WhiteManistan Blues Band: Poor man’s stereo rig

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 9:12 pm by George Smith

Made-in-China telecaster, used Atomic Reactor amplifier missing parts (but still takes a guitar line level into the effects return), 10-year old Adrenalinn III for time-based effects and stereo out, 26-28 year old Scholz R&D Rockman Sustainor, 15-year old Bag End 12″ on loan, 30-year old Hiwatt Custom 50 bought when I was at Lehigh.

Guitar to Sustainor for clean, edge distortion (not its highest gain setting by any means), then out to Adrenalinn III for stereo effects — one of the most important, a 12 millisecond delay in stereo for a doubled-in-a-small room very hard echo. (Trust me, that’s rock and roll.)

Then it goes to the Atomic as the main feed and the HiWatt (which pushes the Bag End 12″) for the stereo image.

It’s important to have a cheap EQ in the effects send and return of the Scholz Sustainor. This was my choice, bought years ago.

Some think the Scholz Sustainor, now a very old piece of gear, as only something that furnishes a typecast period piece Boston sound, totally inferior to modern digital modeling equipment. Not so. I use both with no prejudice.

An equalizer the Sustainor’s effects loop de-Bostonizes the sound, if desired.

My settings push up the bass below 400Hz. (The result, with the single coils in a telecaster-type guitar, a mid-scoop that retains body without making the treble ear-shattering. The goal is tight — but not always, heh, rock and roll tone with full bass and solid sound from rhythm to heavy lead. The classic Scholz equipment equalization, which is very good but idiosyncratic to the Boston sound, creates a huge bulge between 500 and 700 or so Hz, the very middle of the electric guitar’s sonic power. It’s perfect for many classic rock lead applications and rhythm sounds that make good pads while getting out of the way of the singing. But it’s not perfectly ideal for waxing quickly between rock and roll — the Beatles, the Stones, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Creedence Clearwater Revival — and arena rock, the Eagles “Hotel California.”)

The Sustainor internal EQ section carves a lot of everything below 400 out for the sake of sitting perfectly in a full range studio mix. As a side undocumented trick, an EQ, even a very cheap one, can put this all back in the Scholz effects return and can be used to push the “clean” settings of the Sustainor into mild overdrive.

So what can this rig do? It’s a jerry-bilt set up, unplanned, done from expedience.

The WhiteManistan Blues Band goes from jangle electric folk and some country to raging boogie and hard rock in 50 minutes of tunes. And it’s a two-man band, the kind of group I was in the early-70’s when I cut my teeth on combo rock. The White Stripes and Black Keys did not, by any means, invent the two-man band.

When you are in a two man band you have the freedom of choices others don’t have and also challenges they don’t.

For example: You can play really loud live (half of what we do). And annihilate the need for a bass player.

Or you can mix it like a lot of pop music. And annihilate the need for a bass player.

Or you can try to do it all, with a span from folk to loud hard rock in a full stereo panoply (the other half of what we do) compensated to combine the best of a raw sound with the dynamic range of a stereo mix.

It’s not easy. Everyone has to roll their own. It comes with experience, an ear, or ears, and what works for you.

Stay cheap.

Note to prospective made-in-China “Fender” telecaster owners: Pick-ups and electronics are stock and not substandard. At really loud volume the single coils are not micro-phonic (a common criticism by know-nothings, prone to atonal squealing caused by vibration of pickup winding) or inferior to domestically-made pickups at all. (Keyword: Squier.)

Pardon the errors: An earlier version of the post screwed up the frequencies by orders of magnitude. Since corrected.


  1. Tom Paterson said,

    January 26, 2014 at 10:04 pm


  2. George Smith said,

    January 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Yeah, this describes some, but not all of it. It’s the best analysis on the net.


  3. Tom Paterson said,

    January 26, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    It’s late there and early here.

    *creates a huge bulge between 500 and 700 or so kHz*

    You’ve either got the great Tom Perkins of all equalizers there or you’ve made a unit magnitude error. Hertz, surely, not kilohertz?

    Mr Perkins, who was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, is clearly senile. He should never have fired his steno. The first and last paras of his ‘letter’ are malformed and syntactically broken. There is a God.

  4. Tom Paterson said,

    January 26, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    a billionaire w(h)ine

    import your bracero
    (dealing with go-betweens, they’re pretty sleazys)
    work your bracero
    (no matter how hard i whip them they’ll never please mes)
    poison your bracero
    (i know they’re sick when they start getting wheezys)
    deport your bracero
    (my brother’s a sheriff so that bit’s easys)


    a hostage to fortune that rhyme …

  5. George Smith said,

    January 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Yeah, error. Oof. Poetry, good. A little Ogden Nash.

  6. Tom Paterson said,

    January 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    The proofreader’s fee was a rhyme.