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Thread: When Musicians' Amp Selections Make No Sense

  1. #1
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    When Musicians' Amp Selections Make No Sense

    Sometimes musicians make weird gear choices for the style of music they play. How can we explain it? I ran across these images while playing some background music on youtube. The gear selections struck me as very odd for the genre of music being played.

    wtf-1.pngwtf-3.png

    We know that manufacturers like to use musician endorsements to sell their gear. Sometimes these player endorsements make sense, but sometimes they don't.

    Can anyone identify these old farts? If you can, let me know if you think their amp selections make sense. Maybe these gear selections come from endorsement deals, maybe they don't. Maybe they're just strange gear selections, but for the sake of the thread let's assume that these iconic performers are using these amps because they have endorsement deals that cause them to use amps that I'd never imagine them using. Otherwise there's not much good reason for these guys to be playing these sorts of amps.

    Enzo, I changed the names on the image files so that you wouldn't have it too easy identifying the players.
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Right there on the guitar innit? "The Dentures"
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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    My guess is that those amps are supplied by a back line company and that's what they had. A lot of these guys aren't too picky about what they play through as long as it's "reasonable".

    Book 'em Danno!
    Last edited by The Dude; 09-07-2017 at 02:14 AM.
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  4. #4
    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    Well there is a Blonde Fender amp in the second photo. Too bad there isn't a blonde outboard reveb unit too. Those guys were a big factor in me wanting to play guitar but I never got my Mosrite even though they were made in the town where I grew up.
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    Tom, given the switch position, I think that's a Super-Sonic. Not quite a "Blonde Fender."

    I'm with The Dude on this. That, or it's all for show and they're really playing their pedal boards through the PA (blech). Or the Tweed Deluxe or whatever is right behind the big empty cabinet with a mic in front of it.

    Justin
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    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  6. #6
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I think the first record I ever bought was the 1958 Jennie Lee by Jan and Arnie (Arnie later replaced by Dean). MY second purchase was Walk Don't Run by the Ventures. (Also bought Duane Eddy with theme from Because They're Young, at the same time). That was 1960. Played on my little RCA Walt Disney record player. We didn't need no steenking MP3s.
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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Well, a lot of modern "music" is someone talking over MP3 samples, so poor resolution is of little consequence.
    Last edited by The Dude; 09-07-2017 at 04:25 AM.
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I think the first record I ever bought was the 1958 Jennie Lee by Jan and Arnie (Arnie later replaced by Dean). MY second purchase was Walk Don't Run by the Ventures. (Also bought Duane Eddy with theme from Because They're Young, at the same time). That was 1960. Played on my little RCA Walt Disney record player. We didn't need no steenking MP3s.
    First record I remember spinning was Burl Ives croaking "Jimmy Crack Corn." Must have been about 1956, and it was as lo-fi as you can get. Early influences... Maybe that's the reason I became a Captain Beefheart fan, heck I don't doubt the good Cap'n himself had a few listens to that one. LoFi can be fun! Not everything has to be perfect.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Got up this morning
    How do you recon all red and blue and green and HOO all through my head
    Licked a stamp, saw a movie, dropped a...stamp.


    Or something like that.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Yep. Remember the days when they used to mix and master for AM radio?
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    Yep. Remember the days when they used to mix and master for AM radio?
    You bet - the "AM fade" - pull down the master fader fast as the 3 minute mark approaches. Crush the mix with a limiter - hey those old tube limiters are big collector items now, studios luv 'em! The bigger and gnarlier the better.


  12. #12
    g1
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    Yep. Remember the days when they used to mix and master for AM radio?
    I imagine that's why they could kick so much (apparent) bass through a single little car speaker mid dash?
    Certified Dotard

  13. #13
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Ah, when I started in radio, I sat at one of these:
    459038d1427750420-best-classic-analog-console-rca-series-76b5.jpg
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  14. #14
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I was thinking more about the horrid audio bandwidth, but the over-compression was/is equally awful.
    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

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    I bought a Mesa Triple Rectifier a while back because I got it for cheap (later flipped it for nice profit). i was really surprised how great the clean tone was on it. On Ch.3 it would pretty much melt your face though.

