I'm using older Fender Strats through a Mesa Boogie Subway Blues amp, which is all-tube and switchable down to 10 watts with spring reverb. This amp has no gain control -- just a single volume -- so for overdrive, I'm using a Fulltone Fulldrive 2. So you can see that when it comes to guitar, I'm not a fan of digital processing.
Now I'm looking for a distortion effect (not an overdrive or fuzz) that is similar to a Boss Metal Zone in terms of edge and grit, but is higher quality with true bypass and better tone. I'm considering a Fulltone Distortion Pro or a Barber Burn Unit EQ. I've been able to try the Fulltone, and although it "meets" my requirements, I'm not blown away by it. But the Burn Unit is hard to find, so I've never actually seen one up close. Any thoughts?
(I will probably use a Carl Martin Compressor to even out the distortion.)
"We're kind of on the level of crossword puzzle writers... And no one ever goes to them and gives them an award." ~Joe Strummer sscce.org
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: ...I am glad I played guitar in "simpler" times ...
The irony is that most of today's high-end "boutique" gear attempts to recapture that vintage simplicity of hand-wired tube circuitry. And the economics of doing things like that today are really skewed by mass-produced circuit boards and digital "modeling" software.
Wish list: The Carr Mercury amp, featuring a power attenuator for 8, 2, 1/2, or 1/10 watts. And it has tube reverb. Damn... A 12" reverb combo driven by a fraction of a watt?
Always a pleasure to hear from a fellow Strat man. I think mine is a 1970 (natural maple, black pickguard) but I'd have to double check on that. It's early 70's in any case, and not one of the crappy Japanese ones. I've had it since I was 12 or so and wouldn't give it up for anything.
I hadn't heard of the Fulltone before but I'm intrigued since it seems geared towards the single coil models like the Strat and Tele. If you do end up getting one I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it.
Originally posted by Jason Menard: ...I hadn't heard of the Fulltone before but I'm intrigued since it seems geared towards the single coil models like the Strat and Tele...
Well, for overdrive, I'm totally sold on the Fulltone Fulldrive. (I have a pre-mosfet version.) I've tried a lot of overdrive pedals pedals over the years, and this is the only one I think really delivers on the promise of smooth, warm drive while keeping the single-coil tone intact.
Originally posted by Jason Menard: ...I think mine is a 1970 (natural maple, black pickguard) but I'd have to double check on that. It's early 70's in any case...
The most consistent thing about Fender is their inconsistency (at least through the early '80s, which is when I stopped paying much attention). Without removing the neck to look for an exact date, here are some guidelines for that era...
1968-69: Two patent numbers on the headstock decal (2,741,146 and 3,143,028). The neck is attached with 4 bolts and has the truss rod adjustment at the body end. Serial number on the neckplate roughly between 210000 and 280000. Saddles are formed metal and stamped "Fender Pat Pend."
1970-early 71: One patent number on the headstock decal (2,741,146). Serial number on the neckplate roughly between 280000 and 330000.
Late 1971-mid 74: The neck is attached with 3 bolts and has the truss rod adjustment at the headstock end. Serial number on the neckplate roughly between 330000 and 580000. Saddles are cast metal with no stamping.
Mid-1974: Pickup poles are flush instead of staggered.
Black pickguards started in 74 or 75, so that might be a replacement on yours. Not a big deal if the rest is original.
An excellent resource for Strats is the book The Fender Stratocaster by A.R. Duchossoir. This is a concise reference packed with the essentials. For a beautiful coffee table book with plenty of eye candy photos, there's The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat by Tom Wheeler. For an online reference, this Vintage Fender page is interesting.
Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Thanks for the info. I'd never bothered to actually date it since it didn't mean much to me (the date, not the guitar). We had gotten this from a family friend and while I thought I'd remembered it being an early 70's model, your info has shown me that I was a bit off and it's actually probably a late 70's or there abouts made in the US (they started making them in the US again in mid-1976). Regarding mods, the guy who owned it before me did do a little customization, replacing the two of the pickups with hotter single coils and the tone knobs.
