4.52am Issue: 001 25th September 2016

4.52am is a free weekly guitar and alternative music magazine, published by the same team behind Guitar Quarterly.

4.52am is a free weekly guitar and alternative music magazine, published by the same team behind Guitar Quarterly.


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Hello and Welcome to <strong>4.52am</strong>, a new<br />

weekly magazine that we expect to<br />

bring you a schizophrenic mix of both<br />

classic and cutting edge music, and<br />

some of the coolest Boutique and<br />

Vintage Guitar Gear out there.<br />

And this, our first issue, even if it is a little<br />

later than intended, is a real humdinger<br />

with music from people as diverse as the<br />

newest Indie Queen, Julia Jacklin, one<br />

of the finest new bands in the UK today,<br />

The Kamikaze Girls and the ever<br />

unexpectedly brilliant trip that is The<br />

Microdance.<br />

All of these running alongside some<br />

superlative guitar gear from the genius<br />

that is Damien Probett with his beautiful<br />

Probett Rocket ’59, Andrew Thornton’s<br />

refreshingly rethought, Thornton Dexter<br />

amplifier and the epic Adrian Thorpe’s,<br />

ThorpyFX Fallout Cloud.<br />

And that is before we get to the somuch-more,<br />

of which there is a lot.<br />

So enjoy the read, we’ll be back with<br />

more next week, definitely probably and<br />

please spread the word if you do like it<br />

and let us know if you don’t.<br />

Enjoy<br />

Mark Davidson<br />





A New Indie Queen<br />


Rocket ‘59<br />


Cool To Be Sad<br />


The Curious Tale of the Fallout Cloud<br />


Giant Steps (Slight Return)<br />


‘Dexter’<br />


1942 Gibson L50<br />


Any Way You Like It<br />


Golden Years<br />


1950s Maccaferri G40<br />


Accomplished Badger<br />


Chi Rho<br />


Welcome to the House of Fun<br />


The Monterey Strat<br />


Weekend Rockstars<br />



Destroy Something Beautiful E.P<br />


Breaking Up The Silence<br />


A Thousand Times<br />

MOUSES<br />

Mouses<br />



Our Very Own Agony Aunt<br />



A New Indie Queen<br />

I started to listen to Julia Jacklin’s album<br />

alone in a darkened room. As the first<br />

notes sounded, I noted the bare<br />

wooden floor, walls of twisted pine, a<br />

curled and faded rag rug and the slow<br />

squeaking harmony of an ill-fitting door,<br />

a badly shuttered window. She started<br />

singing of a doomed pool party, as all<br />

are and the sodium lights flickered and<br />

twitched as I looked through the hole in<br />

the wall at the dustbowl track outside.<br />

I expected a tap dancing camel, but he<br />

hadn’t arrived.<br />

Her voice echoes around me as her<br />

words ricochet inside my skull, the<br />

disquiet flickers to life as she seems to<br />

nod at me from a shadow-cloaked<br />

stage as the song somehow segues into<br />

a smiling lead light. I look again through<br />

the hole, see a watery shimmer but no<br />

sign of the camel, no tip-tappity-tap<br />

announcing his arrival.<br />

Yet still she sings, and as I reawaken to<br />

the sound of distorted guitar, her<br />

coming of age opens my eyes to<br />

another room, far away from my<br />

imagined sepia-tinted movie where<br />

camels fail to arrive on time and doors<br />

squeak, sodium lights turn strobe and<br />

cool indie replaces the chill of an historic<br />

lack of independence. Where once I<br />

heard Christie, Orton, Thorn, a bedsit<br />

disco queen, now there is the<br />

effortless presence of Hersh, of<br />

Donnelly, the sweetness of Deal. The<br />

Bakelite television flickers in the corner,<br />

and I ask a wavering Julia where she<br />

sees herself, who she is inside? She<br />

says she just wants to sound like a mix<br />

of her heroes, she’ll leave it to the<br />

listener to define her, I say I<br />

understand, but I’m not really sure<br />

that I want to.<br />

Perhaps I’m still waiting for the camel,<br />

a soft shoe shuffle, smear of ruby lippy,<br />

but still no sign.<br />

The fuzz fades as sweet acoustic<br />

guitar fills the room with sunflower<br />

light, spindrifting dust geyser through<br />

knot holes in the floor as she shares the<br />

tale of a sugar-spun sister, tells of the<br />

path both from and to her<br />

motherland, knowing always that<br />

space, that pure empty is the<br />

songwriter’s most vibrant colour.<br />

The TV glimmers and she smiles as I ask<br />

her about her guitar. It’s nothing<br />

special she shrugs detached, a<br />

Blonde Telecaster I bought in LA, I<br />

really need to learn to play better, it’s<br />

what I’m trying to do. All the people I<br />

play with started as children, I’m far

ehind. I wanted to play like Anais. I<br />

wanted.<br />

She is distant as the valves in the<br />

television backglow a spider,<br />

mummified in its own web against the<br />

cracked plaster wall. But I can’t leave it<br />

there, whisper, are you a songwriter or<br />

a guitarist? She smiles at my naivety as<br />

though there can be a difference, that<br />

I couldn’t tell. The songs come in<br />

showers and cars to singers made of<br />

sugared spice, where guitars don’t<br />

really play nice - I work it out. The song<br />

is the king then, as the album plays on,<br />

with Dylan’s chords held aloft, ironic, a<br />

nod to a world she never wanted but<br />

wraps her like vermillion cloak. The<br />

songs play on, vignettes, time-stained<br />

photographs of somebody else’s life,<br />

somebody else, somebody. You, but<br />

not the you I thought.<br />

But still no camel enters stage right. By<br />

now it is no surprise, camels are<br />

notorious for their sloth, whilst oddly<br />

sloths are touchy, keen to take the<br />

hump.<br />

And I realise that he isn’t coming, never<br />

was, for Julia’s tale is her own, no film by<br />

Lynch or Escher sketch. And I know now<br />

that sometimes you don’t need the<br />

camel, however cool his moves, how<br />

clear his motives, as some days simple<br />

musical beauty trumps the bizarre and<br />

that can stay with us for lifetimes if we<br />

listen beyond the echo of a camel’s<br />

cross behind.<br />

Julia Jacklin’s album ‘Don’t Let The Kids<br />

Win’ is a thing of righteous beauty and<br />

taste, simply put it is one of the great<br />

debut albums and I don’t say that<br />

lightly.<br />

You really should own it as one day you<br />

will boast that you did.<br />

You can find out more about Julia Here<br />

You really should buy her album Here


Rocket ‘59<br />

Like many guitar geeks, for years I’ve<br />

been aware of just how cool Damian<br />

Probett’s guitars are and in recent times,<br />

it has been interesting to see that<br />

Damian has reduced the scope of the<br />

guitars he makes to a list of standard<br />

models, rather than offering a fully<br />

bespoke service. It is the first of these<br />

that I wanted us to look at in this first<br />

luthier article in <strong>4.52am</strong>, the Probett ‘59<br />

Rocket, which quite frankly takes the<br />

sublime up to quite ridiculous levels of<br />

quality.<br />

As you can see from the pretty pictures,<br />

the ‘59 in everything apart from its<br />

outline takes influence from Gibson’s<br />

finest, but spins it into well thought out<br />

and let’s be fair, commercially brave<br />

territory by re-jigging the well-worn<br />

formula and applying previously<br />

unknown levels of craftsmanship and<br />

quality control. And in a lot of ways it is a<br />

pretty obvious step, take the sound and<br />

feel of a Les Paul but give it the<br />

ergonomics of a Strat - the best of both<br />

worlds. The downside of course is that<br />

you are risking losing all those vintage<br />

Les Paul nuts as customers, but then is<br />

that such a bad thing when the ‘59 is<br />

clearly aimed at a more thoughtful<br />

guitarist?<br />

This mixture has been done before of<br />

course at all price points, but I can’t<br />

think of another that has gone to such<br />

lengths to pin down what made a ‘59<br />

Les Paul such a special guitar. It is the<br />

type of thing I think many have hoped<br />

Anderson or Suhr would do, but have<br />

never nailed, for instance.<br />

In terms of the specification, it speaks<br />

volumes about Damian’s OCD-like<br />

attention to even the smallest of<br />

details (and forgive me for geeking<br />

out on this, but given time you’ll get<br />

used to it) as it is almost a vintage<br />

nut’s dream list. You can check his<br />

website as easily as I, so I won’t<br />

reproduce the full specification of the<br />

‘59, but things that immediately should<br />

catch your eye are the use of a long<br />

tenon neck joint, a quartersawn single<br />

piece of mahogany for the neck, a<br />

1.75” single piece of mahogany for<br />

the back of the body married to a<br />

beautifully carved eastern maple top.<br />

But as I say it is the little things that<br />

matter with guitars at this level and<br />

what I mean by that is best served by<br />

an example. Damian is a true<br />

traditionalist in terms of the details and<br />

for him it is not enough to simply use a<br />

nitrocellulose lacquer, which for many<br />

would be seen as ‘the’ authentic

option, instead he goes that step<br />

further and ensures an unplasticised<br />

lacquer is used, something I can’t<br />

remember seeing in recent times.<br />

And then there is so much more. The<br />

pickups are available in three flavours,<br />

all wound to Damian’s own<br />

specification by Hayden Minett of<br />

Bulldog Pickups, who Damian<br />

described as the guy who in his<br />

experience knows more than anybody<br />

he has ever met about the interaction<br />

between pickups, the guitar and the<br />

amplifier - high praise indeed.<br />

But this attention to vintage detail isn’t<br />

the whole story and it definitely isn’t a<br />

slavish devotion to the old - quite the<br />

opposite - where Damian is clever is<br />

that he is picking the best of either the<br />

vintage or the modern, so you see the<br />

right lacquer, because in his opinion,<br />

that is as good as it gets, but you’ll also<br />

see a Pigtail intonatable wraparound<br />

bridge with locking posts and Gotoh<br />

Kluson-style tuners simply because they<br />

are better than vintage whilst retaining<br />

the vibe. You see the construction of a<br />

‘59 Les Paul, but you get the benefits of<br />

Leo’s well placed curves. It is as simple<br />

as that.<br />

The ‘59 is also Probett’s most ‘bling’<br />

guitar, the tops are awesome, but<br />

again the detail is the place to look<br />

with tortoiseshell side dots making the<br />

point quite nicely. With a guitar that<br />

marries two styles so well, it can’t be a<br />

slave to one maker’s tradition, and of<br />

course there are options.<br />

The neck heel can be produced either<br />

with a traditional ‘step’ or a more<br />

modern fully contoured joint and<br />

equally the Strat’s cutaways can be<br />

rejected if you want something even<br />

more Gibson-esque. It is your guitar he is<br />

building at the end of the day. One<br />

other touch that I applauded was the<br />

use of an SG-style control layout which<br />

moves a three-way-switch down to be<br />

next to twin volume and tone controls,<br />

something that given the outline makes<br />

a lot of sense and will appeal to any PRS<br />

players that are thinking of upgrading.<br />

In summary, this is a beautifully<br />

produced guitar by a guy that knows<br />

what is important and uses that<br />

knowledge with laser guided accuracy.<br />

As I said at the start, our approach for<br />

<strong>4.52am</strong> is to look at the individual guitars<br />

whilst in Guitar Quarterly we will be<br />

looking at the builders in more detail. So<br />

in the coming months we’ll be back to<br />

see Damian’s other Rockets, the ‘54 and<br />

the III and something new and as yet<br />

unannounced that I think will be a real<br />

treat.<br />

Find out more about Probett Guitars<br />



Cool To Be Sad<br />

I was telling somebody about the<br />

Kamikaze Girls the other night, to be<br />

honest since I listened to their debut E.P<br />

Sad, I’ve been doing that a lot.<br />

The guy next door, a woman in the Coop,<br />

just random people really. Anybody,<br />

whether they would listen or not.<br />

But this time the fella didn’t run away,<br />

