Ian Edmundson
Inanities: 2018
 

January 4th 2018:
A happy new year to those (probably) very few people who bother to read any of my deranged mutterings.

Still alive?
Well done.

Yesterday I ventured up to the excellent Promenade Music store, way up North in Morecambe, to try and then buy this Vintage Midge Ure signature guitar.

Midge ure signature guitar

I'd never visited the shop before. They have a huge and stunning stock of instruments of all types. I was quite amazed by the place. As for the MU, it's a Les Paul styled guitar, obviously. After a quick remedial setup in the shop, which worked a treat, I parted with my sheckels for this lovely instrument.

The story behind me going miles and miles for this particular guitar?

It's quite simple. I went to see Ultravox on their reunion tours in 2010 and 2012 and Midge Ure used two Vintage Les Paul type guitars on the latter tour. They sounded unbelievable.He is an absolutely impressive guitarist and as a result of the second show, I convinced myself I needed a Vintage Les Paul type guitar. The signature model wasn't available at that point.

Midge Ure photographed by Ian Edmundson

Not too long after the gig, I went to Reidys in Blackburn and all of the Vintage brand guitars they had in stock were nearly unplayable. I was very nearly put off Vintage guitars - for life.

I then went all the way to PMT in Salford and spent comparatively silly money (about 4 times as much as the eventual cost of the Vintage signature model) on my genuine Gibson Les Paul Traditional guitar. It turned out to be a fantastic investment and it really made me take my guitar playing a lot more seriously.

More recently I bought a Radiotone LP goldtop replica guitar at a guitar show and I thought I was 'there' as far as Les Paul guitars went. Then, the inevitable happened... Ian - the guitarist in my band, The Three, turned up at a recent gig with a standard Vintage LP goldtop and handed it to me to try out. It felt great and I started to get the bee in my bonnet again.

This guitar plays wonderfully. The pickups sound great and once I have played it in a bit, I am quite sure that I will use it regularly. It is a convincingly weighty guitar, compared to the standard Vintage LP-type goldtop model, which I also tried at the store (and which Midge Ure also used on the tour). It is fitted with P90 pickups and a Vibrola arm.

It really looks The Business and has a great sound. I have told my long-suffering wife - many times - that each guitar I have gone out and bought was the last one, sometimes even believing it myself. Then the next thing has come along. This brings my guitar and bass total to 50 and I REALLY don't want any more. It's the end of a glorious and expensive era.

In other news: Today, I went for the second injection in my course of hormone treatment, which is aiming to help reduce and defeat my prostate cancer problem. The needle was bloody huge and I was not too brave about it. But it is done now. Back in three months (at the end of March) for another dose of the same.... I will probably be having radiotherapy to nuke the general area at the same time. I'm not happy about the expected side effects, but it's all better than 'the altenative' by a long way.

Also today, this video turned up from July 2014...


January 8th 2018:
The chest infection that was laying me low last month has just about gone. It has been a bit of a bugger and destroyed our Christmas and New Year, as my good lady also was down and deflated with it. Even now as I type, she is still coughing away.


January 10th 2018:
Ian and Graham appeared in a couple of scenes in episode 1 of ITV's GIRLFRIENDS at 9pm last Wednesday. It's on again this evening and I'm not sure of any of us are in this episode, but on the 17th, episode 3 is showing and The Three (supplemented for the occasion by cast member Gerard Fletcher) will be doing a song in the show. Watch it if you can. No doubt I will find a way to get some video onto our gorgeous website afterwards. The Production company chose the song from the very bottom of our set list.


January 17th 2018:
Donald Trump is upsetting various countries by insulting them and causing a world-wide mixture of horror and worry. I am not going to do the same, but there are some venues I have personally decided we will not be returning to this year, or in the future.

Their landlords are either insulting to the intelligence of the bands that play there, too ignorant to respond to messages, or confusing us with other bands when they do condescend to talk to us. They are not 'doing us a massive favour' by booking us. Some offer a fee that is below our minimum. Some are too cheap to even offer the band a drink after we have done two hours work for them and kept their punters in and made their profits go up.

One particular venue in Harwood discriminated against us recently by telling us that, because we were unable to play at their October charity event, (Graham had life-saving surgery two days before the event), we would not be able to play at their venue in 2018. We played their 2017 event - the cause that we supported at the event we played was Macmillan - and two of the band are currently affected by cancer.

However, other bands have contacted me stating they didn't play the charity event either and that they still have gigs there. One even offered to pull their gigs there in solidarity with us and in total disgust at the landlady's brazen cheek.I just don't have enough time left to deal with shits like that.

Our episode of GIRLFRIENDS aired tonight. We were not on screen for ages, as we awere not central to the plot, but we played our song well and it's one for the CV, as they say.


January 24th 2018:
A new recording of an old song - Things we said today - here.
Recorded to keep my hand in with the recording gear.


February 1st 2018:
I have just started selling some of my guitars. I don't really need the money, or even the extra space in my storage area, BUT.... I just started looking at some of my guitar cases, just wondering what was in them and then, on opening them up, I started to think that a guitar or three may be better employed by someone else who would enjoy it more than me.

