Friedman Amplication have recently introduced a new powered monitor to their lineup, the ASC-12:
The Friedman ASC-12 powered monitor was designed and voiced for use with today’s guitar amp modelers and profilers including Fractal Audio Axe-Fx, Kemper Profiler, Line 6 HD Series and others. The ASC-12 delivers rich authentic tones, allowing you get the most out of these systems in live use and playback applications. The ASC-12 is identical to the ASM-12 electronically, the only difference being that the ASC-12’s shape makes it more useable as a regular rectangular speaker cabinet (IE: with your amp modeler on top the cabinet it looks like any other amp head/speaker cab set-up), whereas the ASM-12 functions more like an angled floor monitor or mounts to a pole.
The ASC-12 features a Celestion 12″ loudspeaker with a 2.5″ edge wound voce coil and a premium Celestion high frequency compression driver. At the heart of the ASC-12 is a robust 500w Bi-Amp Class-G amplifier that is anything but digital. This proprietary amplifier design delivers rich, full tone and a wide frequency response making it suited for backline, stage monitoring or even as your main PA speaker.
Key features include: Bi-Amp power module with high efficiency Class G low frequency amplification with a high current output stage and custom signal processing; clip/limit, thermal, and short circuit protection; line level output for linking multiple speakers ; optimized acoustic designs using a PETP film compression driver diaphragm; heat vented low frequency drivers; and a hand crafted in the USA, sturdy Baltic birch construction. Controls include level knob, low-cut filter switch, ground lift and power switches.
The Friedman ASC-12 powered loudspeaker was designed using advanced acoustic and audio techniques with premium components, comprehensive protection circuitry, and robust construction to provide years of consistent, reliable performance.
I haven’t delved that much into amp modeling yet, but I’m getting more curious about it. This looks like a nice way to use a modeler, but still get a great sound from a monitor.
Per Music Radar, Fender is announcing a hand-wired ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb amp:
As per the original, the ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb offers Bright and Normal channels (with tube-driven spring reverb and tremolo on both), hand-wired AB763 circuitry and 20 watts of output.
The amp’s pine cabinet boasts an extra-heavy textured vinyl covering and lightly aged silver grille cloth, and houses a 12” Jensen C-12Q speaker.
Also included are Fender Vintage Blue tone capacitors, four 12AX7 and two 12AT7 preamp tubes, a 5AR4/GZ34 rectifier tube, a matched pair of 6V6 output tubes, as well as a footswitch and amp cover.
This isn’t much other information available about this amp yet, but it looks like it will retail for around $2500.
Another Summer NAMM introduction by Fender is the new Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster:
It’s been 50 years since Jimi Hendrix took the world by storm with his incredible Monterey Pop Festival performance, which he concluded with the sacrificial burning of his now-iconic hand-painted Stratocaster. Destroyed during the fiery culmination of his set, this one-of-a-kind guitar survived only in photos and film. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this milestone in music history, Fender created the limited-edition Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster. A trio of vintage-style single-coil Stratocaster pickups give this Strat® its classic Fender sound. Bell-like and articulate, it has plenty of singing sustain for soloing. The “C”-shaped maple neck bears a vintage-style 7.25”-radius pau ferro fingerboard with 21 vintage-sized frets for a playing feel just like the original. The six-screw synchronized tremolo is perfect for unleashing dive-bombs and other sonic expression. An homage to Hendrix’s spectacular Strat, right down to the hand-painted nail-polish artwork that burned its way into our memories, the Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster also features an exclusive etched Hendrix neck plate.
Like the regular Hendrix Strat, this model will be made in Mexico and will have a street price of $899.99. Not bad for an artist guitar these days. The guitar will debut on August 15, 2017.
DigiTech has announced a new drum machine pedal for guitarists and bassists called SDRUM:
SDRUM is the world’s first intelligent drum machine for guitarists and bassists. By simply scratching across your guitar strings, you teach the SDRUM a kick and snare pattern that forms the foundation of the beat you want to hear. Based on this pattern, the SDRUM supplies a professional sounding drum beat with different embellishments and variations to perfectly complement your beat. Gone are the days of having your creative flow disrupted by searching through lists in a frustrating attempt to find the beat you want.
