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Plank's Blog - full archive

Plank has decided after four years, that the pressure of work and commitments makes it unrealistic to maintain the blog any more; sorry to those of you (some thousands!) who kept coming back for more. We'll let you know if there is any chance of it coming back to life again, but in any case the archive will stay in place for reference. August 2010


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Sunshine ?

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Well?.In Los Angeles waiting for a flight home like thousands of others?Volcanoes eh? How easily we all move around without giving it too much thought?
Got away for a bit yesterday and spent a few hours racing a Honda 450 round a motocross track at Milestone MX, which I thoroughly recommend - a great way of shaking out the stresses of touring?..although driving 70 miles through a storm on the freeway coming back is not entirely relaxing......
We have been over here in the US for a month now and just finished a 9 date tour with Atoms for Peace, ending with a very long and hot day at Coachella festival here in California, mental changeover with all the lighting crew putting stuff together along with monitor and backline departments trying not to get tangled up with each other... a great show with a happy crowd!... tuning very difficult for most of the show as the only place to be was directly behind the PA speakers so all guitars vibrating like hell sending my tuners daolali.......
A few questions answered? regarding feedback problem with Gibson 330, either try getting less volume through the monitors in front of you which may be causing it or experiment with standing in different positions relative to speaker cab, also you can try putting a small amount of foam inside the guitar body to break things up a bit???Re wiring a Strat will not help get a warmer tone from it - you could try replacement pickups - some of the humbuckers have more squat pickup coils that will not be as trebly as the taller ones?. Kent armstrong in the UK knows his stuff and is helpful??..Thom's current stage amps are 1962 Vox AC30's?. they sound far better than the new ones and are much more reliable not least because of the inherent strength of point to point wiring rather than the more fragile printed circuit boards, good quality valves also help a great deal, the cheap ones are false economy and can quickly become a nuisance?.the old Voxes are jolly expensive now and hard to find?.
Hopefully back in UK on Sunday as there is much to do in the studio next week - oh and sleep of course :o)?? pic of focusrite desk.




Or...

"How do I get into the music business and go on tour?" - is a question I have been asked many times and have only recently tried to write down some kind of answer...........
If touring is to be your chosen path, I would start by saying that enrolling at your local college and doing one of the many 'new' courses available is not going to be much use when you are in the dark, fumbling around in the smoke and strobe lighting, trying to retrieve assorted pedals and leads that have been booted across the stage by your guitar smashing new best friend!! ....
You can learn something from everything but there is no better way than practical hands on experience.
I guess working out what you are interested in and can be good at is the first step - if you are into guitars and fixing things then instrument tech may be the job for you, if you have organisational skills and are good with people, then maybe tour managing could be your thing - there are many jobs - sound engineer, electrician, programmers, instrument technicians, caterers, set builders, lighting designers, riggers, accountants and more.......
OK, you need to start somewhere.........If being a roadie / instrument tech is your choice then one way would be to find a small band in your area ( which may or may not have one of your mates in it !) and offer to help in some way - even if it means just carrying stuff from the car or van - musicians will always be glad of some help!
Teach yourself as much as you can, buy yourself a guitar tuner , take your guitar to bits and rebuild it! - whatever it takes......the ability to get on with people is just as important as any technical skills you may have.
If you are good at lifting things and remember to turn up on time, then getting a job on the stage crew at your local venue is a good way in - try and actually speak to the stage manager themselves if you can, then you can make a face to face impression with them which may be more productive than leaving a scrap of paper with your phone number at the stage door!........
being on the stage crew may not be the glamorous situation you might have been expecting and will involve much sweating, humping and moving of band gear but will give you a useful ground level view and can put you in direct contact with musicians who can benefit from your services ( which may have to be free for a while).
This direct way in can also be useful if you are interested in doing the sound or lights and you may learn something if you find a friendly house engineer.........Contacting your local PA company and seeing if they need somebody to help load equipment, make tea, setting up mic stands, cabling up or driving. Although it may seem tedious or a long way from where you aim to be, it is all useful stuff - the wider view you have of the whole picture, the more useful you can be - and the more likely you are to find work!

Once you find the environment familiar and know a few people, you can start to focus on your chosen field, opportunities can arise that you may have not even thought of .
Production managers may have started out doing backline or come from some other area of showbusiness, Tour managers may well have previous experience in the travel business, Stage managers will often have been technicians of some kind.
There is a surprisingly tight network of touring personnel across the country and you can bump into the same people fairly often.......which is nice!.........Building up contacts and getting to know people all takes time, don't expect it all to happen in five minutes! - being able to drive and possibly having a van may also help with getting work.
Before deciding that a life on the road is for you, a fair amount of consideration is needed, as although it can be a great life, It is a tough business which can play havoc with your personal life and there are no guarantees, if you are a sensitive soul looking for a reliable job with security then it's not for you............ but if you are a strong minded individual who likes to work in weird places under intense pressure, at the wrong time of day and with a bunch of other diverse interesting people, then maybe it's for you! .......
As with most things , Working hard, being in the right place at the right time and good luck can get you there............ however far you get, you will meet people coming the other way, so always be nice!!
I have no formal qualifications and started off doing all of the above at one time or another, my present qualification comes from 27 years of practical experience doing many kinds of jobs and all kinds of gigs from small pubs to stadiums, an interest in everything and an ability to repair most things, which again has only been learnt over a long time.
I hope this is of some use - I am sure to have left loads of things out that I will remember after posting this up!!.................follow your heart and be happy :-)





fork handles...

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Well.......it's been ages and there never seems to be enough time to sit down and do the blog...........Back in the studio in full on recording mode, with everything plugged into everything else once more....
amongst many other things, I've been spending the last few weeks stripping out and completely rebuilding the programming room which now has a nice new old API desk which sounds great....

South America was crazy but great with some of the wildest crowds anywhere, I think there were 55,000 at one of the shows, Chile was my favourite place, everyone seemed so chilled and relaxed - be good to go back there sometime and travel right down south......it all seems a bit distant already with almost all waking hours in the studio right now....I can hear a shout from the control room so must be orf.... :-)





Wakey Wakey...

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More shortly .... revving up for South America next week :-)




Mods ?

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Arrived in Chicago yesterday to start the 2nd US leg of the tour... awake at just before 4am with lovely jet leg, after much tossing and turning followed by aimless wandering around the room getting bored, I went out and found breakfast, much to my amusement all the components of a full cooked breakfast arrived on a pile of separate small plates! When I enquired why, I was informed that it would be rude if it was all on the same plate!..... I'm still trying to work that one out......
Very hot here today..... much of the afternoon spent on phone and computer, preparing for a 7am start tomorrow - I guess we will all be awake anyway!
While back in the UK, spent a couple of days in the workshop modifying pedals and boxes and popping into the studio to check all was well - bit weird being in there with it all tidy while we are out on tour - I guess it won't take too long to mess it up again.... :-)




Festivals.....

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Days and weeks flying by as usual, we are now at Hot and sunny Roskilde festival in Denmark, the stage and setup area is small, hot and very crowded, this coupled with shortage of sleep makes it all too easy for people to snap at each other but any blow ups are usually short lived. Having all spent a long time working together we all know how it goes and no one can be grumpy for too long....
Having finished the UK leg of the tour.....we ended in Glasgow , which was a cracking gig after a nightmare with torrential rain all day which reduced to drizzle for showtime, the Glasgow crowds are always up for it which was great.....
We are now into the European festivals where, on the first day you can usually get a hot shower and a cold beer no problem, by the last day this has often swapped round to become cold showers and hot beer!........
A nice travel day and much needed day off in Copenhagen yesterday, time to get washing done and buy a rather expensive dinner!...
The old Martin may have to be swapped for something a little more robust for touring as a few cracks are starting to appear......SG being used more than ever!...,.
Q's...Keyboard stand was custom built in a friends workshop, 25mm box section steel frame, welded and coated with hammerite, Aluminum / Aluminium checker plate shelves and 100mm case wheels greatly useful for festivals as impossible to move all the gubbins quickly without it!............. Time to see if all the cases have been shoved into a corner! ...pic is car that was being driven out of the hotel lobby as we arrived in Milan..cool eh? :-)





Summer ?

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Well.... sitting backstage at the Hurricane festival site in Germany...... there is some rain with a force 10 gale expected so it's anyones guess what's going to happen today.......haven't done a festival in a while but it took about half a second to remember the situation...general chaos with many bands all setting up at the same time on the back section of the stage behind a black drape that has presently blown away... sound good?....
We did the Southside festival yesterday in the south of Germany with the same bands on the bill so we all kind of have a rough idea of each others timings and space requirements but things invariably run a little late......if there are technical problems during the day then ten minutes here and five minutes there can easily end up being half an hour or more at the end which can cause large problems if there is a curfew.......
A half hour change over yesterday made it a little tight but an exciting show with a few breakages and some old songs adding to the day............Q's string on all acoustics are Martin SP 11sets which are fairly bright without being too zingy when new......... a drop of araldite will keep the selector switch tops on but have to be cut off if the switch needs replacing - usually ok as you can get a new top with a new switch....Jonnys teles are '92 - 93.......
I've had many emails and questions about the old tech tips that were on the site, these have been removed for more work to be done on them and will, along with other useful stuff will be in our Guitar Tech pocket book that should be out before Christmas....
Time to put raincoat on, find some more plastic sheeting then have another look at the stage - pic is of view from the bus about 5 minutes ago - hope everything doesn't get wrecked as we are off from here tonight to start the big UK shows....we will see.. I have just noticed that it's called the 'Hurricane' festival.... ho ho :-)
update 8pm... nice and sunny once more!! you never know...





Apart from the roads..

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In Nimes today for the second show at the Coliseum..... I just looked at the last blog date and can't believe a month has passed so quickly, each day meaning to do a bit then forgetting......after a short break, we started again in Dublin with the UK rig so there was plenty of re setting going on for a couple of days as though everything had reverted to 'restore factory settings' !! - all the minor tweaks here and there through the US tour had to be applied to the setup we had left in production rehearsals, this is a problem with running two rigs as each needs to be matched to the other when getting to the next territory........
Great crowds in Ireland as always.....from there to Paris Bercy which was very weird being indoors for the first time in ages, with everything sounding completely different.....the second day there was overshadowed by the truck drivers strike going on in Spain and the border being blocked, a massive headache for production department having to make plans A- Z with everything changing every five minutes....eventually we resorted to various unconventional ways round the blockage which involved being up all night and splitting up gear and personnel........by the time of showday everything was back together in Barcelona and the show went ahead.....a beautiful day and location but there is a sewage plant about 50 metres away from the venue, making the whole place stink terribly!.....
a few technical problems here and there with pedals breaking and lines going down........it's never surprising being as there are around 100 channels of audio stuff going on along with plenty of prototype lights and video...
I took a scary high walk around the top edge of the Coliseum earlier and looked down on the whole setup ... a weird juxtaposition of all this technology in somewhere a couple of thousand years old...if walls could talk?..
Q's...The 60's Jazzmaster wood is Ash or Alder......also Jazzmaster pickups and wiring back to original'60's configuration.......piano pickup is a Helpinstill from the US......New guitar radios are Trantec UHF 5.3 which so far have been great and a vast improvement on the old ones...........a quiet afternoon today as we can make no noise due to local regulation, so time for re stringing and maintainance, oh and this.. :-)........ pic yesterday day in Nimes.




Jazz....

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Saturday 17th May

Today in Texas at the Cynthia Mitchell woods pavilion and another good show.......bit hard to get moving this morning as long 900 mile travel day on bus and day off before show......sounds good but it's better to do a few in a row and get into the rhythm of things.......spent an hour on the 2nd Jazzmaster today, replacing worn vintage bridge with mustang replacement, these are more solid and have set saddle heights with just two side adjustments and are less prone to movement, it's good to keep stuff original but some of these guitars are over 40 years old and reality is that they need to work as a reliable day to day touring instrument ........the old SG still feels fantastic and so light! what a brilliant guitar, shame they cost so much now...

Q's... the new bass amp is an Ampeg SVT VR which is an uprated version of the original and sounds great and punchy with plenty of mid range... this and the CL would seem to be an ideal combination ( erk..sounds like I'm reading it off a sales brochure, maybe I should stop there!......

We have also had to find another way of loop switching space echo in and out as it's wrecking the tapes and motors quicker than we can fix them...

Vox amps are '62 vintage with original blue speakers...nice!.......Preferred volume pedals are Boss FV500H - tough and reliable, I think boss have stopped making them now but there are some on ebay here and there...

Off to Dallas in an hour or two for the last show before flying back to the UK for a few days off before sorting out stuff for the European tour...

pic is of '64 Jazzmaster '2 :-)




Wet pants?

