glimpses of nirvana

That’s what the British Rock Group Procol Harum (also one of my favorites) called it on their enigmatic tune “In Held Twas In I”.

And that’s what I was so blessed to experience through music and sound these days. After a period of uneasy waiting, desperately seeking for something to do while my only motivation was to expand my musical environment in order to take the next step – now the really best amplifier I ever heard with electric guitar finally hit my studio. And it’s mine.

I suppose only few of you can imagine how – well, non-materialistic, almost spiritual such an experience can be. Unless you are infected by the same virus as me, it may be just an amplifier to you, designed to annoy the neighborhood.

But it’s much more. It brings a vision into life. It fulfills a lifetime dream of mine, one I didn’t even really know I had, for lack of knowledge. Well, I only knew this amplifier’s bigger brother, the legendary AC 30, when I was young, but nevertheless this is the final point of a several years’ research, of my search for the right amplifier. This one has the smoothest and most pleasant high frequency response I ever heard. It’s just the right size for my studio and it makes any guitar shine…

To explain the cult around a thing one could consider as a simple tool: for electric guitar players the amplifier is just an extension of their instruments, almost part of these or rather one out of two instruments played simultaneously. A tube amplifier kind of develops a life of his own, reacting to the dynamics of the player in a very individual and vivid way.

So it’s no wonder the whole thing turns me (the player in this case) upside down. It will also take some time until things get settled in order to record new material with this new equipment for the blog. I have several amplifiers here to be tested in different settings with different speaker cabinets, some of them being loans. Everything needs to be built up from scratch now, until I will hopefully regain command over my equipment.

While I am feeling like a pioneer and an archaeologist at the same time, delightfully plunging into sound, I must have you waiting. There are some posts on stockpile, though. So as you can continue listening and looking here, you will now know what I’ll be doing in the meantime…

The Vox AC 15 Heritage is an anniversary reissue of the very first Vox amplifier which was introduced in 1957. With the lights low, you can see the tubes glowing behind the “diamond pattern cloth”. Much better than watching TV!

obsessive modification

How I sanded and modified a guitar I had disliked for 18 years.

why this dusty kind of work rescued my soul

Did I ever like the color gray? I can’t remember I have… but owning this guitar for nearly two decades I have repressed the notion from the beginning.

Though – now that it’s past recovery… I guess it looks better than in real life here. Must be the camera…

Surprise! Underneath the gray appears a layer of blue. But it had been perfectly hidden. At this stage at least 8 layers of paint have already been removed.

First glimpses of wood

Nothing but wood left. And it looks nice, except for the dark primer.

No primer left

Painted anew. Few strats look like that.

Electronic upgrade kit installed – now waiting for new pickups…

bye, bye Stratocaster (1)


I already told you. “My old guitar”, the rare Fender one, is not really mine.

But in between it almost felt like it was mine, since I have spent several months with this instrument of special vibes, and we had quite a few experiences together. Moments that felt a little uneasy because my hands don’t like the neck and fingerboard (I’m a Gibson Player), and moments of great appreciation of it’s rich tone that resonated with me…

So parting with it feels ambiguous, too. I’m glad I explored its potential as far as I could by improvising regularly, by recording as many tracks as possible, making up many posts here and doing drafts for some songs I’m going to work on later.

With a tear in my eye I am proud to present some of the very last recordings I made with this guitar. Recordings done without a purpose, just to “jot down” the sounds of the 1967 Stratocaster, that a friend of mine fetched today. He has every right to do that, as it’s his guitar. Rather, I’d like to thank Thomas for his generosity. En lieu of the guitar he left me something equally precious I will soon write about.

Just a few minutes ago they both headed for a far away town, and this is my “bye, bye”. (There will be another installment coming soon.)

قناع الشعر المعجزة

tube trem


I simply love this effects pedal by GP-Lightstone (Germany) that is also a visual attraction. The alternating illumination of yellow and red makes me want to dim the lights when playing or recording, giving me feeling of dwelling in front of a fireplace on a winter evening. It can reinforce your imagination and thus inspire you.

Well, but it bears a superb sound quality, too. I found it gave a more tube-like bias to any sound I had prepared before, and so keep it activated whenever I play. Not only serves it as a tremolo effect (like the one you find in old Fender amplifiers), but also as a tube booster that enhances the guitar signal.

Back in the psychedelic days (1967) guitar players eagerly tried to contort their sounds – but there was hardly anything besides tremolo and reverb… So they turned them up to maximum, and off you go!

guitar & gear: ’67 stratocaster, Vox ToneLab, Tube Trem

synchronicity and the Vox AC 50


During my long lasting search for genuine 60’s sounds I experienced several cases of synchronicity: first a friend of mine purchased an original 1967 Fender Stratocaster guitar, which is an absolute rarity, and I was so lucky to receive the request to restore it. Many of the sound tracks on this blog were played on this very special guitar. Mind you, 1967 was the year of psychedelic music!

Few weeks later an acquaintance told me he owned a real old amplifier plus a speaker cabinet, but he was forced to store it in the attic for lack of space in his house. I could have it assembled in my studio, if I liked to. Of course I liked to!

It turned out to be a Vox AC 50, equipment also used by The Beatles, and its manufacturing date must be around 1965. It was in a rather bad condition, the speaker cones rotten, and all the knobs on the amplifier crackling for slack joints. Much more repair work was required than I could accomplish.

But just around the time when I was pondering what to do, I met an old friend from school, whose job was exactly repairing amplifiers! Could anybody be as fortunate as me?

Sparing you the details, after multiple efforts I ended up having just the authentic equipment for my future creative plans without paying that much for it. The power of the universe had colluded to provide what I needed – that’s what it felt like. So for me this is not about technical facts and such – it’s about synchronicity. And smell.

Smell? Well, the so-called vintage equipment has a smell of its own, known as a fact among vintage freaks. And it’s true. Like incense, there is an inspiring smell of old wood and spices in my studio, reminding me of the vibration of a distant past. The amplifier spreads its perfume all over my room whenever it’s switched on.

Sound? Oh, I forgot: the stack sounds fantastic, not with any guitar and depending on the situation, but I’d definitely miss something without it.

guitar & gear: what you see is what you hear

bass solo


A bass solo is what you usually realize has happened when it’s over, and the rest of the band joins in again. To be witnessed in Jazz caverns, or, on record, back in the hippie days: even the drummer and the bass player were allowed to solo, sometimes during the same song (overly democratic as these times used to be).

Most of the time a bass solo is so low (in both senses), many people only perceive the lowering of the overall volume…

But this little piece of music here is different, since there are no other instruments. So if you notice there’s music, you notice the bass solo.

bass & gear: Gibson EB3 bass, SWR SM 400 amplifier

Of course I wore my long hair wig when playing this!

space echo

Space Echo[audio:space-echo.mp3]

A trip into deep space (or rather my studio at its dimmest) by means of the good old Roland Space Echo, tape hiss included.

guitar & gear: ’67 stratocaster, Vox ToneLab SE, Space Echo