It’s been a couple of months since our last column. With vacation and everything else that comes with summer, it’s now time to get back in the swing of things. But, it hasn’t been all leisure time. I’ve been working on a product and CD review for this month’s column. This months column also officially launch’s the official Playloud rating scale. Normally scales rate 1 to10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. However, mine goes to 11.
To begin, I got a call from a San Antonio native Ruben V. He ran down everything that was going on with the new CD and touring. Any artist that contacts me, I always request a CD of their latest stuff. I promptly received Ruben’s latest CD Labor of Shame. When I listen to a new CD, normally only listen to the intro of each song and then go back and listen to the entire catalog. However, the first track’s wah induced lick provided enough hook to reel me in, (Man is that a cliché or what!).
Ruben learned of our pedals from Jim Gaines, who has produced records for Santana, Blues Traveler, SRV and recently produce Ruben’s latest CD. He’s also work with Richard Mullins on previous releases. Richard has worked with SRV and Eric Johnson. I think Ruben keeps good company or is it the other way around. As you read and hopefully listen to soon, the CD is a product of great teamwork. Speaking of good company, Ruben has shared the stage such artist as Gatermouth Brown, George Thorogood and The Fabulous T-Birds. Growing up playing singing into a Panasonic cassette recorder really paid off. Remember kids, it’s not always about having the best gear, it making the best of what you got.
Each track’s sound quality and mix is very professional. Thanks to John Hampton at Arden Studios for the mix and with Jim Gaines’ influence, you wouldn’t expect any less. The vocals came across smokey, rich and mature. Especially on track 4, “Stay A While”. The resonance had such a tranquil emotion feel, that I literally hit the re-start button 6 or 7 times to listen again. I have a feeling at live shows; the women are fanning their breast. Not because of the Texas heat, but because of the arousing influence his voice bellows.
Music is such an emotional thing, very nostalgic for a lot of us. Ruben’s CD sparked memories of hanging out in blues clubs, beach parties, rainy Sunday afternoons and quiet times with my best women. He’s got it all here, songs for the weekend bar scene, cocktail hour at the Blue Clam (lol), a shag or two, a little funk and definitely something for cutting a rug! For those of you who don’t know what cutting a rug is, it’s dancing.
Some of the highlights include Stay a While, When I Hear You Smile, She’s Trouble, You Win….well its all good. I invite you to check it out for yourself and experience the sounds of Ruben V. On the official Playloud scale, I rate this an easy 8.5. Please check out Ruben’s website, www.rubenv.com.
I can’t close without mentioning Ruben’s gear set up. Here’s his current live set up.
Amps: 2-Dr. Z headS, Rivera
Pedals: RC Booster, Ernie Ball Volume, 2- Klon Centaurs, Keely Compressor, Fulltone Deja Vibe, Boss delay
Guitars: G& L S500, ASAT Classic, Les Paul, Epiphone Flying V
There’s no question that Dr. Z has made a huge impact on the world of amplification. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Z, you probably haven’t graduated from the gear you purchased at Target or Wal-Mart. Seriously, his amps have significant tone!
UPS was kind enough to drop off a nice new red tolexed Garmen Ghia 1×12 combo the other day. The 47lb cabinet looked great with its white piping and salt/pepper grille. Love the electrified Z logo. Talk about brand recognition!
The Garmen Ghia sports 18 watts via 2 EL-84’s, 1-5751, 1-12AX7 and a 5Y3 in the rectifier section. And controls, only two; Volume and Tone. The tone knob is unique. It’s not designed to add or deduct bass/treble, but rather provide you the ability to thin or thicken the sound. This is great for strats or single coil pickups, equally as effective on humbuckers. The Ghia doesn’t have reverb, but the Tone knob provide a slight reverb effect. I’d say if you turned up a standard reverb tank to 2 or 3, it would closely resemble that effect.
For the test, I used my Xotic Strat guitar and a Lava Cable plugged straight in. Tone set at 12 o’clock and volume about 9 o’clock. With the strum of the first chord, I could have sworn I heard Brooke Burke whisper something seductive in my hear, but rather it was the sweet seductive chime of a G chord. Each note well defined and sheer. So inviting to turn up the volume and let her stretch her legs, but I kept my patience and allowed the resonance influence me as the blues licks came out in an improvised manor.
Turning up the volume, the sound gets bigger and encourages some twangy country licks. Especially the nice bended 4th sounded great. Crank the Z and it emulates some crunch a la AC/DC.
At any level, the Ghia’s balance and string definition remains constant. No muddy tones to be found. No over powering bass or treble ambiance, very defined throughout.
So who’s this for? As awesome as the amp is, it does have some limitations. If you’re looking for a high gain, big bottom, master volume type sound this probably isn’t the amp for you. Need reverb, have your soundman add it on the back end. Need effects, have your soundman add it on the back end. The Ghia doesn’t have reverb and doesn’t need effects. However, blues, rock and country, it nails it! I think I know why Brad Paisley loves the Z’s. It’s probably the best Tele amp out on the market today.
With pricing at a little more than a grand, it’s very affordable and a great value. If you haven’t taken the Carmen Ghia out for a test, you’re missing the boat. On the Playloud scale, this sweet piece gear scores an 8 out of 11.
Now I’m supposed to send this amp back, but the other night I had this strange dream UPS lost this amp. Or at least that’s what I may tell them.
Hopefully for the next column, I’ll have some video of my rig in action. We’ll just have to see how the mix comes out. But the set up currently is, my Xotic guitar, Fuchs TDS 50, BB pedal, X-Blender with a Love Pedal Vibe in the loop. OOOHHHHH! Can’t wait for you to check it out. Until next time remember…..Playloud. Isn’t volume a good thing?
Eddie Berman (Indoor Storm) and myself at the Xotic Day.
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