy of art and engineering; the yin and  yang so often separated in modern guitar  building. They were one and the same to him. As Lyle Lovett eloquently says: “His energy,  his drive – you feel that and you hear that in  every guitar that comes out of the shop. The  sound is full of energy, just like Bill Collings.” Collings is survived by wife, Ann, daughter,  Sara, and two sisters, Martha and Laura.  For more on Bill Collings and Collings Guitars, head to www.collingsguitars.com


ViVe La Vibrato!

You want to add a vibrato to your Gibson? are you sure? Okay, if you must. Dave burrluck considers your options…

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ack in the day, even pretty big pros had way fewer guitars in their collections than many of today’s weekend warriors. And weren’t things simple, eh? You turned up to your gig with your guitar, amp and maybe a bag of leads and a couple of effects. Today, we all obsess. ‘Hmm, do I need a Strat for this gig, a Tele for that song, or do I need my ES-335, or maybe an ES-175, for those jazzier numbers in the set?’ Before you know it, you’ve got three or more guitars on the back seat of the car – all need to be working and probably restrung, too – and you’re off to a gig that pays peanuts and the ‘stage’ is the corner of a pub, bar… or field. In an effort to reduce hardware, many of us look to instruments that ‘have it all’. Now, while some of that compromise is easily achieved with humbucking guitars that have single-coil sounds and so on, if you’re using a Les Paul or an ES-style semi or hollowbody and you need a bit of shimmer from a vibrato, it’s another guitar. Or is it? For some, of course, adding a vibrato to one of those hardtail benchmarks is akin to putting jam, not salt, on your porridge (or vice-versa!), but if it can be done in a totally reversible fashion, why the heck not? So what are our choices? Pauls (and semis) need a Bigsby, but that leaves us with a couple of holes from the unused stud tailpiece, and while Vibramate’s V7-LP Model Mounting Kit (around £76) means you don’t need to drill any holes, it’s only designed for a USA Bigsby B7 Original Vibrato (from around £161), not the cheaper, and perfectly good, licensed B70. The Stetsbar Stop Tail style (from £169) is another choice; likewise Schaller’s ‘Tremolo Les Paul’ (from around £135), which mounts on the tune-o-matic bridge posts. For serious whammy fans, Floyd Rose’s FRX Top Mount Tremolo (£289 in nickel/chrome; £329 in black) is another. The cheapest option is Duesenberg’s Les Trem II (currently from €87 on their site, though we’ve seen it cheaper elsewhere). The Stetsbar is popular and it certainly adds its own look – which may or may not suit. Schaller’s version is an unknown, but Schaller’s reputation is built on hardware that works, so you should consider it. But

Les Trem II: easy to fit and reversible, too

we’ve tested the Duesenberg Les Trem II on the Rivolta Combinata Deluxe Trem and it works, looks pretty retro and, we understand, is easy to fit and completely reversible. We ordered one from Duesenberg’s online store (a couple of months ago for €73) and it arrived in two days. The Rivolta also uses a roller-saddle tune-o-matic, not offered by Duesenberg. No problem, ours – the Roller Nash-4 – came from Axerus (£27). We’d aimed to fit the new parts to a new Guild Bluesbird, but they ended up on a Guild Newark St Starfire II. The mod is easy. Strings off, mount the new tune-o-matic. Take the stud tailpiece off, mount the new Les Trem II with its supplied studs (it includes both metric and imperial). Restring. Check string height and intonation. Done. Aesthetics are a personal choice, but on a large thinline semi the Les Trem II’s retro vibe suits the style, certainly in lieu of a Bigsby. Unlike that classy behemoth, however, the Les Trem seems lighter in weight and doesn’t affect the guitar’s balance in any noticeable way. Once the new strings were stretched, tuning was very stable used in Bigsby style, too. Oh, and restringing is a doddle, unlike a Bigsby. More fundamentally, does it affect the sound? Well, anything you mod will affect the sound – marginally or more fundamentally – but the effect is marginal here and the string ‘feel’ isn’t noticeably

changed because the string length from the saddle to anchor is the same. Plus, the pivot is still firmly fixed to the body, even though it lies in the tailpiece bar. It’s smooth in action (if not quite as smooth as a Bigsby), but it has a similar minimal shimmery range. However, we can’t help thinking our previously jazzy hollowbody now sounds more Grestch-y. It does raise the height of the combined bridge assembly, however, and the arm has to be secured with an Allen key. No biggie, but make sure you carry one in its case (and maybe another in your leads bag). It does mean that you can quite precisely set the arm’s position, though. All in all, the Les Trem II is a firm Mod Squad recommendation.

DuesenBerg Les Trem II (pLus roLLer nash-4 BrIDge) Cost: Currently €87 (Roller bridge adds £27) Skill level: If you can change your strings and do basic setup adjustments, you can fit them www.duesenberg.de Pros: Easy to install, cool looking, totally reversible; no noticeable tonal change Cons: Don’t lose the Allen key to adjust the arm; sits quite high off the body

That lot should keep you busy till next issue. In the meantime, if you have any modding questions or suggestions, drop us a line at: guitarist@futurenet.com

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9


Opinion

SeSSion diary Going Live

a da m Goldsmith

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or those of you who read last month’s  column (pay attention at the back),  you may remember that I was testing  out a new bit of gear, the Boss MS-3, which  I’d had integrated into a custom-made  pedalboard. If you missed its arrival in the  market, it’s essentially a three-loop switching  system to integrate pedals, with all of the  Boss effects onboard. This gives you the  ability to either use it to switch effects on and  off like a stompbox or – and this is the way I’ve  been using it – to set presets, each involving  multiple effects while only hitting one switch  and avoiding the tap dance. The BBC series Pitch Battle, for which I’ve  been in the house band, reached its climax  with the live final last weekend as I write this,  and that was the first big test for my new setup.  A good proportion of my work over the last 20  or so years – starting with the first Pop Idol  series – has been in TV house bands. There are  essentially two methods of recording these  kind of shows: the pre-record and the live  show. I imagine the fundamental difference is  pretty obvious, but the reality of recording the  two formats is very different. Pre-records can  be pretty tedious to make, with a lot of listening  to the warm-up guy’s ‘jokes’ and re-taking  things for camera shots, possible mistakes in  delivery by presenters, scenery problems, etc,  etc. All of this usually results in plenty of time  to faff around with guitar and effects changes,  and an hour’s show can easily take up to five  hours to record. You also have the luxury of  knowing that should any significant gear or  musical failure occur, you can probably either  do it again or fix it ‘in the mix’ before broadcast. The live show, on the other hand, is much  more exciting and fun in my opinion, because  no matter what happens, you have to get it  right – if you don’t, potentially several million  people will see and hear you get it wrong. It’s  one of my favourite ways of working as it’s  quite a buzz. All the departments (sound,  props, cameras, presenters, and so on) are  running round on full alert and concentrating  hard for the full hour or so.  So with this in mind, I used the MS-3 and a  combination of my trusty Gibsons, a 1967 335 

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session guitarist Adam Goldsmith’s micro pedalboard proves its worth in a live tV finale

and a 1972 SG. For overdrives I used a Strymon  Sunset, a J Rockett Archer, and for tape delays  a Strymon El Capistan. Any ‘Strat’ parts were  played my colleague Paul Dunne (from the  Strictly Come Dancing band) on guitar two. We had two days of rehearsal, so I had plenty  of time to program patches. This feature  really came into its own when we played a U2  song (I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking  For) very close to a medley centred around  the them of ‘Believing’, which involved The  Monkees’ I’m A Believer , R Kelly’s I Believe I  Can Fly and The Darkness’s I Believe In A Thing  Called Love in a drop D tuning.  I used the SG for all of this, and, through past  experience on The Voice, I’d already decided  to program a patch entitled ‘Edge’ for any U2  songs. This involves the use of two delays (a  dotted eighth note and a quarter-note with  the effect level set fairly high) and a touch of 

Adam with his Pitch Battle crew (L-R): drummer Neil Wilkinson, musical director Chris Egan, bassist Phil Mulford, fixer Paul Spong, engineer Trystan Francis and guitarist Paul Dunne

boost from the Archer. Obviously, when you’re  playing to a click you need to be precise about  tempo, so the very easy-to-use ‘bpm’ function  on the MS-3 delays was essential. I’d set up  some other commonly used generic sounds  as patches. Firstly, a totally clean sound with  the El Capistan loop on so I can add delay  easily if required. Next a classic, glassy Strat  patch with a touch of chorus, digital delay and  plate reverb (I Believe I Can Fly), followed by  a patch with the Archer and the El Capistan  loops engaged (I’m A Believer), and lastly the  Sunset Loop engaged for the big Marshall  sound for I Believe In A Thing Called Love.  As I didn’t have to worry about too much  tap dancing, the 12 bars’ rest I had to tune to  drop D on the SG were more than enough.  I’d heartily recommend the Boss unit and I’ll  be using it for quite a while, although maybe a  version with more loops might be nice? 


Opinion

The TWang!

Small Is Beautiful elliott r a n Da ll

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hen I was a young aspiring player,  I always dreamed of owning a  great guitar amp setup. As time  progressed, I worked my way up the chain  of cool guitar amps, eventually favouring a  hybrid ‘Frankenstein’ of four Fender Super  Reverb amps, with the insides modified to  give me 100 watts RMS. The tone was superb;  the sheer amplitude was overwhelming. And it  did some permanent damage to my hearing. As the years rolled on, all kinds of new  creations surfaced – and within the realm  of guitar amplification came some very  interesting developments. Let’s talk about  three cool examples of miniaturisation in  the guitar amplifier species. Here are three  examples of what I’m talkin’ about.

The Pignose This mini-amp made its first appearance at  the 1973 NAMM Show, and became an instant  ‘must-have’. With its faux-leather covering, a  single control – for volume (in the shape of  a pig’s nose) – what you got was a five-watt  amp, and the only manipulation of tone could  be done by opening and closing the cabinet. It  was a hoot, but a viable piece of gear for many  who were looking for new and quirky sounds.  I really loved recording with mine, as did Joe  Walsh, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton and Terry  Kath, among others. I used to place my Pignose in a large wooden  cabinet, which exaggerated the low-end and  made a big difference to the overall sound. It  just felt… bigger and fatter and warmer! The  buskers always loved it, too – it can run on  batteries and has ample power/push with  which to make your statement – anywhere.

steely Dan legend and sessioneer Elliott Randall talks us through his favourite miniature amp setups

listening experience – great for practice! But  it did a lot more: by plugging the main stereo  output into a console (or amp), you had a total  guitar rig. Perhaps not as many tonal options  as a full-blown amp, but its sound was uniquely  its own, and included chorus, echo, clean and  dirty sound options. And it could strap onto  your belt!

The iRig This is pretty tiny and weighs only a few  ounces, but the DSP package is huge.  Designed to be used with an iPhone, iPad or  computers (Mac or Windows), it interfaces  with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube apps. The  users’ choices of amplifier simulators are  more than impressive. You can dial up a 60s  Bassman, a Roland JC-120, a Marshall stack 

and dozens more – not to mention the effects  pedals choices built in, as well. Oh yes, the app  has a built-in multi-track recorder, too. So with this little powerhouse, you can get to  the gig carrying your guitar, the iRig and iPad  (or iPhone), plug into the console – or a larger  guitar amp; there’s an output jack for that,  too – and you’re good to go. I really can’t praise  this new technology highly enough. Truly 21st  century. Fewer chiropractor bills, too! So whether you are recording or performing,  the most important issues are your playing  comfort and happiness with the sound being  achieved, and the overall balance of the  ensemble. Whether you are using a couple  of hundred watts and multiple cabinets, or  any of the above examples, these ‘desirables’  remain the same. 

The tiny but mighty iRig lets you plug in and enjoy some killer tones

The Rockman I remember bumping into Boston creator and  guitarist/inventor Tom Scholz at a NAMM  show several years later. He handed me a  package and said, ‘Let me know what you  think of this.’ The ‘this’ was one of the original  Rockman X100 units. It was basically a guitar  preamp/amp without the speaker(s). It had  two mini-stereo outputs and you could use it  with a set of headphones for a ‘personalised’ 

september 2017 Guitarist

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Opinion

Here I Go AGAIn The Spirit Of Festivals

bernie marsden

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write this column after returning from  a very memorable weekend at the  Steelhouse Festival in Ebbw Vale, South  Wales. Friday night saw biblical weather  conditions that almost resulted in health  and safety closing the stage down. Luckily,  this didn’t happen, and my acoustic set on  Saturday afternoon offered up some fleeting  sunshine, although it didn’t stick around  for long – the heavens opened again after  I finished my set. The deluge on the Welsh  mountain continued.  I was planning to drive home after the gig,  but the promoter approached me backstage.  Unfortunately, Alan Nimmo, a mate of mine,  had lost his voice and so his band King King  had to cancel. The promoter asked me to 

Whatever the weather, you can’t beat the feeling of an outdoor festival, says Whitesnake legend Bernie Marsden

stay and play another set on the Sunday  afternoon with my pals Hand Of Dimes as  we had on Friday. By Sunday afternoon  the stage crew (who were magnificent  all weekend) had labelled the weekend  ‘BernieFest’ and the hashtag #BernieFest  soon appeared in my Twitter notifications! The crowd were astonishing. On all three  days I witnessed the British rock audience  totally ignore the appalling rain and simply  enjoy the music, but most of all, embrace  the spirit of the festival with welcoming  arms. Mud, more mud, along with rain and  then more rain sleeted against their faces  continually. The cold afternoon turned into a  very cold night, and back to their tents they  all went. Said tents were most definitely all 

erected in hammering rain after a two-hour  wait on the hill to the festival site. My hat  goes off to each and every one of them.  Being in a band, whether opening the  bill or headlining it, means nothing without  the crowd. The people are the festival, yet  I was treated like a King on that mountain.  Outdoor festivals are enjoyable for me for  different reasons. Sharing a cabin with the  other artists is unusual but fun. We might  be opposite each other across a muddy  pathway, but we are all basically together  and the backstage vibe is always very good.  Watching Biff Byford from Saxon wandering  around with a pair of mud-crusted wellies  on is a sight you simply don’t see backstage  at the O2 Arena!

© Michael Putland /getty

Bernie at Donington’s Monsters Of Rock in August 1981 where Whitesnake played to a crowd of 80,000 festival goers

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Guitarist september 2017


Opinion

Festivals give me the chance to see a few  bands I would probably usually miss out on.  Monster Truck from Canada were very good,  as were Toby Jepson’s new band Wayward  Sons. My point is that, despite the weather,  festivals work. The combination of the artists  and the audience make the work of the  organisers totally worthwhile. 

Bernie was at “the equivalent acoustic session of Clapton, Beck, Hendrix and Page” in the company of Martin Carthy at Stamford Arts Centre in 1999

“A White Snake Of Limos”

· “I witnessed the British rock audience totally ignore the appalling rain and embrace the spirit of the festival with welcoming arms” bernIe mArsden

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smashing their mementos to pieces outside  of their caravan. The thing is, only the rest of  us musicians and crew saw them do it. We  simply shrugged shoulders and walked away  mouthing comments. I remember Medlocke  apologising on behalf of the USA! Always  loved Rick from that day, folks. As far as internal festivals go, I was  privileged to be at the Stamford Arts Centre  in 1999. I was there to film and record the  late Larry Johnson, a fine blues singer from  Alabama and then New York. I had arranged  to meet Larry there with my good friend  Michael Roach to make a live recording; we  both took our video cameras. What I didn’t  know was I was going to be at the equivalent  acoustic session of Clapton, Beck, Hendrix  and Page! Also booked on the middle day of  the festival were Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch,  John Renbourn and Davey Graham – a real  gem of a line-up if ever such a thing existed. I saw Martin Carthy’s soundcheck and I  asked him if I could record and film a little  of it as a test for later. Martin was great and  said yes. He then informed me that the  other guys were going to be arriving during  the afternoon. I later saw and chatted to 

John Renbourn and he introduced me to  Bert Jansch. It was only then that I learned  the legendary (and I do mean legendary)  Davey Graham was going to be there as well.  I witnessed the first meeting of Jansch and  Graham for a long time and even now I can  feel quite emotional about it. Out of those  people, only the great Martin Carthy is still  with us. I made a good film and recording  with Larry Johnson, but I still shudder to  think what I could have recorded that day in  Stamford. But I have the memory and I was  lucky enough to be in the right place at the  right time. I’m playing some town festivals later this  year. I’ll be in Whitby, Clitheroe, Workington,  Troon, Darlington, Carlisle and Newbury. The  location doesn’t matter. If the audiences are  half as committed as the people I played to  last weekend the shows will be great. When I show up for festivals from now  on in Portugal, Spain, the south of France,  places where you know you can wear your  shorts and a t-shirt, I’ll think of the mud and  rain and the sheer spirit of those folks on the  mountain at the Steelhouse Fest at the end  of July 2017. See you next month. 

september 2017 Guitarist

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I was reminded of the Donington Park  Monsters Of Rock festival I played with  Whitesnake in 1981. AC/DC, Whitesnake,  Blackfoot, Slade and Blue Oyster Cult on  the bill. I do have some strange memories  from the gig, though. Although AC/DC  were the headliners, we always felt that at  least half of the crowd that day, estimated  at 80,000 punters, were purely there to  see Whitesnake. I had one of the most  memorable gigs of my career that night.  Rumours abounded that the actual number  in attendance exceeded six figures that day.  I remember the playing and I remember  the anticipation as the Back In Black bell  started the AC/DC set. The excitement was  electric. One great memory I have, which still  makes me laugh to this day, is Whitesnake’s  entrance into the festival grounds. Each  of the us entered the site in our own white  limousine, and so the spectacle was a literal  white snake of limousines slowly entering  Donington Park for everyone to see. Over the  top much? Of course, but great fun. What I still remember most to this  day, though, is Blue Oyster Cult’s antics  backstage. The promoters of the gig had  presented each individual member of each  band on the bill an engraved metal poster  of the gig; it was a nice gesture. I reckon  Blue Oyster Cult had expected to be higher  up the bill, or had a bad gig. I don’t actually  know or care, but I remember them making  a complete spectacle of themselves by 

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The Lineup

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Substitute This Issue: Stacked 5ths

We’re going systematic and theoretical this month. that might seem boring, but it can generate some new avenues. We’re working with the interval of a 5th. You’ve encountered this if you’ve ever played powerchords, as they’re simply 5ths... e5 is made up of e and b, root and 5th! What happens if we take two 5th intervals (four notes total) and space them differently? What chords will we generate?

tHe answer is ‘a lot’, so we’ll just use the C major scale, giving a manageable number of 5ths (C-G, D-A, E-B, F-C, G-D, A-E). Taking pairs of these, systematically varying the intervals in between, we get a palette of chords. For example, if you put D-A on top of F-C (whole tone interval between C and D), the resulting chord is a major 6th (F6). We discounted a few results (major 3rd, tritone, minor 7th) as the results were too ambiguous or had duplicate notes, but there’s still plenty of good stuff. As usual, play the ‘vanilla’ progression first, and then try the substitutes!

Here, the two 5ths are F-C and A-E. The interval between them is a major 6th (C to A), and that combination of notes produces a major 7th chord.

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Guitarist september 2017

Here we’ve simply moved both 5ths down to the next notes in the C major scale (E-B and G-D), but the structure of the scale means that the internal interval is now a minor 6th, so we get a minor 7th chord. Incidentally, inverting these 5ths (E-B above G-D) would give a G6 chord.

Putting a minor 3rd interval between our two 5th intervals (G-D and F-C) forms a 7sus4 chord. We’ve based all these chords on the A string, but do try other fingerings or string groups.

WitH just a semitone between the two 5th intervals (E-B, C-G), we get a first-inversion Cmaj7 (strictly Cmaj7/E). If you swapped the 5ths round, you’d have the root-position shape we used for Fmaj7 above. This shape also works as an Am9 without a root.


Barrie Cadogan

He’s played with Primal Scream and his own band Little Barrie – but how will he handle the 10 questions we ask everyone?

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What was your first guitar and when did you get it? “My first ever guitar was just a cheap Spanish guitar, which I got for Christmas in 1989. I even remember the brand name: it was called Prince and it was 40 quid. My sister’s still got it, I gave it to her. I think it still has some of the same strings on from 1989 as well!”

was that I fell over on stage when I was playing with Primal Scream. It was some kind of radio event in Scotland and I bought this pair of shoes that I thought were really cool from this vintage clothes shop in Newcastle while we were on tour, but they were really old and the soles were quite slippery – and I slipped over during a guitar solo. The rest of the band were absolutely pissing themselves. It was funny, though. I just had to carry on playing…”

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Suppose the building’s burning down; what one guitar from your collection would you save? “My Cherry Red Gibson 330, 1962. That’s the guitar I’ve had for the longest… I mean, I’ve got other guitars that mean a lot to me, but I’ve done a lot of stuff with it. That guitar marks a change in the way I play, I think, and the way my style developed came through that guitar, really. I don’t gig it as much as I used to, but I still use it a lot.”

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What’s the oldest guitar you own? “At the minute it’s probably my Les Paul Custom, that’s the oldest one I’ve got, I think – it’s a ’55. I’ve had it for about four years. When I bought it, it was in a bit of a state, it needed work and I had to get it back to how it should have been. It had been messed with, basically; someone had put a humbucker in the bridge and I had to get that taken out, filled in and a P-90 put in. It had a nasty refret, so I had to do some work on it, but it’s a cool guitar.”

· “Sometimes you’ve got to go through writing things that aren’t any good to get to the things that are interesting”

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When did you last practise and what did you play? “I’ve been playing this morning, actually. A friend of mine has lent me a guitar and it’s got flatwound strings on it; it’s got a wound third on it and so it’s not as bendy as light gauge strings, so I’ve been messing around on that, playing R&B and jump blues things on it, just for fun. It’s an old Kay guitar and it sounds really good.”

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When was the last time you changed your own strings? “I don’t do it very often; I don’t like new strings that much. Well, I don’t like them when they’re brown and awful, either! I think I changed them on my white guitar fairly recently – recent for me, anyway. But when strings are new they’re too shiny and sound a little too bright.”

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What are you doing five minutes before you go on stage and five minutes afterwards? “Just pacing the room, waiting to go on, you know? It’s that thing where you don’t know what to do with yourself. But then, coming off stage, the first thing is to ask each other what we thought of it, and sit down and collapse, look at each other to see what we made of it and open a beer or something.”

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What’s the worst thing that has happened to you on stage? “I think the funniest but most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened

What’s the closest you’ve come to quitting music? “I hope that I never quit music ever, you know? I’ve felt like quitting the industry, but not quitting music. It’s very hard for people – especially for young people starting out – if they haven’t got a lot of money behind them. Even trying to survive as a full-time musician, if you haven’t got anyone bankrolling you, it’s really hard. But if no-one booked me for a gig, I’d still play at home or something.”

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Are there any aspects of playing guitar that would you like to be better at? “I’d like to be more original. Originality and have the ability to be able to really say something with it and make people feel it. To get across the feeling that you’re after – I think that’s the most important thing.”

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What advice would you give your younger self about the guitar if you had the chance? “Obviously you need to have quality control in what you’re doing, but you need to not give yourself so much of a hard time, to the point where you can’t even try anything, you know? You know how you can sometimes talk yourself out of something, wondering if it’s any good before you’ve given it a chance – like, to complete a rough recording or something? I think that sometimes you’ve got to go through writing things that aren’t any good to get to the things that are interesting.” [DM] Little Barrie’s latest album, Death Express, is available now via Non-Delux www.littlebarrie.com


Feedback

Your letters to the Guitarist editor. Drop us a line at guitarist@futurenet.com

Turning The TabLeS

Star Letter ThaT’LL Teach You I am a 15 year old who has been playing guitar for four years, starting on electric, contrary to the accepted advice. At first I was self-taught, reading online tabs and chord charts. It was only at 13 that I began to receive lessons through my school, where we learned chords and Beatles songs. After the first month, I noticed improvement and started to really dig the Ibanez that had been collecting dust. Eventually, I discovered Guitarist. It was a Jimi Hendrix issue, with an extra Fender Custom Shop booklet (September 2016). For this mere apprentice of the axe, this was pure gold dust. Almost a year later, I still enjoy each issue as much as the last; it has been a huge boost to my drive in continuing with the guitar. This month’s issue was what sparked the question: do we really benefit from lessons? In the extra booklet, Gordon Giltrap described his journey in the acoustic guitar world, admitting he is self-taught: a mind-blowing thought. As I thought ‘Well, couldn’t I have taught myself those chords and those scales and those Beatles tunes?’, I started to question the merits of my early lessons, appreciating the value of the feedback and the help I received, but being sceptical of the outcome, eventually arriving at the conclusion, ‘Yes, but the guidance of a teacher is invaluable!’ I wonder what you folks at Guitarist think? Harry Emmott, via email Great to hear you enjoy the mag so much, Harry. To some degree, we’re all a bit ‘selftaught’, as we tend to pick things up like magpies as we go along. But, yes, formal tuition can be a very positive thing, as senior tuition editor, Jason Sidwell, explains: “If you can find a really good guitar teacher, one-to-one lessons provide the fastest way to develop. The tutor can provide you with effective approaches to all manner of technique problems, educate you in aspects of theory and often broaden your musical appreciation, too. By contrast, self-taught guitarists can suffer ‘forbidden zones’: areas outside their comfort zone. A good tutor will help you develop a full spectrum of skills that interlock and support each other, leaving no glaring gaps in your overall playing ability. A pretty good combination for any student of guitar!”

