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Rec 3 A Year Trying Music Gear – A Look Back & My Finally Conclusions.

So… it’s been a year since I first began this YouTube guitar channel having published my first video back in April 2023 and a weekly video journey from then – that video journey begin with an “Introduction” – to my return to playing and recording guitar… and onto the joy of taking delivery of my very first Fender American Stratocaster and the beautiful tones when played through the Fender Twin Reverb Tone Master combo…

So… one year later April 2024 – 

The Fender Tone Master along with other items is gone… that Stratocaster is up for sale and I have surprised myself in regard to my music gear journey and where it would finally lead me…

So without further ado… this video is –

Number 1: To thank all those who have and continue to come along on this journey.

Number 2:  To take a quick look at some of the equipment I would put to the test

Number 3: A brief description on the gear I decided upon; which I now use in my recording sessions

Number 4: To say what I hope to be doing in the months ahead

Number 1:

A big thank you to all who have commented and to those who have contacted me privately and to a good friend who loaned me various pieces of music gear helping me with these reviews..

I’ve had the privilege of making new friends and hope to possibly collaborate musically in some way with other musicians and also just to encourage one another in something we all enjoy doing.

And a big thank you for those of you who share some of your own private projects with me, that’s a privilege… I do mean that… thank you.

Number 2:

Briefly…Because you can go to my channel playlists to see these topics in detail if you want to.

In my first 12 videos (My Journey Series) I began with my introduction to my music journey, which covered a very brief background history regarding my semi-pro performing days back in the 70s, early 80s – and returning to playing guitar 40 years later…

In June of 2020 I purchased an American Fender Professional Stratocaster, and after a brief encounter with a Fender Champion 100 combo amplifier, I took ownership of a Fender Twin Reverb Tone Master. Another digital modelling amplifier… Fender really has done some great work with these Tone Master series of products.

However… I would later trade mine in, only because it’s replacement covered all the tonal bases I was still searching for, meaning the Tone Master would never get used.

Although I do miss the fact it is such a wonderful lightweight combo. You can lift it with a finger… I really miss that… 

At the beginning (I think like many folks) I was overwhelmed with the amount of music product available and while trying to investigate effects pedals, after much research… I opted for a Multi-Effects digital modelling unit – the Moore GE250 – (A moderate priced unit)  and while it has a large collection of simulations and effects… and it does them really well…  I would soon begin my search back into the world of physical pedals and a powered pedal board….

Why? – My return to physically playing music was not just about recording production… but enjoying the physical – touch and feel – from guitar to pedal – pedal to amplifier… I find that physical product can have a bearing on the way I approach what I play… what about you?

So… Guitars began to fill the rack as I tried to find the ‘Sounds’ I was looking for, when the Fender American Professional Telecaster arrived it very clearly showed itself to be excellent in cutting through a busy recording mix. Lovely guitar, but along with the Fender Pro Strat… now being sold off.

As I searched for a thicker tone, I toyed with Gibson’s beautiful Semi-Accoustic ES 339… I always wanted to own a semi-acoustic… they are just so of their era… and I used one in my very first recording sessions in the  early 1970s.

That would soon to be followed by another guitar that had always got my attention as a young player and that was the Gibson Les Paul Gold Top and those wonderful P-90s. Now, this is not top of my list to use in recording but it does have a limited place… time will tell if it ends up being sold off.

As a youngster of 14 years old and a Jonny Winter fan… I fell in love with a guitar that was designed by a car designer – a guitar I never thought in a million years I would ever own… and so a Gibson Firebird would soon grace the studio. As part of an experiment… I fitted the Firebird and the ES339 with the Dusenberg Les Trem II tremolo units.

It’s a nice trem unit, and generally works quite well, but if I need a tremolo unit effect… I use other guitars for that.

As my ear began to develop and my recording sessions took shape – so began a further search for amplification and a little Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 would come close to that valve crunch tone I was chasing… Today, I still have the little amp and I use it for practising and jamming to backing tracks… with it’s cream textured vinyl covering it looks perfect in our living-room…

I tried the Fender Blues Junior in that iconic tweed finish – they just look so well…. But for me it missed the mark for what I was looking for and it too was used in a trade.

As I sold off equipment, it would be replaced by other products to test… and to my surprise, I would venture into the world of Fender’s Custom Shop guitars… and it was not long before I was inspecting a 1950s Stratocaster with Hand-wound Fat 50s and a Late 64 Stratocaster with Hand-wound Fat 60s.

Probably the most unusual choice for me to look into was a PRS S2 McCarty 594 Double Cut and an Ibanez S Series Premium 1070 model in a striking Charcoal Black-Burst finish… both guitars having limited appeal for me but very useful for certain tonal choices and effects.

