Wednesday, August 8

One louder

This one's for the gear nerds out there... stop reading now if you don't want to be bored to tears by guitar techy talk.

I decided recently that I needed more layers in my dynamics cake.

I already have several tricks at my disposal via the Dr. Z RxES and its built-in boost ("overdose"), my Fulltone Octafuzz and my super-secret custom "McCracken" pedal. Between just those three I technically have 8 possible levels of distortion with some volume variability to boot.

But it wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to get louder, after I've already gotten louder and louder still. So I decided to go dual amp and bought a 1976 Roland JC-50 off of e-bay.

It arrived with a blown speaker, but after a little web research and some haggling with the seller, I was partially refunded my money and I ordered an Eminence Tonker to replace the dead stock 12".

Man, the Tonker plus the JC-50 is a mighty thing. Total surf-rock. Supreme definition. Tight bass. Now I can toggle between the RxES and the JC-50, or use both at once. I'm using a Lehle toggle switch, which is fully passive and therefore retains the amazing touch sensitivity of the RxES. My signal chain to the Z. is actually exactly the same length as it used to be even with the Lehle, 'cuz I exiled my tuner to the JC-50 side.

As if all of this wasn't enough, I brought my Crowther hotcake back out of retirement and put it in front of the JC-50 for yet ANOTHER optional boost. In mathematical fact, I now have 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 48 theoretical combinations of gain/distortion at my fingertips without any routing changes!

In practice, if I was going for a complete build from quiet to loud, I'd go like this -

1. RxES w/McCracken pedal
2. RxES straight
3. RxES straight + JC-50 straight
4. RxES straight + JC-50 w/Hotcake

So I've gone from a three-layer cake to at least four layers! The Z's "overdose" is now relegated to more of a gain control - a tonal tool - rather than a volume boost. And none of this factors in the extra goodies like my flanger and wah. Nor the chorus and vibe on the JC-50!

I'll take a picture of my new pedalboard sometime soon. I'm excited, aren't you? :)

Jesse Kates *