ACOUSTICS

Let me go on the record as saying that if I had the choice of a dream acoustic, it would be made by Linda Manzer. For me, they are best sounding acoustics for fingerstyle that I’ve ever heard in my life. She’s a brilliant luthier. I've never before played an acoustic guitar that was so harmonically true and copasetic.


Also, please note that any and all of the acoustics I own, with the exception of one, have Baggs active pickups.


I have a nice BREEDLOVE that I acquired because it was in a terrible accident and ended up used in one of my guitar tech’s stores. It’s got a very even sound, nice for recording acoustically and sounds wonderful through a P.A. It’s got Baggs pickups.


I also have a LARRIVEE I picked up used that I love to practice on. Very even and a little bassier than the Breedlove. No pickup.


A few years ago, a good friend of mine chose an incredible GODIN ACOUSTICASTER for me in Montreal. I have to say I’m still impressed by the sound. The neck is as straight as a arrow. I use it when I need to grab a “steel string” sound in a rock situation where I’m concerned about feedback. I also love playing it on solo acoustic gigs. I can plug that guitar into the cheapest amp and the sound is huge, and warm, and full of sustain. Very often on those gigs I’ll play for 3 or 4 hours straight without stopping because I’m enjoying the sound so much. (Once again Baggs pickups).


For nylon string guitars, I have a few. I have a GIBSON CHET ATKINS that I bought in the early 90’s. It sounds so sweet in every situation. People are constantly amazed at it’s warm, very acoustic-like sound. I had the neck recontoured to make it a little easier for me to play, as the original “Chet” had a huge neck.


I’ve got an old beat up Giannini classical that has a really subtle sound and is very easy to play. Great for practicing. I use a Kremona passive pickup to amplify it.


I found a great little guitar at NAMM a few years ago made by a company from Bulgaria called Kremona.Very inexpensive, they have a cool pickup system that goes under the strings at the bridge. It’s a little delicate, but very simple and it sounds quite true. The guitar itself is very even and easy to play. The notes are quite harmonically true considering it’s a really inexpensive guitar. And the people at Kremona have been so good to me.


THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO WORKS ON MY GEAR, HELPS ME FIND ALL THIS OLD STUFF I USE, AND WILL SIT AND TALK WITH ME ‘TILL THE COWS COME HOME, ABOUT TUBES, GREAT DESIGN, MACHINING, ELECTRONICS, AND THE SHEER BEAUTY OF GUITAR TONE.

carole pellatt

gear page

AMPS

The DEAN MARKLEY amps are interesting amps.

I first saw them new in the '80's at the Dean Markley store on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood (long gone). They were way out of my price range at that time (a whopping $750 - $1500!). But I would go in there a couple times a week and look at them and listen to people playing them. I was very impressed by their physical design and they really left an impression on me.


A few years later I found one used in Las Cruces New Mexico and grabbed it.

They’re really nicely designed. First of all, they’re convertibles, so you can mount them in their combo cabinet or in a rack (very smart). The head has two solid handles in front on each end and in the back they have two "j" hooks to wrap your power cable around.  I like the e.q.-ability of them. They have nice big knobs. Make fun of that statement all you like, but that is so important to me. The clean and the dirty channels have two separate but identical sets of control knobs. Sounds obvious, but the majority of amps do not set up clean and dirty completely parallel, so you usually have very little control over the dirty channel compared to the clean. It’s a tube preamp, transistor power-amp that has an interesting preamp to power amp result. You can get a really crunchy, harmonic, sustaining sound at a really low volume with it. That’s practical for freelancing. Because the amp is not very powerful

(1 12 AX7 tube) you have to dig into the preamp for some of the sound. Normally that would make things too bright if it’s a solid state pre. But because of the versatility of the e.q. section, I can tweak the dials through any gig situation. It’s really reliable as well-the airlines haven’t been able to destroy it yet, despite that it's constantly being kicked and dismantled.


I picked up the RM-150 DR a few years ago and it’s got a lot of power to spare. Same design as the RM-80.


Dean Markley stopped making these amps quite a few years ago and the company itself was bought out so they’re hard to find. By the way, I'm always looking for these amps used.


I use my Dean Markley’s with either one or two Mesa Boogie 1 x 12 cabinets with EV 12L’s. These are great little cabinets built into road cases with pop off casters that never fail me. I’ve had these cabinets for over 15 years and they’ve proven themselves to be “airline proof”. Once again, neither Boogie nor EV make these products anymore (let me know if you spot them somewhere...)


