Fixing the Peavey Classic 30

Posted in Music on May 12, 2009 by rsalit

I recently wrote about some troubles I had with my Peavey Classic 30 amp. I got it fixed at  local amp repair shop, The Amp Junkyard (http://www.ampjunkyard.com/). They did a nice job in less than a week. One of my frustrations has been that every time I put it in to repair at the store where I purchased it, it takes anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks to get it fixed. If you have any amp issues and need help and live in South Florida, I’d give the Amp Junkyard a call. Straightforward people that know what they are doing.

When I brought it in, John, the owner, was going to try to fix it on the spot – I’d not seen a repair shop even look at an amp upon arrival. So, he had me at hello. He thought he might be able to fix it with a new tube but, the problem persisted. He diagnosed it as a bad solder on a circuit board and said he would need a few days to get to it. That’s what it turned out to be. He fixed it as promised and its ready to – what more can I ask?

Unfortunately, John was pretty pessimistic about the state of modern amps. His opinion was that most amps in the consumer price range, i.e., less than $2000, are not well made and that repeated visits to the repair shop should be expected. Kind of depressing but I guess that’s what I’ll need to accept and my new strategy of having a back up amp (or two) is well advised.

The other thing we discussed related to a previous post I made regarding high wattage amps. His take was that high wattage amps sound better. When I argued that they are rarely pushed in most clubs and that low wattage amps would get turned up more in smaller clubs, he responded that even though the high wattage amps are not being pushed, their overall dynamics are better and sound better even at lower volumes. In other words, a 100 watt amp at 2 will sound better than a 30 watt amp at 5 (or some reasoning similar to this). I’ m interested in finding out whether this is true. Right now I don’t have a high wattage amp to test but I’ll be checking it out next chance I get.

Time for a new amp

Posted in Music on May 11, 2009 by rsalit

My Peavey Classic 30 has given me too much grief over the last five years. Its been in the shop 3 times and while I like the amp, I’ve realized I can’t depend on it. A few weeks ago when it started emitting static I decided it was time to get a new amp. My thought was to get something reliable and then use the Peavey as a backup. Based on what I’d heard from friends and salespeople, Fenders are known as pretty reliable and have a nice clean sound. That’s what I was 0213202000_mdlooking for. When I got to Sam Ash I had thought it would be between the Hot Rod Deluxe(http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0213202000), which I knew the salesman liked and the Blues Deluxe(http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=2232200000). They are both 40 watt amps with excellent clean channels. The Hot Rod has a Drive channel with an added “More Drive” setting which adds additional gain. The Blues Deluxe is a little more vintage in concept with just one gain channel. I went in thinking that the Blues Deluxe would be more my speed, I could always add more distortion via pedals. However, they didn’t have one in stock. They  did have a Super Reverb which was less powerful but more expensive – supposedly a better amp. The Hot Rod sounded just fine, though. Its got a great clean sound with some nice sustain as you turn it up. The gain channel sounded pretty good as well. I need to play with it a bit to see what settings will dial in the sound I’m looking for.

I’ve used the Hot Rod Deluxe at my last two band practices. I really like the sound. To my ears the clean is great and the gain channel is not half bad. I’m still figuring out how to dial in my sound. But, so far its working out pretty well. We are also experimenting with putting some of our sessions up on youtube.com. If we get some good recordings I’ll write about that at some point in the future.

Less amp may give you better sound

Posted in Guitar, Music with tags , on March 3, 2009 by rsalit

I’m constantly looking at new amps. I’m a little perplexed as to the preponderance of high powered amps that dominate the market. PRS recently announced a line of amps, three models of different sounding amps that all come in either 50 or 100 watt configurations. Most bands play in bars or small clubs where a 50 watt of tube power turned up is pretty loud, maybe too loud. I went to see a band a few weeks ago in a small bar and one of the the guitar players was showing me his Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (a 40watt amp) set at 4 and his Les Paul at 1. For a nice lead tone its desirable to have guitars and amps turned up to get that rich, harmonic tube sound players strive for. In other words, he’s not going to get any kind of overdriven lead with those settings. In larger venues, you can turn up the volume but sound guy will mic all the amps and mix the sound through the PA. They don’t need the amps to be too loud as it makes his job harder. The guy mixing the sound can only adjust the volume up, there’s no way to adjust someone if their amp is turned up too high other than make everyone else louder.

A good solution would be one of the amps that have multi-watt capability. Mesa-Boogie has many amps where the wattage can be adjusted.The new Express series can switch between 5 and 25 or 50 watts. Orange amps has an amp that switches between 7 and 15 watts. Egnator has one of thee more interesting solutions in their Rebel 20 amp which allows you to dial in the wattage AND the tube mix. You can actually set a specific wattage and then set the tube mix you desire. That’s pretty crazy.

