100th Blues Show! Playlist, stream, d’load

Show broadcast Sunday 27th March, 6-8pm 105.9 BishopFM and at BishopFM.com
Also syndicated to Kansas City Online radio every Monday 6-8pm Central Time.

Download here or stream below

Lee Bates & Billy Newton – Dynamite
Lonesome Bob – Kind Hearted Woman
Minnie and The Victors – Need Your Love So Bad
Mojo Fingers – Kind Hearted Woman
Nigel & Bob (Poorboys) – Circus
Propaganda – Red House
Sheik Your Mojo – Hipshake
Lee Bates and Billy Newton – I’ve Been To School
Minnie and The Victors – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Lonesome Bob – Lonesome Bob
Victims Of The Fury -Outside Woman Blues
Mojo Fingers – Sweet Home Chicago
Nigel & Bob (Poorboys) – The Ballad of Hollis Brown
Propaganda – Roadhouse Blues
Sheik Your Mojo – Little Red Rooster
Lee Bates & Billy Newton – Nothing But Trouble
Lonesome Bob – Move It Over
Mojo Fingers – You Got Me Runnin’
Nigel & Bob – (Poorboys) – Black Gal Blues
Sheik Your Mojo – Mean Mistreater
Mojo Fingers – Built For Comfort
Nigel & Bob (Poorboys) – The Thrill Is Gone
Lee Bates & Billy Newton – Lazy Day
Nigel & Bob (Poorboys) – Wade In The Water

New Guitar Amp – Peavey Pacer

When I sold my ESP Telecaster (the best guitar I’ve ever owned) and my Laney VC30 amp (the best amp I’ve ever owned) over a year ago, it left an ache in my heart that has hardly diminished. Even though it is highly unlikely that I’ll ever join another band, I still feel the need to have the appropriate equipment – “just in case”. Well, by trading a pedal and a pickup that I had traded for a guitar that I had traded for a multi-fx pedal that I got cheap (still with me?) I have now got this Peavey Pacer 45 watt combo. Of course, it isn’t a high end boutique tube amp – all solid state here. But it is solidly built and a quick email to customer support at Peavey told me that it was made in 1979. Well, it has weathered better than I have, I’ll tell you!

It isn’t particularly rare or valuable, but with a good clean channel (overdrive on Channel 2 is a bit waspy) it should be fine for rhythm work, and apparently it takes boost and o/d pedals quite well on Channel 1.
I have yet to use it in anger, as I am borrowing a guitar with a view to buy (deposit paid – more later) but it should do fine. I’m also thinking of trying it to amplify my acoustic guitar, using my Korg acoustic modeller.

A quirky thing – it has a Folded Line “reverberation device” which has the following sticker on it:
(Manufactured by beautiful girls in Milton, Wis under controlled atmosphere conditions)

Stoneham Amps – BBB custom 50/100R

Stoneham Amps – BBB custom 50/100R
I’m fortunate enough to know Bad Bob Bates of The Bandits and Oil City Connection, and have seen The Bandits play several times. I know that BBB is constantly searching for “Tone” to suit his style of playing, and to match the sound he hears in his head.

Bob & I (and lots of other local musicans) are members of a local musician’s forum, Big Ginger Git’s Gig Pit (BGGGP for short) and it was there that Bob started voicing his questions around his search for “The Sound”. After a few messages back and forth, a suitable solution has been found.

Here’s Bob’s introduction:

I’ve been playing live from the age of 14 (you’d think I’d be a bit better by now) and have used Carslboro, Orange, Fender and Marshall amps, mainly settling on Marshall’s in the early 90s. I like the breaking up crunch sound generally, and the ability to channel switch for lead breaks. I don’t use pedals for overdrive as I like to get the amp working on that side of things – more difficult to control but it does it for me.

Anyway, I have two bands at the moment. With The Bandits the rig stays in the band van – a Marshall head and Laney 4×12 cab, and it works great for the range of material we cover (ZZ Top to Dr Feelgood via George Thoroughgood, The Who and The B52s!). I need a separate rig for Oil City Connection (70s Wilko era Dr Feelgood through to Nine Below Zero and The Pirates), which I transport in my car. I’ve tried a few set ups, including a couple of Marshalls, my Orange Tiny Terror and a Kustom Defender, but I’ve not been satisfied.