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Friday 16th May

Another random and interesting few days.......A good show in DC but bad storms and torrential rain caused huge problems all round........the venue was awash and the grass bank turned into a mud slide along with many people not getting to the gig due to flooding and road closures........
We had moisture in everything so the lids had to come off many pedals and effects and given a blast with the hair dryer and switch cleaner.....
Moisture is a bad problem as circuit board tracks and components can corrode quickly if left, also the exposed ends of stranded cable can go brittle and snap when you're not expecting it.........
We are camped out today on the edge of Houston where it is hot and humid..........The old back is better now, helped along by a couple of hours on a climbing wall in StLouis which was great fun!...kill or cure!
Q's....Vintage tele bridges with the three brass saddles can be a problem which many learn to live with by fine adjustment and reaching a compromise with the intonation.....it can be worse if a bridge happens to be fitted a couple of mm off and sometimes the only thing to do is to retro fit a 6 saddle bridge if it's too bad............I did fit a Kaoss pad screen to Jonnys spare tele a while back and we configured it to change trigger points and shift x-y co ordinates in a couple of weird computer programs but it all got a bit mental..........then something more urgent came along so it joined the list of good ideas to be continued one day ??........DC power run up two cores of four core screen along with signal into 6 pin XLR.....
The old RE201's are being used loads again as well as the RE 20's now....why use one thing when three will make it 1.5 times better? ho ho !

pic is of visitor to stage right during DC show :-)

a ps to this blog.... the above bit about kaoss pad is a quick bit of info in response to a question, the job itself took many hours was complicated involving dismantling entire unit, removing and re soldering components, running extra ribbon cables and mini surface mount switches and routing of the guitar, I wouldn't advise tearing in and wrecking your shiny new kaoss pad!....arrr :-)




Sticky Dewi..

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Wednesday 7th May 08

In Sunny Atlanta with a day off.....The first couple of shows have been a cracking start, all the weeks of preparation have paid off, a few small glitches here and there but nothing major considering the vast amount of technology on the stage and everyone is in good spirits..
A pile of questions have appeared, I will try and answer a few before going on a new socks expedition....We currently have 25 guitars on the road which is a few less than last time with some big changes, the newest being the '64 white Jazzmaster, Epiphone Casino and a great '64 SG standard which is getting better all the time and current favourite, taking over from the old black Tele......
The older guitars need a bit more constant attention as most screw threads, adjusters and springs are well worn and will loosen off more easily...........yesterdays big job was making a new nut for the Gibson Hummingbird acoustic which was on it's last legs, sorting out the bridge / saddle is another problem as it's made from one piece of ceramic which is pretty much impossible to cut......More Q's... pedal boards are flight cases made from laminated 9mm ply and have velcro in the bases to stop the pedals moving in transit or while being stamped on!.....Power supplies are Voodoolab pedal power 2's which are very reliable......AC guitar runs on own circuits and AB switches...
Off to find some socks.... pic is of Mr Bean repairing drum fans... :-)




Go ?...........

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Saturday 3rd May

Time has been flying by so quickly!....after a couple of weeks production rehearsals in England, we are now in sunny Miami putting the finishing touches to the setup ready for the first show on Monday in West Palm Beach......much going on but classified information for now as the tour hasn't started yet.......
The volume of work done in the last few weeks has been enormous and we now have a complete setup that now lives over here to save on air freighting backwards and forwards which is obviously a good thing for several reasons......
This week has not been too great so far, as I managed to put my back out lifting stuff around the other day so I've been full of pain killers and shuffling around making old bloke noises and generally moaning ever since....hopefully it will be ok in a day or two.....ze show must go on!
Most of yesterday was spent trying to find stuff in various different cardboard boxes and cases that we had packed into the shipping container a few weeks earlier .... a few concerned faces here and there when considering the possibility of a vital piece being 3000 miles away only to find it buried under something in a far corner...
Off for some fitful sleep as an early start again tomorrow with much still to do..... :-)




ready steady...

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Friday 21st March 08

Well......after three months of work, everything is everywhere, the studio and store is awash with pedals, guitars, cables, bits of wire, lists, rubbish, old cups of tea, empty plates, strings, cardboard boxes.....
We are into the last week of preparations on all the gear that is due to be on a slow boat to the States by the end of next week.....we then continue for another few weeks prepping everything for production rehearsals in the UK before leaving to meet up with the boat (?)...
As well as the old stuff, there are a few new (old) guitars, amps and other bits and bobs that will be around when we start touring, these are currently being serviced and buffed up !!.... Yesterdays urgent job was trying to find an output transformer for one of the old Voxes as it has melted!... Q's.. an old question that keeps popping up is the switch on Jonnys guitar - I will be getting a few of these in the week and will have the latest stock number, the selector is a standard 3way.........The SG is an original '64, arm has been removed as it is not used......As for the Lovetone pedal, these are now extremely hard to find and if you do find them they are horribly expensive, we generally have spares for most things but not for these and have to carry the same couple everywhere!...pic is of git rack ready for attention.. :-)

» That weblink... http://www.heroeslegend.com/page-1-1-en.html




Meltdown....

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Friday 15th February

Full on busy with the huge amount of tour preparation, will continue blog soon provided my brain doesn't explode first!! :-)




Chrsms...

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Wednesday19th December

Well......another busy month just as I expected it to go quiet...
A couple of different projects going on in the studio at the moment so it looks like a bomb site once more, with just about every cable and bit of gear plugged in.....
this weeks revelation has been the Roland RE20 - the new pedal version of the old RE 201 space echo, it is abosolutely great and is about as close as you can get to the original with a few extra parameters and more reliability...all the old ones suffer from wobbles and flutters caused mostly by worn out motors which are proving impossible to find......it was being happily used about 10 minutes after I walked in with it , which was nice!.........
Had a couple of days off in Austria at the beginning of the month at one of the coldest gigs ever, at night, outdoors at the foot of a ski slope in December??.. brrrr.....it was great being up in the mountains again but unfortunately not enough time to go skiing which will have to wait for now........It's nice to see people using the musicians exchange bit on the site............. I'm off to brush the spiders out of the A.S. and re configure it again, again :-)




Space...

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Sun 11th November

As I'm sure many people will have guessed by now, the last few weeks have been spent preparing for last Friday's webcast..........tons of extra gear, unusual cameras, vision mixers, extra computers and monitoring equipment..
By the end of Thursday, we had used just about every plug board and cable, with everything plugged into everything else!................
Bristling with electronics and machines that go ping, the satellite truck arrived early in the day, allowing time to make up the last few cables and adaptors to connect to it.................by 9pm everyone was buzzing and we were tearing around checking everything and making last minute ideas work......
Band rehearsal of the live stuff was great - especially knowing what the reaction might be when it would be broadcast !...........we had a few technical difficulties here and there but as usual, it was all exciting and worthwhile.......
guitars guitars guitars....I am looking for a secondhand USA standard Tele if anyone knows of one going.......a big job for the next couple of days is repairing an old Gretsch Anniversary that has a broken neck and has an extra (strat!) pickup bodged onto it with a selector switch from an old Ford escort......the things people do to their guitars! ...an interesting job as the owner wants it restored.......
a tip for anyone who needs it... if you have an old guitar that may be worth a bit but looks a bit rough - DON'T re spray it or you will reduce the value greatly, original finish in almost any condition is better than a nicely painted and buffed up '52 Tele!.........I am off to sleep now-- last night along with plenty of other 'old people' I went to see the Sex Pistols at Brixton Academy and got a bit 'involved'....a great gig but I'm paying for it today............hope to have a couple more amps up for sale soon tbc.........pic is of some old guitar I found at a boot sale :-)




What?

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Friday 12th October

They only hung me the right way up yesterday!..........a well kept secret and a very interesting and exciting couple of weeks as I'm sure everyone knows by now!............
Well........after a long but enjoyable day yesterday, climbing up Snowdon in thick fog, I am now back in my kennel with sore knees and ankles, listening to some tunes and beeps coming from the control room.........
During this last few days away from the studio, an unusual and interesting shop job has been trying to assemble a guitar that tunes itself, basically a kit of parts (expensive) that consists of a special bridge, motorised machine heads and a microprocessor that senses the tuning of each string in turn, then adjusts it according to the tuning selected on the brightly lit volume pot........ I, (along with others I'm sure) had this mad idea many years ago but I guess it's only now that the R&D and production costs are lower and the technology available now makes this possible at all, although I can't see much use for it beyond a funky and fun thing to build..........BUT after 7 hours of head mashing and things not working, the interesting thing I found out is that it uses the strings in two pairs of three, a pair for low voltage DC to operate the machine head motors and the other for transmitting and receiving data. cool eh?....... except that the guitar had a nice METAL nut and unbeknown to me, this had been shorting everything out causing much confusion for hours, only getting it half working has led to suggesting fitting it to a more regular guitar...... instead of spoiling a nice expensive custom shop Strat just to see the machine heads go whizzing round on their own ( weird to watch).......
I had for a short while wondered if the technology might allow it to fly but decided against it !! ... ho ho.......I hope to give it a full test once it's installed in a standard Strat....to be continued..
Back to today.....It doesn't take long.....the small Ampeg combo has just coughed and spluttered and needs sorting out so I had better get on with it. Pic is of Jonny's Gretsch Tennessean :-)




Flying?.......

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Monday 3rd September

Well, it's been a while...... back in the studio today doing a couple of minor repairs to the desk and giving the outboard gear the once over ready for tomorrow.......... it's very quiet in here with no music or weird noises coming from anywhere......... ordered yet more drivers for the mashed NS10's...good speakers but I don't think they like lots of bass at high volume ( surprise?).....
I'm still limping along minus a laptop, a new G4 board costs almost the same as a whole new machine, so I'm keeping a look out for one with a broken screen, aiming to build one from that and my cardboard box of bits.....
A steady stream of shop repairs over the last month has kept me plenty busy....... still amazed at the amount of Gibson's that come through with the headstock snapped off, it always seems like the end of the world when it happens and it's always nice to see a happy face when it's been fixed! .......having said that, a five quid guitar stand is cheaper and less dangerous than leaving your pride and joy balanced against the front of a speaker cab......
Two weeks ago I managed to find a couple of days to go and try the wonderful sport of Paragliding, this is similar to running off a cliff whilst hanging on to an old bed sheet and praying that you fly before hitting the rocks below - well not really - it's fantastic, the first time your feet leave the ground and you are actually flying is an amazing feeling but scary all the same - I probably don't have the required amount of bottles to continue but good fun all the same.........
Jazz bass is almost done, the Badass bridge works a treat- they have to be the most solid of all....and the Gotoh machine heads are nice and smooth, which is nice!....
pic is of Oscar Schmidt Autoharp........arr :-)




Beer ?

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Tuesday 17th July

A large gap in things the last couple of weeks partly (mostly) due to a glass of red wine being knocked into my laptop and frying the logic board!, I tipped it on it's side and the wine poured out of the battery compartment, it was just then that I had a tiny feeling that it may be a bit not well.......I have managed to remove hard drive and get that going for now until I find a new board ! I now have a bag of smelly laptop bits and a bag of tiny screws .. oh dear!......
It's quiet here today, so generally tidying up and collecting Mesa Boogie amps and outboard together today to get all serviced together.........A bit of pressure testing...The 456 space echo tape (and the machine!) has been holding up well, I have had the No.3 machine running for 170 hours with varying levels of input and there is no distinguishable deterioration in the sound quality, although there is slightly more distortion than the 499tape but this helps if using the feedback setting to any large degree....
Q,s.....a much asked question that I've answered before - patch cables are made with vdc oxygen free instrument cable and the jacks are switchcraft.......Petersen amp is not used so much for recording on this session......pic is '60's Vox Bass.........time to go as a microphone has just appeared for urgent attention... ttfn :-)




Bent.....

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Thursday 7th June

I had a look at the site this morning.....No blog for a month - it seems like a week to me!.......I have been buried in the studio, listening to you know who, while repairing guitars, soldering and doing boring paperwork........The Jazz bass is coming on, the body is almost finished - made from a single piece of ash that has been sitting in the workshop for about 4 years.
I would usually use 2 or 3 pieces to make up the body but this bit is very stable and has remained flat and square for all this time.... it's good to be a bit cautious as a large piece of timber can suddenly start moving around when you begin sawing and machining, it's still good to leave a while before final finishing and applying paint / lacquer.
Q's.... the old guitar switch question that pops up all the time....it's an apem 9000 series miniature, for those who like technical spec, there is a link below, I think the part code is 9632........Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer bits are getting harder to find - one place in the States that has a good stock of tines and felts etc is Speakeasy Vintage Music........preferred Bass strings at the mo are La Bella Deep talkin' 760RL, .....pic is one of last weeks repairs !

» That weblink... http://www.apem.com/pdf/9400-9600-B.pdf




Wind ?......

