Posted by: kubiakl | June 16, 2011

A Long Strange Trip

It’s pretty cliche, but true – some things are a journey, not a destination.  Good tone is one of them.

It’s not a matter of finding a sound, it’s a matter of always searching for a better sound.  May sound weird to people who don’t play guitar but there is always another amp, or pedal, or pickups, or whole guitar, to try.  So many factors are in the tone chain (even if you play a simple acoustic guitar you have strings, pick, woods, nut, saddle, bridge pins, etc.) that it’s impossible to stop tweaking your setup.

What spurred this thought?  Married Man sent me a video where George Harrison talked about his love of the Fender Stratocaster.

See, Married Man has been dreaming of the Gretsch/Vox setup that George had in the early days, but Harrison talked about how they played whatever they could get.

I responded with a long e-mail, but to sum up:  the British Invasion kids wanted to sound like Muddy Waters at first, because that’s what they started off listening to, but didn’t have access to the same gear (Fender Telecaster through Fender amps).  Whereas Married Man wanted that Gretsch/Vox jangle, because that’s what he started off listening to.

Most of us start off with gear that approximates what our influences used.  Then as we grow into our own we change things.  I started off with a maple neck Fender Strat, because that’s what I had seen Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray use (I didn’t know about rosewood necks until later).  The reason I built a Tele?  Keith Richards.

And I can guarantee you I don’t sound like those guys.  And when Married Man does own that Gretsch 5122 and Vox AC15?  He won’t sound like George.  But he’ll have a solid building block towards crafting his own sound.

I’ve played a few of the Gretsch 5120s and they are incredible guitars.  I think they’ll be well suited for his playing style – they have an acoustic feel with an electric tone.  He said the other day that he prefers playing acoustic.

Speaking of tone – I’m pretty happy with mine at the moment.  My Blues Junior has new preamp tubes and I replaced the Mullard EL84s that had gone bad (there was popping and hum) with some Groove Tubes EL84s.  I didn’t order from Doug this time because I wanted the problem fixed NOW, so I took whatever they had at Guitar Center.

With my Guyatone Micro OD, MJM London Fuzz, and Fulltone OCD, I can get a pretty good range of sounds through either amp.

My next tweak could be retubing the Jet City 2112RC.  I’d like to bring out the reverb and some have said tube changes help.  Or it could be another type of pedal – I’m good on overdrives, but might look for a wah or echo/delay.

Just another step on the road to good tone.

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