Friday, November 6, 2015

1979 Sunn Alpha 112p Combo Amp

Vintage amp from a classic name, still looks great and in perfect working order


The Summer of Amps has spilled over into Fall and the latest find is particularly sweet. The first bass amp that I ever owned was an old Sunn combo with a 15" speaker and I would bet that it was built around the same time as this beast.

I knew nothing of the Alpha series when I saw the ad for this one, but I know that Sunn is highly regarded and jumped on it just about as soon as it was posted. I got it home and plugged the Ibanez Iceman IC-50 into it and was immediately happy. The previous owner showcased the Mid Freq knob, which works like an EQ and the natural overdrive it produces is super dirty.

This amp is popular with the stoner rock and doom metal scenes and its easy to see why. You can get nice, clean overdrive sounds with this amp at most of the dial and when you crank the drive knob, it really starts to break up, especially at higher volumes. The Mid Freq and overdrive combinations makes for the ability of a wide range of sounds. With this and the Ibanez GX-60 that I scored earlier in the year, I have two great options for anything that requires a hard rock/heavy metal sound.

Thanks for looking, more high resolution photos here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

1985 Ibanez Roadstar II RB850 Bass Guitar

Vintage Japanese double humbucker bass, in immaculate condition, inside and out

The last few months included a quest for a bass with a humbucking pickup and after considering more recent Korean models from Schecter, Kramer and a Peavey Grind Bass that was made in Vietnam, this vintage beauty just appeared out of nowhere. I've now had 3 Roadstar guitars and basses over the past few years, two of them came from the Goodwill and both have incredibly been in impeccable condition.

I had no idea that Ibanez made a humbucker bass as part of the Roadstar series, so the ability to fill a need with my favorite brand and era of electric guitars make this an even sweeter find. This neck is super thin, even for an Ibanez and of course, it plays incredibly fast. The body also sports a sleek and slim design.Other features that stand out are the headstock and truss rod cover, which are reminiscent of the older Roadster series.

Also of note on this beauty is that it included both the original boomerang strap holders and odd-shaped, brown leather hardshell case. On the technical side, the bottom two knobs seem to control the two pickups and both are push knobs that turn them off and on. I haven't spent too much time messing around with this one yet, as most of my recent free time has been spent building some pedalboards and playing the Peavey Deuce tube amp and another sweet vintage amp that will be featured tomorrow.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

1980s Carvin & Sunn Guitar Rig

Vintage tube head and 4x12 cab, loaded with Celestion speakers

Both of these pieces have previously been featured here. The Carvin X-60b head was reviewed when it was found in the summer of 2013 and the Sunn 412L cabinet also got some run in one of our early 2013 posts, coupled with the Acoustic 150 head. This is a bit of an update, as the footswitch has been added to the head and I also picked up a new set of JJ 6L6 tubes, two were missing when I bought it from Crossroads Pawn Shop in Westminster.

The speakers in the cab are vintage Celestion G12-80s. I'm also looking at restoring the cab, there have been some Sunn logo plates floating around and the grill could use some love. But, I'm also entertaining the idea of trading this out, so to speak and finding a period-correct Carvin cab to pair with the head. Same with the ACC 450 and 150 heads, I have seen 2x15 and 6x10 cabs at decent prices over the last year and am kicking myself for not getting them.

Either way, this is a great setup in the meantime. Acquiring the footswitch and getting the full complement of tubes for the head was really a priority, so those are both major reliefs. I don't really gig anymore, but now that they have been paired up, a couple of rehearsal studio jams should happen and hopefully I'll have some pedal boards to feature soon, those will also come along for the sessions.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

1970s Acoustic Control & Randall Bass Rig

Vintage So. Cal bass half stack, super warm tone, excellent gigging condition

Keeping with the longtime pieces of the collection, this has been my main gigging setup since late-1999. The Acoustic Model 450 head doubles as a bass or guitar amp. No onboard effects, other than the distortion (which is good for solid state amp), but the 5-band EQ helps you dial in a good sound. I've never used any pedals with this amp and have only gigged with it as a bass player. Now that the 150b has been added to the collection, this will strictly be used for guitars.

