My Gear - In case you care
Submitted by Dinosaur David B on Wed, 09/19/2012 - 07:24
I have owned several guitars over the years, but the only one I've had for ages (aside form the basses shown at the bottom of this page) is my 1954 Gibson Les Paul Standard. A guitar with a weird history. This was originally a gold top with a stop tailpiece and P90s, but someone made it into a "Standard" sunburst in the late 60s modified with tune-o-matic bridge and PAFs. Though it doesn't really come across in these photos, in person, this guitar looks a lot like Jimmy Page's Paul in The Song Remains the Same. It actually has a more subtle fade than these pictures suggest. The pickups were done by Larry DiMarzio himself. He took one real (non reissue) PAF from a 1960 ES-335, split it in two, and hand wound another coil to match each half. These pickups sound amazing. This guitar kicked around Aerosmith for a while. It belonged to Brad Whitford and then Jimmy Crespo (Perry's brief replacement) From there it went to some guy who sold it to my player/teacher friend who sold it to my college roommate who sold it to me back around '84. When I got a hold of it, my guitar tech/guru re-did the fingerboard to fix a bad fretscale problem. It had places that were off by 12-15 thousandths of an inch (which is actually a lot) — since it wasn't Mint anyway, I had him replace the fingerboard. And frankly, I've gotten spoiled by having a perfect fretscale on my Paul. It's always in tune everywhere on the neck. In the process, he redid the trapezoid inlays so they look much cleaner and nicer than the standard Gibson inlay job. They're far more even, and there's no gap filler around the edges. They look completely stock at a glance, but up close, they have the quality of custom inlay work. And while he was in there, he ballasted the neck with about 1 lb of lead weights that add resonance and sustain. But it's a heavier guitar now — around 10 lbs. But the combination of the old rainforest mahogany, the PAFs and the ballasted neck make this one of the best sounding Pauls I've ever heard — and I've heard a lot. It sounds so good that I can get away with light strings (9 to 36) and still have plenty of beef in the sound coming out of the guitar. This guitar sounds a lot like Gary Moore's 59 Les Paul on Still got the Blues. A great crunch for rhythm and that smooth, thick creamy lead tone. Top
In my opinion, there are very few Dinosaur Rock players that get a good tone with a stock single-coil equiped Strat. There are very few Strat tones that actually appealed to me, which is why I never had one. But there are a few: Gary Moore in the early 80s, Jeff Beck, and of course, Ritchie Blackmore. I started wanting to get some of those tones. So after 12 years on just the Les Paul, I decided I wanted to build a Strat. One tone I was particularly impressed with was Blackmore's live tone on the Rainbow Live Between the Eyes video. He used the 1974 Strat shown above, and he used that Strat throughout the 80s. During that period the guitar had Semour Duncan Quarter Pounders in it. Since I always loved the sound of that guitar, I decided to base my Strat on Blackmore's Rainbow-era Strat. I didn't go for an exact replica — there are some differences specific to my needs, but I tried to capture the spirit of that guitar, as well as those tones. I nailed both. In some respects, I know I came closer than Fender did with it's Blackmore Signature Strat.
It's a southern swamp ash body from Warmouth that's right around 4 lbs. Standard Strat top route. Vintage, stamped-steel style tremolo, Darvan (graphite-like but tougher) nut. Duncan pickups: Quarter Pounders in the bridge and neck, Vintage flat in the middle.
