Posted by marsa
Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:56 pm
Here’s another HRI special treat for ya! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and figured it was time to do something about it, so here we go! I want to, more or less, recreate the setup used by Michael Landau when he was in Burning Water. Some artistic freedom will take place and I’ll sneak in a couple of Raging Honkies era doohdahs as well, but the essence is all Burning Water.
This project will be divided into parts and I will write a little something now and then until it’s all done. Remember, this will be costly, and I ain’t rich, so this might take a while. The different parts I will dive into and try to recreate are guitar, amps and effects, but first.. let’s do a little introduction.
Old Burning Water flyers. Courtesy of Takahiro Tamaya.
The reason behind and notes on what was really going on during that era.
I’ve been a fan of Burning Water (from now on only written as BW) for
many years and it’s probably my favorite Landau era. One of my first
ever encounters with his guitar playing was the “Live & Lit” album
by BW. I remember reading so much about Michael Landau in all the guitar
magazines, Steve Lukather saying that he’s the best guitar player ever
and what not (and I guess many of us heard about Landau through Luke)
and having built this mental image of what he was about, but never
really heard anything he’d done except for a couple of solos on a few
albums. Then, going out and buying this BW “Live & Lit” album and
just going; “What the fuck?!?” Bone dry, crazy octavia and in your face!
Isn’t he supposed to have the biggest rack on the planet with tones
being drained in reverb, delay and chorus??
I was actually a little put off. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.. I remember spinning the album for my guitar teacher at the time who was totally blown away by the feel and the tones. I couldn’t belive he liked it.. I thought it was nasty. I was 17 and all I wanted was a huge rack and play with all the buttons. Later on I heard “Tales from the Bulge” and life would never be the same.
Anyway, fast forward a
couple of years and the BW stuff suddenly became more interesting. I was
going through another Hendrix period and in Michael Landau you had
something that could almost pass as the reincarnation of Jimi, only with
better technique, even fatter tone and attitude from hell. I fell in
love and have stayed in love ever since. Then along came the Raging
Honkies stuff and Mike’s later solo material, but that never had the
same impact on me. (Apart form the his latest release which is stunning
in its own right)
The BW albums, and especially the first and last one (the last being Abbandonato which is actually some of the earliest material), has tone for days. Epic BF Fender and vintage Marshall tones. Both the rhythm and lead tones are stellar and it dosn’t hurt that Mikey’s playing is on fire as well.
If you are not familiar with Burning Water or Michael Landau (why are you here??) I suggest you check out the “Abbandonato” album and Mikes solo album; “Tales from the Bulge” for starters. There are also a couple of decent YouTube clips, with questionable sound quality, but it showcases the core of the tone which is present and Landau’s playing is off the hook!
The good stuff
Okay, so this project is all about the tone and the gear. I mean, c’mon.. this is
HRI!! To be honest, and we all know this, tone is in the hands, fingers
and heart.. but, the gear is a factor and we all love it so lay aside
any common sense for a moment as we dwell on our lust for tone. Let’s
break it down.
In its barest form, the gear is very basic. Or, at least the idea is very simple. It’s all about a Fender Stratocaster, a Blackface Fender, a “vintage” 50w Marshall and an Octavia and a Tubescreamer. We could just leave it at that and be happy, but I want to dig a little deeper.
Instead of listing up the final choices I’ve made I will instead talk a little about what inspired me and share the little information I have on what gear was used during this period.
It all started when I saw the clip above from the China Club. The lead tone there is one of the most awesome sounds I have ever heard. By the grace of one of HRI’s finest, mr. Dave Friedman, we got to know what was used:
Post by RACKSYSTEMS » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:47 pm
Since I was there as his Tech at that time I can tell you it was a slaved 50 watt plexi marshall into a h&h power amp. So I can’t remember everything but there was a Marshall se100 or a Juice extractor for the load. There was some pedals in a switcher in front of the amp [tube screamer,octavia etc]. In the rack was some pcm42’s,a rackmount ce1 chorus and I can’t remember the rest. Might have been a spx90 in there. Dave
Post by RACKSYSTEMS » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:02 am
Sometimes the 4×12 was vintage 30’s other times they were vintage 25 watt greenbacks. The amp changed a bit but it was a plexi 50. Not lead spec though. A lot of old 50’s were more of a bass spec.