Hi Guitarist, love the magazine! While I was reading your article on CITES, my wife was watching one of those antique programmes on TV. My attention was got when the presenter said,‘Here’s a beautiful table made of Brazilian rosewood’. He went on about it then said it was worth about £60! It made me think – could that be used to make fingerboards? You could probably get five or six out of that tabletop! How would it work if a small guitar maker decided that he was going to use some old table for fingerboards? Keep up the good work! Chris Wilkins, via email Hi Chris, yes, on the face of it it’s rather maddening that so many pieces of more-or-less neglected vintage furniture are built out of the very stuff we guitarists would give our eye teeth to have on a guitar! However, as recently as issue 420 we featured a PRS electric made from reclaimed timber and other brands, including Fender, have made special run instruments from bits of old bridges and so on. While the way the timber was originally cut and used can limit your options when trying to give it a second life as a guitar, these can often be worked around. Look out for a very special feature in Guitarist on just this very subject in the near future, where we try our hand at reclaiming tonewood ourselves with some help (well, alright a lot of help) from the brilliant British luthier Patrick James Eggle. A PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow Reclaimed Limited

Each issue’s Star Letter wins a Korg Pitchblack Custom – a smart pedal tuner with ultra-high +/-0.1 precision for sharp visibility and pinpoint accuracy right at your feet. www.korg.co.uk

september 2017 Guitarist

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I was reading your feature on rosewood and it got me thinking about my all-original 1980 Gibson ‘The Paul’ Firebrand Deluxe. My friend just got a 2014 Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul that no longer comes with an ebony fretboard – it has a Richlite ’board instead. So where does that put the Firebrand? It was made as a budget guitar, but the Paul had a walnut body and ebony ’board and the Deluxe was all-mahogany with an ebony ’board and had T-Top pickups. I just think it’s crazy that a £3,500 Gibson Custom no longer comes with an ebony ’board, but a guitar that cost $529 new a few years ago had one as standard. John Mcclung, via email

Seeing the guitars of the Man guitarists in issue 423 reminded me of the wonder and awe of the sight of my first Gibson in the flesh. I was 15 back in 1976, living in the seaside town of Porthcawl. In school, someone said there was a Gibson [belonging to Deke Leonard] displayed in the shop window of the guitar shop in Bridgend, so we planned a trip for that Saturday. I was genuinely excited on that bus trip, all my pocket money spent on a return ticket, none spare for any of the delights waiting for us in the guitar shop. As promised, the guitar was in the window, the Gibson logo, proudly adorning the headstock, and the custom truss rod cover bearing the name ‘Deke Leonard’ – very flash. We eventually made our way into the hallowed ground only to be greeted with,‘If you ain’t buying – fuck off.’ Sadly a common attitude back then. We forlornly returned to our shopfront position where, shortly after, the same ‘gentleman’ appeared and told us to ‘piss off’. The dickheads that worked in music stores aren’t entirely gone now, but I hope schoolboys are treated better these days – at least the sight of a real Gibson isn’t such a rare thing, though in Porthcawl, well, who knows? Peter Williams, via email

It’s tempting to say that the world of 1980, in which it was possible to use mahogany and ebony on a budget guitar, led directly to the world of 2017 that needs to use Richlite! Guitars aren’t really the main offenders here – the furniture industry, for example, has used far more of those dwindling commodities. Nonetheless, while hardwood trees take hundreds of years to grow, chairs, tables (and, yes, guitars) take considerably less time to make and sell. A more sustainable approach to sourcing tonewoods and greater acceptance of alternatives by consumers seems to be essential today. If Richlite is a step too far, there are plenty of alternative tonewoods coming to light at the moment that have good potential in terms of sustainability while retaining great tone. Check out the paulownia/spruce body of the Brad Paisley Tele on p98, for example. Likewise, Taylor is to switch to the rosewood-like copafera as a replacement in the back and sides of its lower-end guitars.

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Guitarist september 2017

It’s amazing how needlessly rude shop owners could be to casual browsers back in the day. Happily, it’s not an attitude that could really survive in today’s ultracompetitive marketplace. In our local small-town music shop, the chap behind the counter used to jealously guard a Fender Heavy Metal Tele. It was always in his hands (oddly, he mostly played jazz on it), though theoretically it was for sale. Would certainly have had that ‘played in’ feel if anyone had dared to buy it…

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Music

The month’s best guitar music, plus top players in the studio Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Lay It On Down Mascot Records

Bluesman scores with album number eight If you’ve checked out his feature and masterclass in this issue (from p70), you’ll know that Kenny Wayne Shepherd is no slouch when it comes to blues playing.“The point of this album," he says, talking about Lay It On Down, “was that I wanted to put a heavy emphasis on the songs themselves… I wanted each song to really stand on its own with the songwriting, the words.” The results speak for themselves because it’s the songs taking centre stage here, with the fiery guitar playing ever present but never overwhelming the 10 tracks (plus one acoustic ‘bonus track') on offer. It’s a stylistic smorgasbord, too; contrast the country vibe in Hard Lesson Learned to the acoustic-driven anthem Louisiana Rain or the riff-laden rock of Ride Of Your Life and you’ll see that Shepherd is no one-trick pony but a master of every genre he touches. [DM] Standout track: She’s $$$ For fans of: Jonny Lang,The Rides

PhotograPhy by Neil ZloZower

Black Country Communion BCC IV (Mascot records)

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Mike Stern Trip

Heads Up

Bonamassa and co relight their fire This is a band that goes against the modern grain. They rarely play live but have the innate chemistry to capture studio lightning in a bottle. It’s true that Joe Bonamassa’s classic rock band with Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian put their creative instincts first, almost to a frustrating degree for those who want to see that dynamic on stage more. In that sense, they’re a victim of the demands of Bonamassa’s continued solo success, and the band’s continuation looked in doubt after 2012’s Afterglow. But BCC no doubt benefits from its members’ ever-widening creative experience. Bonamassa and former Deep Purple man Hughes form the genesis of the songwriting, and the instinctive results cooked up in their usual tight window of recording time find them focused on songcraft rather than any extended ego flexing. Hughes’ taut and catchy Over My Head underlines this, but even when they

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stretch out on Bonamassa’s majestic Titanic tale in The Last Song For My Resting Place, not a moment is wasted. Joe could have easily held back this album’s Song Of Yesterday for his own solo work, and it’s testament to how these musicians value BCC that they elevate it to a higher place – notably Hughes’ underrated role as a harmony vocalist. The echoes of Zeppelin are undeniable – the groove of Sway, the behind-the-beat momentum of Love Remains recalling The Wanton Song. The Crow even cheekily nods to Tom Morello’s Bulls On Parade riff. Next to them – and if The Cove threatens to drag a little beside them – it’s positively lifted by the spirit of Bonamassa’s Kossoff-force vibrato in the solo break. The fire and passion that defines this band is still very much in evidence here on a record that feels more focused than its predecessor. Long may it burn. [DH]

Standout track: The Last Song For My Resting Place For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Bad Company

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Triumph out of adversity for fusion’s finest It didn’t make headline news at the time, but last year fusion player Mike Stern experienced a serious fall near his New York apartment, resulting in him breaking both arms, leaving him with an injury that requires him to use glue in order for him to hold a guitar pick, applied to the fingers of a special glove that he now has to wear when he plays.“I’m very grateful to be able to play and make this recording under these challenging circumstances,” Mike says in the liner notes that accompany the CD.“I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t play music.” The mind boggles at the thought of such an impairment, but luckily Mike is still able to play and, as we can see here, record stunning new music.The album’s title is evidently some form of wry comment on the situation, but the music within its boundaries is stellar quality modern jazz: check out the beautiful ballad Amelia for a rare combination of great composition and magnificent guitar work. [DM] Standout track: Amelia For fans of: Pat Metheny,John Scofield


Trails & Tribulations Topic

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A musical travelogue from prime folkster Martin Simpson has released 20 solo albums during his remarkable 40-year career and Trails & Tribulations is yet another example of his craft and finesse as both songwriter and acoustic guitarist.The central theme of the album is travel: “I travel, I learn songs, I write and try to get better at the skills required for me to do my job…” he says. Kicking off with the folk staple Blues Run The Game, the album unfolds with a mix of traditional songs peppered with originals, such as the excellently evocative Maps. Martin exchanges his PRS acoustics for banjo and electric guitars during the standard edition’s 13 tracks – and there are another six if you choose the deluxe version. [DM] Standout track: Bones And Feathers For fans of: The Full English, Richard Thompson

Chris Rea

Road Songs For Lovers BMG

© gary browN

Martin Simpson

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Intoxicating Strat-fuelled road trip It figures that a self-confessed motor enthusiast should put together an album of road songs – after all, Chris Rea’s biggest hit to date was Road To Hell (Pt 2) back in 89. But the focus on Road Songs For Lovers couldn’t be any more different to that particular rant about the frustrations inspired by motorway driving. On this album, the central theme is the romance of the open road – and, indeed, romance itself – and that signature gravelly baritone and soulful, silky smooth slide guitar have never sounded better.This November sees Chris take to the road for a short run of gigs in major cities throughout the UK. [DM] Standout track: The Road Ahead For fans of: Dire Straits,JJ Cale

CLASS ACT Albums worth cranking all the way up

Mr Big

Defying Gravity

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Frontiers

Rifftastic return of the fearsome foursome Back in 1989, at the time of the band’s eponymous debut album, Mr Big were the dream heavy rock supergroup for many.The presence of Paul Gilbert on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass alone meant some virtuosic stringmanship even before the talents of Pat Torpey on drums and Eric Martin were dialled in to complete the quartet. Now, 26 years later and with a wealth of studio and live albums behind them, the band returns with all the humour and death-defying unison riffs from Messrs Gilbert and Sheehan we know and love.The good news is that the band will be bringing their brand of rollercoaster rock to the UK this autumn! [DM] Standout track: Mean To Me For fans of: Van Halen, Extreme

RYAN JARMAN THE CRIBS ROTOSOUND PLAYER

Backtracking

The iconic A- and B-sides remastered The Doors

The Singles (Rhino)

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This collection of all 20 original versions of the band’s US singles with their B-sides tells an interesting story in its own right.All the songs here have been mastered from the original analogue single masters by the band’s long-time engineer, Bruce Botnick.There’s no doubt the Lizard King’s legion were a great A-sides band from the very beginning – testified by Light My Fire and Break On Through’s confident swagger. But digging deeper into this 44-track collection reveals a collection for newcomers with added depth; for example, Who Scared You’s omission from The Soft Parade to B-side status (one of only a few non-album songs here) is still puzzling – capturing some mesmerising dynamics between Krieger and Manzarek. [RL] Standout track: Riders On The Storm For fans of: The Beatles, Grateful Dead

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Music

Steve Earle

Why clean socks are an essential on your rider and our best spinal tap moment yet! Words

David Mead

What was your first gig?

“It depends on what you call my first gig… If we’re talking about ‘the road’, it would be probably a place in Athens, Georgia and they fired us. We were supposed to play three nights and they fired us because they were used to show bands – y’know, really slick hard-rock bands. Then they didn’t pay us, and when I tried to get the money I got a pistol in my face. And so it didn’t go all that well! I’d played gigs before that, sort of hitchhiked around Texas, but getting out with a band and trying to tour that would be the first, and it was a bummer.”

What’s on your rider?

“Not very much. A lot of fizzy water, coffee for the bus… and socks. Socks for the crew and for me; it’s just one of those things – the less socks there are on the bus, the better.”

Describe your current stage rig…

“It’s pretty straightforward. One line going to a switcher that switches between the acoustic and the electric side; the acoustic side goes through two Fishman Auras, one for my acoustic guitar and one for my mandolin family instruments. Switch to the other side and it goes through my electric rig, which goes through a pedalboard in which I’ve got a Fulltone overdrive and two delays

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– I can’t remember what they are right now. One’s set on a slap, one’s set on a longer delay – I mean, a really long delay, a kinda weird, psychedelic sort of delay – and then there’s a tuner. “I use one Peavey Classic 50 amplifier and a 4x10 cabinet and the one you’re seeing on stage is not the one I’m actually playing through; that is the spare, facing forwards. My amp is facing backwards because it keeps it off the vocal mic that way. “I use a James Trussart Steelcaster with a humbucker in the front position and a Bigsby. Acoustics are two Martin M-size guitars; in North America I carry a M-21 Steve Earle, but when I have to fly I’ve got an M-36 with an M-38 as a backup.”

What’s your best tip for getting a good live sound? “A great house mixer for one thing! And I’ve got one. If you’re dealing with electric instruments, guitar players have to learn that their instrument doesn’t sound, out in the audience, anything like it does when they’re standing in front of the amp – and I suggest you either baffle your amps or turn them around backwards. I think ear monitors are great for live sound. It’s not just about what you hear. Take monitors out of the equation; you’re freeing your house mixer up to make

you sound like a record out front, because he doesn’t have to deal with feedback or instruments bleeding into one another.”

What non-musical item couldn’t you do without on tour?

“Probably the satellite dish on the bus during baseball season. I’m a big baseball fan: I follow two sports, baseball and English Premier League football, and we get more matches in the States than you guys do on TV here now and so it’s pretty easy to follow.”

What’s your best tip for getting the audience on your side?

“Just staying connected with them. You have to act like you care that they’re there – you have to remember who the boss is, and it’s them, it’s not you. I’ll do anything to get an audience on my side, just about, beyond compromising my politics. The way to deal with a heckler is to turn the audience against them, which is pretty easy to do and I’ve got pretty good at that. I learned that from Doc Watson; he was always really good at dealing with drunks.”

What’s the best venue you’ve played in and why?

“Probably Massey Hall in Toronto, all things considered. I’ve got a lot of favourite ones. I


· “I did this mandolin solo and my guys made a Stonehenge, lowered it from the rafters and our Irish merch guy came out and danced around it” · OPPOSITE “You have to remember who the boss is and it’s the audience, not you”

miss playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire a lot, but my fans got to the point here where they were old enough that we needed to play the Royal Festival Hall – we needed seats!”

What’s the worst journey that you’ve had either to or from a gig?

www.worldguitars.co.uk

“Riding back from Dallas after playing Lollapalooza the year that Metallica were on it and getting things thrown at us through the whole set by Texas Metallica fans. I’d never had that happen before and I was just pretty bummed. We were going straight back to Nashville after the show and it was just a long, depressing ride.”

What’s your favourite live album?

“The Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East. It was the record that finally broke them because you didn’t really get The Allman Brothers if you didn’t see them live, and I did get to see them once when Duane was still alive… A real close second would be an album called Deliverin’ by Poco, which was the same thing; all the songs by them that we know and love come from that live album.”

What’s the nearest you’ve come to a Spinal Tap moment on tour?

“There was a sort of intentional Spinal Tap moment. We were playing Rock City in Nottingham on the last night of a UK tour and I did this long mandolin solo to open this piece called Dominick Street. I was way out on the apron and my guys made a teeny tiny 12-inchtall Stonehenge, lowered it from the rafters and our little Irish merch guy came out and danced around it. Everybody was laughing and I didn’t know why. I didn’t think it was all that funny at the time…” [DM] Steve Earle’s latest album, So You Wannabe An Outlaw, is available now via Warner Bros www.steveearle.com

The Old Magistrates Court, High Street, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. GL10 2NA

Telephone +44 (0) 1453824306 Email info@worldguitars.co.uk


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AdriAn Belew

After working the wires for Frank Zappa, David Bowie and King Crimson, the Twang Bar King moves on to a supergroup with ex-Police Stewart Copeland Words  David Mead

1

First, Try To Find A Unique Voice

“I think I began to develop something in the middle 70s, after I had kind of mastered the sound of a lot of different types of styles. I could play like Chet Atkins, I could play like some blues players, I could play like Hendrix or Jeff Beck – a little bit. I had dabbled in a lot of different things. I knew I could mimic all those styles, but what was there left for me? Every time I would play a stock lick, I would try to substitute something for it, so quickly I found the one thing I liked to do that no-one else seemed to be doing was making sounds.”

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2

Don’t Be Afraid To Make A Noise!

“I’d be playing a guitar solo in a bar band somewhere and at the top of the solo I’d put in some seagulls or I’d throw in a car horn at the end – and that seemed to get a chuckle and everyone liked that. No-one else seemed to be trying to go in that direction, so I was going to try and see what I could do, sound-wise, with the guitar – and that became the beginning of having something different. It was just about the time that I got to be on the world stage; the world of effects began to come alive and I loved all that stuff. I couldn’t wait for the next Fuzz-Tone to arrive!”

3

A Wise Animal Adapts To The Landscape

“David Bowie really was great to me; he mainly just wanted me to go crazy on guitar, whereas in Frank [Zappa]’s band, the idea was play his music the way he’d written it consistently and correctly every night. You’d get a little spotlight where you get to do your own thing, but mostly you were trying to play his music the way he wanted it, and that was good for me. I needed that sort of discipline in my life. “But by the time I got to David’s band I was ready to fly away on my own and that’s what he gave me the wings to do. And then that went straight in to Talking Heads – they needed the same thing.”

4

Think In Colour

“[Bowie] always had guitar players who could tear up a good solo, and there were places in his music you could do that, but I felt – in both his band and Talking Heads – that ‘colourist’ was what I would call myself. They often put things on their records they couldn’t replicate live and would turn to me and say, ‘What can you do with this? Can you come up with something?’ and that’s what I would do a lot of times: fill in the gaps where something was supposed to be happening but it wasn’t. With Talking Heads, I just knew exactly what to play. I felt so comfortable with their music, I could have gone on and on adding things. I could have kept going for ever!”

5

Straighten Up & Fly Right

“When I first joined King Crimson I was still playing the Strat. Later on, I switched to Mustangs and then back to Strats, and then finally, in 2000s when we had our last round of King Crimson, then I started adopting the Parker Fly – pretty much after the band was over. The reason I switched was that it’s just a superior instrument for me. It stays perfectly in tune. It feels perfect for me. I play better. It’s smoother, faster. It’s light. It resonates perfectly. I mean, there are a hundred reasons I can tell you… I think it’s the best guitar for me and I also think it’s the most revolutionary guitar that’s been made since Strats and Les Pauls.”

image by massimiliano Cardelli

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drian Belew’s latest project is a band called Gizmodrome that features Level 42’s Mark King on bass, The Police’s Stewart Copeland on drums and Vittorio Cosma on keyboards. “It’s Stewart’s material he’s been writing for 10 years with Vittorio, the keyboard player,” he tells us. “What they need from me is just to pepper it with lots of sounds and some smashing good guitar solos. Stewart is the storyteller and then Mark and I blend our voices together and give you a perfectly sung chorus!” Famous for the ability to conjure up the sounds of anything from wild animals to heavy machinery on his guitar, Adrian has developed unique talents that have seen him work with some of music’s most demanding artists.


image by lorenza daverio

Adrian with keyboard player Vittorio Cosma, his bandmate in supergroup Gizmodrome, alongside Level 42’s Mark King on bass and The Police’s Stewart Copeland on drums

6

It Can Be Tough On The Front Line

“Back in the day, when I was doing all the stuff with Crimson, one of my prime concerns was I was the front man; I had to kind of keep things rolling. I couldn’t stand around between songs and yet the Strat would be badly out of tune by the end of almost every track with the way I play and all the tremolo abuse. I notice that when I see Jimi Hendrix, he had similar problems! When you really go crazy with the tremolo arm on a Strat or any of those instruments, it’s hard to keep them in tune. Not so with the Parker Fly, so that relieves me of that problem after about 20 years.”

7

Small Certainly Can Be Beautiful

“I don’t use amps any more. Touring around the world with my Power Trio I’ve had to get my gear as small as I can, so it’s a very small setup now. It mainly revolves around the Fractal Audio Axe-FX. Also, I play through a laptop and a Boss GP-10, all of which is in a four-space rack and that goes into a box. On top of that box go my pedals: three different volume pedals, a Liquid Foot MIDI controller and a DigiTech HarmonyMan. I run the guitar straight into a Keeley Compressor, which is the back of the rack and really that’s it…”

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8

It’s Not Just Gear, It’s A Mobile Zoo!

“My setup now weighs 70lbs. It’s got a handle on the top: you roll it through the airport just like you do one of your clothing bags, put it on the belt and you’re done. The more gear you have, the more problems you’re going to have travelling around the world. Not necessarily in the United States, where we keep the tour on the ground, but if you’re going to Lithuania, good luck! I’m really, really happy with this system and, yes, I can do pretty much what I want: whale sounds, elephant sounds, mosquitos, whatever. I’ve got all that and plenty more.”

9

If You’re Not In Sync, You’re Sunk!

“I was using Roland JC-120 Choruses [with King Crimson] then Robert [Fripp] started using the same as he liked the sound of them. We were trying with our interlocking guitar style to have a sound that actually matched in some ways. In fact, I remember when we finally went in to the studio to make Discipline [in 1981], we couldn’t get those guitars to be in tune. Then I realised, ‘Wait a minute, we both have our choruses on!’ That stereo chorus. ‘What we should do is take the chorus off, record the tracks and then we can have the engineer put chorus on it…’ And that’s what we did.”

10

Sit Back & Enjoy The View

“The time I was most in awe of what was happening? I’d say standing on stage at Madison Square Garden with David Bowie. It was pretty eye-opening. First of all, it’s a very large place – 18,000 people, I think. It’s very historic. The front two rows as far as you can see from the front of the stage are all people that you recognise because they’re famous. When you play with David Bowie, you’d have Andy Warhol sitting there, you’d have Talking Heads sitting there, you’d have Mick and Bianca [Jagger] sitting there, you’d have Dustin Hoffman…”

11

Cherish The Moment

“It’s really kind of a moment where you realise where you’ve come to. From riding in a little broken down Volkswagen one day up 21st Avenue in Nashville and hearing Heroes for the first time and going, ‘Ah God, I love David Bowie – ah, what is that guitar sound?’ and then, you know, 18 months later being on stage and playing Heroes with David Bowie. So that’s the moment of realisation for me where I said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!’” Gizmodrome’s self-titled debut album will be released on 15 September on earMUSIC www.adrianbelew.net


Dave Brock: a ‘warrior on the edge of time’ with a gigging history stretching back throughout the last five decades and over 100 separate album titles


Hawkwind

interview

SpacE SagE With a new album, Into The Woods, landing in the UK’s Top 40, Hawkwind’s mission control and de facto leader, Dave Brock, joins us to discuss his psychedelic past and present Words Rod Brakes  Photography Olly Curtis

D

ave Brock, now in his mid-70s, is a bona fide space-rock veteran. Having founded the genre’s quintessential band, Hawkwind, in 1969, he’s the only original member still onboard and has remained in the captain’s seat during its wild ride over the decades. Emerging from the melting pot of London’s psychedelic music scene at the tail end of the 1960s, Hawkwind took a trip on the dark side and rapidly evolved with a distinctly heavier yet equally spaced-out sound. Mangling electronic oscillators with grinding guitar hooks, hard-rocking rhythms, effects-drenched streams of melody and futuristic, sci-fi lyrics, the band found strong favour within the UK’s underground gig circuit and those on the fringes of popular music. The band are revered by the cult following that still packs out venues across the UK and beyond. In many ways, they remain a benchmark of authentic British psychedelia and one of our most beloved bands (not to mention the soundtrack to many a misspent youth!). Outside the Bristol O2 Academy, we climb onboard an impressive silver machine of a tourbus with Dave for a pre-gig catch up. You’ve been on the road for nearly half a century now! How did it all begin?

“47 years! Will I be going to 50 years? That’s a momentous amount of time… Well, I suppose listening to Big Bill Broonzy got me started playing guitar. I’ve got a really good blues collection. All these characters, y’know, they had a wonderful style. I used to base myself on Big Bill Broonzy because I liked the way he played. I mean, everybody

has to copy somebody to start with until you get to do your own thing. I was inspired by him, but it’s nice to think that [Hawkwind] might have influenced a lot of characters that went off to do different things.” How did it go from Big Bill Broonzy to outer space?

“[Laughs] Well, I used to work in a cartoon studio [WM Larkins] doing cartoons for TV adverts. We used to make these big, long tape loops that you could run round – we put a lot of weird stuff on there and I ended up experimenting with guitar noises. They used some of it for a Barclays bank TV commercial! That was really the start of my psychedelia. I got a pickup put on my 12-string acoustic and that was my first foray into electric guitar. Then I got

· “Musically, what we’re doing is using sounds and stories so that people can visualise and make their own stories up in their own heads, as it were” ·

a Harmony Stratotone and I bought an old Dynacord echo unit and a little Vox amplifier. I got the echo unit and used to sit at home plonking away on the Stratotone – I played that guitar for quite a few years in the 60s. Later, I got a Selmer Thunderbird amp and a Silvertone [S-1384] – that was quite a weird guitar because the binding was all aluminium. I’ve had all sorts of weird guitars, actually.” Have you managed to accumulate a fairly sizeable collection over the years?