Great site. I should have checked on this years ago.
I keep toying with the idea of picking up another electric. The safe bet would be a Les Paul (what more would one need besides a Strat and an LP?), but I've heard good things about PRS and they have a factory here in MD so I might check them out as well.
Originally posted by Jason Menard: ...they started making them in the US again in mid-1976...
I think you mean mid-1986, when the American Standard was introduced.
The Japanese Fenders didn't go into production until 1982. Ironically, this was a time when the Fullerton, CA factory was making some of the best guitars Fender had produced in over a decade -- the "Vintage" reissues and the "Smith" Stratocaster -- but this wasn't enough to pull Fender out of their slump. In mid-1983, the Smith Strats underwent an ill-advised design change, and the Fullerton factory eventually stopped all US production in February of 1985. The new Corona, CA factory actually started production in late 1985, but output was limited to only about 5 Vintage reissue guitars per day. The American Standard Strat was launched in 1986. (I verified these dates in The Fender Book by Tony Bacon and Paul Day.)
This is the period of Fender's history I'm most familiar with, because my favorite Strats are the "Smith" models, made in Fullerton from December of 1981 through June of 1983. These are very consistent with deep body contours and super-slim(!) 4-bolt necks. The translucent finishes were on ash bodies, which tended to be on the heavy side, but the solid-color finishes were (usually) on nice alder bodies. So although the custom colors from that era look cool and are more collectable, the plain black or white ones are preferable to most players.
Anyway... I have a nice Les Paul (a "Classic 1960" goldtop from the late '90s), but I'm not that into it. I guess after playing Smith Strats for 25 years, it's hard to make such a switch. The Paul Reed Smith guitars are excellent quality and more consistent than Gibson. When I worked at a guitar store, I tried a lot of the PRS models, but never got hooked enough to buy one. Everything seemed great about them, except I just didn't feel any "vibe." For humbucking guitars, I actually like the MusicMan Axis or Axis Sport -- I just can't decide whether a Floyd Rose is worth the time it takes to keep adjusted. [ June 03, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
I heard American Strats are better than mexican ones. I have tried fender, loved the sweet tone but in love with my Ibanez. Not sure why people prefer japanese made rather than Korean ones. I am thinking of replacing pickups of my Ibanez S470DX with some powerful like EMG 80-81 but i think duncans would be great too. Just loved the how they sounded with Jackson guitars.
I better concentrate on my playing rather than the stuffs. I think Digital processing is quite good i have seen so bands using then on stage. Yeah, but they got the high-end processor like the BOSS-GT series.
I would like my hands on PRS guitars. They are too expensive.
I tried ROTO-PINKS strings on my guitars...they are amazing smooth hopefully they have more life.
Originally posted by Atul Sawant: ...I am thinking of replacing pickups of my Ibanez S470DX with some powerful like EMG 80-81...
Be careful with "powerful" pickups, because there's a tradeoff between power and tone. In general, higher power results in more midrange but less high end. For bright single coils, this can be good -- but for humbuckers, this is usually the opposite of what you need, especially if you want to stand out in a mix. Personally, I prefer passive pickups with modest output because they sound fuller and more balanced to me. (I wouldn't even consider an active pickup.) To me, that's the first essential step for good tone, and you can always power up with the amp.
For replacement pickups, I would recommend Lindy Fralin, but it all depends on what you're after. What kind of amp and effects are you using? And what are you hoping to change about your sound?
You're absolutely right about concentrating on your playing rather than the gear, because most of your sound is in your fingers.
(I played in bands through the '80s, and taught guitar from around '89 to '95, but I haven't played live in over 10 years.) [ June 04, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Originally posted by marc weber: I think you mean mid-1986, when the American Standard was introduced.
U.S. made Fenders, starting in mid-1976 has the serial number on the peghead. Note the following number could be off as much as two years. Generally speaking, a "S" prefix equals the 1970's, "E" prefix equals the 1980's, and "N" prefix equals the 1990's. Note "E" and "N" prefix models are sometimes also Japanese-made (see below).
