ses­sion shenani­gans

The stu­dio gui­tarist’s guide to hap­pi­ness and per­sonal ful­fil­ment, as re­lated to us by Mitch Dal­ton This month: Z is for Zen and the Art of ZT Elec­tron­ics

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - For more on Mitch and his mu­sic go to: www.mitch­dal­ton.co.uk

Well do I re­mem­ber my first pro­fes­sional en­gage­ment, a sem­i­nal mo­ment in my Show­biz his­tory. For those of you un­der the mis­ap­pre­hen­sion that I might be ref­er­enc­ing my very first stu­dio date (Chel­tenham & Glouces­ter Build­ing So­ci­ety com­mer­cial, Ad­vi­sion Stu­dios, to be ob­ses­sively and com­pul­sively ac­cu­rate), you would be in re­gret­table er­ror. Nor am I re­mem­ber­ing my Free Jazz (in both senses) de­but, The White Hart Pub­lic House, Hol­born (or Covent Gar­den Bor­ders, for any of you es­tate agents in tonight). Or even my grand en­trance into the movie in­dus­try, a charm­ingly in­ex­pen­sive cel­lu­loid ca­per, light of plot, lighter of di­a­logue and light­est of cos­tume for the two and oc­ca­sion­ally three nu­bile pro­tag­o­nists in­volved.

No. The fo­cus of this rose-tinted rem­i­nis­cence is The Thatched Barn, Bore­ham Wood, Hert­ford­shire. It’s a Hol­i­day Inn now, and not in a good way. The cor­po­rate event in ques­tion was the Alfa Romeo UK An­nual Din­ner And Dance. And specif­i­cally, the three flights of stairs up which an un­sus­pect­ing elec­tric gui­tarist was forced to schlep a Fender Pro Re­verb com­plete with vi­brato, valves and two 12-inch speak­ers. El­e­va­tors are for wimps, ap­par­ently. How­ever, never let it be said that I am not a quick learner. By 2am and gig end, mid­way through a de­light­ful re­verse stair­case ma­noeu­vre, I had al­ready men­tally pre­pared the ‘Equip­ment For Sale’ small ad for inser­tion in the fol­low­ing week’s Melody Maker. The suc­ces­sor to Fuller­ton’s finest turned out to be a Peavey Pacer, 40 watts of tough tran­sis­torised tone, two thirds of the size, 50 per cent of the speaker count and half the weight. This had to be the way for­ward, as I re­flected on the plight of those less blessed with op­tions. Key­board play­ers lug­ging Ham­mond or­gans or Fender Rhodes Suit­case pi­anos plus wheeled Twin Re­verbs con­tain­ing their own body weight of JBLs. Ab­surdly over equipped drum­mers with dou­ble bass rigs and am­bi­tions to be the next Carl Palmer. And as for those six-foot ‘col­umn’ speak­ers - lit­tle won­der that the term ‘Sound Re­in­force­ment’ had come into com­mon us­age. The en­tire US Cavalry First Divi­sion would have been wel­comed at set-up time.

My rapidly ab­sorbed les­son that ‘less is less’ en­gaged me in a bi-po­lar strug­gle be­tween Top Tone or Torn Tri­ceps. For years I trod a crazy path of fi­nan­cial self de­struc­tion, zig zag­ging be­tween Peter­son P100s (tiny but tasty) and flight cased Mesa Boo­gie No­mads (The Truss Busters), Roland Cubes and Den­nis Cor­nell cus­tom jobs, Fender Deluxes and Champs. At one point I bought a red Toy­ota MR2, one of its main at­trac­tions be­ing the cubby -hole sized boot that could ac­com­mo­date my teeny Paul Rivera de­signed Su­per Champ and lit­tle else.

And thus it came to pass that one fine day, the war­ring fac­tions of un­sat­is­fied ears and bro­ken body fi­nally de­clared an uneasy cease­fire af­ter a visit to Bill Pu­plett, gui­tar tech­ni­cian to the gentry. On this oc­ca­sion, he in­vited me to con­firm that his lat­est gui­tar set-up was to my sat­is­fac­tion by in­sert­ing a jack plug into well... noth­ing. With the aid of re­cently cor­rected spec­ta­cles and an elec­tron mi­cro­scope I could just dis­cern the out­line of some­thing sim­i­lar in ap­pear­ance to a tran­sis­tor ra­dio sit­ting in­nocu­ously on his work bench. And a wee one at that.

“What the Fender is that?” I ex­claimed eu­phemisti­cally, as mel­liflu­ous tone filled Bill’s work­shop. “Ah. Well. I take it you are un­fa­mil­iar with The Lunch­box by ZT Elec­tron­ics? 130 Watts. 4.5-inch speaker. Weighs the about same as your wal­let af­ter you’ve paid me. And, as you can see, not much big­ger. Al­though I own no shares in said com­pany, I do sug­gest that you ac­quire one. In the un­likely event that you con­sider it a tad bulky, they also do The Lunch­box Ju­nior. Just 30 Watts and so small it re­quires elec­tronic tag­ging to lo­cate.”

It re­mains only for me to tell you that I have been us­ing said techno won­der at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity since the nice peo­ple at DHL popped along with my very own ex­am­ple. Frankly, I wouldn’t be too fussed if it sounded merely ad­e­quate. But it doesn’t. It has played the The Royal Al­bert Hall, cour­tesy of a line out through the head­phone jack socket. Ditto the O2 Arena and The Royal Fes­ti­val Hall. Words and phrases like “Epic” and “Make sure you bring that thing next time” have been bandied about by sound en­gi­neers.

It nes­tles in its cute bag and sits on my shoul­der. I even bought the ex­ten­sion cab. Same size, same bag. Fun to em­ploy as a mon­i­tor and to amaze stage crew. You could do worse things in 2017 than to check one out. It was about 375 quid last time I looked. Just sayin’.

And a happy down-sized new year to you all.

and thus the war­ring Fac­tions oF un­sat­is­Fied ears and bro­ken body de­clared a cease­Fire

Mitch’s Lunch­box amp has played the 02 Arena and Royal Al­bert Hall

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