Posts Tagged ‘Fender’

Tones :: Tele / Quadraverb / SDE-3000

New Old Gear :: BOSS TW-1 T-Wah

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The BOSS TW-1 T-Wah (a.k.a. the Touch Wah on the earliest versions) is my latest guitar toy. I’ve wanted an auto-filter for ages, mainly for playing Inca Roads and other FZ mid-70s vibes, and remembered that Larry Carlton used the TW-1 for a while in the 80s. (Having since revisited the clip where he shows the TW-1 on his board, he actually says he uses it every two years, and not to buy one, which is exactly the kind of perverted recommendation/warning  that I like.)

I paid £55 for it on eBay, which I think is a pretty good deal for a MIJ BOSS pedal from Roland’s golden era (roughly 1978-85 in my estimation).

Powering vintage BOSS pedals

One slight annoyance about this and other old BOSS pedals is that they don’t use a standard PSA-type power supply. Apparently, the idea behind the power supply design was for you to daisy chain several pedals, so they are designed for an unregulated 12V input, and then step down the voltage internally so that there is plenty of juice for all the other pedals. So the pedal runs at 9V internally, has a connector for a 9V battery, but needs a 12V input.

If you plug in a 9V supply (as I have tried), you get a dim LED and the pedal doesn’t function quite fully as you’d like. After all, the 9V input is then running through the same stepdown circuit that was intended for the 12V input.

Elsewhere on the web it is stated that if you daisychain the pedal with other BOSS gear then you can use a normal 9V input as having a common ground will bypass the stepdown. I have tried this out and it is not true – I used the output from a TU-2 and the pedal behaved the same as if you plug a normal 9V input in. (Perhaps the output of the TU-2 is isolated from the input and the GND is not shared, therefore the stepdown is still engaged?)

Ultimately I connected the pedal to a 12V tap on my T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon and normal operation was restored (although there’s something wrong-feeling about plugging a BOSS pedal into a 12V supply).

Sounds

I’ve really enjoyed playing this pedal so far. I got it for playing leads à la Inca Roads, which it does very nicely, but have also found it to perform well for rhythm parts as well (and not just the furious-right-hand-funk people always demonstrate with this type of pedal).

Because the filter is triggered by attack, you can keep it closed by using the volume control on your guitar, which can act as a proxy for the peak control. This reduces the amount of gain you have, of course.

One cool effect I found is hitting a chord with the volume on your guitar set low (so as not to open the filter), and then rolling the volume slowly up to full. As the volume increases, the filter doesn’t open but the gain increases – because the filter is still closed it’s like rolling in a very deep, menacing texture. Something akin to the volume swells early on in Forty-Six and Two, but darker.

There is a big difference in the behaviour of the pedal with active pickups, and I imagine the same would be true of humbuckers.

The down/up switch on the pedal is a nice feature, but the ‘down’ setting sounds strange to my ears (and not in a good way). The settings I have fixed on are ‘up’, and both ‘peak’ and ‘sens’ set to 12:00.

Conclusion

Like Larry Carlton says, you’re not going to use this pedal all the time, but I have found myself reaching for it much more than I thought I would. Because it is an inherently dynamic effect, it forces you to play as such, controlling the filter with your picking. This is the best kind of practise: the kind you don’t realise you’re doing (i.e. the not completely life-suckingly dull version).

In the negative column, it’s very much not true-bypass, and having it in the signal chain sucks tone on par with older Electro-Harmonix gear, which is not something I normally expect from BOSS, even their non-true-bypass pedals. (To be clear, this is not a pedal geek allergy to anything that’s not true-bypass – it’s a real deal problem.)

In summary, the TW-1 is a vintage pedal that sounds good, unlocks some cool new playing techniques, and makes you think more carefully about pick dynamics. With that, and the fact that it’s not wildly more expensive than a new DS-1, I can forgive the power supply idiosyncrasies and tone suck. If you see one for cheap and fancy something a bit different, go nuts.

Sold :: Fender Deluxe Reverb

Fender Deluxe Reverb Amp – £685

I’ve owned this amp from new, bought 2 years ago. I’ve just purchased a vintage Mesa/Boogie and can only afford to keep one amplifier, which sadly forces the sale of this great piece of gear.

2 channel amp, channel one (‘normal’) is slightly darker sounding, channel 2 (‘vibrato’) is slightly brighter and has the beautiful tremolo and classic Fender spring reverb that this amp is so well known for.

This is the best clean amp ever made – in my opinion superior to the Twin Reverb. The 6V6 output tubes are much more touch sensitive, which makes this a perfect partner for a good quality drive pedal (I’ve been using a Keeley Tubescreamer and it sounds incredible).

