Gear

Over the years I have owned numerous guitars, amps, and pedals, including some vintage stuff which should never have been sold,...ah well!!. A few years ago I decided to cut down on gear and try to hone my sound with a few high quality bits of kit. In terms of live playability and tone, the years have tought me that less is more! My current live and studio set up is described below.

Guitars

 

Fender USA 2004 50th Anniversary Stratocaster

Bought in 2004 from SOHO Sound House (now closed) for £900. It has a real vintage vibe to it and thats not just because its dirty and battered!!! It has custom shop '54 pickups which are really very sweet sounding, and a nice cream pick guard. Its got a comfy C neck profile and ash body. Quite a light (7-lbs ish) bright sounding guitar, Its been a real work horse since bought in 2004. I used it on the demo track ‘Black Cat Bone’ (see MUSIC page) through a Fender Blues Junior amp and Electro- Harmonix Small Stone Phasor pedal. As you can hear this guitar is great for funk as well as blues. I use Gibson Vintage pure Nickel 9’s for easy bending and warmer tone.

Gibson VOS 58 Les Paul Reissue

I have always loved the sound of classic Les paul players including Jimmy Page, Paul Kossoff, and Peter Green. In 2010 I decided I wanted the fatter blues tone of Les Paul blues players. I bought this guitar from FUZZ guitar shop in Nottingham for just over 2K. It was made in 2008.

I would have to say that my ‘58 LP is now my most played and favourite guitar! I swapped out the neck Gibson Burstbucker 1 pickup (BB1), for a 'Seymour Duncan Antiquity' pickup after not being 100% happy with the BB1, now I’am happy! The tone is very clear and fat, fat, fat!!! My Les Paul has a large but easy to play 50’s neck profile. Designated ‘Plain Top’ mine has some figuring, nice! This guitar is played on all the band demo tracks apart from ‘Black Cat Bone’ where I played my Strat (see MUSIC page). My Les Paul is strung with Pyramid Pure Nickel 10 strings. Pure Nickel strings are more bendy and have a warmer vintage tone.

Gibson 335 '59 Fat Neck Dot Reissue

Freddie King and Otis Rush have always been two of my favourite blues guitarists. I have videos of both sporting red 335’s and I just had to have one when funds allowed (still paying!!!). This guitar looks & sounds super cool!

I bought this guitar in 2011 from GAK in Brighton for about 2K. It was made in 2008 and is modelled after a 1959 Gibson DOT 335 guitar. It not a proper historic reissue, but it has that '50’s vibe'. It has a 50’s neck profile, Gibson '57 Classic pickups, green Kluson tuners, and a long pickguard. I replaced the black controls for ones with with silver inserts so it looks like an early 60’s Gibson 335 because I think they look cool!!! My 335 is strung with Gibson Vintage Pure Nickel 9’s for easier string bends and warmer tone.

Amps

Fender Tweed Blues Junior

This amp was bought in 2007 from Sound Control London (now closed). I paid around £430.It is similar to normal Blues Juniors except for the lovely tweed covering and Jensen 12 speaker. This little amp is very versatile, rated at 15W and very loud! It has a pre volume control which allows for the setting of over drive levels. Although fenders are known for the clean tones (which it does very well) this bad boy can rock out too!!! Check out the video below to hear what an overdriven Blues Junior & Phasor can do. This video taken in 2010 is of my old band 'Cynthia Massalana & the Blue Rays' @ Bar Music Hall Shorditch.

I use this amp for 80% of my gigs because of  its lightness, & versatility. I also used this amp on all tracks for the band demo recording.

Fender Bassman Reissue 59’ LTD

This amp was bought in 2008 from Sound Control London (now closed). I paid around £900. Its modelled after the father of all guitar amps, the Fender 1959 Bassman. Rated at 45W with 4 x10inch Jensen drivers, I would describe this amp as loud, proud, and …..up to a point clean! I rarely usually turn this amp up to point where it overdrives as its too loud for most of the venues I play. If  I need overdrive I use my Zendrive pedal (see below). I swapped out the two GT 6L6’s for a pair of Phillips Nos 7851’s. These tubes provide big clear volume and minimum distortion. I plug My LP into the ‘Normal 2’ input, where the fat is at!!!

Pedals

Boss TU2 Tuner Pedal

Had this since the 80’s. Its been overtaken by more modern tuners in terms of features. However, it super reliable and very easy to use and easy to see on stage. No need for an upgrade!

Hermida Zendrive Pedal.

I guess you could call this a ‘boutique’ pedal, often described as a ‘Dumble Amp in a pedal’. I have never heard a Dumble amp, but I can tell you this pedal sounds mighty fine….and so it should at nearly £200!!!! It was a gift from my manager Julian Haycock (lord bless ‘im!!!) in 2011. A very smooth sounding & versatile pedal a la Larry Carlton, lovely! You can hear this pedal to great effect on the band demo track ‘First Train Home’ by Peter Green (MUSIC page). I used the pedal on a medium drive setting together with the Les Paul. Result gorgeous!!!

Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser Pedal

I have tried a few phasor pedals and this one sounds the coolest of all. I place this pedal after the ZenDrive on my pedal board, and set the ‘Rate’ knob to its lowest setting to bring the phasing in & out slowly as a I play. You can hear this pedal on the demo track ‘Black Cat Bone’ along with the strat (MUSIC page). A great pedal for funk and with distortion, great for rock too! (see video on this page).

Boss Digital Reverb Pedal

I use this when ever I use my Bassman amp (the Blues Junior has built in reverb which I use). Its quite versatile and sounds good, but I only ever use the room setting. When funds allow, I might replace this pedal with the simpler to use and gorgeous sounding Mad Professor 'Deep Blue Delay' pedal. Watch this space!!!