“I’ve got about 30. I have them hanging up and I do play them – if you put them in cases, you never touch them. I ended up dealing in secondhand guitars at one point. I always cruise through eBay. I had some fantastic guitars, but I sold a lot of them. I had a Michigan, made by Gibson, that I sold to Pete Green. When we used to tour the States, I’d go to where the secondhand shops were to see if they had any cheap guitars and rarities. I’ve got the guitar that Bukka White did Jitterbug Swing on.” Do you use the vintage guitars on tour?

“The Les Paul I mainly use now is the Tom Morgan painted Gibson Les Paul Classic made in 2007. I’m using that now – they’re a lot lighter. I’ve got a [Gibson] Nighthawk, too – the amber coloured one. The one I always used to play was a Westone. I would have my Westone wherever I went. A friend of mine painted it up and I used it for years.” What amps do you use now?

“I used to use Hiwatt amps. I’ve got my old Roland [JC-120] that I’ve been using for

september 2017 Guitarist

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interview

Hawkwind

Photo by SunShine international/reX/ShutterStock

Hawkwind’s early 70s line-up (L-R): Simon House, Dave Brock, Lemmy, Nick Turner and Simon King

years and I have an old HH I always take as a spare. I’ve had the Roland for a really long time and it’s never gone wrong, touch wood. It’s ever so loud. I’m only on two all the time – I mean, it’s really loud. We are quite a loud band, but I never have it any higher than two!” What do you use for distortion with the Roland JC-120?

“I use the [Line 6] POD [2.0] – it’s what I play live with all the time. I fiddled around with it and got something that I like and saved it. It’s easy to use. I can whack the old echo up whenever I want to and tap out something if it’s in the wrong timing. I just use that most of the time now. It does what you want it to do and that’s it. Very basic. “I don’t really have a lot of foot pedals. I scorn people that use lots of foot pedals… I remember the days when people used to have big pedals on the floor – you used to trip over the things!” What tape echo units can we hear on the old Hawkwind albums?

“Dynacord echo units originally, then it was the Watkins Copicat with the tape running round it. I’ve still got my old Roland Space Echo. The only thing is the tape goes wrong and you’ve got to make yourself a new one, so it’s a bit of a pain in the arse.”

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Guitarist september 2017

How would you describe Hawkwind’s creative process?

“We are quite organised, actually. I mean, we do go off at tangents quite often, but the essence to everything is having good melody lines. If you’ve got good melody lines, you can always come back into it or play melody lines within your jams, y’know what I mean? We were always very organised with what we were doing. We used to go off and come back again to the original thing that we were doing in the Rockfield [Studios] days. “I’m still waiting for Cherry Red [Records] to put the 1977 tape out, which is really good! It’s the one year that, in actual fact, hasn’t been released – it will be eventually, I hope.” You’re playing The Roundhouse on this tour for the first time in 45 years. What can you recall from that night recording 1972’s Greasy Truckers Party?

“I only remember the odd thing from when we played the Roundhouse before… We all took some LSD, which was a stupid thing to do at the time. Those were the days when you had the little sugar lumps – a little drop of Sandoz [LSD-25] on a sugar lump. It was really strong acid. And we couldn’t possibly go on – it was really strong. Our tour manager at the time said, ‘Right, you’re on

now!’ and we couldn’t move, so we waited half an hour… Half an hour later and we still couldn’t go on! It was a stupid thing to do. All these silly things you do when you’re younger – I mean, you can accommodate a lot more, can’t you? Can’t do it so much now. You get older and wiser, I think, don’t you? Well, those days are gone now, I think. Probably [laughs].” The psychedelic music scene really took off in London in the late 60s…

“It did. There were lots of little places in Ladbroke Grove. That was where everyone was taking acid – it was the latest thing. That and ‘being yourself’. And girls taking their clothes off, running around naked and dancing topless. Expressing themselves in the Age of Expression [laughs]! The Era of Free Love – that’s what went on then. It was just like a free festival. “Before Hawkwind, I had a band called The Famous Cure and we played at the Middle Earth club in Covent Garden. And there was a great band that we did a gig with called Dantalian’s Chariot. When you look at the bands that played there, it was a fantastic place. It used to be big into psychedelia at Middle Earth – everyone jumping around, the freedom of dancing, strobes flashing and incense burning. All nighters… It was good fun!”


Dave’s stage rig includes a 1978 Roland JC-120, two Hiwatt 4x12 cabs painted by artist Barney Bubbles, his 2007 Gibson Les Paul Classic Antique Artist and a Line 6 POD Version 2.0


interview

Hawkwind

Dave’s number one stage amp is this 1978 Roland JC-120 painted by artist Alan Arthurs in the late 1980s

Rumour has it you were guitar buddies with Eric Clapton back in the day…

The new album, Into The Woods, seems a little bit different than previous albums…

“I was, yeah. It would’ve been about ’63 or ’64. Quite early on. We used to sit around plonking away on guitars. We used to hang out in Richmond because it was a really nice place, and go down Eel Pie Island and meet up in L’Auberge coffee bar. Eric lived in Cobham in Surrey, which isn’t far from there. That’s where everybody used to hang out. We used to sit there and play guitar and swap around – each one of us would have a go. We used to sit in Richmond Park, drinking cider and smoking marijuana. “Later on, Ginger Baker ended up playing with [Hawkwind], which was strange because when I used to go busking down Portobello Road – this was when he was in Cream – he had a flat just round the corner and after I finished busking I used to pop round for a cup of tea.”

“Yeah, we thought it was a bit different. But the reason for that is we’ve got a young bass player, Haz [Wheaton]. Really, he gave Richard [Chadwick, drummer] and me a new lease of life because he’s so fast and whatever I do he can copy it. He’s a bit like Lemmy in a sense; he’s got that wonderful togetherness, which is quite rare. We met him here when he was 12, standing at the back door of the [Bristol O2 Academy] as we came out, waiting to get his Hawkwind albums signed. When he got older, he went to music college and learned to play the bass, then he came along as a roadie and ended up joining the band. Haz is a lot heavier a bass player and it’s made me change my way of playing a little bit as well.”

There were some interesting folk guitarists on the scene in the 60s, such as Davey Graham…

“Yeah, I used to know Davey Graham. I’d play in folk clubs with all these different characters – that’s what I first started doing. Davey Graham: fantastic guitarist, he was. There was a folk club we used to go down called Les Cousins in Greek Street [Soho, London]. The funny thing is they were really small places – you’d sit huddled in a chair in the corner of the room.”

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Guitarist september 2017

Science fiction has remained a constant theme throughout Hawkwind’s legacy. How did that work its way into the music?

“We all used to read sci-fi books and it was always a good inspiration for writing songs. I mean, musically, what we’re doing is using sounds and stories so that people can visualise and make their own stories up in their own heads, as it were. Michael Moorcock gave us a lot of ideas: The Jewel In The Skull and Elric – we did the ‘Elric’ show and ‘Stormbringer’ and all of that. And, of course, [Robert] Calvert and the stuff we did with [graphic artist] Barney Bubbles.

1997 Gibson Nighthawk Standard with a Firebird mini-humbucker, NSX single coil and a slant-mounted humbucker

In that time, we were in Notting Hill Gate and there were some very industrious things going on. Everybody came together to produce the album booklet and all these wonderful poems: ‘We touched upon a shelf of rock / Selected by the auto-mind / And left a galaxy of dreams behind…’ [from The Awakening]. We still do it now. We keep the legend going.” Hawkwind’s latest album, Into The Woods, is available now on Cherry Red Records www.hawkwind.com


Roger Mayer

interview

Axis of inspirAtion Famous for his cutting-edge studio gear and effects, Roger Mayer played a pivotal role in helping Jimi Hendrix realise his musical visions on the seminal album Axis: Bold As Love, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year Words Rod Brakes

S

In what capacity did you and Jimi work together on Axis: Bold As Love?

“I was there as a friend to help him and explain avenues that we could go down regarding the possibilities. Knowing the

guitars start to emerge? Are we zooming up into the sky then rolling over and diving again? All these kinds of motions – we were thinking in 3D.” How did Jimi convey these ideas for you to translate into new sounds?

possibilities of where we could break new ground influenced the way he wrote the songs and the way he imagined the songs in his head. Most people that work together develop their own kind of language to talk about what they want to do. We would discuss the vision of the song and the end result that he wanted to achieve.” So it was all about expanding the creative potential with regards to sound?

“Basically, yeah. And also, how to make people get a different emotion from the sound. We had to imagine what the sound would be. Jimi and I had an idea of how the sounds were travelling – we had to paint a moving picture. Axis: Bold As Love is supposed to take you on a journey, but it was about how the audience would react to the music. What’s the story? What’s the emotion as the story is told? “As you take the people on the journey, sonically, are we diving them into an electronic cave as the

“If Jimi had an idea, we would talk about the vision or the concept of the sound. The Octavia, for instance: visually, it’s like what you see when you hold two mirrors in front of each other. What was happening electronically was very sophisticated and similar in concept where we got multiple mirror images of the signal. I used all these different electronic techniques to work out these ideas. We had all these juxtapositions in mind. For example, if you’ve got two different sounds you could say, ‘They sound different.’ Well, electronically you could take the two sounds and mathematically work out what’s different between the two. And then what happens if we amplify the difference between the two? What does that mean? Does that mean they’re super different? Or does it mean they’ve jumped to another plane?” It sounds as though there was a strong philosophical connection between you and Jimi…

“Yeah, in a fun way. Some of the most profoundly different scientific discoveries have been made just because somebody’s said, ‘Let’s do it another way.’ The more we understood, the more fun it was and the easier it was to realise something. Both Jimi and I had a synaesthesia, where we would see colours in sound – why is that? We found that fascinating. It’s a useful ability

SEPTEMBER 2017 GuiTaRiST

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PhotograPhy by bruce Fleming/reX/ShutterStock

cientist Roger Mayer is one of the few original innovators of rock ’n’ roll from the 1960s who is still at the cutting edge of sound research and design. After acquiring his first guitar (a good old Hofner Senator), it wasn’t long before the instrument was in bits and under close scrutiny in order to be rebuilt with his own upgrades and modifications. While working for the UK government in acoustic analysis in his teens, he turned his hand to developing and inventing revolutionary guitar tones with the likes of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page for 60s hit records, and later struck up a close friendship with new kid on the block, Jimi Hendrix. Roger first approached Jimi with his latest invention, the Octavia pedal (as debuted on Hendrix’s Purple Haze), and he soon became known as the guitarist’s “secret weapon”. The pair immediately hit it off and began discussing the creative potential of guitar effects and recording studios. Roger and Jimi (at the tender ages of 21 and 25, respectively) would ultimately break new musical ground on Jimi’s sublime 1967 album, Axis: Bold As Love, as they then set about creating a timeless psychedelic masterpiece that is still blowing minds to this day. Today, Guitarist talks to Mayer about what went on behind the scenes with Jimi during one of rock’s most monumental sonic voyages of discovery…


String Theory... “Jimi used Fender nickel strings most of the time in 10, 13, 15, 26, 32 and a 38 gauges,” Roger tells us. “He tended to use a 15 because when you use a 17 for a G string it makes the guitar very G-heavy. A 17 sticks out, but when you change it to a 15 it makes a huge difference to the overall sound of the guitar – the whole sound of a chord. Using a 38 on the lowest string makes it much more funky. You still get a twang, but it means you can bend the low E string more easily, which Jimi tended to do a lot, of course. The other good part about it is that the relationship between the E and the A is very sweet. You can also hit the strings harder and get a nice attack. You can't get the same attack on a 48.”


Roger Mayer

interview

Roger in March 1968 tending to one of Jimi’s Stratocasters backstage while on tour with the band

as a sound designer. I was very interested in new sounds for guitars.” Was Jimi aware of the psychoacoustics thing? And is it safe to say that he had a scientific mind?

“Very much so. He was really into science fiction, too. We used to read the same books: Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert… He liked their imaginations, that things weren’t necessarily how you thought they were going to be. We used to say, ‘If you can imagine it, why can’t it be? Is your imagination any less valid than what you call reality?’ I don’t know. It’s one of those deep philosophical questions…” How important was it for you to understand Jimi’s lyrical imagery?

“Very. Little Wing was a psychedelic story about a spirit and the carnival vibe you’re getting from a festival or a circus. Castles Made Of Sand was partly inspired by some of the science fiction books we were reading, like Dune [Frank Herbert, 1965]. It’s a science fiction kind of fantasy, but really down to earth in a way. Jimi was very good at depicting imagery that people could relate to, but with a bit of a cosmic twist to it, y’know? The vision of that song was really important – about things going around and time. The relationship in any chord sequence sounds correct going backwards or forwards, which is where the idea for the backwards solo in that song came from. It’s that free-form flow that makes sense.”

February 1968 on the road between Tempe and Tucson, Arizona, following the release of Axis: Bold As Love

Did Jimi often talk about musical ideas in a visual context?

“Oh yeah, he was very cinematic. You can paint a visual picture of how a song can be. The sounds of the record could be thought of as bunch of disks floating in space in front of you, like flying saucers with sounds coming from them and they’re moving around. And what’s the environment they’re moving around in? Now, I’m not inside his head, but in the studio I can help because it’s just being able to think of it that way, y’know?” How did the emotional content of the song influence the guitar tones?

“What the song had to do and what the solos had to do would determine the emotion we needed to convey in the guitar tone. We knew what sounds to go for because we knew what the end result needed to be. In the studio, I would sit down with headphones on with Jimi as he played and adjust the tone until we found the sweet spot for it. It takes two people to do that.” So it was about capturing a unique moment in time?

“Ahh, that’s why they call it ‘recording’! It’s not rehearsal. It’s a primary moment in time of creation. It’s like the birth of a star. The birth of a nova. It’s the birth of something and it has to feel like that. It has to feel really, really fresh and really, really exciting and colourful. It’s no good if you can’t dig it or you think everyone else thinks you’re crazy.

It was about being privy to what Jimi was thinking and what he wanted to create.” What lengths did you go to in order to get the desired results?

“We did whatever was necessary on that day, at that time to get the job done, with no preconceived notions about what had to be done. It was a team effort – I was helping Jimi because I had the capability to make it happen. Once I had the idea or the vision of the sound I could figure out what I had to do to get that sound, whether Jimi needed a bit of pre-EQ before the distortion or another bit of EQ after it; how we were going to drive it; how the amps are set; how many amps we’re going to use; how we’re going to mic the amps; what kind of reverb we’re going to use; if we are going to use a direct output; how we were going to phase align the two amplifiers… I mean, it’s very complex, but if you don’t have a vision of what you want to achieve, how could you possibly achieve it?” Did you modify the circuits in effects units for specific tracks?

“Yeah, I mean, if Jimi needed me to I could spend five minutes with a fuzz circuit soldering in a few components and make it sound different. Back in the day when wah-wahs first came out, we made a major difference to the sound by putting another circuit up ahead of the wah-wah, because the input impedance of the pedal wasn’t that great. And by playing around with the

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PhotograPhy by andre cSillag/reX/ShutterStock

image courteSy oF Seymour duncan

A shot from the early 70s of the first Roger Mayer Electronics Incorporated recording console at Sundragon Studios in New York


interview

Roger Mayer

PhotograPhy by david magnuS/reX/ShutterStock

Hendrix pictured near his London home in 1967, the year he recorded and released Axis: Bold As Love

Experience It For Yourself... Over the years, Mayer has been striving to share his knowledge and expertise, and – through innumerable hours of research – remains at the forefront of music technology to this day. His latest effects unit, the Visage fuzz distortion (pictured), is a state-of-the-art pedal that enables players to internally manipulate 45 different configurations of the circuit with a series of jumpers and tailor the sound, much in the same way that Roger did for Jimi back in the 60s. If you’re seriously into recording, you may also be interested in Roger’s latest invention, the 456 High Speed Tape Simulator which aims to bring the desirable qualities of yesteryear tape recording – notably a Studer A80 loaded with 456 tape – to your modern day DAW. Expect improved dynamics and much more.

pot you can change how it works or feels. By putting resistors across the wiper of the pot you can change the sweep of the wah – the frequency versus angle. Then you can tune the action peak of the wah by playing with the capacitors or the coil.” Did you work quickly in the studio?

“It had to be quick because back then Olympic Studios was £38 an hour. As a frame of reference, beer cost 12p a pint, so well over 300 pints of beer an hour! Chas [Chandler] was watching the budget ’cos it was expensive! We really worked as a team. We wanted it to be done pretty quickly to keep the momentum going. There’s an optimum window for recording that’s about four or five hours, and if you do more than that you’re just wasting your time and it’s not productive. You’ve got to keep it fresh, otherwise you’d bore yourself to death!” Was Jimi generally open-minded with the people around him in the studio?

“Absolutely. But he had a good team around him. Jimi always wanted fresh ideas and to continuously move forward. If something wasn’t working, then the decision would be made very quickly. He always wanted to be working to the maximum potential. It was about finding the sweet spot quickly.” How did you approach mixing the album?

“Well, the whole point of recording something correctly is that the mix is almost done. You can’t ‘fix it in the mix’ because

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there are things that mathematically stop you doing that. Once you’ve got the phase wrong, for example, that sound will never sit in the mix; it’ll sound alien. Jimi lost some of the mix in a taxi, but it didn’t really matter – it was quickly done again, no problem. We finished recording the album through October [1967] and it came out a couple of months later. We had to work faster then because of the cost of the studio! “The sound sources were right at the time. They had to be right because we didn’t have the luxury of postponing the evil moment until we mixed the track. The problem with having too many choices is that it stops people from performing. People think they don’t have to make a choice until later, but by the time they’ve finished they realise they didn’t make the right sound to begin with because they’re not hearing it in context. I mean, you can’t put a wah-wah effect on after you’ve played the guitar, for example – you can’t do it afterwards and this is the whole thing about trying to paste together a performance from too many different parts: by definition, it’s not a performance.” Axis: Bold As Love still sounds fresh and in many ways it hasn’t been surpassed…

“The first thing we did was to identify what we wanted to achieve. I remember saying to Jimi, ‘Jimi, we want to do stuff that no-one else has ever done before. We can’t think like anyone else. It might be a lonely path, but it’s going to be a lot of fun!’”


Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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A protégé of BB King, jamming partner with Alexander Dumble and bandmate of Stephen Stills, the Louisiana-born bluesman has just released a gutsy new album, Lay It On Down. We joined Kenny to talk about Dumble-modded Fuzz Faces, the essence of a great Strat, and learn some of his blues soloing strategies Words Jamie Dickson  Photography Jesse Wild

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ne of the hardest things to do, I think, in today’s world is to write an authentic-sounding blues song lyrically,” Kenny Wayne Shepherd observes as we sit down to a coffee at John Henry’s rehearsal rooms in London, where Fender keeps an office. Once a blond wunderkind of the blues scene, Kenny has matured into a thoughtful player with prodigious chops and a surefooted melodic instinct that has seen him praised by no less authorities than the late BB King and Stephen Stills. “If the lyrics and the story that you’re telling are authentic and you’re not sacrificing the quality of the message that you’re trying to convey to the listener, then I think that keeps the whole thing authentic,” Kenny adds. “My band is about the guitar. It’s guitar-based music, but because I grew up in a radio environment with my dad, I grew up listening to hit songs on the radio. Having a great vocal melody and a great lyric has always been, to me, equally as important as the guitar playing on the record – even if I wasn’t doing the singing – because that’s just what I grew up around. And I also think those are the songs that people will end up remembering for the rest of time.” Seated among racks of Strats and Teles, naturally the conversation turns to gear – as well as being a very fine player, Kenny has great ears, too, so before we embark on an illuminating one-to-one soloing lesson with him, it’s time to do what guitarists naturally do in such surroundings – and talk guitars.

What gear did you bring into the studio for the album?

“Well, I brought a lot of stuff into the studio. Over the years, my sound has evolved. We’ve tried a number of different things on this record. I used a combination of various guitars. Some songs I was playing a Les Paul for the solo and a Strat for the rhythm. On one song, I would double the guitar track but do one on a Les Paul and one on a Strat to get a really full sound. One dirty, one clean, things like that. “Also, over the past, I guess, five to seven years, Alexander Dumble has been building amps for me. They’ve just exceeded anything that I have ever had prior to that. I’ve essentially found my core sound, as far as amplifiers go, are these amps that he’s built for me. I lined up about seven of them in the studio. We would do different combinations of those various amplifiers, but usually no more than three amplifiers at a time. I think if you start running seven or eight amps at once, it’s not necessary. Especially if you’ve got great-sounding equipment. So yes, Strats: vintage, newer stuff… Gibson: I used the Firebird; I used my Les Pauls. My grandfather gave me a Les Paul that I think is a late 70s model. Then I have a Custom Shop one, from around 2000 I think, that I used heavily. I really love that guitar. “They sent me one of the new Les Paul Axcess guitars, which is pretty interesting. It felt a little more familiar because it’s lighter and it has the ability to split the pickups and things like that. Then my

Strats. I have my ’61 Strat, ’59 Hardtail, ’58 Hardtail and various Signature series models that I have with Fender and Custom Shop guitars and stuff. Really just trying to pick the right instrument to get the right sound for the right track.” What’s the specific appeal of a Hardtail Strat to you?

“People should try the Hardtail – the Hardtail is actually a more appealing guitar to me [than a vibrato-equipped Strat]. I like having the tremolo for the various moments in the show where it’s necessary to create an effect or a sound. I’m not like Jeff Beck, for example, who utilises the tremolo on a very consistent basis throughout his performance. I use it here and there – maybe six times throughout an entire two-hour-long show. It’s an effect. “But the Hardtails… those guitars ring so true. Even when they’re not plugged in, they are still more resonant. They’re louder in an acoustic setting because the strings are running straight through the body. That bridge piece is just connected straight to the body; there’s no air or space in between it. I just think you’ve got a more bell-like true Stratocaster sound with that instrument. They work great for me. “Sometimes you can get a little more tension on the neck. I use heavy strings, so you can feel the tension a little more on a guitar like that, but I think it’s actually a really great sound. I don’t know why people don’t try those more. Because I think if they would – if they did – especially

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interview

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

We caught up with Kenny as he was passing through London – the Custom Shop delights of the Fender Artist Centre clearly proved too hard to pass by!

· “[Dumble amps] inspire me to take different avenues and create new sounds. He literally tailor-makes the amp around the musician’s style…” · if they had another Strat that does have a tremolo, then they’d probably end up buying the Hardtail.” A certain mythical aura surrounds Dumble amps. You’ve played quite a few – is the reputation justified?

“The key word is inspiration. I’m not speaking to you as a person who has bought into some hype. I’m speaking to you as a person who has legitimate experience before and after. Quite literally, those amps, the point behind the amps that he has built for me and what they do is inspiring. It’s inspiring me to play new things. Inspiring me to take different avenues and create new sounds. The way that he goes about doing that is what you’ve probably heard. I mean, he literally tailor-makes the amp around the musician’s style of playing and approach. “I would go over. I see him on a really regular basis. I’ll sit around and we’ll hang out. I’ll sit around just like this, me and you, and be playing guitar for hours and hours. The whole time he’s listening. He’s got great ears. I mean, obviously. He hears how a person plays. He knows what it is that I’m trying to get out of the amplifier. He hears how hard I play, the attack that I use, the touch. All of it. You can tell his mind is working the whole time. He’s just listening. “Then he goes and he works on the amp. Then you come back, you play it again and we see how it’s responding. Then he further refines it if necessary. Usually, in my experience, it’s not been necessary. I go back. I plug in the first time and it’s right, which I think is one of the reasons why he’s always been adamant that those amps that he builds are for that person. He’s built it around my style of playing. In theory, if anyone else was to be playing through my amp, it naturally would not necessarily respond the way that it was intended to because it’s a different person playing.”

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What degree of headroom and power do you tend to prefer in your amps?

“You know, I used to play three Twins all turned all the way up. It was monstrous. Those amps are so clean. I’ve had ElectroVoice speakers in there. They weighed a ton, but [were] super-clean and punchy. As I’ve gotten older, man, it’s just not that necessary to be so loud. All the amps that I’ve worked on with [Dumble] have been 50 watts and below. I mean, there are times when I’ve been on stage and I’ve used a little 15-watt Deluxe that he’s built for me, not as my primary amp but in conjunction with another amp, you know. “I just think that it’s not necessary. When you go back and you hear a lot of the largest guitar sounds in the studio where you hear a guy and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing’ – you imagine it’s all these Marshall stacks and this big, massive thing. It was really, like, a Fender Champ or a little Deluxe. That’s what got the huge sound. When you actually realise that that is the

truth, then it’s, like, the only reason to have a louder amp is so that people can hear you if you’re in a bigger place. Then that was before PA systems existed. They wanted louder amplifiers because they weren’t mic’ing all this stuff and putting it through a PA system. Only the vocal was going through the PA system. It’s not necessary. It’s a visual thing. “Guitar guys love to see a bunch of amps, really big amps, but it actually isn’t the point behind larger amps. That original point was because they weren’t putting that instrument through the PA system.” You’re probably best known as a Strat guy – so what, for you, is the essence of a great Strat?

