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Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
#3023713 01/15/20 01:27 PM
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I was approached by one of the guitarists in the 'tones and he wanted to know if I had an old Fender Bassman head that he could use as a guitar amp. We're all getting older and he was looking for a lighter alternative to his Super Twin - he was going to get a pair of 12" speakers and had heard a lot about the old Bassman heads being a great guitar amp. In going thru my old gear, I thought about all the gear I've used thru the decades.

When I started playing in '73, I borrowed my brother's Dual Showman head and Showman 1x15 cabinet. I didn't have enough money for an amp but saved up my paychecks from my after-school job to buy a new Rickenbacker 4001 ($425.00). I didn't have enough money for a case, so I spent the first year carting it around in its original cardboard box. Finally got a case (2nd hand - thank you, 48th St and Manny's!) and I was off to the races. Of course, I didn't know you needed to actually measure the bass to fit the case so the Ric rattled around in a case with a cut-out a good three inches too big. Our band was called 'Dark Star' - we played standard 60's-70's covers with a couple of surprises thrown in (a cover of Todd Rundgren's 'Utopia' went over big with the air-guitarists in the crowd), playing school dances, parties and the occasional 'Battle of the Bands' (which we invariably lost).

Dark Star had broken up - college had taken one of the players away and we didn't want to continue the name without him. The rest of us jammed together and joined up with an acoustic 3-piece that was looking to electrify and expand their harmony base, doing originals and Eagles/Fleetwood Mac-based vocal 'soft' stuff. We were with them for a couple of years until the original 3-piece core imploded, then we remnants of 'Dark Star' moved on individually and played in various short-lived bands. I was still using the Fender rig until my brother moved to California, taking the speaker but leaving the Showman head.

One of the guitarists/singers in the acoustic-based trip had become a very good friend, so he and I started playing duo at various restaurants for virtually no money. I bought a Fender Sidekick amp (small 70W combo with a single 12) for hauling around. It fit and was a nice clean bass amp for the money.

In 1979, the three Dark Star alumni (myself, the drummer and guitarist), my Duo partner and the guitarist's wife (also a singer) started a southern-rock band called 'Sidewinder', adding in a young guitarist who used to come and watch us rehearse as a mid-teen and had grown to become a stellar player. I needed a speaker to go along with the Dual Showman head so I bought a Sunn 2x15 Reflex cabinet that was a big as a Subaru. I screwed heavy-duty casters on one side of it and we used it as a cart to move the amps and PA system for load-in and load-out. It had a HUGE sound and paired really well with the Ric and the Showman head.

Sidewinder did pretty well until my Duo partner (Bobby) started having problems remembering words and chord changes. We slowed down our schedule a lot until we got a call one night that he had woken up to a massive seizure and was in the hospital. The diagnosis wasn't good - an inoperable brain tumor. We tried to continue without him as he was undergoing chemo, but we couldn't bring the same spark - it just wasn't right. The band went on hiatus. Bobby's condition worsened.

1985, the remnants of Sidewinder start talking about reforming with a keyboard player, changing directions a bit. We jammed together, cobbled a couple of sets of tunes and fiddled with possible band names. Since none of us ever expected to make The Big Time playing music, we kept our sense of humor and called ourselves 'Big Fun, featuring the Fabulous Flemtones'. We set up our first gig for February 1986.

Got a call a few days before our first gig - Bobby had passed. The funeral was the afternoon of our first gig as Big Fun.

The name was shortened to just 'The Fabulous Flemtones' a few months in. My insane bandmates and family bought me a new bass for my 30th birthday in 1987 - an Ibanez Roadstar fretless. Sweet bass - put away the Ric and the Roadstar became the #1. In 1988, I bought a Trace Elliot AH250 amp & a 4x18 TE cab, putting away the Fender rig. The Ibanez thru the Trace was a stellar sound.

Tradition continued - the band and the family bought me a Dan Electro Longhorn short-scale bass for my 40th birthday. It has a nice, poppy sound and is light enough not to cause backpain after a 4-hour show. I ran that thru the Trace rig for a number of years as well.

