Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Peter Cook. Custom Builder, where are you now?......

I was going to start on some of my Aria and Ibanez but have decided to
leave them for a while, the main reason being that I'm not sure where to
start and the fact that although they are great basses, almost all of them
gigged or rehearsed with on many occasions, I would like to make sure
that I've got the models and facts straight!!

So, I've decided to go completely the other way and feature something
from someone who I have admired for as many years as I can remember.
Peter Cook was a guitar builder for many stars, the most famous of which
is perhaps John Entwistle, The Ox, need I say more?
He was also involved in Ned Callen guitars but his Custom work is what
made him famous.

I was very lucky to acquire the Firebird Twin, which I believe is the only one
like it - Del Bromham, of Stray, had one but his was 6 over 12, mine is a
12 over 6 - I will come to that one later.
The other Peter Cook I have, is an Axis Bass, which I can honestly say
is like no other bass. This one has been very well looked after.

The controls look simple but take a lot of getting used to, in fact, I had
to call on the services of a fellow owner, who kindly explained everything
to me - all became a lot clearer!
I would be very difficult for me to explain, other than to offer what was
given to me by a fellow owner, listed below.

I've found the book and it mentions the controls!

Here you go:

1. volume knob (near back p/up)

2. cut/boost knob offering 15dB cut/boost

3. Frequency knob which works in turn with cut/boost knob (essentially,
you've got a parametric system - freq range of 80Hz to 20KHz).

4. pickup selector switch

5. pickup phase mini toggle switch

6. Active/Passive mode mini toggle switch - I assume this is a 3 way job as
it says that you get `passive with top cut, full normal passive and active on'.

Here's the actual text from the book;

The three rotary controls govern volume (aided by a pickup selector switch)
but the further two tone pots are not in use when the bass is set passive.
When active, the final two pots offer cut/boost of +/- 15dB and the frequency
selected on, what is in effect, a parametric eq system.
The switches offer pickup selection, pickup phase and active/passive mode
control; which means passive with top cut, full normal passive
and active on. Overall, the frequency range covered is 80Hz to 20KHz.
Sound wise, the Axis is possibly the most versatile active bass produced in
the UK.
A staggering variety of tones is obtainable; a far cry from from some of the
less than phenomenally ranging active basses of recent years.
If you can memorise these functions and avoid setting unusable tones,
then the overall potential is incredible.

Hope this is of use mate!

I have to say, when I gig this bass it gives me an odd feeling - not bad,
more "I'm playing a Peter Cook Bass, how lucky am I ?".
I can summon it up by saying that it sharpens up my playing, perhaps
I concentrate more, what's the point of having something as special as
that and fluffing everything up? :)

I am currently trying to track down owners of Peter Cook Guitars, in order
to build up a deputation to persuade him to perhaps help document his
work, over the many years he was involved in custom building.

So far I have a handful - so if there are any more of you out there, get in
touch with me - I will put a link in to a separate e.mail address, the next
time I am here.

So, I'll leave you with the pic below.

Cheers. :)

Edit: Please contact me on this address:

Friday, 16 July 2010

Some of my amp experience. . . .

I thought I would drift off course a little, as I have just bought a
new extension cab for my bass rig.
This adds to a whole lot of other gear I have and made me think of
how it all started, a long time ago.
Back in the day, there were a lot of Treble n Bass type amps and
when you didn't have a lot of the folding stuff, you took what you
could get your hands on.
Most took a little coaxing to fire up - storing them in damp
conditions didn't help.
My first guitar amps were a series of "lends" of various makes, fed
into anything you could find - who cares about ohms and some sort
of compatibility - anything that would work was good enough.
The first amp that I bought, as I was then playing bass, was
something that I can picture in my mind but can't remember what it was.
It was valve combo, 30 watt, I think, that had the head clipped onto the
open back cab, so you could take it off.
This had so much abuse but managed to survive, mainly because in
the very early days. . . . . we had no PA!!!
The next one I can't remember what that was either but I do recall
the cab - a 2 x 12, that I stood on it's end to make it look taller! :)
I think the power of the amp well exceeded to capacity of the speaker,
as on more than one occasion . . . . . a new speaker was required!
When that finally gave up I had a borrow of a Sound City, with I think
a 2 x 15 bass cab, which for a guitar set up may sound a bit odd
but it seemed to work.

