LUSCIOUS SPRING REVERB
Many years ago I had a tour around the Matamp factory in Huddersfield. To my amazement sat there on a shelf were two preamps made for Peter Green plus a valve reverb unit.
Matamp created and manufactured the original designs for the Orange Amplifier. Known as the Orange Matamp these were used by Fleetwood Mac and Wishbone Ash.
Last year Supertone Records formed a partnership with Matamp to produce a range of valve amplifiers for guitar and bass and a valve reverb modelled around the unit made for Peter in the late '60s.
The unit is still in prototype and we are currently testing on the road and in the studio.
The design is unusual and has a totally unique sound with masses of wonderful spring reverb.
One great feature is that it has a transformer isolated output which prevents hum loops when connected to the input of the amp. This is designed to be placed in the guitar signal chain and like the Echoplex EP-3 gives a very pleasing colouration to the tone even without the reverb.
We are looking forward to getting this into production very soon!
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
MY DESERT ISLAND EFFECTS UNIT
It's big, heavy and being a mechanical tape unit a little unreliable, but plug this into the front end of any amp and hear the glorious tone transformation.
Countless great guitar players have used these units from Jimmy Page to Eric Johnson, John Martyn to Chet Atkins. The preamp circuit has been cloned many times and I own a Chase Tone 'Secret Preamp' which does emulate the tone very well.
As it was a 115V version, my friend Dave Swindells and I modified this device by adding a 240/115V transformer in the cable well. We didn't want to change the 'mojo' of the unit by replacing the internal transformer.
Yes, it hums, has a lot of wow and flutter and needs constant maintenance, but I use it on every gig and totally perfect into the front end of any of my amps but particularly the Germino Classic 45 and Club 40.
I use it all the time in the studio by feeding via an auxiliary send from the CADAC console and can be heard on most recordings that are released from the Supertone studio.
From short slapback to long delays - it's the king of FX units.
THE ORIGINAL AND STILL THE BEST...
Yes, I own a Strymon Lex and don't get me wrong it sounds good, but like the Echoplex, there is nothing that compares with the real thing. The distortion, the whirring of the horn mechanism all adds a certain something...
The Leslie is usually partnered with the Supertone studio Hammond M100 but the addition of the Leslie Combo pedal allows anything to access the beast.
The Combo pedal in itself is interesting as it's basically a discrete, transistor pre-amp with tone control and switch for the two rotor speeds. As they are not earthed and the multicore cable carries mains voltage to the Leslie they can be lethal, but again I have modified this to be a lot safer.
As the pedal is a recent addition, we have not recorded any guitars using this combination so the sound clip is of Jonny Henderson creating magic on the Supertone Hammond.
I have piles of pedals and have tried to list them all below starting with the ones I (currently) have on my pedalboards.
I hope to add them all in the fullness of time but a good place to start is a rig rundown I recorded back in 2018. Enjoy!
SUPERTONE EARLY FUZZ
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
When I first started playing guitar I marvelled at the sounds coming from recordings of Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page and Andy Powell. Someone told me it was all to do with a 'fuzz box'.
I bought a Shin-ei Companion FY-2 and was disappointed as it didn’t sound like them at all only later realising that One - it was the technique of playing the guitar that created the tone and Two - usually the fuzz box was combined with a valve amplifier, usually very loud and overdriven.
I rediscovered them in the ‘00s and have been using them ever since.
So taken by the fuzz sound, we decided to collaborate with Dan Whitelock-Jones of DWJ Pedals in Liverpool, England to produce a Supertone model.
This one is the ‘early fuzz’ and based on the original ToneBender used by Jimmy Page and Jimmi Hendrix among a host of others.
Check out the solo in 'I Need A Light'... FUZZ!!
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
Moving on from my early fuzz disaster, I bought a Vintage Electro Harmonix LPB-1 which didn’t have a footswitch so I transplanted it into a die-cast box and added one plus a light; my first foray into custom FX!
Since then boosters have been a part of my pedal armoury and recently we decided to collaborate with Dan Whitelock-Jones of DWJ Pedals in Liverpool. England to produce a Supertone model.
I also asked for a variable bass cut to be added to the unit which really works and cleans up the sound when using an overdriven amp.
To hear it in action, check out the solo on 'Stone Cold Crazy' for a taster. The amp used is the Supertone | Matamp 120 valve head with matching 4x12 - VERY LOUD!!
Listen to early Rory Gallagher, Tony Iommi, Marc Bolan and Ritchie Blackmore you are listening to a Dallas Rangemaster.
Originally they were fitted into a large grey box to fit on top (or behind) the amplifier. It's basically a booster and treble booster. Original versions are very tricky to use on a pedalboard as they are exceptionally sensitive as to where to put them in the chain.
I tend to use them only on recordings and place them between the guitar and amp. The originals, such as this, work best with a battery.
SUPERTONE CUSTOM RANGEMASTER
As per the adjacent article, Rangemasters are tricky devices to use live so we decided to create one which would work with other FX, on pedalboards and be externally powered.
Again, we have collaborated with Dan Whitelock-Jones of DWJ Pedals in Liverpool, England and here you have it, the Supertone Rangemaster.
TC ELECTRONIC 2290
Released in 1985 and discontinued 20 years later, TC Electronic’s TC2290 stereo delay rack unit stands as one of the greatest digital delay effects ever made. It was fiendishly expensive when new and has legendary status with guitar players and engineers everywhere. This, the Lexicon PrimeTime and the Korg SDD-3000 were everywhere - the latter two being on my current wish list.
The great thing about this unit is the 'duck delay' feature which reduces the amount of delay signal returned when you are playing which 'cleans up’ the track. In the monster touring rig (which I haven’t used now for a few years), I return the delay signal only through a separate amp and cabinet.
In the studio, I use it on virtually every track. Slapback, long and short delays, big feedback, chorus - it does it all.
Digital has moved on and technically things are supposed now to sound better. There is a plugin and controller available now which allegedly sound the same. The original still sounds magnificent.
Hear it in action on the vocal of the Starlite Campbell Band single release 'Lay It Out On Me' from the second album 'The Language of Curiosity'.