“Well, to me, I’ve found over the years that my favourite consistent wood for the body is alder. I think across the board most people prefer alder. I have some ash-bodied guitars that sound great, too, but different. But I’ve just always gone back to an alder body.


Kenny’s emotive style draws upon Stevie Ray and Albert King but is ultimately all his own


interview

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Kenny makes extensive use of both vibrato-equipped and hardtail Strats

Strats and Fuzz Faces are a classic pairing, but it’s notoriously difficult to get a consistently good fuzz tone. How do you approach the problem?

“I’ll use it in the studio, but I have found it very difficult to use it live. One thing that I will tell you is I have an original late 1969 grey-silver Fuzz Face. It needed a repair done to it. Actually, [Alexander Dumble] asked me one day, ‘Do you have any Fuzz Faces, original ones?’ I said, ‘Yes. As a matter of fact, I do.’ He’s like, ‘Bring it to me. I know what to do with it.’ He’s had it for a few months. He’s going to be doing some supersecret special thing to it and I’m assuming it’s going to sound incredible. I’ve never heard of a Dumble-ised Fuzz Face before. We’ll see how that sounds. “Anyway, the Fuzz Face is a peculiar, simple animal. It’s complicated because in the studio it’s a more controlled environment; you can really fine-tune it for the studio. But in a live setting, I’ve found that, for my ear, it’s too difficult to go from a sound that I have with a Tube Screamer or the King Of Tone pedal and then switch to the Fuzz Face because it darkens the sound so much. To me, it’s such a drastic sonic change that it throws me off. “If fuzz was my primary overdrive effect that I used 98 per cent of the time, then that would be one thing, but if I’m just trying to throw it in there for a moment or on one song, it’s such a drastic change in a live setting that it really is difficult for me.” What popular myths relating to tone have you come to doubt over the years?

In terms of fretboards, I have a couple of vintage maple Strats that I really enjoy, but I always tend to go back to rosewood. “I use jumbo frets, like, 6100 – almost like bass frets. I play heavier strings. I find that in order to really be able to have a sure grip on the string to do a huge bend, then you need to be able to have chunkier fretwire. If you’re using vintage-style fretwire, it’s a losing battle. “We did my own custom wound pickups for my Signature Strat. We developed the sound of those pickups for a year and a half and I think they sound pretty fantastic. I go for a relatively hot pickup: they measure around 8/8.5 [kohm] output, but not so hot that it muddies up the sound. I want it to be really clear and punchy. “I mean, those are the fundamentals – but I also use Graph Tech saddles. I have since I was very young. It’s another example of ‘it’s not me just endorsing some

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product so that I can have my picture on an advertisement’. It’s, like, I genuinely was having a string breakage problem. I was looking for a solution and somebody said, ‘Hey, have you heard of these graphite saddles?’ To me, it sounded a little suspect because it was, ‘I’m putting this on a 1961 Strat.’ At the time it was cutting-edge technology. I’m like, ‘I don’t know about this…’ but I put those saddles on that ’61 Strat and stopped breaking strings immediately. From that point forward, I’ve put them on all my guitars including my Signature Strat.” Did it make much of a difference tonally?

“Slightly, but it’s very minimal. Most people say that it brightens it up a little bit. I mean, at a certain point, you’re splitting hairs. There are far larger contributors to the tone than swapping out saddles. You’re really trying to hear a difference at that point.”

“It’s not a complete myth, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to the view that vintage is always better. I think you should look at all instruments, whether they’re amplifiers or guitars, on an individual basis. Don’t pay any attention to the number, the year that it was made or the price tag on the guitar. I’ve played plenty of vintage Strats and plenty of vintage amps that sound like shit. I mean, like, horrible amps. They’re just worn out, not properly maintained. Probably never sounded right the year they were built. Factory issues, you know, whatever it is. Inconsistencies in the parts. “Same with the guitars. If you didn’t know the price of the guitar and nobody ever told you the year that it was manufactured and you could just base it all purely on your eyes being closed and the way it feels, the sense of touch and the sense of sound… that’s all you really need to know.” Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s new album, Lay It On Down, is out now on Provogue/Mascot www.kennywayneshepherd.net


technique

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Rocking the blues Kenny Wayne Shepherd on how to weave classic blues influences into your soloing and unlock the fretboard Words David Mead  Music Transcription Adrian Clarke

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ouisiana-born prodigy Kenny Wayne Shepherd began his recording career at the age of 16. Since then he has become no stranger to gold and platinum albums and a career that has seen him share the bill with artists as diverse as BB King, the Eagles and Van Halen. Originally inspired to play guitar

after meeting Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1984, Kenny began teaching himself from records in his father’s collection. Over the years he has become an indelible asset to the contemporary blues scene and a must-see live act. When not out touring with his own band – which includes Chris Layton, drummer in Stevie Ray’s band – he

can be found playing guitar in Stephen Stills’ band, The Rides. In this masterclass, Kenny looks at various elements of blues rock soloing, from opening gambits to full turnarounds, underlining the principle that you can combine others’ licks and techniques to produce something original of your own.

ExamplE 1 If you’ve learned all the minor and major pentatonic shapes going across the fretboard, the next step is to link  them together ‘diagonally’ so that you can move between them effortlessly. This example details how you can do this  in the key of E major, starting at the 12th fret, first string and ending with a flourish down on the bass E with an E major  chord to round everything off. 

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd

technique

ExamplE 1a ThIs exaMple Takes the idea of moving ‘diagonally’ through the pentatonic positions a step further.  The most important thing here is to take note of all the slides the join the pentatonic jigsaw together: the key  is fluency and the trick is to begin practising slowly and gradually build up speed as you gain confidence.

ExamplE 2 here, kenny deMonsTraTes his “if in doubt, play Albert King’s licks” idea with this classic phrase at  the 10th position. If you want to get it spot on in terms of accuracy, listen to the vibrato – especially on that  penultimate note – it really makes all the difference!

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ExamplE 3 ThIs Is a four-bar string bending masterclass, apart from anything else, so be sure to hit the target dead centre  in those opening statements. There’s a treasure trove of classic Albert King licks here: watch the vibrato and pay  special attention to Kenny’s phrasing in the final two bars.

ExamplE 4 “sIMple buT effecTIve” is Kenny’s motivation here with a slide from the 12th fret, top E up to the 14th fret  as an alternative to bending. The lick ends with a flourish in the 7th position. Once again, watch the vibrato…

ExamplE 5 In order To give the illusion of speed, you can combine hammer-ons and slides where the picking-to-note  relationship is greatly reduced. This is used by just about every blues player from Albert King to Joe Bonamassa.

ExamplE 6 kenny references Son Seals, the Arkansas-born bluesman, for this tension-building repetitive slide and  bend combo. You’ll hear this throughout blues guitar’s history – an essential technique to add to your portfolio!

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd

technique

ExamplE 7 anoTher lIck ThaT highlights the usefulness of sliding between pentatonic positions. Your knowledge of all five  shapes needs to be fluent for this and so, if you’re not sure where you are, try mapping out a ’board’s worth of B  minor pentatonic so you can see where this lick is placed in context – then you’ll be able to use it in other keys, too.

ExamplE 8 here, kenny deMonsTraTes how you can combine influences and turn them into something unique with  this turnaround sequence. Take a little Clapton, add some BB King, sprinkle with SRV… and voila!

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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ExamplE 9 coMbInIng a feW more influences – notably Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter – results in this turnaround  lick, which is far more ‘open’ than the last, but a great demonstration of how sometimes simple is best.

Kenny Wayne shows you how to take the best of your influences to find your own blues voice

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Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’

Guitarist september 2017


Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’

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There are very few guitars that enjoy the status of Eric Clapton’s beloved black Strat, ‘Blackie’, and back in 1994, Guitarist was offered a close encounter. It so happened that some of the detailed shots of the guitar that we took were lost during an office move. This month, by chance, we found them again... Words  David Mead  Photography  James Cumpsty

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interview

Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’

Appearing in the Christie’s catalogue as a “circa 1956 and 1957 composite Fender Stratocaster”, Blackie was sold for $959,500 (a world record at the time) at auction in New York in aid of Clapton’s Crossroads charity on 24 June 2004

ravelling back in time to Monday 11 April 1994, we’re currently enjoying a cup of coffee with Eric Clapton in the cafe at Olympic Studios in Barnes, Middlesex where EC is recording his From The Cradle album. We’re here to talk to Clapton about his thrills-and-spills career, but he’s also given us unprecedented access to ‘Blackie’, the black Stratocaster that was his faithful stage companion throughout the 1970s. Although the tale has been told a number of times, we ask Eric to relate how he found his most faithful accomplice. “I was in Nashville and I went into this shop called Sho-Bud where they had stacks of Fender Strats going for virtually nothing because they were so unfashionable and unwanted,” he tells us. “I bought a big pile of them all for a song – they were really cheap, like $300 or $400 each – and I took them home and gave them out. I gave Steve [Winwood] one, I gave Pete Townshend one, I gave George Harrison one and I kept a few, and I made Blackie out of a group of them. I took the pickups out of one, the scratchplate off another, the neck off another and I made my own guitar, like a hybrid guitar that had all the best bits from all these Strats.”

Blackie’s serial number is 20036, indicating that the neck plate, at least, came from an instrument made in 1957. Made up from a medley of different Strats of a similar period, the neck was a ’57 and the body a ’56, Lee Dickson believes

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interview

Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’

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Blackie has had a hard life on the road, being used for practically every gig and every album Eric did for 12 years or more. “Yeah, I wore it out,” he smiles. “It’s pretty well inaccessible now…” We mention that the bass E string is apparently hanging off the side of the neck where it’s been worn down. “Yeah, there’s not much of the neck left,” he laughs. “It’s worn away on either side and on the back with wear and tear.” We ask what it was about this 50s hybrid Strat that made it so special and after a little thought, Clapton replies, “The fact that I made it. It was one of the last guitars that I kind of road-managed myself, really. Therefore it felt like it was invested with some kind of soul, you know…” After the interview was over and Eric had headed off for the day, we were ushered

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· “There were stacks of Strats going for virtually nothing because they were so unfashionable and unwanted. I bought a big pile of them” eric claptOn

· downstairs to the studio basement where the guitar awaited us, in the safe hands of Clapton’s tech at the time, Lee Dickson. We ask how Blackie has fared over the years with such an intense work schedule. “I’ve had it refretted once,” he says. “The frets were really flat and ground into the neck because it had been stoned by someone who hadn’t taken too much care. But it’s been a great guitar – maybe just one pickup problem on the road. At the time I couldn’t figure it out, but it turned out to be a coil had got nicked at the edge, owing to pressure of playing, and it was just a matter of taking a couple of dozen wraps off.” What about replacement parts or upgrades – have there been many? “For years, I wanted to change some of the bridge saddles because they were rusted, but [Eric] wouldn’t have it. Not much else in terms of maintenance, just change the strings, keep the frets clean and try to keep

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royal albert hall blues shows guitars & amps For 1994’s series of RAH  blues shows, Eric was using  around 18 guitars per night  through an assortment of  amps. For the quieter ‘old  blues’ numbers it was a  choice between a blonde  50s Gibson L-5 and Byrdland  through Lee Dickson’s own  tiny National combo, “half the  volume of the Fender Champ  spare,” he told us. Eric chose  P-90s over humbuckers as  the early artists to whom he  was paying homage would  also have used them. Gibson  built the beautiful Sunburst  Les Paul for Eric as he’d  mistakenly believed the shot  on Freddie King’s Let’s Hide  Away And Dance Away album 

was a Sunburst with P-90s,  when in fact the cover’s  orange hue had rendered that  effect on the guitar’s dished  goldtop. Eric’s acoustics were  a vintage Martin 000-28, a  couple of ancient Dobros  (one in open E) and a spare  Martin 000-42. The main  amps were a heavily modified  ’58 Fender Twin and a signed  Soldano SLO-100 head  (Mike Soldano wrote: “Eric,  thank you very, very much  and keep on playing those  same old blues!”). This head  went through EV-loaded  Marshall cabs. The Strats  were Clapton models, but  he wanted them without his  name on the headstock.

1. The heavily modded Fender Twin saw a lot of action on the rockier section of the show, as did one of two Soldano heads (Lee rotated them each night). The straight-front Marshall cabs were loaded with Electro-Voice speakers 2. This heavily inlaid Dobro was probably the spare, as was the vintage Martin 000-42. Clapton used various tunings during these shows 3. The gorgeous ‘faux Freddie King’ Les Paul was built to Eric’s spec by Gibson’s Custom Shop. The EC Strat has a flamed maple neck, Lace Sensor pickups, but no ‘Clapton’ logo


interview

Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’

Backstage at The Albert Hall in 1994, Clapton’s guitar tech Lee Dickson tends to a more recent black Strat while Blackie enjoys its well-deserved semi-retirement

Blackie’s debut appearance with EC was at the first set at The Rainbow on 13 January 1973 during his ‘comeback gig’ organised by Pete Townshend

the neck in good nick. It pretty much took care of itself; it was – and still is – a fantastic guitar. The machineheads have held up well; I never had to do anything to them. I think the five-way switch has been replaced once or twice over the years, mainly due to sweat and dirt getting into it. I’ve polished it occasionally, although there’s more wood than paint showing through.” And what about the problem with the bass E? “Blackie’s got a well-worn neck,” Lee continues. “It’s a very slim, thin neck and just the action of a hand going up and down it, year after year, has taken off a few millimetres of wood. When I was at the Fender Custom Shop, I was amazed by the fact that if you took a few thousandths of

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an inch off a neck, you can actually feel it. With older Strats, the strings tend to run off the neck slightly, but you can always recut the nut a little narrower. I toyed with the idea of doing that on Blackie, but Eric liked it the way it was and so we always tried not to touch it. It was just a few times that he would hit a note and it would slip off the neck and that, coupled with the few thousandths of an inch wear, just made it not as comfortable as it had been.” How have the electrics held up over the years? “It was always a buzzy guitar – always tons and tons of buzz problems – but that was due to the kind of stage setup that Eric used at the time, and I suppose there weren’t too many boffins about to

go through the building all day isolating things. In America, you could find that the problems were being caused by a fridge up in the manager’s office!” So is Blackie permanently relegated to the subs’ bench now? “It’s totally playable as it is; there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s kind of like an old car – there are plenty of new models coming out that have got similar spec, so why not buy a new one and keep the old one for Sunday outings or special occasions? That guitar has got years of playing left in it, but not as an ‘every night, stand up and give it wallop’ guitar.” Catch up with all things Clapton-related at www.whereseric.com and www.ericclapton.com


historic hardware

1952 & 1954 Gibson Les Paul Goldtops

Dawn of tHe GolDen aGe Now well into its golden years at the ripe old age of 65, the original 1952 Gibson Les Paul Model shows little sign of retiring, although it does look good in tweed… Words Rod Brakes  Photography Neil Godwin

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ot on the heels of Fender’s 1950 Broadcaster and Esquire releases, Gibson debuted its own solidbody electric in 1952. “Designed by Les Paul – produced by Gibson – and enthusiastically approved by top guitarists everywhere,” read the advertisement. “The Les Paul Model is a unique and exciting innovation in the fretted instrument field; you have to see and hear it to appreciate the wonderful features and unusual tone of this newest Gibson guitar.” The Les Paul Model sported two creamcoloured soapbar P-90 pickups, a trapeze tailpiece, a bound carved maple top, a solid mahogany back and a one-piece mahogany neck with a bound Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, and was finished in gold as standard. In typical Gibson style, it appeared to be a classy, upmarket instrument – not too out of place among its range of finely crafted archtop jazz guitars and flat-top acoustics. Attempting to build upon renaissance man Les Paul’s fame as a jazz-pop artist of the 1930s and 1940s, Gibson established him as the name and face of its fledgling instrument. Inventor Les – having brought the guitar into production in collaboration with Gibson – appeared to be a suitable endorser. However, with the rise of rock ’n’ roll and R&B during the 1950s, his

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popularity as an artist waned and the Les Paul Model sales rapidly followed suit. World renowned vintage guitar expert George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars in Nashville explains: “Were Les Paul Models a smashing success, commercially? No, not really. The Les Paul Models were not selling well. The best years for Les Paul Model sales is very early on; 1953 was the peak of production for the gold Les Paul and after that they were steadily falling. They weren’t directing a very effective marketing campaign. Les Paul as an endorser wasn’t all that useful – by 1953, his popularity was on a downhill slope. The Les Paul Model was being endorsed by Les, but he was playing

· “The Les Paul is a fine R&B guitar, but Gibson’s marketing wasn’t necessarily well directed” GeorGe GruHn

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jazz-pop and his style of music was rapidly going out of fashion. The early 50s Les Paul Models were wonderful guitars, but Gibson wasn’t trying to market them at rock ’n’ rollers or R&B players. Les Paul was still performing, but he wasn’t selling anywhere near as many records as he was, and by the time [Gibson] reintroduced the single-cut Les Paul in ’68, most of the kids who wanted a Les Paul guitar barely knew who Les Paul was. I even had a guy call me up one day and ask me if I could get him a ‘Lay Paul’!” Meanwhile, Fender managed to cash in on Gibson’s oversights and the company went from strength to strength. “Fender sales of solidbodies in the 50s were way ahead of Gibson,” continues George. “The production figures aren’t so readily available, but Fender far out-sold Gibson. The Les Paul is a wondrously fine R&B guitar, but Gibson’s marketing wasn’t necessarily well directed. R&B throughout most of the 50s was played almost exclusively by black folks who typically were not going out and buying new Les Pauls, so you didn’t really see black performers endorsing Gibson products until the late 60s.” In tandem with Fender’s success in the newly established solidbody electric guitar market, it was also expanding upon its range of amplifiers. From their introduction in 1946, Fender amps were originally intended


1952 & 1954 Gibson Les Paul Goldtops

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2 1. Joe Glaser’s ingenious 1952 Goldtop bridge piece replacement effectively substituted this original trapeze tailpiece part found in the case 2. The 1952 Goldtop control cavity shows original wiring, pots and ‘grey tiger’ tone capacitors (look closely!) 3. 1952 Goldtops had no serial number; serial numbers appeared on the back of the headstock in 1953

· “When I picked up [the ’52], it just made me play better! You can tell someone’s played the arse off it – but they’re always the best vintage guitars” Joel Peat, lawson

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3 for use with lap steel and doubleneck steel instruments. With an already established range of amps available as the electric guitar craze gathered momentum, Fender literally had the stage set for guitarists to plug in and turn up the volume. And as the company further aimed to accommodate the electric guitarist, the size, power and flexibility of its amps increased accordingly. Released in 1946, the Professional amp – renamed the Pro-Amp in 1947 as it received the newlook ‘TV front’ style – was originally top of the line, and although it was superseded by the first tweed amp in production, the Dual Professional, in 1947, it temporarily remained the most powerful amp on offer and housed a large 15-inch speaker. Fender amplifiers such as the Pro-Amp were ready and waiting for electric guitars and immediately enabled guitarists to achieve an outstanding tone that proves just as popular today. Guitarist Joe Mountain of The Blood Choir, owner of the 1950 Pro-Amp pictured, agrees: “Pretty much any guitar you put through it sounds really good, but my Telecaster plugged straight in with the bridge pickup on is one of the best guitar sounds I’ve ever heard – that’s what sold the amp to me. The Tele is

normally a very bright-sounding guitar, but the Pro-Amp filters out the harsh top-end really nicely. If you turn everything fully up it has the most bad-ass sound you’ve ever heard; it’s really fat and breaks up like a bigger version of a [Fender] Deluxe. It’s got loads of bottom-end – I think having a bigger [15-inch] speaker in it gives it some extra beef, and if you smash the front-end with gain you get this amazing sag. You hit a chord and it just explodes and blooms!” The designs of today’s most popular amps and guitars haven’t changed a great deal since they were first released, although in many cases – particularly with the Les Paul Model – it took a significant number of years for their full potential to be widely recognised. Many players agree that the original vintage guitars far surpass their modern equivalents or reissues, which has pushed up their demand and subsequently – due to their relative scarcity – the prices. “The Les Paul models from the 50s didn’t sell remotely as well as they do today,” George points out. “The manufacturing level at that time was miniscule compared to what is made today, but if you think about it, a guitar that’s properly built could last 200 years and they haven’t really made any


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A. This tweed was re-covered by highly regarded pre-CBS Fender cabinet shop ex-employee Sam Hutton, and is distinguished by the yellow crayon ‘$’ signature mark in the bottom of the cabinet

B. This cabinet was constructed using pine; earlier Fender amps are often referred to as ‘woodies’ and are constructed from various hardwoods such as mahogany, walnut, maple and oak

C. This is a replacement Alnico magnet, paper cone, eight-ohm Jensen P15N 15-inch speaker. Originally, this Fender Pro-Amp was fitted with a Jensen F15N Field Coil speaker

D. The components here are hand-wired using cloth wire; large orange, red, blue and dark brown capacitors are mostly vertical facing among the various striped resistors

E. Three ‘chickenhead’ knobs are labelled ‘TONE’, ‘INST. VOL’ and ‘MIC. VOL’. With four inputs, various members of the band would often plug into the same amplifier (vocals included!)

F. Three dual-triode 6SC7 preamp valves were commonly used in the Pro-Amp up until the early 50s when they were later replaced by the 12AY7 and 12AX7 type widely in use today


1952 & 1954 Gibson les Paul Goldtops

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5 4. The ‘Coke bottle’ 5U4G rectifier valve converts AC mains voltage into the DC required by the two 6L6G power valves pictured to its right 5. The Pro-Amp ‘tube chart’ lists the type and number of valves in the amp and would normally show a serial number in the top-right area

6 major design innovations since they first appeared. Nowadays, a lot of instruments are used to make music that they weren’t originally designed for, and that goes way back to Stradivarius violins.”

From Flawed to Flawless

The Les Paul’s immediate lack of popularity may in part be due to some of the design features often perceived as problematic, such as its noticeably small frets. While sales continued to decline, other such shortcomings were subsequently reviewed and resolved over the course of the 50s as the guitar evolved: the trapeze ‘strings under the bar’ bridge/tailpiece was replaced in 1953 by a ‘wrapover’ stud bridge/tailpiece and allowed players the ability to palm-mute strings; the neck angle was deepened in 1954 giving better allround playability and sustain; and in 1955 the ‘wrapover’ bridge was replaced by the intonation-friendly Tune-o-matic bridge and ‘stop’ tailpiece. Although aware of its flaws, Andrew Yonke, CEO of Chicago Music Exchange, originally acquired the 1952 Les Paul Model pictured here through Heritage Auctions in the USA for his personal collection, before later selling it on in the store. “Those original 1952 Les Pauls are

not good-playing guitars because of the small frets, the shallow neck angle and the bridge,” Andrew explains. “But I thought, ‘I can easily sort this out’ – apart from a few minor things, it was completely straight and it had really good pickups, so I bought it. I had it refretted by a guy here in Chicago and [famed luthier] Joe Glaser, who’s a good friend of mine, developed a tailpiece that you put on the original trapeze setup so that you can wrap the strings around the top and intonate it. I put it on and it worked perfectly. It also got around the problem of the shallow neck angle. Everything that was done to that guitar was done for functional reasons and it turned out great!”

· “If you turn everything up, [the Pro-Amp] has the most bad-ass sound you’ve ever heard” Joe Mountain, tHe BlooD CHoir

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6. The second generation ‘FEnDER’ metal badge logo, as seen on ‘TV front’ Fender amplifiers

Guitarist Joel Peat of Lawson later stumbled across Andrew’s ’52 Les Paul Model while it was on sale in Chicago Music Exchange and instantly fell in love. “I was on tour with Lawson and we were in Chicago, so I popped into Chicago Music Exchange,” remembers Andrew. “When I picked up this guitar, it just made me play better! It was inspiring and sounded incredible. It’s quite special when an instrument grabs you like that – it means something when it’s that good. It’s not in perfect condition – you can tell someone’s played the arse off it – but they’re always the best vintage guitars. The ones that have got a bit of wear and have been out on the road, they’ve been loved because of the way the guitar sounds and feels. I used it on the last [Lawson] album, Perspective. It’s on the intro to Love & War. The song starts with that guitar and I played it through a Leslie cabinet and it sounded great.” Eventually, the guitar made its way to Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars in Bath, where it subsequently proceeded to tempt all those within its reach: “I kind of thought I’d like to exchange all of my guitars just for that one!” recalls Alex Blain of the store. “The pickups sounded amazing, particularly the front pickup, but the combined sounds of both the front and back pickups were

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historic hardware

1952 & 1954 Gibson Les Paul Goldtops

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7. The 1954 Goldtop headstock shows the ink-stamped serial number in ‘X XXXX’ configuration (the first digit denotes year) 8. This 1954 Gibson Les Paul Model instruction manual gives detailed information on how to use the controls (just in case you were wondering!)

