Posts Tagged ‘Boogie’

New Old Gear :: Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+

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Finally, after years of Boogie ownership, experiments with Fender amps, boutique pedals, and a Dumble clone, the real deal has landed. The amp is a 1983 IIC, upgraded to a C+ in 2011 (along with fresh filter caps, new tubes, and a service by Mike B). I have paired it with what looks to be a 2000s compact Thiele cabinet, with the C90 swapped out for an EVM12L.

Before writing about or recording the amp I want to spend more time experimenting, trying different cabs, FX, and guitars. But after a week of ownership I’m still giddy – I have yet to find something it doesn’t excel at. Some notes – it’s got the killer lead of the IIB with just enough of the refinement of the IV (it’s actually borderline magic); the clean is (dare I say it) punchier and fuller than my Deluxe Reverb; it takes pedals (dare I say it) better than the Deluxe; it’s totally silent in operation and switching channels; it sounds incredible even at low volume…

I could go on, and I will, but for now it’s time to bask.

New Gear :: Chicken Picks

Chicken Picks

There are tons of articles online and in magazines about the unexpectedly pronounced tonal revelation that occurs when switching picks, and how marked the change in your sound can be by simply switching to a different shape or weight or material. Tonal transformation for 50p. It’s a point that’s been made many times, which does nothing to dilute its legitimacy – changing your pick really is an easy win if you’re looking to change your tone for next to no cash.

So this could be another one of those ‘OMG new pick, total tonal epiphany’ posts, but there’s already plenty of those around, and I actually think it’s a little bit deeper than that.

The pick in question is the Chicken Pick, which just came into stock at Strings Direct. I ordered a ‘tester pack’, which is a tenner, and comes with one each of the 2.6mm and 2.2mm thicknesses. First of all, it’s a great pick, very nicely made, and comfortable to hold. The thickness of the pick belies the ease with which it sits in your hands – I normally find thick picks to be a bit unwieldy, and my previous squeeze, the Dunlop Nylon 1MM, was the thickest pick I found comfortable until now. And it improves your tone as well, which is an important thing to mention in the field of plectrum hagiography.

I was thinking about recording a couple of comparison audio clips for this post, which is when the actual difference between this and other picks dawned on me – I’m actually playing better. It reminds me of the review excerpt touted by Mesa/Boogie on the advertising literature for the Mark IV:

“You know how a great instrument can make you play over your head? The Mark IV gave us this transcendental experience.” Andy Ellis – Guitar Player – May 1991

It’s the same deal. With a thicker pick, like this one, you really have to step up to keep it under control. If you try and play with limp fingers, you get nothing out of it – zero forgiveness. But in the same way as playing thicker strings makes things a bit more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding, the Chicken Pick repays the extra effort required in buckets. I’ve always known the guitar sounds better when you’re really trying, and hitting the strings at full force (literally the first lesson on my first day of music college), but for whatever reason it’s easy to get lazy when you’re playing, which is something I am regularly and supremely guilty of.

The Chicken Pick  is fundamentally incompatible with lazy playing, and for that reason it has already shifted itself to be my regular pick.

TL; DR – the advantage is 20% pick, 80% psychological. It perversely plays to weaknesses rather than strengths, and is all the better for it. I’m hooked.

For Sale :: 1981 Mesa/Boogie Mark IIB

For sale here is my 1981 Mark IIB combo amp. The amp is HRGX spec – 100W, reverb, graphic EQ, with the voltage-switchable export transformer – and is finished in cream tolex. Aside from the reverb knob missing from the back panel of the amp, it’s in beautiful condition.

A truly awesome sounding amp, a shame to see it go.

Comes with a flight case and footswitch.

Enquiries to [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures!

£900 ono

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For Sale :: Mesa/Boogie 1×12 Cabinet

Mesa/Boogie 1×12 cabinet with an EVM12L speaker. Comes with the original slip cover.

There is a (very) slight tear in the grille cloth, and I’ve connected a 1.5m cable directly to the speaker as the jack socket got to be a bit loose (this does not affect the performance of the cab in any way).

Other than that, it’s in great condition, and is an awesome sounding cabinet.

£200 ono, email [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures!

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For Sale :: Mesa/Boogie Mark IV B

Mesa/Boogie Mark IV 1×12 combo. Awesome amplifier with more features than almost anything else out there; supremely versatile, and exquisitely built. Electro-Voice EVM12L speaker.

I’ve had this amp for the best part of 10 years, and it’s in beautiful condition. Comes with the FU-3 foot switch and original slip cover.

£1050 ono. Email [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures!

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Tubes :: Welcome to Tube Town

Absolutely love this graphic from Randall Smith’s latest blog post over at Mesa/Boogie Amplitudes

 

New Pedal :: xotic BB Preamp

I visited Regent Sounds Studio in Denmark Street earlier this week to test out a few pedals and was totally blown away by the BB Preamp by xotic effects, USA.

