Sometimes the best gear comes from unexpected places and after decades of playing. This week on TPS, Dan & Mick encountered the dark horse that is, ironically, the bright orange box known as the Color Sound Power Boost. This vintage distortion pedal first came to market in the late 1960s and has inspired a series of clones ever since. Along with its debut on TPS, Dan & Mick also had a 1972 Hiwatt Custom 100 amp to complete the throwback duo of classic rock tones.
In short, this week’s episode was an hour-long lightbulb moment for our TPS anchormen. As Dan confessed, “For me, that is one of the best guitar sounds I’ve ever heard!” For Mick, the pairing provided “an absolutely biblical guitar sound!”
There were many unbelievable sounds created by this classic combo. The reality is, for most of us, scoring a vintage setup like that is somewhere between fantasy and unrecoverable credit card debt! Yet as I watched Dan & Mick encounter this gear for the first time, I had several lightbulb moments of my own regarding how our experience and encounter with gear is forever ongoing. Here’s a top three…
- Toying with gear you’ve never played before can conjure new creative outputs.
If there were “Ten Commandments of TPS” from the last few years, one inscribed item would be that the way you play is always in relation to the curated collection of gear that makes up your rig. There is a creative and organic energy that results from your abilities as a guitarist, the sonic character of your instrument, pedals, and amp, and the cycle of sound feeding back to you as the real-time architect of tone.
It may be no surprise, then, that when you include a new or even unknown variable in this experiment, you react and respond differently. Your style can change and evolve. It was clear throughout the episode that there was something about that combo of amp and pedal that drew out new styles and riffs. So do yourself a favor, pick up a pedal you’ve never tried or even heard of and see what transpires on the fretboard!
- Integrating different gear into your rig can make you relate differently to the items you already have.
You may have noticed that Mick’s guitar family recently grew with the addition of the Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky, the brilliantly designed John Mayer Signature. It was not until Mick played the Silver Sky through the Hiwatt with the Power Boost, however, that the guitar felt at home. “That is the first time I’ve connected with this guitar,” Mick commented.
What’s the lesson here? Gear is always contextual and relational. Sometimes, to hear and feel something more from one item of your rig, all that is needed is a little experimentation with other aspects of your setup. Always experiment, try new things, revisit old things. You just might find that you’ll hear the gear you already have in fresh new ways.
- Think before you flip and keep an eye on the used market.
I’ll admit it: I’m always buying, playing, and selling gear (and repeat!). This is the reality for most of us whose gear desires far outweigh our financial means. There are definite pluses and minuses to this approach to buying/selling gear.
In a heartbreaking moment in the episode, as Dan described the Overdriver, an early American reissue of the Power Boost, Mick, with hand over face in disbelief realized, “I had one…I thought it sounded awful so I got rid of it because I didn’t understand [then] how to use it.” We’ve all been there: the one that got away and the subsequent realization that the flip was a bad call in the long-term. The lesson? Pause before flipping that piece of gear that you don’t understand just yet. It might turn out to be something that you rediscover later.
The other side of this, however, is the thrill of the hunt for that undiscovered piece of gear. Some of my favorite gear are items I didn’t even know I was looking for yet stumbled across on the second hand market. This can be a great place to discover something new in something very old. If you’re on the prowl for some epic deals on quality pre-loved pedals, amps, and guitar, bookmark the Riff City pre-owned section to find your next bargain-priced relic.
If it’s time to reimagine an aspect of your rig or to try something entirely new or new-to-you, make Riff City part of your gear journey.
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Fender Custom Shop 1963 Telecaster, Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky, Collings 290 DCS, Fender 60s Reverse Headstock Stratocaster, Fender Custom Shop 1952 Telecaster, Gibson Memphis 1958 ES-335.
Pedals: D’Addario Pedal Tuner, Analog Man Sun Face BC183, Colorsound Power Boost, Tru-Fi Color Driver, Pro Analog Devices Power Drive v2, Electronic Orange Bananaboost, ThroBak Overdrive Boost, VintageFX Colordrive, Walrus Audio ARP-87, Empress Reverb.
Amps: 1972 Hiwatt Custom 100 DR103 and Custom 2×12 cabinet with 2 x Electro-Voice EVM12L; Victory V40 Deluxe.