Jump to 2005, I was at a show and the bassist was playing a G&L L2000. I talked to him about it after the show and he was gracious enough to let me try his out. Within a month, I had the exact same model. I paired it with a MarkBass LMII and a 1x15 MB cab and that's what I'm currently playing. Still with the Flemtones (34-year anniversary coming up in February - same bar, same regular gig), still with the same guys I played with in high school.

tl/dr:

Basses: Ric 4001 to Ibanez Roadstar fretless to DanElectro Longhorn to G&L L2000
Rigs: Fender Dual Showman/Showman 1x15 cab to Fender Sidekick 70w (combo) to Dual Showman/Sunn 2x15 Reflex cab to Trace Elliot AH250/Trace 4x10 cab to Markbass LMII/MB 1x15 cab

Share your stories! How have your instruments & rigs evolved with your playing progress?


Play. Just play.
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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3023749 01/15/20 04:34 PM
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My first "good" rig was a Gibson EB0 and a pre-CBS Fender Bassman amp with the 12-inch speakers from the original cab loaded into a Bandmaster cab. I also had a Univox 2x12 extension cab.

My first band was a quartet called Atlantis doing all the usual late 60s through mid 70s stuff -- Deep Purple, Peter Frampton, Bad Company, The Eagles, etc.

Current rig is Eden WT550 and TN 501 amps with D210XLT, D210XST, D410XLT and TN410 cabs. Basses are the '76 Fender Jazz Bass I've had since high school graduation, a Pedulla Rapture J2-5 and a Music Man Stingray.

I've been in three bands in the past year -- a garage rock band doing everything from the Moody Blues to Beastie Boys called Dan's Garage, a hard-rockish outfit doing everything from Cheap Trick to Foo Fighters called Pneumatic Jones, and a country-rock band that does a rock set playing everything from America to ZZ Top called The Dirt Road Pickers. And I play a lot at my church.

Last edited by jcadmus; 01/15/20 04:38 PM.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3023756 01/15/20 04:49 PM
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So, does your guy want to buy my Fender Bassman?

I had been playing guitar for 3 years when I realized the rally cool parts of The Who were actually John Entwistle's bass parts. A year later I bought my first bass & amp - a Kramer Striker (P/J, maple neck, candy apple red) and a Fender Bassman Ten combo (50 watts; 4 10" speakers). Sure it was bigger than my parents would have liked; but it had casters. The bass lasted a couple of years; I still have the amp. Seriously - if your guy wants to buy it, and take the head out of the combo, let me know.

A couple of years on, I saved up for a better bass - a Yamaha BB1100S. (Just missed out on a Gibson EB3 I had been lusting over.) It was a beauty (violin sunburst?), and my first bass with active electronics. I ended up putting a Hipshot D-Tuner on it. Played it through a few bands, and at church, for years. Eventually I got sick of the active pre-amp. Had I known how easy it was to swap them out, I might have kept it longer.

I then bought a fretless Fender Jazz Frankenstein. Fretless neck was not original; Schaller roller bridge; EMG pickups; blackburst finish that obviously was not original. But all work was done by a local luthier with a good reputation. Still have this guy.

A couple years on, I ended up playing more guitar than bass (band-wise), and traded in the Kramer and Yamaha on a good (at the time) Washburn acoustic-electric. Yeah, I got ripped off. Don't miss the Kramer; every now and again I would like to have the Yamaha.

So for the next 7 or 8 years, the fretless Jazz and the Fender Bassman were my bass rig. Then I got into a couple of acts playing bass again, and knew I needed to at least update the amp. I got a Genz Benz head and 2x10 cabinet. I wish I had a little more in my budget and could have gotten a higher wattage head; then I might have kept that longer, too.

The next year my wife bought me an Epiphone Les Paul 5 string bass; still one of my favorites even though it's starting to get a little bit of separation of the fingerboard from the neck. One of these days I'll get that worked on...

A few years on, I won a contest from Bass Player Magazine: a Lakland Darryl Jones 5string; and amps from Phil Jones Bass: Six Pack, Brief Case and Bass Buddy headphone amp. Theses are all still in the arsenal, except for the Bass Buddy. To be honest, it's never worked right for me. Next Time I go to move some gear, it's probably going away. But the Lakland - great low B; classic scooped J bass sound. Six Pack: powerful on it's own; thunderous with the GB 2x10 added on. The Briefcase can go anywhere and often keeps up with non-obnoxious drummers.

While I had firmly become a 5-string man, I did pick up a 4-string Schecter Legend at a GC clearance sale. A couple of small scratches made them mark it down so low I couldn't resist. Recorded a few tracks with it, and the engineer thought it was a Rickenbacher. Now, I keep it tuned a half step low for certain songs in our set.

