Wow! We WGS users really are a bunch of certified tone freaks, and I’ve got the stories to prove it! Deciding on a winner for the "best WGS story" was really tough, but there was one that stood out above the others. It proved that we, the WGS bunch, think outside the box and come up with tone solutions that are, in most cases, way better than some lame "off the shelf" combo amp. Plus, this guy sent some great pictures, and we all know that a picture says a thousand toneful words. So, straight from gorgeous, but often chilly Sweden (the home of my distant ancestors, BTW) comes our winner Erik Ahlqvist Loiske! Here is Erik’s full story. Like I said, it was a tough choice, with lots of great WGS testimonials - and so, next week I’m going to choose some "runners up", so stay tuned! Okay, I’ll shut up now. Here is Erik’s winning entry:
Here's my testimonial.
My name is Erik Ahlqvist Loiske. I hail from the cold woods of Nothern Hälsingland, Sweden. I've been playing the guitar for nine years or so, yet it isn't until recently that I've become more and more aware about tone. I suddenly got an urge to create my signature sound.
Until then I had been playing a Gibson Nighthawk through a variety of crappy solid state amps, but I never really got the tone that suited the musical styles that I was doing (garage rock). The Gibby is something of a crossover between a LP and a Tele, leaning more towards LP. What I needed was something brighter, more articulate and more vintage voiced. Time to find myself a new guitar, where I could start my tone tweaking.
Being a poor student, I knew from start that I wouldn't be able to get another Gibby. Nor would I have the money for a Fender or any other hi-end brand guitar. Neither would I have the money for a Marshall, Fender, Orange or whatever branded amp. And there was no way I could ever pay for a cabinet loaded with (good sounding) Celestions.
But hey, does tone come straight from the wallet? I thought it would be an interesting thing to see how good a "cheap" setup could sound, to show people that a live setup can sound just as good (if not better!) without the Gibson, Marshall and Celestion logos.
Part I: Finding the right axe. Digging around the web for affordable guitars, I came across the Czech brand B&CH, who seemed to make good quality copies for little money. I also found that there was a guy close to me who dealt their instruments. I went over to him and checked out what their guitars had to offer. I totallty fell in love with the feel of their Teles, certainly one of them (mahogany body, spalted maple top and a maple neck) appealed to me both sound wise, playing wise and look wise. Bought it without the least hesitation.
Myself, I added a Bigsby-style vibrato to it and a Seymour Duncan single coil-sized humbucker in the bridge (I got sick of the single coil hum, this the only time that I bought any "corporate" thing to my rig). This guitar totally kicks the shit out of any mexican Fender and is right up there with the americans. No joke!
Part II: Finding the right amp.
I had gotten used to play through a Laney HardCore MAX solid state amp for the last couple of years, and it.. well, it sucked. Big time. I started to dig around used amps on the web, trying to find something odd and cheap. Hopefully I would find some decent tube amp. I didn't. I searched for weeks with no luck. Then I found something interesting, though once again solid state.
"PCL Vintage Amp Lead Series 1x12 combo. Made in Germany during the late 80's. Sounds good."
After mailing the seller about some details, I thought "Hell, it's cheap. It will certainly be better than the Laney." When I tested it, my first thought was "Man, where are the tubes?" It just sounded great! For real! (And btw, I haven't only played ss-amps. When I started out playing the guitar, I did it through my dad's old Silverface Twin Reverb.) I have never heard any local band delivering a more genuine vintage tone that what I got throught the PCL. I was beating the living crap out of our band's lead guitarist's tone, even thought he had an all-tube amp that was four times more expensive than mine.
I went on rehearsing with my band and a big smile on my face. Then, after three months or so, the amp suddenly died on me. No sound. I was crushed. Contacted PCL about documentation, wanting a circiut diagram so the we could see what had gone wrong. Their reply was interesting, they told me that the amp only made a short run of 100 units in '86 and was then discontinued. No documentation was available. All I got out of them was "The power is probably around 80W". I later found that the thing that had died was the speaker. I thought about what options I had. I could just buy a new speaker for it and I'd be alright, but then I got the idea to turn the combo into a head. By doing that and getting a cab for it, I could get another more modern voiced head if I needed to get those kind of tones.
Part III: Finding the right cabinet.
Said and done, built a new cabinet bor the amp and half a year later I had the money to buy a cheap cab for it. I ended up with a cheap 2x12 Bugera cabinet (I always thought that just one speaker sounded way too centered for my rythm guitar playing).
This is where I am now. The bugera build quality is okay, but the whole concept of my affordable but good sounding setup falls on their speakers. I had expected this, and the solution wasn't very far away. A couple of those Warehouse Guitar Speakers would qualify for this cabinet. I've been hearing loads of good things about your speakers and they're in my price range. I was going to order a Veteran 30 along with an ET-65 very soon, then I came across your contest.
I can already see the impression that I have made on my friends. They're now questioning brands and buying stuff from the product's actual impression rather than corporate status. I believe that many small brooks can create a big river, and with me using Warehouse Guitar Speakers, the people around me will get a first hand opportunity to see what your products can deliver. That's the important thing for you guys, you're getting a free commercial spot with me using your speakers. For me, I'd be more than happy to get one of the two speakers that I was planning on buying for free. This would make my already cheap rig even cheaper, and good sounding none the less. If I win this contest, I would like to have a Veteran 30/8Ohms, and then pay for the ET-65 myself. I ain't got no picture of my entire rig, but here's a live picture of me and my guitar, and a picture of the DIY PCL head.
Erik Ahlqvist Loiske Sweden
Cool! And congrats Erik - with the new WGS speakers, you’re well on your way to total tonal nirvana. Oh, and your choice of speakers for your cab is dead-on, too; exactly what I would have recommended.
Keep reading this blof for more free speaker contests!