Join Date: Mar 2011
Well, it is not a short story…and you already know how it ends:
It was a dark stormy night, somewhere to be certain. But in Nashville one night, it was clear, cool and starry. The bus was parked there in the Kroger lot where we met to embark on a “tour” which is actually just a 2 or 3 nights of weekend gigs in the country music world.
I happened (well not just happened, having worked to make it happen for a very long time in Southern California) to be working for a country artist named Gary Allan. Not a household name to be sure, but during my tenure with Gary we were able to sell a few million records. The other guitarist in the band was Jody Maphis, whose father was the great Joe Maphis.
This night, Jody had yet to show up, and I had been waiting for him. In his possession were a couple of amps: Standel amps. Anyone who knows their country music guitar player nerd history knows that Joe Maphis (along with his wife Rose Lee) played his famous double neck Mosrite through a Standel. Rose played her acoustic through a two-tone pink and black Standel, which was eventually given to Jody for Christmas when he was five years old along with a blue miniature Mosrite guitar.
In the 1990’s, when Danny Mckinney restarted Standel with the blessings and help of the original Standel founder Bob Crooks, a catalog appeared at Jody’s house. Of course, Jody and I looked at that catalog with great scrutiny: trying to figure what was different from the original 25L15, what was the same, and most importantly, what would we order if we were to get the opportunity to do so.
While working for a signed artist was great, the pay wasn’t. So while we dreamt of such things happening, for me it wouldn’t be a reality; I have a wife and kids and my meager sideman income was…okay, let’s say wasn’t…buying me any Nudie suits or Standel amps.
However, little did I know that Jody, who wasn’t bound by the same marital or parental bindings that I owned, arrange a deal (the details which I am still not privy to) to procure a pair of amps for us to use (and own). Perhaps the best part is they were not 25L15’s but rather prototypes of new models Standel was looking to use to expand their line.
No, I was wrong: that wasn’t the best part. The best part is that they were aesthetically created for what we both wanted. Jody’s was two-tone red and black, and mine was two-tone seafoam and cream.
No, that wasn’t the best part either. The amps were seemingly created for each of our playing styles. (Okay, this may be a stretch here, but it sure felt this way.) Jody’s amp was the prototype for the Switchmaster. Jody was playing a pretty rock n’ roll style at this point, and his amp had two 10” speakers. I believe he either had a master volume and/or and extra gain stage, and perhaps reverb.
My amp was a new model with a resurrected name: the Artist model. The preamp was basically a modified 25L15 pre-amp, but the power section was more powerful (what can I say…we played way too loud). I think it was rated at 100 watts provided by four 6550 tubes. The speaker was a single 15” Standel recreation of the JBL D-130 (originally, replaced by a Standel recreation of the JBL D-130f). Also built into this amp was a effects loop which never was used and might not have be functional, and…wait for it…
Naw…I’m not going to tell you.
Okay, I will: a three knob reverb which drove a three spring Accutronic pan. A couple of month before the amp went missing, I had replaced the pan with a two-spring unit as used on a Fender Twin Reverb and I liked it much more than the original.
The amp also had a piezo input, which sounded great with my Gretsch, but one of the tone controls didn’t work with it. I may have used that input to record once or twice, but I never used it live.
The amp sounded great, but I guess I wouldn’t need to tell anyone that. Whenever I played or recorded, that was what I used.
There were a couple of times it was in the shop. Once, when we were playing the Austin rodeo there was a power spike that blew the screen resistors. And, I blew the speaker, hence the replacement with Danny’s D-130f. The reverb pan went out, as they do, but replacing it with a 2 spring unit worked better for me.
In fact, most of the stages we played were so springy (no pun intended), that the reveb couldn’t be used without a tremendous boing-clash happening if there was anyking of a show going on.
I switch guitars a couple of times, but I always used the Standel.
Even after my time with Gary ended (too soon in my opinion), I used the Standel. I started using the Gretsch again (Gibson had given me a Chet Country Gentleman and I used a couple of Tomkins custom guitars for a while), and I was in tonal heaven playing the clubs on lower Broadway in Nashville (even if I may stepped down in quality of gigs).
I tried to always be gracious and let other guitarist sit in when we were playing. Once I had done so and took the opportunity to relieve myself. While in the restroom I heard some guy tearing it up (in the good way), and I swear I momentarily thought,”I wish my rig sounded that good!” before I realized it was my rig!