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A fiddling-endangering development and a good jam session

Posted by fiddlepogo on Saturday, August 15, 2009

Craigslist is a DANGEROUS thing if you have ANY trace of Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I find this affects electric guitarists more than acoustic musicians... and I play electric guitar.  Last week on Craigslist there was this late '60s Japanese made tube amp for only $100... and I finally couldn't stand it and went to see it.  Well, he had an additional amp, a Champ type amp that he'd made out of an old tube car radio and a Squier practice amp... and while he didn't have all the tubes for the Melody (Japanese made by Teisco) amp, so I couldn't try it, he did have all the tubes for what I've dubbed the FrankenSquier.... and my Strat sounded SO cool through it... and we settled on $120 for both.  I bought the Melody sound unheard because all the reviews of the Melody amps I'd seen had been good.

One virtue of the Frankensquier is that it's not very loud when maxxed, and this is a good thing for a practice amp.  I've been playing electric guitar a lot more lately, and this has been cutting into my fiddle practice time.  I don't know what it is, but I'm in a much different "headspace" when I play electric blues than when I play fiddle, and it's hard to shift gears, don't know why.

I did some googling on the Teisco Melody, and got lucky and found a picture of the tube chart that came with a virtually identical "Beltone" sister amp- and the missing tube in the Melody was a tube rectifier, and just happened to be the same one that was in the Frankensquier, so I switched the tube over, and ... SOUND!!!

Not quite what I expected- it's actually quite a crisp clean sound, maybe aided by the Electrovoice Wolverine speaker (12 inch).  But I think it will be quite usable in a number of ways.... and it's nice and light, so not a problem for the old back.   The main drawback with the two amps is that the tubes are a little rare, some of them, but I think I have sources lined up.

Oh yeah- the jam!

I've been hosting a jam that's allegedly an Old Time fiddle and banjo jam.  Well, we've been getting lots of guitarist/singers, and to at least keep it Old Timey in the broad sense I encourage people to do stuff from before 1930 with a bump-ditty rhythm that the banjo players can play with.  But some of the guitarists do okay with songs, but have a hard time backing up fiddle tunes.  Last month the two regular clawhammer players couldn't make it, and it was just me and these guitarists, so we just did songs, 'cause the two attempts at fiddle tunes got the chord changes on them slaughtered.

This month, I was dreading a repeat performance... and I get there, and there's already someone there, and he's a competent bluegrass guitarist.

And we didn't do lot's of fiddle tunes, but we did do some, and with a solid guitar backup, oh it was SWEET!  I actually don't mind doing a lot of Old Time songs, I like 'em, but if I can't get in some good fiddle tunes, it just don't seem RIGHT!!!

Anyway, I had fun, but I was tired when I got there for some reason, and so I was REALLY tired by the time we were done!

I also discovered something at the jam- if I've switched to guitar to do some songs, it's REALLY hard for me to do a good job on fiddle afterwards- clamping down on guitar chords DOES NOT lend itself to left hand agility!!!  On the other hand I've noticed that if I play a lot of electric lead guitar, IF I can get myself in the mood to play fiddle, my left hand is greatly improved!

3 comments on “A fiddling-endangering development and a good jam session”

OTJunky Says:
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @6:12:33 AM

Well, a Fender electric plugged into a tube amp is surely modern music's equivalent of the siren's call.

Good luck with this.


mudbug Says:
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @7:19:25 AM

Yeah, Michael. I'm the same way. Once I'm playing an instrument, and investigating all the possibilities, I'm loath to put it down and pick up anouther. And it makes sense that electric is a good hand warm-up for the fiddle, but not acoustic.
Congrats on your new amp. I'm a big fan of small "Champ" type amps. You can really crank 'em and let 'em sing!

ChickenMan Says:
Sunday, August 16, 2009 @9:50:48 AM

I have the same trouble in my band switching from mando to fiddle, but only if I'm not warmed up. Once I get warm on the fiddle and mando, I am more aware of the grip issue and lately have begun making a conscious effort to relax and loosen up. It seems to help, but I still prefer to play fiddle exclusively.

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