The neck is from Musikraft — they have more options than Warmouth. 21 fret, thick profile, quartersawn maple neck, big CBS headstock, truss rod adjusts at the headstock. The fingerboard was custom made by my luthier guru. It is real lively piece of Brazilian rosewood, and has a compound radius (no scalloping). Gotoh Kluson style keys. This guitar sounds fantastic. Even acoustically, it sustains and resonates extremely well. The thick profile neck, big headstock, and low-mass steel bridge all keep this guitar from getting too trebly. Plugged in, it gets a very fat sound not typical of most Strats. On most Strats, when you hit the note, the note drops out quickly. Not on this guitar. The note remains as long as you hold the note. There's plenty of definition and clarity in the highs, they just don't get harsh. This is definitely a ROCK guitar. I was looking to get those old Purple/Rainbow tones, plus some Gary Moore/Jeff Beck strat tones — these are the strat tones I like best. I'm really nailing all of those tones pretty close with the Bogner Shiva. Without changing the amp from my standard Les Paul settings, this guitar sounds a lot like Gary Moore's thick Strat tones during the Corridors of Power/Victims of the Future era. If I roll back the gain a bit, I'm in Blackmore territory. And since it's based on Blackmore's Strat, I call it the Blackmocaster. See the headstock picture.
That's Ritchie's little face on the headstock. It's really subtle and from straight on, you hardly notice it. But at certain angles, he pops out and scowls at you. Top
For those of you who don't know, Wolf Hoffmann was the lead guitarist in the German 80s metal band Accept. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who appreciated that band's thunderous, ballsy, riff-based melodic metal. Accept packed the sonic wallop of Dinosaur driving a panzer tank! They became and have remained my favorite Metal band. The main reason is because Wolf Hoffmann's guitar playing has all of elements I love in a Dinosaur Rock guitar player. I'd describe him as sort of a cross between the Tony Iommi and Michael Schenker. Like Iommi, great metal riffs flow out of Hoffmann like water from a hydrant. Hoffmann's riffs are not only crunchy and heavy as hell, but are also extremely melodic. His lead style has a lot of that same Aeolian minor, German flavor Schenker's has. So in case you haven't figured it out by now, Wolf Hoffmann is one of my very favorite players, and a guy who's been a big influence on my own guitar style. When I had an opportunity to acquire some of his equipment though Ebay, all of my rules about gear acquisition went right out the window! But hell. How often do you get a chance to buy the gear off one of your heros? Top
Rule #1: Don't buy guitars sight-unseen without playing and hearing them. Generally speaking, this is a real good rule to live by. I justified breaking it with the following reasons:
Since Hoffmann and Schenker are two of my favorite players, I've always figured I'd have a white Flying V at somepoint. I had actually been drooling over this guitar since I first saw it several years ago on the cover of Hoffmann's solo CD, Classical. I liked it so much that I contacted several Hamer dealers trying to find out if it was a production model guitar. It is not. This is the only one there is. When it came up for auction on Ebay, I jumped at it!
Here's Wolf's description of it:
In my correspondence with Wolf Hoffmann, he informed me that this guitar is featured on the Accept album The Final Chapter. He didn't remember for sure, but he thinks probably on the tracks Balls to the Wall, London Leather Boys and Breaker.
Here's my take on it:
This Hamer V is really a Super Strat shaped like a V. It has Strat scale, a light, (Hoffmann thinks it's alder) body. It cuts through more like a Strat than a Gibson V. But it has BALLS galore — with none of the trebly harshness you can often get with Floyd-eqipped Super Strats. Stuff like that tells me that Wolf and Hamer were fussy over the woods and components they picked and used. This thing sounds and plays like a dream. A big, German, Heavy Metal dream! Hoffmann's tone pretty much just pours out of this V. There's not tons of subtlety here. It doesn't get quite the range of tones that the Les Paul and the Blackmocaster get. Instead, it's a total monster metal-machine! Has no trouble getting that ballsy Accept tone through the Shiva and it's dead on through Wolf's Marshall. The body is quite sleek and light. Far more balanced and ergonomically pleasing that I had anticipated. It's very comfortable to play. The neck kind of feels like Jackson Soloist or some similar 80s metal thing. Nice radius, certainly more than a Gibson or Fender, but it doesn't feel too wide and flat. Top
Rule #2: Don't buy gear you don't need, or have a use for, just because something's cool. I really TRY to live by this one. My goal was to obtain the Hamer V. This amp was secondary. It was an absolutely irrational purchase! I didn't need it at all. I'd been deliriously happy with my Bogner combo. I didn't even want a big rig! I actually had to buy two cabs before I could use it!