The SDRUM stores up to 36 different songs. Beats are played from a choice of 5 different kits covering a wide range of genres. The pedal also supports three different parts (e.g. verse/chorus/bridge) for each song that can be switched on the fly for enhancing live performances and exploring song ideas.
SDRUM is the fastest way to go from a beat idea to a working drum track.
- BeatScratch™ Technology creates drum patterns by strumming your strings
- 5 kits and studio quality samples for professional sounding drums
- 36 song memoriesVerse/Chorus/Bridge parts
- 12 different hats/rides styles
- Alternate instruments/voicings
- Dedicated Amp and stereo Mixer outputs
- Kick/Snare pads for tapping in a beat
- External FS3X support
- JamSync™ connectivity for interfacing with JamMan loopers
Here’s a video of how it works:
Peterson has announced an upgraded version of their StroboClip tuner, which they’re calling the StroboClip HD:
This summer, Peterson Strobe Tuners will roll out its latest innovation, the StroboClip HD – a powerful, upgraded version of its revolutionary StroboClip clip-on tuner, released in 2009. The StroboClip HD features an ultra high-definition, real-time tuning display that sports nearly twice the pixel resolution of its predecessor. The SC-HD features the same .01 cent (1/1000th of a semitone or fret) tuning accuracy and comes complete with alternate temperaments for a vast array of string, brass, and wind instruments. Over 50 exclusive, preset Sweetened Tunings are onboard to help correct inherent tuning issues exhibited by many instruments. Soft, rubber lined jaws protect an instrument’s finish while offering a firm grip for maximum signal tracking. The wide viewing angle of the display is enhanced by the SC-HD’s three points of rotation that permits comfortable monitoring of your instrument’s tuning from a multitude of angles. Greatly increased battery life using a standard CR2032 battery makes sure you are always ready to enjoy pro-level grade tuning anywhere. A “stealthy” matte black finish blends in with many instruments finishes and doesn’t detract from your instruments beauty. The StroboClip HD will also support Peterson’s exclusive Peterson Connect online utility where users can connect via USB to update the latest firmware or create a custom configuration if desired.
At a street price of about $60 it’s not a cheap headstock tuner, but it is comparable in price to the TC Electronic Polytune Clip. Additionally, Peterson has a great reputation and this looks like a nice upgrade.
For many guitarists, including myself, changing strings can seem like a daunting task. While a new set of strings only costs a few dollars and stringing your guitar only takes a few minutes, many of us will avoid changing our strings for weeks, months, or evens years. Then, after we’ve finally decided to subject ourselves to the grueling, pain-staking task of changing our strings, we take one strum and usually say out-loud -- “I should have done this a long time ago.” For a few days you seem to be playing a completely new guitar which stokes the artistic flame of your soul and in turn sparks creativity and rekindles your love for the instrument, but over time we forget how good that first strum sounded and the cycle repeats.
When is the appropriate time to change one’s strings? The answer to that question differs from player to player due to several variables: your sweat’s acidity, humidity, pick gauge (if any), how hard you fret and/or pick, bending frequency, the amount of time you play, type of string, etc. – basically, the amount of abuse you subject your strings to and the type of strings you use.
Luckily, there are few signs that your strings have been through enough and it is time change them. One of these signs would be the need to tune your guitar on a frequent basis. Once a string has been put on a guitar, stretched, and tuned, it should hit a sweet spot where it does not need to be tuned very often. Eventually, after a lot of playing, a string will lose the ability to hold its tuning, and therefore, need to be changed. A second sign would be the loss of treble frequencies/attack. This can be hard to discern for beginners, but over time your ear will develop and you’ll be able to pick-up on this key bit of sonic information. This sign is also subjective because every player prefers a different amount of trebles/attack, but there is a point for all strings where the attack and trebles have degraded to the point that the string sounds dull or “muddy” – time to change those strings. A visual sign to look for is wound string’s wrap wire separating at a fret position(s). Typically, this only occurs if you are a player that frets really hard which is commonly known as “digging in”. Often, this sign is accompanied by a buzzing sound when you play the affected string at the compromised fret position. The most obvious sign that it is time to change your strings would be when a string breaks. Keep in mind that strings can break due to technique, or guitar defects such as a saddle burr, but even the strongest strings will eventually break. The last sign, and probably the most talked about, is string corrosion. Strings can corrode on the inside between the core wire and wrap wire. This is called galvanic corrosion and is nearly impossible to detect. Fortunately, corrosion can also occur on the outside of the string where it is very easy to see due to oxidation. Commonly known as rust, oxidation is a clear sign that it is time to change your strings.
