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# Electric Fingerland, Pt. 2

### This month we’re going to take a deeper look at the connections between the guitarist and the amplifier he/she is using. Last month, we began simplifying the signal chain

This month we’re going to take a deeper look at the connections between the guitarist and the amplifier he/she is using. Last month, we began simplifying the signal chain so you could see how string gauge can profoundly affect your style of playing. We also saw how this influences your hands in the way you play your guitar. Hopefully, you’ve had an opportunity to try a different gauge (and/or style of string) to see how it worked with your own guitar.

For now, I’m going to assume that you at least tried something slightly different. You have just struck the strings and the converted electrical energy from those strings is now racing down the guitar cable towards the input stage of the amplifier. The amp will react to the actual gauges of the strings (and how hard you’ve struck them) in one of two ways; in regards to the first way, let’s assume that you’ve just kerranged a heavier set of strings (13-56) really hard. This “bigger” signal will enter the input stage of a tube amplifier as a high spiking wave that will sound a bit fuzzy. What’s actually happening is that this strong high signal wave (aka amplitude) will hit the amplifier’s input and fall about 20 decibels downward before any real sustain is heard. 20 decibels is a hell of a lot of signal loss!

Now, let’s say you’ve just hit that same exact “big” chord, only this time you’re using lighter strings (9-42, for example). What will happen this time is the initial attack will show up at the amp’s input stage with a much lower amplitude – opposite of the heavier set above – and the decay of the lighter string will also be hovering above that level where the heavier set’s level was dropped to when it came toppling down (about 20 decibels, remember?) from that higher attack amplitude. This means that the lighter string will be heard with more sustain because it is riding higher above in amplitude – naturally due to the mass of the string vibrating more freely, as we discussed in last month’s column.

Still with me here? Now let’s introduce another element to the party. I’ll use Paul Kossoff (of Free with Paul Rodgers featured on vocals) right here as a pointed example of having a very distinct sound/ tone. It’s been said after looking at old footage of Free shows that Kossoff literally “jumped for sustain!” You could see him jump up and down as he would vibrato a note to keep it going. Why was this happening? Paul Kossoff used a Marshall 1987 Bass head most of the time. We can assume that the tubes in Kossoff’s head were fairly fresh and I am told by the Mad Professor himself, Bjorn Juhl of BJFE Electronics, that as a tube ages the gain of that tube stays about the same; however, the inherent distortion will rise and the bandwidth will diminish. Therefore, an amplifier with worn down tubes will distort easier than it would with fresh tubes and with worn down tubes the bandwidth would be narrower.

We can further assume from Kossoff’s playing style that he had to use heavier strings (a 10-52 or 11-52 set) as a bit of stiff tension would be required for the strings to stay within the boundaries of the fretboard. Paul Kossoff was once a salesman at a Selmer’s music store in London and that Selmer also carried their own brand of strings. The Selmer Light Gauge set was gauged 11-14-17-31-42-47 and it would be more than likely that he used this set on his Les Paul during that same time period (ca. 1970 or slightly before). If you listen carefully you’ll notice that, all things considered, Kossoff’s tone was pretty clean. He would literally fight both his guitar and amp to keep that note going by literally keeping the string in motion.

This is a textbook example of how you can develop your own sound by getting to know all of your gear intimately. These days we can easily reverse engineer what must have been a “happy accident” for Kossoff at the time. Back in 1970 the gear dictated what you would play as opposed to today, where we have many more options to sculpt our sound. Different times indeed!

Another thing that can influence the way you “play” an amplifier is whether you have switched the position of the tubes in the amp and see whether they sound better in a different order. Did you also know that preamp tubes will actually can get better as you play them? With some of the New Old Stock preamp tubes (like the famous “NOS” brands/rebrands such as the original Telefunken “waffleplate” 12AX7/ ECC83 types), they have a huge tendency to sound much better after you have played them in for a couple of years, minimum. My very dear, late friend, Ken Fischer of Trainwreck Circuits told me about this piece of trivia as he sold me a couple of these original Telefunken ECC83 tubes several years ago. My profound thanks to both Bjorn Juhl of BJF Electronics, Stockholm Sweden and the late, great Ken Fischer of Trainwreck Circuits who blessed me with 26 years of knowledge about amps and guitars. We’ll see you next month!

