Guitar Gear: Notes from Mitch

In short, the biggest difference between new and vintage is…finding what works for you. It may turn out to be both.

My view of instruments is that they are akin to the paints, brushes, knives, charcoal, pencils, canvas, etc that an artist would use in drawing or painting a picture. As such, I consider every thing that goes into making a noise from string to speaker to ear. If I do have a preference for older gear, it’s only because I generally like things broken in; shoes, shirts, pants, baseball gloves, and guitars and amps. There is something about the age of wood and transformers “opening up” over time, but that too has it’s applications and limits. Not sure I would want those things if I had a Megadeath gig to do but who knows.

So here is a rundown of Mitch’s gear:

Amps:

I will note that I am more of an amp guy then a guitar guy with a general preference for tubes, tweed Fenders, and Marshall’s, not withstanding some of the current modern high gain choices and lower volume production “boutique amps” (a word which I’ve grown to dislike). I’ve paired things down over the years and currently have the following that I use in order of use:

  1. 1955 Gibson GA-40 Les Paul (it’s the smaller one with the script LP logo on the grille)
  2. 72′ 50w Marshall Bass (I actually prefer these to the Leads for guitar)
  3. 58′ Fender Tweed Super
  4. A Dr. Z MAZ38NR which is a great amp but almost never use but probably would if I was playing out regularly.

I’m really seeking something like a tweed Tremolux or Harvard as my next acquisition because all of my amps save the GA-40 are too loud. I do swear by a Dr. Z Air Break (I think that’s what it’s called) attenuator which I use with my Marshall. It really allows me to crank it. The last gig I played was in a medium sized room. I used that set up an still didn’t take it above the “Bedroom” setting for very long.

Live – I go guitar, cord, amp, speaker cable (they’re handy), speaker(s). Occasionally an analogue delay or eq as a boost. I like amps absolutely cranked and then use the guitar’s volume, tone, and me hands to do the rest. Rhythm playing from about 1 – 4, bridge’s choruses 4 – 6, solo’s above that.

My 15YO stepson just got a Mesa Single Rect-O-Verb head that sounds great and bet I’ll use at some point. I used to play Boogie’s almost exclusively but haven’t touched their stuff in years.

Having said that, most of the recordings I’ve done recently have in fact been done with a POD straight into a PC and I’ve been quite happy with them. Imagine that! It just works for the available space or lack there of. To his credit, Drew is somehow able to work magic with compression and “Vintage Warmer’s” after the fact (because you just can’t get a straight thru simulation of the real thing without tweaking it a bit- drew). I would like to get over to Hugh’s studio and do some proper recording some day soon….

Guitars:

First noting that this is the first time in my 25 years of playing that I actually own more guitars then amps. I need to change that. Again, current use in order of appearance:

  1. A beat up reliced 52RI Tele w/Fralin’s
  2. 58’RI Custom Authentic Les Paul w/the original factory Jimmy Page/Joe Walsh coil taping and phase switching. It really opens the options up on this guitar.
  3. 62RI Strat that I should really get around to putting better pickups in like the Fralin’s that are in my Tele.
  4. 56′ Martin 000-18 (Wow!)
  5. 31′ National Duolian
  6. A newer off shore Dobro which for a little over $300 sounds pretty dern good
  7. A custom ESP Richie Sambora model that great guy, builder, and designer Chris Hofschnieder made and gave me. It’s really good to have a modern axe with a Floyd Rose although I need to block the route in the body because I don’t care for floating bridges.

I am waiting for a 59′ Gibson ES-125TD to show up at my doorstep as I type……I haven’t been wowed by a guitar in a long time and part of that has to do with being a southpaw. Axes just aren’t available to us. The closest I’ve come to recently was a 58′ Junior that I played for an hour at the Guitar Center in NYC but those guys are just nuts when it comes to their prices. I’m still pretty certain that it was the 60 Tweed Deluxe I was playing it through which reminds my that I really should get one of those…Tangent. Anyway, I’ve been searching for a good hollow P-90 guitar for a few years now. I hope this one ends up being that thing.

Effects – Not a big user of effects. Again like the painting reference they have their place and appropriately placed can (and should) be like ketchup on French fries. I do have a couple that I do use most notably an old green Boss Tremolo/Pan (learned from Hugh Pool who I really look up to), a Carl Martin Delayla, and a boss EQ. I generally don’t care overdrive boxes preferring to get that from the guitar, amp, and speakers. When it comes to more modern tones, when they are required, I’ll use whatever makes the sound I hear in my head.

Strings – yes

Cables – George L

You can get carried away with all of this nonsense if you wish. However I think the real issue is, “what does the song really require?”

A wiser man than myself once said “Shut Up and Play Your Guitar”

Talk amongst yourselves….

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