Aug 31 2009
Incidentally - I was doing my first NYC dates at the venerable, old Village Gate (Thompson & Bleecker Sts.)with Ian & Sylvia in 1969. I was tagging along behind our guitar player, the great Amos Garrett standing at those ancient cross-streets when he pointed out that we were located in what could be said to be the Epi-Center of Greenwich Village! Amos is and was infinitely more World-Wise than myself and I grooved on that remark. He said that we were a mere few steps from Dan Armstrong’s store & would I like to see it.
Sure. If Amos G. told me to walk on my hands with my pants down around my ankles, I would have tried it.
Around that time Dan was pushing the transparent, lucite/clear plastic body guitars and of course, other things, strings and so forth. I never used anything by Dan - wasn’t into anything but my trusty Jordan Boss Tone, didn’t have the inclination that many six-stringers have to get into stomp boxes. I never really experimented with such, till I inherited Jerry Garcia’s steel FX rig in 71. See, my Emmons steel was SO fucking cool sounding, so PURE (beat anything around for decades, still does!), my Twin was the best in the business - what the hell did I need FX for? It was and is a matter of pride for pro steelers to rely completely on their right and left hand techniques and pedal skills to ‘make the sound’. Kinda like a Tele player - no gimmicks, if you suck you will sound like YOU SUCK. A Gibson will make up for a lot of sloppiness - a Strat, somewhat. But only pick up a Tele when you don’t seek excuses - it’ll call you out and display your character defects VIVIDLY.
Garcia’s FX rig was set up by Healy to give him all sorts of psychedelic options: Leslie cab simulator (ho-hum), wah pedal, couple-a stomp mothers and the Granddaddy of ALL FX gizmos - a Gibson Maestro unit. This guy was set on a knee-high rack with about 12-14 different toggles much the same as the ones on a Lowrey organ.
There were the Rhythm/percussive punches, the fuzz tone buttons, some horn effects, a phase unit and VOILA an auto-wah that was JUST INCREDIBLE!!!! I used it for about a year till my technique got a tad shabby and I put it and all (including tank reverb on my Twins) away for a while so I could get my chops back. We were playing halls mostly so there was always an abundance of room ambience. There were so many 1/4 inchers going in and out that finding the ONE THAT WAS BAD became a nightmare. Add to that, we had a roadie who was a victim of too many LSD beatings when he was a kid, I guess and was prone to violent rages - a short fuse? The roadie would get all flustered, I could see the back of his neck getting red the more confused he became over which phone plug was the culprit! Benched him AND the offensive cables for awhile, put them on the Pleasure Crew till things cooled out.
We returned to the studio and I told the crew to bring out the Maestro. No such luck - it was GONE! Somebody made off with it. I asked Jerry & Healy but just got a negative.
Then, Gibson came out with the units Gar would use later on, and forever for his flange and such - the Bi-Phases?? Never got into those either. The only things I used for a long, LONG time were the Jordan and the MXR Phase 100, preferring it over the 90. That’s what got the sound on Meet Me In The Morning (BOTT/Dylan)
Hope you enjoyed Memory Lane.
I should get more of a chance to tinker with the unit you just sent me in Sept. We’re not working a hell of a lot this year due to the economy but when I get set up next week for a bunch of Master Class steel lessons I’m giving, I’ll let you know, Chris!! Thanks man…
PS/Our new cd Where I Come From has your remade BossTone ALL over it! www.thenewriders.com