Testing with a Telecaster, and straight into the front of a Fender Princeton reissue, I was originally comparing the xotic AC Booster and Wampler Paisley Drive. I loved the tone of the Paisley in a YouTube clip I’d watched the night before, and was particularly excited because that clip had been recorded with a Tele and a ’70s SF Princeton (just like mine). When it came to testing it out ‘in the flesh’, however, the xotic pedals came up trumps. One of my highest priorities in choosing this stompbox was transparency, and it’s perfectly possible to set the AC and the BB where you just won’t notice they’re on. The Wampler, on the other hand, had a bit of an EQ agenda. I’m sure it’s a really, really clear pedal, and it definitely has a great drive sound…but man, next to the xotic boxes it was way, way too colourful.

When it came to deciding between the AC and the BB it was a pretty tough choice, but the BB, with more drive on tap, just seems a bit more flexible. So far I’ve been enjoying it into the front of my Princeton, but the rig in the picture above is waiting to be experimented with. This thing is a total chameleon, so if I get some time I’d love to do a video of it with a few different amps. For now, it’ll be rocking in conjunction with my 1981 Mark IIB and ’09 Deluxe Telecaster.

 

Tone :: Telecaster / Overtone Special

Over the past dozen weeks or so, the Mark IIB Boogie has sidelined the rest of my gear, taking centre stage in almost all the rigs I’ve been playing with. Unfortunately, that amp has an intermittent problem with the channel switching relay which I have yet to rectify, and I was forced to bench it the other day when the problem returned.

One amp I haven’t played too much in a few months is my Ceriatone Overtone Special 50 (a 50W Dumble Overdrive Special clone), so I broke out an EVM12L-loaded Mesa/Boogie 1×12 cabinet and decided to give the OTS a go.

And I was super disappointed. All the settings I tried were pretty much failing. Of course, I blamed the strings, the room, the cables…but my Mark series amps were still sounding sweet in the same setting. I was getting pretty frustrated with myself at this point – why was it so difficult to set this thing up?

I asked myself:

‘Why did I buy this amp?’

And therein lay the answer: Larry Carlton.

I play in a very different style to Larry (and a very different guitar, too), but his tone is something I’ve admired for as long as I’ve played the guitar. If anyone has a decent bank of settings for a Dumble it’s going to be him.

A friend of mine actually went to see Larry when he did a gig with Robben Ford in London a few years ago, and had taken a few pictures of his Dumble rig. I knew they’d have the settings I was after, so I headed straight for Facebook (the, err, home of tone?!).

I punched Larry’s settings into the OTS and…yeah, I was totally right – he nailed it. This sound kind of begs for a bit (or a lot!) of spatial FX, so I stuck a BOSS DD-3 in the loop and I was away!

So enamoured was I with these new settings that I made a short clip of some very lonely lead playing so I’d remember. The playing is kind of inspired by Yo’ Mama, but there’s no backing.

That clip (including many, many mistakes – but great sounding mistakes, I guess) is embedded up top, along with the settings I used in the picture below. (You might have to right-click-> ‘Open Image in New Tab’ to view the large picture.)

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iPhone 4S Camera :: 1981 MESA/Boogie Mark IIB

It struck me while I was playing today how awesome the Mark II looks, sitting on top of a 1×12 EV loaded extension cab and pumping out just the best tone. This thing really delivers. Anyway, as I’ve had the 4S for a couple of weeks now I decided to have a go at taking some more decent pictures of the Boogie. Bottom line: I’m really starting to enjoy the camera on this phone.

The parallels between MESA/Boogie and Apple are pretty clear to me – the beautiful hardware, the build quality and unparalleled functionality. While I’m certain I won’t be using the 4S in 30 years time, at this moment in time is seems like a nice pairing of camera and subject.

More pictures below

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Best Rig Ever…

Could well be. I’d love to build this out with a couple of 1×15 extension cabinets, a power conditioner and remote switching.

I think this just might be the best rig I’ve ever built. The distortion of the Mark I is so thick and full, and the 15″ speaker handles the bottom end beautifully. At the other end of the spectrum, the OTS has so much high-order harmonic content and clarity. The Electrovoice EVM12L in my late-80s MESA/Boogie 1×12 cabinet is one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard, with all the usual punch you’d expect from an EV but with the top end wonderfully rounded off through years of gigging. Running the OTS through that cabinet is a perfect match – the speaker takes care of the harsher top end and leaves a tone that’s round and full all the way up the frequency spectrum.

You don’t need to worry about the bottom end when the Mark I is in town, so I paired these amps with my favourite Telecaster. This guitar seems to emphasise just the right frequencies to make this rig come alive; it’s the ballsiest Tele tone I’ve ever heard. Recordings, video etc… to come.

Fender Telecaster –> Startouch A/B/Y –>
A: 1977 MESA/Boogie Mark I, 15″ combo    
B: Ceriatone OTS-50 (Dumble Overdrive Special clone) –> MESA/Boogie EVM12L 1×12 cab