This led me to another project, and a key ingredient in this project, the 50w Marshall Plexi. I’ll talk more about that later.. but the thing is, I got totally hung up in the “slaving the Marshall” concept and had to try it for myself to see if that was the secret mojo to the tone. Weeeell, the result of that little experiment didn’t lead to any big revelations. The whole slaving thing just shaved off all of the upper harmonic content of this amazing sounding amp. But, ditch the load box, turn the fucker on 8 and add a Tubescreamer in front and bam! There you go, the tone!! Turn off the Tubescreamer, dial down the volume control on your strat and you’ve got a wonderful clean tone with lots of sparkle and upper harmonic content, beautiful!
Then I saw the following picture which totally got my head spinning: (Left image)
by John Ziegler » Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:13 am
i think the rig there on the vid was a 100w plexi super bass stack and a blackface pro reverb (running into the matchless cab too). and he was probably using his old burning water live pedalboard/switcher…with his early ’60s white strat.
I have tried to get a bigger version of the above pic, but without any luck. One day it struck me that it might be a picture from the sleeve notes of one of the BW albums, but I’ve digitized the lot and all my cd’s are in storage so I haven’t been able to check. But, if you look closely you can see a custom Bradshaw floor switcher, a TS808, a Roger Mayer Voodoo-1, a Tycobrahe Octavia and a Boss TU12H tuner. There is most certainly a Bradshaw modded wah and maybe a volume pedal there as well. I think there might be a FoxRox Pro Vibe there too.
The switcher was able to switch between 4 amps. I’ve never seen Mike use 4 amps, but rather the usual setup of two amps; a Fender Pro Reverb and a Marshall 50w Plexi. You can also see him playing his ’64 white strat and there’s a BF Fender combo in the back, which to me, looks more like a Vibrolux than a Pro Reverb, but it’s hard to tell. Other highlights include the mucho Hendrix inspired strap and the orange oversized blazer.
Here’s a new pic I found of the pedalboard:
It’s hard to tell from the above pic, but a few new and interesting tidbits:
*Wet rig with PCM60 and Valvestate power amp!! PCM60!! Keeewl!!
*Two (!) Matchless combos and a Matchless cab in addition to a Marshall full stack.
*On the board there’s a little white pedal next to the wah, but I have no clue what it is though..
*Other bits and pieces of information gathered from different sources*
(A lot of the info is from an interview done by Steve Rosen)
A post by John Z in 2005 listing a bunch of gear that Mike was selling. I’ve included only the items that are of interest for this project:
by John Ziegler » Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:10 pm
-’63 Vibrolux reverb (kendrick speakers, with anvil…used on guitar solo on “Machine”, Raging Honkies)
-’64 Pro Reverb (V/30’s, s/n 03688)*
– Matchless 2×12 cab with anvil case (“tone tubby” speakers, 4 ohms)
– Custom Audio Pedal Board/Switcher in anvil case (4 loops, 4 switchable outputs) used on “Burning Water” tour
RACKSYSTEMS wrote: The pro was stock and had vintage 30’s in it back in the burning water day’s. I worked on it then and it sounded great. Dave
I know that the Vibrolux was sold, but I think that the Pro Reverb is still around in his collection. I might be wrong though. At least we get to know what speakers was in the amps. It’s interesting that it says Kendricks in the Vibrolux, because I’ve later seen the amp for sale and it was then sporting Eminence speakers, a combo of Raging Cajun and Copperhead. I guess the buyer swapped the Kendricks before he sold the amp.
There could be another story to this as well. In the list of the items for sale, the Vibrolux is specified as a ’63. The Vibrolux that I’ve later seen for sale was a ’66.
In the Landau/Bradshaw clinic Mike also talks about the Vibrolux as being “an early 60s model” so there could actually be two different amps..
Here are a couple of images of the ’66 Vibrolux:
Landau: I have two plexiglass heads and they´re both stock. They have EL-34´s in them. One of them is a ´67 and one is a ´69 (former is the 100-watt, later the 50-watt). I use those for solos a lot. On Burning Water I used a (Fender) Pro-Reverb for most of it and then the Marshall 100-watt. I´m happy with the sound on this last album. It´s just the Pro-Reverb through a Matchless bottom. I had the amp right next to me so I ran an extension cabinet, a Matchless 2×12, so it matched up with the Pro.