Looking for a fretless 5 string, I came across a used Schecter T5 that I got for a really good deal, with the intent of de-fretting it. The Bartolini pickups were not right for it, so I replaced them with Carvin stacked humbuckers. Did a hack job installing them, too. Neck was so nice, though, narrow and fast, so I ended up not de-fretting it. In a heavier band I was with, this was just the trick for fast runs. Every now and then I look online for a replacement neck, so I could have one fretted and one fretless; but nothing that's the same dimensions comes up.

A year and a half ago, my wife gave me permission to buy another bass. I saw an add for a local guy selling an Ibanez 305 bass for cheap; again with the intent of de-fretting it. I should have passed on it. It had a crack, that didn't look too bad at first; but when I got it home and opened the control cavity, it was bigger than expected. Pots & hardware were really dirty, but it cleaned up relatively well. Once again I fell for the neck! If I get around to getting that crack fixed, I might go the de-fret rout; but again, I'd then be putting more into it than I paid. This will probably get traded in towards another instrument in the coming year.

Last year, I saw that MF was blowing out older models of the Gibson EB5 bass. I had played older models and liked them; but not the recent re-designed ones. I decided to take a chance (great price, great 0% finance deal; free shipping). Once I oiled up the neck and the minor fret issues got reset, it's become my number one. So much so that I consider getting another... to defret. But I probably won't. Unless I get a really sweet deal. And it's the red or sunburst model.

Then last year a dear friend and former band mate told me she was getting ready to move to Texas. Asked me if I was interested in her late father's upright bass. I was honored, and am just about confident enough that I might start playing it live on a few rockabilly tracks in the coming months. And she also gave me two of his amps - an Oliver tube combo and a Trucker solid state (now my son's).

I won't go into the pedals I've had over the years...


"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)
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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025072 01/22/20 05:39 PM
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And I forgot one iteration of my rig...

At one point after the Genz Benz rig, I had the chance to buy a Carvin stack for cheap. It's the Red Line 1000 watt head, a 2x10 cab and a 1x15 cab. I ended up getting rid of the 2x10 as the Genz Benz cab was better. I was never a fan of 15" speakers, but the Carvin was the best I had tried. I had always lusted after Carvin gear. The tone-shaping features were great; and I was intrigued by the bi-amp function. Until I tried it. It never really seemed to make a big enough difference to me; so I ended up just running full-range signals to both cabs. Still have the head and 15" cab, but am considering trying to sell or trade them in on something else.


"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)
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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025355 01/23/20 07:25 PM
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I played my first gig at 14 on the bass. I was/am a guitarist but they needed a bassist. The band leader borrowed a Framus hollowbody and a Guild Thunderbass rig for the show, a backyard pool party dance. I got a huge blister on my right thumb but we did pretty good for kids.

First rig was a Lyle bass, sort of a bolt on neck cheap copy of a Gibson semi hollow bass. My amp was a converted McGohan PA head with a homemade 6 12" cab with Radio Shack guitar speakers.
It worked. I can't remember if it sounded good or not, probably was "pretty OK".

Later I got an Acoustic combo amp with a ported 15" and a 63' Jazz Bass. That was better.
Then I got a Music Man 130 watt tube/SS hybrid head and the matching ported 15" speaker. That was better.

The Jazz went away. I had a Mosrite Ventures Bass, a Vox hollowbody made in Italy, a Klira "Beatle" bass with a lower cutaway "horn". Probably some other stuff I don't remember. Things came and went. I probably had amps I don't remember.

Was mostly a guitarist by then and kept busy. I also repaired, modified and build guitars. I built a more or less P bass with an 1/8" thick brass fretboard and a gigantic humbucker from a Fender Tele bass. It was a monster, sent a friend of mine to the chiropractor after one set!!!

Now I have a mid 80's "Handcrafted in the USA" Peavey Fury bass with the big old school Schaller tuners and an EMG Pa pickup and round wound strings and a parts P bass with a Zolla body and Warmoth Jazz neck - ebony board and recently made fretless. That is tuned to BEAD with Rotosound Tru Bass strings. These are mostly for studio work although I can borrow an amp from my bassist if I get a pickup gig.

Desptie being a guitarist, I LOVE bass and play it like a bassst because that's what sounds good. Cheers, Kuru.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025360 01/23/20 08:03 PM
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Brass fretboard? What the...? Wondering what made you give that a try; who crafted it; and what you thought of the sound & feel.