These signs can occur together or at different times depending on the aforementioned situational variables and the type of string. For example, strings made with high tensile strength core wires, like Martin’s SP Acoustic strings, offer much more tuning stability and break resistance than traditional guitar strings, but do not have a corrosive barrier. Therefore, corrosion may appear before the loss of tuning stability or before a string breaks. Whereas treated/coated strings inhibit corrosion, but do not necessarily address the mechanical wear of a guitar string. In that situation, a string could break or not hold its tuning long before corrosion appears. Then of course, there’s the best of both worlds –Martin’s SP Lifespan strings. These strings are made with the high tensile strength SP core wire and are treated for corrosion resistance which addresses both mechanical and corrosive string wear.
All in all, knowing when to change your strings is not an exact science. Just do your best to recognize the signs of string wear and your guitar will thank you.
From: Rory Glass, Sales Representative, Martin String Division
Look, there’s no way to get around this so let’s just dive in: Peavey has returned to building guitars in the USA again, in the form of the HP 2 Guitar. And It looks very much like the Peavey Wolfgang. Eddie Van Halen took the Wolfgang design with him when he left to set up his own company working with Fender, but I’m pretty sure Peavey wouldn’t have taken this step without some kind of legal justification for using the design. One thing’s for sure though: this thing looks hot. Seriously, look at it in this pic.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here. When EVH left Peavey, large chunks of the Wolfgang design lived on in the form of the brilliant HP Special guitar for a while. Those things were phenomenal. Does the market have space to sustain two Wolfgang-shaped guitars, one of which has ‘Wolfgang’ on the headstock? I guess we’ll see. I can’t wait to try one of these though.
Here’s the press release.
Peavey® Builds Legacy of Innovation with USA Made HP™2 Guitar
MERIDIAN, MS — Building upon the legacy of its award-winning, USA made guitars, Peavey Electronics® proudly introduces the HP™2 Guitar at the 2017 Summer NAMM Show in Nashville. The HP2 is constructed with leading-edge technology, traditional handcrafted methods, professional-quality upgrades, and customizations. When a USA-made guitar bears the initials of Peavey founder and CEO Hartley Peavey, players can expect an iconic design with its own unique flair.
While the esthetic is classic, the HP2 undoubtedly stands out with its carved top and offset, asymmetrical body design that offers comfort, proper balance, and maximum playing ease. Maple was chosen for the top and basswood for the back; solid basswood construction is also available. Peavey selected these hardwoods not only for their natural beauty and weight characteristics, but also for their specific tonal qualities. Cream or black-edge binding accents the body.
At the select birdseye maple neck and fingerboard, players will find unmatched stability and playability. Dual graphite reinforcement bars and an easy-access, adjustable steel torsion rod provide additional strength, as does the bolt-on construction with contoured neck heel. The oil-finished fingerboard is cut from the same piece of wood as the single-piece neck, keeping the color and grain patterns consistent. The stress-relieved lamination also adds increased stability. The HP2 has a 25 ½’’ scale length, 22 jumbo frets and 15’’ fingerboard radius. The 10-degree tilt-back headstock has a 3+3 tuning machine configuration featuring Schaller® tuning machines with pearloid or cream buttons. The chrome-plated hardware finish completes the look.
The HP2’s construction and electronics work in harmony. Two custom-wound Peavey humbucking pickups supply optimal output and tonal response. They’re made using a two-step wax-dipping process that provides ultra-low noise operation and resistance to microphonic feedback. The pickups are mounted directly to the body, further reducing feedback at high volume levels and enhancing response. A Switchcraft® 3-way toggle switch allows selection of pickups in up, center and down configurations. Players will also find either a Peavey/Floyd Rose® licensed, double-locking tremolo assembly or tune-o-matic/stop tailpiece fixed-bridge to complete the guitar. Finishing off the guitar are two push-pull knobs for volume and tone, with the ability to split the pickups individually.
Get a closer look at the HP2 at peavey.com, or if you’re at the Summer NAMM show through July 15, stop by booth #623.
