The Great Outdoors

Josh and I had a chance to serve at Wesley Acres this morning. We served as part of a worship team in a large outdoor setting. Well, not quite outdoors. We were in a tent.

It was a special time all around. Particularly when I get the chance to serve with my son.

For those of you looking for a glimpse of the new gear in action, here it is. Awesome guitar to play and an awesome rig. This first photo is a picture of me and my son. I think he liked a certain guitar riff I had just played.


Here is a shot of part of the band. We also had three singers with us. Perhaps the camera needs a wider lens.


Always a good idea to tune before you play. The photo does give a front shot of the new Tom Anderson guitar as well as a peek at the new Dr Z rig.


Groovin’ and riffin’.


Best Guitar Players

I came across the Myles Rose website on Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting. There is a wealth of information contained within the site. One section of interest is called The Best Guitar Players. Myles offers his perspective on the best players alive today. Players I have never heard before.

Carl Verheyen
Kal David
Buddy Whittington

Tom Anderson Guitarworks

The big reveal. I did pick up a new guitar to go along with the new Dr. Z amplifier and speaker cab. A Tom Anderson Guitarworks Drop Top.

Technical Information

  • Model: Drop Top
  • Body Finish: Cajun Red with Binding
  • Body Wood: Flame Maple Top on Alder
  • Neck Wood: Hard Rock Maple, Rosewood Fretboard
  • Neck Finish: Black Headstock, Satin Back
  • Nutwidth: 1 11/16 in
  • Frets: Heavy
  • Back Shape: Even Taper
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Bridge: Vintage Tremolo
  • Pickguard: No Pickguard
  • Pickups: SF1R SF1 HO2
  • Switching: 5 Way, Splitter, VA Booster, Pull Adds Bridge
  • Strings: .010-.046 Elixir strings (which I promptly replaced with D’Addario 10 – 46)

My son had joined me for the guitar selection rite of passage and I told him that we may or may not find the guitar. That if it was there at the store waiting for me, we would find it. It would call out to me. And if the guitar did not call out to me, we would keep looking. We spent several hours auditioning numerous guitars: Fender, Suhr, Tom Anderson. This one guitar, the one I took home, played like a dream. It called out and I listened. Awesome machine.

I haven’t had a chance to take photos of the new rig but it looks a bit like this one. Main difference is that my headstock is black.

I guess I am now set for another ten years. Hopefully I will still be playing when I’m 64.


Dr. Z Maz 38 Senior


I have an awesome new guitar. And I will post about the instrument soon. I also have a new rig. I am a very happy guitarist.

Dr. Z Maz 38 Senior Reverb

I went to Lauzon Music in Ottawa and I picked up a Dr. Z Maz 38 Senior Reverb head. The head is a special tenth anniversary edition and features a special plate on the top of the head.

Technical Details:

  • Power Output: 38 watts
  • Output Tubes: EL-84 (4)
  • Preamp Tubes: 12AX7 (4), 12AT7 (1)
  • Rectifier: GZ34 (1)
  • Controls: Reverb, Cut, Master, Bass, Mid, Treble, Volume
  • Color: Black
  • Dimensions: 19″ W, 9 3/4″ H, 9 1/2″ D
  • Weight: 22 lbs

Dr. Z  1×12 Speaker Cabinet

The speaker cabinet features a classic floating baffle design with a Celestion Vintage 30 12″ speaker. The speaker cabinet has a removable rear panel which allows closed back or open back operation.

  • Dimensions: 19 1/2″ H, 22 3/4″ W, 10 1/4″ D
  • Weight: 38 lbs


I’m still in shock. I spent over six hours playing this rig today. The tone of this amp is the best that I have ever heard. It did not take long to find the sweet spot and the amp and the guitar came alive. It was electric.

The Maz 38 is a very loud amp so an attenuator is highly recommended if you want to play at softer volume levels.





Dr Z Amplification

Mesa Boogie Tube Problems

I had posted about retubing my Mesa Boogie Lone Star Special amp here and here.

4 JJ EL84 power tubes, 5 JAN-Philips 12AX7 preamp tubes and 1 Sovtek 5Y3GT rectifier tube. At first, everything seemed fine. As the tubes burned in, the sonic character of the amp changed noticeably. Where I had kept channel 2 as a higher gain channel — clean with some dirt if driven hard from the guitar — I engaged the Drive to push more of an overdriven sound. The distortion sound was rich in harmonics and sounded awesome. Far sweeter than the old tubes. But, during rehearsals a few weeks back, and ever since, the volume of the amp randomly drops. Dramatically. It’s almost as if the amp loses headroom.