I had reached 50 guitars and started to think that some of them wouldn't get played again and so what was the point of keeping them all?

Another new cover-version song -Ticket to ride - completed today - here.
Recorded to keep my hand in with the recording gear.


February 15th 2018:
I have got the dates and times for my radiotherapy treatment at the Christie in Salford, from March going into April. Not looking forward very much to the actual treatment, but I have no real choice. The hormone treatment is playing hell with my core temperature and I haven't had a good night's sleep for a while. Still..... I have it to do. No getting out of this.

I recently had this lovely Dean Stage Acoustic guitar fixed and made lovely to play with a really good set-up by Jack's Instrument Services in Manchester.

DEan Stage acoustic Ian Edmundson

Ian Edmundson

Facebook is full of keyboard warriors nuts who like to mouth off from the safety of behind their screen. I don't have time for fools. I'm going to be reducing my activity on there from the beginning of March, apart from doing absolutely necessary band stuff.

Also, on the prior subject of me parting with guitars, I bought this one the other day.
It seems to be a nice case of three steps forward, one step back...

Vintage Mick Abrahams SG


February 17th 2018:
Ebay has provided...
And now the fun starts....

Ian Edmundson


February 20th 2018:
I love my job....


March 6th 2018:
Being as lazy as I am, I haven't been keeping up with my blog here, anything like I should have recently. I will be writing something most days over the next month, as I go through my 20-day course of radiotherapy treatment. Keep your eyes peeled for several inanities.  


March 12th 2018 to April 25th 2018:
My daily radiotherapy blog, covering this period in excruciatingly boring detail, is here.


April 26th 2018:
I have ended up going back in and amending a bit of the last day of my Radiotherapy blog. I have tempered my comments about people's smoking habits. Cigarettes are not really very good for you. They are not health-improving. We all know that. I am scared of the things now, for myself, and also on behalf of other people because I care about them.

We all have a right to do whatever we want to do, though. That includes smoking.
It also includes trying to look after others. Or keeping my mouth shut and just letting them get on with it.

I am going to continue my blog back here now, though it will not be in the same irritating detail as it was on the other page. You'll have to guess what time I take my bath in future.


May 1st 2018:
Blackstar Unity U500 500w 2x10 combo and U250ACT 250w 1x15 active extension cab.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

When I first got this rig delivered, I just enthusiastically went plug and play, with little thought given to much proper adjustment to the controls. After an hour or so of playing time, I decided to sit down with the setup guide sheet that is provided. A few things made a little more sense to me after that.

I connected the extension cab to the 500w combo with the XLR cable provided and set the volume to about halfway, for the time being, with the volume control on its rear panel. There are clearly marked cabinet connector sockets for the XLR cable.

DSCN8501.JPG

DSCN8499.JPG

I then looked at the U500 top panel and its controls:

Left to right:
Input jack / -15db cut switch and clip indicator / Input gain / Voicing switch / Drive / Drive selector switch / EQ – low, mid + frequency, high / Effect switch / Response / Compressor / Compressor on-off switch / Master volume / Power LED.

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Using an active bass, the player should set the cut switch to -15db.
Using a passive bass, the player should set the cut switch to 0db.

I tested the rig with a Fender Precision Deluxe bass and a Rickenbacker 4003W bass

To start with, I turned the drive knob absolutely flat to get rid of the overdrive effects for now and selected OFF for the CHORUS and OCTAVE effects.

Then I adjusted the EQ. I found the LOW knob to be extremely powerful when the inboard effects were added in– to the extent that it shakes the cabs a bit, so I rolled it to about halfway temporarily.

Without them – or with them blended in subtly, I am confident to have the LOW knob set full on. Then I set the HIGH EQ knob to full on. The MID and FREQUENCY knobs make the final fine adjustments to the sound.

Selecting either the CLASSIC, MODERN or FLAT VOICING adds or subtracts body from your sound, to give you more tone. I selected FLAT, but that may change when the rig gets into a venue. CLASSIC and FLAT seem quite similar to me. MODERN boosts bottom ends and mid tones

Heading to the RESPONSE knob, I selected 6L6 (which apparently replicates a 6L6 valve sound).

I switched the compressor on and just engaged the COMPRESSOR knob a little.

If you are going to use the Overdrive, Distortion or Fuzz effects, there is a little bit of adjustment to do. There are blend controls for both on the rear panel of the amp. They need to be blended in carefully against your regular playing volume, otherwise they just give you a terrifying and immediate leap in volume that could potentially damage your speakers. I suggest turning DRIVE knob right down and then blending the effects in to your taste. The blend is very subtle, so keeping the DRIVE setting low to kick off with is vitally important.

DSCN8500.JPG

Once that was done, the footswitch can be connected to switch the effects on and off. Button A controls whichever of the DRIVE effects (OD, DIST, FUZZ) are selected. Button B controls whichever of the CHORUS or OCTAVE settings are switched on.

Combining the distortion and Octave sounds can give a very interesting and gutsy result (with very careful blending of volumes) and that will be really useful to the more metallic of bassists.