and as I explained that they were<br />

Lucinda Livingston (vocals/guitar) and<br />

Conor Dawson (drums) his first thought<br />

was that they were a pair of White<br />

Stripes wannabes, style over substance<br />

and perhaps a smidgen of a walk on the<br />

contrived side. And whilst he couldn’t<br />

have been more wrong, it did strike me<br />

that they probably have to deal with<br />

such assumptions quite often, at least<br />

until people hear their music or see them<br />

live, when any thoughts of Jack and<br />

Meg soon disappear, because they are<br />

the real deal all by themselves. Their<br />

debut E.P Sad, is something seriously<br />

special and anything but.<br />

As a band they draw on a number of<br />

influences, the one they talk about most<br />

is the Riot Grrl flipside to Grunge of the<br />

early ‘90s, and when the Fuzz is<br />

engaged the playing and sound is up<br />

there with the best.<br />

Lucinda talks about a lot of people<br />

only just discovering how good bands<br />

like L7 and Bikini Kill are, and she is<br />

probably right that in the Kurt Vs Eddie<br />

headlines of the time (with a side<br />

order of Courtney) they were often<br />

seen as the second tier, if that, which<br />

ignores the fact that there was a<br />

whole lot more going on than made<br />

the front cover of the NME. Rather like<br />

today.<br />

But there is also more depth to the<br />

Kamikaze Girls sound than a rerun of<br />

la Grunge. Despite her protestations<br />

that guitar is probably her worst<br />

instrument (she has been playing<br />

piano since she was three, could read<br />

music before she could talk), with her<br />

Cure-inspired clean tones, Lucinda<br />

displays a deftness of touch and a<br />

gentle coaxing of notes when needed<br />

that take the sound far beyond the<br />

usual scope of punk or grunge.<br />

In fact, it is impressive to notice that<br />

for a two-piece they have mastered<br />

the art of the light and the shade, it<br />

often leading to an explosion, the<br />

explosion leading to silence as in your<br />

mind you are convinced that the<br />

ashes are falling. It is brutally effective.

And talking of Lucinda’s guitar work<br />

doesn’t underestimate Conor’s input to<br />

the sound as a whole. Deceptively<br />

intricate drumming is often<br />

overshadowed by the severe power he<br />

drives the songs along with, he<br />

genuinely is a highly talented beatmonster,<br />

though as an equal part of the<br />

song writing partnership he is as likely to<br />

be bringing a guitar riff or melody to the<br />

table as syncopating a rhythm.<br />

All of which ignores the lyrics and<br />

vocals that take the Sad E.P. to a<br />

different level to most releases I’ve<br />

heard in <strong>2016</strong>. The lyrics focussing<br />

heavily on mental health issues Lucinda<br />

has had to deal with in the past, her<br />

voice rotates around a loop of tired<br />

innocence, via Siouxsie’s stridently<br />

barked clarity through to an<br />

impressively primal scream. And there is<br />

nothing fake about this, there is real<br />

pain and whether that is feeding her art<br />

or being cured by it you have to<br />

believe in her. She says it is OK to be<br />

sad, and she is right as we all are at<br />

some point and without it there can’t<br />

be days filled with light. Sometimes you<br />

wonder though whether that is enough<br />

of a payback.<br />

But in talking about all of this, I’m not<br />

suggesting that the Kamikaze Girls are<br />

potential victims, they are not likely to<br />

provide an Amy or Kurt-sized side-show,<br />

as these both have their shit together.<br />

Apart from the music, the lyrics, the<br />

passion, one more reason I love the<br />

Kamikaze Girls right now is that they are<br />

sisters (sorry Conor) who are genuinely<br />

doing it for themselves. A self-released<br />

E.P is not unusual these days, but it is the<br />

care they are taking about every<br />

aspect that is the most impressive. They<br />

are organising their own tour, and every<br />

show is examined to make sure that it is<br />

a positive experience, whether it is a first<br />

gig for somebody or people bring their<br />

own mental baggage. Because the talk<br />

of mental illness isn’t just fodder for some<br />

throwaway songs, Lucinda and Conor<br />

see the tour as a way to spread a little<br />

hope and to give them a chance to talk<br />

to people, find out their experiences<br />

and hopefully share a little light. I don’t<br />

remember Take That thinking along<br />

those lines, I don’t remember Bono<br />

pulling up a chair after a gig and<br />

listening.<br />

It is this awareness of others that makes<br />

them stand out, and I became an<br />

instant fan of ‘Lady Fuzz’ the zine<br />

Lucinda produces and curates. When I<br />

asked her about it, she didn’t seem to<br />

see it as the big deal I obviously did:<br />

“I’m not really sure what got me into<br />

publishing a zine. I had moved down to<br />

Brighton and had about a month where<br />

I wasn’t doing anything with my life and I<br />

just started going to this coffee shop in<br />

Brighton every morning and started it. I’d<br />

wanted a creative outlet that combined<br />

my love of music and art and I had so<br />

many talented friends in both those<br />

areas so I just wanted to create<br />

something cool to get my friends work<br />

out there, celebrate female artists, and<br />

(that) was something a little different for<br />

people to read.”<br />

As for the E.P. itself, whilst there are<br />

layers of Riot Grrl fuzz and noise, there is<br />

an almost C86 style old-school indie<br />

song writing at play. The opening track<br />

Hexes channelling the Banshees, which<br />

may be expected due to the pair’s love

of the Cure and Robert Smith, but the<br />

chorus of Stitches could almost be a<br />

pissed-off Louise Werner singing a toogood-to-release<br />

Wedding Present or<br />

New FADs song, such is the mix of<br />

influences running through it.<br />

So a pop sensibility beneath the chaos<br />

and angst, with the song Ladyfuzz<br />

being something bands like Elastica,<br />

Echobelly, L7 and Hole would have<br />

killed their husbands to write way back<br />

whenever, a fantastically massive<br />

sounding slice of dour joy.<br />

And I’m sure every review they have<br />

received has either started or<br />

concluded with some sort of pun on it<br />

being OK to be sad, but when subject<br />

matter such as this can be treated in a<br />

way that makes your heart race whilst<br />

your brain works, there is definitely<br />

something special going on. I find it<br />

hard to believe that this is the first<br />

Kamikaze Girls release and genuinely<br />

can’t wait to see what they do next.<br />

As this comes out they are touring, so do<br />

check them out and whether you can<br />

get along to a gig or not, treat yourself<br />

to a truly special E.P. We live in strange<br />

times of infinite opportunity for bands to<br />

get their music out, but without even a<br />

little support we are in more danger of<br />

being swamped by plastic,<br />

manufactured pop than ever.<br />

Use it or lose it and anyway, it may just<br />

cheer you up.<br />

You can find out more about the<br />

Kamikaze Girls Here<br />

You can buy their E.P Here


The Curious Tale of the Fallout Cloud<br />

If ever you’ve read a review of a<br />

ThorpyFX pedal, I can guarantee that it<br />

will have contained many a reference<br />

to Adrian Thorpe’s former career as an<br />

explosives expert. There have been<br />

many, he makes quite wonderful pedals<br />

and people want to talk about them,<br />

but every time they focus on the military<br />

aspect, so I like to play what we call<br />

‘Thorpy Bingo’ with points given for<br />

‘Military Grade’, ‘Bulletproof’, ‘Tank-like’,<br />

and double-bubble for ‘Laser Guided<br />

Stealth Drone.’ Well, I’m still hoping on<br />

the last one.<br />

Not that you’ll find such cheap tactics in<br />

a <strong>4.52am</strong> article, I hasten to add, we’re<br />

far too classy, thoughtfilled and refined.<br />

Which is exactly what I was thinking as<br />

two of Thorpy’s henchmen were<br />

removing the blindfold from my eyes as<br />

we descended into the nerve centre of<br />

the Thorpy Underground Empire.<br />

That wasn’t the start of things, we’d<br />

already travelled for hours on a<br />

circuitous route before reaching, what I<br />

later found out was a decommissioned<br />

Cold War Nuclear Missile Launch Facility,<br />

at a location that even Google couldn’t<br />

map. My ears popped over and over as<br />

we descended to depths in excess of<br />

250 metres and I must admit my silent<br />

companions were starting to unnerve<br />

me, like being stuck in an elevator<br />

with a couple of drummers. If it was<br />

possible for them to be quiet of<br />

course.<br />

We reached the ground floor then<br />

travelled further uncounted miles in a<br />

scale model of a Bullet Train passing<br />

through fields, mountainous regions<br />

complete with Mayan ruins he had<br />

especially imported and painstakingly<br />

recreated by hand, stone-by-stone,<br />

hydroponically engineered wetlands<br />

with teeming birdlife, (although I have<br />

to say I thought the flock of flamingos<br />

was perhaps pushing things, nobody<br />

loves a show-off) before finally arriving<br />

at what seemed to be a highly<br />

polished, stainless steel cube the size<br />

of a small 3 bedroom house, with<br />

scope to expand into the loft.<br />

The goons remounted the Bullet Train<br />

and scaring the flamingos into clouds<br />

of marshmallow quickly disappeared,<br />

as a previously unnoticed door<br />

opened in the side of the cube. It was<br />

clear that I had no choice, so I quickly<br />

stepped in and the door behind me<br />

faded shut. I was in darkness.<br />

For a minute, maybe three.<br />

It was a little scary.

I’m a wuss like that.<br />

Slowly, a warm orange light seemed to<br />

develop around what would be the<br />

ceiling of the cube. Being trained in<br />

such matters, I quickly identified the<br />

source as being a row of EL84s,<br />

Mullards, the prince of guitar<br />

amplification valves. As they warmed, I<br />

could examine the room in their<br />

tortured light and see that I was, as I<br />

had expected, totally alone. Alone that<br />

is apart from a stainless steel table<br />

containing only a single, small wooden<br />

box, seemingly made of some rare<br />

hardwood no longer available for<br />

export. I stepped closer and could see<br />

that it was carved and inlaid with what I<br />

took to be ancient runes, but as the<br />

valves reached their correct<br />

operational temperature, the light they<br />

cast began to be reflected from the<br />

now clearly visible gemstone encrusted<br />

carvings to project a holographic<br />

picture on the hand-polished wall. But<br />

not just a picture, a film and as I started<br />

to watch I realised that the box had<br />

opened, revealing that it was brim-filled<br />

with Butterkist toffee popcorn. A nice<br />

touch, I think you’ll agree. I got stuck in<br />

quicksmart.<br />

But any warmth the generosity cast was<br />

soon depleted as I watched the story<br />

unfold like a paper crane, a horrific tale<br />

of greed, bully-boy-tactics, Stalinistic<br />

iron fists in the softest of velvet gloves, it<br />

was the Curious Tale of the Fallout<br />

Cloud.<br />

It begins late in 2015, the year Lemmy<br />

died. ThorpyFX had started as a hobby,<br />

morphed into a pipedream before<br />

becoming what would soon be<br />

recognised as one of the finest guitar<br />

effect manufacturers in the world.<br />

Months had been spent on the designs<br />

of the circuits, countless prototypes built<br />

and rejected until finally, ultimately, the<br />

tones they were searching for were<br />

sculptured from silicon and wire and<br />

solder and glass and steel, shiny, ten<br />

million quid’s worth of laser etched steel.<br />

It would be an explosive ascent and<br />

whilst many love an overdrive, the true<br />

patriots know that an effects company<br />

can only really be judged by the Fuzz<br />

they keep, so it was with bated breath<br />

that the ThorpyFX Muffroom Cloud was<br />

launched. And it didn’t disappoint.

