The home of Sweaty Spice, the 'other' Spice Girl

As I have begun to play a LOT more guitar, I have made some significant changes to my sound. Mainly, I first fixed my Fender Super 60 amp's low impedance input that gave me a far more reactive and responsive sound, but soon remembered that the 60 watt combo is a wee bit too loud for my office/den/music room. That led to a grateful spouse who splurged on a 15 watt Orange Rocker 15 combo, an all tube amp that actually plays and sounds fabulous at less than ear-bleed output levels.

The Orange is a truly awesome piece of kit, the ability to throttle down to 1.5 watts yet still offer killer overdriven tube distortion on the dirty channel. But the clean channel is just that, clean. No tone controls, no options, you control the tone with the guitar, and in many ways, that is kick ass.

Think of it as a blank slate. A crisp, clear sound that you can mold to your heart's desire.

This leads to the start of a journey, to an uncertain destination. To get to a killer sound.


In the way back, when I got my first mediocre Crate practice Amp, it was a small-ish, 20 or so watt solid state amp, made in the early 1980's. It wasn't expensive (the good) but it was anemic. The "over drive" sound was typical of the cheap solid state amps of the era, thin, reedy, and just blah.

I spent a lot of money (for me at the time) buying and trying various distortion boxes to get an acceptable sound for what I wanted to play, hard rock (think Scorpions, UFO, et cetera) and the early heavy metal (Ratt, Ozzy, and others). I got something that I sorta liked with the Digitech pedals, but it wasn't ever great.

At that time I experimented a lot, and bought several cool pedals, but never really got a good sound until I broke open my piggy bank and bought a decent amp, the Gallien Krueger 250ML.

The only effect I ever really added to that was an Alesis Midiverb reverb processor that was truly kick ass for the day.

Then came the Fender amp, and more audible bliss, coupled with one of those new fangled Line6 PodXT "beans" in the early aughts.

That gave me seemingly endless options.

Where I am at now

Yes, I still have the Pod, and it still works (after I bought a new power supply) but like most modeling processors of the era, it now feels somewhat artificial. Don't get me wrong, it NAILS the tones it has. Want that Van Halen Eruption sound? BOOM. Or the Eric Johnson jangley sound for Cliffs of Dover? Fuck yeah. Or Steely Dan, or AC/DC, or Dire Straits.

Hell, for a while, I played through that bean, plugged into a USB converter and recorded to Garage Band. But it lacked soul. It felt artificial. I am sure their new Helix effect processors are totally kick ass and better, but it also feels like you need to be part software engineer to get the most of it.

I just want to play, not fiddle with tons of settings.

So, I am going to build a small signal chain to define what I will adopt as my sound. I am going for one of my favorite players of all time, Michael Schenker, particularly his work with UFO and the early Michael Schenker Group recordings.

In that time frame, he played pretty straight ahead, Gibson Flying V's (in the UFO era, it was a late 1960's vintage, later they were custom built for him in the black/white colors) into a Dunbar Wah pedal to allow him to roll off the mids when he wanted, then into a 1960's vintage Marshall 100W head and 4x12 Celestion speaker cabinets.

I got to play this once, at a small music store, but to get the good tone, it takes volume. LOTS of volume. Ear bleed levels of volume. But it was oh so sweet.

My quest to get to that as a baseline is beginning. I will be trying a few overdrive/preamp pedals to color the tone on my lil' Orange amp, and once I have something I like, I will report on it. For now, I expect that I will be buying (and selling) several pedals to get there.

Once I have that, I will work on adding other colors. I always wanted to play with a tape delay like effect. I had a Boss DD2 pedal back in the day, and I never really clicked with it (and it was STOOPID expensive, so I sold it) but today there are ample options. To get a good David Gilmour sound would be fabulous.

The younger me would have jumped to the end state, trying to shotgun it, and fail to achieve the goal before giving up.
Now, I plan to go slowly and methodically, to really explore all the options, and to not give up.

One thing is certain, this isn't going to be quick (or cheap). But it will be rewarding.

Let the journey begin!

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