  16. #16
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    First record I remember spinning was Burl Ives croaking "Jimmy Crack Corn." Must have been about 1956, and it was as lo-fi as you can get.
    I remember that one. The Blue-Tail Fly.

    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  17. #17
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Leo, just because those guys are playing Ventures-model Moserites... that doesn't necessarily make them The Ventures... does it?

    But you're right. I changed the filenames on the pics, but I never thought of covering up the markings on the guitars. I guess that was a dead giveaway.

    Considering that those guys were some of the great purveyors of clean surf tone in the 60s I was quite surprised to see them playing all through high gain amps. Marshall DSL multi-channel switchers, EVH Fenders with 4x12 and (you're right Justin) modern gainy Fenders in brownface clothing.

    Maybe it's the backline company giving something that does reasonable loud and clean... with a zillion unnecessary knobs. Maybe all the backline companies have are high gain amps. But it's hard to imagine a backline company that couldn't deliver a Twin Reverb. Maybe The Ventures do have endorsement deals. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. But either way I thought that it was odd to see the Ventures playing through "metal" amps.
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  18. #18
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glebert View Post
    I bought a Mesa Triple Rectifier a while back because I got it for cheap (later flipped it for nice profit). i was really surprised how great the clean tone was on it. On Ch.3 it would pretty much melt your face though.
    I think all of the big amp companies make a decent clean channel in their high gain amps just so they can cover that base. It's not too hard, they just bypass the gain stages. It's practically a no-cost option for them to add the clean channel.

    But does it sound the same? As in "Fendery"? I don't think so.

    I have played a lot of the Mesa high gain amps. I've owned one for about 20 years now. Strangely enough, they have a great reputation on the forums for Fendery clean tone.

    To be fair, I think that their reputation for "Fendery clean tone" comes from A/B comparisons where the user switches back to the clean channel from the second and third channels in the Mesa amps. If you do an A/B comparison between a Rectifier or a Mark IV/V and a Twin Reverb, people wouldn't be saying how Fendery the Mesas sound. To my ears they're WAY different. But then this is a fussy musician's subjective tone thing. It's not as if anyone in the audience would ever hear what we're talking about, or that most people would complain about it when listening on an MP3.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I thought that it was odd to see the Ventures playing through "metal" amps.
    Well, I thought it perfectly normal for Ted Nugent to be playing through 3 5150 full stacks a few years ago, until I noticed the little tweed amp sitting on a blue "school chair" with a mic in front of it. And it wasn't much wider than the seat of the chair, if at all... And that's when I learned just what old Fenders can do.

    Justin
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  20. #20
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Leo, just because those guys are playing Ventures-model Moserites... that doesn't necessarily make them The Ventures... does it?

    But you're right. I changed the filenames on the pics, but I never thought of covering up the markings on the guitars. I guess that was a dead giveaway.
    Aw heck, I'd recognize Nokie anywhere. Got to participate in some awards ceremony that included The Ventures, back in the mid 80's. Oddly enough David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) was also part of the talent lineup that day. I was so chuffed to meet 'em all, wasn't paying attention to the backline du jour. Maybe a couple Boogies, a Roland JC120 or two, and a Duncan Convertible.

    As for Burl, I remember him most for his best lines: "mendacity, MENDACITY!" in the film Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

    I have played a lot of the Mesa high gain amps. I've owned one for about 20 years now. Strangely enough, they have a great reputation on the forums for Fendery clean tone.

    To be fair, I think that their reputation for "Fendery clean tone" comes from A/B comparisons where the user switches back to the clean channel from the second and third channels in the Mesa amps. If you do an A/B comparison between a Rectifier or a Mark IV/V and a Twin Reverb, people wouldn't be saying how Fendery the Mesas sound. To my ears they're WAY different. But then this is a fussy musician's subjective tone thing.
    I hear it too, and I'm seldom satisfied with Mesa's "clean" tone. To the players who have them, and also aren't fans of their clean channels, I say Mesa is designing mostly for the metalheads & hard rockers, not so much for those looking for a good clean tone. Mostly I find them "boxy" sounding & noisy in clean mode. Might be OK for a quick song intro or 8 measure break, but that's about it. Some other brands suffer the same problem. Gimme a good ol' Fender any day, BF or SF, or one of their reissues, for clean guitar.
    Last edited by Leo_Gnardo; 09-07-2017 at 03:53 PM.