I was at a Guitar Center recently and played a Mesa Express 5:50. That’s an amp that switches between 5 and 50 watts. I played on the 5 watt setting and turned up the master volume to about one o’clock. It was really loud, probably loud enough at 5 watts to practice with my band. What’s nice is that if I need additional clean headroom, I can move to the 50 watt setting but I’m guessing the natural overdriven tones at the 5 watt setting might be really nice for a practice setting.

if you are looking at an amp that might be able to satisfy your needs in both a practice situation as well as in a small gig, these multi-watt amps might be just the thing.

Recommended: Richard Thompson

Posted in Music on January 28, 2009 by rsalit

Richard Thompson is a fairly unique entity in the music business. With a career spanning over 40 years, critical accolades (e.g., Rolling Stone #19 on list of greatest guitarist of all time, Shoot Out The Lights, 9th on the list of top albums of the 80’s), he stands apart from most artists in his accomplishments as a song writer, guitarist and singer with little commercial success. Despite his abilities and acknowledgement by critics and musicians,  he’s relatively unknown.

Thompson tours frequently and is prolific, banging out recordings on a regular basis. Most artists seem to tail off as they get older producing less and relying on their older material. Thompson continues to put out roughly one album a year of new material, most worthy contributions to his growing catalog.

Below are a few acoustic performances. He’s also a stunning electric player. I’ve also included some links to recommended CDs.

        

 

Great local band – Midlife Crysis

Posted in Music on January 13, 2009 by rsalit

Saturday night I went to see a local band, Midlife Crysis at a local restaurant/bar. I have a friend who plays guitar in the band and they were playing a new venue, in Delray Beach, FL, the Monterrey Grill and Cantina. I’ve seen the band once before and they do a mix of classic rock, country and blues. They have three guitarists, a bass player and a drummer. All three guitar players sing as well.

We arrived early and had dinner with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. The food was good, not spectacular but certainly worth considering if you are in Delray and feel like Mexican. Its a nice atmosphere, tables spread out comfortably and the servers had very accommodating attitudes. The band came on around 10 with a laid back set to get the evening started. After a 20 minute break the band came back and pumped up the volume and intensity a bit. The band plays with the right balance that doesn’t overwhelm the audience but with enough bite to get everyone dancing.

What impressed me most was the ability of the band, even in lower volumes, to balance the three guitars so that they all had sonic space and were clearly heard. That’s not easy and this band has an obvious comfort level playing with each other. They trade off songs and solos with a seeming effortlessness that many bigger name bands never achieve. Each guitar player has a distinctive style that complements the others.

If you are in Palm Beach county and want a fun night out look for Midlife Crysis. They are as close to a sure bet for a good time as you can get these days.

Medeski Martin & Wood – Revolution Live

Posted in Music on January 5, 2009 by rsalit

Medeski, Martin & Wood played last Saturday night (1/3/09) at Revolution Live, a club in Fort Lauderdale, on the eve of Jam Cruise 2009. From the moment they hit the stage, they were thoroughly engaging.

The music was somewhat different than their studio releases which are typically shorter compositions, each defining a theme and usually some sort of groove. Live, they were much more intense and jam oriented. The first piece they played seemed to be a medley of several different pieces and moods sequed together lasting about 40 minutes. At times, it was reminiscent of late sixties / early seventies Miles Davis and early Weather Report. Some segments were exhilarating, some avant-garde, some jazzy, some funky. They mix it around keeping it interesting by evolving and morphing the sound. While John Medeski is out front as the keyboard player, both Billy Martin on drums and Chris Wood on bass are excellent driving the beat,  providing a variety of rhythmic backgrounds for Medeski’s keyboard explorations.

Second gig results

Posted in Live Concert, Music on December 31, 2008 by rsalit

We played our second gig Friday, 12/19/08. It was not quite the thrill of our first gig in November but in some ways was more satisfying. We were paid (albeit a pittance) and, instead of the audience being comprised mostly of friends and family it was a mix of our friends and people the venue’s management invited as a holiday party.

Our initial sense of it was that the show was not as good as our first. One significant factor was that the sound quality was inferior because the vocals were mixed too low. However, after listening to the recording I made of the show, the performance was really much better than our first. The music was more powerful and there were less mistakes. That’s encouraging as it means we are learning and getting better.

Moreover, it seems our attitude is changing about the band. While we are far from viewing our band as a professional, working band, i.e., a venture that generates income, we are more focused on what will work in a club setting. In some ways, that’s created some divisiveness within the band as we all have different interpretations of what will work and what others will like. With all of the band members having different musical backgrounds that seems inevitable. Nevertheless, it seems that one of the best attributes of our band is our ability to compromise. We are all willing to play each other’s songs even though they may not be our favorites. We also can agree on some songs which do not work.