Despite the traditional tongue-in-cheek<br />

nod toward the forty-year-old Electro<br />

Harmonix classic in its nomenclature,<br />

the Muffroom Cloud was instead a<br />

torturously painstaking enhancement of<br />

the long-gone 60s/70s Classic (and<br />

please note the capital C on Classic<br />

there), PNP Triangle Muff. Or rather the<br />

Triangle was a starting point from which<br />

further development leapt forward.<br />

As Adrian explained to me recently<br />

over a secure line,<br />

“This pedal is my take on the Triangleera<br />

fuzz, I had an original PNP Triangle<br />

Muff to compare this to during<br />

development. However, I found the EQ<br />

of the original very Goldilocks in<br />

operation, too much bass, too much<br />

treble, very rarely was it just right, so<br />

after some inspiration the pedal was<br />

created with an active treble and bass<br />

control that allows you to really tailor<br />

the pedal to the amp. The other bonus<br />

was that the pedal has a massive<br />

amount of bass on tap, so much so that<br />

it can be used on Bass guitar too.<br />

Anyway, the pedal has received a<br />

number of awards and has been<br />

described by one magazine as the Rolls<br />

Royce of Muffs!”<br />

And what Adrian is too cool to mention<br />

is that the pedal he created was<br />

something quite simply amazing. As<br />

many reviewers have noted, it is<br />

practically impossible to get a bad<br />

sound from it - even at extreme settings<br />

it sounds sweet, increasing the bass just<br />

makes it sound bigger, it cuts through -<br />

read that again - it is a fuzz that cuts<br />

through.<br />

Such is the quality of the equalisation,<br />

using it is an exploration for original<br />

tones rather than the ploughing<br />

through mush to find a golden nugget<br />

that you will be used to with, say, an<br />

EHX Big Muff. And perhaps that is where<br />

the tale takes an unfortunate turn, a<br />

nose put out of joint, too many rave<br />

reviews, people get defensive.<br />

If you have never received a Cease and<br />

Desist letter from the lawyer of a major<br />

company, especially an American<br />

company, you may think you know how<br />

you would react, but you are probably<br />

wrong. However, in-the-right you are,<br />

however spurious a claim they are<br />

making, and when it happened to me it<br />

most definitely was spurious, it all comes<br />

down to the fact that they know you<br />

don’t have the resources to fight them -<br />

money wins every time.<br />

So The Muffroom Cloud became The<br />

Fallout Cloud and it wasn’t ThorpyFX<br />

that was left looking petty, vindictive<br />

and plain stupid.<br />

In the long term will it affect the pedal or<br />

the company?<br />

Of course not, and already I’m sure the<br />

original Muffroom Clouds are being<br />

described as ‘Pre-lawsuit’ and what<br />

guitarist doesn’t love a pre-lawsuit<br />

anything?<br />

As for ThorpyFX it is easy to forget how<br />

short a time they have been around, but<br />

I’m really pleased to be able to look at<br />

their pedals in <strong>4.52am</strong> over the coming<br />

months, and then at Adrian and the<br />

company he is building later in Guitar<br />

Quarterly.<br />

So in summary, the pedals they are<br />

creating are engineered beyond Military<br />

Grade, the enclosures look to be<br />

Bulletproof and are somewhat Tank-like<br />

and I understand in 2017 they will be<br />

delivered by Laser Guided Stealth<br />

Drones.<br />

Now if I can just find a way to hail a<br />

passing Bullet Train, I’ll leave it at that.<br />

Find out more Here


Giant Steps (Slight Return)<br />

The Microdance’s debut album New<br />

Waves of Hope was my favourite of 2015<br />

and most of <strong>2016</strong> too, if I’m totally<br />

honest, so when we decided to launch<br />

a magazine they were high up there on<br />

my list of people I really needed to talk<br />

to. In the olden days, they would have<br />

probably been classified as shoegaze, a<br />

little later as dream-pop, and then so<br />

many other boxes would have been<br />

ticked, but we still wouldn’t have been<br />

any nearer to the reality. In truth, they<br />

are all of these things and a lot more<br />

besides, perfectly capable of rocking<br />

out or conjuring an achingly beautiful<br />

moment out of nothing. And moments<br />

are what it is all about. They are an<br />

unusual band in terms of their evolution,<br />

but one you really have to watch as<br />

cool ‘stuff’ can happen, and generally<br />

does, at a rapid pace. There is almost<br />

too much going on.<br />

I caught up with Alex Keevill a while<br />

back and asked him when it was that he<br />

realised that there was something<br />

special going on with The Microdance?<br />

“The Microdance was more of a<br />

concept when it first started out; i.e., I<br />

wrote a bunch of songs and recorded<br />

two EPs before there was a bona fide<br />

band. The second of which I recorded<br />

with Frankie Siragusa in LA when he and<br />

his partner Jay Dawson had just<br />

opened their first studio. At some point<br />

in 2011 (I think!) I listened to the songs<br />

and had a word with myself - right,<br />

let's do this properly and get a band<br />

together and play some shows. What<br />

followed was The Microdance LE<br />

(Light Edition) which consisted of<br />

Bridget Walsh on vocals and synth<br />

and me on acoustic guitar - we<br />

played TMD songs; but with a different<br />

approach/energy. Later that year, I<br />

put the first RAWK incarnation<br />

together - a hodge podge mix of<br />

musicians that really didn't do justice<br />

to the music.<br />

Several incarnations followed until<br />

Gavin Mata joined later that year and<br />

I knew that immediately that I had<br />

found my running partner. He brings a<br />

delicacy to our sound that in spite of<br />

my desire, I cannot - because I play<br />

guitar way too hard ( at least one<br />

broken string every rehearsal.). Several<br />

people have come and gone but our<br />

current 3/4 line up of Gav, Ric<br />

(drummer) and me feels like the most<br />

solid congenial line up we've had. Ric<br />

is the first drummer we've had who is<br />

equal parts talented, reliable and<br />


Gav and Ric are both super solid<br />

people with good jobs and the notion<br />

that busy people are the best to get<br />

stuff done seems to be accurate!<br />

As far as the Zen moment is concerned<br />

- at the risk of sounding arrogant - I<br />

knew from when I started demoing at<br />

18 that something cool was in the<br />

offing; just had to find the right people<br />

to run with... which took a while!<br />

Another one was when the album<br />

receiving reviews - that was bordering<br />

on humbling.”<br />

One thing that has been consistent with<br />

the Microdance is their rolling changes<br />

to their line-up, certainly on the female<br />

vocal side of things from the Divine Miss<br />

Bridget Walsh through to a special<br />

guest appearance on the album by<br />

former Smashing Pumpkin, Nicole<br />

Fiorentino. I wondered whether this was<br />

by design or just the way things have<br />

panned out?<br />

“The latter... All I have ever craved is<br />

stability! Nicole will be singing on the<br />

new single we're currently tracking. It's a<br />

gothy new waver! We also have a side<br />

project in the sidelines which I am very<br />

excited about.”<br />

Nicole has left the Pumpkins now, so<br />

have you got a more permanent<br />

vacancy available?<br />

“Cheryl Pinero was our Nicole - that's<br />

not fair actually; but you know what I<br />

mean, she sang and played bass with<br />

us for two years. She is an unbelievable<br />

person and musician but has now left<br />

the band. We are close to replacing<br />

her though (not that she can truly be<br />

replaced!). As mentioned above, Nicole<br />

and I will continue to work together; we<br />

are great friends which certainly helps!”<br />

New Waves of Hope was recorded in a<br />

couple of weeks with Frankie Siragusa. I<br />

asked Alex whether it working with<br />

Frankie that was the attraction or the<br />

sunshine?<br />

“And bikini clad girls! Nah, Frankie was<br />

the only person who I thought could<br />

assimilate and augment the vision of the<br />

album. The man is a genius on so many<br />

levels. I have said it that if you wanted to<br />

record an album that sounds like Nick<br />

Cave, Kate Bush, Depeche Mode or<br />

even Pantera, he'd be the man. He has<br />

such a profound understanding,<br />

appreciation and love for music; he's<br />

also a motherfuker of a project<br />

manager. We love that man!”

There is a beautiful video of you and<br />

Nicole playing the song ‘New Waves of<br />

Hope’, apparently for only the second<br />

time. Again, a special moment (you<br />

should check it out.)<br />

Looking back on the album a year on, I<br />

asked Alex how he saw it,<br />

“Well, NWoH is a collection of 14 songs<br />

that we thought went well as a<br />

cohesive unit. It was 14 songs picked<br />

from over a hundred. We were insistent<br />

that the album was all A Grade TMD<br />

but the idea was never to pick the best<br />

14 songs per se. For example, I wrote<br />

our single 'The Ride Today' prior to the<br />

recording of the album but it's got<br />

electronic drums and is more Cure than<br />

Fleetwood Mac or SP. NwoH is our<br />

'classic rock' album - with some<br />

shoegaze, new wave, dream pop and<br />

metal thrown in for texture.”<br />

And it is this need to take chances and<br />

try something new - acting from the gut<br />

- that for me makes the Microdance<br />

rise above so many other bands. For<br />

instance, whilst I was writing these<br />

questions, TMD published a stunningly<br />

intimate EP - “3AM Fuck ‘Em Blues” to<br />

their fans on Facebook, which Alex<br />

described as raw, but sounded silken to<br />

me. I asked him about the recording of<br />

it.<br />

“I had this idea that seeing as we were<br />

putting out an album with such high<br />

production values I'd put out something<br />

that opposed that. The songs were<br />

written in a day or two, my parts were<br />

recorded at 3am (alarm set five days<br />

straight) in fifteen minutes and Bridget<br />

Walsh (Miss Walsh - former TMD member<br />

and great friend) and Cheryl did their<br />

vox anywhere and whenever they had<br />

a spare five mins. One song has the<br />

airport tannoy in the background as<br />

Bridget tracked in an airport! I wanted to<br />

conjure up the feeling of an EP that you<br />

had snuck into my bedroom when I was<br />

asleep and stole from my drawer. I<br />

described it to Bridget and Cheryl as<br />

sounding like the foggy streets of<br />

Victorian London at dusk.”<br />

For a band with so many textures, I<br />

couldn’t finish talking to Alex without<br />

asking about his and Gavin Mata’s<br />

guitar gear,<br />

“At the inception, I was playing an<br />

American 80s strat with a Big Muff, Cool<br />

Cat chorus, Turbo Overdrive, Boss<br />

Phaser, Phasex Flanger, DD 20 and a<br />

Holy Grail. I then decided that my £40<br />

Japanese Tele copy was a far nicer,<br />

more versatile guitar (sounds nothing like<br />

a Tele!) and that is now my main bitch! I<br />

can honestly say that none of my guitar<br />

geek friends have anything that I prefer<br />

playing or the sound of. Gav is a<br />

Jazzmaster man (probably on account<br />

of all the Shoegaze he listens to!) as far<br />

as his effects are concerned, they are<br />

too numerous for me to go through, a<br />

veritable smorgasbord; but they are all<br />

wonderful - beautiful delay, reverb,<br />

modulation and four killer choruses. I<br />

should probably give a heads up to<br />

Mark Mills of Butterfly Effects who builds<br />

some stunning pedals; mostly modelled<br />

on vintage classics.”