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    Come to think of it, going back the original thread title...

    Why the proliferation of metal amps in church worship settings? They never use them properly. Maybe in Taiwan, where they use thrash metal, but in the states? What a waste! On the rare occasions they leave the amps out front to begin with...

    Sorry, rant for the day.

    Justin
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    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  22. #22
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Why the proliferation of metal amps in church worship settings?
    Metal amps in worship settings? Where have you been worshiping? The Hotel California? The Church of Satan?
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  23. #23
    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Metal amps in worship settings? Where have you been worshiping? The Hotel California? The Church of Satan?
    AFAIK, Christian metal bands have been a thing for quite a while.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=chri...hrome&ie=UTF-8

  24. #24
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Metal amps in worship settings? Where have you been worshiping? The Hotel California? The Church of Satan?
    Yes I'm afraid that's the way it is in the modern day - lots of churches around here sport a rock band Sunday mornings instead of the ol' pipe organ. Not much band discipline, they mostly "speak in tongues" via their instruments & amps. I've been asked to come in and set their PA & monitor systems to rights, but there's not much point because as soon as I turn my back there's some house expert who will return the system to chaos, and nobody wants to pay for professional audio service especially with all those "experts" ready to hand. One evangelical church has an 8-way monitor mix, but not a single graphic EQ on any of their mixes. Old-school equipment, no digital mixer with handy built-in EQ's. "If we believe hard enough, God will stop the feedback." Right, that always works... The only one with any advantage - "Pastor" has one of those patented TV/Radio voices - he can really carry the room without any electronic help.

    There's also a "non-denominational" church a couple towns away, where the pastor - an old friend of mine - strolls around quietly strumming his Telecaster whilst delivering the weekly sermon. Wireless mic & wireless guitar setup too. Biggest problem for him is minimizing the typical single coil hum/buzz. Shielding only helps so much. He brings in a good paycheck but won't spring for stacked humbuckers, go figure. Would a lightning bolt strike him from above for such blasphemy?

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    Well then... no, my experience has been that they have the TOOLS to rock and then they don't. What a waste of great amps. That was my point - it might fly if they used Voxes or old Fenders.

    And yes, Christian Metal has been around, just not on Sunday.

    Either melt faces with all that gear, or go hack to the organ & choir. Which is actually my preference anyway.

    Justin
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  26. #26
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    Nope, just contemporary churches where they don't have a separate room to hide the amps in, so I can see them. Or, best case, they have a Dr. Z and then play it on 2 with a distortion pedal. Turn that shit UP.

    Justin
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  27. #27
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Why the proliferation of metal amps in church worship settings?
    "Praise God from whom all blessings flowwwwww......"
    Twang blang thumpa whumpa sqweeeeeeeeeeeeeee............
    "Praise Him all creatures here belowwwwww......"
    Ska-ranggggg rakka-rakka skubbidy dummmm......
    "Praise Him above, ye heavenly host..............."
    Skree-blawwww rumm-bumm gawhooooo.................
    "Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost"
    A-Whop-Bam-Boom bish bash ribbedy bap bap skrommedy-bomp bish BAM BOOOM!
    then, from the lead guitarist who doesn't know when to stop when the tune is over:
    Skweeeeee-weee-weee zippity zing biddleybipbipbipbipbippity squiddleydiddleydoodley whang-ga diddly-doodoodoo (for another 15 minutes or so) dingetydangetydoodleyeoodoodoodooditditdit dang deyeyeyeyoooooooooooooooo, KERRANG!!!!"

    Yes folks, that was our worship band, Plastic Jesus and the Dashboard Saints! Make sure you fill those donation trays with lots of cash and we'll have 'em back next week, and the week after that, and forever and ever more!

    Onward Christian Soldiers!
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  28. #28
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    I like the way you think, Leo. But you forgot the sweep arpeggios!

