Sin City Presents Magazine May 2016 Volume 3 Issue 5 - Page 16

SIN CITY PRESENTS/MAY 2016

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TS: Yeah, and you’ll also see that you’d better know what you programmed each button to do, because you sure can’t read any of the graphics. Engl makes their footswitches with that machine-turned metal finish, rendering it impossible to see anything but the swirly pattern. Having said that, it’s a kick-ass footswitch. On the first four buttons, you get clean low gain, clean high gain, crunch low gain, and crunch high gain. Then, if you step on one of those buttons a second time, you get Master Volume 2, which is your solo boost level. And each button remembers the way you left it, so you can preset a solo volume on any of the four choices. The other two buttons are programmable for any other front panel functions, so I have them set for FX loop and mid boost.

K: So, personality wise, how do these bad motor scooters differ?

TS: Well, the Engl is meant to do metal correctly. Its high gain setting is tight-tight-tight. It has a built-in noise gate that only operates on the higher gain channel, so it’s great for sudden stops. Where the Tone King feels like you’re lightly dipping your fingertips into caramel syrup, the Engl (on the high gain setting) feels like you’re cutting sheet metal with a band saw. Wow…what a metaphor, huh? Like I said, its power section is a lot like a Mesa, like a Dual Rec. The whole amp is like a Dual Rec, but darker.

K: What about the clean sound?

TS: I have to say that the Engl’s clean sound is fantastic. The reason this amp, or for that matter any Engl amp, failed to really catch on in the States is because they marketed their amps as metal machines. That, and they’re too expensive, because of the import expense from Germany. But like the Dual Rec, it has an excellent clean channel. Modern-Fender, with just a hint of Vox, I would say. I mean, the clean channel has not one, but TWO bright switches, so you can overdose on sparkle if you want.

The thing is, it’s not a “warm” amp. There’s no way to get it to be spongy. Not great for delta blues. Great for spanky country, though. But if you’re looking for a Fender Blues Deluxe experience, you’re going to be disappointed.

K: So a drunk bull in China shop?

TS: Yep, it’s a bludgeon, I guess. But if you know how to operate a tone and volume control on your guitar, it’ll get plenty jazzy or plenty country. Bluesy too, as long as you don’t want any sag or squish. Oh, and it weighs a freekin’ ton. I’m actually thinking about trying an EVM 12 speaker, the one Zakk Wylde uses. That’ll make it even heavier.

K: Nice. Shall we talk Guitars.

TS: We shall. I have a Carvin CT6, stock pickups (humbuckers with coil tap). Stainless steel jumbo frets, compound radius 12" - 14". Maple fingerboard. Floyd Rose trem.

A Fender American Special Telecaster, all stock. Jumbo frets. Texas Special pickups.

A Hamer Steve Stevens II, circa 1985. Rosewood fingerboard, 12" radius. Dunlop 6000 fret wire...bigger than "jumbo," which is Dunlop 6100. Tom Anderson humbucker in bridge (with coil tap), 80's Fender Strat pickup in neck. Floyd Rose trem.

And my sweet little love bug… a Hamer one-off. This is a guitar Paul Hamer made for me in 1983. It has features of a couple of their other guitars, and it's a one-of-a-kind.

Is there a tale to be told about her?

TS: Why of course there is. In 1980 - something or other… I was working at a music store in the Seattle area. At that time, Paul Hamer was putting in a lot of face time at stores, trying to build the brand. He always told me if I wanted a guitar, just let him know, and he’d build it for me. So one day I took him up on his offer.

I called Paul in Chicago with my specs. What I ordered was a derivative of the original Steve Stevens model and a model called the Prototype. The SS had a Floyd Rose, the Prototype had a Kahler. I chose the Floyd. I got the Steve Stevens body, the Prototype headstock (with 3 keys per side instead of all 6 on one side) and…here’s the important part…a humbucker in the bridge position and a single coil in the neck position. And nothing in the middle.

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