Steve Rosen: It sounds as if you don´t play that loudly in the studio.
Landau: No, I don´t. It´s just a 40-watt amp cranked up.
Steve Rosen: How did you get the sound on “Dream Out, Dream In”? I describe it as a very woody sound, very natural.
Landau: That was just a 50-watt plexi (Marshall) with an old 4×12. A lot of that is the old 25-watt speakers. (…) a Fender re-issue I don´t have here today, It had Seymour Duncan Classic Stacks pickups. I liked the sound of that track.
Below is a picture of the ol geezer with a typical tone machine. This one is a ’67 that looks raped and was sold on eBay not too long ago. Here’s what Mike had to say about it:
Mike: This is one of the best sounding Marshalls I’ve ever owned. I used it on many recordings, Burning Water and a lot of studio work. Its also the amp I used for the solo on “Gil Angeli” for an Italian artist Vasco Rossi.
Speaking of the Vibrolux.. I think this amp was more present than what it gets credit for. I belive this is because he always used the Pro Reverb live. Here’s a quote from the Landau/Bradshaw clinic:
Landau: Burning Water we did mostly at my house and uh.. it’s mostly a 50 watt Marshall and also a Fender Vibrolux. Sometimes through a 4×12, a Marshall bottom. And uh.. basically those two for the record. (…) The one I use for recording mostly is a Vibrolux, a blackface. An early 60s Vibrolux, with two 10s.
The white one is not a ’65.. it’s the ’64. The Fiesta is the one he’s still using. Those Tylers are awesome.
Landau: It´s a `64 Olympic white Fender Strat. This is the guitar I used on Mood Elevator (Burning Water), 90% of the record. It´s got Lindy Fralin single-coil pickups in it. His pickups are true to single pickups; his thing is doing real true replicas of those old Fender pickups. These are called Woodstock single-coils and they´re a little hotter than normal single-coils, darker and hotter.
This guitar is the one that always comes to mind when I think of Mike in Burning Water. It was later sold. These are Mikes words on his guitar:
I bought this fine ’64 Stratocaster in the late ’80s. I used it live and in the studio many times with my band Burning Water, maybe most notably “Save Sweet Sister” from the Mood Elevator record. There is a picture of the band on the inside of the first Burning Water record with me holding this guitar. It was refretted by Jim Tyler when I first bought it, the tuners have been changed and the pickups had to be rewound, they had lost their juice – John Suhr rewound the pickups a couple of years ago to Suhr “FL” specs.
Interesting to note that the pickups were original first, then swapped for Fralins during Burning Water before the originals were rewound by John Suhr to FL specs and reinstalled.
LA Vintage Gear: Great Brazilian fretboard. Re-fretted by Jim Tyler in the 80’s. No fretboard or fret wear. Guitar weighs 7.6 Pounds. Pickups have been rewound by John Suhr. Neck pickup measures 5.90 – middle pickup measures 5.86 – and bridge pickup measures 7.94. Original finish of course. Green guard.
(…)a ´63 Fiesta Red Strat (Fender). I used this one on the first Burning Water album.
Steve Rosen: The title track of Mood Elevator was a powerful sound.
Landau: That´s the ´61 black Strat, the one that was re-finished. Yeah, I like that sound, I did it at my house. The black Strat through a 50-watt Marshall and one 4×12 cabinet.
Landau: I tilt my bridges a littel bit so I can pull up a little on the bar. Like 1/16th of an inch or something from the body.
Landau: (…) this is a ´63 Lake Placid Blue Strat and what they did was shot the color right over a regular ´burst Strat. If they didn´t have a blue one there, they´d paint right over a sunburst. And this is all stock. This one I used for the solo of “Brave New World”. This one is tuned standard with a low D; I leave this one set up like that so for the tunes like “Brave New World” I would use this guitar. I also take the little string tree for the high E and B strings because they bind the strings up. This one has staggard tuners for tuning. I do that on a lot of them (remove the string trees, use staggared tuning assemblies) because it´s a tuning mood I´ve had done on a lot of them.
Now, Ive already posted the Landau orange blazer pic which you can see higher up in this thread. It’s an important factor in all of this and one of the main inspirations for this project. You’ll understand later on.. But, in addition to all of the BW inspired stuff and quotes that follows I previously also mentioned the incorporation of some Raging Honkies doodahs and dubdiddies. Have a quick look at the picture below too see one of my other sources of inspiration:
Okay.. back to the BW stuff.