Incidentally, Gav Mata has a rather<br />

beautiful vintage (1959) Fender<br />

Jazzmaster that is pictured elsewhere in<br />

this issue, that he hasn’t been afraid to<br />

either mod or gig frequently, which is<br />

pretty cool in my book.<br />

And as we reach the end of the article,<br />

to TMD watchers it probably wasn’t a<br />

surprise when Alex announced that<br />

whilst he was continuing to create<br />

music under The Microdance moniker,<br />

the rest of the band have consciously<br />

uncoupled - no dramas just another<br />

turn of the wheel.<br />

Even less surprising is that a new E.P of<br />

semi-acoustic music (as yet untitled) will<br />

be released soon and Alex already has<br />

plans for a Heavy Metal album.<br />

Seriously.<br />

To finish the interview, and this article I<br />

told him that I had put TMD’s Grange<br />

Hill tribute, ‘Oh Rolando!’ as my<br />

ringtone only this morning, and that I<br />

had already missed seven calls as I<br />

can’t bring myself to stop the music. I<br />

asked whether he felt guilty about it?<br />

“That is the best interview question I<br />

have ever received. So Riddled with<br />

guilt and self-loathing that I'm about to<br />

write a song about you!”<br />

And I really, really wouldn’t doubt him.<br />

You haven’t seen the last of<br />

Microdance, just don’t be surprised if<br />

they are headlining Hammerfest next<br />

Spring.<br />

To find out more visit the Microdance<br />

Here<br />

To buy their awesome album go Here


Dexter<br />

I’m not sure whether you can talk about<br />

the ‘usual’ route somebody would take<br />

when doing something quite so<br />

archaically obtuse as launching a<br />

boutique guitar amplifier company. It is<br />

of course all about valves and turret<br />

boards and big clumps of wires that<br />

frankly scare me a little. But if there were<br />

to be such a method, I’m pretty sure<br />

that it would involve building a clone of<br />

one of the classics, and then another, a<br />

few more, and then, perhaps, starting to<br />

tweak things a little, just a capacitor<br />

value here a resistor there, maybe cover<br />

it with purple paisley and so on. OK, the<br />

paisley may be my wrinkle.<br />

That would seem sensible, and let’s face<br />

it, guitarists being the progress chasing,<br />

bleeding edge lovers of the latest digital<br />

technology that they aren’t, could well<br />

be the most profitable.<br />

All of which provides an unwanted<br />

tweedy backdrop for Andrew Thornton<br />

and his recently launched Thornton<br />

Amplifiers, which have taken a<br />

particularly individual route to market<br />

and whether it is brave or not, can only<br />

be applauded.<br />

For a start Andrew is no newbie, having<br />

had 30 years of working as a sound<br />

engineer, live sound engineer, studio<br />

producer/engineer, musician and<br />

electronics engineer, all of which feed<br />

into his vision of ‘What a good one<br />

looks like’, he has a definite view of<br />

the type of amplifiers he wants his<br />

company to make and is clearly<br />

willing to take the time to get there.<br />

Perhaps more importantly, Andrew<br />

isn’t a man for the easy option,<br />

something that as we look at the first<br />

of the Thornton Amplifiers guitar amps,<br />

the Dexter, will quickly become<br />

apparent. I asked him what prompted<br />

him to develop the Dexter,<br />

“The concept was to design an<br />

amplifier with a lot of tonal flexibility<br />

and with an output power suitable to<br />

achieve the 'sweet spot' without being<br />

very uncomfortable to be in the same<br />

room. The preamplifier is a 2 channel<br />

variety but with 4 modes. Combining<br />

the 2 channels in 'Schizoid' or 'Psycho'<br />

modes offers a wider palette of tonal<br />

characters. This stemmed from a<br />

friend of mine who is a successful<br />

producer and guitar player. He owns<br />

may classic guitar amplifiers but found<br />

all of them to some degree to be 'one<br />

trick ponies'. He put some pressure on<br />

me to design something more flexible<br />

and interesting.”<br />

As to how Thornton have approached<br />

its development, the phrase ‘No

Compromise’ just about covers it. There<br />

is no concept at all of ‘Good Enough’<br />

as far as Andrew is concerned,<br />

“I spend A LOT of time doing things<br />

that, on the face of it, seem ridiculous,<br />

such as casting my own design control<br />

knobs, moulding cabinet feet,<br />

machining handle hardware, hand<br />

forming leather corners, etc. This is<br />

because I don't want my products to<br />

look like they've been slapped together<br />

from a bunch of common far eastern<br />

parts mass-marketed through the usual<br />

distributors. As for circuitry, I have parts<br />

that are cast into custom assemblies for<br />

filters and bias circuits but I'm not at<br />

liberty to divulge what they contain!<br />

My transformers are very custom - no<br />

standard off-shelf parts for such critical<br />

components”<br />

And that is exactly what he has done.<br />

Andrew has spent an inordinate<br />

amount of time re-examining every<br />

individual component that is involved in<br />

a valve amplifier, and not only looking<br />

for the ‘Best of breed’, but in a sense<br />

asking them to justify their existence. I<br />

honestly can’t think of another British<br />

guitar amplifier builder who has quite<br />

simply re-examined and re-designed the<br />

very concept of what a world class<br />

valve amplifier is and then had the<br />

capability - the sheer audacity - to go<br />

out and make one. And what an<br />

amplifier he made. However much pain<br />

developing it took, the end-result totally<br />

justifies it.<br />

So what is it?<br />

In simple terms, the Dexter is a push-pull<br />

pentode 20-watt amplifier, available<br />

either as a combo or a head. It has two<br />

selectable channels, with each of them<br />

having a two modes for a different array<br />

of tonal options.<br />

It is probably easiest to think of Channel<br />

A being clean, although with plenty of

gain on tap, whilst Channel B has a<br />

Master Volume to provide plenty of<br />

saturation at low volume levels.<br />

Additionally, there are the ‘Schizoid’<br />

and ‘Psycho’ modes, the former links<br />

the output from Channel A into the<br />

input for Channel B (so it is acting in<br />

series), whilst the latter allows both<br />

channels to work in Parallel - I love a<br />

naming convention that isn’t just thrown<br />

together.<br />

And there is a definite genius behind<br />

this idea that other amplifier makers<br />

must feel has been staring them in the<br />

face. The Schizoid mode especially,<br />

offers something new. But that isn’t the<br />

end of the options, as there is also the<br />

option to reduce the output to 5 watts<br />

with a Triode mode for yet more tonal<br />

variation. I won’t list everything -<br />

Thornton have a web site for that, but<br />

the rotary Voicing control is again<br />

another bag of tricks on tap that will<br />

keep the tweakers happy for aeons..<br />

As for the cabinets, it is no surprise to find<br />

that Thornton have taken as much care<br />

over them as everything else, as Andrew<br />

says,<br />

“I have 2 cabinet specialists who I<br />

partner with. Both very small enterprises<br />

such as myself. Both with decades of<br />

experience. We build in hardwood and<br />

the more common ply/vinyl formats. I'm<br />

very particular about joint strength and<br />

aesthetics. The hardwood cabinets<br />

have our own unique trapezoidal slot<br />

key design - strong and beautiful. Our

ply cabinets are precision finger<br />

jointed.”<br />

Similarly, the speakers were never going<br />

to be left to chance either,<br />

“I have a very close relationship with<br />

Fane and have for almost 30 years on<br />

and off. They build custom<br />

specification alnico and ceramic<br />

drivers for me to the very highest<br />

standards. My loudspeaker drivers<br />

contain UK hand wound voice coils<br />

with very specific requirements. Fane<br />

are still truly British owned and are<br />

synonymous with the British heritage in<br />

guitar amplification. I didn't consider<br />

going anywhere else, like a company<br />

now owned by a Chinese battery<br />

manufacturer! My Fane drivers are<br />

pretty special.”<br />

In fact, Thornton’s amplifiers are “Hand<br />

Built in England” in every sense, with<br />

every part being justifiable on that basis.<br />

Again I would ask, is there another guitar<br />

maker out there of any size that can say<br />

the same is true of their own amps? I<br />

think we know the answer to that.<br />

Thornton amplifiers are something<br />

special, and you should really take the<br />

time to check them out if you get the<br />

opportunity. They quite simply are like<br />

nothing else in every way possible.<br />

Visit Thornton Amplifiers Here


1942 Gibson L50<br />

One thing we wanted to do with <strong>4.52am</strong><br />

(and Guitar Quarterly, come to that) is<br />

have plenty of pictures of really<br />

beautiful and unusual Vintage Guitars<br />

and Amplifiers in every issue.<br />

But how to do it?<br />

The obvious way to achieve this was to<br />

get in touch with the larger Vintage<br />

Guitar shops and ask them to give us<br />

access to their wares. I haven’t ruled it<br />

out, why would I? But before we go that<br />

route I thought I would ask on the<br />

Fretboard Forum to see if anybody who<br />

actually owned (rather than was just<br />

selling) a beautiful Vintage guitar, would<br />

take a photo of it for me.<br />

Getting to the point then, I was seriously<br />

pleased when Alan Moorhouse told me<br />

about his 1942 Gibson L50.<br />

As you can imagine, for a wartime<br />

instrument, it was adapted from the pre-<br />

War models due to material shortages –<br />

but I’ll let Alan explain.<br />

“Here is a picture of my 1942 Gibson L50,<br />

taken by me this morning. I acquired it<br />

in exchange for a 90's Guild Starfire II in<br />

January 2015, from a former member of<br />

theFretBoard.<br />

It was built during the war, with<br />

consequent shortages of metal, so it<br />

doesn't have an adjustable truss-rod, it<br />

has a really thick 3-piece neck! Also<br />

notice the wooden bar in the<br />

tailpiece, which would usually be<br />

metal.<br />

Construction is Adirondack spruce<br />

top, carved one-piece flame maple<br />

back and sides, and a Brazilian<br />

fingerboard with pearl dots. The<br />

tuners have been replaced with<br />

StewMac "Golden Era" items, although<br />

I have the originals.<br />

A 50's Framus pickup has been fitted,<br />

and sounds lovely and warm, as you'd<br />

imagine.<br />

The bad news?<br />

It had a loose brace which has been<br />

repaired, and it has been lightly oversprayed<br />

to prevent further<br />

deterioration to the original finish,<br />

which had just begun to flake. It has a<br />

few battle scars, as you'd expect on a<br />

74-year old guitar...”<br />

So thanks again to Alan, and if you<br />

want us to feature your pride and your<br />

joy (and that happens to be an old<br />

guitar) drop us an email at the usual<br />



Any Way You Like It<br />

A few years ago, six in fact, I was<br />

building a guitar kit with my son. It was a<br />

left-handed Strat and he had decided<br />

that it was going to have a dragon<br />

theme, and that we needed a<br />

scratchplate to match. And when I said<br />

need, I wasn’t joking. He was seven and<br />

these things are very important when<br />

you are seven.<br />

As you do, I spent days searching the<br />

web for something that would do the<br />

trick - not a hope in the UK, especially for<br />

a lefty - until I finally found a small shop<br />

in the U.S that had something along the<br />

right lines. Oddly the skull knobs weren’t<br />

a problem at all.<br />

Naturally, when it finally arrived it didn’t<br />

fit the guitar by ½”, the screws were<br />

nowhere near where they should have<br />

been and it was a Manga-style Dragon<br />

when he was really thinking of<br />

something more photo-realistic, but it<br />

was a dragon and it did the job. Even if<br />

it was meant to be a father and son<br />

summer holiday project, and the<br />

scratchplate didn’t arrive until<br />

Halloween.<br />

Flying forward to this summer, we didn’t<br />

build another guitar, there are many<br />

more important things to do when you<br />

are 13, but if we had I would have been<br />

on the Scratch-It web site doublequicksmart,<br />

as the world has changed<br />

and getting the perfect scratchplate<br />

for whatever our flight of fancy would<br />

have been, now couldn’t have been<br />

easier.<br />

If you haven’t come across Scratch-It<br />

before, you will definitely want to<br />

check them out as what they do is<br />

both incredibly impressive in its<br />

simplicity, but more to the point one of<br />

those ideas that you really wish you<br />

had thought of yourself.<br />

I spoke to founder, head guru and<br />

general kingpin Tim Allen who started<br />

Scratch-It in a shed in Bedford and<br />

asked him where he got the idea?<br />

“I’d always wondered why so many<br />

guitars and basses had plain white<br />

‘plates - obviously it’s very subjective<br />

but I felt it was missing a little<br />

something and was a wasted<br />

opportunity, then one day whilst<br />

catching up with a friend whilst I was<br />

exploring the possibilities of<br />

engraving/routing a plain<br />

scratchplate for a decoupage guitar I<br />

was building he told me about some<br />

work he was doing for electric car<br />

charging point displays and BOOM -<br />

that lightbulb moment hit me<br />

between the eyes! The process was<br />

staring me in the face and it seemed

an absolute no-brainer that printed<br />

scratchplates had huge potential -<br />

either commercially or for simply<br />

enhancing what I was building - my<br />