I didn't have a rig when this came my way, but I had started playing with a new band and needed something for shows. This was sitting in my friend's garage and he didn't even play, so I asked to borrow it for our first show. Every time my friend would come by my place, I would try to get him to take his rig back, but he never would. He's since long moved out of state and this has sort of become my adopted vintage bass half stack.

The footswitch is pretty hard to find and I don't believe I've ever seen one for sale. It controls the distortion and auxiliary volume. I missed out on the rare switch for the 230 head last weekend and was pretty upset about it. I would also love to find a Randall name plate for the R215BH cab, but finding one that is period-correct would probably be difficult. I'm not sure what speakers are loaded in there, I've just never pulled them out, but they look like old Eminence or Black Widows from the front.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric Guitar

Vintage American-made classic, upgraded pickups and aftermarket bridge 

The Takamine that was featured the other day is easily the guitar that I've put the most hours on, but this is the guitar that I've owned the longest and its the crown jewel of the collection. I picked it up at Westminster Jewelry and Loan in January 1991, for $550. I was 14 years old and had gone in the shop to buy an acoustic guitar, which I needed for a guitar class that I was taking as a freshman at Fountain Valley High School.

Once I saw a genuine Les Paul sitting on a hook for an attainable amount of money, there was no way it wasn't going to be mine. I had a decent first guitar at the time, a Kramer Striker 300ST, but it didn't really inspire me the way this did. I put down a certain amount of money and was on a layaway plan, I had 30 days to pay off the balance. Of course, I worked my ass off to earn the rest of the money and picked it up a few weeks later.

The same friend who customized the Ibanez Iceman IC-50 went through this guitar first and fixed the ground. He also told me that it had a Seymour Duncan Invader and DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup. That makes sense, because these pickups are absolutely screaming. Although I've owned this for nearly a quarter of a century, being a primarily a bass player, I've only used this myself in public a handful of times. However, nearly every guitar player in every band that I've played in has used it at some point, so it's seen its fair share of glory.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

1989 Roland Boss MG-10 Guitar Practice Amp

Vintage practice amp, from the famous effects and amp giants, made in Taiwan

Contemporary Americans may be among the most nostalgic humans to roam the Earth and this blogger is no exception. As mentioned in the post about the Squier 15 Practice Amp, this Boss amp was the first thing that I ever plugged a guitar into and made some horrible noise. So even though this little box isn't the world's greatest amp, I had to have one when I saw that they were still floating around 25 years later.

I plugged the Knight Warrior into this little guy when I got home on Friday night and messed around with it for about 20 minutes, before giving way to the Fender Eighty-Five and getting some real good Cobain-esque sounds. I'm not sure this will get very much use and I definitely bought it for the memories, but at least it is in impeccable shape.

The previous owner listed it as "never used" and I can believe it. You can see some white marks on the molding along the face of the amp, but those are the only and tiniest of imperfections. I definitely didn't remember this thing being so small, I think there are two 5-inch speakers inside. Other recent reviews claim that this takes Boss pedals very well, and that would make sense, but the only Boss pedals that I have are overdrive and distortion. This amp already comes with built-in distortion, possibly with the same components as the pedals, so I haven't made a point in plugging them in yet to find out.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2009-10 Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

The first genuine Fender guitar featured here at SCGM, a flawless MIM Super Strat

I've never been much of a Fender guy, the Aria Pro II RS Special V, now one of my favorite guitars, is the first Strat that I've ever owned. This Mexican Fender fell into my lap over the weekend and when I saw the condition that it was in, I couldn't help but go for it.

The pickups and bridge all look like quality pieces and the guitar plays nice and easy. We'll get this one over to Clay sometime during the week, it definitely needs a setup and a fresh set of strings. The original owner said this thing was either in the case or hanging on the wall for most of the last few years and it certainly looks to be seldom-used.

The frets look basically untouched and there isn't a scratch on this guitar. When I was taking the photos, I saw what looked like some buckle rash, so I wiped the back of the guitar with a polishing cloth and re-shot a few photos, and it ended up just being fingerprints...

I'm not sure if this will end up staying in the collection, as I can't see it besting either of the Aria Pro IIs that I have. This did come with a nice tweed hardshell case that I can use for the Knight Warrior and the tremolo bar that it came with also fits that Kahler Flyer, so this deal ended up saving me some cash on a couple of things that I was needing.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.