Landau: For the last Burning Water album (Mood Elevator), I had a different pedal board which was basically a switching system with effects mounted on this board. It had a Voodoo-1 and a Tube Screamer and a Wah-Wah pedal and an old Univibe. It´s like an oversized A/B box: there are three amp outputs that can be programmed to switch on either one or have all three amps on. There´s also a Demeter tremolo on it, I used that on Burning Water.
All the effects I mentioned on that little pedal board are all before the amp so if you plug a Tube Screamer into it before and you have the amp up, it´ll get really dirty.
Steve Rosen: The Wah-Wah is also a big part of your sound. You use it on both Burning Water albums.
Landau: Yeah. Bradshaw does a little mod to those where he buffers it a little so it doesn´t lose gain when you engage it.
Steve Rosen: What about “I Herja”. The opening lick is cool because it´s overdriven and yet you can hear all the notes.
Landau: That´s an Octavia which is mounted on that pedal board we talked about. Tycobrahe.
Steve Rosen: On “I Wish You Were Mine”; is that the tremolo unit you talked about on the opening lick?
Landau: That´s the Demeter (…)
Steve Rosen: The solo on “Hot Blood” was great it really built. How did that come about?
Landau: (…) That´s just a Tube Screamer and Wah-Wah, a Custom Audio extravaganza. I don´t know what he does to them but they sound good.
Steve Rosen: What type of effect are you using on “Watch It Burn”?
Landau: That´s a Univibe turned up to create a Leslie-type effect. An old Univibe.
Steve Rosen: “Killing Time” is a cool sound.
Landau: That´s the one with the sitar on it. There´s no real solo on that one, I just kind of layered a few guitars. There´s an Octavia part, the same sound as on “I Herja”. And most of the tune is played with the fingers. The main guitar part is that white Strat with the tremolo and the Fender amp. And some of the real dirty stuff is the Marshall. I just kind of layered stuff on that one.
I’ve also heard rumours that the old hand made CAE Freddy Fuzz was present during the BW era, but I’ve never seen or heard any other evidence of this. My source was pretty confident in this though and it does makes sense so I ain’t gonna argue.
In the Bradshaw/Landau clinic we also get some interesting details:
Bob: There’s a new box made by FoxRox called the ProVibe which is a univibe type sound, a chorusing type thing that Mike uses for Burning Water.
Bob: The Burning Water system can select between four different amplifiers and then add pedal effects to that.
There is no echos in this system, it’s dry and punchy and you might call it a more vintage type sound.
Landau: With Burning Water I’d rather just sometimes just plug right into amps and use just some fuzz tones and older style pedals.
Soo.. let’s try to process all this information and paint a simpler picture of what was going by doing a little list..
Vintage Fender Strat with darker/hotter pickups.
Switcher: Octavia – Boost/Fuzz – Tubescreamer – Tremolo – Univibe
Fender Pro Reverb or Vibrolux through an extension cabinet, usually a Matchless.
Marshall head and 4×12.
That’s your basics!
Okay, now that we’ve been through that it’s time for me to choose my weapons of choice in recreating this setup.
I’ll do this in three parts; guitar, amps and effects. Remember, I will have to take some artistic freedom here and there based on practicality, availability and $$.
The gear I have chosen to best recreate the Burning Water era tones.
So, this is where the fun begins. I’ve divided part 2 into three different sections; guitar, amps and effects. I will not reveal my weapons of choice until they are posted to keep some excitement going. It’s also because I might do some revisions along the way so to keep this shit tidy, this is the way to go.