Mine is an "S9#####" serial number on a peghead decal, so that should ID it as an American made Strat built somwehere around 1978-1981 if I'm reading this correctly. Looking at that again though, it doesn't say they started building them again in the US in 1976, I just had my Fender history screwed up and thought they were made in Japan in the 70's. However it looks like models weren't produced in Japan until 1981 or so.
Originally posted by Jason Menard: ... Looking at that again though, it doesn't say they started building them again in the US in 1976...
Right. Mid-1976 is just when they started putting the serial number on the headstock, as opposed to being stamped on the neckplate. Any Fender made prior to 1982 is definitely American. (1986 is when standard Strats started being made in the US again, following the close of the Fullerton factory in early '85.)
Yes, an "S9" serial number is generally considered a '79, although the actual production date could be from 1978 through 1981. I also have a Strat with an "S9" serial number. Mine is finished in Capri Orange, which was part of Fender's "International Colors" from 1981. I'm keeping it as a collectible.
That's me, barely 16, on the right with the 1965 Fender Jazzmaster that I kept for a long time, in May of 1966 at a charity performance for the mentally challenged (and I don't mean the performers, Ha!)
This is how I sounded at least 1/2 a year before that picture was taken, in 1965 at age 15: (the last bars are the better ones). Please remember that all this playing was new to everyone everywhere then, and that I was a young teen...
Very impressive, Tony! You really had that Fender tone going -- great reverb sound! Is that a Twin Reverb amp? How did you get such cool gear at that age? Geez... I didn't get my first Strat until I was 18, and couldn't afford a Twin Reverb reissue until much later.
(Of course, the coolest thing is those boots! )
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
"How did you get such cool gear at that age?" you ask?
Very Short answer: We played for it We sang for our supper!
"Oh my god" you have asked a very personal question, ha ha!
I feel like telling it now. AT THE TIME (1965), it was like an intrigue to me (THAT IS, NO BIG DEAL. I was 15 and leader of the band) and as such I KNEW what happened...
My band mates didn't know the details until months later, when I told them.
But before that..., I bought my Fender Jazzmaster plain and simple, thanks to the credit that the drummer's father had in Puerto Rico at that time. He was a well known eye surgeon, his wife an American member of prime society (via charities etc; you know, what rich people do). That's how their son had a LUDWIG drum set (just like the Beatles!).
Anyway, after I admitted him to my band, which began to play regularly (on weekends only, of course, since we had high school to attend during the weekdays), I told him that I wanted a new 'real' guitar (as opposed to the Ajar that I had) and that, as he knew, I could pay the monthly installments (price in 1966: $400; you do the inflation calcs) if only he let me charge the instrument to the same account that his drums set was at. There was no problem in that (and I eventually I paid off the guitar ahead of time).
But the Super Reverbs that you saw in the photograph... yes... excellent amplifiers for the time...
Well, we bought ONE the same way that I bought my guitar and we paid for it ahead of time also.
The other two Super Reverbs, well, they came to us via a different way.
They were in payment for a record we made in late 1965 with a local producer that never went anywhere.
The punch line (or paragraph) is that the assistant of the producer, who looked like Woody Allen before I knew who Woody Allen was (second from the right) paid me a visit and he told my parents that he needed to talk musical tech stuff with me about the record that we were making.
The visit was to inform me of the method of payment for the record, that my band had already agreed to be paid in: Musical equipment. So he told me "this is what's available: One Fender Dual Showman or two Super Reverbs".
When I asked him why the specificity, he said in a low voice as if he wanted to make sure that no one was listening, "I have a connection at the airport and these three amps are for my taking; amps that are destined to [the biggest and most expensive (because of a monopoly that they had on Fender equipment)] music store.
I asked him if they would have to be stolen and he said yes. I said no initially but when he tells this 15 year old guitarist again and again that it's that or a lesser amount of cash, in my childish mind I saw only us playing with not two but THREE Super Reverbs like you saw on the picture above.