About Peavey Electronics®
Founded in 1965, Peavey® is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment. Peavey has earned more than 180 patents and distributes to more than 130 countries. Peavey and its MediaMatrix®, Architectural Acoustics®, Crest Audio®, Composite Acoustics®, Budda®, and Trace Elliot® brands and affiliates can be found on concert stages and in airports, stadiums, theme parks and other venues around the world. Chief Operating Officer Courtland Gray says, “We are striving every day to produce the world’s finest music and audio equipment.” To find out more, visit www.peavey.com.
If you can’t make it to see EarthQuaker Devices here in Nashville this week at Summer NAMM, you can still see them at EarthQuaker Day 2017, to be held on August 5 in EarthQuaker’s hometown of Akron, Ohio. It looks like quite a party.
There will be live music, clinics, workshop tours, food & drinks, games, giveaways, and prizes. There will also be a Riff Contest to win a PRS SE Custom 24 guitar. Sounds like a lot of fun!
The event goes from 1:00 to 8:00 with an afterparty to be held at Annabell’s Bar & Lounge. Check out the EarthQuaker Devices site to learn more about the event and to register for the Riff Contest.
Most noticeable is the silver sparkle relic’d finish with the paisley pick guard. This finish sits on a Paulownia core body with spruce top and back. This wood combination is an interesting choice. Fender says this combination creates a “lightweight instrument with acoustic-like resonance.” I’ve never played a guitar with Paulowinia before, so I’m curious to hear what it sounds like.
The neck is maple with a custom “Enhanced V” shape and a 9.5″ radius. About the neck, Fender says “Crafted to Paisley’s personal specifications, the “Enhanced V”-shaped neck rounds out higher up the neck, making it great for chording or soloing.” Brad further discusses the neck in the video below.
For pickups the Brad Paisley model has a custom-wound ’64 bridge and a Twisted Tele neck.
I’m not really into a lot of modern country, but I do enjoy listening to Paisley’s music and I appreciate his approach to recording with his own band rather than Nashville session musicians. I’m glad to see Fender collaborating with him on this model.
At a street price of $1199, it’s fairly expensive for a made-in-Mexico guitar. But, it’s also more affordable than most of Fender’s other artist guitars, which should make it more accessible to fans.
Charvel is proud to welcome solo American guitarist and songwriter Angel Vivaldi to the artist family.
“Working with Charvel has been incredible,” he said. “It’s an honor to work with a historic company that has had such an impact on the guitar community. What we’re currently designing together is nothing short of breathtaking… this prototype is already seeing a lot of miles on it! Humbled and excited to enter into this new era of my career with Charvel.”
Fans can catch Vivaldi out on the road with Andy James this fall on THE WAVE OF SYNERGY TOUR. The duo will hit 22 cities, which will also include joint VIP guitar clinics, complete with Q&A sessions, meet and greets, tour memorabilia and more.
Fans can also expect to hear brand new material from Vivaldi’s upcoming album Synapse. Get the details and tour dates here.
Martin Guitar has expanded the popular 16 series with the addition of the GPC-16E.
Each model in the 16 series is designed with tone wood that best compliments the body size and shape of that particular model. With the new GPC-16E, which is a Grand Performance size with the depth of a 000, Martin selected a solid koa back and sides to enhance the easy, natural resonance of this guitar, making it great for recording.
You can learn even more about the GPC-16E here.
Yeah yeah, I know I've been far too quiet in recent times. Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, guys. ANYWAY, despite all that malarkey, I couldn't let this freaky Hendrix-inpsired Strat/Flying V mutant axe that I just saw offered for sale on eBay go unmentioned.
I'm sure it'll be sacrilege for some, but I'm no purist, I quite like it although perhaps not enough to warrant the tune of the US $2,430.00 Buy It Now price.
GIBFENDRIX...? You can almost hear the vulture squawks of the lawyers circling overhead.
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Charvel signature artist Guthrie Govan is currently in the middle of a summer-long Hans Zimmer Live tour, but he found a few minutes for this quick chat about the gig and his newest signature models.
Q: Is it a true story that when Hans Zimmer first contacted you on Facebook you thought it was a joke?
A: Yeah, it might sound paranoid but my experience with Facebook – I’ve had a few episodes like that where people purport to me that which they are not so experience taught me to be suspicious and it just seemed so farfetched.
Q: How did you reply then?