"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)
NEW band Old band
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Danzilla #3025384 01/23/20 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Danzilla
Brass fretboard? What the...? Wondering what made you give that a try; who crafted it; and what you thought of the sound & feel.


I've been a guitar tech/luthier for decades. Dad had a cabinety shop behind his house and I ran a repair service there. I also designed and built a few instruments.

Some of my customers were starting to play fretless bass with rouundwound strings. They were getting "ditches" dug into the fretboards. There was no practical, long lasting solution for that problem that I knew about.
So I came up with the idea of using metal for the fretboard. I built what was more or less a P Bass style design with a slimmer neck and used a piece of brass stock for the fretboard.

Damn thing weighed 15 pounds total, heavy ash body, heavy hardware and that chunk of metal - 1/8" thick. The even response and sustain was unreal. I took it to one of the shops I serviced and showed it to a friend who worked there. We plugged it into a big bass rig, turned it up and he did a slide up the fretboard with the E string. The amp tech came running downstairs and told us to knock it off. Everything in his shop was rattling and he was afraid something would vibrate off a shelf!!! Fun times!!!!

It didn't catch on, way too heavy and everybody wanted a rounded fingerboard instead of flat. I thought of keeping it but it would put your leg asleep if you sat with it and ruin your spine if you stood up so I made it go away.

It played like a dream and sounded great though. Cheers, Kuru


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
KuruPrionz #3025553 01/24/20 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz


Damn thing weighed 15 pounds total ...




I'm out.


"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025573 01/24/20 07:18 PM
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Holy carp! That's getting up near T40 range!


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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
lug #3025589 01/24/20 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by lug
Holy carp! That's getting up near T40 range!



I almost bought one of those once. Picked it up and set it back down. Was playing in some rough bars, you could cave in a few skulls with a T40 before you busted the body off
and still crack skulls with the neck. :- D


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025648 01/25/20 02:23 AM
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I've been through so many rigs for so long that I can't remember dates... I know the amps included an awesome Acoustic 370, a terrible Yamaha combo, a decent Sunn (Beta Bass, iirc), an ancient tube Bassman head and cab that is probably worth lots now but was very unsatisfying, and a Peavey Mark III and a Mark IV, both very good. Currently, I use an SWR Grand Prix into a Peavey DPC 750 into an Avatar SB112 (main amp), and an ancient Peavey Basic 40 (practice amp) that is amazingly capable and sounds great.

Basses have included an old Ibanez Ric copy (very good), an old MIJ P bass (Memphis?) that was bought to fix and flip (worked and sounded good and brought a profit), 2 '85 Ibanez Roadstar II 5 string basses, one fretted, one fretless (still have), a MIJ Squier SQ Jazz (still have), a MIJ Squier SQ Precision (still have), a 2017 Squier PJ, bought to flip (still have, it's astonishingly good), a beater Epiphone acoustic guitar I converted to a bass (still have), and a 1982 Ibanez Musician, sold in dire financial need many years ago, and missed almost daily since.

I am almost positive that I have forgotten some, but, there's that. wink

Last edited by wraub; 01/25/20 02:26 AM.


I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.




Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3025708 01/25/20 04:23 PM
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Other basses amps and cabs I've owned along the way:

Basses:
Frankenbass fretless P-Bass -- Fender neck, Mighty Mite body, DiMarzio pickup, Grover tuners. I think the music store literally slapped this together from parts laying around.
Ibanez EXB 445 -- My first five-string. Surprisingly good for the price. I traded the Frankenbass for it. The store threw in 12 sets of strings. I don't know who they made money on the deal.
Carvin LB75 -- Was nice to order a bass the way I wanted it. The H50N stacked humbuckers were very quiet, which I liked. The truss rod broke and I sent it back fro a rebuild. The second one just wasn't the same.

Amps and cabs:
Sunn Concert Bass amp with 215S cab -- woefully underpowered and brittle sounding. I had this amp way too long.
Peavey Combo 115 -- This was a very good amp. Crisp and warm sounding, with an onboard compressor that was actually usable. Only problem was at 90 pound with one strap handle on the top, it was pain to move. First thing I did was put side handles on it and build a dolley for it.
Peavey 210TX cab -- added this the Combo 115 and that amp really opened up.
Peavey TMax amp and 115 Black Widow cab-- traded the combo 115 for this and kept the 2x10 to go with. I actually didn't like this amp as much as the Combo 115, but it had tons of power. But then I played a friend's Eden rig and I was ruined.
Eden D115XLT -- Bought this when I got the WT-550 head and D210XST cab. The nicest-sounding 15 I ever heard, tight and punchy (for a 15). After awhile those 15s just weren't my sound, so I eventually traded it to buy the Eden D410XLT.


