I’ve acquired a couple of pieces of new gear, the Fender Excelsior amp and the Ibanez Artcore AF75. This pair shares some characteristics. Both are affordable and, in my experience, very practical for gigs.
A few thoughts on each…
What intrigued me right off is the 15 inch speaker. I’ve always wondered why almost all single speaker combo amps use a 12″ or 10″. I play with pretty heavy attack and fairly heavy strings so, the 15 makes good sense for me.
It’s 13 watts which, you would think might get stretched thin playing with a drummer. With the Kudzu band, I have experienced playing on full blown festival stages down to no stage with the entire band having to set up in a confined corner and play at low volume. My original thinking was that I would use the Excelsior for the latter situations.
But, as we know, wattage ratings can be misleading especially with tube amps. This thing is pretty dang loud. It starts to break up in a good way a bit beyond twelve o’clock. I usually run it a little above that, gets some nice saturation, cleans up well when you back off the guitar’s volume…like a simple tube amp should.
It’s loud enough to get above the drums and our guy, Rick Rand, is a pretty heavy hitter. So lately, I’ve been using it on larger stages with no problems. It’s so much easier to tote around than the 90 or so pounds of Vox especially when pulling in to the driveway at 5 AM and needing to load it in to the house.
The only problem I’ve had with this amp is that I bought at Guitar Center and I have a deep set objection to paying for an extended warranty on something that has a manufacturer’s warranty. This one is a replacement The first one developed an issue in the tremolo circuit and I had to ship it back to Fender, at considerable cost, and they sent me a new one.
Ibanez Artcore AF75:
Quite a departure from the old Tele. And the Telecaster is definitely showing some wear and I thought it would be a good thing to find something to share the load.
The guitar is pretty no frills as well. A full hollow body…maple. It plays really well. I had to do a thorough set up on it (another reason why I won’t be getting any more stuff from Guitar Center). The neck radius is way flatter than the Tele (12″ compared to 7.25) but, it hasn’t been an issue.
Obviously, it doesn’t compare to a tuxedo jazz box unamplified. But it’s great for grabbing on the fly and working through ideas. Chords sound pretty full and it frets a lot easier up the neck than an acoustic guitar and I find myself working out a lot more voicing ideas and such. It’s become my go-to guitar on the couch.
I’ve read several reviews where folks don’t like the pickups and they switch them out. Actually, I like them. They match up well with the Excelsior (on the bright setting btw); they overdrive really smooth. I find myself using the bridge pickup about 95% of the time on gigs. The neck position sounds nice, brighter than I expected on the top end but, enhanced lows as well that make the feedback more problematic.
There was a bit of a learning curve with controlling feedback for me but, it’s actually taken me more time to once again getting used to being able to manipulate mucho sustain. Sometimes I’ll forget that trick is in the bag and I’ll run off a flurry of notes and think “ahh, well…I could’ve held just one of those and had a bite to eat”.
I’ve had had a couple of minor issues; the tuners can be a bit slippy. Usually requires a little tweaking before a set. Also, the strap button at the neck joint worked it’s way loose once…can always do the old toothpick trick to fix it if it reoccurs.
Your results may vary but, I’m having fun with both of these pieces. Feel free to ask any questions about stuff I’ve missed.
Wrinkle rockers just can’t keep from going back to the well.
The Eagles did a farewell tour in 2004, Kiss did one in 1996, The Doobie Brothers did one way back in 1982…all still active.
Not just rock acts either by the way. I’m pretty sure the Judds have done more farewell tours than studio albums.
Now Motley Crue appears to be, not only cashing in on the farewell tour hype but, farewell tour abuse as well. They had a presser where they signed a “cessation of touring agreement” that would open them up for litigation. It’s not clear what kind of lawsuits they could be facing though.
For the record, the Crue tour is already scheduled to be almost two years long. Sometimes it takes a while to say goodbye I guess.
Speaking of goodbye, I may be coming across a little harsh here. It’s like Bob Dylan said;
“goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well”
In these bands defense, farewell doesn’t exactly mean the same thing as goodbye I guess. Farewell sometimes has the same implication as until we meet again. But, in that case every tour would be a damn farewell tour.
Only one band I can think of had the guts to actually say goodbye. They had an album titled Goodbye in 1969. Of course, they had a full fledged reunion spectacle in 2005.