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24 November, 2011
A bit of a delay in submitting the review i’m afraid but here are my initial thoughts on the prototype Mango Duo Attenuator…
Being a prototype, there aren’t any labels on this unit. Production models obviously will have labels to avoid any kind of confusion.
I’ve been informed that the cost of these units will literally be 2 x Silencer 50s as all the same components are used x 2, and the case for the unit is more expensive to the single units. But without hesitation, I would choose a duo (or trio??!) unit over many singles for convenience, space and sound.
I’ll post some more pics when I get opportunity to get my decent camera out!
11 November, 2011
A while back I suggested to Nigel Butters of Mango Amplification that a 2 in 1 or even 3 in 1 Attenuator would be handy for many people. I reckon around 75% of people who i’ve sold the Mango Attenuator 50 16ohm units to are using them in Brian May style setups, and a good proportion of these users have 2, 3 even 4+ amps.
As we’ve discussed before, unless you’re playing a large capacity venue, it’s not feasible to use multiple valve amps at full volume. Even if the venue can withstand the volume, the sound engineer is bound to have a moan.
Back to the story…
So Nigel called me earlier this week with a prototype ready for me to collect and try out. I’ll be giving it a blast tonight in a band environment and will let you know the results imminently. In the meantime, here are some pics. Excuse the quality…
3 November, 2011
For a very limited time, Elixir have multi-packs of their most popular strings available for your consumption…
9-42 + 10-46
£20-95 – saving you £8.90
Acoustic 92/8 Phosphor Bronze
10-47, 11-52 + 12-53
£27.49 – saving you £11.36
Take a closer look here…
3 November, 2011
- 87 different pedals
- 54 amps
- 26 cabs
Configure your sound in the comfort of your armchair and go to your next gig (be it real or imaginary) with the pedal board of your dreams!
I wonder how long it’s going to take for the iPhone version of this to come out…
*Compatible with both iPad and iPad2
2 November, 2011
“Cryogenically frozen guitar strings? Get outta here” I hear you holler. Well believe it baby. These strings are definitely the coolest strings in the shop, and at £6.49 a set, they’re worth a punt.
Check them out here…
The Electric and Helix HD electric sets will be added soon, along with their Bass and Acoustic string counterparts.
2 November, 2011
Well the Rugby World Cup came and went. Wales were robbed of a place in the Finals and as a result you didn’t get your discount. Don’t blame me, blame Alain Rolland.
There is a tidal wave of new gear available at A Strings. Because there’s so much being added on a daily/weekly basis, stuff disappears from the front page before you’ve had chance to see it, so prepare for an update overload…
Before I get into that though, thank you for the great response to Peter Hince’s Q+A. Peter has kindly offered to answer more questions for us in the future – so by all means email me if you have any questions you’d like me to put to him.
Also, I’ve read the book and it gives a completely different take on what you’d imagine touring life to be. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the behind the scenes part of touring life.
The legendary Deptford John (Guitar Tech to anybody who’s anybody over the past 20 years) and I have been discussing some exciting exclusive features for A Strings’ Backstage area. More of this soon…
13 October, 2011
Wales are playing their biggest ever game of Rugby on Saturday morning against France.
Why would you want Wales to win?
Because if they do win, this code
will be good for 10% off EVERYTHING in the A Strings online store.
So get your Red tops on, tune into ITV on Saturday morning at 9am and get cheering. Who knows what will happen the week after…?
7 October, 2011
Click this link to see the latest A Strings newsletter.
6 October, 2011
A popular Newsletter from back in June. Click the link below to read up.
28 September, 2011
Many of you Queen fans will be familiar with the name Peter Hince (or Ratty as he was affectionately referred to). Peter is releasing his new book ‘Queen Unseen’ in early October. As the head of Queen’s road crew and studio equipment supervisor from the early 70s through to ’86, this book is an insiders look at the life on tour with one of the biggest bands ever. Not to be missed!
Peter very kindly agreed to answer questions submitted by A Strings newsletter subscribers. Thank you to all that submitted questions. The winner of the signed copy of Peter’s new book was Colin Barker. Well done Colin, the book will be on its way to you following its release date.
Knowing how Freddie would strop if anything was not to his liking, and how Brian would guard his guitar with his life, did anything ever go missing or break before a big show. If so did you ever need to tell a few white lies while something was found or quickly repaired?