About 1/2 a year or maybe 1 year later, one on the Super Reverbs that was acquired that way blew more than a vacuum tube and we took it to the store for which is was initially destined, for repair (there was really no other place to take it). By that time, we were one of their best customers; we didn't need the physical signature of the drummer's father anymore; we could credit charge whatever we wanted since the account was always paid (by us, the band) on time or better.
So they asked us possibly after identifying it as stolen, "where did you get this amp?" (Because they said it was not bought from the store (Duh!))
We said "we bought it used a few months ago". The account that we had with them was more profitable and important than pushing the issue so they fixed the amp and we paid for the fix (it was NOT under warranty! HA HA!)
"errores de juventud...""Errors of Youth..." [ June 08, 2007: Message edited by: Tony Alicea ]
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
"(Of course, the coolest thing is those boots!)"
"Oh my god", I had forgotten all about them! If you had not mentioned them...!
SUEDE boots! Can't remember how much we paid for them; can't even remember buying them!, But we did (obviously!)
Wow, Tony... I suspected there might be a story there, but I had no idea it would be so sinister.
Those must have been exciting times to be a guitar player, when those sounds were so new and the possibilities were so fresh. Playing in the '80s was actually a bit frustrating, because it seemed like everything had been done. We tried mixing genres -- like putting jazz licks over new wave songs -- but there was really nothing "new" coming out of our amps. (Nothing worth mentioning, anyway.)
I have to smile when I read music magazines and young musicians talk about "breaking the rules" to do something "new." It's easy to dismiss today's pop music, but here's how I look at it: To get the full effect you need to be hearing these things for the first time -- and have it coincide with all those new experiences that come with being a "young adult." We've already been there, so it's difficult for the music to affect us in that same way again.
I don't think people realize how much more expensive equipment was then (in real terms). The late '70s and early '80s were not strong economically, so when I started playing, even low-quality guitars were expensive. We started with bad Les Paul copies that sounded terrible and wouldn't stay in tune for more than 1 or 2 songs at a time. The cheap Squires coming out of China today are much better quality than what we had available -- and only about a quarter of the price in real terms. [ June 09, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
And what do you think about the guitar "remakes" that Fender is doing now and since at least 1989 (when I found out about it), of its vintage guitars?
I saw a few years ago that they had a rosewood neck Jazzmaster (1962?)
They were not cheap but I wonder if I should get that one for example, or get a (1957 I think) Strat..?
Other mature people wonder whether they should send their kid to Harvard or whether they should buy a brand new sports car. I wonder whether I should get a Strat or my original Jazzmaster. But it has to be 1960s vintage or none at all
Here's me playing (later, at age 29 and with the original 1965 Jazzmaster) the intro to the Beatles' version of Roll Over Beethoven:
"$400 in 1966 has the same buying power as $2,552 today!"
No wonder we had to buy on credit! And considering the speed at which I paid for my guitar, we must have been, what is called today, "doing well" then. We could not have cared less then about money (heck! we lived with our parents!); it was all about the music. Think of how it is to be the first one to learn (for example) "Words Of Love" by the Beatles and practice it in my parent's front porch, maybe a little bit louder for the neighborhood, and having a cop car show up and... wait until we finished and tell us "that sounded great, but there's an elderly couple from down the street that called us..." And then they stayed while we practiced other Beatles songs, lowering the volume of course. The two cops didn't look too old to me; probably in their early 20s.
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: And what do you think about the guitar "remakes" that Fender is doing now and since at least 1989 (when I found out about it), of its vintage guitars?...
Fender started making "vintage reissues" in 1982, and that's probably what kept the company from going under. They've gone through some different phases -- and different countries of origin -- but the reissues made in the US today are excellent quality guitars. If I was going to buy a new Fender, it would definitely be one of their reissues. In fact, I'm tempted by the Jazzmaster myself. (If they offered it in Shoreline Gold, I wouldn't hesitate.) If you're considering one, I would start hanging out at guitar stores playing different ones to see what you think.
