johnny9fingers: (Default)
Today I went to Jon Dickinson's workshop in Crystal Palace to get my No3 Strat that he was fettling, my fixed 'Blues Deluxe' and a custom built Dickinson 45Wt 2x12 combo made in the chassis of an old Selmer type vertically stacked 2x12. The Celestion 12's have been reconed, and the amp itself is hand-wired with no PCB's (printed circuit boards). I might get around to taking photographs, but I've never sorted web-hosting for that sort of thing....so maybe not.

It has 2 inputs (1 guitar, 1 line), 2 switches, 1 green light to show it's working and ONE volume knob.

No bass, mid, or treble; no presence; no master volume; no anything else. It sounds amazing straight through: big, brash, and with real 'weight' and a certain amount of 'thud'. Putting the Digitech GNX3 into the line input and the amp is just awesome....and how often have any of you known me to use that word? The Marshall emulations sound like a good Marshall (and almost as good as mine); the various Fender models sound extraordinarily close to the real thing. This could also be because I've tweaked the programs over the years to suit my ears and understanding of the actual sounds being emulated.

The Line6 Pod X3 live arrives tomorrow. If it is any better than the GNX3 I may have found my perfect rig: and not just for the function band. Of course I won't sell my Marshall half-stack or my 'Blackface Twin', but even so it is phenomenal that a combination of digital modelling and old-fashioned valves and point-to-point wiring can fool these ears: I must be getting old and decrepit. Either that or finally we can has nice things at a reasonably affordable price (for a given value of 'affordable' obviously).

Dickinson Amps cost a heap of money for the main aluminium-bodied range: which I didn't audition as I only really approve of shiny in the bedroom. A few big names use 'em and rightly so. Apparently some chap called Matt Bellamy who is in some pop group or other swears by them: and I can now agree that the amps Jon Dickinson makes sound really very good indeed. Now to road-test the beast for reliability: I shall report back as and when.

It looks like we may have a dep for the function band. [livejournal.com profile] felephant was kind enough to offer, but he's in St Andrews, which is quite a step from Wimbledon, where the gig is.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Up at 6am on Friday morning. The boss and Frankie turned up in the people carrier at 8am. Mark (bassist) was on time, Nicki (sax) was late....then realised she had forgotten her passport. After a small detour to retrieve aforementioned passport, we headed for the chunnel. We arrived at the terminal at about 10.30am. Delays abounded and it was 2.20pm before we actually embarked. Through the tunnel and then Martin (drums and our leader) drove solidly for some four hours to get us to the venue, which was a farmhouse somewhere on the Le Mans circuit, where we had just enough time to set up, change, and eat, before we went onstage. Three songs into the first set my amp blew up.

Now as an aside, my Fender Blues Deluxe, though a wonderful sounding beast, ain't exactly the most reliable amp I've ever owned, but it is a damn sight more portable than either my Marshall half-stack or even my blackface 'twin'.

So I called the soundguy over and asked him if he had a direct box, into which I plugged my Digitech GNX3, and used one of the stage monitors as a surrogate amp. It took less than a verse and a chorus to reconfigure and get a proper sound together. Good job from the soundman.

Difficult gig, and not because of blown amp. Too many chaps of a certain age not interested in dancing at all: which rather makes a dance band redundant. However, by the end of the second set we managed to get a few of them moving, so all not lost there.

We got offstage by midnight, local time, and packed up and then started drinking.

All stayed in different B & B's in local villages, then back to the farmhouse for breakfast the next morning. We left to try to reach the tunnel for 3.30pm. Back home by Saturday evening.

So, today I picked up the Fender Blues Deluxe from the soundman and took it to Dickinson Amplification, in Crystal Palace. Now I knew Jon Dickinson when he worked in Tin Pan Alley, so we bantered a bit about old chums and then I asked about the possibility of customising the Blues Deluxe. We looked at various options, including a hand rebuild on a point-to-point hand-wired board. Then I tried a single channel, volume knob only, 45W 2x12 he had built some weeks ago as a prototype.