8. Ageing cracks in the top lacquer run along the body of the 1954 Goldtop and strongly indicate a refinish (typically, they run across the body as seen on the 1952 Goldtop)

unbelievable! I’ve never known another guitar to clean up so well. You could have the amp on full tilt, almost on meltdown kind of crunch, and then just roll back the volume down to 1 or 2 and it had a perfectly clear tone, with no loss of sparkle at all.” Paul Tucker, also of Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars, recalls his initial impressions upon playing the guitar for the first time: “The neck was the perfect profile for me. If I could have templated that neck and replicated it, I would’ve done! It wasn’t too big or too slim and it was the perfect width.” Guitarist Nigel Pulsford was so impressed with the guitar that he decided to sell his ’54 Gibson Les Paul Model in order to fund its purchase, whereupon both Goldtops pictured were suddenly available for sale in the shop in Bath. “It was the unruly neck

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9 pickup that sold me on the ’54 initially,” Nigel remembers. “There was nothing polite about it. The bridge pickup has a very rounded, raggedy tone, but it’s quite tricky to record with as it dominates and takes up a lot of space, which is sort of its downfall for me, and so I rarely record with it now.” “The ’54 is a very good all-rounder,” says Alex. “It’s got much more of a gutsy bridge pickup, so I’d probably use that for more of an out-and-out rock sound. It’s an amazing guitar, but somehow it doesn’t have quite the same magic as the ’52. Maybe because it’s been refinished it feels newer, like it hasn’t been worn and played. The ’52 feels like it’s been played a lot over its entire life.” “The ’54 is a refinished ‘all gold’ [top, back, sides and neck, originally],” adds Paul. “There are traces of the original gold paint

in the control cavity. I think it felt a little bit less approachable than the ’52 because it was cleaner and that influenced the way I played it. But the ’54 sounded pretty mean with all that great wood and the P-90s. The neck is a bit chunkier than the ’52, which a lot of people prefer.” Original Les Paul Models are certainly in demand these days – something Nigel knows only too well: “I was going to sell my ’54 and buy the ’52, but both were sold to the same guy the day after they were put up for sale. Vexed doesn’t come close to expressing my anguish, but there are always more guitars to be had!” Guitarist would like to thank Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars, Gruhn Guitars and Chicago Music Exchange


Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

f e n d e r

B r a d

p a i s l e y

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review

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telecaster Fender’s sharp-suited collaboration with country picker Brad Paisley cer ta inly l ooks t he pa r t. bu t, w e wonder, is i t a l l h at a nd no c at t l e ? Words  Neville Marten  Photography  Neil Godwin Price £1,079  Contact Fender Musical Instruments EMEA  Phone 01342 331700  Web www.fender.com

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review

Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

w what you need to know

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What’s the skinny on  Brad Paisley, then? Probably the hottest  and most entertaining  country singer,  songwriter and guitarist  to hit the scene in  decades. Film star  looks, unbelievable tone,  technique and down-toearth attitude have made  him one of Nashville’s  favourite stars. And a paisley finish,  too! What’s that? Although the name is  derived from the famous  Scottish textile town  of the same name, the  ‘twisted teardrop’ shape  that characterises the  design you see here is  actually of Persian origin,  where it was known as  boteh or buta. What wood does  the body use? The body has a  paulownia core. It’s an  East Asian timber that’s  used in furniture, for  soundboards on certain  Eastern instruments,  for surfboards and even  clogs. Almost as light as  balsa but significantly  stronger, it’s also known  as ‘Princess’ wood, said  to have been named after  princess Anna Pavlovna  of Russia. Front and back  are faced with spruce.

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hen your name’s Paisley and you’re a country superstar who’s been playing the socks off Fender Teles all your life, it seems perfectly fit that the company and the man should get together to produce a signature ‘paisley’ style guitar. Of course, ‘paisley-ised’ Teles are no new thing – Brad has been playing an original pink ’68 model for years, as well as several stylised custom versions. But one of many things we like about this one is the fact that for his mainstream model Brad has gone down the affordable Road Worn route rather than opting for a big-ticket Master Built Custom Shop job. “The thing I’m proudest about this guitar,” he affirms, “is that it’s relatively inexpensive for young guitar players.” He’s also happy to point out how involved he was in other aspects of its design. “I picked everything from the wood the body is made of, to the pickup rating, neck size and shape. It’s based on a ’63 Tele that I had, which was refinished this colour; I then made a pickguard for it. And Fender said, ‘Oh, we’ll make a bunch of these,’” grins Paisley, proudly of his creation. So what’s different about this particular Tele? Well, as we’ve said many times, the model’s simplistic design – Brad calls it a “cutting board with a neck” – is the perfect template for customisation. Be that those pink paisley and blue flower models from 1968, f-hole Thinlines, bound-bodied Customs, humbucking Deluxes, exotic timber versions such as the George Harrison rosewood, a mahogany P-90 model, triple-pickup-plus-piezo Nashvilles and a host of others. Paisley’s Road Worn tells its own interesting story. Brad wanted a lightweight guitar so opted for a core of solid paulownia with spruce top and back. Growing incredibly fast (paulownia saplings can gain seven feet in a single year), it makes for a most sustainable timber as it can also colonise difficult areas where other trees struggle. It’s also rather

beautiful, with masses of lilac coloured, foxglove-like flowers. The paulownia and spruce sandwich makes for a supremely light, acoustically resonant guitar. Most obvious to the eye, of course, is the silver sparkle nitro finish and clear plastic pickguard with black and blue-grey paisley printing on the underside. Up close it’s stunning, especially under lights, although some of the effect is lost from further away. Some relic’ing has been applied: lacquer checking and some fairly unsubtle forearm wear. But hey, it’s factory made in Mexico and is not a £5k Master Built dream, so we’d say this is acceptable, but perhaps question the need for ageing at all. Brad stipulated that he wanted the neck to be fat and comfortable down at the nut end, for chords and all the speedy pulloffs that characterise his playing, but slim enough at the top for serious country wigouts. He also wanted the thinnest of finishes (this one is oiled Road Worn) so it would wear through on the fretboard and round the back. A soft ‘V’ profile and Fender’s now almost mandatory 241mm (9.5-inch) radius and medium-jumbo 6105 frets complete the picture for an instrument designed for a very serious player indeed. No corners have been cut where the pickups are concerned, with Paisley insisting on a custom wound ’64 Tele at the bridge and Twisted Tele at the neck. Controls are the usual master volume and tone, plus three-way selector. While the bridge base is standard vintage Tele, the compensating saddles take care of any tuning issues associated with ‘ashtray’ bridges (T-lovers complain the ‘improved’ six-saddle setup doesn’t cut it, sonically). Essentially, a small section of each brass barrel can be loosened and reset using a small hex screw. Almost indiscernible to the naked eye, it will be a welcome inclusion for those who can’t live with the Tele’s usual intonation compromises.


r i v a l s  Fender’s Road Worn 50s Telecaster (£1,026) comes with maple  neck, aged nitrocellulose Butterscotch or Sunburst finished  alder body, Tex-Mex pickups and 6105 medium-jumbo frets. For  something like the ‘real’ Paisley Tele for similar money, Fender  Japan’s ‘Special Release’ model (£999) is a take on the ’68 original  that Brad calls his number one. With alder body and pink, green  and silver ‘wallpaper’ finish and classic Tele layout, it’s a stunner!  Fret-King’s JDD ‘Jerry Donahue’ Country Squire (£899) honours  another great country player. With bound ash top, alder body and  Seymour Duncan pickups, it’s a versatile and affordable alternative


review

Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

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1. The body relic’ing on the Road Worn isn’t the subtlest we’ve seen, but it definitely adds the well-played vibe sought by Brad 2. A white hat by John B Stetson is a Brad Paisley signature; we rather like the stylised logo with paisley design woven into it 3. Look closely and you can see that a small section of the A-string side of the brass saddle is shifted back a tad to provide better intonation. The bridge pickup is a customwound ’64, while the neck is a Twisted Tele 4. The neck is a clubby but comfortable handful down by the nut to aid 1st-position chord playing and Brad’s dazzling open-string pull-offs

sounds As you can imagine, a guitar that looks like this is going to be ravenously greeted in an office full of players. And after being grabbed by a variety of guitarists, a straw poll gave this potentially polarising neck a big thumbs up. When performing open chords and those aforementioned pulloffs to open strings, it’s helpful to have something to pivot against, so too much meat removed down there can be counterproductive. However, too fat at the top end can inhibit free soloing, so in that sense this ‘positive compromise’ really works. Of course, it’s not just a country guitar – none of the players here that tried it and loved it are country guitarists; it works for anything you throw at it (Jeff Beck would murder it!). Brad has been using the guitar live, so watching a few YouTube clips should confirm our findings that it’s dark, powerful and full of huge Tele tone. The bridge ’64 has a gutsy bark that revels in overdrive but cleans up beautifully. Over at the neck, the Twisted Tele single coil provides everything

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Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra


Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

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Fender Brad Paisley road Worn TelecasTer

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from smooth jazz to sub-Stevie Ray blues – it certainly gave our Custom Shop Strat with Fender Fat 60s pickups a run for its money! The surprise here, though, was the middle position: while neck and bridge are dark, powerful and woody, set the selector in centre position and it goes really hollow and twangy, for a completely new voice that does everything from dirty funk to Johnny Cash ‘ricky-tick’ rhythm. A fabulous sounding, immensely versatile instrument.

verdict Occasionally when famous players get involved in creating ‘artist’ instruments, the outcome is based on personal quirks rather than the desire to make a great guitar that anyone can use. However, Brad Paisley’s Road Worn Tele is one of those occasions where their input results in a real workhorse instrument – albeit one with its fair share of bling. And while we were unsure at first, the guitar’s look has really grown on us; the pickguard’s paisley artwork is actually rather subtle and the silver sparkle coming through creates a

unique look. We even like Brad’s ‘Stetson’ logo on the headstock. Whatever you think of its livery, as a musical instrument it’s hard to fault. Brad’s choice of the unusual paulownia and spruce ‘sandwich’ body is inspired. It weighs next to nothing, seems sonically inert so the pickups’ and strings’ sound is largely uncoloured by a particular wood’s ‘tone’, and it plays great straight out of its gigbag. Also, given its sustainability and the guitar maker’s never-ending quest for new timbers, we can see paulownia appearing on other models in future. Streeting for around the magic grand means it’s an affordable ‘proper’ musical instrument, too, and one that could excel in any number of musical settings, certainly not just country. Although currently limited edition, should it prove successful (and we have no doubt it will), it would be great to see the range expanded with other sparkle colours and perhaps a pau ferro (Fender’s new ‘rosewood’) fingerboard. All in all, this is a collaboration that’s really worked, and you can’t say fairer than that.

PRICE: £1,079 (inc gigbag) ORIGIN: Mexico TYPE: Single-cutaway, bolt-on electric BODY: Solid paulownia core with spruce front and back NECK: Solid 1-piece maple, ‘oiled Road Worn’ finish, Brad Paisley ‘Stetson’ headstock logo SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”) NUT/WIDTH: Synthetic bone/42mm FINGERBOARD: Maple (integral to neck), black dot inlays, 241mm (9.5”) radius FRETS: 21, medium jumbo (6105) HARDWARE: Aged chrome vintage-style Tele bridge with 3 intonatable brass saddles, Kluson-style 6-a-side tuners STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm ELECTRICS: Fender custom-wound ’64 Tele bridge and Twisted Tele neck single coils; master volume and tone plus 3-way pickup selector WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3/6.6 OPTIONS: None RANGE OPTIONS: Regular Road Worn 50s Telecaster costs £1,026 LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Silver Sparkle (as reviewed), aged nitrocellulose

9 PROS Sharp looks; stunning sounds; very playable neck; light weight; made with sustainable timbers CONS Does it need relic’ing? Flashy looks and fat neck at the nut may not be everyone’s taste

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review

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

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Video demo

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Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

review

Different ’Cuts Beyond the hallowed Les Pauls from Gibson, plenty of other brands make single-cuts. Here are two refreshingly different styles from opposite sides of the globe Words  Dave Burrluck  Photography  Joseph Branston

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review

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

EaStman SB 59/ v & Godin SummiT ClaSSiC lTd £1,769 & £2,299 ContaCt 

Eastman Musical Instruments Europe BV Phone +31 (0)36 5404478 Web www.eastmanguitars.com 

ContaCt 440 Distribution Phone 01132 589599 Web www.godinguitars.com

What You Need To Know

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Eastman? Don’t they make  affordable retro guitars? No, that’s Eastwood! Eastman makes  a large range of acoustic, hollow and  semi-solid guitars in China. This year,  the company took the wraps off its  first solidbody, the SB59, in either an  antiqued French polish finish or more  conventional nitrocellulose finishes.

2

We’ve seen Godin’s Summit  before, haven’t we? Yes, it’s been available for a little  while, but this year Godin announced  a range of ‘custom shop’ limited  models, made in Canada, with  upgraded specs and boutique  pickups from Bare Knuckle and Lollar.

3

Surely we’re better off with a  Gibson, aren’t we? Well, yes, Gibson originated the model  and its range of Les Pauls is extensive  and surprisingly affordable (see our  ‘Keeping Up The Standards’ feature  on p112). However, both our reviewed  models offer a different spin on the  classic design… albeit with the ‘wrong’  names on the headstock!

106  Guitarist september 2017

L

ittle did Gibson know back in the early 50s that its first solidbody guitar would spawn a whole industry. For many of us, the Les Paul started in 1958 and was over by the time the restyled ‘SG’ replaced it in 1961. These so-called ’Bursts have fuelled dreams and obsessions, and a considerable number of copies, clones, forgeries and fakes. But we still can’t get enough, can we? The other side of the single-cut coin is the numerous makers who have taken Gibson’s blueprint and added their own twists, quite often simply to side-step Gibson’s legal department. Nonetheless, from the early 50s the influence of the Les Paul began to leave its mark even if, as with Guild’s M-75, many borrowed the style but made it hollow or semi-hollow. In more contemporary times, like the Stratocaster, the Les Paul has been the inspiration for many an electric from PRS’s Singlecut, to Patrick James Eggle’s Macon Single Cut… and many more.

Eastman SB59/v

Eastman’s first solidbody falls into the former ‘vintage’ category, but our sample – a pre-production prototype of this new design – looks altogether more handfashioned than a late 50s ’Burst. In fact, if we didn’t know better, we might think that ‘Eastman’ was a solo maker working back in the 70s hand-making electric guitars in a garden shed. As we noticed when we first looked at these Chinese-made ‘antique’ constructs, when you open the case you do a double-take: is this really a new guitar?

It’s obviously a close cousin of the classic Les Paul with virtually zero nods to modernism. Shape-wise, it’s slightly fuller in the lower bouts than a Les Paul, but it’s the rounded horn – reminiscent of Gibson’s Les Paul Personal – that immediately provides visual difference. It’s certainly made of the right stuff: the mahogany back is one piece, the top centre-joined with a far-from-classic tiger striped maple top but with a nicely deep, violin-like dishing. The neck, with single-action truss rod, is one piece (there are no headstock-widening wings), while the classic LP ‘crown’ inlays are referred to as ‘Ocean’ pearl and provide the only bling with a subtle sparkle against the bound ebony ’board. The 15.5mm-thick headstock has a matching ebony facing (and truss rod cover) and pearl inlaid logo, and a very Gibson-like top lip along with a steep back angle. The neck-to-body angle is steep, too, meaning that the tune-o-matic seemingly sits quite high off the body. In reality, it’s only a millimetre higher than the less-raked looking Godin. Unlike many modern single-cuts, it’s not chambered, nor weight-relived, and achieves a pretty good if substantial-feeling weight of 8.7lbs. But it’s the finish, an antiqued ‘French polish’, that’ll be hugely polarising. It comes from Eastman’s extensive experience in orchestral stringed instruments and is applied by hand. French polish is actually the process, not the material, though it’s typically a shellac dissolved in alcohol. It’s a fairly lengthy process and is nowhere near as hard as a nitrocellulose or the more


Video demo

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

review

1

2

1. Along with aged Gotoh hardware, we get a pair of Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers. The standard SB59 uses Duncan ’59s and a more conventional gloss nitro finish

3

2. The SB59/v is certainly made of the right stuff: the back and neck are both one-piece mahogany 3. Looking like an old piece of furniture, the Eastman’s finish is a traditional French polish applied by hand in the company’s Violin Varnish Workshop. “It features six distinct steps,” we’re told, “starting with base coat to fill the grain, colour application, and concluding with the French polish. Ultimately, three or four coats of material are applied and sanded thin”

commonly used polyurethane, polyester or acrylic. It marks easily, but is repairable and lets the wood breathe. Aside from its visual impact, the impression of that old-school hand-build is enhanced by quite a textured feel to the neck back, for example. Binding is thin and slightly creamy coloured. It’s not the sharpest scraping we’ve ever seen, but looks very vintage-y and hand-done compared with the bright white binding of the Godin, which is thicker and deeper on the body, with inner purfling, though similarly sized on the neck, creating a much more contemporary appearance.

Hardware, too, is aged – the stud tailpiece sitting a little closer than most to the tuneo-matic bridge. There are no tricks in the choice of Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers in their aged nickel covers and the classic two-volume/two-tone control setup with a shoulder-mounted three-way toggle, all placed in unshielded cavities.

Godin Summit Classic Ltd

The Canadian maker’s single-cut vision is altogether more contemporary. Firstly, the outline of the two-piece centre-jointed

september 2017 Guitarist

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review

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

4

top is more noticeably redrawn from the original: that slight cut-out on the bass-side shoulder, a more open, out-curving tip to the cutaway’s horn and a flatter curve to the base of the body. Its depth retains the bulk of the original: 47mm at the rim rising to around 57mm in the centre of the carved maple top. Unlike a Les Paul, there’s a slight rib-cage chamfer on the back. The top exhibits quite a classic appearance, with its not overdone down-turned flame under the caramel brown-coloured light ’burst. The top’s carve is nicely dished, though less so than the Eastman; both volume and tone are inset, PRS-style. It’s a very clean job. Joining the neck at the 16th fret, like the original, neither the neck pitch nor headstock rake are quite as extreme as a vintage spec Les Paul, but it’s doubtful (or certainly debatable) that either are noticeably detrimental to the sound. The neck, with its modern dual-action truss rod, has a spliced headstock and a nicely old-school three-a-side, quite thin-widthed head with its single domed-top lip: it looks like something we’ve seen before, even if the central Summit Classic and Made In Canada legends are far from vintage. The ‘Limited’ truss rod cover differentiates it from the non-custom shop models, too. Along with that bright

108  Guitarist september 2017

5

white binding we have what appears to be mother-of-pearl dot inlays – hardly correct for the classic Standard or Custom style, but a nice working guitar touch. There are more than a few twists, however, that take this Summit Classic recipe away from its inspiration. Firstly, there’s the centre-jointed two-piece mahogany chambered body, with “five hollow chambers strategically placed throughout the guitar’s body”, says Godin. “Each is tap-tuned to a different pitch ensuring rich, musical tones and extremely consistent note-to-note balance.” Then there’s the use of Richlite for the fingerboard instead of rosewood or ebony – a material that Godin employs on other higher-end guitars. More modernism appears in the electronics spec where – despite the pretty old-school style of the Bare Knuckle Mules – we have the active High-Definition Revoicer (HDR) that’s engaged via a small push-button discreetly placed in front of the

4. Our ‘custom shop’ Ltd version of the Summit Classic uses a pair of Bare Knuckle Mules; the Supreme Ltd comes with Lollar El Rayo humbuckers or Gold Foil single coils 5. Like the standard Summit Classics, we have simple master volume and tone knobs. The push switch in front of the tone control introduces an active buffer/boost: Godin’s High-Definition Revoicer (HDR) circuit


Video demo

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

diffErEnt ’CutS SpECS

review

(in mm unless stated)

eaSTmaN SB59/v

godiN SummiT ClaSSiC lTd

giBSoN leS paul STaNdard 2017 T

SCale leNgTh

628

629

624

NuT WidTh

43.7

43.15

42.86

Bridge SpaCiNg

51.5

52.5

51

12Th freT WidTh

53.55

52.5

52.79

1ST freT depTh

21.85

21.3

20.25

12Th freT depTh

25

24.05

22.3

WeighT (Kg/lB)

3.96/8.7

3.3/7.3

4.03/8.86

WeighT relief

No

5 chamber

Ultra-modern

fiNgerBoard radiuS

305

305

Compound 229-356

BodY rim

50

47.4

51.2

59.6

57

61.8

freT Size W x h (approx.)

2.64 x 1.24

2.4 x 1.27

2.29 x 1.3

piCKup dC (Bridge) ohmS

8.42k

8.27k

7.06k

piCKup dC (NeCK) ohmS

7.51k

7.26k

7.5k

BodY max

magNeT TYpe

Alnico 2

Alnico 4

Alnico 5

piCKup SCreW pole from NuT (NeCK)

475

472

474.5

piCKup SCreW pole from NuT (Bridge)

594

597

597.5

CaviTY Shield

No

No

No

lower tone control and designed to “revoice and augment the frequency range of each pickup and allows the player to go from passive to active pickups with the simple push of a button”. While the drive remains simplistic with a shoulder-placed three-way toggle, controls are condensed with just master volume and tone. The output jack is the recessed circular Tele-type and the bridge is Graph Tech ResoMax design; Graph Tech also supplies the Tusq nut. The airy unshielded control cavity also houses the nine-volt block battery for the active circuit. The pots and HDR circuit and its switch are all mounted to a central PCB, which could make modding a little difficult.

Sounds

The Eastman’s neck is similar in depth to the Godin in its lower positions, but fills out as you move higher ending up in a full, rounded handful by the heel – not a neck for

those who like ’em thin, front to back. Not surprisingly, the more modern Godin’s neck is equally well shaped, with slightly more trimmed shoulders, but simply doesn’t feel as big, though again it’s far from skinny front to back. The Eastman’s frets are slightly chunkier and of a similar height to the Godin. Strapped on, the Eastman feels heavier and like home; the Godin is lighter with less of a body-centred feel. The differences continue as we plug in. As ever, we use various references and the Eastman is the most ‘polite’ we have to hand, lacking the clarity of more modernstyle builds, not least a 2017 Gibson LP Standard T, a PRS McCarty or Singlecut, and our Godin. It’s also the lowest in output and setting up a range of sounds from pretty clean, boosted clean, Marshall crunch and boosted, that theme is continued. The Antiquities aren’t potted either, which can be an issue for some players at higher gains/

volumes, of course. Few surprises, but with a recipe this good that’s certainly well replicated here, who cares? Yet the Godin will surprise many players with a voice that manages clarity, sweetness and power with that simple two-control drive. It has a lively resonance, too, married with a lighter weight. The HDR moves it further from the Eastman and not only adds clarity (in a musical fashion), but just a very subtle level boost. It cleans up the passive treble roll-off effect when the volume is reduced, and if you just need a little more zing, especially with a morecomplex pedalboard setup, it’s here. It doesn’t quite manage the lower-mid thunk of the Eastman and there’s a very subtle compression – which, depending on your style, could be good or bad. There’s a lot of single-cut sound here with a very simple drive, which could prove a winner if you have more sounds to cover.

september 2017 Guitarist

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review

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

Another modern detail is the use of Richlite for the Godin fingerboard, instead of rosewood or ebony. Godin also uses it on other high-end models, such as certain Multiac models; Martin, too, offers it for fingerboards

EaStman SB59/v

Back on the Eastman we have no such bells or whistles, but kicking in a clean booster/buffer from our pedalboard does have a similar effect to the HDR, and with a slight level increase there’s little between the two. Still, for many more seasoned single-cut players, the classic four-control setup is essential to the drive. We’re tempted to conclude that the Eastman is for the player more in touch with his or her vintage side, but we’re less sure that, in reality, that’s the case from what we’re hearing rather than what we’re seeing or feeling. That said, it’s a guitar we seem to just want to plug directly in and channel our inner Kossoff.

Verdict

These are two single-cuts that nicely illustrate the options we have in the current market. Eastman’s vision looks and feels like a custom-made instrument; it closely follows Gibson’s blueprint with a slightly altered shape. It’s these combined factors that makes it hugely valid and, as we’ve said, the same guitar is available with a gloss nitro finish, Duncan ’59s and unaged hardware if you’d prefer – at an even lower cost. Godin, too, has cheaper alternatives, but its single-cut vision in this ‘Ltd’ incarnation is top drawer, bringing something different to the table with its chambered construction, light weight, Richlite fingerboard, active HDR circuit and streamlined controls. It’s less vintageinspired for sure, but being powered by the excellent Bare Knuckle Mules, it has a broad single-cut voice. As to value, that’s always a difficult one. We have to conclude that the Godin does seem a little over-priced, especially when compared with its standard Summit Classic models (or the price of Gibson’s 2017 Les Paul Standard T, streeting around £1.9k). And the Eastman in its antique finish? Some have questioned the validity of a £1.7k Chinese-made guitar. But we’d suggest you let the guitar do the talking. We’d give house room to either – try them both and buy the one that engages you. Seriously good single-cuts!