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Tuesday 8th May

A morning of guitar tweaking followed by moving the control room around once more!.......fitted a great little pre amp circuit to Strat, it's called 'The afterburner" and is made by EMG, it's fairly quick and easy to fit and gives an instant boost up to about 20db by a push pull control, it can be used with any pickups.........9v battery fits in next to switch and lasts for about a year (ish).....
Q's...a simple momentary kill switch can be fitted in anywhere along the guitar signal path as long as just the hot wire is broken, not both!....switch must be good quality or it will be horribly noisy........info and link about switches is on an earlier blog.........setting up ES 125....as with other arch tops, the bridge is difficult to keep in one place especially if the guitar is played enthusiastically!......Once the intonation has been set, if you are careful you can mark the exact position of the bridge edges with masking tape and a fine pen then remove and fit light duty double sided tape to the underneath of the bridge and carefully reposition it on your marks, I've used this on both ES's and others and it helps a great deal.......
Along with many other Fenders, the Tele deluxe has an Ash body and the latest strings fitted are Dean Markley Signature series 10 - 46....... pic is of old Fender Coronado bass + :-)




Straight......

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Monday 7th May

I continue to get many questions regarding the radiohead album that is in progress, as I have said before, I am unable to answer any questions about this or any questions of a personal nature.
I have no influence or involvement in the recording process or decision making, other than setting up and looking after equipment, which is my job.
Thanks for all the emails to let me know you enjoy the blog and are into all the old guitars and stuff - which is what the site is all about ! ... I will continue as and when I get time - there always seems to be about 500 other things to do!.........pic is of Baldwin Baby Bison also from the '60's.....:-)




Spring?......

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Thurday 3rd May

Today I have mostly been listening to 'All I need' , while at my workbench up in the roof where it is jolly nice and hot ..........spent the morning putting the programming rack back together once more, after rounding up various gizmos and effects that have been removed one at a time and taken off to different bits of the studio or different rooms or even other houses altogether! - it does get a bit difficult trying to remember where everything is as none of it is bolted down - that could be a good idea come to think of it!
I'm still no further on with the bass as there always seems to be something more urgent that needs doing but I will get around to it soon (?)....the new echo unit works ok but lacks the warmth of the old RE 201 - we have also got hold of an old echoplex which will be be checked out later today........
Q's...... Jonny's very small amp - a favourite, is a very old 120v Fender champ SC1 from 1953.......I make up most of the patch cables with VDC oxygen free cable, fitted with switchcraft jacks.......and... Colin likes the green tortex picks.
Thanks for the interest in the fanzines - they have now gone to a good home!.............
I should have the next tech tip up early next week but will mention it when it's there.... busy as always..., I think this evening will be spent setting up the old Strat but for now I'm off outside to get some fresh air...
pic is of Ed's very nice vintage Epiphone Casino from 1964, Similar to the 335 but fitted with P90 pickups, I think Paul McCartney was one of the first in the country to have one in December of that year, closely followed by John Lennon and George Harrison, and quickly became a classic guitar...
Did you know that the price of nickel is now about 50,000 dollars a tonne ?.. ttfn :->




Hurry up....

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Friday 27th April

Awake at 5.15 am..........Mad busy couple of weeks, much moving, servicing and repairing of gear and flightcases. A hectic week ahead in the studio re setting and wiring up once more..
I found an old fanzine from 1996 a couple of days ago which is fun to read, I have a few more old ones that I will dig out.....if anyone is interested,let me know.... I will part with them for a small charity donation to Headway....
Q's... Philip uses Pro Mark Elvin Jones sticks - these are light but last fairly well....I have been asked several times about flight cases, I have used Packhorse case company in the UK for a few years and found them to be reliable and helpful..... 01733 232440.... Time for more tea and some toast - has anyone tried guiness marmite? - I can't find any.
pic is of '52 Goldtop - nice old guitar and expensive but way less so than the '57 :-)

» That weblink... http://www.headway.org.uk/




Sunshine........

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Wednesday 4th April

After a busy couple of weeks with no windows, we are packed up and moved on once more to the countryside - a few days off before setting up once more..........
a few guitar Q's ---- Jonny's Telecasters have standard maple / maple necks with no mods - although the necks feel very well worn in, Starcaster neck is also standard but is quite a lot thicker all over......... Eds plank has an 80's Kahler standard trem fitted - I think they have just started making these again - not to everyones taste as they have a very light feel..........Thom's telecasters are rewired partly to keep things as direct as possible going through the least amount of controls and partly because a while ago they were always getting thrown around and the jack plug / socket would always get broken off - it is safer and neater on the front with an angled jack, also scratch plate cut to allow quick access for emergency repairs without having to remove everything - I think it takes about 2 mins to change a pot or socket rather than 10 .......
Ondes martenot type synth is a unit made by Bob from Analogue Systems in Cornwall after we had quite a few sessions working out the prototype..........I expect a lot of people know this already but these are in production and can be configured in several different ways. link below..
:-)

» That weblink... http://www.analoguesystems.co.uk




Very......

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Thursday 22nd March

Busy as ever -..- feeling very mangled and tired, maybe it's all catching up with me at last!!!
A much needed day in the workshop, pottering around and trying to collect my brain together............. pic is of a fairly unusual Peavey T-60 that I have here today.... I think it's from the early 80's - this thing looks cool and has a great tone to it, a really full and powerful sound - don't know how many of these they made but I reckon it's the kind of thing Jonny would like......hmmm
.. also found an old rickenbacker tranny combo which sounds great when cranked up - will get a pic of it when I get a min......... :-)




Ewar Woowar

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Wed 14th March

Plenty of driving around yesterday collecting up bits and pieces from the rehearsal studio, also had a trip to Guildford to pick up the '62 AC30 which is now sounding fab and all nice and quiet after getting the smoothing caps replaced - what a great amp it is !...........
Guitar servicing day today - amongst other things, checking out the sustainer units and trying to find some spares, also setting up Ed's old strat which is getting a fair amount of use at the moment- a nice one but a bit heavy as were a lot of the late 70's Fenders - I remember the day it was bought brand new and white....the nut was bone for a long while but now has a brass one fitted which has more bite to it.......have had some questions about soldering - hopefully will have tech tip about it up in a couple of days.........
If you are at your computer and can't be bothered to look for your tuner, I found a handy little free guitar tuner / metronome thing...link below
Did you know...the K&F steel guitar with it's own matching amp was Leo Fender's first commercial product built in 1945.
pic of plank ED2 in the sun! :-)

» That weblink... http://www.worldguitar.com/tuner.html




Wired ?

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Monday March 12th

Nice day here today - looks like it's Spring at last ... hooray!
Firstly - thanks for all the replies with the L6 diagrams which were useful - what horrible wiring and an over complicated switch - nice guitar though and the switch does add to the appearance once all the wiring has been hidden away...
Today I have mostly been hearing ' House of cards' whilst working up here trying to stop the old Vox combo from rattling.............. a continual problem as all the screws loosen off regularly..... if there is time later next week I hope to make some separate boxes for the amps and speakers.....wishful thinking maybe?..

Just as I was starting to feel settled in, I found out this morning that we will be on the move again at the end of the week to distant location no 473 ! ..... so.. out with the old equipment lists this evening, hopefully catching everybody in the next day or two to fill them in (out?)....
The little HiWatt echo unit is pretty good - not as many features as the old space echo but one neat thing is that it switches itself out when you stop playing, which keeps the background noise down............
pic is of circuit boards from the Emulator - there is less memory on all those boards than on the latest kids mobile phone and the disk drive sticks if you move it anywhere ..ho ho!...... :-)




Full Moon.....

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Fri 2nd March

Still alive but feels like fighting a cold once more..........Well and truly buried in the studio, very busy all day and into the night with the weeks beginning to blur together....could be time for another change of location ?

At present, my work area is only a few feet from the control room - everything is sounding great from where I am hearing it ( many times!) and I also quickly get to know if something is wrong or broken.......today I have been mostly dealing with tape echo machines of different kinds - either repairing or tweaking them and making fresh loops experimenting with different tape.............The old motors are becoming more of a problem as the old 201's are getting tired after continual heavy use.
We got hold of a small new Hiwatt machine a couple of days ago but have yet to try it out fully enough to know how good it is, hopefully will be able to give a considered opinion shortly.......
Favourite guitar this week appears to be the '64 SG which seems to be being played each time I walk into the control room with more cups of tea!...............Building the Jazz bass has had to wait again as too busy doing all the radiohead stuff and shop repairs..
Did you know...the Fender Jazzmaster was launched in 1957.............. pic is of an unusual early 60's Strat....... I'm off to Wales and the mountains to clear my head out this weekend! :-) p.s does anybody have a wiring diagram for a Gibson L6S ? please!....plank3000@gmail.com




Awwroight

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Thursday 8th February

With all the Analogue Systems gear finally put together into one Dr.Who looking unit and the programming room tidy, it feels like all the effort of studio building is finally paying off.............it's never long before stuff is swapped around but right now it's great !!
Last Friday and Saturday saw us on the move again - packing and loading the gear once more - this time an extra headache, as the truck turned out to be about six feet shorter than the one I had booked - this was only noticed as we were getting to the end of the pack, causing much head scratching and face pulling - this finally resulted in having to re-pack and leave a couple of things behind to be sent on a day later which was irritating........
This morning, I spent an hour or so visiting different shops trying to find some disks for the SP1200, soon to realise that asking for floppy disks would seem to be the noughties equivalent of asking for an 8 track !..with the shop assistant giving me a weird look...........
Anyway, thanks for all the emails about the tech tips, I'm pleased they are useful............while I remember, there are acouple of bits on the radioheadgear ebay page..............most of this week working late so a bit of a struggle to keep up with the stream of repairs but it's all good!.....this weekend packing the band gear away then hopefully carrying on with the Jazz bass for a day or two......... ttfn
Newton = KG x 9.81 :-)




Ftmch.......

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Tuesday 30th January

The weeks are flying by!..so far this one has been mainly repairing the ageing space echo machines once more, they are getting tired for sure - if anyone has any bits, especially motors, please let me know.
Another addition this week was a nice blonde...Vox AC30 jmi from 1962 - a great sounding amp that was being recorded within 5 minutes of getting it out of my van.. ho ho!...talking of amps - one of the Fender twins will be for sale in a couple of days as soon as I find the spring reverb that was removed from it for some experiment or other!
If anyone is interested in old English vintage amps, check out Paul Goodhand-Tait's site linked below - he has been buying, selling and restoring vintage amps for several years and knows his stuff!............making lists and booking trucks again this afternoon as we will soon be on the move again......
Tech tip 2 is also up today and pic is of early 60's Vox AC15... :-)

» That weblink... http://www.ampaholics.org.uk




1000mph

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Tuesday 23rd January

Yet again no time to keep up with the blog as often as I would like......this last week has to be the busiest so far, non stop every day with three things appearing for every one thing done !!......All up and running with the control room set up in a different way, feeling great and working well.
Boiling hot in here today - I think the heating has stuck on, it's a bit weird being hot but seeing all the trees through the window being folded over in the wind..........plenty of goings on today, but all classified information !........There are different sounds coming from all directions this evening as all parts of the studio being used at once!.......
The day has ended well at 1am - off to get some sleep and catch up on shop repairs tomorrow.
Hopefully there should be a few more bits for sale on the radioheadgear ebay page by the end of the week if I get time!- I will post it up when listed.....
Amongst repair jobs on Saturday was a very nice 50th Anniversary Fender Strat - not something I would choose for myself but the quality of the parts and construction of these is so good compared with a lot of others around.... I'm not sure how much they cost but they feel expensive......
Off to continue building the programming room which is taking shape, getting modifications and repairs done to old Neve desk which should be fully functioning next week - they are fairly delicate and don't handle being moved around too much ! ..... pic of Colin's favourite basses in live room....... :-)




Frying pan....

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Thursday 11th January

Something that gets used from time to time is the model 400 Mellotron - usually around in the studio somewhere, being used either as a musical instrument or a bookshelf, depending on what is going on.............the Mellotron was the first sampler in it's own kind of way, the original version having a number of drum loops.

Sounds are recorded onto 1/4" tape which is then formed into loops, which are assembled on to a frame which can hold up to 35 individual loops. When each key is pressed and held down the corresponding tape runs across it's own play head for about 11 seconds and will then stop until the key is released, after which the tape will return to it's original position in the frame.

There are also 35 tape heads which need cleaning regularly to keep a clear sound and to stop the tapes being damaged. We have a few frames with some very old sounds on them and a couple of empty frames for experimenting with - making these up is a very slow process, taking several hours to get one octave worth of notes together.
It's a great and interesting instrument that sounds like no other, there are some sampled Mellotron sounds around which sound pretty good and are not a bad substitute if you can't find the real thing.
Since the mid '60's, the Mellotron has been produced by Streetly Electronics who I visit occasionally when the old girl needs sorting out. John and Martin have more experience than anyone else and are very helpful.
The control room is pretty much together now, a couple of minor faults on the desk, but should have these ironed out in the next couple of days (?)
......also a fair bit of running around in the van today, delivering a radial arm saw, which was sold to help pay for other tools.....and collecting materials to make some stands for the new studio monitor desks, the jigs for these were started but had to stop about 8.30pm......it always takes longer than you think !........ they will now have to wait another couple of days as there is still much setting up to be done before next week..............pic is of inside of Mellotron with keys and frame removed. tttfn :-)




Gott Nytt Ar!