Nothing ever went missing before a show – and as everything was checked and double checked right before the band took the stage, nothing failed at that point. Over the years things did break down very occasionally – as is the nature of electronic equipment and instruments being pushed to the maximum ! But we always had spares and back up systems to take care of any problems instantly. The band were total professionals and expected the crew to be the same…
When in the studio with queen, did you have to power the deacy amp with any strange power supplies (car batteries,transformers etc) if the usual power source was not available
thanks Dave Bennie.
The Deacy amp was always powered with a 9 volt battery taped to the back and connected with crocodile clips. Usually a PP3.
Brians original Red Special guitar must be one of the most famous electric guitars ever, and probably one of the most valuable, competing with guitars played by Hendrix, Clapton, Kossoff, Page partly due to it being so unique.
I know that Guild, Guyton, Greco etc have made guitars that Brian has used, but looking after the original “old lady” must be a huge consideration & massive responsibility for the Road Crew and Guitar Techs on a tour!
Can you please tell me what special arrangements were typically made for the original Old Lady for transport between gigs/soundchecks flights etc as it cant be as simple as never leaving Brians sight, yet it is surely too valuable to ship with all the others in a flight case, especially as the band grew bigger, and toured the world!
In all the years I was with the band there were never any special measures taken for Brian’s guitar – which incidentally was not known as the Red Special back then, it was simply Brian’s guitar or ‘The Fireplace’. It had a very solid fitted flight case that I had custom made for it in 1976, and then went in one of the locked guitar trunks with other guitars and shipped together with all of Queen’s other gear. If I had guitars with me personally, then I would take them into my flat or hotel room overnight. In my time we never lost a single guitar or instrument, as we always took great care with security in general – on tour, in the studio, at a video shoot or wherever……
How often do professional bands change their electric guitar strings? Before every gig? Or at a fixed time interval; if very frequently, how long do you allow for the strings to settle before finally tuning them?
Very personal choice – all musicians are different. I changed John’s bass guitar strings around every 3 shows. The spare guitars less often. Strings were stretched in, tuned and played three or four times until they held tune. This was always done in the afternoon or at sound check and re tuned on stage right before the show.
I’d like to know what era of Brian’s tone was your favourite and did any of Brian’s amps ever spontaneously combust mid-gig as AC30s are famed for having done from time to time?!
I probably prefer the early, harder 1970’s Queen sound, but also liked a lot of the later stuff too – Dragon Attack on The Game, Hammer To Fall on The Works and One Vision all have great guitar sounds – to name a few. I do recall a few occasions when an AC 30 blew up – live and in the studio. Great amplifiers but like all valve amps – can be temperamental.
I am guitarist in a queen tribute band (www.queen2.de). My biggest problem is the volume of the amps. Using the Digitech Pedal and turning the Voxes up a third to a half 4 out of 5 Foh-mixers tell me i am messing up the outfront sound. Attenuators do help but of course it’s not the same. Now my question:
How in the world did Queen cope with the thunderous volume supplied by the guitar when they were not famous, playing smaller clubs or theaters? They must have had the same problems as we encounter, but i can not imagine Brian turning down the amps? How did they solve it? Also in a rehearsal situation trying to get together the backing vocals – that must have been almost impossible? I always wanted to know that.
Many thanks in advance i am VERY curious and would be thrilled if Ratty could bring some light to the fact.
All the best,
You are right, Brian did play very loudly on stage and it was a constant battle to get the balance right – but we did. I don’t understand the ‘Backing Vocals’ in rehearsal comment ? It’s not relevant as backing vocals were done in the studio in controlled conditions and not when Brian would be playing guitar. On stage, in a live situation everybody had personal monitors for a mix of what they wanted – vocals, guitar, snare drum – whatever….
I know I’m far from original here, but would you like to tell a bit about what you did specifically for Brian during tours or in the studio?
I didn’t do much for Brian on tour – he had his own roadie, and I looked after Fred and John’s gear. But in the studio, in the early days particularly, I would do whatever was needed….. hooking up his gear, sourcing what amps, effects etc he wanted, fixing problems, changing strings, tuning, making tea etc, etc….
Hi Ratty, in all your years working with Queen, what was the most difficult show, from the crews point of view, and why?
There were some shows that had problems – but for different reasons. You can read about them in the book.
Before the large Pete Cornish pedalboard/router rig that Brian May used, can you explain (if you can) how Brian’s gear was run using the old Foxx phaser/booster pedalboard and Echoplex’s?