110  Guitarist september 2017

PRICE: £1,769 (inc case) ORIGIN: China TYPE: Single-cutaway, solidbody electric BODY: Carved maple top on 1-piece mahogany NECK: 1-piece mahogany, glued-in NUT/WIDTH: Bone FINGERBOARD: Bound ebony, ‘Ocean Pearl’ block inlays FRETS: 22, Jescar medium jumbo HARDWARE: Tune-o-matic-style bridge with stud tailpiece, vintage Kluson-style tuners – aged nickelplated ELECTRICS: 2x Seymour Duncan Antiquity aged covered humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, individual pickup volume and tone controls OPTIONS: None RANGE OPTIONS: The non-antiqued SB59 (£1,399) comes with gloss nitro finish, in 2 colour options, and covered Seymour Duncan ’59s LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Antique Classic varnish (as reviewed), Antique Amber varnish

8 PROS Old-school build and handmade vibe; classic vintage-y single-cut feel and sounds CONS Might be too old-school for some in looks, spec and sounds

Godin SummiT ClaSSiC lTd PRICE: £2,299 (inc case) ORIGIN: Canada TYPE: Single-cutaway, solidbody electric BODY: Carved maple top on chambered mahogany NECK: Mahogany, glued-in NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech Tusq FINGERBOARD: Bound Richlite, dot inlays FRETS: 22, medium jumbo HARDWARE: Graph Tech ResoMax bridge with stud tailpiece, Godin ‘High-Ratio’ tuners – nickel-plated ELECTRICS: 2x Bare Knuckle Mule covered humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, master volume and tone w/ Godin High-Definition Revoicer (HDR) push switch OPTIONS: High-Gloss Desert Blue with TRIC case (£1,949) RANGE OPTIONS: The other Summit Classic Ltd is the Supreme with either Lollar Gold Foil single coils, in Cognac Burst Flame (£2,299), or with Lollar El Rayo humbuckers in High-Gloss Cherry Burst (£2,499). The standard Summit Classic starts at £1,299 LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Cognac Burst (as reviewed) – all gloss

8 PROS Modern take on the single-cut; vintage/modern voicing; simple drive CONS In contrast to the Eastman, might be too modern for some in looks, spec and sounds; a tad pricey?


feature

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

Keeping Up Standards Everyone’s doing ‘a Gibson’, it seems. But what exactly is Gibson doing? Dave Burrluck takes stock…

G

ibson’s mainstream assault on our hearts and wallets comes from its USA division, not to be confused with its Memphis and Custom Shop brands. Yes, all the instruments have Gibson on the headstock, but – certainly to an outsider – it’s almost like three different guitar factories working in isolation. And while certain price-points overlap, it’s the more affordable USA division’s guitars that most of us will experience. The USA line is upgraded, changed and tweaked on an annual basis and in recent years – 2015, in particular – it took a modernistic turn that seemed to put off as many players as it engaged. Fast forward to 2017, however, and things have stabilised with a dual tier of models: ‘T’ for traditional, more classic guitars, and ‘HP’ as in High Performance, for those who want their Les Paul to push the envelope. You choose. And while many brands can be accused of not giving us the choices we want, Gibson USA isn’t one of them. If we focus on just the Les Paul, the company’s original solidbody single-cutaway, the range starts with the Les Paul Faded T in Worn Brown or Cherry at a lowly £699 and street price nearer £550. We move up through the line to the Standard: the Les Paul. Now, in its T spec, that might have a retail price of £2,299 (the HP model costs £2,699), but from the large Gibson dealers it seems to have settled at £1,899. Since the Winter NAMM show, we’ve had a request in to look at both the T and HP versions of the Standard, but at the time of writing (July) we still hadn’t received either. In researching our Different ’Cuts feature, however, I borrowed a 2017 LP Standard T simply because if you’re after a new Gibson Les Paul, it’s got to be a contender. On paper, it has a lot going for it. Its street price, for example, is hugely tempting and its reined-in innovation creates, no, not a vintage ’Burst on a budget, but a guitar that embodies the key elements of the Les Paul – and moves it forward. Innovation has always been key to the history of Gibson and this Standard model does nothing to erode that reputation.

Changing Times

Securing wood of the correct variety, condition and weight has been an ongoing issue for every maker on the planet. The

112  Guitarist september 2017

toying with different woods, many more are chambering or weight-relieving their single-cuts. “But it’s not a solidbody!” you shout. Well, no, but this is 2017, not 1957. Things have changed. Gibson’s “ultra modern weight relief”, which is under the hood of the Standard, is the latest of many, and while it hardly produces an ultra-light Les Paul, at 8.86lbs ( just over 4kg), our sample is far from a porker. Its nicely striped AAA top – along with one of the best finishes we’ve seen on a USA model – creates a pretty posh yet classic aesthetic, but there are plenty more tricks up the Standard’s sleeve. The ’board radius is classed as compound and measures approximately nine to 14 inches. Yes, the fret ends are the nibs of the binding, but all are nicely smooth, while the ‘asymmetric’ neck profile is slightly D shaped, hardly a classic ’Burst alike, but it feels rather good, not least if you use your thumb behind.

Sounding Out

· “On paper, it has a lot going for it – its street price is tempting and its innovation creates a guitar that embodies the key elements of the Les Paul and moves it forward” · model was designed back in the early 50s, of course, when supplies of choice South American mahogany were plentiful, but today’s choice is much, much more limited and expensive. While some makers are

Still, it’s the sounds and the potential that again push this Standard forward. Each volume pot has a ‘coil-tap’ that we believe is actually a filter (the DC resistance hardly changes in this mode, which it would if it were a conventional coil-tap or split). The bridge pickup’s tone control is a bypass switch that runs the bridge pickup direct to the output, bypassing the other controls and providing maximum high-end. The rhythm pickup’s tone is an out-of-phase switch. Our sample’s back pickup is a little underpowered compared with its spec, but there’s little doubt what you’re listening to and it’s a pretty old-school take on the Les Paul. The ‘coil-taps’ do sound very single-coil-y, without the volume drop you experience with most coil-splits, for example, and it gives another texture, especially for gained sounds, and summons up soapbar-equipped Specials. That bypass is a great rock solo voice, particularly when gained, and that out-of-phase voicing might not be exactly the ‘Peter Green’ sound, but it’s proved worthy for a variety of voices, ranging from nasty gained gnarl and 70s-tastic funk, to clean King-style (BB or Freddie) blues. It’s one of the best new Standards that this writer has had in his hands for some years. Here’s hoping we get to fully roadtest it in a future issue.


feature

Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

Beyond The ’Burst Not all single-cuts follow the Les Paul blueprint. Here are six examples with a difference…

GreTsch G5435T ElEcTromaTic Pro JET £529 This Les Paul ‘clone’ that was never a solidbody kicks off the current Jet line and uses a chambered basswood back with arched laminate maple top, ‘Black Top’ Filter’Tron pickups and a Bigsby B50. Colour options are Black or Silver Sparkle, while a hardtail version (£445) and Professional Collection Duo Jets (from £2,359) are also available. www.gretschguitars.com

114  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017

supro Dual TonE £799

Gordon smiTh GS-1 ‘60’ £895

Part of the new Supro Americana series that hails from China, the Dual Tone emulates the original 60s model but with a moulded plastic ‘AcoustiGlass’ top and chambered mahogany back. The Vista-Tone pickups look like humbuckers, but are single coils that closely emulate the originals. There’s plenty more in this range and also the solidbody Island series, which starts at £899. http://suprousa.com

The UK’s longest-running production electric guitar company is now in the hands of Auden – and going through quite a renaissance. We took a look at this in issue 419 and while the base model starts at £600, you can add options such as locking Gotoh tuners, all-mahogany construction, a deeper 44mm-thick body, a proprietary P-90-style soapbar single coil, and a gloss-topped solid-colour finish. www.gordonsmithguitars.com


Eastman SB 59/v & Godin Summit ClaSSiC ltd

feature

prs S2 SinGlEcuT STanDarD SaTin £999

Guild nEwark ST m-75 ariSTocraT £980

GiBson mEmPhiS ES-lES Paul from £2,499

USA-made S2s are becoming the go-to guitars for those of us who can’t stretch to the full-blown Corelevel PRSes. There are four single-cuts to choose from and this start-up all-mahogany solidbody now has an upgraded adjustable wrapover bridge, #7 covered humbuckers, four-control layout, and is one of the few PRSes that comes with dot inlays. www.prsguitars.com

Introduced in 1954, this oh-so-Les Paul was in fact a hollowbody, a down-sized jazzbox. The current version is still unique, but with Franz-style soapbar single coils, it’s superb for old-school jazz and blues. Plus the light single-cut weight won’t give you round shoulders. Equally valid is the Duncan ’bucker-equipped semi-solid single-cut Bluesbird. http://guildguitars.com

It took Gibson a while to cotton on that numerous makers had crossed its ES-335 with its Les Paul, but the company finally released the ES-Les Paul in 2014, starting with the Studio (£2,499). The pictured Alex Lifeson (£3,299) is one of many limited models offered by Gibson Memphis: lightweight and surprisingly hollowbody-sounding. www.gibson.com

sEPtEMBEr 2017 Guitarist

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116  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017


P  EDALBOARD

M a n u fac t u r e r MusicPsych

pr ic e £129

Mode l xtoMP Mini

0207 607 6005 www.xtoMP.coM

Hotone

Xtomp Mini

A more compact version of the chameleon-like pedal that provides a blank canvas for you to fill with whatever effects you choose Words  Trevor Curwen  Photography  Olly Curtis

H

otone’s original Xtomp, which made its debut last year, might have seemed an enigma to anyone looking at it and wondering what on earth its knobs did as none of them were labelled. But perhaps that was the clue, because those knobs could be whatever you wanted them to be: the Xtomp presented a smart pedal that could be configured to be any effect you wanted, chameleon-style. Now its creators have brought out a new version, the Xtomp Mini, which has lost the original’s stereo inputs and outputs, in turn making it slightly smaller with a more compact and pedalboard-friendly footprint. The key to using the pedal is an app that provides 140 digitally modelled effects, amp sims and speaker sims (with new

118  Guitarist september 2017

models being added twice a month), any of which can be loaded singly into the pedal. The app itself takes several forms: it can run on a computer (Mac or Windows), making a USB connection to the pedal, or it can be a mobile app for iOS or Android, utilising a wireless Bluetooth connection to load the pedal with whatever effect you want. You just zap a new effect into the pedal at any time from your phone…

SoundS

As supplied, our pedal comes with a very nice three-knob delay loaded, but with the free app downloaded to our iPhone, we’re able to scroll through the available models, choose one and load it into the pedal. Initially, some of the more complex models can take up to two minutes to

load, but once a particular model has been loaded, it will only take a few seconds the next time you want to select it. When you load an effect into the Xtomp, the knobs that tweak the parameters for that effect light up – some in different colours relating to their function – although you’ll have to remember what parameter each controls from looking at the representation in the app. The app’s Library page has all the models neatly laid out and categorised, mainly single amplifiers, cabinets or effects, but also with some models working as a pair (Combo). However, those Combo effects (plus those in the Special and Signature categories) are the preserve of the original Xtomp and won’t load into the Mini.


Tech Spec 1

01 KnobS The pedal has six knobs: some effects have six parameters but many have a lesser number, so only the relevant knobs light up

02 SocKetS Input/output jacks are staggered on the pedal – it could save space if you’re using multiple Xtomps

03 uSb There’s a USB connection should you wish to load the pedal from your computer rather than using a wireless connection

2

3

ORIGIN: China TYPE: Smart FX pedal FEATURES: Selectable true or buffered bypass APP COMPATIBILITY: Android 4.3/any device that supports BLE; iOS 8.0, iPhone 4S, iPad with Retina display (3rd Gen), iPad mini, iPad Pro, iPod touch 5th Gen or later CURRENT MODELS: 30+ amps/cabs, 60+ effects, 50+ Hotone original effects CONTROLS: Knobs x6, bypass FOOTSwITCh CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output, USB POwER: 9V 200mA adaptor (supplied) DIMENSIONS: 62 (w) x 113 (d) x 43mm (h)

9 li br a ry Models are neatly laid out in a series of categories: Amplifier, Distortion, Dynamic, Frequency, Modulation, Ambient, Combo, Cabinet, Signature and Special

2

The variety of single effects, however, is outstanding, with models of many well-known types available, some with thinly disguised names: if you want a Tube Screamer, Big Muff, RAT, Phase 90, CE-1, Uni-Vibe and many others, you’ll find pretty accurate emulations here courtesy of Hotone’s Comprehensive Dynamic Circuit Modeling (CDCM) technology. In A/B tests with some original dirt pedals, we find the Xtomp versions to be pretty close and note that the amp sims capture the flavour of the real thing. But as an add-on to an existing setup, it’s likely that the main appeal here lies in the Frequency, Modulation and Ambient effects where you’ll find a vast array of EQ tools, delays, reverbs, flangers, phasers, choruses, tremolos… and some

more unusual effects such as an ElectroHarmonix Q-Tron emulation.

verdict

While it may lack the stereo operation and dual effects of its older sibling, the Mini has two advantages that, in our view, make it a more enticing proposition. Firstly, it’s cheaper (the original retails for £199) and, secondly, it’s easier to integrate into a pedalboard. With the advantage over conventional pedals in that it can be any effect you want it to be, a single Xtomp Mini would greatly expand your sonic possibilities – but imagine the potential with several Minis, offering a complete revamp of your rig at any time. While the loading of the pedal from a mobile phone is well implemented, it’s

not something you’d want to be messing with during a set: getting your phone out, selecting the app, scrolling to the effect you want, loading it and then resetting the knobs for the new effect may be a little too much to ask. But it’s really no hassle if you need to configure it to a particular effect to see you through a gig, and could be a lifesaver for those who play with several different bands and need a different set of pedals for each. This Xtomp Mini, quite possibly, represents the most practical addition for your ’board out there. PROS Compact; numerous effects; practical bypass options; new models added frequently CONS Doesn’t load Hotone’s Combo effects; pointing a phone at the pedal isn’t for everyone

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P  EDALBOARD

m a n u fac t u r e r ElEctro-Harmonix

pr ic e £64

mode l WailEr WaH

e l e c t r o - H a r mon i x Various uK dEalErs / WWW.EHx.com

ElEctro-Harmonix

Wailer Wah

Electro-Harmonix reinvents the wheel by rehousing its Crying Tone wah circuit in a traditional rack and pinion-style pedal Words  Rod Brakes  Photography  Joby Sessions

S

ome things they just got right in the beginning. Over the years, countless effects pedals have been refined and redefined, reviewed and re-engineered, reinterpreted and reissued only to find that we have returned to, more or less, the original design. Such is the case with this new Electro-Harmonix Wailer Wah. In truth, there isn’t much new about this pedal: the previous incarnation of the circuit came in the guise of the Electro-Harmonix Crying Tone in an attempt to solve the occasional problem of moving parts wearing out, while the rack and pinion assembly here harks back to Vox’s original wah wah construction. Granted, it’s a construction that may appear plain vanilla in terms of design, but there’s a reason vanilla is still the most popular ice cream flavour! Given its return to form, ElectroHarmonix president, Mike Matthews’, goal was to “build a wah pedal that sounds great, deliver it at an astounding low price and make it provide good weight savings”, and in terms of cost (£64) and weight (around 730g of rugged polymer), the Wailer Wah is perfectly on point.

SoundS

Wah-wahs are a pretty basic essential in the effects pedal world. And that extends to the Wailer Wah’s

120  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017

sound: yes, it’s essential, but it’s also pretty basic and without too much in the way of character, it may safely be described as, well, safe! Electro-Harmonix is virtually heroic in terms of taking risks on new and interesting sounds, but the Wailer Wah is a safe bet all round. In operation, it delivers a clear, expressive and tastefully defined effect across clean, overdriven and heavily distorted tones. It’s action is solid and intuitive, with the vowel sat fairly low on the sweep. The top end of the sweep gives sufficient percussive upper midrange without being too hissy or clangy, and the mid-cocked sounds are just enough to cut through without a grimace of pain or pleasure.

Verdict

Tech Spec Origin: USA Type: Wah pedal FeaTures: True bypass COnTrOls: Potentiometer sweep COnneCTiOns: Standard input, standard output pOwer: DC 9V AC adaptor (not supplied) 25mA, 9V battery (supplied) DimensiOns: 87 (w) x 252 (d) x 75.25mm (h)

The Wailer Wah is a ‘one size fits all’ kind of wah pedal, and while some players will be looking for something more from their wah-wah, it sounds great and at £64 offers some very serious competition to other choices out there. Pros Inexpensive; light weight; stable and solid  feel (despite plastic construction); quiet; smooth  and tactile sweep cons Plastic construction may put some people  off; fairly orthodox in terms of sound

7


P  EDALBOARD tOnE mAkERs

M   ike Matthews

In this issue’s ‘Pedalboard’ interview, we hear about effects units old and new from Electro-Harmonix’s charismatic founder

1

What was the first pedal you built and how did the design come about? “The first pedal that I built under Electro‑Harmonix was in late 1968 and it was the LPB‑1 Linear Power Booster. I hooked up with a guy from Bell Labs who was working on a distortion‑free sustainer, and when I went to check out the prototype I saw a little box plugged into the front of the amp. I asked him, ‘What’s that?’ and he said, ‘Well, I didn’t realise the guitar put out such a low signal, so I just built a simple one‑transistor booster to stick in the front.’ When I hit the switch all of a sudden the amp was so loud! I said, ‘Wow! That’s a product!’”

2

What’s your best-selling pedal and why do you think that is? “In terms of combined total units, it’s the Big Muff [variants], but our biggest single seller at the moment is the Canyon. In terms of gross dollars, at the moment it’s a combination of our 9‑series pedals. All of them use the same circuit board – they just have different software. They’re designed by the great British designer – who I think is the best in the world – David Cockerell.”

3

What makes Electro-Harmonix effects unique? “My philosophy is to keep it balanced between a mix of simple products and some more complex designs, but not going overboard with the complexity and carrying on adding stuff to it – that can really muck up the software. Also, I like building in some extra special sounds at the edge of the controls. Some companies hate spurious noise, but I like to let the user decide – they can always back off a little bit if they want to.”

the first store I sold Big Muffs to and he bought one of the first ones from there. [Jimi] invited me to hang out at a recording session and there on the floor he had the Big Muff he bought at Manny’s!”

5

What’s new on the horizon for Electro-Harmonix effects? “The really hot stuff we just brought out is the Canyon, which has 10 different delays, and the Synth9, which has different types of synthesiser sounds. We just came out with a pedal called the Platform, which is a fabulous ‘stereo out’ compressor/limiter that has some special features.”

6

Can you share your best tone tip? “A lot of the feeling when you’re playing guitar comes from the attack of the strings; it’s that first fraction of a second – those short‑lived high frequencies – that have a lot of the feeling. The audience might not hear it, but the guitarist who’s playing it senses it and feels it, and the more they feel, the better they play!”

7

Name some common mistakes that guitarists make with effects… “I don’t know. I mean, I guess everybody’s a little different… Not using Electro‑ Harmonix pedals for all of their effects – that’s the biggest mistake [laughs]!”

8

What’s your favourite vintage pedal and why? “Basically, I like making and coming out with new effects, so my favourite is what sells! Period. The Big Muff we brought out in 1969 and I still sell thousands of them a month and it’s my favourite because of that! We still sell a lot of LPB‑1s. The transistors are different, but other than that the circuit is the same.”

9

What are your favourite effects moments on record and why? “Back in the 70s I became friendly with [Steely Dan guitarist] Elliot Randall and the [CBS Orchestra] bass player Will Lee. They gave me this instrumental album they recorded using only Electro‑ Harmonix effects!”

10

What pedal problems do you think effects designers have yet to crack? “True polyphonic pitch extraction. I mean, eventually as microprocessors get faster and faster there’ll be better algorithms you can build, but there’s always a problem with bass frequencies because of the long wavelength. There’s a time lag in order to capture what that frequency is, so the latency can be a problem, but we get around that in certain ways.” www.ehx.com The inimitable Mike Matthews founded Electro-Harmonix almost 50 years ago. Here he is with two EHX newbies, the Canyon and the Synth9

4

Which notable players/bands have used Electro-Harmonix pedals over the years? “[Carlos] Santana bought a Big Muff from me using mail order with a Santana cheque and letterhead back in 1971! The Edge uses our Deluxe Memory Man; in fact, he just called up and got a special version – our 1,100‑millisecond Memory Man [1100‑ TT]. Kurt Cobain used our Polychorus and Small Clone. Jimi Hendrix used a Big Muff in 1969; Manny’s [of New York] was

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P  EDALBOARD cOmPREssOR ROunD-uP cRAvE smOOthnEss AnD sustAin? tRy thEsE

Maxon

EarthQuakEr DEvicEs

C   P101 £99

The Warden £205

As part of Maxon’s Reissue series, this ‘set and forget it’ unit offers solid, transparent compression

Signal enhancement is strong on the agenda here with multi-knob control for a natural, nuanced sound

ORIGIN: Japan TYPE: Compressor pedal FEATURES: Buffered bypass CONTROLS: Sustain, Level, bypass footswitch CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output POWER: 9V battery or 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 113 (d) x 56mm (h) Audio Distribution Group www.audiodistribution group.com www.maxonfx.com

The CP101 is an optical compressor with just two knobs, Dynacompstyle, to dial in your sound. There’s no obvious tonal colouring going on here – this is pretty transparent compression that, from the lowest setting of the Sustain knob, adds a touch of dynamic solidity to your signal. Advance that Sustain knob and the compression increases, although it’s always smooth. There’s no real sense of having kicked in a compressor with this unit – the pedal just bolsters your signal and evens it out until you get into the second half of knob travel where single notes get a little more snap to their front-end rather than any radical reshaping of the note envelope. It’s actually quieter than some other two-knob compressors, and is one of those pedals that you can just forget about, leaving it on all the time once you’ve found an optimum setting to suit your style. [TC]

VERDICT An easy-to-use, solid performer offering  nicely transparent control at an attractive price

122  Guitarist september 2017

8

ORIGIN: USA TYPE: Compressor pedal FEATURES: True bypass CONTROLS: Tone, Attack, Release, Level, Sustain, Ratio, bypass footswitch CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) DIMENSIONS: 66 (w) x 120 (d) x 59mm (h) Audio Distribution Group www.audiodistribution group.com www.earthquakerdevices. com

Another optical compressor, The

Warden offers a full complement of compressor controls to shape your sound. Balancing Sustain (input signal fed to compressor) and Ratio (strength of compression) knobs determines how much compression you’re going to get, and it’s very natural sounding. The pedal doesn’t offer any obvious squashiness even with Sustain and Ratio maxed, but it does keep things solid and consistent, and there’s also plenty of headroom, so you can set the Level to drive your amp’s front-end. Tonally, there’s a nice open sound with no obvious addition or subtraction of frequencies, but you do get a Tone knob to subdue top-end or – more likely – give it a boost to make up for losses due to compression. You could always just use that extra top-end to enhance your signal, making this a good choice for an always-on tonal component. [TC]

VERDICT Expensive, but those six knobs will  deliver nuanced compression for a range of tasks

8


EMMa ElEctronic

FairFiElD circuitry

T   ransMORGrifier £135

T   he Accountant £155

If you’re after vintage-style compression, this delivers with a distinct voice and plenty of character

It may have simple controls, but this pedal gives you more than compression with a few tricks up its sleeve

ORIGIN: Denmark TYPE: Compressor pedal FEATURES: True bypass CONTROLS: Level, Release, Attack, Ratio, bypass footswitch CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output POWER: 9V battery or 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) DIMENSIONS: 94 (w) x 123 (d) x 48mm (h) Audio Distribution Group www.audiodistribution group.com www.emmaelectronic.com

Hand-built in Denmark, this pedal offers compression control via four knobs. Ratio turns up the effect balanced against the Level knob, which sets the right volume for your signal chain. Even at lower levels of the Ratio knob you get a decent amount of compression, the sort that adds a consistency to your playing. At the other extreme of the knob, there’s a ton of squashy compression, which has a considerable effect on your note envelope – it’s here the Attack and Release controls offer a very effective shaping facility with a wide degree of variation for anyone wanting a click, snap or pop at the front-end of their note. Release is particularly effective in dialling in more sustain as it facilitates the note blooming and rising in volume after the initial compression. Not exactly transparent, there’s a slight treble boost and low-end loss, but that may suit some players. [TC]

VERDICT A characterful choice for those who  like their compression as an obvious effect

8

ORIGIN: Canada TYPE: Compressor pedal FEATURES: True bypass CONTROLS: Volume, Ratio switch (1/2/3), Pad switch (1/2/3), bypass footswitch CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) DIMENSIONS: 45 (w) x 92 (d) x 48mm (h) Audio Distribution Group www.audiodistribution group.com www.fairfieldcircuitry.com

This JFET compressor offers a

simplified interface. The single knob adjusts the output volume, while the compression is determined by two three-way toggle switches: a Ratio switch that offers three different compression ratios of increasing strength, and a Pad switch that sets the input level, with higher input levels offering more compression. With nine possible combinations, the heaviest compression will be when both switches are set on position ‘2’. It’s more than just compression, though. There’s a tone-enhancing treble lift and loads of scope for using the pedal as an amp boost. You can also get some gritty drive with the Pad switch set to ‘1’ or ‘2’. The lighter compressions keep signal dynamics naturally in check, or you can switch to the highest compression ratio where there’s a large amount of squash with altered note transients for the chicken-pickers. [TC]

VERDICT Micro pedal with easy operation that  adds a bit of colour, plus bite and grit

9

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123 


P  EDALBOARD

m a n u fac T u r e r Green Carrot Pedals

Pr ic e £130

mode l PumPkin Pi

gr een c a r roT Peda ls www.GreenCarrotPedals.Co.uk

Green Carrot Pedals

 v i de o de mo http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

P   umpkin  Pi

With so many Big Muff clones on the market, it can be a tricky choice to make. Enter this orange option, which gives you two offerings in one

Words  Trevor Curwen  Photography  Olly Curtis

T

he Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is possibly the most popular distortion/ fuzz pedal of all time with a list of famous players across a range of styles. It is also one of the most cloned, although with the different historical Muff circuit variations reflected in these clones, choosing which to buy could cause brainache. Green Carrot Pedals may have the solution, though: its Pumpkin Pi features two different Big Muff circuits, each with its own footswitch with the option of using them totally independently or with one feeding the other for a full-on Muff-fest. The first channel features a ‘Green Russian Muff’, a variation that was produced in Russia in the 1990s and is strongly associated with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. The second offers the ‘IC78’ Muff, a late 1970s innovation that – in a change from the usual four-transistor versions – featured two op-amps (ICs) and was the preferred choice of Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. The Russian can cascade into the IC78.

sounds

The choice of these two circuits is inspired, because they feature a good amount of sonic variation between them and complement each other nicely. The Russian channel is a versatile dirt

124  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017

box, capable of a useful range of overdrive sounds with good note clarity as well as buzzy fuzz tones. Besides the standard Sustain, Volume and Tone knobs, a toggle switch offers three different tonal variations including a scooped midrange option. The IC78 is more gainy, compressed and thicker sounding and would be the go-to channel for sustained leads that take off into harmonic feedback. While its Tone knob offers the usual wide Big Muff range, you can bypass it completely with the toggle switch for a more direct signal path with EQ that is just right for cutting through the mix. Using both channels together there’s the obvious option of using the Russian as a booster for the IC78, but go beyond that and you’ll discover a creative juxtaposition that can yield a host of practical distortion/sustain variations.

