Friday, December 30, 2011

Jas Obrecht's complete 1978 interviews with Eddie Van Halen

As classic rock fans anxiously await new material from the VH camp I thought I'd share this link to another great Jas Obrecht interview - this one with EVH.

The Randy Rhoads Interviews

This March will mark the 30th anniversary of Randy Rhoads' tragic death. Shortly after his passing Guitar Player magazine did a cover story on Randy. The article's author Jas Obrecht has posted many of the interview excerpts at his website and they are an interesting read. Here's the link to his interview with Ozzy but there are also excerpts from Rudy Sarzo, Max Norman and others.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Digitech Bad Monkey is Great Addition to Any Pedal Board

With its great tone and ease of use the Digitech Bad Monkey may out perform the original Tube Screamer or even some pricier boutique overdrive pedals.

Guitar tone aficionados are a pitiful lot. Most of us will spend small fortunes seeking the perfect guitar tone. It starts with the desire to find the perfect guitar to pair with the perfect amp. But that's only the beginning, unfortunately, because the perfect guitar and amp will need to have just the right pedal (or pedals) placed into their perfect signal chain and, you guessed it, what starts as a harmless hobby can quickly become a full-blown case of GAS - gear acquisition syndrome.
Of course over the past several years more and more manufacturers are only too happy to provide we poor GAS victims with an unending supply of "boutique" guitars and amps to satisfy our cravings. By the way, "boutique" is another way of saying "expensive".
In more recent years, builders of effects processors have entered the boutique market with some pretty high ticket offerings. But the next time you get all glassy eyed and light headed when the guy in the NAMM booth goes on about "true bypass" this or "germanium" that just remind yourself that you don't have to spend $250 or more to get a good pedal that will give your perfect guitar and perfect amp the respect they deserve.

Send in the Monkey

Overdrive and distortion pedals are especially plentiful in the growing boutique pedal market and while there are some phenomenal companies making some phenomenal units, it's comforting to know some of the old school manufacturers like Digitech are still offering up some solid products. Case in point: Digitech's Bad Monkey overdrive pedal.

It's no secret that the Bad Monkey is Digitech's take on the venerable Ibanez Tube Screamer but you could say that about 90 percent of the boutique OD pedals on the market today. Afterall, the original TS808 is considered the standard in overdrive tone.If you are lucky enough to find an original TS808 be prepared to spend alot; even the reissues will run over $200. Similarly, the more common TS9 is commanding high prices in the used market and most of the boutique pedals out there will command higher prices than original or reissue TS9's. The Bad Monkey is a more than viable option to the Ibanez (or many of the boutique contenders). And while it covers very similar ground (it's even the same "seasick" green), it does some things differently (better?) than the Ibanez and at a fraction of the cost.

Bad Monkey Compared to Ibanez TS9

The Bad Monkey's design is fairly simple and straight forward. Right to left you'll find controls for Gain, HIgh, Low and Level. You'll note on the Ibanez TS9 that there are only three knobs. Instead of separate controls for high and low frequencies there is a single Tone control. This is the first improvement on the original Ibanez design. You'll have much more tonal control with the Bad Monkey.The gain control covers the same territory as the TS9. Keep in mind that both the Bad Monkey and the TS9 are overdrive pedals. If you are looking for a pedal to play hardcore, grindcore or any other kind of "core" you'd be better off looking elsewhere. But if you're looking for good, midrangy, classic rock overdrive, either pedal will get you there. One of the key differentiators between the Bad Monkey and TS9 is the level control. The Bad Monkey seems to have a much broader volume range than the Tube Screamer. One complaint about the TS9 (and especially the later TS10) has been that when kicking in the overdrive the output level barely matches that of the clean signal.Not so with the Bad Monkey. It has plenty of boost. For this reason many players use the Bad Monkey as a clean boost for their solos. Overall the Bad Monkey's tone is fairly transparent allowing the tone of the guitar to go through the pedal without getting colored too much. For fun try using a TS9 with a Bad Monkey as a boost pedal; or try using two Bad Monkeys in your chain.Another handy feature in the Bad Monkey is its dual output jacks. Output 1 goes to your amp. Output 2 is designed to go to a mixer: a nice option for guitarists running their guitar through the P.A.

A No Brainer

There are some finicky tone seekers who will swear by their classic TS808, TS9 or spendy boutique OD and would never consider something as pedestrian as the Bad Monkey being part of their pedal board. They may be right, and in their defense, there are some fabulous pedals on the market right now.But to my ears the Bad Monkey does a bang up job of creating those classic OD tones, and at a price that can't be beat. Those of us lucky enough to jump on the Bad Monkey bandwagon when it was first released a few years back were able to pick one up for about $39. Since then the street price has gone up to between $49 and $59 - still a great deal. The Bad Monkey really is a no brainer.

The Peavey Bandit 65 May Be the Ultimate Bargain Guitar Amplifier

Great tone, great functionality, handy size, famous Peavey durability and a low, low price make the Bandit 65 one of the best preowned amps available.

Take a stroll through your local music shop and you'll see a bevy of amps ranging from tiny solid state practice amps to top-of-line tube driven stacks. You'll likely be surprised at the variety but you'll probably be more surprised at the prices! There are some expensive amplifiers out there!The good news is there are alot of viable used amplifiers available for the guitarist on a budget. You would be hard pressed to find an amp that gives more "bang for the buck" than the Peavey Bandit 65.

