I have a few goals when I pick up my guitar and fire up my pedalboard. One is to improve as a player, another to develop my ear as a producer, and my personal favorite, to try and bend the unbreakable rules of physics by creating a sound that’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s rare that I hit item number three, but every now and then I look at my gear and somehow hear more.
This week on TPS, Dan & Mick arguably met this goal. Traditional wisdom, of course, would say that two vintage Hiwatt amps are better than one. But, in this case, even on the world’s largest and loudest stage this pair would be difficult to manage. So how did Dan & Mick tame these twins without going deaf? They were back at it with a wet/dry rig that was harnessed in by two of their favorite attenuation boxes: the Fryette Power Station and the Universal Audio Ox.
If you missed recent episodes on their first encounter with the iconic Hiwatt Custom 100 or studio experiences with the Universal Audio Ox, be sure to hit up our blog and see what you’ve missed. While this week’s episode showcased further these powerhouse items of gear, what caught my attention most was the behavior of some pedals on the floor. As Mick noted at the end of the episode, both gents are in the throws of a pedalboard redesign. So what sounds from the pedalboard blossomed beyond themselves when run through the Hiwatts? Here’s a few that caught my ear along the way…
A while back in our Sunday Papers blog, we tallied up some Boss pedals that are either on the fringes or in need of a re-issue. Turns out, we were spot on with one of our picks. In 1985, Boss released a pedal version of the Roland SDD-320 Dimension D, which is a bit of a beast of rack mounted chorus machine. Loved by some, misunderstood by others, the Boss pedal had short run and became a relic by 1989. Recently Boss re-released the pedal in their esteemed top-tier series. The new Boss DC-2w Dimension C Waza Craft pedal channels the past yet reimagines its vintage sound for a new generation.
Mick was one of the first in the queue for the new Boss DC-2w, which was tucked in the back row of his pedalboard. As Mick noted, “it’s got both the old [Roland] rack unit and the [original Boss] pedal in there.” With its stereo ins and outs, the pedal was ideal for the Hiwatt twofer setup. Even after a few strums through the wet/dry rig, Dan broke down in giddy laughter: “I’m sorry, it’s just ridiculous!” With the left amp awash with the sounds of Roland/Boss—the unseated kings of chorus—and the right raging with an edgy gain and endless headroom, the resulting sound was certainly more than gear used to create it.
Analog Man Sun Face BC 183
Since getting on board with TPS a few years ago, I’ve been on a fuzz journey. Yet one stop I’m yet to make is with fuzzes in the spirit of the famed Fuzz Face. This week’s episode left me with no reason to linger any longer toward that waypoint. The Fuzz Face-esque sounds of the Analog Man Sun Face were both ferocious yet fantastic and had me plotting to get a little Hendrix in my rig.
Part of what made this sound so irresistible was how the Hiwatt’s soaring ceiling of headroom meant the fuzz pedal could explode within that space without causing the amp to cave in. The heavy fuzz was bone-rattling, the rolled off volume let the pedal’s guard down, and the feedback barking back was brilliant. As Mick noted, “the amp just does not give up…it’s bonkers!” As Dan remarked, it’s how the amp retained the edges of the fuzz mid-range frequencies that made the sound so remarkable. “You can see why guys have been using the Hiwatt and fuzz combination forever.” If my words here or the sounds in the episode itself aren’t convincing, just keep an eye on Dan & Mick’s faces and you’ll see the impact of the effect. Jaws-dropped for about four-minutes straight.
Whether your tastes are vintage, modern, or somewhere in between, this episode was a good reminder of how gear behaves differently in new contexts. If your rig needs a refresher or new variable for experimentation, get in touch with us at Riff City. Give us a ring, fire us a message, or stop in to one of our stores so we can help find your best gear solution to break the rules of physics and hear more!
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Fender ’60s Reverse Headstock Stratocaster, Fender Custom Shop 1963 Telecaster, Gibson Memphis 1958 ES-335, Macmull S-Classic, Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard.
Pedals: Fullton Clyde Standard Wah, Boss TU-3S Tuner, Analog Man Sun Face BC183, Fulltone Octafuzz, Tru-Fi Color Driver, Klon Centaur, Fulltone Mini Deja-Vibe Mk1, Boss DC-2w Dimension C, Analog Man ARDX 20 Dual Analog Delay, Neo Instruments Mini Vent II.
Amps: 1972 Hiwatt DR103 and custom 212 with EVM12L speakers, 1973 Hiwatt DR103 and Two-Rock 212 cabinet with TR1265B speakers.