A: I think it was something along the lines of, “Come on, we both know you are not Hans Zimmer. You are wasting my time and your time. You are not really Hans Zimmer so who are you and what do you really want?” And he replied, “no, no it really is Hans, the dodgy German composer. Here’s my phone number, please call me,” and I did.
It sounded authentic somehow, something about the second message and the persistence— like okay, he’s keeping up the charade, maybe it is really him.
Q: How did that call go when you rang him?
A: Very encouraging, very flattering because this is what Hans does. He stays up until 5 in the morning watching YouTube videos and looking for weird new musicians that he might want to work with and he found some clip of me playing fretless guitar and he liked the eccentricity of it. Originally he was looking for people playing fretless guitar because he wanted to reinvent the Thelma & Louise soundtrack and on the original recording it was played by Pete Haycock. Pete was very good friend of Hans and is no longer with us so it’s a very emotionally charged piece of music for Hans. So he went to all of this trouble to look for someone who could play slide guitar in a different way and then realized the piece of music was close to him that he didn’t want to do it in the set —he wasn’t ready and so we did a whole European tour last summer and only on the last gig of the tour did we play Thelma and Louise. I guess I didn’t screw up too badly because its back in the set every night now.
Q: How familiar were you with his work before getting the gig?
A: I don’t know if anyone is familiar with ALL of his catalog because he’s just such a prolific guy but yeah, I was fully aware of his work and what he does. The funny thing is—even people who don’t the name have been exposed to that music. You can’t really escape it, he’s such a big deal in the world of Hollywood scoring.
Q: Is there a certain song in the set that is your favorite?
A: Everything is fun in a different way. From a guitar’s perspective, where I have the most spotlight if anyone’s curious, is the Thelma and Louise piece. It’s just a six-minute guitar solo. And there’s some stuff in Crimson Tide and Angels and Demons that I enjoy.
It’s just an interesting gig because it’s like acting almost. You have to be a different musician for each song. If you listen to the original soundtrack, there’s not that much guitar going on. When Hans gives you the gig, he just says, “I’ve hired you because I believe in you. I trust your mind, and I trust your fingers so you’ll know what to do. I’m not going to micromanage you. Do what you think is right and if I disagree, don’t worry, you’ll know about it.” So it’s flattering and high pressure. I’ve found a mindset that work, which is I just have to imagine what type of guitar player would complement that song and then become that guitar player for its duration.
So, it’s a really good contrast. Before I started this tour I was going around India and Japan playing my solo stuff with a trio of local musicians. This is completely the opposite in every way. I think balance is a healthy thing. I’d be tearing up the furniture if I just had to do one thing for the whole of my musical life—variety helps to keep things fresh.
Q: What led you to guitar to begin with?
A: It kind of found me. I started playing when I was so very young. I don’t remember choosing a guitar but there was a guitar in the house. My dad knew about five chords. So it was just part of growing up — a matter of thinking “What’s that object I see every day in the living room, and I need to learn how to operate it.” Then I discovered you could use it to play Elvis songs and the rest wrote itself.
Q: What was it that brought you to Charvel?
A: I just had a good vibe the first time I met people from the company and I sensed they actually wanted to work, and cooperate and collaborate to make a guitar that is perfect for me. It felt like they would listen to all of my input, and we spent about two years just fine-tuning and tweaking. They probably did get tired of me but they didn’t say so, and I think there is a unique and versatile instrument that came out of all of that process.
There are other companies I could have worked with, but it would have been more like “Here’s our flagship heavy metal guitar, we can put your initials on the 12th fret – what kind of paint would you like on it?” That would never feel quite right. If I’m going to stick my name on the back of a headstock, it feels so much better to have input into everything.
The most painful part of the genesis of my signature guitar was the tremolo. We spent a lot of time attaching different arm attachments and stuff like that. I can remember being on tour with Stephen Wilson, the guys would send me a new bridge and metal working tools and I’d be there changing the size of the hole where the arm goes into the bridge plate and leaving a pile of iron filings on the carpet when I checked out of the hotel. It was a lot of back and forth, but we got there in the end. The thing that really cheers me up is occasionally I’ll see a YouTube video of a respected player who doesn’t do the kind of thing I do and they found this guitar and found something about it that works for them.
I was very happy when I heard John Mayer bought one. I was like, “Okay, you are not really the target audience for this guitar but you found merit in it – that’s great.” That’s the proud parent feeling.