Fender Custom Shop Shop 60’s Strat Vintage White Relic
Neck shape: C
Weight: About 7.5lbs
Whoomp, there it is. A Fender Custom Shop Shop 60’s Strat Vintage White Relic, supposedly a limited edition axe for the 2012 NAMM show. I know, I know.. I should’ve bought an original ’64 or hunted down the guy who bought Landau’s old axe.. and killed him. Uh.. anyway. I’ve been searching for a Fender CS Relic for a while and I’ve had my eye on a few, but it seems like every time I’ve tried one or just seen one up close I’ve been let down. Either the relic job has been a total joke or if it was lucky enough to pass the aesthetic test the playability and mojo was nowhere to be found. There were also times when the price was just outragous for what it was. I knew I wanted a white one, but all the Olympic white ones looked a little too white to be a true relic. The Vintage White ones usually look really yellow and I’m not a fan. Anyway.. I found this one and thought it looked perfect! It was listed as VW, but it had a really nice faded yellowish tint instead of the solid yellow that most VWs are. I bought it without trying it first, based on looks alone, and figured I’d just flip it if I didn’t like it. When I first saw it I was a little let down again.. it was slightly more yellow than what I had expected, but still.. the relic job was super nice, really authentic and not over the top like many are. It also had the modern specs down which I wanted. After a week of playing around with it I knew I had a keeper. Although it’s a little buzzy here and there and the neck is a fraction too slim compared to my regular preferences, it has tone for days. It just sounds really fat, dry and woody. Perfect for this project!
Lindy Fralin Woodstock 69’s Pickups
Well, if we’re doing a tribute we might as well go deep when we can. As stated in some of the interviews Landau had the Lindy Fralin Woodstock pickups in his white ’64 during the BW days, so.. yeah! Although the original pickups were later rewound to FL specs and reinstalled I figured it was much cooler to go with some Fralins in this baby for some semi serious authenticity action.
Callaham Block and ’64 Virtual Pop-in Arm
Here’s an upgrade that is purely based on personal preferences, although I like the ’64 reference. There’s not a huge difference in tone when swapping the block on a CS Fender (the stock one was pretty good) but a slight difference is present. It’s very difficult to explain, but I would say that it’s a tad bit tighter with a bit more presence. I don’t really care though because the only reason I swapped it was to get the ’64 Virtual Pop-in Arm, which I love. Not just the arm (you can buy one with full threads as well if you just want the arm) but the virtual pop-in thing is the shit.
Souldier Woodstock Brown Strap
Finally, the secret behind the massive tone ML had during the Burning Water era. You would think it was the orange blazer or the oversized hippie shirts, but no.. it was the retro looking Hendrix’y strap. What, you didn’t notice? Oh, it’s all in the details baby.. Ha ha ha.. Nah, but for real. I just thought it was a funny lil addon. If you look at the orange blazer pic above you’ll see the vintage strap and on all the videos from the BW era ML is rocking the retro looking strap. So, I wanted one too. I have no fucking clue what Landau had, but I settled on this brown version of the strap Hendrix used at Woodstock. I felt the brown went a little better with the VW finish of the axe. I didn’t like the stock brass hardware on it so I had Souldier make me a custom one with regular silver. Dig it brother, groovy!
AMPS & CABS
Amp number 1: The 50 watt Marshall “Plexi” 1986 Bass
Well, you all saw it coming I guess. No big surprise here. Amp number one is gonna be a 50 watt Marshall. It’s a vital ingredient in the magic brownie known as Burning Water and it’s most definitely a key element to the huge lead sounds and also some of the rhythm stuff.
There was no way I could go and pick up a vintage 50w Plexi, but there is actually no need to do so either. Back in February, Gluke and I ventured into unknown territory and aimed to build the perfect 50 watt Marshall head. NOS Mustards and all! And, you know what? We succeeded.. big time. In May we had the finished product and it killed. We sourced all the best parts available and it all worked our perfectly. The amp is pure magic!
With a little help from a few friends, including Dave Friedman (who is the Yoda of vintage Marshalls), we managed to build an amp so sweet that you get meth teeth just by looking at the damn thing. A lot of the decisions made along the way was also based on information we sourced on Mike’s old 50w Marshall which makes this amp even more special.
Amp number 2: 1967 Fender Blackface Pro Reverb
Well, even I didn’t see this one coming… but I didn’t really have a
choice, now did I? Ha ha.. Anyway.. The Fender Pro Reverb just screams
Burning Water and vintage Landau. One of the lesser known amps from the
60s BF line-up, the Pro Reverb doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
It’s an amazing amp with the perfect marriage of clean headroom and warm
It has more balls and spread than the Deluxe, but breaks up earlier and smoother than its bigger brother, the way too loud Twin. An incredibly versatile tone monster and out of all the amps Landau has used over the years, his Pro has to be one of the most featured ones. It was present in more or less all the BW shows and he has used it with James Taylor and more. Apart from the Vibrolux which was used a little on the first record, the Pro Reverb is all over the Burning Water records. Most of the rhythm sounds and even some of the leads are pure Fender BF juice and holy shit does it sound great. After listening to several live bootlegs where you can hear him switch between the Pro and the Marshall the latter gets used surprisingly little. Usually just for a few solos here and there and when its time to “tear the place down in flames” type endings.
