Friday, August 27, 2010
This product review is going to be on an outstanding amp....The Egnater Rebel 30. Lets start with a little history....30 years ago Bruce Egnater wanted the tones of his favorite players and could not get it with off the shelf amps.He was an electronics graduate from the University of Detroit's Engineering School. He opened his own repair shop in 1975 to help players get their own tone and to make amps with More distortion and louder volume. For 30 years Egnater has been a benchmark of quality and tone. The particular Egnater amp I am going to give a review on is the "Rebel 30." There are many great Egnater models, such as the Rebel 20, the Tweaker, the Renegade and Tour Master series.
Lets get the amp specs out of the way. It's a 30 watt all tube amp. The clean channel has volume, bass and treble knobs. Wattage control from1-30 watts. It has "tight" and "bright" switches and on the back a reverb control knob with "spillover."The overdrive channel has volume, gain and a 3 band eq knobs. Wattage control from 1-30 watts and "tight" and "bright" control switches. There is a tube mix knob to select your taste of a mix between 6V6 tubes and EL84 power tubes. There is also a reverb knob on back with "spillover."There is a xlr direct record out with play and silent mode recording mode. There is a buffered effects loop and a spot for a footswitch to change channels and turn on and off the reverb. the wood that they are made from is birch plywood. The last spec is there is a 100v\115v\230v voltage selector. There is a very classy\timeless look about this amp too. Black and off white with a beautiful black and white speaker grill cloth with a very tasteful, cursive, Egnater logo on top of the grill cloth.
Now let's get to how they sound. I played few different guitars for a good bit of time each on this amp. I will break it down guitar by guitar. On all guitars i used the same settings for each. On distortion channel the gain was all the way up, low at 3\4, mids at 3 and treble all the way. On clean channel had eq all set at 12 o clock. I messed with the tube mix a little on each but always started it right down the middle. Tube watts was always in the middle.
The first guitar I played was Micheal Baideme's 2003 Les Paul Custom Shop Historic Art '59 Re-Issue. This guitar is amazing in it's own right but through the amp it had a full and rich sound. Pinch harmonics took on a new and exciting tone for me. There was a tight low end and was a perfect mix of vintage and modern guitar tones at the same time. With gain 1\2 way it lost no sustain, all the way up it was endless. The distortion was nice and gritty. I turned the tube mix all the way to 6V6 side and it was very Fender sounding. I messed with the "tight" switch and it made a difference. It made playing a "metal chug" sound very clear at any volume. It really does make it sound "tight." For that reason I kept it on for all guitars. No matter how loud I put the amp the notes and chords very very articulate. I was very pleased with this guitar and the amp. They were a perfect match.
The next guitar was my Berkshire "John John" model. This is my main guitar so i know how this normally sounds in comparison to "my sound." With my pick up selector in the mid position and single coil on it sounded very bluesy. Gritty and dirty, just how i like it. I put my "double' coil on it it had a very 90's alt rock sound. Very awesome.Very Pearl Jammy. I stuck the tube mix on all the way EL84 and it sounded very Black Label Society "Stillborn" tone. On the clean channel on my bridge pick up it was very twangy, chicken pickin, git-r-done ish. Pick up's both on it was very 80's ballad, "Nothing Else Matters" tone. Pure money. I loved it. This amp on clean and overdrive was so crisp...so clean. Bass notes clear asa bell on this channel. The pick ups in my guitar are seymour duncan jv and the jazz.This amp was a perfect mix of the Peavey 5150 and VHT classic 6 that I use to get my tone.
The next guitar was an ESP Viper 300 M right off the shelf at Rock Bottom. It has active EMG 81 and 85 pick ups. On the dirty channel it was a terrific monster of modern metal guitar tone. It sounded like a mesa triple rec on steroids. It was Breaking Benjamin and Avenged Sevenfold tone depending on how hard you played. This guitar with these pick ups just growled!!!No matter how fast or how loud i got every note was crystal clear and shimmering. On the clean channel there was still some grit on the sound because of the high out put pick ups.
