Step By Step
Vox Setting Charts
Choosing Strings And Pickups.
The place is Englewood, Florida. The owner is Don Greer, and these are just some of his amps. Playback spoke to Don during a recent visit to the UK.
"There's quite a bit missing from this photo - I couldn't get them all in the camera - other amps and my guitar and effects collections. I've got a lot of amps that aren't made any more and some of the Vox gear goes back to 1960 with single figure serial numbers. I've got everything I need for an American tour - it's the biggest amount of Vox in the world. Bands like Tom Petty use a few Vox amps on stage, but this lot is more than even Status Quo use, and I hope to add more this year". Don has played in bands with people from Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, Mott the Hoople, Groundhogs and Marmalade to name but a few. "I never use less than a double stack, perhaps for a real small gig I'll use just a couple of AC30's. Even when I practice in my studio, I'll run up a double stack.
"I used to have problems with the neighbours years ago - I had a preacher next door - he moved out, then I had a chief of police and he moved out, now I'm thinking of moving out!
"I've either got or have had every major amp that's ever been made from the 50's on up - the original Fender Bandmasters and Showmans, Ampeg, Sun, Sound City, Orange and all the others, but I still prefer Vox. I like the new stack, it's very impressive. The sound is great and it's well built. Over here in England everyone's using little combos like the 501 and the Venue, but in the States it's very important to have a stack of gear. You need a big backline. Someone like Kiss would use 20 or 30 double stack amps wall to wall. I believe in having the power. If you have the power you'll have the sound, especially in America. If you don't have the visual effect of the back line and the power to knock the kids over, then you'll flop.
"All the best music comes from England and we try to duplicate it in the US, but our clubs are the size of Hammersmith Odeon and concert halls seat at least 10,000, so you're talking a definite stack situation".
Don is putting an album together with Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull, Martin Turner from Wishbone Ash and Kenny Driscoll from Lone Star. We wish him well.
The Vox Venue 50W Lead and Bass Combos have fast gained popularity with gigging musicians today, because of their amazing power combined with overall portability.
Each Venue 50W has three band equalisation and in addition the Lead 50W has a footswitchable reverb control and both preamp and master volumes, giving clean and overdriven sounds.
A great variety of sounds can therefore be produced using these compact combos. Here are just a few.
VENUE 50W LEAD - COUNTRY
Clean and bright with lots of reverb. Adjust reverb as required.
VENUE 50W LEAD - ROCK LEAD
Distorted heavy metal solo guitar sound. Powerful overdriven sound without the use of pedal effects. Adjust preamp volume to vary overdrive level.
VENUE 50W LEAD - ROCK RHYTHM
Powerful rhythm guitar sound with plenty of bass and mid range. Adjust preamp volume to vary overdrive level.
VENUE 50W BASS - SLAP BASS
Popular slap and pull bass sound with lots of treble. Adjust level of slap with the treble control.
VENUE 50W BASS - ROCK BASS
Traditional powerful rock sound. Increase drive with bass control.
Whether a classical, electric, acoustic or bass guitarist, there are hundreds to choose from in a baffling array of materials and sizes. Here are a few guidelines to consider about the most basic element of your guitar's sound - the strings.
If you're an acoustic or classical player you will have different needs to an electric player when it comes to strings. The main consideration with classical strings is tension. Manufacturers such as Savarez and Augustine produce sets with different tensions from low to very high. On a good quality guitar a higher tension gives increased volume to the sound because the guitar's body under increased tension vibrates more. Higher tension strings such as Savarez Reds or Augustine Blues therefore get more tone out of the body of the guitar. Different tensions will give different feels so it is worth trying a few sets to get your own personal balance of tone and feel. Also important is the tone balance of each string. For example, the design of some guitars is such that they will have a better bass response than others and the tone balance can be adjusted by choosing different sets of strings. Augustine Imperials are similar to Augustine Blues but they have increased treble presence to alter this tone balance.
In contrast to the classical player, the electric guitarist needs to consider the strings' contribution to electronic output - especially if using effects. Probably the largest electronic output can be obtained with the Kaman Performer range of strings. These have a stainless steel wrap to provide the high signal output whilst an equal size core and wrap increases harmonic overtones and gives a slower decay - ideal for sustain effects. String life is also important unless you want to change sets every night. The Vox range of strings have been developed to retain their bright tone for a very long period.
For the electro-acoustic player the strings need to provide the best acoustic sound from the guitar body as well as giving a powerful electronic output through the pickup system. Two major string ranges which cope with these two requirements are Ovation and Takamine. Ovation strings were first designed with the tone response of the round back guitar in mind - but are increasingly being used on other guitars because of their unique tone. The Takamine strings were designed with the flat backed electro-acoustic in mind but are popular on other acoustic guitars because of their very natural sound.
Some manufacturers have developed strings whilst they have been developing particular guitars. The Kaman Company who manufacture Ovation, Applause, Celebrity and Adamas guitars is one example. When they were designing the £2000 Adamas guitar Kaman's engineers found they needed to create a set of strings that was as technically advanced as their new guitar. Adamas strings have a Phosphor-Bronze wrap which gives a longer life and a brighter tone whilst 2nd and 3rd strings have modified tuning and tension to reduce breakage and improve frequency response. The Adamas strings give a very balanced even tone.
Strings are the most fundamental element of guitar sound and changing them is the cheapest and easiest way of altering your sound. Manufacturers have had many years to perfect their products and much has happened to their design, particularly those mentioned above. It's well worth trying them for yourself.
If you're not happy with your guitar's performance, want a new sound, or are thinking of buying a new one, then think again. At a fraction of the cost you could keep the guitar that you are comfortable with but get a fresh new sound simply by replacing the pickups.
Of the 35 current DiMarzio pickups, we have listed the ten best sellers. This gives a good idea of the variety that you have to choose from whatever type of guitar you play.
Playback - Autumn 86
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!