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Thursday 4th January 2007

A bit slow to get going after the break, once again loading up and moving the entire studio and band gear to a new location - everything has been in storage for a couple of weeks and the whole building is now a jumble of flightcases, furniture and artwork !...........buried in the middle of this, we have managed to rebuild the mixing desk and get most of the control wiring done - at this stage it always looks impossible in the available time!
The day came to an abrupt halt with a power cut before we have wired in the uninterruptible power supply - when we are fully up and running, this will keep the computers, samplers and sensitive equipment running for up to half an hour if there is any loss of mains power - over the last few months this has proved to be a vital piece of gear!.....
Guitar Q's.. After all the gear was stolen in 1995, Jonny's tele was replaced after a while with another tele plus, as this was fairly hard to find we tried a few things out in the meantime, experimenting with different necks / bodies / pickups but ended up with the sunburst tele plus that is used to this day.
Ed's Strat has one gold lace sensor in the centre position , the humbucker in the bridge is part of the Sustainer unit which works together with the front pickup.

I've had many emails about the tech tips - it's good to know that it is useful, each part will be posted up when I get time - a pocket book is planned and should be due out in the summer..............Tomorrow an early start as the control room needs to be up and running by the end of the day....hmm. :-)




How to.....

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Wed 13th December

Spent the weekend throwing out yet more junk from the workshop and re-arranging machines in preparation for some guitar making in the spring....... this last week has been incredibly busy but good.............
got totally soaked on the way in today, I had planned to repair the old emulator this morning but didn't feel ready for the old electricity and water mix, so have left it for later.

Set up the old Gibson ES-125 again as the bridge arrangement is now fragile so it needs fairly constant attention............by the way, the bridge cover on T1 is off a Precision bass....
There is now a tech tips page on the site which I hope will be useful.
Off out to find some sheet music.........pic is of nice bigsby tele :-)




Pat Pending.....

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Tuesday 5th December

A fair bit of time spent out of the cubicle today, dealing with paperwork, receipts and keeping up with the never ending equipment and PAT testing list, also checking out some more guitars, a '69 black Les Paul Custom and I guess more notably, the old 1955 Strat - it's only when you start to look closely at the old ones that you realise how many small differences there are between them all and the telltale marks inside that can indicate their true age.
When dismantling and checking out the Strat, I found a small piece of masking tape stuck in the bottom of the control cavity with, ' Mary 13th September 1955' written on it in pencil.
In the early days, women were employed by Leo Fender to do the wiring and they would sign each one themselves.....I guess Mary would have never thought that 51 years later her name may be mentioned in an article on the internet, spinning around a world full of technology and many thousands of electric guitars of all shapes and sizes..,I wonder where she may be?.............
The early necks also had the date written in pencil on the end, a few years later this would be done with a rubber stamp.
There are also serial numbers on the pots, all of these things can pinpoint fairly accurately when they were made and also that they are the genuine article.
Touring tips and stuff............one of the most useful things I have in my toolbox and would reccomend, is a pocket multi frequency oscillator ( ISO-TECH IFG100) which is great for checking lines, amps and pedal chains, it puts out a sine or square wave and if modified with an angled jack on the output, it is quick and easy to run through crowded pedal boards to help locate problems, it is also handy for checking levels down DI lines...............
I got mine from RS components (stock no 205-968) but I would think with a bit of looking around, one could be found cheaper elsewhere..........also if anyone has an Electro Voice RE-20 microphone that has a broken capsule, I think they can be replaced free if you ask them nicely!!.......
meanwhile... 2 hours later...I have just had the sustainer Strat apart to sort it out as it stopped working in the middle of things......pic is it with some crowded wiring!!..
plank :-)




Moon ?

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Monday 4th December

An incredibly busy and full week just gone, with no time to even think about the blog or to get much sleep, although I have found some alternative lighting which I turn on when my eyeballs have had enough of the strip lights which is generally about 7pm -ish........there is a steady stream of keyboards, guitars and bits of outboard gear arriving every couple of days, I reckon by the end of the week there will be the usual chaos with everything plugged into everything else, ho ho.
Along with the usual maintenance and repairs, three days were taken up with trying to make a hand powered mechanical instrument (?) into one controlled by motors and gears whilst remaining stable and quiet enough to record - can't really say what it is right now but it mangled my head for a few days!
I had an interesting question regarding impedance which can be a difficult thing to comprehend first off, but this may be a simple way of explaining it...........Assume that you have a battery clip containing 8 AA batteries as power supply 1 and a nice beefy car battery as power supply 2.
These are both capable of delivering 12 volts but there is a large difference in the current rating of these two - a car battery can have a rating of 80 amp hours ( any combination of amps and hours that add up to 80) and an AA battery has a rating of about 2 amp hours. To help with working out expected power consuption,( which is sidetracking into other stuff a bit)..... Volts x Amps = Watts -
Anyway, .......then assume you have a small instrument lamp as load 1 and a car headlight as load 2.
Impedance can be anything that impedes the current flow whether it be the power source or the load and these should be matched as closely as possible for optimum efficiency.
The AA batteries ( high impedance source) will work best with the small bulb ( high impedance load) and the same goes for the car battery (low impedance source) and the headlamp (low impedance load).
The small batteries and large lamp will not work very well with the bulb glowing dimly and the batteries going flat fairly quickly, the large battery will keep the small bulb going for a relatively long time but this is obviously not the most efficient.
The same principle goes where amps (source) and speakers (load) are concerned, the ohm setting on the amp should match the speaker rating as closely as possible to provide the correct load for the amp or overheating and damage can occur.
Never have your amp on without the speakers connected, the amp will continue to send power out and if it has nowhere to go it will just build up heat with disastrous and potentially expensive results!
Hopefully this explains it in an understandable way.......
pic is of nice old Sunburst Strat which incidentally was wired by Mary in September 1955 - it's odd to play a guitar such as this, knowing that it was around before the Beatles had even started out..................




Too much perspective..........

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Monday 27th November

Out of radio contact for the past week as dismantling studio and band gear and loading into yet another big truck............after a few days rest, we are now set up in a new location and a few hours into day one, with everybody happy! - it's a bit windy over here but nice all the same!
My workbench is now set up in a ten foot square air conditioning cupboard which is covered in tin foil and about twenty strip lights.......I am now able to see what I am doing as long as I blink several times every second, feels like being deep inside a ship or something - weird anyway!
Vox....are well known for their amps but they also started making guitars in 1961, their first models being called the Stroller and the Clubman.
These were made by furniture making company Stuart Darkins of Shoeburyness who were keen to branch out- these were simple solid bodies with single pickups..........one memorable feature was that some of the cheaper models used a television aerial socket for the output!.....this was a problem, amongst other reasons the guitar was more mobile than a tv set and the cable kept falling out!
Vox also made a model called the Soundcaster and managed to capitalise on the demand from many groups at the time for cheaper lookalike guitars, this was followed by original styled instruments such as the Phantom, the Mk3 version of which was hand built and used extensively by Brian Jones - throughout 1964 and beyond the demand surged for Vox guitars.
Not strings but drums, well cymbals anyway............cleaning your cymbals with regular cymbal cleaner will make them nice and shiny but your drum skins can end up with black marks all over them - applying a light coat of spray furniture polish can help stop this and keep your cymbals looking nice and clean for longer as it forms a seal over the brass, shielding the surface from the air............too much polish can muffle the sound considerably - although some people like this and never clean their cymbals
This evenings main job is a wobbly motor on the oldest space echo - there is a limit to what you can do with these and the original motors are almost impossible to find and horribly expensive if you do - I know an old chap in Reading who rewinds and repairs old motors and transformers, when we get back it may be worth taking one of these round and seeing if we can do something, besides I like going there anyway - sheds are the best place to be!...........a hand has just appeared round the door with a dented and broken small stone pedal.......... I must sort this light out tomorrow or it will drive me mad!! breeeughlaaahhahahah
pic is of detailed space echo repair note.




Know what I mean ?........

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Wednesday 15th November

A good day today, made better by hearing the old Young Chang piano sounding good after many hours have been spent working on it, repairing broken and worn hammers and shafts that have become tired after a few years wear and tear, a great piano!!

re: Infinite sustain......powered by 9 volt batteries, the Fernandes sustainer unit generates a magnetic field, which causes the strings to vibrate............ The sustainer circuit produces magnetic pulses via the neck driver pickup, causing the strings to vibrate which are in turn picked up (!) by the bridge humbucker...........resulting in infinite sustain, which works well......
As well as all the instructions being printed in Japanese, it is tricky to retro fit as there is very little room inside the Strat to fit the circuit board and it may be necessary to rout a cavity for the battery......Fernandes do make a guitar with the unit already fitted..
re:Microphonic pickups: sometimes you can get a pickup that squeals and becomes microphonic, this is usually due to vibration in the pickup coils - this can be reduced greatly by 'potting', which is done by dipping the coil in molten wax, as the wax cools it hardens and seals the coils - a fairly messy and slightly risky job but cheap and effective !.....
This used to be done by Fender several years ago but many are now lacquered, which can become brittle and break...
Already working out equipment and logistics for next session, trying to remember what went in which case and making many lists which end up covered in scribbles...........making a 1u spring reverb thingy..... it's just after midnight and sleepy -could be time for a cup of coffee and some more soldering......... pic is of Harry :-)




Scrabster............

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Friday 10th November

A chilly start this morning, sitting as close as possible to the heater without scorching my leg..........all quiet this morning after a late night so will be tidying the work bench as there are almost no tools left in my tool case!..............
re: guitar pickups - The original guitar pickup was pretty much invented by George Beauchamp, who worked for National guitars in the late 1920's, his first experiments involved removing a pickup from an old phonograph, mounting it on a wooden block and using a single steel string to prove it would work.
Several months of work and experimentation resulted in a pickup with large horseshoe magnets that enclosed the coil and surrounded the strings - this was eventually to become part of the famous wooden 'frying pan' guitar, which was the first to be offered with an electro magnetic pickup....Beauchamp, who had meanwhile teamed up with Adolph Rickenbacker, was granted a patent in 1937.................
A guitar pickup is basically an electro-magnetic device that converts physical energy (vibrating steel string) into an electrical pulse (alternating current).
A pickup in one form or another is a bar magnet or pole pieces set in a bobbin, with thousands of turns of fine copper wire wound around it....(the original stratocaster had over 8,000 turns).
When the magnetic field is altered by the vibrating string, this produces small electrical pulses in the coil itself, that travel through your volume and tone controls, jack socket and down the cable into your amp, where it is magnified many times and then fed into the speaker which converts the signal into sound waves :-)................. pic is of this mornings mess!




Van fever.........

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Tuesday 7th November

Today I have mostly been collecting more studio gear and driving 280 miles in thick motorway fog, eating crisps and drinking fizzy pop instead of stopping for a proper lunch...tut tut.
I am now back in my kennel and attempting to fix the old Fender champ, which has decided to be noisy and throw out some extra unwanted voltage................re:space echo....Quantegy 456 tape seems to do the required thing - Jonny is about to give it a go.
For anyone interested in learning to read music, I found a good book in Spain a couple of weeks ago - called (wait for it!) 'how to read music' by Roger Evans.....printed in 1978 it is very clear and comprehensive - there are a few copies for about three quid on abebooks isbn 024189896 or 0241899168..................back to it! :-)

» That weblink... http://www.abebooks.co.uk




A bit parky............

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Fri 3rd November

A late night last night, woke up freezing about 6am after falling asleep with the window wide open..................spent the morning drinking many cups of tea and removing spring reverb gubbins from boogie amp and building it into a stand alone thing.
Did you know..........The speed of sound is approximately 340m per second and the frequency of a sound wave is measured in cycles per second. (hz) The distance a sound wave travels in one cycle is known as the wavelength.
The wavelength is equal to the speed of sound divided by the frequency, so.....a sound wave at 34hz (just below c#1) has a wave length of 340/34 = 10m...............
I have been getting some good results with the space echo tapes - I can make some up if anyone needs any.....................as for batteries, I am mostly using procell which have about 9.45 volts when new and are particularly good in radio packs down to about 8v and can then be used in effects pedals, GBS are a good supplier (01708 769222) and cheap as long as you buy more than just one or two...... pic is of Kalimba :-)




Wood ?