The last guitar I used was also Micheal Baideme's. This time it was and amazing ORIGINAL 1963Fender Stratocaster.Of all the guitars, I loved the sound of this one the best throughout this amp. They ALL sounded amazing, this one was just it on this day and time for me. Plugging straight in with the same settings on distortion, this thing had huge balls. ACDC Back In Black all day long. With gain halfway it sounded more Hendrix than Hendrix. I listened to Micheal play on it while it was on clean. So much chicken pickin snap. The mids shined, the trebled shined, the bass shined. Freddie King would give his right arm for this sound, as would I. I think this guitar sounded like gold on the clean channel on this amp.
The Egnater Rebel 30 head and cab are just plain godly sounding. Egnater has been around for over 30 years perfecting amps. This one could be called damn near it. They are priced at the Rock Bottom price of $749.99 for the head and $279.99 for the cab at Rock Bottom Music. Jonathon Karow has a wide selection of tube amps at our store. You need to get down to the corner of 8th and Broad and check these out. They are selling quick at that price. We also have the Egnater "Tweaker" in. Micheal Baideme, who graciously let me play his awesome guitars for this review, bought a "Tweaker" head and is in love with it. An Egnater at this price is a done deal for me. We also have an insane deal on the all tube Peavey XXX amp.$900. That's for the head and a 4\12 cab. If your guitar player you need a good tube amp. Get down to Rock Bottom and at least check this out. Tell 'em John John sent you.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In this first edition of "Passing the Torch" I am focusing on a former student of mine named Brint Lollar. Brint is 21 years old and plays guitar in the band L.I.E. He was 16 years old when he started playing guitar. Boredom and a compulsion to do something is why he started playing. Hearing his moms Van Halen records is what got him inspired and its also what he pulled his first riffs from. I remember the meeting that got Brint started taking lessons from me. I was walking down 8th street in downtown Augusta and this kid with wide eyes and kind of nervous came up to me and said "Hey John John, you givin guitar lessons?", I told him yes and gave him my number. He said he had been at 95 Rock when Zakk Wylde had came through and was there when I was jammin with Zakk. The first lesson I gaveBrint I noticed he was extremely smart. He knew alot of theory and tons about the guitar, we needed to work on the execution. Any of my students wondering by now, yes he is the one I tell you about that knew tons about theory, tons about everything, the one that impressed me with that, we just had to get him playing it! The love of prog music and finding new, obscure bands to learn from , is what keeps him playing. He hasbeen in the band L.I.E. for 3 years now. I remember putting Brint on stage for the first time. He played a student concert at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at the Augusta Mall. I also brought him to the open mic nights i use to do at the mission.(yes he was too young but his mother brought him!!!) I remember helping him out with video auditions trying to get in Chairleg, lending him guitars and amps when he go tin L.I.E.back when LIE had Davis as a drummer.He played his first gig with L.I.E. after just one week of practice. He loves the challenge of learning the parts that fellow LIE band mate ( and contributing writer on this blog) Micheal "Dork" Dinkins writes on the keyboard that he then has to play on the guitar. He says it can take weeks to learn them. He has had the pleasure of opening up for national acts like OTEP, MOTOGRADER and Metallica tribute band BATTERY. This year L.I.E. will be on the 12 Bands of Christmas cd and concert.The concert will be in December this year and once again at the Imperial Theatre. The band is doing "Granda Ma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" for the cd. A couple shows they have coming up is October 2 at the all ages venue Sector 7 G and a halloween show October 30 at the Hard Knox in Columbia South Carolina. I askedhim what his dream guitar would be,get this, he told me it is my red 1980 Gibson Explorer that was my main guitar for many years. He would of course do his own modifications to it. He is currently playing his dream amp, the Bogner Line 6.I also asked him what he got out of taking lessons with me. His response was " A card catalog of applications of use. I came into lessons with pieces of the puzzle and came out with all the pieces and how to use them.I learned application of knowledge and a routine practice schedule." Some advice Brint has to pass on to new players and up and comers: Buy a mp3 player, fill it with music, listen to it religiously and change the music out every week. Also find as many ways as possible to transcribe music. Learn how to read standard notation. Brint would one day like to score a movie and in 5 years sees himself still playing but expanding to other instruments. I am extremely proud to have worked with him. Here's to Brint......Me Passing The Torch........
