|Wolfgang this .5150 that blah blah blah .|
Update, January 2005:
Read this article from 1999, then see the update below....
When Mr. Van Halen went to Kramer, I was shocked. When Mr. Van Halen went to Peavey, I have to admit that I was grossed-out. Wow the main man had made the trip to the crossroads in Meridian. What was up with that?
I remember the first time I saw a Wolfgang NAMM Show 1996 in Nashville. Not bad, I suppose. Boy those tops are nice neat pickups etc I was really surprised about the shift to Peavey. Peavey was always known as the country bands gear back in Tennessee. Any self-respecting metal act would not bow to Peaveys price pressures I take that back; there were many a CS800 amp in the racks of the 1980s, but the guitars and the guitar amps were, in our opinion, second tier. Anyway, I believe that Peavey had quite a name for itself, but it just didnt include the "real" musicians, or so we thought.
Fast forward to 1999. Boy, have times changed. My friend Ken, a music dealer in Tennessee, invited me to a little jam over the 4th of July holiday. "Hey John," he said. "Come down and jam with this band they play a bunch of great 80s stuff." I was hooked. I couldnt say OK fast enough. What really got me was when Ken offered to loan me a 5150 half-stack and a new amber Wolfgang for the session. How could I refuse?
I got to Kens house and we loaded the amp in his Ford Explorer. "How many tubes does this thing have, Ken?" I said. "Too many to count", responded Ken as he threw his back out manhandling the cabinet. We arrived at the big garage where the jam would take place. We set up the amp, and I fumbled with the two channels trying to get a metal sound. I was immediately shocked with how much "thrust" the amp had. Thrust is the word I use to describe the amount of air the speakers move. Wow this is going to be loud. I put in my E*A*R earplugs and tuned my HM Strat. I would warm up before I moved on to the Wolfgang.
The first song was "Carry On" by Kansas. The band, Hollywood Johnny, has awesome vocals, and I was glad I could hang on the song. The first comments were along the lines of "Hey John, great playing could you turn that amp down." I knew I had met success with the amp on about "4".
We played a few more songs and I switched to the Wolfgang. What immediately struck me was how good the Wolfgang and the 5150 sounded together. Clearly some analysis went into this partnership! The Wolfgangs pickups were hotter than the Strats Dimarzios, but they were not muddy at all. There was no microphonic squeal, nor was there any ugly feedback. The Wolfgang was very controlled, and it was an incredible pleasure to play.
I had to play some Van Halen songs to round out the night. They band members and the spectators were wowed with the awesome tone of the Peavey rig. I was too. I have to admit I am a gear snob, but the night with the Van Halen rig really changed my opinion of Peavey.
Lesson Learned: Be opened minded about advances in gear, and never turn down a chance to play through a great rig. Hunt down a Peavey dealer today and check them both out! Warning: these products are not for the timid!
Update, January 2005:
We had heard the rumors at the Summer NAMM show...we had seen the signs...we had read the tea leaves, then this email arrived:
We're not experts, but it seems like Ed just can't keep anything together!
Hartley Peavey and Sterling Ball should put a support group together. I am sure there will be more to follow on this one!