Thank you. Mark
The gear was run the same way – but all the effects, pedals and switches were individual and not built into a unit with a power supply. They ran from 9 volt batteries. The pedalboard simply made things easier to set up and transport, and afforded some protection and stability – and of course no worries about batteries failing.
What was John Deacon’s setup? Did it differ between studio and live?
John’s stage set up changed quite a few times over the years – far too many details to list here. However, in the studio it was fairly simple – he usually plugged directly into the studio desk and used a basic amp and speaker cabinet for ‘feel’ in the studio. Any effects were done in the control room.
What was your favourite Queen gig? Do you remember much about Live Aid?
I write about my memories of Live Aid in the book – it was a fantastic day. There were many gigs that were special – South America for example. I also remember a 1980 show in LA at the Forum when the band were just amazing; Madison Square Garden, Budokan in Tokyo, Hammersmith Odeon – so many. They were after all a fantastic live band !
How did you get the name Ratty? Who came up with it?
It’s all in the book……
Why did Brian’s sound alter so much for the Freddie Tribute Concert?
No idea – I wasn’t working for the band then. I left after the Magic Tour in ’86 – and came out of retirement to look after John and his gear for the Tribute Concert. I didn’t notice any real difference in Brian’s sound on that show. He used basically the same gear as before and it was also the same sound engineer Queen used for many years – Trip Khalaf.
Have you worked with any other artists apart from Queen?
Yes, I worked for David Bowie and Mott The Hoople before Queen. I was Mick Ronson’s guitar roadie. I also toured with other bands when I was young, including Lou Reed, Kevin Ayers, Eno (Roxy Music) Supertramp and David Essex. I was also offered many jobs with other bands, when I was with Queen and after I left the music business.
Who was the best drinker in the band? Any stories…?
All the best
Everybody in Queen and the crew could hold their own – and always Russian Vodka. Lots of stories about drinking in the book…
What strings did Brian and John use? Do you remember the gauges?
Brian used Rotosound 8 , 10, 11, 22, 30, 34 for his Red Special, and different gauges for his other guitars – but always a light gauge. John used Rotosound ‘Superwound’ medium gauge – custom made for him by Rotosound for all his guitars. Rotosound Flatwound for his fretless Precision.
Which country was your favourite to tour?
I enjoyed visiting so many countries, as Queen toured almost everywhere possible back then. Every country we played in had it’s different qualities. I personally always enjoyed Japan as it was so different and American tours were exciting and energetic. However, I loved touring Europe because of the diversity of cultures in one continent.
What was the worst on stage disaster to occur during your time with Queen?
They are in the book ……… a chapter entitled Days of Doom.
Do you know what happened to Freddie’s white Telecaster?
After I left Queen in 1986 at the end of The Magic Tour, I was not replaced – and consequently nobody was in overall control of Queen’s equipment. The white Telecaster, along with lots of Queen’s gear ‘disappeared’ from their warehouse in the late 1980’s I understand. I was contacted by Brian’s office some years ago as I am the only person who can authenticate the white Telecaster – and somebody claimed they had it, or knew where it was. This turned out to be some joker…! I made changes to the Tele’ nobody else could know about – and I have the serial number. However, unfortunately it remains lost. There is an interesting story about Fred and the white Telecaster in the book……
What were your duties to the band in the studio? When on tour, did you have any other roles other than Bass/Piano/Vocal Tech?
You name it – I had to do or did it ! You can read about most of them in the book. On tour I was also responsible for setting the tuning for all of the band, and the synthesisers and other keyboards – which all came from the tuning of Fred’s piano. Apart from piano, bass and Fred’s microphone set up, I looked after and tuned Fred’s guitar, John’s Telecaster too and the guitar that the back-up musician played during Hammer To Fall. I also operated the pyro explosions, drum riser & platform lights and strobes. Tons of other things too which are in the book. As head of the crew I was responsible for overall charge of Queen’s gear and shipping, customs, paperwork, expenses, etc, etc……. Again, lots about this in the book.
When was the last time you saw/spoke to Freddie?
That is in the last chapter of the book. A very poignant part.
Do you keep in touch with the band?
Vince Heartly, Birmingham
We are not in regular contact – we all live different lives now. Brian in particular has always been very good in making an effort to keep in touch.
What is your fondest memory of your time with Queen?
Raymond Palfrey, Connecticut
Such a difficult question to answer – there are so many great memories over the years. I do feel proud and privileged to have been part of Live Aid – which was something very special. There are lots of my various memories in the book.
Thank you Peter for giving us your time and answering these questions.
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