creative juices simply overflowed.”<br />

After testing for over six months, Tim<br />

launched the company in 2014,<br />

“I vividly remember being surrounded<br />

by all flavours of acrylic and umpteen<br />

tests involving different inks and<br />

processes to establish which method<br />

really worked. I thought I cracked it<br />

early on - pun intended - with a<br />

fabulous plate but it just snapped if you<br />

dared to over tighten the mount screws<br />

by a tad, but that along with inks that<br />

faded and various other issues were<br />

overcome one-by-one to give what I<br />

consider to be the best possible result.<br />

I do the lot - from answering enquiries to<br />

packing the screws and popping down<br />

the Post Office, as I’m essentially a oneman<br />

band and I’ve been up-andrunning<br />

for the best part of two years<br />

now. From my very first order I’ve been<br />

totally blown away by the reaction I<br />

received and subsequently the diversity<br />

of plates I produce; I didn’t start the<br />

whole process to become a millionaire<br />

Rodney, just to satisfy my creative urges<br />

and see where it would lead to, but the<br />

feedback I’ve received has been<br />

incredible and it’s a hugely satisfying to<br />

me personally to be able to completely<br />

alter the visual appearance of a guitar<br />

and make it unique for around £35 all-in<br />

- I really do get a kick out of it.”<br />

As for actually producing the<br />

scratchplates, it would seem to be<br />

quite a simple process until you look<br />

under the bonnet.<br />

“In a nutshell, I apply full-colour printed<br />

exterior grade vinyl to shatterproof<br />

acrylic and cut to shape. There - simples!<br />

However, of course every single guitar is<br />

a slightly different shape so there’s a lot<br />

of behind the scenes work in ensuring<br />

that plates fit straight out of the box, plus<br />

of course the plates are countersunk<br />

and shielded on the rear where<br />

necessary.<br />

Design-wise, the chosen image for the<br />

plate can be uploaded to the website -<br />

all you need is a JPEG, although bigger<br />

images naturally yield finer quality than<br />

tiddly ones - or of course there’s an everexpanding<br />

library of innovative designs<br />

online already - and the real beauty of<br />

the website is that it illustrates your<br />

design on your particular coloured<br />

guitar or bass so you really can visualise<br />

exactly how your plate will look - well,<br />

there’s around 70 guitars and basses<br />

available at the moment, but I’m<br />

constantly adding to the range.<br />

Once happy with the design, the order is<br />

placed there and then online with<br />

payment via PayPal or credit card and<br />

in return I do all the necessary including<br />

Emailing a PDF visual/template to ensure<br />

the customer is entirely happy, and<br />

turnaround is approximately one week<br />

from receiving approval to landing on<br />

the door mat.”<br />

In terms of options, they really are<br />

limitless and if you can think it up there is<br />

a fair chance that Tim will be able to do<br />

the honours,

“The beauty of my plates is that<br />

essentially the design is only limited by<br />

your imagination and I can cut to any<br />

shape - so the options are virtually<br />

infinite!<br />

Naturally the design can be anything<br />

that can be printed - so as well as inyer-face<br />

psychedelic designs that you<br />

may initially think would be the most<br />

obvious, subtle patterns and textures<br />

also make fabulous plates - for example<br />

a leather grain or a rusted metal can<br />

look stunning and really do<br />

complement the guitar shape and<br />

colour, as well as being a statement.<br />

In addition to this I’m more than happy<br />

to generate a template for any<br />

instrument - be it a make/model I don’t<br />

already have a template for, or<br />

amending an existing template to a<br />

specific configuration - plus I offer a full<br />

artwork and design service, so<br />

anything’s more than possible!”<br />

At this point we went on to talk about<br />

Tim’s future plans for expanding on the<br />

already successful Scratch-It theme, but<br />

as that is yet to be launched, we’ll<br />

come back to that in another issue of<br />

<strong>4.52am</strong>. Needless to say it will be a<br />

brilliant idea, perfectly executed and<br />

something that has been staring us all in<br />

the face for far too long.<br />

To check out what Scratch-IT are up to,<br />

visit them Here


Golden Years<br />

When people talk about 1960s<br />

Japanese guitars, the focus has always<br />

been on the ‘Lawsuit’ models, the<br />

copies of Gibson and Fender guitars<br />

when both companies had reached a<br />

stage where they had forgotten what a<br />

good one looked like.<br />

This is for a good reason as at their best<br />

they were top quality, but there was a<br />

whole lot more going on than the high<br />

profile copies, and where things really<br />

got interesting was in the guitars<br />

companies like Teisco were making with<br />

their own original designs. As with the<br />

Lawsuit copies, many of these were junk,<br />

whilst some were absolute gems and<br />

half the fun over the intervening<br />

decades has been in hunting out the<br />

good ones at ridiculously cheap prices -<br />

although those days have seemingly<br />

gone looking at Ebay this morning.<br />

We’ll come back again and again to<br />

look at companies like Tokai, Aria,<br />

Kawai, Teisco, Kay and the rest, but<br />

where it really starts to get interesting is<br />

when you look a little closer at what<br />

makes the good ones good, and having<br />

thrown away the awful tuners, cheeselike<br />

pressed steel bridges and comedy<br />

wiring, you are usually left with the wood<br />

- and some of the necks, even when<br />

nailed to plywood bodies can be a<br />

beautiful handful - and some quite<br />

amazing pickups.<br />

And looking at the pickups, some of<br />

them are visually stunning - the<br />

DeArmond moustaches, the Teisco<br />

Gold Foils with their Metal Mickey smile<br />

are so beyond our normal perception<br />

of Strat and Tele single coils, open or<br />

covered humbuckers, that for that<br />

alone they catch the attention. In<br />

terms of how they were designed, I’d<br />

love to know whether their<br />

construction was based on an artist’s<br />

impression of what somebody who<br />

had once seen a photo of a U.S<br />

pickup thought they were made like,<br />

because internally they were<br />

‘functional’ and in terms of<br />

components, they were off the scale.<br />

Moving forward Ry Cooder is often<br />

credited with the re-discovery of what<br />

has generically become known as<br />

Gold Foil Pickups, as alongside a<br />

Valco Lap Steel Pickup, his ‘Cooder<br />

caster’ Strat created some of the late<br />

20th Century’s definitive slide and<br />

blues tones. Those of us with a more<br />

Indie or Goth perspective may point<br />

you at Robert Smith of the Cure<br />

among others, but the point remains<br />

the same, the Gold Foil pickups<br />

whether DeArmond or Teisco style

offer the guitar pimper something quite<br />

different. However, with the real thing<br />

when stripped from old Japanese<br />

guitars not exactly proving reliable, this<br />

has created a gap that the more<br />

enlightened boutique pickup winders<br />

have moved to fill. But what a job there<br />

was ahead of them if they wanted to<br />

do it right.<br />

Personally, the first time I really thought<br />

about Gold Foils was when I was talking<br />

to Marc Ransley of Mojo Pickups. I was<br />

at the time making Jooky Guitars and<br />

Marc had single-handedly improved<br />

their quality 100% once I adopted his<br />

pickups and wiring looms and despite<br />

appearances I’m not totally stupid as I<br />

would often try out anything new or<br />

unusual he was working on. The guitars<br />

were meant to be odd, and this<br />

definitely found them somewhere new<br />

to play. And one thing you soon learn<br />

about Marc is that he is on a mission<br />

from God to re-create some of the most<br />

obscure and brilliant pickups from days<br />

of old. I got to try his recreations of Kay<br />

Speedbumps and Mosrite style pickups,<br />

but the one that genuinely took him<br />

years to my knowledge to recreate<br />

properly was the Gold Foil.<br />

I mentioned above that the<br />

components used in those early<br />

Japanese factories were unusual, and in<br />

trying to recreate the pickups Marc<br />

effectively had to have every single one<br />

of them recrafted from scratch. The<br />

most obvious one is that the Gold Foils<br />

tend to use rubber magnets - read that<br />

again, rubber magnets - rather than the<br />

more traditional Alnico or Ceramic style<br />

ones, and finding a source that makes<br />

such things in both the correct size and

form, was a journey all of its own. These<br />

type of magnets are more usually used<br />

in the doors of ‘fridges to keep them<br />

closed, but even those weren’t good<br />

enough as the sizes were completely<br />

wrong. But the magnets were just a<br />

starting point, think for a minute where<br />

you would go if you were trying to buy<br />

some of the beautiful metal covers the<br />

Gold Foils often boast. You are entering<br />

a whole new world of frustration and<br />

pain. But this is the type of thing that<br />

Marc Ransley does, and you know that<br />

his almost OCD-like attention to detail<br />

means that you won’t see them until<br />

they are perfect and 100% authentic.<br />

Like when I was talking earlier in this<br />

issue about Probett Guitars, ThorpyFX<br />

and Thornton Amplifiers, there is no<br />

concept of ‘Good Enough’, there is a<br />

simple case of right or wrong.<br />

Of course Mojo Pickups aren’t the only<br />

company to make Gold Foils these days,<br />

everybody from Lollar to GFS do their<br />

own take on the magic formula at a<br />

hundred different price points, but<br />

having tried most of the main players<br />

versions, I can honestly say that like his<br />

Jazzmaster pickups before, for me, Marc<br />

has totally nailed what it was that made<br />

the best of the originals something<br />

special, not just replicated a simple take<br />

on the formula, he has gone deeper<br />

than that, and understood what it was<br />

that made them that way.<br />

So how do they sound? From my<br />

perspective they are a beautiful, clean

pickup - perhaps a little like a P90 - that<br />

really come into their own with some<br />

fuzz or light overdrive. Slide definitely<br />

works beautifully, but as a neck pickup<br />

on a Telecaster or when paired with a<br />

Mosrite style pickup, they are all kinds of<br />

beautiful.<br />

Mojo have moved along since I was<br />

buying pickups, and now offer both the<br />

Teisco and DeArmond style Gold Foils,<br />

not only in their original form but also in<br />

a variety of pickup sizes. So whether<br />

you are looking for a different sound for<br />

your Les Paul (there are two or three<br />

styles on offer in standard ‘bucker<br />

shape), want to put a DeArmond Gold<br />

Foil in either a P90 Soapbar rout on your<br />

Les Paul Special or your Dogeared<br />

Junior to give a different sound, there is<br />

something on offer for you. I wouldn’t<br />

want to guess but they even do a Brian<br />

May-esque Gold Foil in ‘Sonic’ form. Just<br />

saying...<br />

In a later edition of <strong>4.52am</strong> we’ll be<br />

looking at Waterslide Guitars who use<br />

both Mojo Pickups’ Gold Foil and their<br />

take on Valvo’s Lap Steel pickups,<br />

something else I know Marc has spent<br />

years perfecting.<br />

Visit Mojo Pickups Here


1954 Maccaferri G40<br />

Another denizen of the Fretboard Forum,<br />

David Mountain and his father have one<br />

of those collections of guitars that when<br />

you see glimpses of them on-line leave<br />

you stunned. David’s speciality is old<br />

Gretsch semi-acoustics, all of which<br />

have been well played and loved,<br />

along with some real rarities such as his<br />

Paul Bigsby guitar.<br />

So in choosing to share with you David’s<br />

1954 Maccaferri G40, which has clearly<br />

been either ‘un’ or little played as it is still<br />

in the original shipping cellophane and<br />

cardboard box, with all of the<br />

paperwork that would have come with<br />

it, I am probably being a little obtuse (I<br />

mean, I’m sure you would probably<br />

prefer to be looking at one of David’s<br />

Falcons, but they can fly another day).<br />

So why did I choose this?Well in truth it is<br />

because these Maccaferris have long<br />

fascinated me. For a start they are<br />

made of plastic, but don’t ever be<br />

mistaken in thinking that makes them<br />

some sort of toy, they were put together<br />

as top quality instruments. Indeed, the<br />

designer, Mario Maccaferri became an<br />

apprentice to the Italian luthier Luigi<br />

Mozzani at the age of eleven and<br />

served his time - he knew exactly what<br />

he was doing and the G40 boasts<br />

proper bracing. After a number of years<br />

working as both a guitarist and luthier<br />

in Italy, Mario moved to the USA in<br />

1939 and became fascinated by the<br />

possibilities plastic offered him. Over<br />

time he would develop a number of<br />

instruments, including woodwind,<br />

ukulele and in 1954 his guitar.<br />

The G40 was made for Mario in New<br />

York using Stryon plastic and originally<br />

sold for $39.95. It is hard to estimate its<br />

current worth, but one is on ebay for<br />

£895 as I write this, so that would seem<br />

a likely value.<br />

I’d like to thank David for sharing the<br />

Maccaferri with us, and for opening<br />

his doors so that we can see his other<br />

fantastic guitars over the coming<br />

months. As ever all errors are my own.