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Monday 6th November

I am pleased to note that yesterday passed without blowing any fingers off or accidentally setting my hair on fire!.............Back in the studio again this afternoon after a few hours driving in thick fog.....a few people have asked questions about making guitars and whether or not to have a go ........
There may be many reasons for wanting to build your own guitar - a few years ago a good reason would have been that it may be cheaper, but that is not now the case, as you can now get a reasonable(?) guitar for a couple of hundred quid..........maybe wanting a good quality personalised instrument that is truly yours is the reason that is most likely to provide the necessary drive and produce a pleasing end result !
Whatever the reason for starting, it can be a very enjoyable experience but not an easy one!...............You need less tools than you may think, but you do have to know how to use them - if you are able to measure and mark out accurately, saw straight and plane flat ,then that should do it, but you have to have patience and be prepared to accept that you may make some(costly) mistakes along the way !!
It is good to start with something simple that will help and encourage you whilst you are making it - as I have probably said before, Leo Fender got it right over fifty years ago and one could do worse than follow an example that has proved so long lasting.
So..........a telecaster style guitar is probably a good place to start, also you won't have far to go to have a look at one if you get a bit stuck!
As far as tools go, the old 'buy the best you can afford' is true but you need less tools than you may imagine, the most all round useful tool to have is a router (1/4" is sufficient to start with as most guitar based stuff is fairly light) closely followed by the band-saw which you can't really do without - there are a number of others, drills, planes, scrapers etc but those are the big ones to try and get sorted.
When you are ready to start, it's a good idea to practice various procedures (band sawing , fret slotting, cavity routing etc) on scrap wood before turning your expensive and exotic hardwood into a pile of shavings and then trying to explain to the cheery bloke at the timber yard why you need another piece so soon !

Many joinery based items often involve a lot of setting up of machinery and repetition work, guitar making is a craft and employs many different skills on a relatively small workpiece, which keeps it interesting and enjoyable.
Another thing worth spending time on is making jigs - my friend Paul makes and uses jigs all the time and produces high quality hi-fi and studio speakers, a few years ago when we were working in the workshop together, (I would always do everything freehand) I would see him out of the corner of my eye tutting and shaking his head as I routed freehand f-holes on the front of a guitar I had spent two months making !
It only takes one slip to ruin things and I now use jigs for many things and 6mm mdf is a lot cheaper than a slab of Ash or Mahogany! .........I guess the best reason of all for getting started is just that you want to do it :-)
With regard to stage tuners - I have tried several kinds and the one that is quick and reliable is the Boss TU12-H, you can't really beat it, strobe tuners are good and more accurate for intonation but not quite quick enough if you are constantly tuning a pile of guitars................pic is of a nice 60's SG and a dead fly :-)





Welease Wodger

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Wed 1st November

After a busy week setting up again, I spent Sunday dismantling and removing an old harpsichord from the local church to save it from certain death in the skip!! - it looks like it should be ok with a bit of TLC..........Now back in recording at another secret location...........this morning experimenting , making up some space echo tapes with different kinds of tape, trying to improve general sound quality and feedback.
If you are interested in weird and experimental instruments, I found a website with loads of odd and amusing stuff on it - check out the guitar machine, it must have taken ages to get that right !! - link is below.
Whilst out and about yesterday, I had the pleasure of looking at and playing a genuine 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, surely one of the best guitars ever made, it just sounds and feels great!, now very rare and a tiny bit expensive...............Gibson are doing a vintage old stock '57 re-issue, which is meant to follow the original very closely - I hope to try one out next week - it will be nice to be able to do a comparison with the real thing to see just how good they are.................... time to go as all has gone quiet next door, except for a large buzzing noise................ pic is of '57 Goldtop. :-)

» That weblink... http://www.oddmusic.com




Or like this..........

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"How do I get into the music business and go on tour?" - is a question I have been asked many times and have only recently tried to write down some kind of answer...........
If touring is to be your chosen path, I would start by saying that enrolling at your local college and doing one of the many 'new' courses available is not going to be much use when you are in the dark, fumbling around in the smoke and strobe lighting, trying to retrieve assorted pedals and leads that have been booted across the stage by your guitar smashing new best friend!! ....
You can learn something from everything but there is no better way than practical hands on experience.
I guess working out what you are interested in and can be good at is the first step - if you are into guitars and fixing things then instrument tech may be the job for you, if you have organisational skills and are good with people, then maybe tour managing could be your thing - there are many jobs - sound engineer, electrician, programmers, instrument technicians, caterers, set builders, lighting designers, riggers, accountants and more.......
OK, you need to start somewhere.........If being a roadie / instrument tech is your choice then one way would be to find a small band in your area ( which may or may not have one of your mates in it !) and offer to help in some way - even if it means just carrying stuff from the car or van - musicians will always be glad of some help!
Teach yourself as much as you can, buy yourself a guitar tuner , take your guitar to bits and rebuild it! - whatever it takes......the ability to get on with people is just as important as any technical skills you may have.
If you are good at lifting things and remember to turn up on time, then getting a job on the stage crew at your local venue is a good way in - try and actually speak to the stage manager themselves if you can, then you can make a face to face impression with them which may be more productive than leaving a scrap of paper with your phone number at the stage door!........
being on the stage crew may not be the glamorous situation you might have been expecting and will involve much sweating, humping and moving of band gear but will give you a useful ground level view and can put you in direct contact with musicians who can benefit from your services ( which may have to be free for a while).
This direct way in can also be useful if you are interested in doing the sound or lights and you may learn something if you find a friendly house engineer.........Contacting your local PA company and seeing if they need somebody to help load equipment, make tea, setting up mic stands, cabling up or driving. Although it may seem tedious or a long way from where you aim to be, it is all useful stuff - the wider view you have of the whole picture, the more useful you can be - and the more likely you are to find work!

Once you find the environment familiar and know a few people, you can start to focus on your chosen field, opportunities can arise that you may have not even thought of .
Production managers may have started out doing backline or come from some other area of showbusiness, Tour managers may well have previous experience in the travel business, Stage managers will often have been technicians of some kind.
There is a surprisingly tight network of touring personnel across the country and you can bump into the same people fairly often.......which is nice!.........Building up contacts and getting to know people all takes time, don't expect it all to happen in five minutes! - being able to drive and possibly having a van may also help with getting work.
Before deciding that a life on the road is for you, a fair amount of consideration is needed, as although it can be a great life, It is a tough business which can play havoc with your personal life and there are no guarantees, if you are a sensitive soul looking for a reliable job with security then it's not for you............ but if you are a strong minded individual who likes to work in weird places under intense pressure, at the wrong time of day and with a bunch of other diverse interesting people, then maybe it's for you! .......
As with most things , Working hard, being in the right place at the right time and good luck can get you there............ however far you get, you will meet people coming the other way, so always be nice!!
I have no formal qualifications and started off doing all of the above at one time or another, my present qualification comes from 27 years of practical experience doing many kinds of jobs and all kinds of gigs from small pubs to stadiums, an interest in everything and an ability to repair most things, which again has only been learnt over a long time.
I hope this is of some use - I am sure to have left loads of things out that I will remember after posting this up!!.................follow your heart and be happy :-)
pic is of busy backstage at festival, can't remember which one !




Ugh!......

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Thurs 19th Oct

I seem to have a bad case of Man flu, so am wandering around feeling sorry for myself, moaning and drinking endless cups of Lem Sip..
Anyway, enough of that........ I am getting asked the same questions fairly regularly so will be setting up a FAQ page soon, there is a bit of delay answering queries or posts due to being a tiny bit busy!....... but, as before I am happy to answer Tech / Guitar / Woodwork / Electronics questions if I can......SO...

Jonny's current vox is a standard AC30-6 Top Boost re-issue running with mesa boogie valves, this changes often, with the previous touring amp being a Dave Petersen special, which are bulletproof! - these amps are currently used flat out all day every day for the 'We will Rock you' stage show and just keep on going - if a little hot!........
Working out different ways of getting these amps to sing, I have experimented with kicking the input voltage up via a large transformer, this sounds great but this shortens the life of good quality valves considerably and cheap ones last about 10 minutes !!
A powerbrake of some kind is a good way of squeezing extra drive from the speakers whilst keeping the volume to a useable level......... These go in line between the amp output and the speakers and will have a rotary or stepped control, be sure to select the correct impedance or you may damage your amp!
We are having a bit of a sort through the mountain of equipment and will shortly be selling some radiohead amps and bits and pieces, hope to post these up next week.
That reminds me, the original impetus for starting the site was Eds guitar being stolen ( as well as everything else!) there is a picture and description on the Stolen Equipment list, please have a look as I know that many fans of the band look at this site and it would be great to find it!... Spending today piano moving and sorting stuff out for round 2 next week.......
:-)




Armitage Shanks interface....

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Tues 17th October

A very slow day today, feeling terrible with monstrous headache........Well, the last four weeks has seen an incredibly busy and productive recording session, we weren't sure whether it would work when we started, as the whole place was falling to bits, with the rooms thick with stale air and water gushing through the roof during stormy weather............
After much effort by all and tons of equipment, we managed to build a nice few rooms inside which made it feel good and it worked !!
It's good being able to actually listen to the songs now - it's not possible on tour as always watching and listening for problems and being prepared to sort them out demands such a different head space, which is a very long way from having a couple of beers at the end of the night and listening.........great !!
Q's..Headrush volume control problem sounds like a broken solder joint on pcb.............replacement shredmaster switches can be obtained direct from Marshall (01908 375411)
When buying switch cleaner, try to get switch cleaner / lubricant mix, as the cleaner on it's own can dry everything out and speed up corrosion, Servisol is good !...........Guitar pickups are standard except:
Ed Clapton strat has Fernandes sustainer on neck and bridge pickups and gold lace sensor in centre
Plank is fitted with Kent Armstrong humbuckers
Thom's hybrid tele 3 has a '57 Gibson PAF in bridge
Tele 2 has Seymour Duncan stacked humbucker in bridge
Fender Jazz bass has Seymour Duncan STR-J1 in neck and bridge..............pic is of secret bookcase door into drum room....... off to make a cup of tea and shake off this headache
ttfn :-)




Gretsch......

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Here is a pic of Jonny's Gretsch, a lovely example of a great guitar....... weird switching and very difficult to rewire ... ho ho !




Scooby Dooby Doo.......

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Sat 30th September

Back at home for today, catching up on a pile of emails and some sleep !............have been buried deep in Scooby Doo house out in the english countryside with no internet and no telly !, everyone is hard at it, working very long days and sounding great
Q's.... Ed's FC200 controller is running a Switchblade 16 channel programmable router which connects anything to everything else!!...................haven't had time to get pics of the touring / recording Yamaha U1 piano but it is for sale for about ?2500, the case has plenty of knocks and scratches but is mechanically sound, having been tuned and serviced continually since new.
re: Fender Rhodes I will email requested manuals asap - I have left my laptop in the studio so it may be a few days....
A good few hours spent in the week replacing broken switch and wiring in Jonny's new Gretsch guitar - a very difficult and slow job as the only way in is through a small hole under pickup, and the switching is weird anyway !..........re: Shredmaster pedal, the replacement switch is original item direct from Marshall, there are tougher switches but they tend to be very noisy.............also the Shredmaster is not run through the overdrive, they are separate ...........Pic is 1971 Telecaster Bass.... :-)




Kitchen Sink......

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Sat 23rd September

This week has disappeared so fast !....... very long days setting up - I had forgotten just how much equipment there actually is when we build the studio too! - I guess it is probably near two artics full...........

Many hours spent getting the control and live rooms to feel right , with plenty of building and rebuilding screens and booths and hanging panels in the ceilings............ as we started with an enormous empty building we have needed to get together lighting, furniture, carpets and various drapes and baffles and a thousand other things !!........... not only are the acoustics important, but the overall appearance and feel of the rooms has to be just right...............
Back to it in the morning, starting with piano tuning before it gets too noisy!............rebuilding Ed's rack and a couple of amp repairs - it doesn't seem to matter how careful you are , things will still break...ho hum...........
A few Q's: guitar switch is an Apem 300 series momentary push button, normally on and with gold contacts - Apem are based in the US, link below - if in UK they can be obtained from RS components - I will get stock number in the next day or two............. Main piano has been Yamaha U1, the other piano used for recording is an old Young Chang which was made in Korea with the original Yamaha tooling, the new ones are made in China and are quite different......................
Anyone with a '73 Fender Rhodes that needs servicing / tuning, I have a manual which I can email if needed...............pic is of my twin brothers................plank :-)

» That weblink... http://www.apem.com




Ready ?......

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Monday 18th Sept

A very busy day after a weeks holiday.......Collecting up and dusting off old keyboards, drum kits and guitars from around the studio and rebuilding some of the touring setup ready for the next session of recording..........we are setting up in a large empty house and today saw the electrics, backup generator and ups power supplies installed, along with cooking equipment and provisions......
the pressure is on as there is still an enormous amount to do this week and as usual at this stage it looks impossible............
Guitar Q's... Thom's Rickenbackers are standard 330's with no mods........... Ed's FC200 is controlling a custom built switching unit linked to the pedal boards and rack............I make the guitar and link cables using angled and straight switchcraft 1/4" jacks and VDC oxygen free instrument cable which works nicely............these jacks are lighter and less bulky than others also putting less strain on pcb mounted sockets..............
pic is of rare and beautiful Palme speaker for the Ondes Martenot....... should have U1 pics and info up next week once we get settled in........tomorrow sees an early start once again, loading trucks and rebuilding the machine.............. :-)




Blighty.......