Amp is in perfect condition, home use only and never gigged. Always used with a Furman power conditioner and very well looked after. Comes in the original Fender box, and is supplied with original tremolo / reverb footswitch.

If you’re interested, please leave a comment, or email forsale@zeblog.co for more info – the amp is located in London.

For Sale :: RJM Mini Effect Gizmo, MasterMind

I’m rebuilding my guitar rig (again) so moving on a few bits from the current setup. RJM no longer have a UK distributor, which makes their products impossible to find over here now. These units are both in perfect / as-new condition and function flawlessly. Items are located in London, shipping can be arranged at buyer’s expense. There may be some discount available if you want to take both units. Leave a comment, or email forsale@zeblog.co

 

RJM Mini Effect Gizmo – £200
Perfect condition, never gigged, home use only. 2x inputs (buffered / normal), 2x outputs (click stopper / normal), 5x FX loops, 5x programmable patches. No setup required for use with the MasterMind – just plug in and start creating patches.


RJM MasterMind Midi Controller – £180
Perfect condition, never gigged, home use only. Supplied with an RJM powered MIDI cable, which supplies power to the unit as well, so no need for running miles of extra cabling or extra power adapters. Comes in original box.

Guitar :: A Wild Telecaster Appears

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It’s super effective, and looking great in between its new siblings.

I’ve been after a project guitar for months and months, and I’ve finally got one. On Denmark street a couple of Saturdays ago, I looked at a bunch of Squiers and entry level Mex Teles on my fairly half-arsed search for a modder, and came away uninspired. It seemed a bit dumb to buy something too ‘nice’, a USA model of some sort, and then start upgrading, but equally so to get a cheap base guitar and stuff it with expensive bits. When I wandered in to the relatively new No.Tom — which has taken the place of Vintage & Rare, has a much better *real world* selection, and much nicer staff — I saw the answer.

The Baja Telecaster is a Mexican-made model which entered production a few years ago, and is widely (apparently universally) acclaimed as being ‘one-of-those’…a great guitar that defies expectations associated with instruments of its provenance (think Squier JV). The neck has a 50s-style profile, fatter than my other pair, with a good feel; the body is a heavy piece of ash (same as the others). It’s a quality feeling instrument for sure, and comes with a pair of custom shop pickups, overall making for a great base on which to build my custom creation. (It was a weird process, buying something for its potential rather than its existing features. All that was of concern was the feel of the neck and body, and it handily ticked both of those boxes.)

Any negatives are now items on the shopping list, and good as this guitar is, there are quite a few items for attention. I have a few improvements to start with (some of which are fixes for questionable Fender Mexico QA), and then it’s going to be a test bed for all manner of ideas.

As I type, it’s in the shop having the existing nut (plastic, slightly angled, machine cut) replaced for a higher quality bone nut, and being set up for 10s. The next changes will be removing the tone pot, face-mounting the jack socket (both standard mods I have carried out on my other guitars), replacing the volume pot for a 500kΩ (for more top) or just a better quality 250kΩ, removing the S1 switching and chucking the 4-way switch for a 3- or, if I can find it, 2-way switch.

But that’s just going to be for starters. It might be sporting a Bigsby next week, and maybe an active pickup or two…or three? I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this one takes me.

Live ::

My streaming plans have so far been a non-show – so in order to get things kick-started, I’ve actually set up a Ustream channel (here). To start with, I’ll be broadcasting my laptop, pointed at my amp. I will be recording these for my own amusement, and personal improvement (is my timing really that bad), and in the spirit of the Internet, all are welcome to join.

Guitar :: Cable Myths, Cable Facts

This is a post I would have been very interested in reading 18 months ago when I was putting together my current rig, and is a lesson in why ‘better’ is not always ‘best’.

The rig in question is built around a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, with a Keeley TS808+, xotic BB Preamp, Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Cry Baby, and a fancy RJM switching system, because coming from 10 years of Mesa/Boogie Mark IV I just couldn’t deal with learning to tap dance. One of the big treats that I gave myself (other than a whole new rig) was an Evidence Audio Lyric HG cable, a solid-core, very high end, and very expensive cable. Buying a high end cable is an effort to maximise the tonal bandwidth between the guitar and the amplifier by minimising the loss of signal at this crucial stage in the chain. The Lyric HG is an incredible cable, and performs this task absolutely flawlessly. The difference between the Lyric and the merely very good Van Damme that it replaced is dramatic – and if that’s what you’re after then I cannot recommend the product highly enough.

