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.)]
For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been sucked in by the convenience of amp modelling. Being able to plug and play on headphones at any time of day is very appealing when you can’t always find the time to set up a rig, or aren’t able to do so at a neighbourhood-friendly hour!
Anyway, earlier this week I decided to set up a ‘weekend rig’ (a ‘Sunday sports car’-type arrangement), and I’ve spent a very pleasant, very lazy afternoon doing some recording. Nothing particularly inspiring music-wise, unfortunately, but I was for the umpteenth time blown away by my Mark I Boogie. This thing records so effortlessly. Seriously, all you have to do is stick a mic in front of it, and that classic, super-thick tone is just there straight away.
Even though the music-assembly wasn’t going so well, I did bounce out a very little sample of the Mark I, which you can hear on Soundcloud. Great fun!
(Telecaster -> Keeley TS808 -> Mark I MESA/Boogie 15″ -> AKG C1000S -> Logic Pro)
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.
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).
For sale: 1970s Fender Princeton. Silverface model, non-reverb.
12W output, new pair of JJ 6V6s last year, original speaker, tube rectifier, and tremolo.
Totally boss sounding amp, clean all the way up the dial, and takes pedals beautifully. This amp runs at US 110V, and has a step down transformer mounted in the cabinet. It’s in superb condition for its vintage, with only a couple of scuffs on the tolex – a great looking amp.
£650 ono. Enquiries to [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures!
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!
Roland JC-50 Jazz Chorus amp. This is a 50W 1×12 version of the JC-120 amp, and is much, much more portable.
Amazing sounding clean amp, beautiful reverb and legendary in built chorus sound.
£225 – email [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures!
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!
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!
I’m having a clear out of my gear – a real big clear out. Since selling my Dumble clone a few weeks ago, I’ve been acutely aware that all of this stuff is replaceable, and that keeping around a few grand’s worth of top notch gear and not giving it the play time it deserves is not really the best way to go. So I’m selling up the whole lot (with the exception of the 1977 15″ Mark I combo, which is definitely not replaceable) and moving to a ‘rolling’ gear strategy.
I’m determined to stay off of eBay, so please email [redacted] No longer for sale, enjoy the pictures! if you’re interested in anything listed.