Q: You’ve got two new models out now. Can you talk a bit about what you were going for with the Signature HSH Caramelized Ash and Signature HSH Flame Maple guitars?
A. Yes, the Caramelized Ash … I like an ash guitar – it has a different frequency response, and I have also always liked the neutrality of basswood with a little bit of maple on the top. I think you can get pretty close to the sound of a lot of different guitars with that wood because there’s no EQ bias anywhere with that wood combination. Ash has a bit more of a character and asserts itself in a bit more noticeable way. It just kind of works for me. When we did the last Aristocrats album I deliberately wrote all of my contributions using a bolt-on guitar with three single coil pickups, which will go nameless, because guitar tones will make you play differently and you get a different kind of inspiration when the voice of a guitar is sounding a certain way. I very much went down that, okay, I’ll say it, the Strat route, and I thought for playing that live, wouldn’t it be really cool to have the GG but with a little more of that single coil DNA? Also, I really like the new secret switch — it kind of makes the humbuckers sound like single coils without the hum you would normally associate with those.
Q: How many guitars do you have in your collection in total?
A: I don’t know. Not that many. More than 10, less than 20. In touring and flying around so much, it gets confusing and sometimes I have no choice but to leave a guitar in a certain destination and I’ll see it in a year when I come back. My Charvel signature model in the Britannica Red – it’s currently in one of the Charvel offices. I’ve got a couple of these guitars stationed in unfeasible parts of the world right now.
Q: Are you one of those guys who will play guitar incessantly?
A: Not really. I like the idea of walking on stage and picking up a guitar and being pleased to see it. If I’m recording, yes, a lot of playing and your fingertips feel the difference and you are changing strings twice a day. Day to day life, sometimes I’ll take the guitar in the hotel room on a day off, sometimes I don’t. I’m always thinking about music. A lot of the practice I do now is just listening to musically actively or thinking about music and imagining how something would sound, and the actual guitar playing aspect of it is just motor skills. As long as you do some playing every day, you remain gig fit. I’ve never been one of those people to warm up for 8 hours before a show. Sometimes I’ll just walk on stage, plug in the ear-monitors and go.
On the bench is a curly walnut dulcimer having its head attached with hide glue.
It is important to attach a head onto a dulcimer, because if you don’t, it will go searching the night to find a head and the one it chooses could be YOUR HEAD!
But I digress.
This dulcimer is one of three I am currently working on. The other two dulcimers are ready for final preparation before receiving the finish and tomorrow this dulcimer will be ready to join them.
I wait until I have 3 or 4 dulcimers ready to go through the finishing process at the same time. I put the woodworking tools away, clean the shop, and dedicate the space to finish work for about a week.
After all coats of finish are applied the dulcimers hang on the wall for several days so the finish can further cure before being rubbed out.
While the finish is curing I start work on the next 3 or 4 dulcimers.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
You can see my work in progress by following me on Instagram.
Hey Meet my Kiesel Vader! She’s a V7 with Hipshot/Kiesel vibrato. One of the coolest things about Kiesel is that every guitar is essentially a custom instrument: there’s an almost overwhelming range of options from which to spec out your dream guitar. Funnily enough, there’s a pretty similar guitar to mine on the V7 gallery, but that’s pretty much coincidence: whoever ordered that guitar just happened to have similar tastes to me. There are some differences too though, and as Homer’s assistant Karl said on The Simpsons, “My reasons … are my own.” Let’s break down what I selected and why.
So. Every element of this guitar was selected for a particular reason related to synesthesia. I’ve written about this before, including this article for Guitar World. Essentially synesthesia is a condition where a sensory input will set off other sensory ‘resonances.’ For instance, the number ‘2’ is blue to me, and always has been. It tastes kind of creamy and is very smooth to the touch. My brain has just always thought of it this way, and ditto for the other numbers, letters, shapes. It can happen with anything: particular speaking voices remind me of certain times of day. Certain guitar tones can generate really specific and complex chains of association that might incorporate texture, perception of size, levels of luminance, and so on. I’ve never done mushrooms cos I probably don’t need to. My brain is psychedelic enough on its own. That’s why I dig sensory deprivation tanks.
But back to the guitar: each of my specifications were based on specific things I wanted this guitar to be for. Things I wanted to play on it, sounds I wanted it to make, feelings I wanted it to generate or represent.