Dean Farley
Dean Farley is the chief designer of "Snake Oil Brand Strings" (www.sobstrings.net) and has had a profound influence on the trends in the strings of today

## Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide

Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.

### Les Paul Desert Burst Satin

Gibson
\$2,399.00
<p>The newest addition to Gibson’s Traditional series, the Trad Pro V electric shares the same DNA as a Les Paul—mahogany body and neck, carved maple top—but adds modern advancements. It’s super comfortable thanks to its weight-relieved body, and it feels awesome in your left hand with its asymmetrical neck shape. Playability is paramount: the compound radius rosewood fretboard makes it easy to bend strings cleanly high on the neck. You'll hear the difference, too: With its dual Tradbucker pickups and advanced electronics – allowing coil splitting and tapping – this versatile tone machine can handle almost any musical style. If you’re looking for a guitar that combines the best elements of classic Gibson mojo and modern features, you’ll find it here.</p>

### Spark MINI

Positive Grid
\$229
<p>It might be tiny, but Positive Grid’s Spark MINI delivers a huge quantity of tones…and fun. This 10-watt practice amp sounds great with electric, acoustic and bass. It’s battery-powered and easily recharged via USB, and is barely larger than the palm of your hand. It contains four onboard guitar tones (Custom, Solo, Lead, Rhythm) and access to 33 amps and 43 effects via the free Spark app. The app also offers educational and play-along tools, and makes it simple to post your performances to social media. It’s rare to find a product that has so many potential uses: sidewalk busking, songwriting, practicing, home recording and more. No matter what style you play or your level of experience, you’ll find a lot to like in this amp.</p>

### GAMMA 50w

GAMMA
\$199 \$169
<p>Looking for a flexible amp that’s equally at home for practice, rehearsal, or live gigs? Check out the GAMMA G50 and take advantage of its special holiday pricing. This 50-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amp delivers all-analog tone in a lightweight package – a perfect grab-and-go companion. It’s loaded with features like Bluetooth connectivity and multiple amp voices, so it can cover any music style or genre. With its premium quality True Blue High Headroom speakers, the GAMMA G50 also provides clear, punchy clean tones, making it a great choice as a pedal platform too. If you’re in the hunt for a portable, powerful and affordable amp this holiday season, be sure to include the GAMMA G50 on your wishlist.</p>

### Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed

Fender
\$279
<p>Here’s a guitar stand that’s as eye-grabbing as the instruments it’s holding! The Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand boasts a classic vibe, from its tweed exterior to its rich red plush lining. And it’s great for gigging. The Classic Series 5 looks like a traditional case, but easily turns into a roadworthy, super stable guitar stand. Rugged features include a 3-ply hardshell wooden case, vinyl-wrapped steel carry handle and steel latches. The interior plush lining ensures that your guitars are protected from scratches and dents. If you want a great-looking way to display your guitars at home, or if you’re looking for a backstage/onstage solution to safely hold multiple guitars, here’s a handsome option.</p>

### Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain

Fender
\$4.99
Here’s the perfect stocking stuffer for every guitarist and bassist: grab a bunch of these Fender Pluginz Guitar Plug Keychains and spread the holiday cheer with your friends and fellow musicians. This cool keychain features a genuine Fender guitar plug. If you already have a Pluginz Jack Rack key holder, this will fit right in. By the way, you can also use these as tree ornaments if you’re looking to add a dash of rock ‘n’ roll to your holiday spirit.

### Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater

Fender
\$49.99
It’s an annual tradition: each year the folks at Fender reveal their newest limited edition holiday sweater, and it’s a smash hit. This year’s model is particularly sharp looking: black sleeves emblazoned with the famed Fender logo, and a torso adorned by red, white and green seasonal graphics. Don’t miss out: grab your sweater while supplies last, because this limited edition item will sell out faster than you can say “winter wonderland.”

### Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System

Harbinger
\$799 \$599
<p>The Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array offers a professional PA solution with big sound and a wonderfully compact footprint. Acoustic musicians, DJs and bands will find it a great choice when performing in small venues, coffeehouses and practice spaces. But don’t be fooled by its modest size: the MLS1000 delivers the perfect blend of mobility, robust sound and full-featured electronics. Its built-in mixer supports up to five sources at once, including Bluetooth audio. You can go from the car to the stage in a single trip, set up in two minutes and give your audience a well-balanced sound that evenly fills an entire room. Built-in reverb, chorus and 2-knob EQ per input allow an ideal mix for vocals and instruments, while a 10" subwoofer and a six-speaker vertical array cover the full frequency range with high-quality sound. Comes with a column bag and sub cover to protect the system for transport and storage, and Smart Stereo capability gives you the option to link two units for unified sound, control and signal routing. </p>

### Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Sterling Audio
\$79.99 \$54.99
If you’re looking for an affordable microphone for acoustic guitars, amps, snare drums, and more, meet the P10. Sterling Audio’s dynamic instrument mic is an all-purpose champ, ideal for live shows, practice spaces and home recording. It complements acoustic and electric instruments alike: Its custom-tuned microphone capsule focuses on bringing your sound to front-of-house, with crafted mid-range and high-frequency detail. The cardioid polar pattern provides superior off-axis noise rejection on stage, ensuring that your instrument is heard, while an isolated custom capsule suspension system minimizes stage noise and rumble. And it’s rugged: the reinforced grille and die-cast head assembly and body are designed to survive the rigors of the road. Includes protective microphone pouch and mic stand adapter – a complete, road-ready package.

### Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface

Sterling Audio
\$149.99 \$99.99
The Sterling Harmony H224 audio interface is a dynamite choice for recording in a home/project studio or mobile sound environment. Compatible with popular recording apps, it offers studio-grade circuitry and flexible monitoring, all optimized for desktop recording. With the H224 it’s easy to achieve clear, transparent sound. Its class-leading NXS mic preamps deliver less noise and a cleaner signal for all your recordings, while its front panel instrument inputs have their own optimized circuitry that makes the H224 one of the best interfaces for recording guitar or bass. The advanced flexibility of its four (4) output design allows for two separate stereo output mixes at once, so you can easily have a separate mix for performers, route tracks for re-amping or run separate A/B studio monitors or other independent audio outputs. Plus, the H224 is fully USB-powered, so you can record without a separate power supply, and the included MIDI I/O connections allow your hardware to perform as a MIDI interface too, so you can layer your projects with specialty instruments, MIDI controllers and synths alike.

Apogee
\$229.99

## Railhammer Reveals New Billy Corgan Z-One Pickups

Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.

Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.

Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.

## Mono Releases the M80 Vertigo Ultra Case

Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.

Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.

### The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:

• Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
• Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
• Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
• Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
• Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials

Mono
\$349.99

## Mojotone Announces Exclusive Partnership with Fender

Mojotone will manufacture and market over 60 of their speaker cabinets and amp kits as “Licensed by Fender.”

This partnership marks Fender's recognition of Mojotone’s dedication to its craft, quality of products, and dependability of knowledge. Beginning November 29th and ranging from \$327 - \$1,016.

Amplifiers were among the first products to wear the official Fender seal. A qualified electronics technician by trade, Leo Fender developed his iconic amplifiers during the mid-1940s putting innovation at the forefront. To this day, Leo’s influence and innovative spirit can still be heard in today’s amps, as that same iconic, clean Fender tone continues to color new music around the world. As a result, the process for completing the exclusive licensing deal required Fender to carefully audit Mojotone’s amplifier kits, wiring diagrams, electronics, hardware, construction methods, and more to ensure this innovation carried on through the partnership. Mojotone’s many years of intense research, quality production, and favorable reputation solidified the deal.

Mojotone has always been determined to provide its customer base with the most sought-after parts with their insider industry-knowledge. They have spent the last 25 years helping musicians recreate what they deem to be the most famous and easily-recognized tones and aesthetics in the music industry. When purchasing Mojotone products, like Fender products, customers can be assured of unmatched quality and craftsmanship.