In addition to the Lyric, the RJM Effect Gizmo has a buffered input, which means that anything past that jack isn’t going to lose any signal no matter how long the cable run – what goes in the front stays true into the front end of your amp, which is nice when you’ve got pedals racked up and not necessarily right next to the amplifier. So where’s the beef? A perfect reproduction of your guitar’s tone through the Lyric, and preserved into the front end by the buffer on the RJM…can’t complain, right?

This is where too good comes into the equation. There’s so much top coming off the Telecaster, and through the Lyric it isn’t going anywhere but into the front end of the pedalboard. With so much tonal bandwidth coming from the guitar, super-high-order overtones don’t get lost like they do with a merely mortal cable, and with some distortion chucked in the mix it adds a distinct metallic ‘squink’ on the top end. Yuck.

So this week I decided so mix some stuff up, and learned a very important lesson about ‘the best’, and how doing it ‘wrong’ is sometimes the right way to go. I stuck the Cry Baby out front, and used the standard input instead of the buffer. The tone – rounded out on the top, still really pronounced in the middle…a touch less bottom, but a serious step in a very tasty direction.

Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan had the same idea, using Radio Shack guitar cables with his mega-bucks Dumbles, vintage Vibroverbs, and Marshalls. Of course, with a dark rig and humbuckers it might be a very different story, but if you’re in the Telecaster business, you might be well advised to save your cash – and improve your tone.

Jamming ::

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I went for a jam this evening for the first time in I truly, honestly cannot remember how long. We occasionally played the Doors, or Miles Davis, or the Rolling Stones, or Rage Against the Machine or others, but mostly just noodled, picked up a groove, and ran with it. It’s pretty crazy how much fun you can have playing the same chord for a quarter of an hour. It is to my great shame that I have neglected to play music with others since leaving college…and it’s something that needs to be redressed.

[Gear wise, the BFDR and TS808 get exponentially richer and more touch sensitive with higher volume. Two dirt pedals, Fender amp, Telecaster…the simple rig is pulling me back in! (Albeit a simple rig with MIDI switching and conditioned power.)]

 

 

Guitar :: Fixing the Telecaster Jack

For me, the Telecaster might just be the best designed anything, ever – the two-pickup configuration, the slab body, inline-6 tuners on the headstock, three-way switch, and a pair of pots on the control plate have remained constant for more than six decades. It’s simple, it’s functional, and it’s beautiful, and that ticks all of the boxes I care about when it comes to products that I want to use every day. The Stratocaster comes close, but it’s just too fancy; as an instrument and as a product, the Tele is number one. With that in mind, I present the following alterations to the Telecaster not necessarily as ‘improvements’, but as ‘customisations’ that make a great instrument – for me, at least – better.

The Jack Solution

A problem I’ve found with the Telecaster is the loosening over time of the jack socket, probably one of the most annoying things that can happen to your guitar. This started happening to my white Tele a few years ago, and is an issue which has more recently afflicted my butterscotch US deluxe – as an aside, the fit and finish on the US deluxe instruments is clearly superior, in my experience, to the US standard, so I was a bit surprised to see it succumb to the loose jack problem.

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Gear :: New Rig Build

And so, the result of many weeks of research and furious eBay selling has arrived in the form of my new rig. Having played master volume Mesa/Boogie amps for the past decade, I’ve never really explored the world of pedals and single-channel amps. Well, that all began to change a little earlier this year, when I purchased the Xotic Effects BB Preamp. Hooking the BB between a Telecaster and my (recently departed) silverface Princeton was a simple, dynamic, and totally badass little rig; pure rock n roll. After a couple of months with that rig, it dawned on me that single-channel + pedals might just be the ticket. I set about designing such a setup, and selling my collection of amps, pedals, and guitars to raise some funds.

Well, five amps, four pedals, two guitars and a drum kit later, my new rig is here. And yes, it rocks.

My aim for this rig has been to get away from the more hi-fi, boutique-y tones I’ve had in the past, and to capture some rock ‘n’ roll grit – AC/DC, Led Zep, Neil Young, SRV – ‘authentic’ guitar tones. The Boogie amps I’ve used in the past are really, really amazing sounding if you play a Strat, or something with humbuckers…with the Telecaster, though, there’s always been something missing. This rig is totally designed for the Tele, switching hi-fi sterility for something a bit more loose and rocking, much more suited to my axe of choice.

Of course, I took a ton of pictures during the build, and there’s a big gallery below. There’s room for another couple of pedals in the rack, and I look forward to experimenting further (the excellent Rothwell Love Squeeze compressor has already taken a turn in front, and is headed for eBay).

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