The upshot of all this is I've got him to fix the Blues Deluxe, and I've got to try to persuade SWMBO that we have enough room to store the 2x12. Now I'm going to get myself a new floorpod from Line6, and I'm rather hoping that set-up will be pretty bulletproof. Fingers crossed.
johnny9fingers: (window)
Wednesday went very well.
More than 200 people turned up at St M's.  G & J unable to attend: G bedridden now with Parkinson's, J attending to him constantly.
Many from CAFOD. A few formidable old boys and girls from Fleet Street. All went off v. well. Good speech from Mike.
I thanked Doctors etc. Food was alright. Then I was a man beset by four aunts, which sounds like something out of Wodehouse, excepting they were all Irish (Ma's sisters). Good family gossip and catch up with the Irish side.
Mum's coping.
Studio yesterday morning for 11am. Left studio at 3.30 for soundcheck at 6pm - had to pick up vocalist at 5. Arrived at  venue at 6.15. Soundcheck. Onstage at 10pm. Finished at 12, packed up and paid by 1am. Home by 2 - journey much easier without school run/rush hour traffic.
The amp works well, however.

I'll miss Dad lots.
So will all the folk that knew him.
johnny9fingers: (Dogbert1)

John Kelly 'phoned. It looks like it's the valves (tubes). Sometimes, because of today's poorer quality control, some valves 'flash over'. John's replaced all the dodgy valves with matched sets of 'Boogie' valves. Expensive, but worth it in the long run. What I wouldn't give for a perfectly bullet-proof set up, but such levels of redundancy are only options if you have a real touring organisation, and can afford to bring two of everything with you all the time. Not an option for function bands.

johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)

The Old Man is stable for the time being. Visitors have been trying not to tire him out, which is thoughtful.
Took my amps into John Kelly's workshop without too much of a hitch, though I did get caught in a yellow box due to traffic. If I get a fine, so be it, dammit.

I've been thinking about the 'Clash of Cultures' worst case scenario.
I can't imagine even the most hardened Al Qaeda Islamist really wants a complete and total war against the west. A von Clauswitz total war (the whole of the West's economies and societies given over to the military objective) against Islam would effectively wipe the religion from the map - & with all it's holy sites crisped in the process. (A total war may well include nuclear weapons, especially if terrorists use them first.) The horrors (& expenses) of interning all moslems living in the west, conscription for all able bodied non moslem males leading to perhaps 20-30 million men under arms,  the complete occupation or destruction of Islamic capitals and thereafter Islamic culture - all these are horrific, by anyone's standards. I cannot believe that even Al Qaeda wants a total head to head, even if they say they do, and even if they think they can win such a set of engagements with the one or two nukes that Islamic countries might be able to build and use before the inevitable armageddon.

GWB's neocon advisors have tried to portray Islamists as fascists, conflating the terms into one: 'Islamofascist'. If we go down the WWII route, we will have to defeat them utterly, with all that implies. I can't see destroying the culture that returned Classical Greek to us and has given us the basis for much higher mathematics as being a good thing, merely because of the actions of a few madmen and zealots.

By definition then, if they are not mad, they have more limited (& achievable) objectives, else they would not be pushing us even this far. If they are mad, the moslem community should cauterise them, and quickly, before they tip the balance and everybody loses, but Islam loses even more.

If they have limited objectives we may be able to see just how far those coincide with ours. If not at all, then it's back to square one, but we always have further positions to adopt, right up to, and including (in extremis) all out war. And they (the 'bad guys') have the same choices. I'm sure there are sane Al Qaeda top brass who know what they want, and who also know what would satisfy them in the real world. But I may be wrong.

I know GWB's screwed the pooch over this, but I'm sure we can find a way out before we need to use 'Von Kreige' as our textbook. There should be about a hundred steps before we get to the worst case scenario, but again I may be wrong.

Of course, if I'm wrong, the only decent thing to do would be to join up myself. I rather hope that doesn't happen, as I'm pretty Bolshie and don't take kindly to orders given by idiots. However, I might prefer that to orders given by an Ayatollah: but it's only going to come to either if both sides are completely stupid. Nevertheless H L Mencken might have something pertinent to say about my optimism, or alternatively my belief in human beings rising above such stupidity.

johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
Bl**dy f******g 'blackface twin' has gone down too. Obviously, I have offended the god of amplifiers (I would never blaspheme my Marshall, however), and needs must make restitution. The engineer/priest I use is a chap called John Kelly, who works out of Islington, but getting to him is a bit difficult at present with all the stuff to do at home. Will try to find time tomorrow. 3 hour round trip avoiding congestion charge, 2 1/2 hrs if I pay the charge. £8 for half an hour's driving saved - have to think about it. J.K. charges £40 per hour and is worth every penny - and furthermore, I trust him with my babies, which is difficult to do. But the congestion charge irritates me, even though I know it is, objectively speaking, a good thing.

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