What I really wanted was a Marshall-esque sound, but one which could provide me with the gritty Feelgood sound through to more raunchy Nine Below Zero grit incorporating the telecaster ring when I need it. Plus I wanted channel switching, not a boost, for lead.

In essence I wanted two crunch channels which would largely sound the same, with shared EQ, but separate volumes and middle controls. A dedicated clean channel is something I never use, but I do very occasionally like a little reverb too – rarely but sometimes. I was moaning on about this on the BGGGP forum as most channel switchers either go from crunch to screaming overdrive and general ‘waspiness’, or have a clean and gain channel. Martin got in touch telling me he wanted to set up in business building high quality point to point amps, and would I be interested in being his first commercial project. The potential price was right so I said yes – and promptly started selling gear to cover it! He brought his prototype around as a discussion point (and by god it sounded good), and he watched me play, saw how I set up the EQ and patiently listened to ranting on about “too much fecking drive, too much gain, the kids these days dunno how to work an amp!” and all that. In short, I think he developed a good understanding of what I was after, then he went away and started to create it.

The discussion went beyond sound and also covered functionality. He knows my “close to” eyesight isn’t great, and that I have shades welded to my face on stage, so suggested chicken head knobs for the controls (brilliant!!). We also dicussed the size of the head too, and the need for 100 and 50 watts.

Stoneham prototype
I never said much about the look. Basically, I love the way you can see the valves glowing from the front. I saw that once when Brian Setzer was playing on TFI Friday and though it was the height of cool. The BBB Custom does that too! One more thing. Martin asked how I would like the control decals to look. I said, oh hand write them on with a permanent marker and then just lacquer over them. He did! Great stuff!!!!

Here’s the story from Martin’s viewpoint:

It all started when “Bad Bob” posted on a local musician’s forum back in November, that he was looking for recommendations on what amp to buy.  He wanted a fairly simple but high quality valve amp with two similar sounding drive channels, to switch to a boosted facsimile of his main sound.
I saw the post and a lightbulb went off, I knew I could come up with a custom design that would meet Bob’s demands so I sent him a message offering my services.  I didn’t expect to get anything back (I had no website or company image, other than a lot of personal recommendations from people I’d worked for in the past on amp repairs)

Bob was, of course, very enthusiastic and flattered to be offered his own custom amp so we met up for a coffee and a long chat about amps, guitars, speakers…. and came up with an initial ‘wish list’ of specifications for me to go on.  I showed Bob my own handmade amplifier which I use in my own band ‘Last Minute’ and he was impressed enough to place a deposit for the new build.

For the design, I started off with copying my prototype circuit but minus one gain stage, aiming for a classic British crunch tone that was fat but also had plenty of edge to cut through the mix.  From there it was a quick process to design the channel switching Bob requested (seperate gain, volume and middle controls) and plan the construction layout.  Within a couple of weeks I had settled on the design and acquired all the parts needed and so got stuck in!
The basic shell came together quickly, a chassis fitted with all the transformers and hardware but production was impeded while myself and the rest of the family prepared for both christmas and the imminent arrival of my son Matthew (born 20th January 2011) and I have to say Bob was very understanding and patient. 
I recommenced production in February and was finished by the end of the month.  I had a few curveballs in terms of cosmetics but once the amp was nearing completion I took it back round BBBs for a demonstration.
Bob’s verdict: When he brought the near complete article around for me to try I was blown away. It sounded great – the two channels do just what I want, and the reverb is something else – valve driven too. I feel privileged to have a hand wired amp which interprets my needs and preferences, and very proud for it to be named the Stoneham BBB custom 50/100R with a serial number of 001 on the back! In short, great service, great product, great price and a great experience. I just can’t wait to get it on the road now! I’ll be playing it through Zilla cabs, but wish I’d had the patience to wait for Martin to get his cab building activities up and running too. It would have been good to have a full Stoneham rig!