In my Dean Markley rack I use an Alesis midiverb for delay or chorus if I need it. It’s really old, and I picked it up for nothing in a pawn shop and it’s never failed me. It also stays out of the way of the signal path, and I can jump some of the volume from it to tweak over to the Markley.

SOLDANO


When I have to bring out the big guns I use my Mesa Boogie Simul 295 power amp with a Soldano sp-77 rack mount pre amp.The Boogie power amp is a work of art. I've owned two of them and they are truly impressive in their design and consistency of performance.


I love my Soldano SP-77. I don’t think there is an amp maker who designs with tubes the way Michael Soldano does. His understanding of power amp to preamp matching is a beautiful thing. Everything he designs has a full range and warm sound.The crunch is always in the perfect frequency range. Because of his tube savvy, I find that the harmonic overtones in his amps sing with great sustain and produce polytonal feedback that shapes easily. And his products are a joy to look at and touch, with chassis that are beautifully sculpted and heavy duty.The wiring in my SP77 is artful and meticulous. Michael Soldano is a true lover of guitar tone and a brilliant designer who consistently creates incredible gear. He is also currently designing amps for Jet City Amplification.


Another Soldano product that I love is the Supercharger preamp pedal,which is the only preamp pedal I would ever use. When Michael says "true by-pass", he really means it. And once again, the Soldano design is beautifully wired, tubed ( 2 12Ax7's), and straight ahead to E.Q. with nice big knobs. The Supercharger is a wonderful addition to the Dean Markley's I use. And it makes every amp sound great, adding a nice bottom end of easily "e.q.-able" tone.


You must try Soldano's Surf Box if you're a fan of reverb/delay/tremolo units. It offers a wide array of reverb and tremolo sounds and is reminiscent to the Echoplex from way back when.


I use an old Roland SDE-1000 digital delay with that rack.I love that delay, and they are great when you chain two of them together to get multi-delay or chorus with delay.


I recently started endorsing the APHEX XCITER Aural Exciter and Optical Big Bottom Effects Pedal after seeing a demonstration by Michael Hurwitz of APHEX at a clinic he was giving at Camp Jam San Francisco. I was really impressed by the clarity and warmth the pedal added to the guitar sound. Because I can’t always transport my gear on my travels, I have to play through a lot of different amps-some of them not so great. The APHEX Xciter pedal brought a presence to the sound that was very pleasing. I am anticipating using it on my solo acoustic gigs to help deliver the warmth and breadth of frequencies the acoustic commands. If you have the opportunity, go listen to the pedal, and thank you Michael, and Aphex for your faith in me!


For tubes, I love Sovtek. That's pretty much what I use right now, although there are some old Groove Tubes I like as well.


As far as gear goes, there's lots that I've owned that I like. For example, the Intellifex by Rocktron, and the Rocktron Midi switching system for analog amps designed by Bob Bradshaw (I thought that was a brilliant and simple design, and a necessary item for analog fans). I have to say that I regret letting go of my ElectroHarmonix flange pedal in the 80's. Anyway, just get me started on gear....

GUITARS : Electric


I think sometimes that I am one of the few guitarists who has been so satisfied with my main guitar that I have never even looked for another one. For the past 26 years, I have been playing the custom strat that John Wescott, of JOHN WESCOTT GUITAR REPAIR (Los Angeles) made for me. I have yet to play another stratocaster or rock guitar of any kind that sounds and feels as great. John custom contoured an old Squier neck that I found hanging in his shop with a warm, wonderful rosewood fretboard. The body is swamp ash and it’s got 80’s vintage EMG’s along with a 6db midboost preamp that makes it sing on any amp. The midboost preamp also helps me to get any pitch of feedback at will and at a low volume without processing. The body is dark sounding, with volume and sustain even when not plugged into an amp. It also has an original Floyd Rose that literally never goes out of tune. John installed a heavy duty input jack that never gets loose or has ever failed me, a battery compartment in back for ease of battery change. And I have to say that I would never go back to passive pickups after using the EMG actives. They are ultra quiet, high output, and true to string frequency reproduction. Of all the guitars I play on gigs, this is the one that is the most like me.