Tech Spec ORIGIN: UK TYPE: Twin channel distortion pedal FEATURES: True bypass CONTROLS: Sustain x2, Tone x2, Volume x2, Shape switch x2, Bypass footswitch x2 CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output, POWER: 9V adapter (not supplied) DIMENSIONS: 97 (d) x 128 (w) x 53mm (h)

verdicT

This is a great idea that’s smartly implemented in a home-grown pedal that doesn’t cost the earth. So why take just one Big Muff-style pedal on stage when you can have two? Pros Two different-sounding Muffs in one pedal;  cascading option; extra switched tonal variations cons No battery power

9


P  EDALBOARD BOARD GAmEs the background

yOuR PEDALBOARD PROBLEms sOLvED

the questions

Jame s Gray, G u itarist rea der:

1 a r e t her e a n y ru les – or

“I’m having a trouble choosing overdrive pedals because of the way they react so differently with different amps. I might watch one demo where a pedal sounds really, really distorted and another where it sounds much cleaner, even though the settings and the guitar are very similar. All I want is a wide range of gain available from the ’board, from just breaking up to a heavy gain yet clear tone. I have two amps – an Orange TH30 and a Marshall DSL40C – though I don’t use them both at the same time.”

Just s ome Gu i da nc e – a bo ut what k i n d of p eda ls wor k wi t h d i f f er en t a mp s?

2 i f i ha d a boost, over d r iv e

a n d f uzz, how wou ld you or d er t hem i n t o my a mp (s) ?

boost, od & f uzz: c lea n a mp To amplifier’s instrument input Experiment with order of all three

From guitar OD

FUZZ

BOOST

boost, od & f uzz: d r i v en a mp To amplifier’s instrument input Return

Send

From guitar BOOST

OD

FUZZ

the answers This is the fundamental of all electric guitar sounds, James: gain structure. And you’re right, different pedals sound radically different with different amps. But don’t despair…

01 Gain, compression and EQ: a Tube Screamer works so well with a blackface Fender because it offers the amp a bit of compression, a kick in mids and enough gain and level to take all that sparkly clean stuff into nice overdrive. By contrast, both your amps have a lot of available gain, quite a bit of compression in the front-end and a totally different EQ character.

We’d be looking at a full-range boost that can boost clean sounds, and/or drive the amp’s OD into sweeter drive and compression without overly colouring the sound. Having some bass attenuation will help with clarity. Fuzz-wise, the world is your oyster. Marshall and Orange amps tend to like fuzz because you can have the front-end of the amp breaking up slightly. Fuzz Face, Big Muff, Tone Bender, Power Driver… all sounds that you should experiment with. As for ODs, there are just so many. Avoid a big mid hump, we’d say, and go for something with plenty of sizzle if you’re playing in a rock style. You may

not even need an OD with the right boost and fuzz combination.

02 If it’s a germanium fuzz, run that first. Then you can use the boost to boost it louder. If the fuzz plays nicely after the boost, try that, too, for some wild compression and gain. As for boost and OD, running boost first will push the OD into much heavier saturation; running it after will give you a level lift after the OD… but only if your amp is set relatively clean. If the amp is set dirty, you’ll just get more gain and compression. In that case, try the boost in the loop. Good luck!

Em ail us your quEs t ions: guitaris t@futurenet.com

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We test the best of the rest of the month’s new gear Photography  Neil Godwin & Joseph Branston

126  Guitarist september 2017


Martin 00LX1AE £649 CONTACT Westside Distribution PHONE 0141 248 4812 WEB www.westsidedistribution.com

With recent years seeing Martin and Taylor aim for the hearts and minds of new, younger players with their respective Dreadnought Junior and Academy models, it’s easy to assume the entry level of the market is a new focus for them. But that’s not the case. Martin’s X Series was established with that in mind some time ago. And just as the Dreadnought Junior isn’t just for younger hands, the idea of scaling down in price and size for iconic brands should still carry a weight of expectation. Martin’s reputation means a high standard is expected – not least to welcome players to its world and maybe even keep them loyal for life – even when the materials being used are markedly different to its higher end models. So while the grain of the back and sides appears to be mahogany, it’s an effect. The X Series has long employed High Pressure Laminate (HPL) for these parts, causing some players to wrinkle their noses. HPL uses highly compressed wood fibres, and in combination with a traditional solid wood top in the building process, Martin claims it results in an instrument that still possesses the famous Martin sound. HPL also offers a distinct advantage: its durability. It can withstand wear and tear better than many solid woods, and even some layered laminates, while it’s also better at standing up to the temperature/ humidity fluctuations caused by everyday conditions and seasonal change that can affect your guitar. You’re more likely to be able to leave this on hand and away from a case and humidifier. The neck’s Stratabond Rust Birch laminate doesn’t opt for a grain effect and its stripes of multiple birch layers are again something of a Marmite look compared with good ol’ mahogany. It’s said to be stronger than the latter, and the satin feel here is welcoming, but the comparative weight of the neck seems surprisingly heavy for this small shape, although the position of the strap button on the underside of the neck heel means this doesn’t prove a problem on the strap standing up. The Martin tuners perform well on our test model, but they seem a little large on this otherwise understated 00, perhaps again contributing to the weight; we’d prefer a butterbean design. However,

where aesthetic factors could divide, first impressions for the 00LX1AE, in terms of the Martin playing experience, makes a very clear case.

Sounds

It doesn’t take long to discover that this feels and sounds like a Martin. The action is very low and fast across the synthetic Richlite ’board, aided in the higher reaches by the unintrusive heel. The playability here even bears well after tuning down half a step. The balance and sparkle we hope for every time we pick up a Martin shines from this guitar. Anyone expecting a middominant sound will be surprised at what an all-rounder this proves to be. There’s a surprisingly rich bottom-end in play, too, for a small-bodied guitar, and the projection would be enough to woo dreadnought players who want a smaller body. The 00LX1AE is responsive in a way that all acoustic players will appreciate; it encourages more dynamism in fingerpicking especially, rewarding a lighter touch with its shimmering highs equally as much as its chordal qualities under heavy strumming. The onboard Fishman Sonitone system reflects some of these organic qualities, but it’s a solid performance compared to the detail and more organic qualities we experienced with the Taylor’s ES-B system on its Academy models.

Verdict

This guitar throws up an interesting question: beyond the top, how much difference do tonewoods make to an acoustic guitar? Martin is ahead of its competition in making its recipe work to achieve stunning sound – though it’s worth noting its shorter-scaled Dreadnought Junior electro offers solid sapele back and sides at the same price (plus a gigbag that’s not offered here). This guitar is a reminder not to come to hasty conclusions based on spec alone; you really need to play a guitar to know if it’s going to light your wick – and here’s a little chap we suggest you add to your ‘must-try’ shortlist. [RL]

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SamSyStemS IM12 £107 CONTACT SAM Systems 2012 Ltd PHONE 07887 791406 WEB www.samsystems-uk.com

While there’s an increasing number

of cabinet simulators to help guitarists achieve fairly realistic mic’d up sounds for live or studio use, a real microphone is still the most popular and effective method of extracting a guitar amplifier’s tone and transferring it to a PA or a DAW. In the studio, if time allows, guitarists and engineers often experiment with different mic types and placement. However, for live work, time is a luxury and those rare, expensive studio microphones are kept in the safety of their flight case while sound engineers often deploy tried, tested and expendable standbys in front of guitar amps – usually a battered SM57 that’s done a few gigs too many. At close range, microphone placement is a big variable to consider, with audible differences from a centimetre or two of movement, so all it takes is a small nudge to turn a great guitar sound into one that’s mediocre. It’s something that can easily be fixed in a recording studio, but on a live stage it’s a last-minute repair at the desk, leaving the guitarist with an onstage tone

128  Guitarist september 2017

that’s less than ideal and resulting in a less-involved performance. So consistency from one night to the next is very desirable and now there’s a way to achieve it with the new IM integral microphone system from SamSystems. The IM is a circular band of high-quality engineering plastic with a central moulding incorporating a high-quality super cardioid dynamic microphone capsule, designed to point at the right part of a guitar loudspeaker cone. Installation is simple: the circular support has holes to fit nearly all standard loudspeakers, it’s just a case of removing the bolts holding the speaker to the cabinet baffle, fitting the IM over the cone and replacing the bolts. The IM’s microphone terminates in a flush-mounted plate with an XLR chassis plug that can be fitted on the rear of any speaker cabinet.

Sounds

We tried out the IM12 model ready-fitted to an Orange valve combo into a house PA system with impressive results: a clean and clear signal, with almost zero overspill and

movement noise. While it works equally well in the studio, the stage advantages are so obvious one must ask why nobody has done this before! A consistent sound, night after night, makes a FOH engineer’s job so much easier – if you travel with the same PA your channel will never need to be touched and all your crew need to do is plug in a lead. It also means one less stand to trip over, making a stage look cleaner and less cluttered. If your cab has two or more speakers, you can fit two IMs and go stereo without running out of microphones.

Verdict

Currently available for 10- and 12-inch loudspeakers for about the same cost as a decent mic, SamSystems’ IM is a no-brainer for any working guitar player, offering fitand-forget peace of mind and great value for money. Check it out now and hear your on-stage sound improve. [NG]

9


Longtermers A few months’ gigging, recording and everything that goes with it – welcome to Guitarist’s longterm test reports

PRS S2 Not-So-Super Eagle with Dave Burrluck

130  Guitarist september 2017


Longtermers

Writer

Dave Burrluck Gear reviews editor, Guitarist In this extended edition of Longtermers, our reviews editor prepares the Not-So-Super Eagle and compares it with the real thing – in a David versus Goliath-style showdown!

T

he idea of building our own ‘PRS  Super Eagle II’ started off as a bit of a  jape, and some hours into the rebuild  of a PRS S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow I was  thinking I might have drawn the short straw.  I’d started off by stripping the chassis of its  parts, cutting back the non-current opaque  black finish and hand-buffing it back to an  ebony-like sheen. It’s a job and a half, but I  was pleased with the results: it looked like a  guitar that had been well used for a couple of  decades. As soon as I was done, I received a  call from PRS Europe’s super-salesman, Jez  Ayscough, announcing a possible audience  with the real £11k Super Eagle II John Mayer  signature in a couple of days’ time. I suddenly  needed to finish the Not-So-Super Eagle  rather more quickly than I’d anticipated. It was the electrics that concerned me.  Yes, I had a pair of PRS 57/08s – the closest  I could get to the Super Eagle’s Mayer-spec  ’buckers. You can’t buy a mini-humbucking  Narrowfield, so Chris George had routed a  standard single-coil-sized hole for the middle  pickup. Without time to consider the best fit,  it was back to the ‘bits box’ where I found a  DiMarzio Area 58 hum-cancelling, single-coilsized humbucker and, hey, the 58 bit tied in  with the ’57 bit of the PRS pickups. Throw me  a piece of straw and I’ll clutch at it.

Mayer’s Super Eagle circuit is supercomplex with coil-splits for all three pickups  plus an active preamp and a treble boost. It’s  laid out in a very different way to the S2, so I  needed to compromise. I ditched the idea of  splitting the centre DiMarzio, which meant I’d  only need two coil-split switches; instead of  the two active switches of the Mayer model,  I’d just need one for an EMG PA2. To add my  own spin, I planned to install a ‘Seven Strat’  mod via a push/push switch on the tone  control, which adds, in this case, the bridge  pickup to the neck, plus – with the selector on  neck and middle – all three pickups. With careful thought and even more careful  measurement, I drilled two holes for the  coil-split switches (SPDT) between the tone  control and the end of the new five-way lever  switch. I pondered the PA2’s positioning for  even longer, deciding the only place it could  go is behind the volume control. The wiring  proved reasonably complex, and if you’re  considering a similar mod then be prepared  to put the time in. If you’re not confident, seek  out a pro who probably won’t forget about the  nine-volt block battery for the EMG preamp  like I did… I just about found room and, after  a couple of false starts, it all worked. The only  blip was the cover for that DiMarzio: the white  cover it came with is oversized and I didn’t  have a black one. The naked pickup looks  pretty cool, though – it’d just have to do. I knocked the edge off the nickel plating on  the vibrato, strap buttons and a bit more from  the nickel vibrato screws and scratchplate  screws, plus I added ebony buttons to the  chromed PRS tuners, just like Mayer. I didn’t  have time to replace the friction-reducing nut  with a bone blank I’d bought because refitting  the parts, stringing up and setting up still had  to be done. Despite the speed and compromises,  its first play test proved that it’s certainly a 

september 2017 Guitarist

131 


versatile concept – more so than the standard  S2 model. But how will the approximately £2k  S2 Not-So-Super Eagle hold up to the real  thing? Time to meet our inspiration.

Wake-Up Call

Readers, not to mention mates, often ask,  “can it really be worth that money?” when it  comes to instruments that have stellar price  tags, especially new ones. As I opened the  Super Eagle’s brown paisley covered case,  any hopes of a “we modded a guitar that’s  better than the real one” type headline faded  away like our national footballers’ hope of ever  reclaiming the World Cup. I thought we might  be in with a chance… What was I thinking?  The Super Eagle II is laughably good – as  it should be – and you simply can’t fail to  be impressed by the craft of the luthier. But  what does it sound like? I’m no Deadhead,  but having spent a considerable amount of  time listening to concert clips, it’s obvious  that John Mayer uses his Super Eagles in a  primary clean zone using other PRSes for  gainier sounds. He doesn’t seem to use the  vibrato, either. The Super Eagle has bags of Strat-iness  but not a sharp, harsh edge anywhere; 

there’s exceptional sustain, resonance and  clarity married with smoothness and bite in  equal measure. It might look over-blinged (to  some), but it’s a complete toolbox of sounds  that mixes the classic flavours into a hugely  original dish that’s subtle or powerful: you  choose. The preamp doesn’t boost the signal  but adds ‘high definition’. With the pickups  split and the volume pulled back it’s a real  ‘produced’ Strat voice. The treble boost (again  remarkably subtle; it just adds a touch more  clarity) widens the sound, if you like, and once  you get your head around the complex drive,  it’s surprisingly intuitive. Our Not-So-Super Eagle does a similar  job of providing a wide range of subtle tonal  shades that certainly drop into the same Dead 

“ There’s exceptional sustain, resonance and clarity married with smoothness and bite”

& Company palette, but I’d be lying if I said  that it approached the clarity, resonance and  dynamic range offered by the real thing.  Then there’s that preamp, which creates its  ‘HD’ effect by moving the guitar from passive  to active. My EMG preamp is active in both  on/off modes, so it’s really doing a different  job, although having a little boost to hand is  kind of fun to either add modern clarity to the  single coils or a slight kick to the ’buckers. After its first gig, however, I still felt there  was further to go. I cut a bone nut and  replaced the original vibrato with an older  PRS USA two-piece brass design. Better?  Well, it really does feel like a much older used  PRS, a guitar with considerable charm (and  less ‘everyday’, if that’s the right   word), compared with the standard   unmodded model. It’s further proof that  PRS’s S2-level guitars are very good, viable  working guitars – with or without any mods  – and if we failed to emulate the real thing,  we certainly created something that’s not  only unique (the only PRS S2 HSH guitar  in existence!) but a tool with considerable  sonic potential. And while it’s the end of this  Longterm Test, it feels like it’s just the start of  a journey with a new friend… 

Reviewed 386 (S2 Custom) Price £1,825 (S2 Custom) On Test Since (In build) June 2017 Studio Sessions No Gigged Yes Mods Done! www.prsguitars.com

132  Guitarist september 2017


Q&A

This issue: Home sound, swapping out speakers and string weight

Expert panel Jamie Dickson

Guitarist editor Jamie is as happy with steel wool in his hand as he is with Steely Dan in his headphones, and loves vintage-gear restoration and ambitious signal chains.

Dave Burrluck

Guitarist’s assiduous reviews editor is also the author of numerous guitar books.Very handy with a fret file and indeed any aspect of a finely fettled six-string.

Mick Taylor

Ex-editor of Guitarist, Mick has wielded Allen keys, screwdrivers and sandpaper from an early age; he also has a worrying obsession with pedalboards.

Neville Marten

Edited Guitarist for 13 years, after working for both Fender and Gibson as a repairer. From desirable Les Pauls to dream Strats, he’s owned and worked on the lot.

Nick Guppy

Guitarist’s amplifier specialist has built up a wealth of experience gained from collecting, repairing and restoring all kinds of guitar-related audio.

Email us your questions: guitarist @futurenet.com or write in to Guitarist, Future Publishing, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA

HoME vS GiG SouND I’ve joined/helped form a band (called the The Unaccomplished) a mere 35 years after playing in my last one at school! Even more surprisingly, my wife took up bass so she could join in. We’re doing the standard rock covers and it gives me an excuse to play some of the guitars I’ve been collecting over the last few decades. We played our first gig a couple of weeks ago. Terrifying! However… I’m lucky enough to have a few nice amps (’65 Princeton Reverb Reissue, Egnater Tweaker 15 combo, Boss Katana-100 1x12), which sound wonderful at home. I spend hours getting the tone just so and arrive at rehearsals full of confidence. But as soon as I turn any of them on my sound is different: the low-end has vanished, the midrange is depleted, and the treble you could use as a knife. And that’s before the rest of the band have started, at which point I get even tinnier. I immediately have to change all my settings. What’s going on? How can I set up sounds at home, or even audition amps in a shop, with any confidence of what they’ll sound like on stage? Or do I need two district settings, one for home and one for gigs? Paul Harmer, via email

Hmm. Let’s start with position and physical proximity, Paul. We’re assuming that at home the amp is on the floor in a relatively normal-sized room, probably against a wall, maybe even in a corner. That accentuates bass significantly and also potentially reduces perceived treble because the speaker cone is low down and you’re close to the amp. Get to a gig and it all changes; you may be hearing more of the speaker

Do you need different settings for live and home use?

directly if you’re standing further away, or maybe it’s raised on a chair. The physically bigger space means the bass isn’t as room-filling as it was at home. Also, being louder will make everything more visceral and alive, so that could be playing a part. After that we’re a bit confused, because the general advice when you’re playing louder with a band at higherthan-home volume is to turn the bass down, not up, in order to maintain clarity and cut. All of your amps should be fine for gigging. The Princeton has a solid gold history as a great amp and is probably the least bassy of them all. You don’t say anything about your guitars and pedals, but obviously they will be a factor, too. It’s hard to say much more other than, yes, you would tend to use different settings for any change of environment. Perhaps your perception of what a band-context guitar ‘should’ sound like needs a little shot in the arm. Listen critically to some of your favourite music – maybe even hunt out some isolated tracks online if they’re available. You’d be amazed how little bass there can be at times.

SpiDEr SpEakEr I have a Line 6 Spider V 30 combo amp and would like to replace the speaker with one of quality to improve the sound. I think it’s an eight-inch speaker and possibly has a broader range than a standard guitar speaker. I’m prepared to pay for the best, but is this worth doing and what would you recommend? Martin Fennemore, via email

There are precious few quality replacement speakers available in an eight-inch format, Martin. Celestion makes the Eight 15, but it has a maximum power handling capacity of 15 watts: not enough for the Spider V 30. However, as you suggest, the V 30 appears to have a more full-range/PA-type woofer and tweeter arrangement, at which point we’re into PA/ monitor/full-range loudspeaker territory: not our area of expertise at all. You could test the impedance of the main woofer and get a highquality replacement (do a little research on what drivers are used in high-quality compact PA cabs, studio monitors, and so on, for inspiration), but there’s also a very important crossover

Email us your questions: guitarist@futurenet.com september 2017 Guitarist

135


GearQ&A

What Should i Buy?

Reasonable Solidbody For Home

I wanted to ask some advice on purchasing a solidbody guitar, purely for home use. It will never be played outside my practice room. I would call myself better than a beginner, but not yet intermediate. My budget is £300 to £350, and I’d like something with a good action and perhaps a more mellow tone. I have been looking at the Yamaha range, but I’m open to whatever you might suggest – there’s so much choice these days! Frank Taylor, via email

We’re reading between the lines here, Frank, but your use of the term ‘solidbody’, your stage of playing and your desire for a mellow tone suggests you’re coming from a nylon-string acoustic, or perhaps an older archtop used for practice. We’ll proceed on that assumption, bearing in mind you’ve already thought about an amp. As you say, there is a lot of choice out there, so we could list 20 guitars no problem.You’ve mentioned Yamaha, so let’s start there…

1. Yamaha revstar rS320 £376 Revstar is a recent design for Yamaha, evolved in part from its SG. The ergonomic nato body is comfortable sitting or standing, while a pair of humbuckers and tone control will enable biting or mellow tones as you desire. The relatively flat fingerboard radius allows a low action. The fixed bridge will help with stable tuning.

2. Squier vintage Modified 70s Stratocaster £335 It doesn’t get more ergonomic, comfortable or iconic than a Stratocaster. We like this take on a 70s big-headstock Strat, but with a 9.5-inch radius ’board and bigger frets for an easy action if you want it. Strats can sound very mellow in the mixed pickup positions, but your definition of that term may differ!

3. Epiphone Les paul Standard £349 Another icon, this Epi version uses alder instead of the classic maple for the top, but still offers plenty of classic LP tones thanks to dual Alnico humbuckers and two-tone, two-volume control setup. It comes in a variety of finish options including Goldtop and a cool Pelham Blue.

Email us your questions: guitarist@futurenet.com 136

Guitarist september 2017


SPECIALISTS IN HAND-MADE BRITISH GUITARS

Forsyth is the ideal place to audition an exceptional range of home-grown acoustic guitars by Atkin, Brook, Lowden, Moon, Patrick James Eggle and Black Swan, as well as British designed guitars such as Faith and Auden Lowden F35 in Redwood and Cocobolo £4395

Can Martin change the speaker in his Spider V 30?

relationship with the tweeter, so you’re really into trial and error experimentation. It may also be difficult to access the speaker, depending how it’s mounted, so have a good look at that. Proceed with caution; with due respect to Line 6, it’s an inexpensive, consumerfocused practice amp. That’s not to say it can’t be upgraded, but we would question the ultimate worth of doing so.

