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The Vox Legacy

Posted on July 21, 2014

Few amplifiers are as classy and distinctly British as Vox. Few companies are as established and English as Rose Morris. It is no coincidence that the two legendary brands have been associated for half a century. 

Who can resist the gorgeous, glistening chime of an AC30 or the velvety and smooth breakup of a fully cranked AC15? How about the expressive vowel howl of the Vox Clyde McCoy? These diamond face deities have been wielded by some of Rock's elite from John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Brian May and Keith Richards to Lenny Kravitz, Peter Buck and Tom Petty. 

Come in to the shop today at No.8 Denmark St. in London and try out an AC15AC30 or the super-light valve AC4C1 and hear for yourself what British guitar tone is all about!

 

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Rose Morris & Marshall

Posted on July 21, 2014

In 1968, if you were a professional touring musician chances are you had at least one Marshall stack behind you. If you had a Marshall stack behind you, chances are you got it from Rose Morris. We are very proud to have been a part of Rock n' Roll history and usher in one of the biggest names in amplification. Because we were the exclusive distributor, it generated an impressive list of legendary clientele.

In those days PA equipment was not very powerful and musicians relied on stage volume not only for their own reference, but for the audience as well. As volume became more and more a part of the guitarist's expression the need for power became insatiable. Thankfully, a young man named Pete Townshend's thirst for decibles resulted in the "stack" format that is still the standard back-line approach today.

As you can see in this old Rose Morris advert here, a myriad of musical masters utilized the Marshall stack to project their sonic
visions regardless of genre. We were with them the whole way, providing the Rose Morris Sponsored Instrument to these legendary icons.

 

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Brian May's TBR AC30s

Posted on July 21, 2014

A great guitar player is someone who is instantly recognizable. From the second you here their hand make contact with their instrument you know it is them. There are a number of factors involved in this phenomenon, the first being a human touch. While Brian May certainly has one of the most distinct, heavenly playing styles in the history
of recorded music, in his case the subsequent gear in the signal chain is just as much a part of his unique sonic footprint.

Everyone knows about his Red Special that he and his father built together. Few guitarists start their life as a player by actually building their instrument from scratch and maybe more should if the results are anything like that of Brian May, but let us not forget the diamond-faced British legend behind him throughout his vibrant
career.....The Vox AC30!

In this 1987 Rose Morris/Vox catalogue we see the man in action administering an aural bath of velvety-smooth, vowel-like, Vox tone from a wall of green, gold, black and brown Rose Morris AC30 Top-Boost-Reverbs. This was during our ownership of Vox and we look back at that period with great fondness. It is truly an amazing thing to supply one of the world's greatest guitarists with one of the world's greatest amps.

 

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Four on the Floor - Pete Entwistle and his Rickys

Posted on July 21, 2014

The Ox himself at CBS studios in 1966. In typical Who fashion, this display shows their blatant disregard for the well-being of their instruments. Just don't step on the neck of those Rose Morris Rickenbackers!

John Entwistle may have appeared subdued compared to the windmill and mic-lasso hijinks of his band mates, but that is because he was laying down some of the most dynamic and  crushing bass-lines ever known to man. Before the Ox bass players were thumping quietly behind front men and holding down the rhythm. That is a tried and true approach and definitely appropriate for most situations, but playing in a band with
the likes of Keith Moon, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry could never fall under the categorie of "most situations!"

John introduced walking, harmonic countermelody and ripping, fuzz-bass tones to the masses. It is hard to imagine bass players like Matt Freeman or Cliff Burton would be playing the way they did without the influence of the mighty Ox. While Pete Townshend was breaking guitars Entwistle was breaking ground.

 

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Rose Morris, Rickenbacker & The Beatles

Posted on July 21, 2014

1964 found the Beatles at their very pinnacle of fame. From Buckingham Palace to Shea Stadium, the mop-topped lads from Liverpool spread Beatlemania throughout the world transforming polite young citizens into screaming hords of rabid rock fans.

The Rose Morris Rickenbacker was as much a part of The Beatles early sound as the Vox amps they made so famous. The trademark jangley sound was in full effect with this perfect pairing and worked in perfect tandem with their look and vocal style. Classy and cool. 

Though Rickenbacker was an American company, they did customize the Rose Morris additions with a more traditional f-hole to appeal to the Europeon market. Thus, history was written with a legendary brand, supplier and band!

 

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Strings - the CHOICES!

Posted on July 21, 2014

Those new to playing guitar are often, quite rightly, overwhelmed by the sheer selection of guitar strings when it comes time to re-stringing their instrument. This confusion isn't restricted to new guitar players - even experienced players are confronted by dozens of new models reporting to be the 'next big thing'.

The reality is, there are only really three things to seriously consider when choosing your new set of strings. Hopefully, the following will de-mystify the process, once and for all.

The first consideration, which may seem very obvious to some, but it really isn't if you're new to guitar, is what type of guitar you have. Electric steel strings on electric guitars, steel acoustic strings on acoustic guitars, and nylon strings on classical guitars. Rule of thumb, strings are not interchangeable between different types of guitar, by which I mean, you shouldn't really put electric strings on an acoustic guitar, and certainly not put steel strings of any type on a classical guitar. All guitars are built with certain strings in mind, both for tone and structural integrity of the instrument. At best (say, putting electric strings on an acoustic) the guitar will sound weak and lacking in volume. At worst (say, putting steel strings on a classical guitar) will cause major structural problems. Stick to the right TYPE of string, and you won't go far wrong.