As I continued my tone quest… an amplifier would soon get my attention and that being the all valve American made Bad Cat Black Cat 2 amplifier with an extension cabinet – This is a superb base for much of my guitar tone. My only gripe… it weighs a ton…

As I progressed with recording tests, getting to grips with various software packages… there were two guitars that would finally nail the rhythm section for me… a Taylor 814ce Electro-Acoustic and a Custom Shop Fender Telecaster 61 – these are just excellent instruments and cut so well within a busy mix.

So there you have it… a very brief overview of parts of my journey through various amplifiers, guitars, pedals and software… as I say, if you’re interested you can take a look through my channel play-lists to view all the videos I’ve made covering all kinds of music gear.  

3: A brief description on the gear I use in my recording sessions

Main Amplification as mentioned is the Bad Cat Black Cat 2 – this being mic’d up in a sound booth using either a Sennheiser MD412 or a Sure SM57 – The 412 is a little warmer tonally, and that’s considering the guitars I use which tend to have a sharp tone.

For Rhythm and little fills – The Taylor 814CE does a really nice job when alongside other instruments and the Custom Shop 61 Telecaster which again has such a versatile quality in a busy mix.

For Lead – Generally, a PRS S2 McCarty with it’s Humbuckers… it’s a very easy guitar to use… in a conservative sort of way… while the Custom Shop Late 64 Stratocaster with those single coil Fat 60s requires a different approach…. It demands you get to grips with it…. So you end up with a different feeling.

For certain Rhythm and Lead Insertions – where I need more distortion or deep tremolo effects – this is where the Ibanez S Series guitar comes in… not something I use a lot of but it’s very useful in certain areas.  Again, for certain tones the Gold Top with it’s P-90s can add a different dynamic.

What about Effects pedals –

The TC Spark Boost Pedal – I find very good for boosting overdrive crunch with the Telecaster and Stratocaster… For me, there’s a fine line between overdrive crunch with clarity of tone and something that’s just distorted. 

The MXR Dynacomp Compressor is helpful when using the Taylor Acoustic and Telecaster 61 – just helping to bring some of those sharp tones into a better space – but not too much.

The compressor is also useful when used with both the TC Spark Boost and the Ibanez Tube Screamer during lead guitar parts – I find pinch harmonics and sustain can be more easily drawn out of the Stratocaster – for example.

I mentioned the Ibanez Tube Screamer – it gets used in conjunction with the Boost pedal and with the amplifier set for an overdrive tone…  I have tried a number of overdrive type pedals… and… for me… once I got my valve amplifier choice sorted out – those other pedals were no longer needed.

The MXR Carbon delay is useful in both rhythm, lead and special effects – but I am careful how I use it – because during recording – it can be better to approach effects choices by adding them via software in production.

The MXR Phaser is something I may use for rhythm work (mainly on the Taylor Acoustic) but I would say… a very subtle use if any.

I have a Dunlop DVP5 X8 Volume pedal… I find this very useful for not just swell effects but getting clean intro and out-tro tones on certain rhythmic or lead parts… 

The Moore GE250 has some really nice ‘etherial effects’ and I will use those where required – again, these are more often than not just used sparingly – but it’s a nice option to have available.

I use my TC PolyTune 3 pedal to make sure instruments are tuned correctly and of course it’s important to check that guitars are intonated and that the strings are tonally good.

So there you have it… my music gear journey is at an end…. I’m sure some of you are thinking… yeh… sure it is…

4: So… what’s ahead for this channel…

Well, I’ll not be doing so many videos as I move forward because I will be busy writing and recording compositions. Having said that I do have 2 other guitar comparison videos to upload.

I will be posting possibly once a month – updates and possible videos made in reply to folks contacting me. I have had local guys message me about doing reviews on vintage equipment they are happy to loan me…

I will monitor the guitar channel daily as new folks are always watching many of the videos and commenting or messaging me… I’ll certainly be active in replying.

I have been asked if I will let folks hear what I have been recording and in time I hope to be able to do that.

So… do please comment, do keep in touch… always good to hear from folks and once again… thank you to all who have been very encouraging and helpful…

Please do think about subscribing, hit the bell to get notifications, like and share. It really helps the channel.

Do check-out my channel play-lists which covers my journey back to playing and recording guitar, after a 40 year break.

So… whether you’re a newcomer, an ongoing player, or like me, an old hand returning to guitar playing, I always take time to engage with folks, who take time to comment. So…

Until next time… the recording journey continues… take care…