STriNG GauGE & BENDiNG I’ve watched a few videos online about string gauge/tension and the relative effects on tone. The jury is still out on whether thicker strings sound ‘better’, but one bit of information caught my attention. When using higher gauge strings, one video mentioned you don’t have to push the strings as far to reach, say, a tone bend, than you would when using lighter gauge strings. Further, that this has implications for Fenders with vintage fingerboard radii because of the choking issue when string bending. Is this true? I tried it and I think it is! James Roberts, via email

First off, we agree about the light/heavy strings/ subjectivity debate. Rock ’n’ roll history rather proves the point. Moving on, we’re not physicists, but we have just had a hearty chuckle around a few physics forums reading some very clever non-guitar players’ comments on the subject. Understanding the question seems to be the main

barrier to an answer thus far! So let’s forget maths. Instead, while writing this we tried a 0.009 and a 0.011 for the top string on a Telecaster tuned to normal 440Hz pitch. (Using a fixed bridge is important because it takes any vibrato springs/tension/bending out of the equation.) The 0.011 is under more tension than 0.009; logic says it should require less distance movement to stretch it to the same bent pitch. However, we’d say it’s very marginal, even though the 0.011 felt more ‘positive’, fuller and stronger in tone and fundamental note when played acoustically, which may be what you’re hearing and feeling. Clearly, the guitar’s setup is the crucial factor in all of the above. Either string gauge can work perfectly as long as the frets/ setup are optimised, but it’s not uncommon to find people frustrated at the 7.25-inch fingerboard and skinny frets for the exact reasons you mention… which is the whole reason why many modern Fenders have bigger frets and a 9.5-inch radius ’board. It’s also worth saying that players of heavier gauge strings tend to use a slightly higher action to keep them buzz free, which will help, too. There’s a lot going on here, and without being Tefal-heads, it’s very hard to isolate just one factor. Still, hopefully this will spark a barrage of emails from angry physicists telling us we’re idiots and offering a better explanation. Let’s see…

GORDON SMITH GUITARS One of our favourite brands and for many years a close neighbour in Manchester, Forsyth is the best place in the UK to see a wide range of these fabulous guitars, including special edition models unique to Forsyth New In! GS Semi Solid £750

ACOUSTICS

Main dealer for Patrick James Eggle, Lowden, Atkin, Brook, Moon, Black Swan, Martin, Faith, Auden, Seagull, Guild, Gretsch, Aria, Crafter, Maton, Furch, Tanglewood

CLASSICALS

Main dealer for Buguet, Ramirez, Sanchez, Ortega, Admira, Strunal

ELECTRICS

Main dealer for Rickenbacker, Gordon Smith, Eastman, Fender, Gretsch, Danelectro, Maton, Squier, Revelation, Aria, Godin 5th Ave Repair department specialising in acoustic and electric guitars More than 150 years of expertise in musical instrument retail. Spacious city centre location, 15,000sq ft spread over five floors.Extensive range of strings, brass & woodwind, acoustic pianos, digital pianos & keyboards. Huge sheet music department. Vinyl, DVDs, CDs & software. Piano tuning & servicing. Insurance valuations & more.

www.forsyths.co.uk/guitars

Forsyth Brothers Ltd, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR 0161 834 3281 ext. 606 guitars@forsyths.co.uk

@ForsythMusic Forsyths.Music.Shop


classicGear

Riding the wave of 60s surf, the Jag topped Fender’s big-game guitars…

Fender Jaguar A

ppearing in music stores in a striking range of custom colours in addition to the regular Sunburst finish, Jaguars first arrived in mid-1962 and topped the price list of Fender’s solidbody electric guitar line at $379.50 – a major difference in cost at the time when compared with its $259.50 Stratocaster and $209.50 Telecaster. But Strats and Teles were the popular choice behind the burgeoning rock music scene of the mid to late 60s as far as Fenders go, and the Jaguar subsequently fell into relative obscurity. Jaguars did, however, prove to be a popular choice for surf musicians in the early 60s – The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson being one notable player – and were generally marketed in order to appeal to the

younger and apparently more adventurous generation. Early advertisements for the Jaguar show some impressive, albeit eye-watering, double tasking: one man is pictured playing a Jaguar while riding a surfboard, and another ad depicts a motocross rider in mid-air with a Jag strapped to his back! Although inheriting some obvious similarities from Fender’s second most expensive guitar at the time, the Jazzmaster (priced at $349.50), such as the ‘tremolo’ system and an offset body shape, Jaguars are markedly different in terms of sound and feel. Their 24-inch scale length – as opposed to the Jazzmaster’s 25.5-inch scale length – is, in fact, more similar to Gibson’s electric guitars. A bridge mute assembly

installed on Jaguars as standard (although rarely used because it offered little control and often detuned the guitar) further sets the two instruments apart, while the Jaguar’s unique ‘saw-tooth’ pickups produce a distinctively thinner, brighter and characteristically detailed tone. A ‘strangle’ switch located next to the pickup on/off switches on the control panel of the upper treble bout thins out the sound by way of engaging a capacitor/filter. The Jaguar’s ‘lead’ and ‘rhythm’ circuit controls are spread across three chrome panels and might appear somewhat busy or confusing at first, but they may simply be thought of as a means to instantly swap between the different volume and tone settings of the front pickup: the back pickup is disabled in ‘rhythm’ mode, and in ‘lead’ mode the ability to switch both pickups on or off independently is activated (with ‘strangle’ switch engage optional). The Jaguar fell so far out of favour during the 60s and early 70s that in 1975 Fender discontinued it altogether. However, it

Jaguars were marketed to appeal to the younger, apparently more adventurous generation

This switch-laden ’62 Jag was a real draw for the surf crowd of the 60s

138  Guitarist september 2017

became a guitar of choice for many, often leftfield players who later discovered its charms (including their relatively low price!) on the vintage market. Following the Jaguar’s abandonment, Fender has since reintroduced its former flagship on several occasions due to an ever increasing demand, thanks in part to such notable guitarists as Marc Ribot, Tom Verlaine, Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain and John Frusciante. Even Jimi Hendrix was known to strap on a Jag occasionally! Nowadays, it seems as if there is a Jaguar for everyone with Fender currently offering the guitar in a wide variety of pickup configurations and colour options across its Custom Shop, American Professional, American Vintage, Artist, Classic and Squier ranges. [RB]


classicGear

1962 ‘Green Sparkle’ Fender Jaguar

The Evolution Of The Fender Jaguar

1. SERIAL NUMBER Consisted of five digits stamped into the neckplate

2

2. HEADSTOCK

Mid 1962

Flared, matching headstock; solid black ‘Jaguar’ logo, redesigned Fender logo and ‘Offset contour body’ decal; single string tree

Jaguar introduced with thick ‘slab’ Brazilian rosewood fretboard, ‘clay’ dot inlays and flat pickup polepieces

3. PLASTICS

August 1962

Three-ply tortoiseshell celluloid pickguard; foam mute; ‘lead’ circuit controls on treble side: volume and tone knobs with independent pickup on/off and ‘strangle’ switches; ‘rhythm’ circuit controls on bass side: circuit selection switch (metal ‘rhythm’ circuit volume and tone roller knobs); white vinyl pickup covers

Veneer Brazilian rosewood fretboard

7

1965

4. HARDWARE

Bound fretboard and pearloid dot inlays

Single line Deluxe Kluson tuners; ‘PAT # 2,972,923’ floating vibrato/’tremolo’ system; ‘Fender Mute’ engraved mute control; adjustable sixsaddle bridge; three chrome control panels

1966

1

5. PICKUPS

Kluson Deluxe branded tuners change to F-style and headstock Fender logo changes from black and gold to solid black

5 3

6. BODY

1968

4

Nitrocellulose finish changes to polyester

7. NECK Bolt-on one-piece maple neck with thick Brazilian rosewood ‘slab’ fretboard and ‘clay’ dot markers; adjustable truss rod

Block fretboard inlays

1967

Two Stratocaster-sized pickups with saw-tooth chrome pickup cradles (concentrates magnet field underneath string and reduces interference)

Solid alder body with Jazzmaster-style offset shape; ultra-rare ‘Green Sparkle’ finish (with matching headstock)

1964

Staggered pickup polepieces

1975

Discontinued

6

1986

Japanese ’62 reissue introduced

1999

American ’62 reissue introduced

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classicGear

Buyer’s Guide

1962 Fender Jaguar Dan Orkin of Reverb.com takes a close-up look at the offset legend and why it’s still going strong today

O

ver the past decade, offset guitars – a classification broadly defined as any instrument with a body shape similar to that of a Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster – have exploded in popularity. While today’s guitar market overflows with modern offsets of every sort, the original Jaguar and Jazzmaster, introduced in 1962 and 1958 respectively, remain the essential templates of the format. Though similar, these Fender models differ in two main ways: their scale length and pickup set. The Jaguar was built with 24-inch scale length compared with the 25.5 inches of the Jazzmaster, and incorporated two shielded single-coil pickups, as opposed to the Jazzmaster’s feedback-prone soapbars. On today’s vintage market, Jazzmasters remain the more in demand of the two as a result of a general preference for the longer scale length. That said, there is certainly an active crop of Jaguar enthusiasts, many of whom would cite Kurt Cobain as a key influence. As the first year of production, 1962 is the key vintage model year for the Jag. Jaguar specs, however, remained more or less consistent up until the CBS Fender takeover in 1965, and specimens from any year from ’62 to ’65 tend to achieve similar prices.

The CurrenT MarkeT

Over the past several years, prices on vintage Jaguars have remained mostly steady. Guitars with an original Sunburst finish and no major mods and conditional issues usually sell from £2,300 to £3,000, with some in pristine condition selling for more. Sunburst Jags with replaced parts, major repairs or non-original finishes can dip down closer to £1,500, or even lower for seriously ‘player grade’ examples. At the top end of the market, recent sales for rare-finish ’62 Jags, such as Fiesta Red, have topped the £6,000 mark. NonSunburst Jaguars will sell for anywhere from £3,000 to £5,000. Olympic White appears to be the most common custom finish, and these guitars typically sell in a similar range to the Sunburst examples. Today’s boutique market abounds with 60s Fender-style offset guitars of every

140  Guitarist september 2017

Pricing Factors Get clued up on what makes a ’62 Jaguar worth its salt l Original PiCkuPs The pickups on Jaguars are very important to collectors. Original 60s Jaguar pickups were designed and built specifically for this model; they are not just Stratocaster transplants. Non-original pickups on a vintage Jaguar can lower value even more than other Fenders of the same period.

The early 60s Sunburst Jag has inspired many reissues, as above, and is the best-known variant

imaginable configuration. Fano Guitars, Vuorensaku Guitars and BilT are just three examples of the countless builders who specialise in the offset genre. What’s less common is finding a modern guitar with the shorter 24-inch scale length, though many builders will be able to offer this specification by custom order. If you’re trying to stick in the Fender family, the contemporary offset revival has brought a number of reissues and limitededition Jaguars to the catalogue including a Kurt Cobain tribute model and the highly regarded Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar. For ’62 Jaguar specs specifically, Fender did offer an American Vintage Reissue series ‘62 Jag for a few years. It has since been discontinued, but used examples are not difficult to find on Reverb.com. The Madein-Japan JG66 offers another worthwhile reissue for anyone in the market. In fact, the Fender factory in Japan was the first to bring the design back after its original retirement in 1975. Dan Orkin is content director at Reverb.com, where he reviews the thousands of listings and manages the Reverb Price Guide

l slab vs veneer ’bOard In 1962, Fender began to transition from a thicker-style fretboard, now known as a ‘slab ’board’, to one made using a thinner, curved piece of wood, a ‘veneer ’board’. Since the Jaguar was introduced in 1962, there are only a select few vintage specimens with the more desirable slab style. Original Jaguars with this feature will usually sell for around 20 per cent more than those with the more common veneer style. l Finish As with all things vintage Fender, the originality and vibrancy of the guitar’s finish is of paramount importance to collectors. Most ’62 Jags will carry a Sunburst finish, though examples with custom finishes such as Lake Placid Blue and Fiesta Red do come to market occasionally. A rare finish can double the price of a ’62 Jaguar, while a non-original finish job will usually decrease value by around 40 to 50 per cent. Beyond these variations, of course, case-by-case assessment of originality, condition, and playability can impact the value of an individual guitar.


Nextmonth

ed o’BrieN New signature Fender for radiohead’s stringsman

Vox 60th ANNiVersAry

1959 epiphoNe CoroNet

Celebrating the history of this great british brand

the entry-level slab body with collector appeal

Next issue on sale: 22 September 2017

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141 


Body

Tremolo/Bridge

Despite the similarity to Fullerton’s finest, the Sunburst-finished body was maple and sometimes beech, as opposed to alder or ash

The tremolo and bridge assembly rivalled Leo Fender’s Stratocaster design in terms of sophistication, with rear-loaded springs and individual string saddle adjustment

conTrols Simple master volume and tone controls oversaw the Futurama’s range of sounds. As Phil Carwardine notes, “You can get Hank out of it…” and what more could a young player in the early 60s ask for?

142  Guitarist september 2017

PickuPs The Futurama featured a Strat-alike three-singlecoil pickup array with white plastic covers


1959 Futurama III Photographs by Joseph Branston

M

neck Up until 1959, the Futurama’s fingerboard was a light-coloured wood. At the same time that Fender changed over to using rosewood, Futuramas’ fingerboards were dyed to match

ade in former Czechoslovakia and imported into the UK  by Selmer, the Futurama was the guitar to aspire to for  practically every young hopeful in British beat groups of  the late 50s and very early 60s. The prohibitive price of imported  Fenders and Gibsons at the time meant that the Futurama’s  comparatively modest price tag of 55 Guineas (£57.75) was just  about reachable for the more serious player. This was certainly the  case for George Harrison – who took a Futurama to Frankfurt with  The Beatles – and fellow Liverpudlian Gerry Marsden from Gerry  And The Pacemakers. Even Jimmy Page had a Futurama at one  point during the dawn of his career.  Early Futuramas were built in Blatna at the Drevokov  Cooperative in Czechoslovakia and featured a faux-maple  fingerboard and a surface-mounted jack socket. Later models  – such as the one featured here – were manufactured in Hradec  Králové by CSHN, the major hardware change being the jack  socket, which was now edge-mounted.  When Fender switched to rosewood ’boards at the close of the  50s, Futurama followed suit, dyeing a cheaper hardwood (quite  possibly beech) accordingly. “They followed Fender and went for  a darker wood,” Phil Carwardine of Vintage And Modern Guitars  tells us. “But it’s a cool thing in that a Fender Strat was something  to dream about in ’58/’59 in the UK, so loads of people had these  and, actually, when you look at them, they’re not that bad – there’s  quite a bit in them. It’s quite engineered, really. You can get Hank  out of it, which is what everyone was doing, I guess, wasn’t it?” 

Guitarist would like to thank Vintage And Modern Guitars in Thame for allowing us access to this piece of guitar history. www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk

swiTcHes The pickup switches were simple on/off affairs and offered every conceivable combination – more than a Fender Strat of the day

HeadsTock Three-a-side tuners, a string guide and an offset truss rod cover are the only features on the Futurama’s headstock; the model name appeared on the scratchplate

september 2017 Guitarist

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Techniques

Video & audio

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Jump Blues Bootcamp Continuing our journey back to the 1940s and 50s, we look at where jazz and blues collide to produce one of music’s most exciting formulae!

The Tenor Of Tiny Grimes Difficulty HHHHH  |  10 mins per example Tutor: Chris Corcoran

|

Gear used: Framus Broadway archtop (with flatwound strings) through a Honeyboy 5 amp

LLoyd ‘Tiny’ Grimes was an  important figure in the jazz and R&B  worlds. Born in Virginia in 1916, he  began playing during the 1930s,  adopting the four-stringed tenor guitar  as his main instrument after an initial  foray into the world of music playing  drums and piano. His career in jazz  saw him playing with Art Tatum, Billie  Holiday, Charlie Parker and Coleman  Hawkins, to name but a few. In fact,  we recommend that you rummage  through YouTube to find the rare  footage of Tiny duetting with Art  Tatum in order to give you more of an 

Chris Corcoran channels four-string tenor guitar player Tiny Grimes this issue

insight into his style. Grimes remained  musically active up to the time of his  death in 1989 and is regarded as one of  the true unsung heroes of the jazz age. As Chris mentions here in the  accompanying video, Tiny’s choice of  tenor guitar means that we regular sixstringers might need to keep a careful  eye on the positions in which Tiny plays  on the fingerboard, owing to the two  bass strings – the E and A – not being  available in the mix. Naturally, this won’t  affect the actual pitches so much, but  the timbre could be different if you’re  aiming for 100 per cent accuracy.

Chris Corcoran Band Blues Guitar Grooves

Hear Chris’s guitar work on his latest album, Blues Guitar  Grooves, which sees him performing evocative swing-blues  instrumentals in fine style, backed by a horn section.   www.chriscorcoranmusic.com

Example 1

We’re in the default jazz key of B b for all of these examples. Despite Tiny’s preference for four-string tenor guitars, we’ve  transcribed it in a six-string-friendly fashion. A good exercise might be to work out the notes in the alternative 3rd position.  Otherwise, this is a great example of a jump blues lead line and would make a good starting place for a fully fledged 12-bar solo.

– ©»¡•º qq=qce Bb j j j j b bœ & b 44 Ó Œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ Œ Œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œJ ‰ b œ n œ Ó 1/4

E B G D A E

1/4

8 10 1

144  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017

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Techniques

Video & audio

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Example 2 THis is another workout in the key of B b – which might not be particularly guitar-friendly, but is essential to feel comfortable  with if you ever find yourself playing with a horn section! There are a number of techniques to watch out for: accurate bending,  including a couple of pre-bends in bars 3 and 6, plus some string slides which all form a signature part of the jump blues style.

Bb

1/4

b 4 bœ œ b œ n œ Œ ‰ j œ œj b œ œ œ œ œ œ & b 4 ‰ œJ œ œ œJ ‰ œJ ‰ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ¿ PB 6

1/4 E B G D A E

3

5

3

3

5

6

3

5

3

3

5

0

6 ( 7)

5

3

5

5

6

5

3

5

X

3

1

b & b œ œ Œ ‰ œj œ œ œ œ b œ n œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ ¿ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ Œ Ó PB 6

E B G D A E

5

3

3

5

3

5 0

BD

6 (7 ) (6 ) 3 5

5

3

3

X 0

3

5

3

5

3

3

3

5

3

5

3

5

Example 3 Here’s a look at the chords from a turnaround sequence in a jump blues. Essentially, it follows the cycle of 4ths in that it traces  G – C – F – B b with that A b 6/9 chord acting as a chromatic ‘bridge’ back into the home key. Don’t be too alarmed at the jazz  nature of the chords; take a look at the tab and you’ll see we’re dealing with some fairly straightforward shapes!

©»¡∞º B b6 œœ b Œ & b 44 œ E B G D A E

3

3 3

1

146  Guitarist sEPtEMBEr 2017

G7b9

Cm

b œœ œœ œœ nœ œ ‰ œ 4 3 4

4 3 4

3 4 5

œ ‰ Jœœ Œ

F7

3 4 5

5 4 5

A 6/9

œœ œ œ ‰ n #n œœœ ‰ J J 5 5 4 4

B b6 / 9

˙˙ ˙˙ 6 6 5 5

Ó

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Video & Audio

Techniques

http://bit.ly/guitaristextra

Blues Headlines Richard Barrett is on a mission to make you a better blues player – with full audio examples and backing tracks

Photo by baron Wolman/IconIc Images/getty Images

Albert King played upside down with the high E string at the top

Sixes & Sevens Difficulty HHHHH  |  5 mins per example Tutor: Richard Barrett

| gear used: Knaggs Choptank, Vox AC15C1

Though The pentatonic/blues  scale has been used to create  some of the most memorable  solos and riffs of all time in its  purest form, it would be a particularly  incurious player who didn’t drift outside these  boundaries from time to time.  When we look back to when this type of  guitar playing was a new and radical idea (via  the recordings of Freddie King, Albert King,  BB King, and so on), we hear a surprising  amount of diversification from what has  become known as the ‘blues scale’… Some of  this can be attributed to unusual technical 

approaches; for instance, Freddie King played  with a finger and thumbpick – bound to  encourage different phrasing to that of a  dedicated alternate picker such as Steve  Morse. Albert King used an unusual C minor  open tuning and played ‘upside down’ with the  thinnest string where the thickest would  normally be.  But there’s no need to go to these extremes  to come up with new soloing ideas. For the  examples, I’ve gone for a funky, almost Little  Feat-style backing and targeted the 6th (as  we are in the key of E, this is C#) in various  ways. It’s surprising how many of the greats 

start or finish a phrase on the 6th. Certainly  Eric Clapton, though he may have picked this  up from Freddie King or Albert Collins, who  also featured it a lot. Sometimes the 6th falls  comfortably within the pentatonic shapes on  the fretboard, but at other times, it’s a short  stretch or slide away. There’s no need to get  deep into music theory to broaden your  horizons – I’m pretty certain many of the  players mentioned here wouldn’t converse  enthusiastically about scales, though it can’t  be denied that a little knowledge can help  speed up the process of discovery. Hope you  enjoy these ideas and see you next time!

September 2017 GuitariSt

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Techniques

Example 1 going in with a combined minor 3rd and 6th (both given the characteristic quarter-tone bend), this example sets up the funky feel with  some swung semiquavers, which aren’t that fast at this tempo. Elsewhere, we stay within the bounds of the shape 1 pentatonic. A challenge is  making it ‘sit’ nicely over the backing. The semiquavers can be loose in feel, but the more strident bends need to be on the nail, timing-wise. E5 ©»•∞ √ nœ # # & # # 44 œ

œœ

1/4

Swung

1/4

1/4

œ nœ œ œ œ nœ œ .

1/4

j nœ

BD E B G D A E

15 14

15 14

12

15 12

˙~~~

1/4

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ Œ .

BU

16 (14 ) 12

Ó

1/4

12

15 (17 )

15 12

14

14

14

12

12

14

Example 2 PlAying with major and minor like this by alternating the G and G# together is a real blues staple, particularly popular with piano players  who don’t have the luxury of bending the minor 3rd up a quarter-tone… Combining the 6th (C#) with this gives a distinctive sound,  reminiscent of a 50s rock ’n’ roll feel, right through to a Chris Robinson vibe. It’s a little fiddly at first, but don’t rush.

nœ #œ œ nœ #œ œ nœ #œ œ œ nœ œ

E5

1/4

# # & # # 44 Œ

nœ #œ œ nœ œ œ œ

~~~ œ œ œ

j œ

~~~

1/4 E B G D A E

12

14

13

12

13

12

12

13

14

12

14

12

14

13

14

12

14

14 12 14 16

14

12

Example 3 ShifTing position for the A chord, this phrase features C# heavily. In this context, it’s the major 3rd of A, but I hope you’ll recall that it’s also  the 6th in E (and appears as such in the next example). While we’re looking at it this way, you can see this phrase is derived from the shape 3  E minor pentatonic, but adding the C# means we’re also hinting heavily at an A7th arpeggio, which also lives here…

A7

# # œ & # # 44 ‰ n œ # œ œ

j œ nœ

~~~ œ œj œ œ œ~~~ œ œ œ œ b œ œ n œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ E

3

BU BD

BU E B G D A E

5

150  Guitarist september 2017

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Video & Audio

Techniques

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Example 4 MAKing further use of the enhanced shape 3 E minor pentatonic over the E major chord makes C# the 6th again, plus gives an opportunity to  add a G to G# move on the fourth string. So here is a lick that could work over the A or E major chords (though maybe stay clear of the G# over  the A). Try playing a straight shape 3 E minor pentatonic then a bar A chord at the 5th fret and you’ll see many of the notes are in common.

E

6 #### 4 ⋲ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ nœ #œ œ nœ & 4 6

3

6

E B G D A E

6

5

8

5

7

6

5

8

5

5

8

5

7

6

4

7

4

5

6

7

5

œ

7

j nœ

~~~ Œ œ

Ó

~~~ 5

7

Hear It Here Albert Collins

Freddy King

Albert King

Recorded from 1962 to ’63 and  originally called The Cool Sound  Of Albert Collins, a listen to  tracks such as Frosty, Tremble  and Backstroke will demonstrate how Albert  would habitually open and close phrases with  the 6th. His overdriven tones must have been  nothing short of revolutionary at the time and  his phrasing contains some unexpected  nimble twists. This was partly due to his  unusual approach of using a capo and playing  in open position, but we can take this and put  it to use in standard tuning, too.

Freddie (then calling himself  Freddy) inspired none other than  Eric Clapton with his use of the  Gibson Les Paul – pictured on  the front cover of this album – plus tracks  such as Hide Away, which Eric famously  covered with John Mayall’s Blues Breakers.  San-Ho-Zay and The Stumble are also  recommended listening. This is actually a  very influential album in the blues world,  containing the original versions of several  classics, played through a loud amp on the  edge of breakup. Very rock ’n’ roll!

Albert’s elastic phrasing is both  fluid and expressive on this  classic cut from 1967. The title  track treads a fine line between  major and minor keys, which is unsettling but  interesting. His soloing on Crosscut Saw and  The Hunter is both inventive and influential,  too. Albert King is certainly at the top of his  game at this point and most tracks will reward  you at least an idea or two with careful  listening. It’s not hard to imagine many of  today’s most respected players doing the  very same back in 1967.

Truckin’ With Albert Collins

Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away

Born Under A Bad Sign

September 2017 GuitariSt

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Gibson Flying V, 1995 Jimi Hendrix memorial edition, made for RCA

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Before you submit an advert... Guide example to formatting your adverts Category: Electrics advert: Fender Stratocaster, USA Standard, 2001, black, white scratchplate, three Lace Sensor pickups, vgc, never gigged, Fender hard case, £435 ono. Call Joe on 01234 567890 Email joebloggs@youremail.co.uk Runcorn

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