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Win Charlie Watts’ Gretsch Drum Kit

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. If nothing else, enter to win a set of gorgeous Gretsch drums just like Charlie used to love! Read below for an excerpt about the kit from Rolling Stones Gear. 

 

Charlie used his 1950s maple Gretsch kit and included an Italian UFIP 18-inch Chinese cymbal. Later, when UFIP was Gretsch RollingStonesDrumsGerman-owned, Richard King (who supplied Charlie with a lot of his gear) remarked: “[Charlie] did accept an endorsement from an Italian cymbal company UFIP. He likes their 18-inch China crash cymbal, and when the new German owner sent Charlie sixty to try out, only two were up to his standards.” Charlie later revealed: “I play a UFIP cymbal. I play it the Chinese way, with the edges up. I like them because they’re very trashy. They do tend to crack, and I can only drill them so much before they lose the sound and go dead. I’ve kept them all though, for thirty years.” Charlie, not a man of many changes, shed further light on his cymbals, a setup that has remained steady throughout the years: “John DeChristopher at 
Zildjian is always sending me cymbals. He’s a
lovely guy, but I never use them right away! I 
choose the ones I like, put them away, and let
 them marinate. For me, finding a cymbal is about
going into a second-hand shop and digging. I 
prefer one of Shelly Manne’s old cymbals to ten 
new ones. Even a guy in a dance band or a club;
 HIS cymbals get a sound and a look about them.
I don’t like new drums either, and I HATE new
shoes.” He continued: “I like things that are 
well made, like Zildjians, but that are fifty years
old. I use an old 18-inch flat ride, and I’m scared
 stiff it’s going to go. They’ve sent me new ones, but they’re never as good. I found it in Paris in ’70- something with Chuch Magee. We were bombed out of our ’eads at the time, but I’ve never stopped using it. I’ve used it in a piano trio, and I’ve used it behind Keith, and it’s fabulous. It’s a beautiful cymbal to record with.” Concerning Charlie’s stage sound, Benji Lefevre, the front-of-the-house soundman/sound engineer for the tour, commented: “Charlie tunes it his way, and it just produces the Charlie Watts sound, so I don’t mess with it. He does, however, have a very light jazzy bass drum technique, which enables me to use delicate high quality microphones on it.”

Bill Wyman’s Vox Amplifier

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this top-notch Vox amp! Read this excerpt from the book about how the band used to worship these amps!

Solid Senders

Bill Wyman officially joined the group on January 5. Apparently, Mick, Keith, and Brian had finally decided that Bill was in after what could best be described as a trial period. Bill explained: “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time! So, they kept me on. Later, when they were going to get rid of me, I think I clicked or something and I stayed. I must have just fitted in.” Ian Stewart later commented, “There is a certain amount of truth that Bill was taken on for his equipment, but Bill was very good.”

VoxAmpThe group immediately incorporated Bill’s amplifiers into the backline. While the Watkins Westminster, a 10-watt amp
that came with an 8-inch speaker,
two inputs, a volume control, and a
tone control that also acted as an on-
off switch, was a nice addition, the 
real prize was Bill’s Vox AC-30.

Keith, more impressed by this 
particular amp than he was with 
Bill, later commented: “Bill had
 amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped.
 A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was 
beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” Watkins, later WEM (Watkins Electric Music), was a London-based company started by Charlie Watkins that specialized in amplification.

The Vox AC-30 was considered the best and loudest guitar amplifier on the market in England at the time. Bill’s AC-30 was tan or beige, commonly referred to as “fawn-colored.” The official model name for the amp was the Vox AC-30/6 Twin Normal; “6” meaning six inputs, “Twin” meaning two speakers, and “Normal” meaning the guitar rather than bass version. The AC-30 was equipped with four EL84 power tubes, five pre-amp tubes, and a single GZ34 rectifier tube. Jim Elyea’s definitive book Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years states that: “Bill’s original ‘fawn’ AC-30 was built in approximately February 1962 and was purchased from the Art Nash Music Shop. Bill’s is a Normal model with a brownish copper panel with no Top Boost circuit. The two original leather handles have been replaced with newer Vox SBU handles. The amp is equipped with a pair of Celestion Blue T.530 12-inch speakers and has a sticker inside the amp indicating that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne.”