The second consideration is gauge (as in 'page'). Gauge is the thickness of the string in millimeters. Gauges will most commonly be expressed by the thickness of the thinnest string (so you might hear someone say "Can I have a pack of 10s please?", meaning strings where the top string is 0.010mm thick). Sometimes people might say "10 to 46s", which just means 0.010mm on the thinnest string, and 0.046mm on the thickest string. In general, gauges are standardised, so all packs of '10s' will have a 46 on the bottom (thickest) string, but there are some hybrid or custom sets available for those wanting a different combination of thicknesses. The thicker the gauge, the 'stiffer' it will feel, but the more 'full' a tone you will get, so choosing the right gauge for you is a trade-off between the two. Classical strings come in different tensions, but in essence, the tensions come from the different thicknesses, so the principle is the same.

The third and final consideration is the materials used. With acoustic strings, the two most common are 80/20 bronze and phosphor bronze. The latter is usually more expensive, but has a 'fuller', louder tone. Electric strings can be a minefield, but the majority are steel core, nickel coated. Some, such as Elixir, will have a nanoweb coating which extends string life - useful for those who play every day, gig a lot, or have excessively sweaty hands. There are several others, such as Ernie Ball Cobalt strings, which use the more magnetic cobalt to produce a higher pre-amplified output.

The bottom line to all of this is two-fold. First, never be afraid to ask for advice. Second, try as many as you can to begin with, find the ones you like the best, and stick to those.

Until next time, TECH care of yourselves, and your guitars. Ed.

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Humidity - Is it me or is it hot in here?

Posted on May 30, 2014

Humidity is a factor acoustic guitar manufacturers take very seriously, and for good reason. A poorly humidified guitar can develop such problems as bad string action, fret buzzing, cracking in the wood or binding, protruding fret ends and so on. The correct conditions in which to store a guitar is between 45% and 55%, and this is best monitored using a hydrometer. The case offers the best protection against overly dry or damp air, but even then, it is recommended to store the guitar with a product such as a Humidipak to help maintain correct levels of water vapour in the guitar and the case.

A quick check over the guitar by a qualified tech will identify if there are any humidity problems. On a dry guitar, symptoms include; low/buzzing action, hump on the fretboard where it meets the body, sunken top, possibly with a crack running vertically down the centre, back of the guitar looks unusually flat and sharp fret ends. Symptoms of a wet or damp guitar will be; high action, unusually swollen top/back, unusual warping and recessed fret ends.

These symptoms are usually completely reversible with no lasting damage to the guitar, but regular checking can prevent something more serious.

Until next time, TECH care of yourselves and your guitars.

Ed

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Don't be afraid of the big bad Truss Rod!

Posted on May 30, 2014

We get a lot of customers in the store asking about truss rod adjustments, and they all seem to have the same preconception - DO NOT TOUCH! Hopefully, the following will demystify what the truss rod does, and that you really don't need to be as scared of it as you think!

The strings of a steel string guitar is putting around 70lbs of pressure on the neck of a guitar.  This would snap a guitar neck unless it was supported in some way.  This is the job of the truss rod - it provides counter-force against the string tension, effectively keeping the neck straight (near enough).  A guitar with a loose truss rod with exhibit a bowed neck, with the action very high at the higher frets, and possibly buzzing around the 12th fret.  A guitar with a very tight truss rod might exhibit a straight or even a back-bowed neck (convex with the guitar lying on it's back). This will likely cause fret buzz around the lower frets.

If your guitar is suffering from either of the above symptoms, a small adjustment might be all that is required. Truss rod screws are located either at the headstock or at the body end of the neck.  To tighten a truss rod (make the neck straighter), the screw should be turned clockwise, and anti-clockwise to loosen (make the neck more bowed) - LEFTY LOOSEY, RIGHTY TIGHTY.

Here is where caution is required.  Firstly, only use the correct tool for the job, usually provided with the guitar on purchase.  Stripping a screw renders the truss rod useless, and will be a very expensive repair!  Secondly, don't adjust any more than a 1/4 turn at a time.  With every 1/4 turn, check neck bow by holding the low E string at the 1st fret and simultaneously at the fret where the neck meets the body.  Gently touch the string at around the 9th fret and see how much room there is between the string and the 9th fret.  It should JUST bounce, with about 0.3mm gap.  If the string is touching the 9th fret, the neck is back-bowed and the truss rod needs loosening.  If the string travels a fair distance down to the 9th fret, the neck will need to be straightened. If you go slowly and with 1/4 increments, checking your work as you go, there is little chance of damaging the guitar.

One final point - if at any point, you feel the truss rod needs to be forced, STOP!  It should feel tight, but shouldn't need excessive torque to turn it.

Of course if you have any difficulties please feel free to come see me in store.

Until next time, TECH care of yourselves and your guitars.

Ed

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