I find the supplied FS13 footswitch that controls the effects a little flimsy and, as I just use a flanger on my line in, along with a tuner pedal, I am just filing the footswitch away. A cable is also supplied, to connect the footswitch to the rear of the U500 in the FOOTSWITCH socket. You can buy an extra FS12 5-way foot controller to control the top combo effects and provide a tuner.

From there in, it’s just a case of experimenting with the voicing and response settings and setting your input gain and master volume and away you go.

I notice that after being on for quite a while, there is no heat given off and no smell from the rig. It is also pretty silent when the jack is out and the master volume is left turned up.

It’s a really solid sounding amplifier setup, well-constructed and really attractive. Not stupidly expensive and the rig could be extended with further ACT 250's that can be daisy chained together. It is feasible to have a pair of U500’s and a pair of ACT 250’s running, but the player would probably need to link the two 500w combos via a splitter box and then go to the two inputs.

Last thing, switch the extension cab off first, as it doesn't like the combo being turned off first at all.

I will post my thoughts on how it does in live use after the weekend.


May 8th 2018:

Blackstar Unity U500 500w 2x10 combo and U250ACT 250w 1x15 active extension cab.
IN LIVE USE… Based on a 4-gig weekend, using this rig exclusively.


I have come to this rig from a Hartke HA3500 and 2x10 and 4x10 cab setup that suits me perfectly.
I admit that it is not realistic for me to expect this rig to get that sound.

My findings over the weekend were mixed. For the first two nights, I just used a couple of passive basses (Rickenbacker 4003W and USA Fender Jazz bass) and I managed to get a decent, solid tone from the rug after some trial and error and fine adjustment. I still avoided the DRIVE effects and the OCTAVER effect, as I have no use for them.

At stage volume, I think the DRIVE effects and engaging the knob to blend them in would really make the amplifier work really hard, unless you experiment at some length beforehand with the input gain and master volume. I am sure that someone who buys these amps for this purpose will work this out and report back.

The LOW and HIGH settings need to be backed off on a bit when working at stage volumes. For the second pair of shows in the weekend, I took two active basses along for the ride – a Fender Precision Deluxe and my trusty Hamer 12-string bass. These initially seemed to be more than the amplification could cope with, but backing off on the LOW setting meant that the amplifiers put out a decent bass signal again. They are very directional, so, while our drummer was pleased that my bottom end was not sounding as ferocious to him, out front, watching video of the final show of the weekend, my Fender bass was extremely powerful, projection-wise. More noticeably so far away than from just standing in front of it.

It took quite some fiddling about to find the setting that delivered something close to ‘my sound’. Now I have it there, I am going to photograph the settings and not mess with them again too much. Working out how to set the mid frequencies was my main issue – too low and the bottom falls out of the sound. Too high and the cabs vibrate. I do think these 500w combo cabs could do with a port hole in the rear, to relieve the pressure on the 2x10 speakers.

The extension cabinet does its job, but the tiny switch used for the volume could do with something to show ‘what number you’re on’ when adjusting the volume. It is a bit fiddly to go behind the rig, mid gig, clutching a bass and bend down to raise or lower the cab volume. The main controls on the 500w combo are recessed in the rear of the top of the unit, so they are not easy to see during a gig, if you need to make a fine adjustment.

To sum up, the rig has the potential to deliver a good meaty sound - after lots of experimentation with inputs and the drive and the various valve simulators. It maybe needs to evolve to include a rear port and I could personally live without all the effects, but I do find the chorus quite useful. Someone else may use all the effects at lower volumes and get their desired result. Your mileage may vary.


9th May 2018:

Something from the weekend....


19th May 2018:
Fame at last?

Fretwank magazine


24th May 2018:

The guitar in the photo below turned up a few days ago. It is a replica of Prince's purple Cloud guitar, as used on stage by the man himself. Mine is not one of the half dozen that Prince actually owned personally that keep coming up for auction and reaching stupendous prices. Nor is it one of the very small run of authorised Schecter replicas, also very rare.

I happened across an advert for these guitars online. It was relatively inexpensive, so I thought I would take a punt.

The guitar turned up a few weeks after being ordered from a company in the USA and was shipped to me quite quickly - from China - and straight out of the box, as you can see, it looks great. Very comvincing.

Cloud guitar by Sunfield

Looking great is good, but playing it straight out of the box proved just a little bit difficult. I carefully lowered the bridge to get the strings nearer to the pickups and neck and found that some notes choked if I bent the strings.

For that reason, the guitar has gone straight into the very capable hands of my good friends at Jack's Instrument Services in Manchester, where it caused much delight when they saw it.

It needs a fair amount of remedial work, (new bridge support posts and fret leveling) which was an extra expense that I hadn't banked on, BUT as the guitar wasn't that expensive to start with, I took that on the chin.

I ordered a case with it, which didn't arrive. That is now on its way. Their customer service by email is very attentive. I could have bought another case for it here, but it is an awkward size and shape and it doesn't like going in some standard cases.

I will report back when I get it back.

The future is Purple.

I went to see the superb Sparks in Leeds last night with my daughter Rachel and her bump. All fantastic.


 

 


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