The one that I bought has got to be one of
the cleanest Pro Reverbs in existence. It’s all original and looks like
it just came out of the factory yesterday. I think it even had the
original tubes, and it still does, apart from the driver tube for the
reverb which had to be swapped because it just dissolved from age when I
pulled it out. Even the chrome on this puppy still shines. I fired it
up for the first time today and it was a mindblowing experience. Such an
amazing sounding amplifier! The bottom was tight, the mids where fat
and the treble was silky smooth with a little sparkle on top. The amp is
dead quiet and has no additional noise which is often the case with
vintage amps. I don’t know the story of this amp, but it looks like
someone bought it in 1967 and just left it in storage, taking it out for
a little spin now and then to keep the juices flowing.
The pictures doesn’t do this thing justice! I had the chance to compare it to three other BF Pros today and this one came out the winner, both in looks and sound. I’m still flying high after that session.
So, yeah.. there you go. Surely the diamond of this project and without a doubt the crown jewel of my collection.
CAE Freddy Fuzz
Now, here’s a little curveball. I hadn’t planned on adding this at all. But, I just couldn’t shake off the über GAS I was feeling when I found one for sale so I grabbed it and here it is. I remember playing one years ago and thought it sounded like shite. I think it was around the time when Luke had one on his pedal board next to the RSB18 (vaguely remembering here..) Anyway.. I had this idea in my head of how it would sound.. well, it sounded nothing like it and I was really disappointed. Fast forward some years and I have a much better idea of what it does and how to make it shine. Mmmm… can you say FAT? Dig it.. Still the bad dog, but oh so gnarly. Luv it. And.. even though I haven’t actually seen Mikey ever use one I could def. picture him rockin a Freddy in the BW days like I was told by a solid source. Awesome!
Roger Mayer Voodoo-1
Yuup.. you guessed it. What would this rig be without the Roger Mayer
Voodoo-1. The magic pedal that everyone bought, but only a handful fell
in love it. It’s a different kind of beast for sure, but a cool one if
you use it for what it does best.. boooooost! It’s a love/hate thing for
sure, but when it’s right, it’s oh so good. The way it fattens up your
signal and bumps up just the right frequencies is heavenly. It also
pushes your front end better than any porn star out there so if you want
to blow your load.. I mean, blow your amp into some higher gain
territory it’s just what Ron Jeremy ordered. I tend to use it as an
always on pedal to fatten up the signal. It does wonders for a clean
signal and makes it a little more bold in lack of better words.
For some major mojo bonus points I have to mention that this one was *supposedly* previously owned by Landau.. I tried to smell it, but the scent of freshly bbq’ed bison burgers and hippie incense was long gone I’m afraid.
Analog Man Ibanez TS-808 True Vintage Mod
Well, if you hadn’t guessed this one then.. yeah. Probably the most essential pedal of the whole collection. Landau used the Tubescreamer extensively during the BW days and also later on. You can also see it on the pedalboard in the famous orange blazer pic above. It’s a perfect booster to take a semi overdriven Fender and Marshall into lead territory. The way it slightly cuts treble and bass and focuses the mids gives your tone a warm and woody injection for solos and fills. It’s such a classic pedal that, hopefully, doesn’t need anymore introduction. The green meanie is featured all over the BW albums. I’ve been using Tubescreamers for years and it’s my favorite overdrive pedal of all time. There are endless versions out there, all based on the same circuit, and some of them are very good, but for a straight up boost I prefer the original. Well, almost.. I get Analogman to modify all my Tubescreamers just because I like how he makes them sound. It makes them slightly sweeter and a touch more woody. I would’ve loved to have an old one, of course, but these AM modified reissues sound great so I really don’t mind. As a special touch for this project I custom ordered one without any stickers or stamps so it looks completely stock. It does have a different color LED though, just because the original ones suck.