This didn't last long, as my friend, who had found another band, asked
for it back, at a time I needed it most!
Bearing in mind, this was waaayyyyy before t'internet and anything you
bought was out of the paper, notices in Newsagents (remember them?? :)
or in desperation. . . . . a shop!
The next amp I do remember very well - bought through one of the notices
in a shop - a Simms Watt Combo. . . . . with reverb! Wow!
As hardly anyone took band pictures, let alone the gear, I have none
but I did lift this off the net.

This served me quite well for the stuff we were doing, Ace - How Long,
Climax Blues Band - Couldn't get it right, Boz Scaggs - Lido Shuffle,
not quite enough grind for a whole host of Lizzy, Stones and Bad Co.
stuff but this was helped out by my trusty distortion pedal.
It was orange, that's all I can remember and mated up with a Phaser,
give some interesting sounds.
I sold it in the early 80's for £60, I remember that much - a huge amount
in today's money.
Amps that followed were borrowed, begged but never stolen!!
Burman 501, ahh, those were the days - tiny thing but what a beast.
I'll come back to amps, another time.
Cheers. :)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ovation Breadwinner & Viper

Although there were all sorts of odd shapes guitars around at the time,
the Breadwinner always caught my eye.
It looked like it should be comfortable to play and when I finally got
my hands on one, I wasn't disappointed.
Many years later I spotted this and decided to buy it.
This one has an unusual Black finish on it, nice to play - something
a bit unusual.

There is an interveiw from the designer here:

There are quite a few web sites about the birth of Ovation and their
products, well worth a trawl round.

The images below the Breadwinner are of a Viper.
I bought this as the finish matched an Ovation bass I have.
In a world of Les Paul's and Strat's, it is nice to be able to play
something different - in fact, it has just occurred to me, I have never
owned a Les Paul, SG or Strat!

That's all on Ovation for now, I'll do the basses another time.

Perhaps time for some Aria and Ibanez.

Cheers. :)

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Monday, 12 July 2010

Time for something Japanese. . . . .

All sorts of things we could look at but I thought that I should go from
one extreme to the other!
Up to now, as I primarily play bass, I have listed instruments with
only four strings, so let's jump forward and have a look at something
that has got 18 strings, a 6 & 12 string Twin Neck.

This one is an Ibanez 2640 and as twin necks go, perhaps one of the best.
There are many sounds available, Humbucker, Single Coils and Phasing
positions on the switches allow for some interesting tonal changes.
Both necks can be ran into independent amps or effects, giving even
more possibilities.

I have a thing about Twin Neck guitars, perhaps brought on by seeing
bands like The Eagles, Pilot, Rush, Zeppelin etc - John McLaughlin was
also a a well respected user.
The other well known Ibanez Twin is the 2670, which is highly decorative
with a Tree of Life inlay. To date, I have not played one of these. . . . . . .

One Day!!!
This one is a beauty and feels just right - throw the strap over
your shoulder, adjust for comfort, plug in, shut your eyes. . . .
Ah, some wonderful sounds. Twins are heavy but you don't play
them all night, perhaps for two or three numbers and then put
it down and pick up something else.
I have several other Twins, so as I go forward with the Collection,
I will put up some more.

Cheers. :)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Chip Todd. . . . . .

Well, I know I said we would look at some Classic Japanese gear but
something has happened recently and I thought I would share it.

You may realise by now that I am a big fan of the Peavey "T" series,
with the last couple of posts dedicated to some of my T-40's, with
more to follow, along with my T-60 collection.

The "T" refers to Todd, Chip Todd, who developed the "T" series,
which was Peavey's first venture into Guitars & Basses, starting
back in the mid 70's.

Much to my delight, Chip has once again become active amongst
Peavey players and collectors on this site.

It is like being able to pose a question, personally, to Leo Fender
or Les Paul - we all have reference from the internet- why
things were made that way or the the design was done this way
because. . . . . .
but the most accurate information is from the man himself.

Chip has now retired from his shop and perhaps has more time to
be involved in preserving of the heritage of his work.
He has written a very honest account, regarding the design and
materials of the T-40, to which I have replied.
If you, like me, apreciate his work for what it is, sign up and drop
him a line.

That's all for now, back to the collection next time.

Cheers. :)

Friday, 2 July 2010

Even More T-40. . . .

Well. . . . . . While I was at it!!

Will talk more about these and other T-40's, another time, after
some gems from The Land of The Rising Sun.

Cheers. :)