    Justin
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  29. #29
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    And the Palm Sunday mutes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    "Praise God from whom all blessings flowwwwww......"
    Twang blang thumpa whumpa sqweeeeeeeeeeeeeee............
    I was once invited to attend a certain church in Southern California, by a proud member of the congregation. The experience was a lot like a 3-ring circus: a huge raised stage with gigantic TVs everywhere, a huge projection screen or three, a loud rock band, a large choir of yowling sopranos, and four or five cameramen running around with large TV cameras on their shoulders and tripping over all the thick cables running everywhere on-stage, and down the aisles between the congregation.

    While all this ruckus was going on, the pastor spent most of his time congratulating himself, his church, praising a book he'd written (and which he was selling), and exhorting his congregation to all feel good about themselves. He also proudly announced that the church had booked a stadium for a few hours at a cost of $10,000 USD, so that all the congregation could all sit together and bask in their wonderfulness and superiority to everyone else.

    Between the noise, commotion, TV screens, and self-congratulatory messages, I have never been in a less spiritual place in my life.

    -Gnobuddy
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  31. #31
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnobuddy View Post
    I was once invited to attend a certain church in Southern California, by a proud member of the congregation. The experience was a lot like a 3-ring circus: a huge raised stage with gigantic TVs everywhere, a huge projection screen or three, a loud rock band, a large choir of yowling sopranos, and four or five cameramen running around with large TV cameras on their shoulders and tripping over all the thick cables running everywhere on-stage, and down the aisles between the congregation.

    While all this ruckus was going on, the pastor spent most of his time congratulating himself, his church, praising a book he'd written (and which he was selling), and exhorting his congregation to all feel good about themselves. He also proudly announced that the church had booked a stadium for a few hours at a cost of $10,000 USD, so that all the congregation could all sit together and bask in their wonderfulness and superiority to everyone else.

    Between the noise, commotion, TV screens, and self-congratulatory messages, I have never been in a less spiritual place in my life.

    -Gnobuddy
    Yep, in the USA we have some "TV churches", also a lot of "wannabee TV churches." Mostly the message is as you sense: "we're terrific (and obviously going to heaven) and the rest of you suck (and on your way to hell.) Now buy my book, only $29.95..."

    Some of those TV churches are way big biz with stadium size rooms holding 6000-7000 congregation, video production facilities, light & sound systems that would put pop stars to shame. Strangely, in Southern California one of the biggest and most popular hit the financial brick-wall and went flat out of business a couple years ago. Besides the on-site service, they broadcast the whole glitzy Hollywood production on national cable TV. Maybe it's the outfit you saw, check & see if they're still around.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    "we're terrific (and obviously going to heaven) and the rest of you suck (and on your way to hell.) Now buy my book, only $29.95..."
    That's a perfect description. You nailed it in two short sentences!

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    check & see if they're still around.
    Just checked, and yes, they still are.

    Sadly, I don't think there is a big shortage of people wanting to be told that they are terrific and better than everyone else. Not too surprisingly, most of those same people turn out to be filled with self-loathing, once you get to know them.

    There is also no shortage of wounded people who want to be abused and told they are worthless scum. The Church of Scientology and other abusive cults are all too eager to offer those people what they want, too.

    -Gnobuddy

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    Getting back on topic, the amps they are using are all capable of loud clean sound with reverb- perfect for their material.
    Probably provided by someone else as mentioned.

    Now if we could actually "hear" how they sound we could evaluate better.

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    A former work colleague gifted me with the guitar he used to play in his high-school band days. It is a virtually perfect copy of a Mosrite semi-acoustic; the same format that the current Danelectro '66 is modelled on, but with an accurate Bigsby repro, roller bridge, 'M' headstock, German carve, etc. The only thing not identical to the Ventures-era Mosrites is the inclusion of humbuckers, rather than P-90 style. I may change that. Interesting guitar. Tap the top - even beside the F-hole - and you'd swear it was a solid body. Tap the back and it sounds like it's fully hollow. Why? no centre block, but the top is about 1/2" thick, for rigidity, and the back is much thinner. Weird. Never seen an actual Mosrite semi-hollow so I don't know if they lack the centre block too.

    RG Keen graciously gifted me with a PCB and documentation to build a 700-series Vox solid-state preamp. It's 95% stuffed. I hope to house it with a decent long-spring reverb, and mate it to a clean power amp. I'm looking forward to getting those 60's sounds, when the guitar meets a 60's era pre-amp.

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