Tycobrahe™ Octavia SE by Chicago Iron
One of the quintessential Landau effects of the BW era was the Tycobrahe Octavia. It’s a pedal you have to know well to master and I’d say that Mike has a 3rd degree black belt in octavia madness. Not a box you just play through, but that needs to be played with in order to extract all the Hendrixy awesomeness this blue box has to offer. It’s the pedal I miss the most on Landau’s more recent work. He just slays with that Tyco.. I mean, the man can play an entire song with that pedal on and you won’t get tired of listening to it. A vintage Tycobrahe Octavia, should you be able to find one, is gonna set you back about $1k. So, the logical choice for this one was to grab the Tycobrahe™ Octavia SE by Chicago Iron. I have never played an original, but I can vouch for the Chicago Iron delivering the juice. Such an awesome pedal and one of the most important pieces in this rig.
Have a listen to the intro of the song “Burning Water” on the self titled first album by the BW boys for some experimental use of the Octavia or go dig on the live version of “I Herja” on the Live and Lit album for some truly epic use of this legendary effect. Respect!
Original Black Cat Vibe
This is one of the classics, for sure. A beautiful sounding vibe that was seen in a lot of racks back in the day, inlcuding Landau’s Honkies rig. (Although he had the CAE branded version). This one is in very good condition and sounds amazing.
Fulltone Custom Shop Hammond Box Mini Deja Vibe
(Replaced, see above)
Let’s get swirly baby, time for some vibe! There is some different information floating around regarding which univibe Landau was using during the BW era. It all got a helluva lot easier when he started using the CAE/BC Vibe.. ha ha. Anyway.. we all know that he had the FoxRox rackmounted Provibe which I do belive that Bradshaw actually rackmounted. I also think that Landau was using the Foxrox Provibe box version as well at one point and that could’ve been during the BW pedal days. (Bradshaw mentions this on the clinic tape) Then again, it could also have been an old one.. Landau keeps mentioning “an old Univibe” when he talks about the effect. All I know is that the Provibe was impossible to source. Even though there is supposed to be around 150 of them floating around. I’ve seen a few pop up now and then, but that was long ago. So, I had to find an alternative. I wanted something that sounded good, but in the spirit of the DIY’ish character of the Provibe, I set out to find one of the Custom Shop versions of the Deja Vibe. The unfinished hammond enclosure and the whole vibe (pun intended) of that box just screams vintage mojo so I’m pretty pleased with my decision. Trust me, it turned out to be almost just as difficult to hunt one down, at least in good condition, but I got lucky and scored one in excellent condition, with original box. Serial #91.. luv it!
Boss VB-2 Vibrato
I said I’d incorporate some Raging Honkies doodahs and whatnots.. well, here it is. One of the rarer pedals to join the lineup, the Boss VB-2 is on of those weird classics that has limited use, but does such an amazing job at what it does best, seasick pitch modulation. Not a pedal from the original BW days, but one that showed up during the Raging Honkies era. Mike used it all over the place back in the day and it’s just one of those pedals that, at least I, instantly think of Landau when I see.
CAE Super Tremolo
he CAE Super Tremolo.. what can I say, another classic. We’re getting more and more into Honkies territory with this one. Landau always said he preferred the CAE trem to the Demeter. I think they both sound very good. What I love about the CAE trem is the dual mode. You can set up a soft and mild swampy sound and switch over to a hard and choppy trem with a press of a button. There’s no denying that together with the BC vibe you have one of the most recognizable custom rack spaces in history. They were meant for eachother. This one is in very nice condition as well.
The Demeter Tremulator (Older “Red Knob” Version)
(Replaced, see above)
Although the Tremulator was later for swapped for the CAE trem that
Landau preferred over the Demeter I still wanted this classic pedal for
my BW rig because it’s the one you hear on the songs on the first album.
Personally I prefer a more swampy sound, but there’s no denying that
this lil beauty nails the tremolo effect heard on songs like “I Wish You
Were Mine”, which is actually one of my favorites.
I was lucky enough to score this pristine looking Tremulator for a decent price not long ago and although it is not an early version it is still and original red knob version, close to what Landau would’ve used during the BW days.
Arion SCH-1 (Grey box version)
My obsession with original boxes and manuals wil be the end of me.
got modulation up the wahzoo on this board for sure. Here we have
another essential Raging Honkies doodah that I figured I’d sneak in for
good measure, the famous (or maybe I should say infamous) Arion SCH-1. I
wonder if anyone would even know about this one today if it hadn’t been
for Landau. Sounds awesome both as a chorus and as a pseudo leslie sim.
