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The Rumble Seat – Feb. '16 Ex. 1

A major redesign of a Bad Cat flagship yields a familiar but more flexible range of Brit tonalities.

A well-conceived reboot of a beloved amp. Great clean and lead tones. Tasty tremolo and reverb.

Shared EQ settings sometimes require compromises.


Bad Cat Black Cat


Bad Cat has won over a lot of players in the time since the California maker built its first high-quality, hand-wired amplifiers in 1999. Then, the company was an unapologetic follower of the Matchless template (which itself borrowed more than a little from Vox). And in fact, the two companies have a lot in common. Bad Cat hired Matchless co-founder Mark Sampson to design Bad Cats at a time when Matchless was on hiatus, and Bad Cat amps from the period were even built with Matchless-branded signal capacitors in their circuits.

If Bad Cat were a bit derivative at first, they consistently evolved, regularly adding features and altogether new designs. The new lineup is totally revamped, however. And while they use old model names like the Cub, Lynx, Hot Cat, and Black Cat model names, each amp has new features and is built around circuit-board construction. Thankfully, the new Black Cat’s many British-flavored sounds are good enough that you probably won’t think too much about details like point-to-point versus circuit-board manufacturing.

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Fig. 1

In my guitar shop, players often ask about how to improve the tone in a Tele neck pickup. Here are several ways to address it, including a pickup wiring that removes the tone load in the neck pickup’s switching phase, resulting in a slight high-end boost.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. This month, we’ll continue our “no tone control” journey from last month [“Mod Garage: The Scott Henderson S-Style Wiring”] with a cool mod for your Telecaster. Something I hear a lot in the shop is that people aren’t happy with the tone of the neck pickup in their Telecaster. It’s often described as muffled, colorless, lifeless, or similar. Why is this? It’s usually a mixture of three things:

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When Louis Cato received this Univox LP-style as a gift in high school, it needed some major TLC. A few years later, it got some practical upgrades and now makes regular appearances with Cato on The Late Show.

Photo by Scott Kowalchyk

The self-described “utility knife” played drums with John Scofield and Marcus Miller and spent time in the studio with Q-Tip before landing on Stephen Colbert’s show as a multi-instrumentalist member of the house band. Now, he’s taken over as the show’s guitar-wielding bandleader and is making his mark.

It’s a classic old-school-show-biz move: Bring out the band, introduce them one by one, and build up the song to its explosive beginning. It’s fun, dramatic, audiences love it, and that’s how every The Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping starts.

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