Thanks to all of the Ranchers for sharing their guitar stories. It has motivated me to dig out my old guitar that has been in the basement since our latest move. I bought the guitar back in 1985 when I got out of high school. It is a Squire Strat, black with a maple neck (just like the one The Edge played) I saw it in the store and I had to get it.
It reminded me of my junior college days when we would hang out at my friends house, down in the basement trying to work out songs together. What we lacked in talent we made up for it with enthusiasm.
I have been looking at web sites for a new Strat, once I convince myself that I can play again.
Originally posted by Bob Reardon: ... It has motivated me to dig out my old guitar that has been in the basement since our latest move...
I was so burned out on guitar that I found it difficult to even listen to guitar-based music. After several years away, it's nice to feel inspired again. It's even nicer to rediscover the guitar music that's been so important to me. (Right now, I'm listening to The Clash's London Calling.) I had become so obsessed with the playing that I forgot what these bands really meant.
I used to feel a lot of pressure to "impress," making it very difficult to break out of the improvisational patterns I was comfortable with. Now that I'm away from that -- more relaxed -- I feel like I can do what I should have done years ago, and really learn some different approaches to soloing.
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
You 'all got me looking into Fender's site for a re-issue '62 Strat or '62 Jazzmaster (because of Rosewood neck; my original). List price is $2K. [ June 14, 2007: Message edited by: Tony Alicea ]
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: ...List price is $2K.
Yeah, the "street price" seems to be around $1,400 at places like Guitar Center or Musicians' Friend. In person, you might be able to negotiate another $100-200 off that, although I get the impression that internet warehouses and superstore chains (like the 2 mentioned above) are driving prices so there's not as much dealing as there used to be.
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Yes, 30% thanks.
That's what I remember from the last time I was looking into Fender remakes, in 1989. I ended up buying a Squier (sp) made in Korea which then I had the opportunity to use in the last concert I ever played, which was in 1991 at the theater of the University of Puerto Rico.
As soon as I find the photos that were taken at that Last Waltz (get it?) I will indicate so here.
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: ...that Last Waltz (get it?)...
Yeah, we've talked about this before. There are certain combinations of musicians that make impossibly good music. Individually, they might each be masters. But together, at the right time... There's a certain magic that couldn't happen without every one of them in that same "place." And it can never be duplicated.
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: Yes, 30% thanks...
When I taught at a guitar store (which was not a nationwide chain and is now long gone), there was a weird system for pricing. Instead of being tagged with an obvious price, there was a code that was the list price divided by 5 (I think), followed by a markup code of A, B, C, or D. The markup code indicated how cost (wholesale price) related to list price. An 'A' markup meant that cost was 50% of list, 'B' meant 60% of list, etc.
So if a guitar had a list price of $2000 and the store's cost was 60% of that ($1200), then the tag would be labeled 400-B.
The sales people needed to stay a certain percentage (20?) over cost, but their commission was based on profit, so that laid the foundation for dealing.
The employee price was 10% over cost. (So in the above example, our price would have been $1200 + $120 = $1320.)
Perhaps surprisingly, there wasn't much margin on the big ticket items, because competition to keep these prices low is what brought people into the store. The profit was usually on things like strings, straps, cases, stands, books, etc.
Anyway, 30% off list for a new Fender is a good deal. It would be difficult to get any lower unless it was a smaller store that needed some cash flow and the sales associate had the authority to make that deal. (Not likely.)
Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Hey Marc: Remember the Fender Mustang? (That's me at 15 with a borrowed one.)
And here I am at same age with a borrowed Hoffner guitar. Was not very good sounding IMHO...
Originally posted by Tony Alicea: Hey Marc: Remember the Fender Mustang? ...
Yeah, Mustangs are cool. I have a 1964 Duosonic II, which is basically a Mustang without the tremolo. The early Duosonics had short 22.5" scale necks (sometimes called "3/4 scale"), but the "II" models had 24" scale necks. I got it during the early days of eBay, when a lot of stuff was listed without any photos and you could still get some real deals. I took a chance that the minimal 3-line description was accurate, and got it for around $325, including the original brown tolex case!