here is a video of live L.I.E.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
This month's Student Spotlight is on Danielle Parker. She is 14 years old and attends Grovetown High School. She started taking guitar lessons from me February 20, 2010. She is a very quiet, shy young lady. She is extremely smart and is well mannered. She does very well in school and caught on to my teaching program quickly. She works very hard at the guitar. She wanted to start playing guitar because her mom likes guitar. It's very obvious that Danielle likes it as well. Her current favorite band is Paramore and she would love to see Taylor Swift in concert. If she could play in any band that's around today it would be Maroon 5. She hopes to be writing her own songs in the future. I believe she is well on her way to doing that. She has what it takes to be on her way to writing some great songs. She listens to and plays a wide range of music, from Poison to Taylor Swift to Paramore. She really enjoys music. That's what drives her to keep playing. If she could go back to any point in time and see any performer in history it would be Micheal Jackson. She says there are not too many musical people in her family except her brother who plays piano. That is nothing to deter her though, she is from the musical mecca city of New Orleans Louisiana. Growing up seeing the parades and bands there had a profound impact on her. There isn't a person alive who grew up in New Orleans and doesn't have some sort of music running through their veins. Seeing the drummers in New Orleans is what got her into music. In 5 years she sees herself a much better musician. She wants to be an optometrist and go to the University of Southern California for college. She is having a blast learning music at Rock Bottom Music. So here's to you Danielle.......keep rockin.......keep playing........and keep having fun!!!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
This is a little bit of product review and a little bit of YOU NEED TO HAVE A STAND!! I was in a band previously where the player with me for 7 yrs. never got a guitar stand. Basically any stand is a good stand. I have yet to see a stand where i would say " I will never use this stand!" Down at Rock Bottom Music we carry three types of guitar stands. The first is a Stagg stand. Its a fold able stand that you just set your guitar on. It comes in a style for acoustic guitars and a style for electric guitars\basses. It's a reasonable $19.99. They are great for when you have an out of town gig. They fold up small and get the job done. The next stand is the On Stage Stand. Its a tripod stand with adjustable height with a neck fork.These stands are everywhere. They to get the job done. I could not tell you how many have been left behind at gigs. I have seen near a hundred left over the years while i am packing up mics and speakers on sound gigs. They are at the cheapest price anywhere at $14.99 at Rock Bottom. The last stand we carry is the $39.99 Hercules stand. These stands are the Cadillac of guitar stands in my opinion. I got one that someone left on stage (at a sound gig i was doing) and have been very impressed with it. It doesn't really support the guitar any better than the other stands, its just better built and has more adjustments for guitar height and fits any guitar or bass. Now that you know how cheap the prices are on stands you need to get one. Nothing is worse for your instrument than laying it on the floor at a gig.It looks unprofessional too. Your guitar deserves the protection of a stand. Leaning your guitar on a wall is no good for your neck. So do yourself and your instrument a favor and get down to Rock Bottom Music and get a stand!!! p.s........i hold guitar stands for many months when i find them at sound gigs, i also put out the word that i have found them.NOONE ever claims them!!!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
In this edition of "Check This Out" I am telling you about a big change for me. I am changing my teaching store from Big City Music to Rock Bottom Music. It is not a change happening for any ill wills or bad feelings, its just a change for the opportunity to reach more students. I have had an amazing three years at Big City. The staff has been great to work with and Adam Tolar is a stand up guy. Adam and I have had some great success there, our student concerts and Rock Band Camp has been very successful and it was an immense pleasure working and molding the students. Big City will always offer great customer service and Good teaching program. I am handing off my teaching reigns to Darrell Cliett. He is qualified and will be using my program for the students there. At Rock Bottom I will be continuing what I did