RIP VHT Special 12/20 Hello Bugera Vintage 22

I’ve now blown up my Second VHT 12/20 – 12/20RT so I threw myself on the mercy of the Tone Gods. I will say VHT stood behind their warranty every step of the way which was great but their QC needs help. That being said I played a ton of Amps these last few weeks in between the general complications I had from surgery Late last year. I played a Marshall SL-5c (The new Slash Combo announced at NAMM) which I loved but it just wasn’t loud enough for small gigs, boy it sounds nice though. I played the Blackstar HT and Venue, the Egnater Tweaker 15, The Jet City JCA20H and the JCA22H which I thought were just amazing and was ready to go forward with one.

Then I had the fortune to Noodle around on the Bugera Vintage 22 Combo just to kill some time while I was waiting on my friend who was in pro audio looking for her new mic. I never even considered a Bugera even though a great player I know from LA Shane Gibson (Korn – St0rk) has spoken to me very favorably about them in the past. One, they’re made by Behringer and two Shane has / had an endorsement with them so I took it with a grain of salt. Bad idea, I was just blown away by this little amp. It’s a true EL84 monster with a Mid Roll on/off Switch that turns it into a snarling Marshal. I’m still scratching my head on this because it’s the bottom end amp in its class price wise so I did some research.

I found that Bugera is a pet project of the mucky mucks at Behringer who aren’t known for making but a scant few quality pieces of gear over the years. The Eurodesk in the 90’s is their claim to fame but I haven’t been impressed by anything from them since then with the exception of the early model (92 to 97) of ultragain pro Mic Pres (I own one). Behringer is cheap import low-end amateur garbage (only my opinion of course) for the most part who’s target clientele are amateurs and high school kids not pros.

In asking and reading info on the interwebz I found that Bugera is: 1) Manufacturing their own valves, you can purchasee them from any of bain capitals (vomit) music stores online (GC, Musicians friend etc) 2) Manufacturing their own speakers and…. they aren’t crap like all the others I’ve had the displeasure to hear (Behringer’s PA cabs are very poor sounding)  3) Manufacturing their own caps and transformers. When the funds for my Blown VHT came through I took the Vintage 22 home for several hundred less than the VHT was worth. I’m still scratching my head, the thing sounds like a million bucks. Raging EL84 overdrive, amazing cleans and the reverb is beautiful. AT this point my scalp is wearing thin from all the scratching. Cheap Asian import amps don’t sound like Marshall JVM or Blues Breaker Combos that are up to 2k a pop.

The videos I’ve made in the past (Kustom Defender v15 is coming up next) are because I couldn’t find anyone else such as Tone King etc. who’ve made one, but I’m not planning one for the Vintage 22 because there are plenty. However I did find this really above average and very comprehensive video by Grammy and Emmy award winner Vaughn Skow who clearly feels the same about the amp as I do. Check it out below and go play one of these puppy’s, You won’t regret it!

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My Alter Ego “I am Dead!”

I’m sitting in my studio with absolutely no voice whatsoever but I’m gleefully smiling :D I’ll explain in a minute. I’ve been working on segment music for a Broadcast Radio client of mine that’s been with me since 1995. The music was for a new gaming segment they’re adding to their “Computer Talk” radio program, of course it has to be the metal! (By Request). They want and I quote “a tune that sounds like a hot wheels commercial.” I’m not much of a Metal fan unless it’s Tool or Dream Theater, it seems to me and my taste Metal has all been done before. I don’t play metal at gigs and I wouldn’t audition for a metal gig unless someone tried to pass it off as something else (been there done that). It’s just not my cup of tea as a player.

The timing on this project couldn’t have been better.  I just finished watching “What we do is Secret” the story of the Germs. I was a little to young for the punk scene but I lived in the middle of it being in Los Angeles during Middle School. I remember kids wearing Germs shirts and hearing stories from my brother and his friends about Darby Crash (and his epic Heroin habit) and Pat Smear (Nirvana – Foo Fighters). I already had it in my mind to do some heavy Punk Riffing for fun in the studio because I’m a huge Germs fan and the film inspired me. I’m a huge fan of Punk Rock, I listen to the Dead Kennedy’s all the time still as I never seem to tire of them. Plus I resonate artistically toward the minimalism in Punk and good old 3 chord Rock. Angus RULZ!

In the same day (I know a lot of Netflix but I’ve been really Sick) I watched another film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. I’d never heard of this film but it reminded me of working with scummy A & R people back when I was a young Lad trying to work my way up in the music business in LA 20 years ago. There’s a line from the Movie “Don’t Put Out” that was perfect for this tune so I threw it in there. I liked the film, but I usually like any film that has to do with musicians. Coal miners daughter, Walk the Line and the Pick of Destiny are among my favorites.

This is one of those projects where almost everything went perfect, almost, which is rare. I had some trouble with the drum production but I’m not a good drummer so I have to “fix it”to make it sound righteous in the mix. Outside of that I composed and recorded the music in less than 2 hours. I only did one take for the guitar solo and kept it as hinckey as it is in a few spots. The vocals aren’t going to the client just the arrangement, plus I can’t sing lead (my voice is nasally). So what is it that one must do when your voice is great for harmony but a Vick’s commercial a capella? Why bring out the Cookie Monster voice!

Cookie Monster Metal!

Cookie Monster Metal!

For many moons I’ve used a character  as a catalyst to write with before, the Staten Worshiping, Heroin addicted, on a Murder spree Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol. His mother let the neighbors rape him as a child while his drunk father beat him and his siblings which formed him into a psychopath. Loki is an alter ego kind of character bloody and violent to the core! Loki comes straight out of a Quentin Tarantino nightmare, he gets his kicks by stabbing people in the eye with his needles after he shoots up as a type of murderous mayhem and torture.

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol

Loki Hendrix Mac Nicol was here!

As I’m doing the vocals on this project my voice is just getting tore up but I saved one last blast for the blood curdling scream Loki lets out in the intro. Oh my freaking Lord it hurt! The end of the story, I had so much fun doing this arrangement, more fun then I’ve had in quite some time solo cholo. FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!! It wasn’t work, it was an enjoyable process especially when everything goes as easy as this one did. My Egnater Tourmaster sounds just brutal on this track, I cranked it up so loud I had to run cables all the way to the bathroom on the other side of the house to stop the bleed over. Check out my *cough* Loki’s blood curdling scream in the intro, I don’t think I will be answering the phone anytime today :D

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Oh, and remember to play this FUCKING LOUD!

This song was written in remembrance of my Brother

This song was written in remembrance of my Brother Don who taught me how to Play Guitar and Piano when I was a kid and a teenager. When I was 17 he recruited me to play in his band, it was awesome playing with great players and vocalists all being at least 8 years older than I. That’s where I cut my chops and my harmony skills. The girls were nice too :) Those days, playing gigs with my big brother were the best days of my life. My brother passed far to young, he was such a soulful melodic player who still give me goose bumps when I listen to his recordings. I lost my Brother in February of this year at the age of 50, what a pity. I miss him so very much.