Disconnected

I was playing last week and something odd happened to my rig. I generally work through a Mesa Boogie Lone Star Special. This is a wonderful sounding amplifier with a lot of great features including one that I use a lot: solo mode. Solo mode is engaged through a two-button foot switch. One of the buttons triggers the first and second channels of the amp and the other button adds a boost to output of the currently selected channel. Very handy in live sound situations where you want the solo to cut through. I trust sound engineers but sometimes they do not always react in time for the start of a solo line.

Last week the solo mode would not engage. Of course I followed the usual routine: press button, no solo mode, press button, no solo mode, press button, no solo mode. I lost count of the number of times I repeatedly pressed the button. What could be wrong?

Troubleshooting on stage is not very productive so I waited until I got the amp home. I have found over the years that the best way to troubleshoot is to deal with the basics first. And so I focused on the foot switch and the cable that connects the footswitch to the amp. Fortunately, I began with the cable. A very basic Tip-Ring-Sleeve cable. The continuity meter showed green on Tip and Sleeve but no joy on Ring.

I removed the jacket to take a closer look and sure enough the contact to Ring had separated. Likely due to a cold solder. I stripped the wire and resoldered the contact.

Everything works. I can solo again.

My Guitar Rig

I had a few emails asking about my rig and my settings. My basic guitar rig consists of a 1994 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 electric guitar, a Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special 1×12 combo and a floorboard which is pictured below.

Pedalboard

The floorboard consists of a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus power supply, a Voodoo Labs Analog Chorus, a Line 6 DL 4 delay modeler, a custom Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer modified by Analog Man, a Boss Noise Suppressor and Chromatic Tuner, an Ernie Ball volume pedal and the Lonestar channel/solo switcher.

I will sometimes take along my 1999 Fender American Fat Strat as a second guitar but I usually play the Paul Reed Smith.

In terms of settings, I find that most of the tone is produced by how I play the instrument — it is in the hands. The amp does make a huge difference in how the sound gets presented. I just love the sound of a Class A tube amplifier and I love the sound of the Lonestar Special. It is an amazing tone machine. I generally make very little use of the pedals. I will usually add some delay to the effects loop of the amp. And, because the Lonestar is so responsive, I find little need for the Tube Screamer.

The Lonestar is the first amp I have owned where I can find and maintain the sweet spot of a great sounding guitar tone. A wonderful and expressive amplifier.

Chinese Guitars

I came across this fascinating video of a guitar factory in China.

Some interesting data points. One such factory, the Pearl River Guitar Factory, employs 600 workers and they produce over 60,000 acoustic guitars and several thousand electric guitars each month.

Aofa Factory is another of what appears to be hundreds of guitar factories located in China.

Why are there so many guitar factories in China?

George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars offered this perspective:

The really important player on the scene today in the low end and intermediate price bracket is Mainland China. Whereas Yamaha and other makers have produced guitars in Taiwan for quite some time, Mainland Chinese guitars were always noted as being of extremely low quality.

In the past few years, however, that situation has changed dramatically. In the past ten years, China has moved rapidly toward entrepreneurial private ownership of business. The new leadership has pushed this process quickly. China now permits foreign ownership of factories and businesses as well as encouraging Chinese citizens both from Mainland China and Taiwan to set up their own ventures. Just as the Koreans were able to progress from very low-end student models with crude workmanship to remarkably sophisticated guitars more quickly than the Japanese had, the Chinese now have all the advantages of the prior experience of Americans, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian ventures.

In addition it should be noted that while Chinese labor is remarkably inexpensive, with an average annual income in China today of under $1,000, Chinese labor is by no means unskilled. China has a very high literacy rate and its workers are skilled and motivated.

In the past the world has had areas with cheap labor and other areas with skilled labor. China is a major force to reckon with because it offers cheap skilled labor. The Chinese today are producing instruments in many different settings, ranging from small workshops specializing in handcrafted instruments on up to huge industrial complexes with the latest automated technology.

Cheap skilled labor.

The pictures below are from the Taylor Guitar Factory. I guess I will have to travel a bit further if they move their factory to China.

Taylor Guitar Factory

Taylor Guitar Factory

100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

It has been a while since I looked at this list. An odd list really. The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time includes Ike Turner? Lots of amazing players did not make the list.

Oh well, it is Rolling Stone magazine.

Sorry? Where was I on the list? 101st. I need a bit more practice to break the top 100.