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New Fiddle Strings, New (to me) Guitar amp, and a New Avatar

Posted by fiddlepogo on Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I finally got around to changing to a new set of Pirastro Tonicas on my main fiddle.  The old strings were still sounding okay... Tonicas don't sound NASTY when old and dead.   But I hadn't been wanting to play much, and the new strings have inspired more practicing, which is good.  Ever since the electric guitar midlife crisis, I've been a "tone freak", both on guitar, and then on fiddle when I took it up again.  Banjo too for that matter.

I was looking around at a local music store, and found this old amp for.... $50!!!

Why.... that's actually sort of kind of in my price range!

And as I looked at it.... it looked familiar.... someone gave me a JMF Spectra combo amp many years ago, dead with an electronic problem and no speaker.   I never did get the amp part fixed, because it was a shot in the dark as to whether I'd like the amp once fixed.  Instead, I've just used the cabinet for other amplifier chassis as kind of a "Frankenstein" rig.

Anyway, I was curious as to how this other Spectra sounded, so I plugged in a Strat.... and lo and behold, it sounded REALLY GOOD... for FIFTY BUCKS.... I couldn't pass it up and put it on layaway.   It's actually labeled "Dean Markley" since they bought out JMF Electronics in the 1980's, but it's the same design as the JMF model.  It's also solid state.  I got into tube amps for a while, but I ended up paying more for the tubes, then not having proper (or sometimes ANY) tone controls.  This has bass, mid, and treble controls, and I don't have to worry about tubes going bad.   And the tone is BETTER than my best tube amp- go figure!

I got it out of layaway last week.  It is actually a bass amp, with a closed back cab, but in looking for info online, I found that someone else said it was a bass amp that also sounded good with guitar.   It has a volume and master volume control, which allows me to decrease the headroom and smooth out the tone.  It doesn't do heavy distortion, but I've got a pedal for that.  And it works really well with all my pedals, but I'm enjoying just playing it straight in.  The only drawback is that because it's a bass amp, the closed back cab and slightly larger cabinet make it HEAVY.  But I've got handtrucks!

You wouldn't think that would do anything for my fiddling, but having the guitar in the bedroom ready to go inspires me to practice it, get my hands warmed up and coordinated, and then, it's easier to want to reach over and get out the fiddle.  It also might be something I could use if I ever get a pickup for one of my fiddles.

Ah yes.... new avatar.  I was getting tired of old black and white photographs of fiddlers, mostly because they are so drab.  I wanted something more colorful.... and somehow the magpie reminds me of me (they collect shiny things, and sometimes the things I collect for "found percussion" are shiny... and they are noisy, and I'm a bit noisy too!).... and it's a California magpie, which is appropriate, and "Magpie" is one of the G tunes I play.

2 comments on “New Fiddle Strings, New (to me) Guitar amp, and a New Avatar”

ChickenMan Says:
Sunday, November 9, 2014 @8:08:31 AM

FYI, tube amps require set up by someone knowledgeable, just like fiddles do. Tubes need to be biased (an adjustment to the amp interior) to get the desired performance which, like fiddle, is not the same for everyone.
I love a good affordable find. I have the first acoustic guitar model made by Yamaha that I got for $100 in '85 or '86. When I was given, yes given a 12 string version a few years back, it need some work and when the luthier saw the label inside his eyes lit up. Apparently those first guitars were solid wood and quite desirable. Yay for me. I just like them because they're easy to play and sound great.
I like the magpie and it does suit you. It always throws me off when someone changes their avatar; Peggy comes to mind immediately :‹)

fiddlepogo Says:
Sunday, November 9, 2014 @4:17:20 PM

Yes, some tube amps do need the biasing.... I don't think mine do- I have a Fender Pro Junior and an Epiphone Valve Junior.
I also have a Japanese tube amp that has mostly odd tubes once used in radios. And a tube amp that may have once BEEN a radio, but I managed to kill it.
The Japanese tube amp does need servicing, probably for capacitors... it has some hum, and maybe the biasing done too.

Yeah, avatar changes CAN be a little confusing, especially if they happen too often. So I try to wait until I'm REALLY tired of it.

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