But look at this thing. It's just such a complete beast! The whole design concept represents the Dinosaur way of thinking. It's TWO, 100 watt amps in one amp head! Two transformers, 8 EL34s!
I justified breaking my rules on this for the following reasons:
Here's Wolf's description of it:
Here's my take on it:
I have dubbed it The Uber Marshall. It absolutely SCREAMS!!!! And in Stereo!! The Bogner 1x12s sound great. The sound is huge. Wanna knock down a wall in your house? Give me a call. Way more volume than I'll ever need. I can barely get the master above 2, however, because of the tuned pre-amp you can get basically the same great tone at low volume — though there's just not much play in the nob between 0 and 1. I've got a subtle chorus running on one side for depth. Despite the custom job, the amp is still distinctly MARSHALL. It has that Marshall bite and top end. Very responsive amp. Can get that screaming feedback instantly on demand, and shape the hell out of it with the Floyd on the V. The rig is a monster, but it is, however, pretty much a one-trick pony. The Shiva is far more versatile because of its 2nd (clean) channel. The Shiva's crunch channel is browner, thicker, and more middy than the Marshall. That said, I've become hopelessly addicted to stereo again, and this has become my main amp when I'm not recording.
The Hoffmann rig as run by me.
When I played bass, I ran about 500 watts per side in stereo through two, rare Marshall 4x15 cabs, but the days of the big rigs are over for me. The Bogner Shiva 65 watt (w/EL34s) 1x12 closed back combo with spring reverb is my other main higher wattage, amp along with the Marshall. The Shiva is a great amp, with a very brown, middy tone compared to the Marshall's bite. It also has an excellent clean channel. In retrospect, I wish I had bought it as a head rather than a combo.
When I went to NAMM 2008, the guys and saw what is perhaps the ultimate Dino apartment amp. In many ways, this little beast was the hit of the NAMM show for us Dinos. The Orange Tiny Terror blew our minds. We ran it through a 4x12 cab at NAMM, and it sounded like the fist of GOD. It screamed. It growled. TRUE Dino Tube tone (EL84s) in a package the size of a kid's lunchbox (about half the size of the Peters). Puh-LETNY loud when cranked for recording and some gigging, and very quiet when you need it quiet. You can crank the volume down to bedroom and apartment levels, and still get pure tube goodness. Paired with a 1x12 closed back cab, it is the perfect small apartment rig where space and volume are issues, and a great first tube amp for anyone who already has a cab. It weighs 13 lbs and comes with a gig bag. If that's not perfect for the life of an NYC musician, nothing is. It's retains the classic Orange midrange beef, and has less top end bite than a Marshall. About five of us forum guys ended up getting one after the NAMM show. Then about 20 more forum guys bought one after that.
In 2012, I started playing in a new project that is sort of a 70s Stones meets 70s Glam Rock sound, so I needed something other than a typical, Brit-voiced, brown-sounding Dino amp. This is NOT a heavy rock/metal amp. It has very little gain on its own. This amp is voiced with the classic 70s Ampeg sound. Think late 60s/early 70s Rolling Stones sounds. Get Yer Ya Yas Out, Sticky Fingers -- those kinds of tones -- in a nice low-wattage (7/15) head. It is larger than the Tiny Terror and smaller than the Peters. It sounds fantastic running in stereo with the Tiny Terror.
The Peters head is one of the original 3cp1 models made in 2002. James Peters doesn't make them anymore. He introduced a later model that was more plexi/univalve like. And like a Univalve, this Peters can take a variety of power tube types in its one socket. I use it in the 10 watt EL34 configuration. I guess you could say it's a medium-gain type of amp. More gain that a plexi type sound, and less than modern high-gain. Right in that Dino sweet spot of say heavy rock and 80s metal. All in a 10 watt, 22 lb package with master volume. My idea was that this amp and a Bogner cube cab would a great little apartment/jam amp for my life in NYC, but it didn't work out that way. It's kind of like the Tiny Terror conceptually, in that it's a low wattage amp that screams, however, once I got a chance to open it up and really play it loud in our new home studio, I found that the Peters is sort of like a 10 watt version of a modded Marshall, with more top end bite and less midrange than the Orange or the Bogner, which makes it a rather nice complement.