Martin’s verdict:This was a nerve racking experience, I had no idea how well it would be received.  I knew it was working very well and I felt the tone was up to standard but highly subjective.  As it turned out there was no cause for concern, it was a big success and Bob was delighted with it.  Its really spurred me on and enabled me to build the website, hopefully forming the basis of a successful full time business.  I have a day job at present, a necessity of having a mortgage I guess, which means I’m working some anti-social hours but its what I truly love doing and will always be building guitar amps whether people buy them or not.

A bit about Stoneham Amps….

Stoneham is a family name (from my wife’s side) although at present its a one-man operation, and will most likely remain that way.  My designs are based on years of research and experimentation with my main prototype, an amplifier born from a blank chassis back from when I worked at Marshall Amps in 2002 (at the tender age of 22) but thats not to say I only have one circuit; what I have learnt is how certain components and traditional circuits affect the guitar tone in a positive way, which parts to change and which parts to leave well alone!  So these principles apply to both clean and dirty sounds, low power and high power designs.  All manufacturers borrow from classic tube amp designs, Stoneham is no different in that respect but definitely bring something new to the table.

I’m now ready to launch a range of products starting with some extension cabinets which I can offer with my custom build projects.  Long term I will have a range of combos and amp heads and aim to have most of these complete by the end of 2011. 
Stoneham amps will always have something special about them, apart from the fact they are all handwired here in UK and very competitively priced.  Theres still a lot of missed opportunity to produce a quality bespoke product in UK without being priced out of the market and this is a large factor in Stonehams ethos; never to hand over our name and reputation to a far eastern manufacturing plant, along with reliability and customer service, but to maintain a homegrown business that actually contributes to our own economy….. eat your heart out China!!

Ali Kat Rockabilly guitars

Well, these aluminium bodied beauties are not just for rockabilly of course. I bet they sound great playing the blues, too, especially the candy blue acoustic model. That is my favourite, closely followed by the pinstriped/pinup beauty. There’s tele-styles and double basses too.

Blues Show 68 playlist, stream, d’load

R.I.P. Big Jack Johnson

Show broadcast Sunday 20th March 2011 6-8pm (UK) 105.9 BishopFM and BishopFM.com
also syndicated on Kansas City Online Radio Monday 21st March 6-8pm (CST)
Download here or stream below

Jet Harris – Diamonds
Big Jack Johnson – Too Many Drivers
Freddie Vanderford – Trouble Come Knockin’
Triad – Roscoe’s Rhythm
Colin James – National Steel
Diane Braithwaite and Chris Whitely – It Hurts Me Too
Adam Levy – Washing Day
Bluff City Backsliders – Pony Blues
Donna Greene and The Roadhouse Daddies – You Can Have My Husband
John Hunt – She Beats Me Up All The Time
Groundhogs – Dry Land
Leadbelly – Midnight Special
William Lee Ellis – When Leadbelly Walked The River Like Christ
John-Alex Mason – Delta Bound
R.L. Burnside – It’s Bad You Know
Gary Clark Jr. – Don’t Owe You A Thang
Sandy Tweeddale – I Know You Don’t Want Me
Snowy White and the White Flames – Another Story Told
Virgil and The Accelerators – if You Have To Know
Son House – My Black Mama
Richie Arndt and The Bluematics – Little Brother of Mine
Black Keys – Leavin’ Trunk
John-Alex Mason – Free
Clare Free – Funky Mama’s Kitchen
Claude Hay – Deep Fried Satisfied
Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters – Tommy’s Midnight Blues

Nuno Bettencourt N4 custom build

Local musician Lee has built himself this replica Nuno Bettencourt N4 custom guitar.

I asked him a few questions:
Q What experience have you had of building guitars before this one?
I’ve always loved to build stuff and always loved a challenge. I’m a huge Eddie Van Halen fan and about 3 years ago I ordered a Charvel body and a Strat neck from the USA and built myself an EVH Charvel, and then used it as my main gigging guitar. I loved the whole build process, and I learned a lot about guitars i.e wiring, pickups, tremolos, and how to really set a guitar up so you can get the best out of it..