* Colour. This particular Aqua Burst reminds me of a shade of blue I often see in my dreams. I have a recurring dream of a futuristic city rising out of the ocean on the horizon, and it’s always an exciting place to visit. I wanted this guitar to embody that same sense of freedom and joy I have in those dreams. That’s also why I selected a flame maple top: to give the feel of waves in the ocean.
* Fingerboard. I always feel musically influenced by the colour of a fretboard. I feel like I play more ‘sunny’ on maple, and more ‘dark’ on rosewood. I chose Zebrawood because its mix of light and dark colours will (hopefully) encourage my subconscious to blend those two approaches.
* Neck. This is a 5-piece Black Limba/White Limba neck-thru. I wanted something that had more of a natural, ‘this used to be a tree’ look, and the particular colour of Black Limba reminds me of tree bark. This is a pretty futuristic-looking guitar so I wanted to balance that with something a bit more earthy.
* Body. The body is Alder, and I chose a natural finish because, again, I just wanted to offset the futuristicness of the design. And the almost desert-like colour balances really nicely against the Aquaburst top. It kinda makes the guitar look like Scarif from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
* Satin finish. I didn’t want this one to be shiny: sometimes it feels like a glossy finish is a barrier between me and the guitar.
* Pickups. This guitar as shipped has Kiesel Lithium pickups, but I’ll be installing my Seymour Duncan Custom Shop model, the Magnetar, soon. The bridge Lithium has an Alnico V plus ceramic booster, and a DC Resistance of 13.16k, and the neck model is Alnico V with a reading of 7.78k. The Magnetar is a pickup that MJ created for me when I asked her for ‘A pickup that sounds like the look of sunshine through a glass of beer, the feel of freshly-sanded wood and the taste of creme brûlée. It has an Alnico 8 magnet and it sounds both woody and airy, with a nice kick in the upper mids. Not too hot, not too gentle. This guitar will also have the first neck version of the Magnetar, and I’m going for a Zebra look for the same reason as choosing a Zebrawood fingerboard.
* Logo. I went with a white logo with black shadow because it stands out nicely and I wanted to proudly display the Kiesel name. Also another Zebra/light-dark balance thing.
* Seven strings. You can get a Vader in 6, 7 or 8 strings in standard or baritone scale or multiscale. I selected 25.5″ 7-string because 7 feels right to me, and I tend to be most comfortable on 25.5″ 7-strings rather than longer scales because I like to think of the 7 as a 6-string with a few extra notes when I need them, rather than orienting the whole guitar design towards those lower few notes. And I went with standard instead of multiscale because my multiscale heart belongs to Ormsby Guitars. Heh.
* Tremolo. Because whammy bars is fun.
So what does one name an instrument like this, designed to evoke both natural beauty and a certain space-age aesthetic, and to hopefully serve as a catalyst for better things?
|Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Sargent Pepper recording session|
|Paul McCartney with 1967 Bassman|
We know that McCartney first used this amp in 1965 and continue to use it until 1967 in the recording studio.
After that Lennon and Harrison both put that Bassman to use. Lennon continued to use it in the studio on some of his solo work. This Fender Bassman was the 1964 6C6-B circuit and featured twin Utah 12” speakers. It was a similar circuit to the one used on in the same era Bandmaster.
|Beatles with Vox AC30's|
|1964 Vox AC30|
The Vox AC30 was a 30 watt class A amplifier, which technically speaking is very inefficient, because the power tubes are operating at full power. However class A is very pleasing to the ear and makes for a great performing amplifier.
The Vox AC30 had cathode biasing and no negative feedback loop. In my opinion the AC30 is one of the best amps ever made.
Despite the popularity of Vox amps in the U.K., the company was facing financial difficulties as early as 1964.
|Jennings and Denney|
Some of the former JMI employees cut a deal with the bank that held the assets and they were able to procure the Vox name. Vox equipment was then produced under the name Vox Sound Equipment until 1969 when yet another bankruptcy ensued.
|Vox Birch Stolec AC30|
But let’s back up to before 1967 when Sargent Pepper was being made. Even before that date, when the Beatles and other bands were touring, as early as 1964, the folks at Vox realized the AC30 at full volume was not going to cut through the screams of the female fans. So they investigated producing a larger version.
|Vox AC50 MKII|
They had already come up with the AC50 MKII that McCartney can be seen using in concerts. (He still uses this amp today.)