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Fri 1st September

The tour ended on a high note with a great show in Amsterdam.......it was a bit strange to be doing an indoor show after being outside for the whole month - you slowly get used to the whole feel of doing the outdoor shows and the difference is huge!........Travelled on the tour bus overnight to the UK, with people being dropped off at various locations on the way, to catch trains, planes and buses home...........arrived back mid morning with just enough time for a quick wash before heading over to rehearsal studio to unload the 40' truck, which was unsurprisingly but irritatingly packed to the roof and to the back doors with other touring equipment added to the usual pack ...which all had to be unloaded! .................a busy couple of days with meetings and site visit to arrange logistics for recording setup as we will shortly be moving everything in to an empty house in the country to continue with recording...................Getting some new Kent Armstrong pickups to try out in Colin's Jazz bass, which needs completely re wiring.............also making a start on servicing and sorting out the large pile of backline!.......The Yamaha U1 piano that has been used on the last few tours and recording will shortly be for sale, I will post this up in a couple of weeks after collecting together info and pics......... plank :-)




No strings attached............

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Sat 26th August

Here we are at the rock en Seine festival site after traveling from a raucous show in Dublin....... it's grey and raining today with everyone tired after a 6am load in...... looking forward to the relative luxury of a theatre show in Amsterdam, which is the last show of the tour !!......
Several requests re: Phil's touring gear.... this includes: Premier Vintage white 20" Bass drum, 16" floor tom, 13 + 10" rack toms, 12" maple snare and 14" Noble and Cooley vintage snare...... drum heads are Remo powerstroke 4's and a Coated ambassador snare........ also custom triggers and pads running into Roland SPD brain..........
Cymbals are Zildjian.....custom 13" Hi hats, 12" splash, 15" thin crash, 16" crash and 18" breakbeat ride...... DW9000 Hi Hat remote and premier hardware.....
pic is of kit from earlier in the tour..... :-)




Mountains...............

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Tues 22nd August

Woke up early on the bus outside Meadowbank stadium in Edinburgh, with us parked between a football match on one side and somebody practising hammer throwing on the other!....... expecting the windows to come crashing in at any moment, I made a cup of tea and sat watching the football match through the window and trying to wake myself up..............having finished the festivals, we are back doing our own shows with Beck and Deerhoof supporting .................a great gig tonight, probably the best so far - the crowds in Scotland are so noisy and going for it right from the start, a great atmosphere!!...........- no tech problems tonight and everybody happy........off overnight to Dublin, expecting to get woken early by immigration, so early to bed and looking forward to a day off soon...........starting to make arrangements for truck tipping and sorting out band gear at end of tour and getting ready for next recording session............pic is of inside of Fender Rhodes taken whilst tuning..............plank :-)




V Festival.........

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Sun 20th August

A cracking gig yesterday, after great concern about the weather, it stayed clear for the show and then tipped it down about 5 mins after.........everyone on great form and a brilliant crowd!!......... from tech point of view, a few broken strings and bits but no total disasters and a great vibe on the stage..........today we were up at 5.45am for a muddy load in to Stafford V, everything a rush this morning as we had to be clear of the stage by 10am to allow the days events to start on time..............a few useful tips.....when fitting new valves or attending to old ones, if you draw a line on the glass and amp chassis with permanent marker it makes it easier to line up if you have to remove them for any reason..............also when removing or replacing guitar or amp wiring, always draw yourself a diagram for reference and mark wires - all this makes it much easier on re assembly...also digital camera photos are most useful for this or amp and pedal settings.............off to find some cold breakfast and a couple of hours sleep before the PA fires up as the bus is directly behind it!!.......pic is of lovely festival transport.........plank :-)




Pukkelpop.....

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Thurs 17th August

Today we are at Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, which is one of the best organised on the circuit.......an early setup yesterday for soundchecking some new songs and sorting out technical problems, much time spent dismantling pedal boards and guitars, cleaning out all the dust that seems to permeate everything at the moment as all the shows are outdoors............dust and dirt are the worst and will wreck everything very quickly unless kept on top of............lots of hanging around today, seeing a few familiar faces as many bands and their crews are around the site and it's not long before you meet someone you know............showtime is not until midnight and we have just been informed that a large storm is on it's way and due to arrive about then .........Off to find some more plastic sheeting and try to prepare for the worst.........we could be in for a busy night once again !.............pic is of SR guitar world.... :-)




Hungry ?..............

Mon 14 August

After the airport chaos at Heathrow, Friday saw us leave the UK a day late bound for Hungary and the Sziget festival in Budapest..........It took four hours to get the trucks on to the site for a midnight load in, as the only way to the stage area was across the field through about thirty thousand people who were not going anywhere!......some of whom were either laying in front of or climbing all over the vehicles, which is a nightmare for the drivers to deal with!!....... The festival was fairly laid back - we had a fair amount of technical problems before and during the show, which kept everyone busy........The festivals demand a completely different approach and frame of mind, as many things are out of your control - including the weather!...the changeovers are very hectic and there is almost no time to deal with any problems that may arise, the equipment has usually been unplugged for a few hours at this time and some things can break during power up, so a tense time for all .......We had 19 hours on the bus to Berne in Switzerland where we have a lighting load-in day today for an overnight focus and band gear load-in at first light......and it's raining ho hum... More questions about paint scratches - Yes you can use wet and dry paper but don't use anything coarser than 1200 grade or you won't get the scratches out! Go lightly and use water to lubricate then dry off and use T-cut followed by wax polish - you can get good results but it's not a five minute job and always read the instructions on the tin / box / bag / packet...:-)




Jazz......

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Tues 25th July

Pic is of an old archtop Jazz guitar I have had for about 20 years and make efforts now and again to find out what it may be, tailpiece has 'made in Germany in tiny letters but that's it.....thought it may be an old hofner but headstock suggests otherwise ?? If anyone has any clues please let me know.............trying to get on with the bass but a trickle of repairs is keeping it under the bench for now..........re: Spectra lacquer - I think motorist discount stores sell it for about three quid a tin................Thanks for offers of TR909, we now have another !... :-)




Amplyfires............

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Monday 24th July

The past few days spent like everyone else in the UK , trying to stay out of the heat....................in and out of workshop fixing stuff and over to the rehearsal studio tidying up the disaster area we left when starting out on tour! ..........after many requests, here is a reasonably complete list of radiohead amps / combos used live and in the studio: Ed uses 2 Mesa Boogie Dual rectifier Trem-o-verb combos, both from 1995-6, they are slightly different but both run with standard Boogie 6L6 / ECC83's..........also two of the first modded 1996 Vox AC30 specials from Dave Petersen, running Watford Valves original Mullard / Tesla ECC83 / EL84's as described earlier.................Thom"s two AC30 specials date from 1999 and are modded the same way running with Harma valves at present.............Colin presently uses a 240v Ampeg SVT-CLU classic head with standard valves into an Ampeg 8x10 cab...an unbeatable combination as anyone knows!!......also some rehearsing and recording done with a blue diamond finish Ampeg B-15RW combo................at the moment, Jonny is using a standard 1998-ish Vox AC30 6-TB and a Fender 85, which is from 1988..........the 85 and studio 85 are the same !...........other amps used in the studio are: Fender '65 Twin reverb fitted with groove tubes, a Selmer Truvoice and Bassman head from the early 60's running into a home made speaker cab, some Ashdown amps, a Marshall blues breaker combo and an old Ampeg GV22 combo.....various other Amps come and go but they are the ones I mostly fall over at the moment!.............off to get the car mended :-)




Silence.....

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Fri 14th July

A very nice few days away from computers and mobile phones................back to work and a heap of questions.........Ed's device that we keep trying to come up with new battery ideas for is a Boss SP-303 which is a phrase sampler / re sampler, 8 mono samples can be triggered at once and loops built up............as mentioned before - we power this from a combination of PP3's and D cells and fitted with a radio transmitter so Ed can be mobile with it, then routed through pedals..................A few other Q's ..about the best paint and lacquer finishes to use........ this is hard to answer, as with many things, it all comes down to cost..... as with buying tools , get the best you can afford...........when I was first making guitars, I bought a spray gun and compressor and did it myself but quickly realised that it's impossible to get good results spraying in the same space that you make loads of dust !!...............a professional sprayer is the best way to go, after trying a few, I found a good one about fifteen years ago and he does all my finishing................if you want to do it yourself, surprisingly good results can be got from using spray cans if you follow instructions to the letter and prepare fully by grain filling and priming, Spectra lacquer is very good if you can find it..........always spray in a clean environment and on a nice warm day as the paint will go dull ( blooming) if applied in the cold....... as for colour, it's down to personal preference.......not many green guitars are there ?..............pic is of Ed's sustainer Strat.......... :-)




Pyarno

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Thurs 6th July

Up early again with the dreaded jet lag - hopefully will be back to normal tomorrow, I ended up painting the workshop at 7am which could be a mistake..............trying to catch up on a pile of emails and questions........ to answer one... the stage piano is a Kemble U1 silent which is basically the insides of Yamaha piano, built in to a case constructed and assembled in Germany, it works well and is useable as a normal acoustic piano or , with the centre pedal locked in, it lifts a bar across so the hammers don't strike the strings and will trigger a sampled Concert Grand which can be sent to headphones or mixer / pa system...............We use a combination of all possible outputs and use mic / transducer and sample all blended together which works well and sounds better than ever............... live piano has been problematic up until now, the old Young Chang which has been used for ages has a great tone but the action is very tired, producing small creaks and clicks which is frustrating whilst recording...... I am presently searching for a replacement action for this but they are hard to find as most new ones are now produced in China and are different to the original.............. If anyone is looking for new or used Pro Audio equipment, desks, mics, effects etc, then Funky Junk are well worth a look, We have used old Neve and Studer desks and other outboard gear supplied by them in the studio, they have been around many years and know their stuff..........link below..............picking up air freight tomorrow and spending some of the day in the studio............pic is of 1964 Melody Maker, I have several through 50's - 60's if anyone is interested...........plank :-)

» That weblink... http://www.proaudioeurope.com




What time is it ?.........

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Tues 4th July

After a few restless hours in bed following the 10 hour flight from Los Angeles, I am up and about at 4.30am with jet lag............. after a few cups of tea and trying not to wake anyone else up, I head over to the workshop and fumble around in a daze unpacking some newly purchased gauges and guides for the table saw........I discover some modifications needed to make them fit ......having learnt by some previous costly errors that this is not the time of day or frame of mind in which to do anything too important, not to mention the neighbours' reaction to some early morning circular saw action! ........... I decide the the only thing to do is to put the kettle on, sit down and start the list of things not to forget for the next leg of the tour - collecting air freight, new flightcases, keyboard repairs, rolling risers for the festivals, ordering spares, studio desk repairs............I have a feeling the next few days may be a bit blurred............pic of SR spaghetti junction.. :-)




'ollywood....

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Fri 30th June

After sound check around 530pm, some of the stage equipment is moved to make way for the support band to set up.............remaining strings are changed, batteries checked and control positions marked......after this there will be an hour or two to rest or repair anything that is broken...........dinner is usually spread over a couple of hours as everyone gets done at different times...........tuning and limbering up for the show while the support act is on - the nerves will appear at this point so it helps to be busy and concentrate, the nerves thing still surprises me, even after thousands of gigs, I guess it keeps you switched on - if you lose interest and start looking around, then that's when things will start to go wrong !!.....................around 8pm there will be change over,.. where the pedal boards, cables and other stuff is positioned and taped down, followed by more checks.............it's a great atmosphere at this point, tension mixed with excitement and a usually noisy crowd all adds to it...................The band will arrive on stage and play for around 2 hours - behind the scenes is a hive of activity, with much guitar tuning, instrument movements, effects being changed and hundred other things all at once!............the sound and lights are continually monitored and mixed by all engineers and the days efforts will hopefully result in a great show!.........after this, everything is taken apart and packed in it's right place and loaded back into the trucks with the help of many local stage hands and loaders............the last truck door is usually shut around 2am, this means time for a couple of beers and much needed sleep while the bus driver whisks us to the next city where we will walk in and start the day once more...........Today is show day 2 in The Greek theatre, Los Angeles where it is very very hot!!, it is also the last show of this leg in the USA and we fly home tomorrow............the tour continues in Europe in a few weeks.........will continue blog and be catching up with repairs and bits that need doing in the studio, not forgetting to get on with the bass body!! .....several useful things are planned for the site in the future, will have more info in a couple of weeks, pic is of Ed's Gibson 335........plank :-)




Morning......

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Wed 28th June

At 11-am there will be another run of sound and backline crew to the venue........ the monitor system which provides the on stage sound that the band hear will be built and tested over the next few hours, this is independent from the main PA system and sounds quite different around the stage, depending on what each individual would like to hear......................at this point the lighting trusses should be lifted up off the stage, having been filled up and wired.............the central part of the stage should be fairly clear by this point and the carpet is laid to cover the playing area.............the rest of the sound truck is unloaded and 60 cases of band equipment quickly covers the freshly laid carpet !.............Over the next few hours the drum, bass, keyboards, guitar and many other bits and pieces are set up, wired and tested along with the monitor system...............the piano tuner arrives about 1 o'clock, which is a good time to grab some lunch as the tuner needs silence for a while..........from two onwards, everyone is working carefully in their own department preparing for sound check at four..........the band will arrive on stage and go through some of the songs to be played in the show - this can vary, as long as all the individual instruments and lines are used at some point, to tweak sounds and effects and make sure that all is working.........to be continued.......pic is of stage in late morning awash with truss and cases!..........San Diego showday2...:-)




It's like this............