Q Why build a replica of this particular guitar? 
I love Nuno Bettencourt, and have always loved his N4.. love the tone he gets.. love his funky rhythm style..and lead tapping arpeggios.. My good friend and fellow band mate from the Molotov Dragons Micky Luv came to my place with an old beat up N2 he bought off ebay, so I completely pulled it apart, stripped it down and built it back up, wired in a new pickup – it played and looked lush.. so I decided I would definitely get myself an N4… and at first was going to buy an N4 relic. But I really love maple fret boards and the Relic has a rosewood fret board.. and I had seen on ebay a shop in the USA that was selling an original Washburn N4 body.. an overstock and unfinished so I just decided to bid and won it for £30.. Then I kind of put it to one side as I didn’t have a neck.. then I was also looking on ebay.. theres a shop in the USA called Funky Munky Music and I think they are one of the biggest Washburn retailers and have a close friendship with Washburn and buy in Washburn neck cores and add various types of fretboards to them..for custom builds etc.. and they were selling a birdseye maple neck.. so I snapped it up. So I then had a fantastic original Alder body and a beautiful neck and the pair fit together perfectly. I then, over about 6months, slowly bought all the parts and put the guitar together.. with all top quality parts exactly the same spec as Nuno’s – Original Floyd, Bill Lawrence and Seymour duncan pickups..

Q Will the guitar be gigged?

A Yes.. Definitely!! its my main guitar at the moment.. I’ve just been really unwell for about 8 months and haven’t gigged for a while.. so now I’m on the mend and getting stronger etc., I have big plans to set up another band.. with Micky Luv. This guitar is going to be a workhorse.. and will be gigged soon.. watch this space..

Q Did you experience any particular problems while putting this guitar together?

Yes.. the wiring.. my original Bill Lawrence USA L500 pickup was second hand off ebay..and the wire was far to short so i had to extend it.. and I’m not great with a soldering iron.. but took my time and sorted it in the end.. and I’m actually much better at understanding electronics and far better at soldering..

Q Any plans to build any more guitars – and if so what?

Yes.. Another N4.. going to order the body in a week or so.. and take it from there.. i love these guitars… really love them!

(More pictures after the jump) 

Finally a video game that will teach you to play the guitar

Rocksmith aims to teach players how to play a real guitar

I don’t know what kind of hi-fi system this guy has in his house (look at all of those speakers!), and he is playing a pointy metal beast, but i guess if more people learn to play the guitar with this game then the world will be a better place. Or will it? Does the world need more guitar players? Discuss, if you like, ignore if you don’t.
Ubisoft’s Rocksmith wants to teach you to play a real guitar

Blues Show 67 playlist, stream, d’load

Show broadcast Sunday 13th March 2011 6-8pm (UK) 105.9 BishopFM and BishopFM.com

also syndicated on Kansas City Online Radio Monday 14th March 6-8pm (CST)
Download here or stream below

James Cotton – Buried Alive In The Blues
Sonny Landreth – Blue Angel
Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was The Night
Big Head Blues Club – Come On In My Kitchen
Cal Williams Jr. – Pallet On The Floor
Duster Bennett – That’s Why I Sing The Blues
8 Ball Aitken – Good Time Music
Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee
J Edwards – I Got A Woman
Welsh T Band – Place My Heart
The Snakehandlers Blues Band – V-Twin Woman
John Lee Hooker – Rabbit on The Log
Girls With Guitars – Mr. Loving Man
Albert Cummings – Barrelhouse Blues
Moneymaker – The Thrill Is Gone
Lowdown – Dryland Blues
Erja Lyttinen – Oil and Water
Grateful Dead – Katie Mae
Jimmy from Detroit – Wannabe
Henrik Freischlader – Still Frame
Delta Generators – Give Me Some
Jack Brass Band – Used To Love Her
Buckwheat Zydeco – Cryin’ In The Street

Vintage Hofner Guitar Site

When we were young budding musicians, we didn’t dream of owning guitars by Fender and Gibson, our sights were set a little lower:- Shaftesbury, CMI, Watkins and, if we were really lucky, Hofner – we lusted after their Verythin model. This is a great site with loads of information about Hofner guitars and assorted amplifiers from Selmer, WEM and others. Well worth half an hour of your time!