Bonus Tips

acing the tubes in your amplifiers

Improving amplifier tone is the mantra of every professional and closet musician.  I’ve recently re-tubed my Vox AC 30 and Marshall 1974x.  I replaced both the preamp tubes with JJ gold tipped 12AX7s and the power tubes with JJs as well.  The most important though was replacing the Rectifier tubes with Mullard NOS from the ’60s.  I’ve read in more references I can count that this is the key to tonal bliss.  All I know is, both amps sound punchier, warmer, clearer as if I removed a cloak from the speakers.  Highly recommended!

Banish Extraneous Noise

Too much unwanted group loop noise coming from your rig?  This simple tip cleans it right up.  All you do is reduce your electrical connections to one wall outlet; thus minimizing cycle hum.  How?  When you have a bunch of amps, a larger number of stomp boxes, EchoPlexes, Univibes, etc. purchase one more piece of equipment; a Furman Power Conditioner.  (I use two of plugged into the other).  Each unit accommodates 8 plugs and from there, I plug one into a wall outlet.  No more cycle hum!!!!

Increase the Playbility Factor for your guitars

Have you ever checked the radius of your strings?  A neat little gadget sold by Stewart-MacDonald makes this an easy do-it-yourself process resulting in a axe that you can riff over effortlessly.  The result is that your string radius matches the fretboard radius; subsequently you don’t “trip” over your strings as you move from string to string.  Really improves speed and accuracy.

Keep that Bigsby Quiet and in Tune, and keep those strings from snaging

Another amazing little tip that works magic on your guitars, actually two of them.  Use Big Bends Nut Sauce on the pivot points of your Bigsby and listen to how quiet it becomes.  It enables the guitar to stay in tune because it easily returns back to its original start point!  Another tip is to replace the plastic washers in the Bigsby with teflon washers and all the annoying squeeks are gone.  Nut Sauce comes with a cool applicator and is non toxic or corrosive, and will not damage the finish on the guitar.  Use the product on both your bridge and nut slots so your strings glide when tuning…no more of those annoying “pings”!!

Polish your frets for effortless string bending

Polished frets make all the difference in the world for string bending.  Get a tube of Semichrome cleaner and some low tack painter’s tape.  Tape off your fretboard two or three at a time so the Semichrome doesn’t get on the fingerboard. Take a little dab of Semichrome and spread it across the fret with a cloth, rub it with a little pressure until you see the black come off the fret an onto the cloth, then buff it out with a clean side of the cloth.  The nickel frets are almost like mirrors afterwards!

Make your fingerboard FAST and furious (for exposed wood, not sealed maple boards)

Once a year or so, depending on your climate, give your fingerboard a “drink” with either lemon oil or linseed oil.  It takes very little to make a difference too.  Rub it on and make sure you cover from fret to fret; let it soak in for about 10 minutes.  If the board soaks it all up (fingerboard is dry again), give it another shot and wait another 10 minutes for that round to soak in.  Wipe away any excess afterwards.  This is a cool tip I picked up from Ernie King, one of Gibson’s key guys at their Custom Shop; take some carnuba wax, like Meguire’s, rub it on the fretboard and buff it out.  Now your fingers will FLY over that board!!

Upgrade your amplifier’s Transformers and Choke

I can’t tell you what a difference this makes to reissue type amplifiers.  Even the high end reissues use cheaper Chinese made iron.  Take the plunge and move to Mercury Magnetics iron, you won’t believe your ears.  Visit their site, and if you buy, check out eBay and JMI Music.  Jim is local here in the DFW area, he’s an official Mercury Magnetics reseller, know’s the stuff inside out, and is happy to discuss it with you.