The Vox factory was located in Dartford, where Mick and Keith
grew up, and the primary Vox amplifier showroom was the Jennings
 music shop on Charing Cross Road in central London. Jennings Musical
 Industries was established by Tom Jennings in 1958. In 1962, the
 operation further expanded its horizons with the introduction of Vox 
guitars The company’s Vox amplifiers were devised by JMI’s chief design
engineer, Dick Denney.. Denney, who was also the creator of the AC-30,
started the Vox amplifier line with a 15-watt unit. He then reasoned that
what musicians really needed was a twin-speaker amp with six inputs.
Denney remembered Tom Jennings’s reaction to the concept: “He said to
me, ‘Well, you do what you like Dick, but if it doesn’t work, your head’s
on the chopping block.’ As it turned out, the AC-30 became the jewel in
 Vox’s crown; it’s what put Vox on the map. I made the amp so that it
sounded good to me. It was old technology, and I think old technology
still prevails.” One of the design oddities of the AC-30 was the situation of its control panel at the back of the top of the cabinet. Denney explained that his fellow guitarists at the time often sat behind their amplifiers, which projected a reverb-type effect into the hall from the front and a “dry” sound from the open back. Wyman’s Vox AC-30 amplifier cost £105, about $300 then, the equivalent of about £1,340 ($1,870) today.

On January 14, 1963, Tony Chapman was fired at the end of a gig at the Flamingo Jazz Club in Soho, London. The January 14, 1963, entry in Keith’s diary reads simply, “Tony Sacked!” Bill Wyman remembered: “Tony was told that his services were no longer required. He was furious and said, ‘Come on, Bill, let’s go and start a new band.’ I told him I was staying with the Stones, and Tony just upped and left.”

Win Bill Wyman’s Framus Star Bass

Contest Slide 770x420Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this stunning Framus bass! Andy and Greg wrote about Bill’s decision to play a Framus in Rolling Stones Gear.

 

BILL WYMAN’S FRAMUS STAR BASS

During August and September, the group began doing more shows on the ballroom circuit. Crowd hysteria and chaos grew with their popularity. Bill was no longer comfortable using his customized fretless Dallas Tuxedo bass onstage, fearing that it might be damaged or, worse yet, stolen. So, he went to the Art Nash music shop in Penge on September 2 and purchased a Framus Star F5/150 bass. He 152147-FR05150 STARB SH V11remembered: “I decided to buy a new bass guitar. I helped finance my purchase by selling my old bass cabinet and amp to Tony Chapman for £25. He had put together a new band with Steve Carroll and some friends. They called themselves the Preachers.”

On why he decided to go with a Framus Star bass, he explained: “I never really settled on
anything. About the only thing around at that 
time that was suitable was a Framus Star—you know, with the big cherry body. I played it
 upright because it was still quite a long guitar and 
my arms are short as well. I found it physically 
easier to stretch up and down than sideways. I
 played one of those up through 1968. I tried a 
few Vox guitars, some Gibsons, and various
 Fenders, because of the sound. The boys always 
used to say, ‘Why don’t you try a Fender—you
 get a really good sound and it’s easy to record 
and all that. I would agree, but I could not play
 the bloody things. I tried the Mustang, the
 smaller version, and there were a couple more I
 can’t remember. I actually did an album with the
 Mustang, though I can’t remember which one.
 After that I tried a Gibson for onstage, but the 
bottom strings were really dull sounding.” He
added that, “It was better for what we were doing then. My bass [the Dallas] was wonderful for the blues—you know the real down-home, earthy blues—, because I got a fantastic sound with that. When I went on to the Star Bass, it became more R&B, when the Stones became more R&B as well. I got that in the when we started to do ballrooms. The endorsement came after we started to become popular.”

Bill’s Framus Star F5/150 bass was a single-cutaway, 18-inch wide, thin hollow body with two white-bound ƒ-holes. The bass was finished in a red-to-black sunburst and had white binding, two pickups, and a black pickguard, on which the Framus logo was embossed in white. The white volume and tone controls were mounted directly on the pickguard instead of the body of the bass. The adjustable bridge was made of rosewood, with a Framus trapezes tailpiece engraved with “Star Bass.” The bass was fitted with a very thin, multi-laminated, long-scale, bolt-on neck with a bound rosewood fingerboard and a two-per-side headstock with white plastic-shaft tuning pegs.

Fred Wilfer founded Framus in Germany in 1946, at first concentrating on acoustic instruments. By 1954, Framus had started adding pickups to their guitars and was making thin body, semi-acoustic guitars and basses by 1958. Framus was known for their multi-laminated necks and their unique pickups and electronic designs. With the help of the escalating beat boom, the instruments became very popular and were distributed in Great Britain through the London-based Dallas company.