The Accomplished Badger<br />

Over the last five years or so, Londonbased<br />

Fredric Effects have quietly<br />

established themselves as one of the<br />

best of the UK’s Boutique Effect Pedal<br />

Makers.<br />

Led by the charismatic Tim Webster,<br />

they have dug out a niche where top<br />

quality pedals can be handmade using<br />

the best components in such numbers<br />

that it has made it possible for them to<br />

keep the prices realistic.<br />

For your working or simply gigging<br />

guitarist and bass player this has made a<br />

world of difference and any number of<br />

professional players have found one of<br />

their effects a permanent fixture on their<br />

boards.<br />

It didn’t come as a surprise to me when I<br />

was speaking to one, very well-known<br />

player recently and he said that he had<br />

replaced his original Klon with a Fredric<br />

Effects King of Klone, as it was little<br />

different in terms of tone, but the well<br />

thought out flexibility it offered him was<br />

something he found he couldn’t live<br />

without.<br />

Next time he is playing Wembley it is<br />

good to know that there is something<br />

Boutique and British at the front of the<br />

stage with him.<br />

So knowing all of this, it was with<br />

excitement that I heard that Fredric<br />

were launching a new<br />

overdrive/boost pedal, to be named<br />

with their usual style, The<br />

Accomplished Badger which retails at<br />

a ridiculously cheap £95.<br />

I’ll let them describe it...<br />

“The Fredric Effects Accomplished<br />

Badger is an original two stage boost,<br />

with an opamp buffer/boost driving a<br />

Germanium transistor gain stage. The<br />

Germanium transistors used are<br />

individually selected vintage new-oldstock<br />

components, tested for optimal<br />

gain and low leakage. Because of the<br />

nature of these two gain stages, the<br />

Accomplished Badger can be used as<br />

a sparkly clean boost, to just push an<br />

amp to breakup, or for a grittier<br />

saturated sound like a torn speaker or<br />

an overloaded recording desk tone.<br />

More versatile than straight clean<br />

boosts, and the sort of effect you may<br />

not want to turn off, the<br />

Accomplished Badger is a very useful<br />

pedal to have around.”<br />

Visit Fredric Effects Here


Chi Rho<br />

I mentioned earlier that we had asked<br />

members of the Fretboard to share their<br />

guitars with us over here in <strong>4.52am</strong>-land,<br />

but it wasn’t just their Vintage ones we<br />

were interested in, we also wanted to<br />

see the ones they had made for<br />

themselves.<br />

This one is something I remember vividly<br />

from John White’s thread on the forum,<br />

and it is a beautiful Telecaster as you<br />

can no doubt see. It features a P90<br />

soapbar at the neck and a PAF style<br />

bridge humbucker and the perfect<br />

accompaniment for any Tele a Bigsby.<br />

In building it, John took a leaf out of<br />

Brian May’s well-thumbed book and<br />

built the neck from the mahogany<br />

taken from an old fireplace, and as his<br />

first guitar build, making it from lumps<br />

of wood put him way ahead of me, I<br />

have to say. I love the detail of the<br />

finish too - a totally quality build all<br />



Welcome to the House of Fun<br />

Back in the Summer of 2013, after<br />

limping along unloved by its<br />

disinterested owners at Future Publishing<br />

for what felt like aeons, the slow,<br />

advertisement-bloated forum at Music<br />

Radar finally died a death leaving a<br />

collective-noun (vacuous?) of GASladen<br />

guitarists with nowhere to chat,<br />

advise, buy and sell and generally do<br />

what chaps with a shared interest do to<br />

indulge their obsession.<br />

But guitarists are nothing if not practical<br />

and within a few days the ironically<br />

named EmperorFabulous had set-up a<br />

lo-fi ‘lifeboat’ forum, where the<br />

members who found it (and an amazing<br />

number of them did over the coming<br />

weeks) could convene and decide<br />

what to do next. This is probably a good<br />

point to mention, for anybody who<br />

doesn’t frequent forums, that strange<br />

nom-de-plumes are a given, so don’t<br />

judge. Not even the deluded Mr<br />

Fabulous.<br />

Over the next few days and weeks - this<br />

all happened amazingly quickly - it was<br />

decided by some equally oddly<br />

monikered chaps, we’ll call them TTony,<br />

Monquixote, Digitalscream,<br />

SporkyMcGuffin and DDLooping as that<br />

is their self-given names, that whilst the<br />

lifeboat was nice, if there was going to<br />

be an alternative to MusicRadar<br />

(which by this point clearly wasn’t<br />

coming back) that they should do it<br />

properly, with all mod-cons. And so<br />

they did, at double-quick speed.<br />

Such was their double-quickness that<br />

within 6 days, they had sorted out the<br />

server (it is self-hosted which made life<br />

easier,) the software, the design and<br />

even seeded it with some initial<br />

content.<br />

Rumour has it that on the 7th day they<br />

went to the pub.<br />

So with either Katy Perry or Ellie<br />

Goulding at number one, I forget<br />

which, in August 2013 theFretBoard<br />

was launched and it was unlike any<br />

music forum seen in the UK before. For<br />

a start it was UK-centric and selffunded.<br />

One of the founding team’s<br />

principles was that their brand new<br />

forum wouldn’t be plagued by any of<br />

the usual pop-up, sidebar or<br />

anywhere-else annoying adverts. If<br />

the site needed money the members<br />

would donate - and as the founding<br />

fathers between them had all the<br />

know-how and resources needed to<br />

launch and keep running a forum of<br />

its potential size, longevity was<br />

guaranteed from the start. As well as<br />

avoiding ads, the team also decided

that they wanted to keep the rules<br />

simple, straightforward and clear, but<br />

the key one covered a lot of ground,<br />

that being ‘Don’t Be A Dick’, and there<br />

was very little arguing with either the<br />

few-rules principle or the guiding overrule.<br />

Naturally, its membership exploded (in<br />

numbers) as word got around to those<br />

that hadn’t found the lifeboat, and<br />

then spread further that there was<br />

something special going on.<br />

Moving forward to <strong>2016</strong>, you would<br />

expect perspective to give us the usual<br />

tale of an arc that saw an initial rise<br />

level out, excitement dim and a slow<br />

decline as members leave in slightly<br />

higher numbers than new ones arrive,<br />

or perhaps an Animal Farm style<br />

morphing of the owners into troughploughing-two-legs-good-piggies.<br />

It is<br />

the story of most online forums or sites,<br />

after all.<br />

theFretBoard is again different and not<br />

only have the number of members<br />

continued to rise to levels that see it as<br />

the UK’s biggest and most active forum<br />

of its type, it has very cleverly ‘added<br />

value’ by encouraging UK guitar<br />

businesses to join the site and take an<br />

active part either in their own ‘Made in<br />

the UK’ section or in the more general<br />

areas of the site. And it is the latter<br />

approach that the clever businesses<br />

have taken, seeing perhaps a captive<br />

GAS-ridden market that is supportive of<br />

‘their own’ - which is what regular<br />

visitors, business representatives or not<br />

soon become if they genuinely join-in -<br />

and indeed many small businesses<br />

have grown out of theFretBoard, either<br />

being launched by members or we<br />

have seen existing businesses blossom<br />

just by being there.<br />

But it isn’t all about business, and<br />

however twee it sounds there has<br />

always been a family feel to the<br />

FretBoard that I’ve never seen on a<br />

forum before.<br />

In the last few years I’ve seen births<br />

celebrated, illness supported, legal<br />

advice given, evictions avoided, a<br />

million lucky poos to guide us through<br />

life’s challenges and even the tragedy<br />

of a member blogging his last days and<br />

being remembered and celebrated a<br />

year later on. I’ve been on both ends of<br />

the forum’s largesse, it can be quite<br />

humbling, always touching, never<br />

cynically given.<br />

The bottom line is that it is about guitars<br />

(even basses!), their amps, fx and any<br />

aspect thereof. The forum members - of<br />

which there are now close to 7,000 - will<br />

happily dispense wisdom and opinion<br />

(sometimes the former as the latter, and<br />

sometimes the latter as the former) on<br />

anything related to their hobby. Got<br />

£200 to spend on a new guitar - ask here<br />

and you’ll get plenty of options. Ditto if<br />

you’ve got £2000. Or if you’ve just<br />

splashed the cash and want to share<br />

pics, you’ll get plenty of appreciative<br />

comment and support. If something<br />

isn’t quite right and if you need to know<br />

what sort of valves to put into a 1965<br />

Silvertone head, why you have a buzz at<br />

the 19th fret of your B-string, the best<br />

person to rewind your pickups or how to<br />

get a dent out of your guitar neck with a

damp tea towel and a steam iron, this<br />

is the place to ask and if you can<br />

manage to avoid the extremely<br />

addictive Classifieds section, there is<br />

even plenty of support for your playing.<br />

And the strangest thing about this<br />

incredible online community of<br />

guitarists? Actually, there are a few<br />

strange things, but for me the strangest<br />

has to be that it’s all free. Subscription<br />

free, fee free, ad free, and largely dick<br />

free too. A massive repository of<br />

knowledge, access to some real<br />

expertise and advice, and all freely<br />

available to anyone who can navigate<br />

to theFretBoard.co.uk. In fact, one<br />

thing I’m proud to say is that over the<br />

coming weeks in <strong>4.52am</strong> and then in<br />

Guitar Quarterly, we will be working with<br />

theFretBoard to launch and follow one<br />

of their regular music challenges - but<br />

more on that soon. It is going to be epic<br />

though, of that I’m sure.<br />

So if you haven’t braved a guitar forum<br />

before, or been put off by the ‘experts’<br />

and cliques that seem to infest many of<br />

them, maybe you should check out<br />

theFretBoard. You get out more than<br />

you put in, it is as simple as that. Just<br />

don’t be a dick. In fact, if you’ve just<br />

read the rest of this article, I’m surprised<br />

that you’ve not already headed over to<br />

theFretBoard.co.uk to check it out and<br />

sign-up. Just Click Here


Monterey Strat<br />

When I saw this guitar being put together by David Witchalls and the always<br />

awesome Rich Rendall of Rendall’s Restorations, I couldn’t hope to guess how<br />

impressive it would end-up being. I should know better, of course, having seen<br />

and owned many examples of Mr R.’s work, but the attention to detail getting this<br />

exactly right took was worth every second of applause.<br />

There is a thread over at the Fretboard you can follow to see what pain they went<br />



Weekend Rockstars<br />

I must admit I was fully expecting this<br />

novel to be a little on the ropey side.<br />

Musicians who write books can be<br />

boring in the extreme and as for being in<br />

a band, all those little in-jokes that help<br />

you pass the time, well, they aren’t<br />

exactly known for travelling well. In-jokes<br />

in books just aren’t a good idea.<br />

So I sat down with my copy of Dave<br />

Holwill’s debut novel Weekend Rockstars<br />

and gritted my teeth. Taking one for the<br />

team, as it were, and I got stuck in.<br />

First things first, wow, Mr Holwill can write.<br />

Not just ‘He can write for a musician’,<br />

the chap has proper ‘chops’, and he<br />

can definitely tell a story.<br />

Yes, as I have been in the odd band I<br />

recognise the awful cringe-factor of<br />

some of the people and situations he<br />

describes, and I’m sure anybody who<br />

has ever shared a stage or rehearsal<br />

room with Dave will be looking at him<br />

askew and wondering, but he uses the<br />

characters well in what (surprisingly, I<br />

really should have read the blurb) is a<br />

very funny, British romantic comedy.<br />

A classic British romantic comedy in fact,<br />

that I genuinely think stands up against<br />

the best out there - if Nick Hornby had<br />

written this, it would already have been<br />

optioned for a film, hit the Bestsellers list<br />

and wouldn’t be half as good as it is,<br />

because what the hell does he know<br />

about being in a covers band? I ask<br />

you.<br />

I think the thing that impresses me<br />

most is that I genuinely believed and<br />

identified with all of the characters. I<br />

spent a lot of time in the dim and<br />

distant past reading first novels, and I<br />

think I could count on one-and-a-bit<br />

hands how many wrote believable<br />

characters, genuine dialogue and<br />

resisted the urge to throw every idea<br />

they had ever had in, just to make<br />

sure. A little like the first issue of a<br />

magazine. Dave doesn’t fall into any<br />

of those traps, so kudos for that.<br />

In summary then, I’ve deliberately not<br />

gone for the reviewer’s cop-out and<br />

described the story in depth, as if you<br />

are reading this magazine you will<br />

definitely enjoy it and it is only a click<br />

away.<br />

As for Dave, he is writing a second<br />

novel now, and whether it involves<br />

bands or not, I genuinely can’t wait.<br />

Treat Yourself to Weekend Rockstars,<br />

you really won’t be disappointed, just<br />

Click Here.


