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Guitar Rig Circa 1987

My Guitar Rigs [guitarrig1987, guitarrig1992, guitarrig2001]

Here is my first guitar rig. I put together this collection of guitar stuff when I first started playing guitar, around 1986, and had the complete set in 1987. I still have the original amp and guitar, though all of the pedals were stolen several years ago. Over the past couple of years I reacquired them all on eBay, and I'm pretty sure I have the exact models from the same years as my originals.

After playing the rig again 20 years after I first had it, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it sounded. Not bad for a first rig!

Guitar Rig 1987

Crate G40C Practice Amp

Dan helped me pick this Crate G40C out from the used amp pile at Andy's Music. I couldn't afford a full-size amp with 12" speakers, but I wanted something better than the little Gorilla amp I was borrowing. The G40C has just two 8" speakers, but it must be the heaviest little amp ever made. Mine does not have the nice Jensen speakers found in other versions of this amp - instead, it has Crate-branded speakers that are ear-blistering at high volumes, and have almost zero warmth. The dirty channel has the usual Crate distortion, but I preferred using the clean channel as it had extra tone controls. A couple of notable features include a built-in chorus effect. Although it is really noisy, I would normally leave the chorus on with both control knobs set to zero, giving the amp a much needed bass boost. A special "Bright" button makes the sound… brighter. Very handy for crunchy teenage metal. The spring reverb sounds nice.

Washburn G-JR-V

My beloved red guitar. My parents gave me this Washburn as a birthday gift. I picked it out at Andy's mainly because a) my friend had a Washburn, so figured it was good, and b) the RED color was so damned cool-looking. Even though it honestly isn't the best playing guitar, I still love the way it looks, and think it was a great beginner's guitar. The G-JR-V has a somewhat smaller body than a typical strat-type guitar, and is fairly lightweight, though I'm not sure what kind of wood it is. I replaced the bridge pickup with a very cool Ultrasonic humbucker from West Germany, and the neck pickup with a very delicate-sounding Carvin single-coil. Eventually, I replaced all 3 pickups with Ultrasonics.

My preferred strings were initially D'Addario XL .9-.42, but I wanted more strength on the low end, so I would take the bottom three strings from a .10-.46 set and mix them with the top strings from a .9-.42 set. This combo is so popular these days that it is sold as a custom set by almost all string manufacturers. D'Addario strings were much nicer back then, before they stopped giving them an "acid bath" that they claimed was bad for the environment.

I once sheered off a chunk of the original plastic nut when I was sloppily changing strings, so I upgraded to a nice graphite nut. I also upgraded the bridge saddles to GraphTech saddles because the height-adjustment screws on the original saddles would shred my hand while I was shredding the guitar.

Sadly, this guitar was the subject of several inexperienced experiments on my part, including the saddle upgrade, but also from an attempted Floyd Rose install, a cracked headstock due to a botched tuning peg replacement, worn frets, and dozens of nicks, dents, and bruises from various gigs. It isn't really playable any more, and I'm keeping an eye on eBay to see if I can spot a clone to use for restoration.

Effects Pedal Loop

The G40C had an effects loop. I made my own custom effects loop box, since I couldn't find an original one from Crate. In the loop, I had several pedals that brought my sound to life. Here they are in order of signal path:

Ibanez VL-10 Volume

Another gift, the VL-10 pedal was actually made by Boss (Roland) and branded by Ibanez. It is a very precise passive stereo pan/ volume/expression pedal. I used it as a mono volume pedal, mainly as a noise gate, but also for some fun volume swell effects.

Ibanez FC-10 Fat Cat Distortion

While everyone else was buying Tube Screamers, I wanted something with more crunch. The Fat Cat was Ibanez's answer to the Proco Rat. When I reacquired this pedal last year, I plugged it in between the guitar and amp and was shocked to hear it sound thin, brittle, and barky. Then I remembered that I used to put this pedal (counter-intuitively) in the effects loop, and whaddya know, I heard that fat warm crunch that I remember from 20 years ago. What a classic, rare pedal.

Yamaha GE-10M II Graphic EQ

The Yamaha EQ pedal was a must to bring out a full tone in the little 8" Crate speakers. I left it on all the time. Although this pedal was the hardest to find when I tried to recreate my old guitar rig, it also turned out to be the cheapest.

Boss BF-2 Flanger

This classic pink Boss flanger pedal was only just discontinued by Boss last year. Unlike recent Taiwan versions, mine was originally made in Japan (1984-ish), with the Japanese black label on the back. I can't remember if I bought this used, or if someone gave it to me.

DOD FX-90 Analog Delay

With a top-end frequency response of only 4KHz, you'd think the DOD FX-90 pedal would sound terrible. In reality, it has an awesome vintage delay sound that still can't be replicated correctly by modern digital delays. This pedal is highly sought after - I'm glad I found one in pristine condition.

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