Bill first used his Framus Star bass on stage the same
day he bought it, at Studio 51, the group’s Monday 
evening residency. He remembered, “That night I used it
at Studio 51 and had to admit it was much better than my
homemade bass.” He used it for the first time on television when the Stones mimed “Come On” on ABC-TVs “Lucky Stars Summer Spin,” which was filmed on September 8, 1963, and aired on September 14.

Win a Zemaitis Custom Shop Metal Front Guitar

Contest Slide 770x420       Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Check out this beautiful Zemaitis custom shop metal front guitar – you can win this! Andy and Greg of Rolling Stones Gear speak about the Stones’ love for Zemaitis in their book.

ENTER TONY ZEMAITIS

During his early days with the Faces, Ronnie played a Gibson SG, followed by a red Fender Stratocaster, and then a Danelectro, all of which were subsequently stolen. In the end, he resorted to personalized guitars made by the legendary British luthier Tony Zemaitis. “No one would dare steal his guitars because he makes them so individual,” Ronnie explained. “He plasters your name all over it.” Antanas Kazimeras Zemaitis (1935-2002), born in London England became an apprentice cabinetmaker when he was sixteen and went on to make high-quality furniture. After taking up guitar in the 1950s, he began building his own instruments. By the early 1960s, he had become an accomplished twelve-sting guitarist who shared stages with the likes of Long John Baldry and acoustic guitar wizard Davy Graham. Twelve-string guitars were a rare commodity in England, and Zemaitis made a name for himself building twelve-strings for Spencer Davis, Ralph McTell, and others.

Ron Wood was introduced to Zemaitis’s guitars in 1970 through Faces’ roadie Peter Buckland and commissioned Zemaitis to build two guitars for him. Zemaitis was known for his unique-looking electric guitars built with a metal plate on the top face of the guitar, which was intended to shield the guitar and reduce the hum produced by the pickups. The first Zemaitis Metal Front electric guitar was built for Tony McPhee of the Groundhogs; the second was built for Ronnie Wood. It had a single-cutaway mahogany body similar to a Les Paul and a mahogany neck with a bound ebony fingerboard. The 25-inch scale guitar was fitted with two humbucking pickups and a three-way toggle switch with two volume and two tone metal control knobs. To insure that each of his electrics was unique, Zemaitis teamed with his friend Danny O’Brien, a master gun engraver. Zemaitis handcrafted his own metal bridges, tailpieces, truss rod covers, pickup mounting rings, jack plates, rear electronics plates, and metal front facerplates, while O’Brien skillfully hand engraved each part, personalizing the guitar for the client. Ronnie Wood’s first Zemaitis Metal Front guitar also had two metal control knobs on the lower bout of the guitar.

The second electric guitar Zemaitis built to Wood’s specifications was an all-black, single-cutaway “Disc Front” model, named for a round metal plate on the face of the guitar that O’Brien engraved with a treasure map. The 25-inch scale guitar had a mahogany body and neck and an unbound ebony fingerboard with dot inlays that started at the first fret and became smaller as they went up. The guitar was fitted with three humbucking pickups and a combination of six volume and tone control knobs, a five-way selector switch, and a built-in preamp powered by a nine-volt battery. The handcrafted Zemaitis metal bridge, tailpiece, truss rod cover, jack plate, and rear electronics plate also were hand engraved by O’Brien.

Wood’s 1971 appearance with the Faces on Top of The Pops playing his Metal Front guitar sparked a huge interest in Zemaitis’s eye-catching work. It also inspired Zemaitis’s next creation, a Pearl Front guitar that he considered perfect for the stage because it would catch the light and change color. The guitar was similar to the Metal Front guitar, but, instead of the engraved metal plate, the top face of the guitar was inlaid with a mosaic of pearl and abalone. Wood received one of the first Zemaitis Pearl Front guitars, which was fitted with three single-coil pickups instead of humbuckers. In the latter stages of the Faces and during his early involvement with the Stones, Wood also owned a hardtail 1955 sunburst Fender Stratocaster, and a Dan Armstrong Plexi guitar which he made the mistake of giving to David Bowie. “I thought I could get another one,” Wood said with regret, “and I couldn’t.” His amplification at the time was strictly Ampeg SVTs, which were painted white while he was in the Faces.