Re-visiting The Dark Side… The Creations of The Gov’nor

Marshall Love in 18 watt Clone & The Real 1974X Deal

When I was a young man… actually, not a man yet… I somehow found myself eyeing a Marshall Major (200 watts!) amp and an 8 X 10 cab at my local store. “This would look great in my basement!”  And it did! Unfortunately, something was wrong – the amp was about as loud as the TV set! “This is not right!” I thought. Anyway, I have no idea what happened after that, but the amp disappears from my gear chronology soon after. I did other questionable things (like we all did) – like trading the ’57 Strat I had bought for $200 (I bought it because I had spent endless hours looking at the maple necked Strat on the back of the Layla album) for a “Mansfield” SG copy. Ouch! But I digress!

Anyway, back to those amps created by “The Father of Loud”, Jim Marshall (BTW, I am sure you know that Jimi Hendrix was always amused by the fact that his first 2 names were the same as Jim Marshall’s… but I digress…again!). I have always had a love/ hate with Marshall amps. Especially the big ones. Now that I play a lot more classic rock, they seem appropriate. But I often find 2 issues with the big boys… they’re too loud for any of the bars that we play in and often the bottom end is just too big to sit right in a 3 piece classic rock trio. My 18 watt 1974X (with replaced Mercury Magnetics trannies) is not particularly glorious on it’s own, but there’s something about that smooth break-up and narrow frequency response that just works with a band! I also have an 18 watt Retro King “Plexi 18” that I have used for a few years… and it just kills!


For Those Who Like To Rock…

It now seems appropriate to “feel my way” back into the Marshall 50 watter waters – although I might need an attenuator to play them. I have a very meticulously wired JTM-45 “Offset” clone on it’s way to me. This is the very early Marshall design… with a tube rectifier rather than the slightly later diode rectifier design that was in those classic Hendrix amps. The JTM-45 will be tubed with Kt-66 power tubes – and that essentially makes it the same amp as the one that Clapton made famous on the “John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers” album (also referred to as the “Beano” album… look at the cover… Clapton is reading a Beano comic). Anyway, GET THIS RECORD if you don’t have it! But you know that anyway!!!

JTM-45 Offset Clone in all it’s Vintage Goodness

Meticulous Wiring That You Might Not Even See In An Original!

So this will be an experiment… but that’s what it’s all about anyway. As long as you’re learning and practicing your instrument, these gear excursions just feed the fire and act as catalysts and inspiration to learn and practice even more!

And on a final note, I picked up a Marshal JCM2000 DSL50 – at one time favoured by Jeff Beck amongst others – for less than $700. Now that’ll be a fun romp! Just gotta wait for the man in the little brown shorts to show up with it!!!





The Devil made me do it!… Chasing Tone on a Saturday Night

I love that Starwarsian phrase that my friend JL coined (either he coined it or he’s lying… again…kidding): “the sickness is strong with him”. Of course, we’re talking about the tendency for guitar players to chase tone with multiple aquisitions. I have friends like that! (yes you, JR!!!) Not me, of course. But I know people…

Last night I went to my long time (younger) pal’s CD release and he gets a killer, killer, tone. He’s not “one of us”… he’s had the same rig for a few years now (not unusual, my bandmate MB has played the same white Strat for 15 years now) – a recent red ES-335 dot neck (more on that later), and a 1966 Fender Tremolux Head through a 2 x 10 cab. I know. I sold him the Tremolux/cab. I also sold him a Dr. Z Brake Lite attenuator – but you’d swear he never uses it… the band was LOUD! But “GOOD LOUD!”. He’s a wonderful player, this I.R., and he’s honed in on a magical tone with this rig. I have to tell you that I felt superior last night, because, of the mostly older crowd, it seemed like all those over 60 had their fingers in their ears! Hey, if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Ha! I should tell you that the only time I actually saw a headstock broken before my eyes was from the stage (that I was sharing with our young IR), when he carelessly grabbed his beloved Gibson ES-335 off it’s stand… lost his grip… and the guitar fell forward and hit his pedalboard, breaking the headstock. Oh well, some rock stars claim that their guitars sound better after having had the headstock glued back on. Oh yes, he then did it again later down the road! X2. Same guitar… sounding 4X better maybe?

Anyway, last night, also playing in another town, was “not quite as young” PF. He’s also a killer player, but unlike IR, he changes gear like he changes his underwear (at least, I hope “like he changes his underwear”). I must confess that I fall into this second group. And although alot of what I do is for Blue Hugh Music, I do have my own multiple gear cravings. My store allows me to be an enabler, and I’ve been know to drive 4 or 5 hours round-trip on the spur of the moment to deliver a guitar – provided the universe is calling me to do so (don’t get your hopes up!) 🙂 I should tell you that since it seems like the appropriate place to randomly insert some guitar porn, I recently got back a very beloved and toneful instrument – the exquisite Gustavsson P90 Bluesmaster Gold Top. Not coincidentally, also owned by PF at one time. Behold:

2004 Gustavsson P90 Bluesmaster Gold Top

Gustavsson “up close and personal”.

I feel better already! 🙂

So back to Saturday night… I also made a stop at my friend RDs rancho – that was to deliver a particularly toneful brown 1962 Fender Super amp. While we were playing his exquisite Suhr “S” guitar – attractively finished in the traditional “early Campbell’s soup can” colour, RD mischieviously (as it turned out) said: “here, try this amp…” Now I always thought my Retro King sounded superior to any 18 watt Marshall clone, but last night, sweet mother of Robert Johnson, RDs 18 watt Marshall 1974x combo (if you must know, also with Mercury Magnetics transformers as a later upgrade) sounded like the music of the spheres… I MUST HAVE ONE! So here I am today, a pitiful sight, ordering my 3 Mercury transformers and scouting for a local Marshall 1974x that I can scoop up…    oh, woe is me! Only Nigel would understand this AMPLIFIER obsession!!! Time for more porn… this time “amp porn”… see you next time… and BEHOLD!…

1962 Fender brown Super amp with 2 x 10″ Jensen speakers