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).
Even though I’ve had the xotic BB Preamp for a couple of months now, I’m pretty sure I haven’t played it with my white Telecaster before yesterday afternoon. The tone was, I think, pretty tight, and even with a relatively lo-fi audio recording I think you can still hear how just how clear and transparent the BB is, with the full tone of the guitar shining through. I’d love to get a TS808 set with a super thick, lower gain tone, and stack it with the BB in this rig for a big lead tone.
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.