I use D’Addario strings-custom sets 11-52. I haven’t found a string yet that is a better value.


I do have a couple of other strats that I like- a custom with a Warmoth neck-birdseye maple with a Brazilian rosewood fretboard, and a Warmoth alder body. It has a beautiful japanese painting on it, hand-painted by artist/musician George Toufexis. It's got old EMG's with a midboost pre-amp like my other strat. I still need to have an old Floyd Rose installed on it. Right now the locking nut is a poor copy whose brand I won’t mention.


I recently purchased a Fender “Relic” strat. The fretboard was so sweet, it kept talking to me. It has an incredible center of gravity-probably the most perfect I’ve ever felt. I will customize it with EMG’s, and the neck has some issues, so I know John Wescott will do his magic on it. I needed a strat that I could “drop D” tune for some surf tunes, and because it has a standard bridge, that’ll do the trick.


For a jazz sound I use an old Gibson 125 (1956).The body is warm and resonates beautifully. If I’m concerned about feedback for louder gigs, my Ibanez George Benson GB-10 really does the trick, and I like the size of it.

IF IT DON’T LOOK LIKE THIS, IT AIN’T ROCK & ROLL

GEAR and TONE


I did want to preface my "gear" page by saying that I really believe that tone is created when your fingers touch the guitar and what gear you may use is secondary.

That being said.....


Great tone comes from a simple signal path. Keep the signal path clean. Meaning, great sounding fingers on a great sounding guitar, through a great sounding amp. A great sounding amp, in my opinion, is an amp that has a killer clean and a killer dirty tone. I use two channel amps to achieve this and I do not use any amp simulators, or amps that have amp simulators or multi-effects on-board. Also, for me, great tone ultimately involves tubes.


I try not to mess with the sound by adding too much to the signal path. I don’t dig the processed sound so I don’t use a lot of effects-just the occasional delay or chorus. When I do use a delay or chorus, it’s always a passive rack mount unit connected through my effects loop, once again to stay out of the way of the signal path. I never use rack effects units with preamps or amp simulators. And the only “effects” pedal I use is an old fashioned wah.


The speakers that I am dedicated to after all these years of performing and recording are EV12L’s. They are, for lack of a better expression, music to my ears. I feel that with the EV12L’s

I can shape my tonality in any direction no matter what pre-amp I am using. The sound is always warm, wide, and clear. And when I’m using distortion, the characteristics of the sound remain warm, true, and malleable, with a fat, distorted tonality.


I never go “direct out” from my amp with my electric; live or in the studio, (I usually say my 'direct out' line is malfunctioning..) because I want to feel and hear the wind blowing through the speaker cone. If my amp needs to come through the P.A. or monitor system, I always mic it. I carry a SHURE SM57 for such a purpose and use a multi-clamp to mount it.


When a tune calls for a steel string or nylon string guitar in the studio I never use a guitar pickup into the board. It’s always the acoustic wood sound I want to hear. For live sound, micing is a little too difficult for most of the situations I find myself in, so good pickups on the acoustics or acoustic-electrics are key.


I was once asked where I got my tone from, and how does a musician go about finding his or her tone. There is a sound in your head from the time you start playing an instrument. We spend our lives as musicians shaping and nurturing our external tonality so as to represent the tones that run through us internally. You must follow the sound in your head.


The first thing I did as a young musician on my “tonequest” was ask every musician I heard whose sound I loved, what gear they were using. Ultimately, commonalities occurred.


THE GEAR


•DEAN MARKLEY RM-80 DR

  rack mount head


•DEAN MARKLEY RM-150 DR

  rack mount head


•MESA BOOGIE SIMUL 295

  Stereo Power Amp


•SOLDANO SP-77 Amp Head


•SOLDANO SUPERCHARGER GTO

  pre-amp pedal (brilliant!)


•2 MESA BOOGIE 1 x 12 Cabinets

  with EV12L’s            


•ROLAND SDE 1000

  digital delay


•ALESIS MIDIVERB II  Rackmount


•DUNLOP Cry Baby Wah


•PETERSON VSR Strobe Rack

  Rack Mount Tuner (brilliant)


•APHEX XCITER

  Aural Exciter and Optical

  Big Bottom Effects Pedal


• SLIDES - Always Brass & Bronze






JOHN WESCOTT AND MY HAPPY SELF WITH THE STRAT HE BUILT FOR ME