Last edited by jcadmus; 01/25/20 04:25 PM.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3026850 01/31/20 01:00 AM
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When I got my first bass — a Rogue VB-100 Violin Bass, which should give you an idea of who inspired me to pick up the instrument — my younger brother had been playing guitar, and I’d expected I could just plug into his Laney practice amp. My dad was a little annoyed when it turned out he’d need to fund another amp purchase, but we went to a music shop and bought a used 75-watt solid state Peavey combo.

I still have both the bass and the amp (the former is in much better shape than the latter, but they still make sound, even if the gain knob on the amp doesn’t kick in until about 10 o’clock).

After my musical tastes expanded to include Led Zeppelin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine, it became pretty clear I was going to destroy my little Beatle Bass if I kept tuning it to drop D and slapping on it, so I looked for something a little bigger and sturdier. Given my limited budget as a 14-year-old, I was looking at cheap knockoff Music Man type basses for awhile, but fortunately my love of John Paul Jones prevailed. A trip to guitar center put a standard Mexi Fender Jazz Bass in my hands and I knew that was it. It’s still my main axe, some sixteen years (and a few minor modifications) later.

In high school, I absconded with one of those giant three-channel Peavey keyboard amps that everyone had in the late 80s and 90s (my middle school was going to throw it away, along with two Rhodes Piano Basses that wound up in the back of the family minivan). That hilariously became my amp through high school (it was convenient for gigs where I doubled on keyboards, since it had enough inputs for a bass, a digital piano, and one of those Rhodes fellas). Then before I went to college, I got a little Line 6 studio 12 combo, so that I could walk across campus with a bass and an amp in one trip. That little thing still serves me well for pit band playing, small gigs, and rehearsals — it’s kind of amazing how beefy and loud that little 12” speaker can get.

It’s funny, since getting out of college, I’ve been working as a keyboard player so much more; my only rig upgrades have been from other bands’ bassists unloading old amps and DIs on me (not a bad position to be in).


Samuel B. Lupowitz
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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3027112 02/01/20 04:52 PM
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I had a Fender Bassman 1967. It sounded like crap from the moment I bought it in 1978; the capacitors were evidently already done. Sold it a couple years a go to a friend.

Carvin PB150, the one with the 10" in it.

Peavey Hernia 300....er.....Combo 300. I put wheels on it; still heavy. I put handles on the side. Still heavy. Put a tweeter in it. Still heavy, but then it would hiss more.

Dr. K Kick Drum speaker cab.....22" shell with a 15" Eminence Bass-lite in it. Ported in the back, and with one of the handles from the above Bassman 50 amp. Still use it, and it's way cool. I mounted an Ashdown Superfly with a couple of top hats and a piece of plastic pipe. The Superfly was one of the first amps that had a digital switching power supply, so it's 11 or 12 pounds. They billed it as "digital" but it clearly has an AB amplifier in it as it runs hotter than Hades.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...10220861807396523&type=3&theater
You should be able to scroll through the pics that will show parts of the construction process. Lemme know if you want to make one and I'll fill in more details. It's the coolest thing on the planet.

Carvin AC300 for small gigs, jazz things.

I also put an Eminence 12" delta-lite into a Behringer 12" plastic-cab PA box. It's lite, it's loud, it's cool.

Often times I just use my Carvin 12" PA speakers for bass. Bought them during the neodymium craze before the price of that rare earth metal spiked.


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Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Paul K #3027246 02/02/20 05:39 PM
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OK, so THAT'S a cool speaker! thu


Play. Just play.
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
Flemtone #3027322 02/03/20 01:12 PM
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First bass:
[Linked Image from app.box.com]
First amp:
[Linked Image from app.box.com]
First real bass amp:
[Linked Image from app.box.com]


You can stop now -jeremyc
STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring
lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum
I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie
Re: Retro: Talk About Your Early Rigs
lug #3027399 02/03/20 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by lug
First bass:
[Linked Image from app.box.com]
First amp:
[Linked Image from app.box.com]


Holey socks -- almost identical to my first rig. I had a candy-apple green Sekova violin bass and a Montgomery Wards Airline amp with an eight-inch speaker. Dreadful.


"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"

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