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Tues 27th June

On this leg of the tour, we have a touring party of 35 people, 4 Trucks and 3 Buses.......... given ideal conditions, a typical day runs something like this............. 7am transport to the venue for first call of production, catering, rigging and lighting departments........... One of the first on stage will be the production manager who has an overall view and is in main charge of the days physical goings on........... he will have had drawings and measurements of the stage beforehand which will have been studied by the rigger who will mark out the stage and take charge of the rigging............ he will use a laser level to line up with points in the roof which will be used for hanging chain hoists............ these are used for hanging sections of truss which are built by the lighting crew, who in turn will hang all the lamps, projectors, drapes and screens which are set up throughout the day............. meanwhile the production office is being put together in whatever is the most suitable room , this is the nerve centre that deals with the day to day running of the show, where many practical problems are sorted out and arrangements made for later today, tomorrow and next week !........... a hundred questions are asked and answered all day............. mid morning, the front of house PA system is built, some of which is flown from the points and motors hung earlier in the day.......... the setup and angles of speaker columns are worked out and fine attention is paid to this throughout the day by one specific technician.......... Also throughout the morning, the touring head of security will survey the whole venue and workout a strategy for dealing with the various issues that may arise and will have a meeting with the local security staff and give a detailed briefing of all the days requirements, as well as taking charge of the days allocation and control of working and guest passes............. while all this is going on, there is a catering department working flat out providing food of all kinds for the many different people working........... which reminds me - I must eat my dinner !!, more of this tomorrow.. pic is of SF stage........... setup and showday 1 San Diego :-)




My amp is full of wasps !

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Sat 24th June

The Greek theatre is an 8,000 capacity outdoor venue in Berkeley, which is about 45 mins from downtown San Francisco............. a boiling hot day, for a while late morning the flightcases were too hot to touch and delayed unloading guitars into the direct sun !!...............plenty of odd noises and weird buzzes today, so out with the test equipment and meters and taking the backs off amps, checking cable runs and connections.............It's a good idea to try and keep instrument signal cables away from lighting power and other AC runs and transformers as this can introduce unwanted noise, although this is not always possible when space is tight............another battle with the tuning during the show, as in the evening the famous San Francisco fog rolled in and the temperature plummeted leaving everyone hunting for warm clothes that were mostly at the hotel miles away!.........all guitars put in storage after the show to avoid condensation problems when it warms up again today.....................Q's... the Rickenbacker 330's are not modified.....Vox AC306TB amps are from 1996-7 and the Dean Markley strings are Signature series Nickel Steel reg 10-46.............. pic is from Chicago theatre :-)




Precision

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Thurs 22nd june

Arrived in San Francisco this afternoon after a pleasant flight from Chicago, two good shows in the Auditorium theatre, a fabulous building designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, built in 1889 and one of the most beautiful theatres in the world........ the fourth level is about 80 feet high at the back and it's very weird and steep up there ! ...............pic of Colin's favourite and well used cream Fender Precision Bass, made in 1973...........apart from vol pot and jack, it's all original including the pickup(s), fitted with Stadium Elites 45,65,85,105 whilst touring, with other combinations used in the studio......... put through a trusty Ampeg SVT classic and 8x10 cab..........day off tomorrow to be spent finding yet more tools :-)




Joe's Tele

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Tues 20th June

A close up pic of Joe Strummer's old birds eye maple telecaster, from a joinery point of view, this is pretty much my favourite guitar that I have built. Made in 1987, with straight through neck from two splices of Canadian rock maple and centre splice of mahogany..........The body sides are mahogany faced with 7mm birds eye maple.
The pickups are EMG's, bridge by Kahler and Gotoh machine heads. Front mounted truss rod with birds eye fingerboard and 25.34" scale length.
The guitar has been gigged a fair amount and is very stable with a crunchy sound. I hope to get time to make another!............... :-)




Chicago...

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Mon 19th June

In Chicago with a much needed day off yesterday...... due to many requests, here is a picture of Jonnys pedal board as of a couple of days ago - although it never stays the same for too long !........ more cleaning and checking today as everything has a coating of dust from the festival - this can wreck the guitar pots and switches very quickly. I found another useful site for Fender serial number information and configuration etc - address below. Will try and put some info together in a day or two about screening and reducing unwanted noise from pickups and controls :-)

» That weblink... http://www.provide.net/~cfh/fender.html#serial




Bonnaroo

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Sun 18th June

A boiling hot day starting with 4.45 am hotel lobby call for transport to the festival site.......with everybody sleepy, we set up and have line and equipment checks around 6.30am at full volume!..........I think a few happy campers may have awoken to the sound of the very good crew band playing a very bad version of Masters of the Universe!..................everything ok and we part dismantle and shift equipment to the back on rolling risers....................The days timing is all over the place, some of it spent on the bus, catching up on bits of sleep here and there and generally trying to stay out of the sun.............after Beck has played we have a smooth change over and the band take the stage around 8.30pm and do one of the longest radiohead shows ever at two and a half hours in front of over 80,000 people!..........Everyone rose to the occasion and put on a great show!.............There were a few technical problems to deal with here and there that needed ironing out,...... there are always a number of things outside your control at festivals which increases the pressure a great deal, as everyone as usual, wants to do the best possible job.....................Q's about guitar picks - Jonny uses Dunlop .60's, Thom and Ed .73's and Colin uses tortex '88's.
:-)




Two bean tins and a piece of string...

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Thurs 15th June

We are on the bus for an 18 hour drive to Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee after two stressful but good shows in MSG - the theatre has a much better sound and feel than the arena upstairs..........It amazes me that I am able to write and post this up via satellite link while we are hurtling past the Appalachian mountains in Virginia ..the wonders of technology !.....Plenty of adjustments, re- stringing and intonation checks in preparation for the festival on Saturday - it is good to sort out the fiddly things beforehand, as it's always more difficult in the middle of a field in the rain !!.............After an all night lighting focus we load in,set up and test the band gear at 5-am to be clear for 9.30am for the festival day to start .............String Q's......the Acoustic strings are a made up set of Ernie Ball Earthwood's 13-17-26-32-42-52............ pic is the view from stage right..........and the football is about to start on the telly, :-)




New York City.........

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Tues 13th June

Settled down for a good night's sleep in my bunk after leaving Montreal, only to be woken at 4am by shouting and the nice immigration official shining his torch in my face - I guess it's probably a good time to look most like your passport photo anyway!...........Most of this afternoon spent clearing up a burst tube of glue from my workbox drawer that had gone everywhere..... aaagh!...........a fairly slow setup day today due to lack of space and dark stage..........this is the time in union run venues where nobody is allowed onto the stage, generally between 6 and 7pm and often at lunchtime just when we need to be busy ! ..............More attention to Lakewood acoustic, preparing and cutting a new top nut and trying out a new Fishman pickup........... today is the first of two shows at the theatre in Madison Square Garden, which holds about 5,500 people..............pic is of Analogue Systems units whilst being re configured before the tour - a major time consuming job as all the modules have to match up with the correct power supplies inside where space gets very tight...............:-)




Listening.....

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Sun 11th June

One important thing that takes time to sort out as an instrument tech, is your own monitoring - setting up an independent system of some kind so you are able to hear what is going on some distance away, so you are not just relying on misleading facial expressions to indicate there is a problem!..........there are several ways to do this, the simplest way is to take a signal split as far down the line as practically possible with a line selector or similar device, ( I take mine from the dry output of a whammy4) into a small combo of some kind where you can set your own levels.............. this can be any amp really, as long as you are familiar with how it should sound when all is well.......it is important to check that your split is not interfering with the original signal when you make adjustments at your end..................A more complicated setup which we also use, is to have a split from the monitor system that feeds to individual tech mixers with the channels you need and then into a powered speaker.................Utilising both systems helps to keep track of things when you have a complex setup...........pic is of stage right tech mixer..........Montreal showday 2 then overnight to NYC :-)




Acoustics and pickups..

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Fri 9th June

Continuing on with acoustic guitar stuff..... here is a pic of PL4 Acoustic in workshop at early stage of construction, steam bent sides are made from Shedua, (Guibourtia ehie) an African hardwood and mahogany blocks front and rear.................. The front will be Alpine spruce and neck from Mahogany / maple splice with ebony fingerboard.............. hope to post up pic of finished guitar and info in a few weeks, time permitting ! ................. Anyone interested in different acoustic guitar pickups should check out http://dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptest.htm, where there are results of extensive tests of acoustic guitar pickups.............. also mp3 samples to compare the sounds of the some different combinations available, a most useful and informative site !!............... A couple more Q's answered............ Thom's electric guitars mostly go through a Mesa Boogie formula- x pre amp and Electric guitar strings used for all are Dean Markley 10-46 ..................... A nice day off today in French Canada, tomorrow is load in and Show day 1 in Montreal.................. :-)

» That weblink... http://dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptest.htm




Fender Jazzmaster

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Wed 7th June

No1 Jazzmaster was built in 1963, with black ash body, maple neck with edge bound rosewood fingerboard and dot markers...................extra tone controls and switches have been stripped out, now wired through gibson selector switch, 1 vol and 1 tone with .05 cap..............Standard bridge has been replaced by one from a Mustang which has fixed height saddles that are stronger and more stable than originals........but retaining original overall height adjustment on either side.......................... Jazzmaster2 is a recent re-issue, wired in the same way but fitted with Kent Armstrong pickups that are nearer to the originals...................pic of Jazz1.......1st setup and show day in Toronto........... :-)




Boston Pavilion

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Mon 5th June

It's summer - no it isn't !....97 degrees Saturday and 60 degrees today, rain and wind and an outside venue........... Intense guitar tuning for the whole show, warm on the stage but a cold blast of air blowing straight over guitar racks on stage right, making everything sharp so needing constant attention!........... a good show, the sound from the crowd was amazingly loud !!............. addition to previous information about Gibson Semi acoustics - the bigger model is actually an ES125 from 1958 and the smaller is ES125T from 1957....... I found a useful web link yesterday if anyone is interested in dating old Gibson guitars......... amongst others things it covers old semi acoustics from about 1903 - 1969:
http://www.gibson.com/Files/downloads/bluebook/GibsonSERIALNUMBERS.pdf.
Pic from Boston stage.......... :-)

» That weblink... http://www.gibson.com/Files/downloads/bluebook/GibsonSERIALNUMBERS.pdf




White Light

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Sun 4th June

Picture is of Plank 016 belonging to Nathan December.......... built in 1996 after we had been touring with REM, similar in construction to ED2, with three section straight through maple neck, ebony fingerboard, mahogany sides and maple face............The angled back head is a big difference as the others had been straight Fender style up to this point........ With single Gibson pickup, volume and tone control, it has a very full and powerful sound............The appearance was deliberately as stark as possible and the whitest paint we could find !....I do remember this being a very difficult paint job as any tiny irregularities or small pinholes will look huge when it is this white, I think we rubbed it down about three times and started again before we were happy with it...................... have been in contact with Nathan to find a couple of pictures and he still loves the guitar... which is nice......................Everything got a soaking in the storm during the load out in Philadelphia, so we could be in for an interesting day at the first Boston show...........:-)




Ghost in the machine........

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Thurs 1st June

Great show last night, theatres for me are the best - it is what they were designed for after all................the gremlins arrived a few songs in at the beginning of Arpeggi and no sound from Thom's amp !!............in this sitution you have to very quickly decide on a course of action and stick to it, whilst thinking of alternatives as you go through. It's no good just pulling loads of cables out in a panic as this will make the problem far worse!!.................It turned out to be a pre amp valve in the Tube Zipper pedal, which took about 2 minutes to locate - although it seems like much longer when 3000 people are waiting for you to fix it, not my favourite situation !!...............It does happen though, all you can do is prepare as best you can and sort it out, then have a nice cold beer afterwards.............In response to an earlier question - the EH tube zipper does have true bypass....... Did you know.......... the taller a pickup coil is, the more trebles it will produce, an original tele front pickup is fairly tall, helping to give it that distinctive sound............Showday 2 in Philadelphia today then head off overnight to Boston....... pic of Tube Zipper.................:-)




More amp stuff.........