Destroy Something Beautiful E.P<br />

It seems a long time since Chasing<br />

Cadences announced that this E.P was<br />

going to be released, but it was<br />

definitely worth the wait.<br />

Opening with the crushing ‘It's Not The<br />

Length That Counts, It's What You Do<br />

With It’ this sets their stall out as a serious<br />

rock band – Nu Grunge guitars and<br />

some searing rock vocals are<br />

hypnotically underpinned by excellent<br />

bass and extreme drums. This is a top,<br />

top quality rock song that immediately<br />

shows the maturity of this four piece –<br />

there are bands that have been around<br />

for years that can’t get near this and it is<br />

a great pointer for their first album.<br />

The second track ‘Harbour’ shows a<br />

calmer side to the band with some<br />

superb riffs replacing the crushing power<br />

of the opener, and the vocals showing<br />

emotion amid some controlled power. A<br />

lesser band could find themselves<br />

veering toward pop, but this is carefully<br />

constructed as layers continue to be<br />

added until it achieves a screaming<br />

climax. This is a hell of a song and why it<br />

isn’t being touted as a single in its own<br />

right I really don’t know. Seriously, if you<br />

do nothing else, check this song out,<br />

you’ll thank me later.<br />

Moving on to ‘Watching the World’<br />

we are in similar territory, not that that<br />

is a criticism, more that as a band they<br />

are consolidating their manor by<br />

scenting the corners of the yard. For<br />

another band I’d be raving about this<br />

track, but after the openers I am<br />

looking for something that will<br />

genuinely blow me away.<br />

And by fantastic coincidence, that is<br />

what ‘Everyone Relax’ does, and jeez<br />

if it isn’t a ballad, or at least that is<br />

what they want you to think.<br />

It starts with a very definite<br />

Evanescence vibe, some brilliant,<br />

almost Celtic sounding vocals,<br />

exquisite drumming, but the real<br />

genius is in the tourettes guitar – just<br />

when you think you are getting<br />

something simple and predictable it<br />

all goes cray-zee. It is an awesome<br />

song and the perfect way to nail the<br />

E.P once and for all.<br />

As a band, they are really going<br />

places, but like everybody else these<br />

days they need support. So check<br />

them out and if you like them, stump<br />

up, it is as simple as that.<br />

Visit Chasing Cadence Here<br />

Buy their E.P. Here


Breaking Up The Silence<br />

It is always difficult to review an album<br />

that comes out shortly after the band<br />

has come to an end. It is doubly so<br />

when they have produced an album<br />

that is genuinely excellent in every way<br />

as there is an element of grief, a shadow<br />

cast by what might have been and<br />

annoyance that you never got off your<br />

arse and went and saw them play live.<br />

And quite seriously, if Proud Honey<br />

sound as fresh, vibrant and well, vital as<br />

this when recorded I can only dream of<br />

how good they were live.<br />

I just hope that given a little time they<br />

will get back together and I can start<br />

checking Easyjet for flights to the frozen<br />

north.<br />

In the meantime, I will just have to<br />

continue to spend crazy-silly amounts of<br />

time listening to their Dear John album,<br />

but what an album it is.<br />

From the start the band treat us to an<br />

opener of such extravagance in the<br />

shape of ‘Taranchlia’ it could easily<br />

have found a home on the Stone Roses’<br />

best album, Second Coming, with some<br />

of the sweetest guitar playing I have<br />

heard in years. This is a hell of a<br />

statement piece and you quite simply<br />

could loop it for the day and still find<br />

yourself noticing new licks or fills and<br />

shaking your head over them, such is<br />

their majesty.<br />

From there it is an easy step forward to<br />

‘Fallen Star’ which has all the cocky,<br />

in-your-face guts of one of Oasis finest.<br />

In fact, Noel would kill to remember<br />

how to write a song like this, and I<br />

don’t think any version of Oasis was<br />

ever as tight as Proud Honey were<br />

here.<br />

Moving on to ‘You Can’t Buy Style’<br />

with a nod to the Kinks, we escape a<br />

feeling of a Brit-pop or Baggy revival<br />

as the band serve up a beautifully<br />

measured helping of old fashioned<br />

pop music with a side-order of Mod<br />

and that is a glorious place to be.<br />

It is as the album develops that you<br />

really get to see just how good<br />

musically the band were. The drum<br />

and bass are tight, the vocals are<br />

character-filled and compelling but in<br />

Hugh Frizell on guitar there was always<br />

an ‘out ball’, with his uncanny knack<br />

of providing the perfect fill or sound –<br />

never overplaying and always tasteful.<br />

Something that is immediately<br />

apparent when ‘Mazlow’s Dogs’<br />

opens with some beautiful acoustic<br />

guitar and plaintive vocals, before

turning into a real joy of a song and a<br />

massive Faces-style ending.<br />

“All The Things You’ve Done’ is a great<br />

power song with vocals almost hitting<br />

Placebo territory at times and some<br />

serious balls-out rock guitar bringing a<br />

smile locally, I must admit.<br />

Speaking to Hugh Frizell about the<br />

guitars used on the album, it was no<br />

surprise to find that it was pretty much<br />

vintage all the way, with the main<br />

guitar parts being recorded using a<br />

1962 Gibson ES345 and a 1970 Gibson<br />

Gold Top. Other parts or overdubs were<br />

covered with an old ‘70s EKO 12-string<br />

acoustic, a 1950s TV Junior doublecut<br />

and the legendary Shugzocaster, a<br />

relic Jazzmaster style guitar Hugh put<br />

together himself.<br />

Talking about the recording, Hugh<br />

explained that<br />

“Breaking Up The Silence was recorded<br />

from spring 2014 until early 2015 so onoff<br />

over about a year. Gigs took away<br />

a lot of time so it probably didn't<br />

actually take us that long, maybe 2 or 3<br />

weeks plus mastering, but spread out<br />

over a year.<br />

It was recorded at two studios.<br />

Chem19, in Hamiltion just outside<br />

Glasgow and CaVa Studios Glasgow. It<br />

was produced by Proud Honey and<br />

engineered by Geoff Allan.”<br />

I also asked him that horrible ‘What do<br />

you think of the album now it is out’<br />

question, and fair play to him he took<br />

the time to answer me,<br />

“I think the album stands up. Yeah,<br />

there's always stuff you'd change. If I<br />

have one regret is there was a few<br />

unfinished songs that we did not get on<br />

it. That again was more due to time<br />

constraints. If I'm honest I'd have loved a<br />

couple of those in it too. There's stuff as a<br />

player I hear and quite fancy another<br />

crack or approach at it, but it is what it is<br />

and maybe that gives it a sound. We<br />

certainly had to work efficiently as the<br />

album really was made on a shoestring<br />

budget.<br />

There's some parts though I'm very<br />

happy with and don't think I'll top but<br />

you never know!”<br />

And whilst I could describe the rest of<br />

the songs for you, you will enjoy it so<br />

much more if you go and listen for<br />

yourself, and if you never got to see<br />

Proud Honey live, well, we’ll just have to<br />

console ourselves with what is a quite<br />

beautiful historical document of their<br />

existence.<br />

You can read all about them Here<br />

You can buy this wonderful album Here


A Thousand Times<br />

OK, cards on the table from the start<br />

here – I absolutely love The Spitfires. I<br />

love the fact that they may as well<br />

come from Woking, I love the fact that<br />

they not only bring Mod back from the<br />

death one-more-time, but I love the fact<br />

that they do it so well and better still,<br />

they do it so well without going all<br />

pastiche and cover-band-ish.<br />

There is no need for them to raise a<br />

knowing ‘brow as for once it isn’t a<br />

cynical thing we all have to go along<br />

with, these chaps are in it for real and if<br />

they can’t use an acoustic guitar<br />

without referencing That’s Entertainment<br />

who cares, Weller couldn’t do it without<br />

nodding at Pinball Wizard, the wheel<br />

turns, deal with it.<br />

And don’t get me wrong, for every<br />

Weller snarl or Townsend whirlwind, there<br />

is some serious bite to them. In some<br />

ways they remind me of early Ocean<br />

Colour Scene, when they were being<br />

tipped as the band of the ‘90s and had<br />

more in common with the Charlatans<br />

than the Jam, as there is that lovely ‘60s<br />

Marriottness about them that at times<br />