Back to the 80's

As part of their Solo Series, Peavey began marketing the Bandit 65 around 1980. Due to it's fairly compact size and even more compact price (under $250 retail) the Bandit enjoyed a fairly wide acceptance especially among country musicians. Peavey amps had been popular with country players for much of the 70's.In fact, you couldn't turn on Hee Haw or Pop Goes the Country without seeing a backline stuffed with Peavey products. For some reason, however, big-time rock musicians seemed to be a little late to the Peavey party. But for a budding rocker on a budget it was hard to walk away from the Bandit 65 in the early 80's.

Over the years, tales of Peavey amp durability have become almost legendary. Hence there are still A LOT of these little guys banging around garages, basements, bedrooms and pawn shops. Yes the funky logo and ubiquitous brushed aluminum trim may give you pause but don't let this gawdiness scare you. The Bandit 65 is a real workhorse and can still deliver great sound and performance for a mere pittance.

Bandit Basics

The layout of the Bandit 65 is simple enough. The lead channel consists of controls for pre-gain, Saturation (Peavey's proprietary distortion circuit), and post-gain (which is merely the volume for the lead channel).The Pre-gain knob has a pull-boost function that boosts high-end frequencies. The normal or clean channel features controls for volume, Low, Mid, High, Presence and Reverb. The volume (Normal gain) knob, like the Pre-gain in the lead channel, has a pull-boost to kick up the high frequency. Additionally, the Mid control also has a pull-boost that adds an additional punch to the mid-frequencies.The rear of the Bandit 65 features a loop for effects and an input for a footwitch allowing you to toggle between the lead and clean channels and turn the reverb on and off. The amp came stock with the Peavey Scorpion 12" speaker. Featuring a 65 Watt solid-state power section and weighing in at under 40 pounds, the Bandit is just big enough to keep up with a drummer but small enough to not require hernia surgery.

The Amp That Will Not Die

As mentioned above, Peavey has always had the reputation for building equipment that could take alot of punishment.The Bandit has been known to fall out of moving vehicles, have beer spilled on it and even be submerged in water (!) and still work.Many a guitarist, myself included, have been gratefull they've had their trusty old Bandit in the van or pickup when their cool, spendy amp has died in the middle of a gig! The fact that there are so many of these guys still in operation is testament to their bullet-proof nature. For this reason alone, the Bandit 65 is a good investment. You never know when you'll need an emergency back up.

So How Does the Bandit 65 Sound?

The Bandit is a solid state amp. If you're hoping to coax warm, tubey, Deluxe Reveb type tones from this little guy you'll be a bit let down. However, you will immediately be impressed with how good the clean channel does sound. There's tons of clean headroom and, while not Fender lush, the spring reverb is pretty good. Try single coils through the Bandit's clean channel and you'll be pleasantly surprised.The lead channel is solid - good but not great. The Saturation circuit can sound a bit fizzy but backing off on the Presence a bit helps. You'll want to experiment with the interaction between the Pre-gain and Saturation controls. Cranking the Pre-gain gives a little more warmth - but cranking it too high with the Saturation too high makes for some mud. However, dialing back the Saturation can yield some fairly warm, almost tube-like, overdrive.Overall, my preference is the clean channel. With a Tube Screamer, Bad Monkey or other good OD or distortion pedal out front you'll get a good rock tone. One little trick I like to use is to turn the Saturation all the way down and use the Lead channel as a semi-clean boost for solos.

The Price is Nice

You've probably noticed even some lousy amps from the late 70's and early 80's can cost a mint. For whatever reason many Peavey amps have been passed by when it comes to the vintage market. Well, Peavey's loss is your gain! Many old Peavey amps can be had for a song! I've seen fully functioning Bandit 65's for as little as $60 in local consignment shops.On the high end you could spend up to $175. $100 to $150 seems to be the common range. Even at the upper end of their current price-range it's a steal. These guys are fairly plentiful on Craigslist and in pawn shops.

Bandit Bottomline

Is the Bandit 65 the best sounding amp you'll ever hear? No. Is it the best looking amp you'll ever see? No. However, if money is a consideration, you would be wise to take a look at a Bandit next time you see one at the local used music store. This is a good, hardworking amp that sounds good and will likely be working longer than most of us will! Buy one while they're still cheap!

(Originally published at )

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rick Springfield? Yes!

Ok, at the risk of taking heat from classic rock snobs, here's a review of Rick Springfield's "Working Class Dog." This is actually an excellent album with some of the tastiest guitar playing from the 80s.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cheap Trick's "In Color"

I mentioned Cheap Trick's Rick Nielson in my last blurb about Graham Bonnet. Figured I might as well share this review of their awesome "In Color" album. Enjoy.

The Great Graham Bonnet!

If you saw the latest episode of That Metal Show you saw the great Graham Bonnet (along with another of my my faves, Rick Nielson). This guy has played with Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai - to name just a few. Read this article about Mr. Bonnet.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Have you played an Orville?

It is hard to find a better guitar value than Orville. These were licensed by Gibson and are every bit as good as the US models - only alot lower priced. Check out this review.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Auditioning new band members

Hiring new band members is not a task to be taken lightly. Check out this article on the topic I wrote for Guitar-Muse.

Def Leppard's best album: High 'n' Dry

Check out this review of High 'n' Dry, easily Def Leppard's best album.

Sammy Hagar on Eddie Trunk Show today

I was able to catch a few minutes of Sammy Hagar on the Eddie Trunk show on Sirius/XM. Apparently the second Chickenfoot album will be entitled Chickenfoot 4! Awesome! Anyway, he talked about his time in Montrose and reminds me of a review I recently did on Montrose's debut album. Hope you enjoy it!