I love that blue finish on the one you had. It looks like either Sonic Blue or Daphne Blue (which are difficult to distinguish from photos). When you see these today, they usually look green depending on how much the clear topcoat has yellowed. (They yellow from UV light, so they're still the original blue under the pickguard.) I would love to find a "green" one with a pearloid pickguard.
Back to the original topic (if anyone's following): I've decided to wait for the Fulltone GT-500, which is expected sometime in August. I think those tone controls are critical to what I'm after, and Fulltone seems to be the only manufacturer that really gets that. (Their Fulldrive is a tone machine.) The reversible boost/distortion circuits might be interesting too.
Originally posted by marc weber: Back to the original topic (if anyone's following): I've decided to wait for the Fulltone GT-500, which is expected sometime in August...
Update: I just got my Fulltone GT-500 today (serial number under 200), and it was worth the wait! I haven't tried it with a Les Paul yet, but I bet that's intense. Interestingly, I see on the Fulltone site that the Distortion Pro I was originally considering has just been discontinued "to put more manpower on the GT500."
So my current chain is: Carl Martin compressor, Budda Wah, Fulltone GT-500, Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Voodoo Lab analog chorus, Carl Martin Delayla (analog delay), and a Maxon Nine phaser.
Next on the wish list: A Voodoo Lab Tremolo. And -- as if a guitarist's gear could ever be complete -- that should cover it. [ August 11, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
The Fulltone GT-500 is an amazing unit, but it sounds too high-gain for me, and the midrange "scoop" isn't quite enough. So now I've switched to a Voodoo Lab SuperFuzz. I know, I know... It's a "fuzz" -- not a distortion. But it's a very "tight" fuzz with some added tone controls: A midrange cut/boost and a sub-harmonic boost, which together make for some extreme tone contouring. Maybe it's a fuzz I was looking for all along. Who knew?
Originally posted by Pat Farrell: Did you try something like a Shotz power-plate, which just throws away power so you can turn up the tube amp until it distorts properly?
Any proper guitar amp has tubes.
Good suggestion -- we're obviously on the same page!
A power soak is an intriguing idea, but I'm pretty leery of these because of their high potential for damaging amps -- especially the way I would be using it. This is why I like the idea of Carr's Mercury amp (switchable between 8, 2, 1/2, or 1/10 watts -- damn!) and Mesa/Boogie's Express amps (switchable down to 5 watts, from either 25 or 50). Definitely all tubes.
On the other hand, I think I have my "overdrive" sound covered nicely with the Fulltone Fulldrive 2 (and a Mesa/Boogie Subway Blues amp at 10 watts). This other distortion/fuzz sound I'm after now is a little different than driving an amp. It's a sound I rarely use, but I like to have it available. I think the SuperFuzz might do it.
What kind of gear are you using (guitars, amps, effects)?
Originally posted by Bert Bates: us Gibson types are feeling left out in the cold :roll:
I think I'm the one in the cold today, as I sit here in a coffee shop with the snow swirling outside and a 7-below windchill.
I have one Gibson -- a late-90's goldtop Les Paul "1960" Classic. I love the way it feels soloing at the lower frets, but I have trouble playing above the 12th because of the neck heel. Of course, that humbucker sound is classic.
What kind of Gibson do you play? [ December 23, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Well I've always wanted to play a flying V, but in reality I've always had some flavor of SG. Right now I have a knock-off SG with a Roland synth pickup installed. (I couldn't bear to besmirch a real Gibson with a synth pickup ).
Originally posted by Bert Bates: Well I've always wanted to play a flying V, but in reality I've always had some flavor of SG. Right now I have a knock-off SG with a Roland synth pickup installed. (I couldn't bear to besmirch a real Gibson with a synth pickup )...
I haven't tried a synth guitar since the 80's, when they cost a fortune, didn't track very well, and sounded cheesy. I would think they're way better now, with all those digital sounds available. (Obviously, this would be an entirely different approach from my obsession with tubes, analog effects, etc., but it would be fun.) I could see a synth pickup on something like a Parker Fly.