at Big City. My students will continue performing student concerts and I also will continue with Rock Band Camp in one form or another. There is a great stage at Rock Bottom where the students can do in store performances. The same stage where great artists like Duff McKagen,of Guns and Roses, and many many other national and world wide performers have did in store performances. The same stage where world class musicians like Greg Koch , writer of the Hal Leonard books i teach from, and on September 9, 2010 Mark Shulman, drummer for world wide recording artist Pink, will be doing a drum clinic. Rock Bottom has other great teachers like Devron Roof. Devron is an amazing musician and teaches the bass like nobodies business. Henry Wynn is a fixture on the Augusta music scene who also teaches guitar, mandolin and banjo. The staff is amazing. Guys like Joel Hodges, the award winning Micheal Badamie. Micheal is a great guitar player who is very knowledgeable about music. Jason Morris, who is a former student ofmine, is also on staff and is very musically inclined himself. Joanthon Karow, the owner, was alocal musician just like us before he took Rock Bottom from an online store to the growing successful franchise it is today. He is an all around great drummer, bass player and singer. He is also a work-a-holic likemyself. Jeannie is always by his side, kickingbutt while working at Rock Bottom. I am leaving out alot of the staff but i will be doing a write up on all of them soon. For those who don't know, Rock Bottom is located in downtown Augusta on the corner of 8Th street and Broad Street. I am excited about starting there. So keep our local businesses flourishing. Stop down and see me at Rock Bottom and when you go to Big City tell Darrell, Adam and the rest of the staff hi for me.This change will not change the teaching on this blog either. It will help the site reach more people. See you all soon!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Let’s talk about distortion. It's that knob on your amp or pedal that screams for attention. We can call it the "instant satisfaction" knob if you'd like. Some guitarists use distortion for saturation, sustain, tone, but some just because it's all they know and the salesman at the music store told them "TURN THIS KNOB ALL THE WAY UP FOR THAT GREAT DIAMONDBAG DARRELL SOUND"...
Let's get a little science out of the way, and figure out just what exactly distortion does to your guitar's signal/sound.
Distortion. It makes older folks cringe and the younger guys play endless arpeggio sweeps at music stores over and over. I’d like to hear them play them with no distortion. Distortion can be a smooth and warm overdrive to a loud wall of sonic HISSSSSS. There are many factors to getting different sounding distortions. Are you using your amp or a pedal for distortion? Is it a tube or solid state amp? Regardless of what method you use to get distortion, what you are hearing is called clipping. And to understand clipping, you need to understand what a waveform is.
It looks like it sounds:
In the second photo is a great example of clipping/distortion in action. You'll see the blue dotted parallel lines or the “threshold”. This is the voltage limit of the signal. In the digital realm (computers, 1’s and 0’s, etc), the limit is 0db. Anything past that and it’s just nonsense hissing. This threshold is where the equipment will not let the signal go above, and anything that goes above this threshold will be truncated or “clipped”, resulting in the crests of the sound wave being square. This is what we hear as distortion, the truncating of information past a set threshold. This is extreme of course, and the clipping makes amplifiers need to use more juice, and sound very harsh with lots of high frequency harmonics.
With tube amps this clipping is done with a lot more finesse. The tubes amplify the quiet part of the signal to get them closer to the threshold, while leaving the already louder signal relatively the same. This is called compression. And a lot of people seek this guitar tone because of the even-order harmonics it makes, giving it a warmer and fatter tone. Yes, compressors can make distortion.
Now that we’ve talked about what distortion is and how clipping works, next time we’ll talk about distortion, EQ, and gain in a live setting, and the contrast you should make with the other instruments you may be accompanied by, and making space for them. Whether you’re playing death metal, the newest “core” band, or jazz, sounding good live is all about contrast.
Oh and why practicing with high gain distortion is doing you a disservice…
Some terms you should get familiar with:
Harmonics and overtones. (not “pinch” harmonics or “artificial” harmonics)