Obviously, tubes might be an issue. Or perhaps a transformer.

Searching the web, I found some folks had experienced the same issue. And specifically highlighted the Cathode Follower Tube as suspect.

From Mesa Boogie:


One Possible Cause

Most (but not all) Mesa/Boogie amplifiers have one or two “cathode follower”? tube stages in their preamps. Tube selection is CRITICAL in these stages.

Specifically, in a 12AX7 tube used as a “cathode follower”?, the voltage difference between that present at the cathode, as compared with the heater voltage, can be withstood or tolerated by certain types of tubes, whereas other tubes will fail. The failure of a “cathode follower“ tube will cause sound dropouts or signal loss.

For the past few years, Mesa has been using two types of 12AX7 tubes: ones originating in Russia (Sovtek EH), and ones originating in China. The Russian (Sovtek) tube is NOT reliable as a cathode follower. Of the tubes we are using today (March 2008), ONLY THE CHINESE 12AX7 IS RELIABLE AS A CATHODE FOLLOWER.

In conclusion, if you are troubleshooting for signal dropout in a Mesa/Boogie amp, suspect a cathode follower tube, and try replacing it with a Mesa 12AX7 that is marked as “CHINESE”? (silk-screened on the tube itself).

Below is a partial list of Mesa amps and cathode follower tube locations:


Lone Star & LS Special: V3
M-Pulse: V2
Stiletto: V3 & V4
Venture: V2
Road King I: V3 & V4
Big Block 750: V4
Road King II: V3 & V5
Titan: V4
Roadster: V3 & V5
M2000: V2
Dual & Triple (2ch or 3ch): V3 & V4
Bass 400+: V2
Tremoverb: V3 & V4

ANOTHER POSSIBLE SCENARIO may occur in the “SPONGY”? (or on some models, “TWEED”?) power setting: the reduced filament voltage may cause very low output from a RUSSIAN preamp tube. Again, the recommended fix is to replace the “sagging”? tube with the CHINESE type of Mesa 12AX7 – which are more immune to this type of failure.

I will try to source a Chinese tube today. The JAN-Philips tubes are US but I do have quite a few Russian tubes. And it looks like I will have to make a trip to Toronto to find some Mesa tubes if I can’t get this resolved. Lots of playing ahead over the next two months and the Lonestar Special has my tone. But not with random sagging.

Guitar Acquisition Syndrome

Some people have it bad. Really bad.

Take Keith Richards for example. He has over 3,000 guitars. As he put it: “I’ve probably got too many.”

My collection is quite modest. I currently run only 4 electrics: an early 70s Les Paul Standard, an early 80s Ibanez AS-200, an early 90s PRS Custom 24 and a late 90s American Deluxe Fat Strat.

It has been ten years since I last picked up an electric. And now it is time to add another guitar to the stable. The Strat is my current first guitar for all my live work. I use the other guitars when I am tracking in the studio. I really enjoy playing the Strat and I am considering adding a 56 NOS from the Custom Shop or an Artist Series Eric Johnson. Two-tone sunburst. Maple.

There are now so many Strats that it is difficult to nail down a suitable candidate. This fellow even went on a quest for the perfect Strat. He really liked the Eric Johnson machine. I wonder if he also went for the tattoo?

But the Nash Timewarp S-50 gets a lot of positive views. A bit battered for a new guitar but I guess I wouldn’t worry about nicking the instrument.

There are also some interesting choices with Suhr and Tom Anderson.

I’ll be making a run into Toronto over the next few days hunting for a new instrument. I’ll let you know what happens.

Taking Care of Business

Another tough day at the office.


Tubes Installed

The tubes for my Mesa Boogie Lone Star Special arrived last week. I installed them and I instantly heard a dramatic difference. Truly remarkable.

Okay. Just kidding. Perhaps there is a difference in the sound but it is quite subtle. The amp sounds wonderful as always except that the microphonic noise has disappeared. I am playing this week-end so I will get a chance to give it a work out. I may notice some changes to the sound in a live setting. Or maybe the new tubes need some time to burn in.