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Wed 31st May

Several questions about amps and modifications.......................Getting major mods done to your amp can prove to be a costly and unnecessary way to go.
Before tearing your amp apart, try experimenting with different valves, it may be all you need to do to find the sound you are looking for................Changing valves is a straightforward job which will have the biggest effect on the sound of your amp and is easily reversible.................pic is of one circuit from the Vox special, there is a huge difference between this amp and the original AC30 it was built from, which is well beyond five minutes with a soldering iron !! .............. Dave Petersen is no longer building these amps, but I understand Korg are producing a limited number based loosely on this model but I don't know anything about them.....................Wiring and circuit modifications are best left to your local repair shop as there are very high voltages inside valve amps which can at best give you a nasty shock................ try to buy the best valves you can afford and they should repay you with a consistent sound and reliability...............................If you are looking for classic old English valve amps and spares or good information about old amps and speakers try Paul at www.ampaholics.co.uk ...... :-)


» That weblink... http://www.ampaholics.co.uk




The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia

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Tues 30th may

Suddenly it's summer and hot !!.......... awake early with jetlag, doing paperwork and watching the sun come up....
The Tower Theatre, just outside Philadelphia began life in 1927. With 3,500 seats it was a vaudeville show place for several years then in the late 30's and 40's it began to show movies in addition to live acts then on to being a movie theatre in the 50's and 60's. After this it was sold and turned into a live music venue.......................David Bowie recorded his show here on the Diamond Dogs tour on July 10, 1974, which later became the 'David Live' album, I remember rushing out and buying it aged 16 and remembering the name of The tower theatre , never for a second thinking I might ever set foot in it!........ Having heard a few stories and knowing it is in a fairly dangerous area to the west of town ( the immigration officer at the airport in fact suggested I would surely be killed if I walked outside!)................I was not sure what to expect but it's a great old theatre which has recently been refurbished, It's great to see that it is still a busy venue and not replaced by another concrete cube!................... Part setup yesterday, checking all the cases for damage and tightening screws and bolts that always come loose when doing long journeys..............Guitar re stringing and amp testing this afternoon, after a walk outside of course......... :-)




Up up and away........

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Sunday 28th May

As I write this, we are at 35,000 feet with about an hour to go before landing in Philadelphia to start five week US tour and a few days of jet lag !!..........Managed to keep my case just under the luggage weight limit with spares, books, cables, plugs and bits and pieces but only a few clothes doh!!...............to answer a few requests, the guitar used by Thom on 'there there' and 'spooks' is a late 50's Gibson ES125 semi acoustic, fitted with original P90 pickup and short scale.......... The ES prefix comes from the 1940's when the first electric guitars started to appear and this stood for 'Electric Spanish' , a term used by Gibson which was applied to quite a few models and is still used today.......... The 125 is also used as the spare for it's bigger brother an ES150, which is used for Street Spirit. They are standard including original pots ! The only addition being Schaller strap-locks to replace the original strap buttons which tend to let go if subjected to much movement ..............and as usual, fitted with a switchcraft mono jack socket after the original fell apart.....................The bridge on both guitars needs checking frequently as they are often played enthusiastically (?) making them move and throwing out the intonation..........I have found that using a small amount of double sided tape on the underside of the bridge helps keep things in place................................... Another useful contact for Amp service and repair in the UK is John Kelly, very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly, he has been working on valve amps since the 60's and is based in North London, his contact number is 0207 359 8001. pic is ES-125T




Vox AC30 special

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Thurs 25th May

Collecting up spare valves before we head to the states on Sunday, the good old ones are getting harder to find and more expensive ! Thom's main Amp is an AC30 special, hand built by David Petersen about six years ago - a great amp similar to the ones built by him for Brian May............... Using standard new issue Vox blue speakers and a mixture of old Mullard, Tesla and Phillips valves which are again special items burst tested and supplied by Watford Valves, these guys are the best without doubt - you can find loads of good valve / tube info on their website....... www.watfordvalves.com...............The amps were built from the bones of new AC306TB combos, completely stripped out and hard wired right through with no pcb, tone controls stripped out and using 2 vol controls only and 2 channels, 1 normal and one boost.................these are very powerful amps which we run at about 4 out of 10 and angled up slightly so as not to take the heads of the front row at shows !!................ made a start on the precision bass body and quickly remembered to go and buy a new dust extractor as the old one has given up - which is the firrst job tomorrow morning !!..............pic of Joe Strummer's birds eye maple tele....will post up more info about this guitar next week............. :-)




Workshop stuff

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Tues 23rd May

A few radiohead jobs to do early on this morning then most of the day spent in the workshop, putting a new bandsaw together and finishing template ready for making Precision style bass guitar body............. this is a decision brought on by watching and listening to the Blockheads bass player Norman Watt-Roy a few weeks ago, absolutely brilliant !!......... I have had a nice piece of very stable (so far) Swamp Ash around for a couple of years that will do nicely........... Ash has been used for years for making guitar bodies, I like it mostly because as well as sounding good it can be nice and light if you get the right piece, the lighter bits do seem to cost more though.........I had a Fender precision Lite a few years ago which was great but I stupidly sold it and have regretted it since!................I guess it will take ages as other jobs will jump up in the list of importance, pic is of template - 6mm mdf is a good thing to use - templates take some time to make but are well worth the effort and can help save making mistakes on expensive timber............ :-)




Last day in the UK

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Fri 19th May

Strange doing this gig with the seats out.......first night fairly smooth with only a couple of radio problems and trying to recover a lost screw from the pedalboard in the middle of the show in the dark........have had many requests for a pic of Jonnys tele......also to answer questions about how we keep the guitar rigs quiet -it is a continual problem with everything having the gain so high...... we use an ebtech hum eliminator and line isolators to keep the earth loop noise down. Also the pedals are powered from voodoolab power supplies which are very good although expensive........cheap DC or AC power supplies can introduce noise of their own, it's good to try and keep these as far as possible from the signal path...............A handy thing if you have a lot of pedals is to put your tuner in line at the end of the chain rather than the start then if you are having problems with stuff cutting out then you can see if the signal is making it to the end of the board----- not a cure all but it can help save a few seconds if time is short, any pics you would like to see or any suggestions to plank3000@gmail.com and I will do what I can..........Next stop Philadelphia........off on my boat for a couple of days............. :-)




Wakey Wakey

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Wed May 17th London

A noisy awakening on the tour bus at 5.45am for an early appointment to stand in the drizzle outside the US embassy...The bus had to leave promptly so one minute I am nice and asleep in my bunk, the next minute bleary eyed and falling out of the bus door clutching assorted bags and trying not to get run over........aaagh!.................Tomorrow is setup and showday 1 in Hammersmith Apollo, the first job is to replace the UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that blew up !........ basically its a rackmount inverter box containing a number of batteries wired together through some relays and circuitry which runs continually from the mains, it will keep the sampler rack and keyboard equipment going for about 20 minutes if the power goes off, we got through by using the monitor spare which is not ideal, so an urgent job once more...............hope to soon have some pics up of the birds eye maple tele that I built in 1987 which belonged to the late and great Joe Strummer............pic is of my workshop just outside Oxford... :-)




Wolverhampton 2

Tues 16th May

This is the tightest we've been for space on the tour so far, we had a few headaches fitting everything in but as is often the case, the gigs that are the most effort to put together can be the best especially when the crowd is so close - a great atmosphere!........
Wiring gremlins appeared in the guitar effects rack just before soundcheck so yet more soldering.......It does seem that however prepared you are, something will always appear unexpectedly......check and check again !!...A useful thing to remember is that apart from bits breaking on guitars, over 90% of problems come in the cable ends or connectors rather than the equipment itself...
A question I am getting asked many times is whether or not Jonnys shredmaster has been modified - the current one is standard apart from the switch which gets replaced regularly. I made a version of the shredmaster a few years ago but after a couple of tours the prototype box was flattened due to being stomped on and that was it !!...... am checking out the true bypass questions and updating Eds guitar info........... plank :-)




Batteries ?

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Fri 12 May

Today is setup and showday 1 in Blackpool, experiments with trying to power SP303 with batteries and a wireless so it can be walked around with, instead of 9v 1000ma power supply........ a 9v pp3 battery gets hot and suprisingly lasts about 4 minutes and 30 seconds which is tight but covers one song !!?..... We have made up a shrink wrap battery pack with 8 procell 'D' batteries to make a neat rectangle but with only 7 connected and some flying leads......we will see how long it lasts and I will let you know..... it is interesting to experiment with batteries as the technology is improving all the time and I'm sure it will prove useful in other ways....... here is pic of the old Fender Starcaster nestled next to Jonnys teles in a cosy guitar rack made for three........... :-)




Amsterdam1

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Tues May 9

Copenhagen 2 was another good gig but boiling hot once again ! - we could be losing some weight on this tour......


During final checks 10 mins before the show starts, Tele 1 selector switch breaks so some urgent soldering in the dark, at this point of the day everything is timed down to the minute and a couple of small problems can quickly turn into a giant headache !


No strings on it but here is a pic of Philips new Premier kit taken during setup this morning. :-)




Copenhagen show 1..

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May 7

Last night was a very hot show, like a sauna from the off !...a good start to the tour after everyones hard work. A few technical bits and pieces to deal with but nothing major.... Great to hear the songs being played live at last !.. Two years since the last show now seems like it was only last week....Pic here is main Tele T1 after todays tlc, the bridge saddles and intonation need constant attention as the guitar is 28 years old and all the screw threads are worn. A drop of silicon sealer stops them vibrating loose but you can get through it if you need to make further adjustments. A great guitar - if I had to pick one, this is my favourite :-)




Thom Acoustic

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Many questions about Thom's acoustic guitar....Takamine has not been used for some time now. The old black acoustic with no soundhole was made by K.Yairi in Japan - I think model 88. Current acoustic and one used for last tour is a Lakewood M14 made in 1995, it is fitted with a Fishman rare earth blend pickup. This has proved to be a good reliable guitar.




Make your own electric guitar

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For anyone thinking of doing it themselves, especially making a telecaster style guitar, there is a great book worth checking out " make your own electric guitar" by Melvyn Hiscock, loads of pics and good clear instructions that a lot of these books seem to leave out.
ISBN:0953104907
Hope to have a list of useful numbers and contacts for repairs etc..should be up in a few days.
Much to do today, Sansamp blew a digital i.c yesterday, so chasing around for bits from the UK, hopefully to arrive in the morning! :-)




Almost there !

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30th April

Everyone tired out by the end of today, packing down and loading the truck took over 7 hours. The rehearsal space now looks like a bomb site with bits of cable, wire, old guitar strings and broken drum sticks! We shut the door of the truck at 5.30 and headed for the pub! A nice day off before Koko ...... :-)




computer hacker

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Here is a picture of Mr.Jim our in house computer hacker, seen here hacking into a new G5, he is available to modify your machine to his specification using traditional hand tools :-)




Last rehearsal day !

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April 28, everything everywhere !

An incredibly long and full day starting at about 7am, most of it spent chasing equipment deliveries, on the phone and wiring pedal boards and racks - sometimes all at once ! Started breaking the gear down this evening but have called it a day at 1030pm... must get some sleep as the truck turns up in the morning..................




Blog Questions

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April 27 Questions ?.

Getting swamped with many personal questions about radiohead which I am unable to answer, I am happy to answer questions about guitars and equipment although there may be a delay as very busy!!
Today I will be mostly fitting a Fishman rare earth pickup to Jonnys Martin D35 Acoustic ready for The Koko show on Monday....Have tried several pickups and these work well and are reliable. Also checking and testing the wireless systems today, I think we have about 25 beltpacks!! Another unpredictable day ahead, time for a cup of tea......... plank3000@gmail.com




Tele custom cont.....

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Well is it a tele custom or deluxe now ??
All back together and sounding good! My favourite style of guitar really although '60s Custom shop edge bound (Andy Summers) takes some beating. I'm wondering if it will make a few more live appearances, we'll see.....




Eds guitar factfile

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I have read several articles over the last few years about the guitar I made for Ed, hopeful this will help settle any misunderstandings...Pictured here is the mk 2 version of Eds custom built guitar which I made from scratch throughout 1994 in my friend Pauls workshop, not from spare parts!!
I had made a few before this but it was the first attempt at our own design although it is getting very hard to be different as most variations on the classic designs have been done many times.
Lets face it Leo Fender got it right 50 years ago with the telecaster !
The neck through body section is 3 splices of rock maple glued together with centre section spun round to aid stability.
The body sides are mahogany, these are routed out to approx 10mm from sides and back, the face is birds eye maple, these are planed and glued together before attaching to centre section.
Fingerboard is ebony with mother of pearl markers although the original was done with abalone.
Scale length is 25 11/32 which is slightly shorter than Fender scale.




A very busy day

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April 25, today has been incredibly busy, for every thing done another five appear, here is a photo of the workbench this afternoon ! If it's too tidy there is nothing going on....




Workshop stuff

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Guitars, tech stuff, radiohead bits....... April 22nd

Here is pic of Thoms tele custom on the bench ready to be routed for tele deluxe pickup, this is needed as original bridge pickup wildly different from humbucker in front, it will now be a good sub for Tele1. Open pic in new window for more detail. Hope to get more guitar pictures and info going as we get started on tour.....

Next week will be v.busy as we move into the last week before packing down and heading for Copenhagen. Starting Monday 9am moving and repairing flightcases, buying spares before rehearsal starts at 11, not forgetting to put Tele2 back together !! plank :-)




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