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The Kit

People always ask what kit I use and what I have used in the past, with over 20 years of making music I have owned a lot of good kit and some rubbish along the way too.

   
     
     

Guitars

Well I have a number of guitars that I play as you can imagine, you tend to pick them up over the years and sometimes you fancy a change and others you go back to the old faithful’s.

The guitar that I have used the most is a Charvel 375 that I have had since 1990 it has an over the top 80s pointy headstock a humbucker and 2 single coil and the obligatory Floyd Rose vibratio system. It’s a great guitar and serves me well, though I haven’t taken it out live much lately.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard – I have fitted a Fishman powerbidge to it so its effectively an electro acoustic as well and has DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion pickups fitted.

Fender Squire Strat In a nutshell I took a bog standard Squire added a set of Fender Lace Sensor red pickups and a fishman powerbridge. This guitar I use most of the time.

Roland GR-300 Analogue guitar Synth, sounds brilliant think early Marillion, though with a few effets creates a massive sound. Used it recently making the live Department Factory CD.

Acoustic Guitars

I play acoustic guitars far more live these days than electric either in bands or doing my solo singer / songwriter shows.

Yamaha APX-5A I bought this guitar in 2006 its one of the few guitars I have ever owned from new. Within a month of owning it I went on tour with Arthur Brown as he at the time had broken his guitar and borrowed mine, Its also been used live by Simon Hinkler of The Mission.It has served me very well though it does hum and buzz on occasion.

Epiphone EJ-200 Well this is the Jumbo of Jumbo guitars, I could never afford a Gibson but this Epiphone is a great guitar, Bought secondhand in 2012 it has a Fishman single coil pickup and is great live, but even better its fantastic for recording with a Microphone.

Epiphone Expedition This is a travel guitar, but has a solid top and is very loud. I added a Seymour Duncal woody pickup. At some point when I got some funds I will probaby get a Fishman for it.

Amplifiers

For me valve is best, always has been though in the early days I could never afford a proper valve amp, the only exception was I did have an old Elpico AC-88 head, and I recently found another one via ebay and it sounds as good as it ever did though I need to replace most of the capacitors at some point.

Fender Blues Jnr is now the amp I use for live work and recording, it does everything I need, even the spring reverb in it is great. Volume on stage these days is a fraction of what used to be required so no need for big amplifiers.

 

Recording

I started multitrack recording using a Sansui MR6 cassette machine that I bought from Thatch Cottage Audio (remember them?) it opened my world to recording, and I made several recordings on it that made it to CD release. After we made the first All Living Fear album we made enough to get a Fostex E-16 ½” recorder at the time we thought we were the bees knees. The thing was we didn’t haven’t  all the kit to go with it, no Compressors, Mixer, decent mics etc so our recordings ended up sounding not much better than what we did with the cassette machine!

Above I sold the E-16 a while ago now.

Computers well this is something that I have been slow on really, I have been using Cakewalk since 1996, initially as a MIDI sequencer, though to be honest I never really knew it very well and I should have been able to sync it to the E-16 but never figured that one out either. By 2003 I was recording audio on the computer again I never really knew how it worked properly and never had a PC powerful to run plug ins. These days I have been running Sonar version 5 with an M Audio soundcard in a Dell tower PC does the job may seam old hat to some but to me its perfect.

I also have a laptop with the same software and a Tascam US-1800 Audio interface this is brilliant for recording multitrack live gigs and I did the Falling Trees live album with this as well as Secrets for September live recordings.

Outboard and effects

I have probably owned 60 ot 70 effects units in my life and I still own the first pedals I had an Arion distortion pedal. I have never been a fan of multi fx units, most sound horrible and are a beast to programme. I have owned a Frontline X4, and Steve Williams in All Living Fear has one, all analogue its like 3 pedals in a box. I also had a Peavy Ultraverb II which was good for reverb and chorus.

All my early recordings had a Boss DRV100 reverb, and I eventually got an Alesis 3630 Compresor.

Guitar Pedal Board

My pedal board has been worked on quite a bit the last couple of years and goes something like this.

Electro Harmonix Soul Preacher Compressor into a Boss Tuner, Electro Harmonix  Germanuim 4 Fuzz, EHX Smal Clone Chorus, Small Stone Phaser then EHX Delux Memory Man and then EHX Holy Grail Reberb and a Boss Tera Echo pedal.

Synths

I have a few, though the main one I use that isn’t a plug is old Yamaha CS-10 and I have an Obeheim Matrix-1000 that is driven by a small midi keyboard or Roland Bass Pedals.

For nostalgia this was the pinnacle of my Studio in the past all of its now gone.