What they came up with was the Vox AC100 aka the Vox Super Deluxe. This was a a one channel amplifier that came with a large speaker unit, which contained four 12" Celestion speakers. It was Vox' answer to the Fender Dual Showman amplifier. The Beatles can be seen using this amp in concert footage.
Later in 1964 JMI reached an agreement with the Thomas Organ Company of the United State that they would be the sole US distributor for Vox. This may sound like an odd arrangement, if not for the fact the JMI was once known as the Jennings Organ Company. It may have been short-sighted of the former Jennings Organ Company to believe a US organ manufacturer would be a great vehicle to distribute Vox amplifiers. But during the guitar boon era, many companies were trying to get a piece of the pie.
|US made Vox Super Beatle|
This is how the US Vox Super Beatle and other US amplifiers came to be made by the Thomas Organ Company aka Vox US.
Dick Denney traveled to the USA in 1965 to visit the Thomas Organ/VOX US manufacturing facility to see their products first hand. He was impressed with their solid state amplifiers. This lead him to come up with his own solid state/tube hybrid versions.
The guitar amps that Denney designed were called the UL7 series and the bass versions were the UL4 series. UL was suggestive of Underwriters Laboratories, a group the put its approval on electronic merchandise.
The UL705 was a 5 watt amplifier,while the UL710, and UL715 produced 15 watts. Both had solid state preamps, with tube based power amplifier sections.
The power tube (or valve) selection of the UL730 included one ECC83 and a quartet of EL84 tubes. The ECC83 is actually a preamp tube, but was used as a phase inverter.
The UL730 was a two channel amplifier with two inputs per channel, a boost switch for each channel. Channel One featured volume, treble, middle, and bass potentiometers, and controls for tremolo speed and depth.
|Vox UL730 front panel|
The separate speaker cabinet was loaded with twin 12” Celestion speakers. Of course the amplifier featured the trolley.
|The Beatles session |
with the UL730
Vox manufactured only 100 units. This was not a popular amplifier since out of the 100 units sold, 76 units were returned. Some may have been defective, while others were exchanged for another amp of the era. The 76 units that were returned were said to have been destroyed.
The amplifier that was delivered to the Beatles included a promotional sticker inside of it that stated it was “Promotional Stock - Model No. 760 Amp A/C Current - Serial # 3020 - Artist The Beatles”.
It is said to have been in George Harrison's procession and was to be auctioned on 12/15/2011, but the seller withdrew the offer prior to the sale date.
|Vox single spring reverb|
To avoid this fee he and Denney came up with their own reverb design.
|McCartney using UL730|
During the albums creation, McCartney played his Rickenbacker 4001S bass through it on most of the songs. Although it is said that he employed the UL430 bass amp on Lucy In The Sky.
In addition to the Bassman and the Vox UL730, The Beatles utilized a 1967 Fender Showman amplifier that was in the studio.
|1967 Fender Showman|
It is also written that Paul McCartney used a Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MkII on Good Morning, Good Morning, which he may have used early in The Beatles career.
|Selmer Thunderbird Twin 50 MKII|
|1967 Vox Conqueror/Defiant|
Both channels featured volume, treble, and bass potentiomers and a boost switch. And both had two inputs.
|1967 Vox Conqueror |
top and front panel
The Vox Conqueror came with a modified trolley that contained the speaker unit only. The head stood on top of the speakers.
The Beatles also used two other Vox amplifiers; the 7120 and the 4120 bass amp, which they had used on the Revolver LP.
The 7120 was the most powerful amplifier that Vox had produced. This was another hybrid amp, with a solid state preamp section and a tube power amp section, which consisted of four KT88 power tubes and an EL84 and an ECL86 which acted as phase inverters. It was rated at 120 watts. It utilized one ECL86, one EL84, and a quartet of KT88’s. The amplifier had two channels.
Channel two featured two inputs, a boost switch, volume, treble, middle, and bass controls, and a reverb control.
The 7120 speaker cabinet had two 12” Celestion T 1225 speakers and two Goodman midax horns. The controls on the amplifier section were on the bottom of the amplifier head.
|McCartney with a Vox UL730, Harrison and Lennon with Vox Defiant amps|
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