I spent some time deciding which version I was gonna go with on this
project. It was either this one, another black one or the new Vertex
modified. My decision fell on this grey version because it sounds
amazing and it will be in a loop so I won’t be afraid to break it.. like
I have done with others in the past. I prefer TB mods on ones that get
Anyway.. I guess That Day on Landau’s Star Spangled Banner is a good example of one of the sounds this pedal can produce if you’re not familiar with it.
Custom Audio Electronics 2×4 Switcher
So, after making the decision to rackmount this stuff instead of going the original route of a using the Musicom I needed a switcher. I sniffed around at a couple of custom switchers that were made for this exact purpose, but they were all old and haggard so I decided to get what I felt would work best for my rig.. the CAE 2×4. With 8 loops and 4 control functions I am all set for configuring this rig exactly how I want it to operate. Either switch between the Pro and the Marshall or run a OD100 and switch channels in addition to switching pedals on and off and controlling the Vibe and Trem.
Musicom Lab EFX MKIII Audio Controller
(Replaced, see above)
This is where I get my freak on! So, remember how I stated that the orange blazer pic really got my head spinning and that it was gonna be my main source of inspiration for this project? Well, here is why. As soon as I saw that picture with the pedal switcher I knew that I had to do something similar. There was no way I was calling Bob for a custom 4 loop/4 out switcher when you have something readily available that is as awesome as the Musicom Lab switcher. As a bonus I’ll have 4 more loops than what Mike did back in the day to fill up with all the effects I’ve chosen for this project and I for sure don’t need 4 outputs, only two, to switch between the Pro and the Marshall. The Musicom allows me to do this by using the send of loop 8 going into one amp, shorting the loop return with a dummy plug and use the output of the switcher into amp number 2. By switching in and out loop no 8 I can now switch between the two amps and also program which amp I want to use for each preset.
In addition to that I have 4 control functions. These will be routed to an interface so that I can control external components and/or do channel switching. See, this is where we step into Raging Honkies territory..ish. Landau grew tired of carting multiple amps around and wanted one amp that could cover both the Marshall and Fender sound. Well, that’s how the OD100 was born back in ’95. Here’s what Bob had to say about it:
Bob Bradshaw: The OD-100 was primarely Mike Landau’s focus on that, he gave us a lot of input. Although John Suhr really put all the time in. Mike offered suggestions but we were looking to John for a yes or a no. You can call the OD-100 a Mike Landau signature amp in that sense.
So, what all this means is that I can use the two amp setup for some proper authentic BW action or I can run just an OD100 for easier transport like ML did in the early Honkies days.
Boss TU12H Tuner
More of an accessory than anything else, but another cool detail that helps in the authenticity department. ML used the TU12h for years and it was always present on his boards in the good old days. You can also spot it in the famous orange blazer pic above. The TU12h was my only tuner for years. I think it was the first tuner I ever bought and it has never let me down. I still had it some three years ago, but it went missing last time I moved to my new place. I spent some time on eBay trying to find one that was as close to mint as possible (just because I’m anal about these things) and this one was as good as it gets, still in its original plastic box.
I like it because it’s accurate, small and fits great on top of the Pedal Power.
Posted by marsa
Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:11 pm
We’re on our way. Rack is on order
Posted by marsa
Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:18 am
Serious update! This is just ridiculously cool. The candy is in the rack and the tray power is done.
We’re bringing in a Furman in the top slot.
Posted by marsa
Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:14 am
Awesome dude. Where is reverb and delay coming from?
I have a plan… MMMMmmmmhhhhoooooohhaahahahahaha.
Posted by marsa
Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:19 am
D the Diamond is knocking it outta the park. Furman is in and audio is done.
Posted by marsa
Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:40 am
Here’s an in progress back shot. Pretty sweet.
Posted by marsa
Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:31 pm
UPDATE!! The pedalboard is slowly coming together. We’re missing a volume pedal (FV300L.. U got one in awesome condition? PM me) but other than that we’re almost finished.
Posted by marsa
Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:47 pm
The finished rig:
Posted by Rackdoctor
Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:01 pm
In the video I am sending the dry pedals to one amp and a split to a Timeline and Dynaverb to the second amp.