means they are only a floppy haired<br />

organist away from being the only one I<br />

know.<br />

But don’t get me wrong, we aren’t<br />

talking about a cover band here, The<br />

Spitfires are the real deal and they<br />

have songs that any of their heroes<br />

would have loved to have written.<br />

So forget cynicism, pull up a chair and<br />

treat yourself, I hope The Spitfires are<br />

here to stay as they are seriously going<br />

places and they are cool places we<br />

haven’t visited for a while.<br />

Read all about them Here<br />

Buy their wonderful album Here

MOUSES<br />

Mouses<br />

Sometimes you want sweet, beautifully<br />

crafted pop songs, there is no law<br />

against it. 3 minutes long, perfectly<br />

structured with a verse, a chorus, a welldefined<br />

bridge and everything else.<br />

In a perfect world - and to be totally<br />

honest I’m completely wasting my time<br />

here if you haven’t got the ambition to<br />

want a perfect world - it really should<br />

taste of kalai.<br />

Preferably raspberry kalai.<br />

And then of course, there are those<br />

other times, those other times when you<br />

want dirty, stinking, foul, misbegotten<br />

waves of lo-fi, fuzz-drenched, noisnikness<br />

and you want people to use the word<br />

existential without worrying about<br />

having to rhyme it.<br />

That too is a laudable aim for any man<br />

or woman.<br />

But the thing too many people forget is<br />

that these seemingly differing needs<br />

don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We<br />

don’t live in a Venn Diagram world<br />

where the curvy lines bounce off each<br />

other. No, instead we can have a world<br />

of both kalai and of fuzz all at the same<br />

time, we can have beautifully crafted<br />

pop songs that spit and snarl in your<br />

face. We can have dirty stinking<br />

noisiness with shiny white teeth and<br />

candy floss hair.<br />

And now I know you want to ask me<br />

how I know such a thing, how can I<br />

possibly tell? Well, it is simple my<br />

friends, it is because I have spent the<br />

last three hours listening to the Mouses<br />

eponymously named album, and they<br />

have fuzz, and they have dirty lo-fi<br />

magic, they even have snarling, but<br />

they also have quite beautiful, perfect<br />

pop songs and my world is definitely a<br />

better place for it. It is like Frank Black<br />

discovered brushed-nylon.<br />

You can read all about them there<br />

Mouses Here<br />

You can buy their wonderful album<br />


Dear Abby<br />

Our Very Own Agony Aunt<br />

Every week Abby, with her 75 years’ experience of drilling the left-hand tuner holes on<br />

3x3 Set-Neck guitars in Nashville, will share her limitless knowledge with readers.<br />

Dear Abby,<br />

I’m the proud owner of a delightful Gibson Rick Nielsen 1959 Les Paul Replicated,<br />

which as I am sure you know is one of only 50 replicas of Rick’s own 1959 guitar. I<br />

have to admit that I didn’t know who Rick was, but if Gibson felt it was worth<br />

microscopically replicating his guitar then I am sure I should bow to their wisdom.<br />

Imagine my horror when after a few weeks of owning her, I had stopped polishing,<br />

sharing photographs on MyLesPaul, tweeting, Instagramming and everything else<br />

and plugged ‘Bessie’ into my collectable NOS (New Old Stock) Line 6 Spider III<br />

combo amplifier and rather than that-sound-in-my-head the brochure promised,<br />

heard something I can only describe as “fizzy.”<br />

Now, I immediately asked on a forum or two and have read about these things and<br />

straight away I had my wonderful tech replace the pickups with some rare<br />

unobtanium Tom Holmes PAF replicas he happened to have in his drawer, the wiring<br />

with the correct ‘50s wire, some original Bumble Bee capacitors, and generally<br />

exchanged all of the parts apart from the wood with original 1959 versions my<br />

wonderful tech had collected at exorbitant cost over the years from eBay, but I’m<br />

heartbroken to report that it has helped, not a jot. It doesn’t even look any different in<br />

the photos I uploaded to The Les Paul Forum.<br />

At this point my wonderful tech said that he had been concerned that the problem<br />

was deeper than originally envisaged and went on to suggest that whilst Gibson do in<br />

fact use Hide Glue to connect the neck thing to the body, that ever since the<br />

heretically dark ages of Norlin, the glue is derived from longhorn cattle rather than<br />

the extremely rare, yet highly tuneful Great White or albino Buffalo that were plentiful<br />

in the 1950s until Gibson boiled them down by the herd. Now, I hadn’t heard of this,<br />

even on The Gear Page, but apparently it is true and something Ted Nugent<br />

immortalised on his song ’Great White Buffalo’, and let’s face it, what Ted doesn’t<br />

know about glue isn’t worth knowing.<br />

But to my question Abby, in your considerable experience, do you feel that I should<br />

ship my Gibson Rick Nielsen 1959 Les Paul Replicated to my wonderful tech’s cousin in<br />

Minnesota (who as I am sure you know have a White Buffalo on their state flag), so<br />

that the glue holding the neck thing on to the body can be replaced with the proper<br />

adhesive? I am clearly at the limit of my wits, so your advice would be gratefully<br />

received.<br />

Wilton Boo Curtis-Smythe IV

Dear Wilton<br />

Are you for real? I mean, wow, like are you for freakin’ real?????<br />

So lemme get this straights, you spend like what? Nine freakin’ grand on a guitar and you<br />

no know who this Rick guy is? He Cheap Trick Wilton, he Cheap Trick, any 4kwit know that.<br />

And ‘nother thing, this Rick dude, he plays Hamers, always played Hamers, loads of them,<br />

five neck Hamers and like, everythin’. Jesus Wilton, you for freakin’ real?<br />

And you wanna know why your 9 grand guitar sounds fizzy? You wanna knows Wilton, then<br />

I tell you. Abby gonna tell you why. It be ‘cos you playing through some shitty amp Wilton.<br />

You playing your 9 grand guitar through some 50 buck eBay clunker. You killin’ it Wilton,<br />

might as well plug it into yo’ ass. Stick it in yo’ ass Wilton. Or better still, stick it in yo’<br />

wonderful tech’s ass Wilton, cos that boy he stiffin’ you already, know what I’m sayin’<br />

Wilton? He not got no Tom’s in his drawer and he ain’t got no ‘59 parts hangin’ ‘round<br />

waiting, he ain’t do nuffink Wilton, he stiffin’ yo’ - and yo’ keep on comin’ back for more.<br />

Jeezus Wilton, you just some kinda fool.<br />

But yeah, anyway, I’m a pensioner now Wilton so I cut you some slack and I tell yo’ what<br />

yo’ really need do. First get yo’self a real amp for freak sake. Get a real amp Wilton. Then<br />

send me yo’ guitar Wilton, and I get rid of that shitty glue theys use these days to hold the<br />

frets on and put the proper fish glue the originals used, know what I’m sayin’ Wilton. Proper<br />

Marlin glue. That’s like Abby’s secret man, only me knows the fish they really use back then<br />

Wilton, only me and yo’ betters not put that on no My Les Paul - sheet.<br />

So ditch yo’ wonderful tech and send me yo’ guitar Wilton wid a nice fat check, and for<br />

freak sake get a proper amp, man, you just like crazy or summink.<br />

Abby<br />

If you have a question for Abby Martinez-Hernandez, feel free to email<br />

Please note: Abby does not sign pickups. Ever.<br />

That was somebody else.


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Dear Abby.<br />

dearabby@guitarquarterly.co.uk<br />

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All content © Guitar Quarterly <strong>2016</strong>. No parts<br />

may be reproduced or stored in any format<br />

without the express written permission of the<br />

publisher<br />

Articles/Reviews: MD, NJ, LP, FM, TJ & RT<br />

Artwork: MD, FJ<br />

Design: MD, JM & TJ<br />

Photo Credits:<br />

Julia Jacklin: Nick McKinlay<br />

Kamikaze Girls: Katie McMillan<br />

Microdance: Microdance<br />

The FretBoard : Adrian Thorpe<br />

ThorpyFX: Adrian Thorpe<br />

Monterey Strat: David Witchalls<br />

Chi Rho: John White<br />

Probett Rocket ’59: Damian Probett<br />

Thornton Dexter: Andrew Thornton<br />

Scratch-It Pickguards: Tim Allen<br />

Mojo Gold Foil: Marc Ransley<br />

Fredric Effects: Tim Webster<br />

Maccaferri: David Mountain<br />

1942 Gibson L50: Alan Moorhouse<br />

David Holwill: Jolyon Holroyd<br />

Photographics<br />

Chasing Cadence: Chasing Cadence<br />

Mouses: Mouses<br />

Spitfires: Spitfires<br />

Proud Honey: Hugh Frizell<br />

Santana Band: Maryanne Bilham<br />

Health & Beauty: Julia Dratel<br />

Kishi Bashi: Shervin Lainez<br />

New Portals: New Portals<br />

Skinny Lister: David Edwards<br />

Talco: Talco<br />

Ultimate Painting: John Sturdy

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