In 2012, embarked on new musical project that created new sonic demands. I finally replaced my BOSS pedalboard with a larger, more versatile Gator board. I have to address a sonically diverse collection of songs and get everything from warm cleans, to slight crunch, to heavy crunch, and a solo boost -- among other things. I think it is going to stay like this for a while:
Wah>Volume>Tuner>Boss AC-2 Acoustic Simulator>Doug Aldrich Rocket Fuel>Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz>Phase 90>Strymon El Capistan Tape Echo>Boss DC-2 Dimension C>amps.Top
Even a Dinosaur needs acoustic guitars every now and then. Here's mine:
After a few years of searching for a real good acoustic, I found the Martin CEO4 — a really smooth, warm, brown-sounding true dreadnought that sounds great just acoustically. The kind of guitar that will record great when when you mic it as an acoustic. Part of Martin's "CEO's Choice" series, these guitars feature solid Adirondack spruce tops, and genuine mahogany sides and backs. They are also supposedly scallop braced by hand to make them sound more like the warm, old acoustics of the 50s and 60s. (It also looks like an old style guitar — not a look I was immediately drawn to, but it's growing on me, and the tone rules! Considering what you get for the money, these guitars are a relative bargain and offer a lot of value for a mid-priced acoustic.
So I finally found the CEO-4, I thought OK — here's a guitar that sounds great. Really deep and rich. But it was bitch to play. The action was pretty high compared to some other acoustics. It had those comical Martin frets that are about the width of a paperclip wire. But I knew the guy who does my custom work is a magician, and his acoustic work is so good, acoustic guitar companies contract him to do some of their work.
To adress playability, he:
The Martin 12 String is an inexpensive model (spruce top, but plastic sides and back) but because it's a 12, it sounds quite good acoustically and plays well for a 12. It too is a pure acoustic. I have recently recorded with it, and it records well.
This is my newest acoustic. Sitka top, Indian Rosewood sides. Sort of Collings' take on a D-28. It sounds great, and I don't have the same issues playing it that I have had with the Martin -- even with 12s on it! I may put a sounhole pickup in it.
The Ovation Celebrity Deluxe Acoustic/Electric sounds better amplified and for recording than it does acoustically, but its best feature for my purposes, is that the neck plays like an electric. Top
I don't play much bass anymore but these still come in handy for recording.
Jurassic Park Studio Version 1, circa 2000-2003 . . . This is where I used to do my home recording when I had a house in the burbs. When I moved to NYC, the gear went into storage, and the place is probably some kid's bedroom.
Shown above: Roland 840GX Digital Audio Workstation, Yamaha RY-9 Big Jam drum machine,
Shown clockwise from top left: Event 20/20 monitors, Alesis power amp, Yamaha bass preamp, external Zip drive for Roland 840GX, Alesis Masterlink, FMR Audio RNC 1733 Compressor. Top
When we left NYC in 2009, we resurrected a new and improved version of our home studio. The Hiwatt combo is gone, but the Peters and the Orange Tiny Terror remain with the Hoffmann Marshall and the Bogner. Much of the old hardware remains the same including the Bass POD that wasn't in the earlier pics, but room is significantly larger, better, and the system is now Mac/Logic based rather than run off the Roland 840GX DAW. A ongoing work-in-progress, key new additions include a MacPro tower, Vintech mic preamp, and Apogee Duet audio interface.
For the recording of the Feints album, we added UAD's awsome Apollo interface.
Aside from being a fantastic audio interface, the Apollo lets us use UA's amazing plug-ins of classic studio compressors, EQs, and effects. We also added a Nord stage piano, a Chandler mic pre, upgraded the Event monitors with a pair of JBL auto room-correcting monitors, and pair of Avantone reference monitors.
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