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Old 07-19-2008, 08:07 PM   #1
Gabel
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CROTM: Eric Clapton (early days)

CROTM: Eric Clapton
NOTICE: This rig will only cover Clapton in his early years. It will cover his time with the Yardbirds to Cream.

Unlike previous rigs, I will instead cover his setup band by band. Since this covers Clapton’s gear between the bands, it’s easier for me to do it this way. Also, some of the pieces of gear have more info than others, depending on his use of them.

The Yardbirds
To start with, little is known of Eric’s Yardbirds rig. He hasn’t spoken a lot of it and back then he was still experimenting very much. Also a lot of the gear hasn’t been used since and it’s debatable how much belonged to him. Hence it’s very short.

Guitars

Fender Telecaster
Not very much is known about Eric’s Telecasters. He has appeared with many different ones of them. There isn’t too much to say about it.

He also bought his ES335 during this period, but I will speak about it later, because it saw very limited use in The Yardbirds.

Amps
Vox AC30s:
Like many of the British Invasion bands, the Yardbirds used AC30s, which was very popular back then. Same as with the Teles, there aren’t much known about these amps. They appear to be regular 2x12 AC30s. It’s also debatable whenever these belonged to Eric or not, considering they have seen no use since.


The Yardbirds setup.

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
In April 1965 Eric joined the Bluesbreakers. He followed a friend of him to Greece in August that year, but was “kidnapped” by a local band. He later rejoined Mayall’s band in November that year and stayed there until the formation of Cream. He now got a new rig, very different from his Yardbirds one. He then recorded the “Beano” album, a pinnacle in rock guitar tone.

Guitars
1960 Gibson Les Paul
Clapton was a big fan of Freddy King and after seeing the cover to Let's Hide Away And Dance Away he went and bought one. He bought it used sometime in 1965, in almost brand new condition. Eric used this guitar for the whole of the Beano album. Eric loved and said it was "The 'best' Les Paul I ever had”. Eric also replaced the tuners with Grovers sometime close to the recording of the album. This guitar was sadly stolen sometime around the early Cream rehearsals in June 1966 and Eric still misses it to this day.
The year of the guitar has been debated as being either a 1959 or 1960. While maybe a bit hard to spot, the guitar does definetly have a flame top, ruling out a ’58. The guitar did have two PAFs, the bridge being black and the neck being a white colored. This also rules out a ’58, because as we know, no ‘58s had white PAFs. However the knobs seems to be the tall reflector types, which would indicate a 1960 one. However the biggest answer comes from Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green. When speaking about his first Les Paul in an interview with Guitarist magazine Green told that about his Les Paul:
“ It was very different from Eric's, which was slim: very fast action”
All the Gibsons from 1960 had the slim, fast-action neck, unlike the big ones of the 1959s. This clue clearly indicates that it was a 1960 model. Since it was stolen, we aren’t sure.


Note the white neck pickup. Also you can see parts of his Bluesberaker on his right side.


Here you can see the black bridge pickup.



Amps
Early JTM45s
Clapton has been seen using various early JTM45 half stacks. One of the pictures is seen down here. However he said to Jim Marshall he needed an amp that would fit in the boot (trunk) of his car. This made Jim doing a combo of the successful JTM45 head. This became the Series I combo. Clapton had one of these during the first Mayall era. However when he was kidnapped in Greece (a local band’s manager locked up his amp so he wouldn’t leave) Clapton had to leave this combo behind.


Notice the stack in the background.

Marshall 1962 Series II combo
The famous Bluesbreaker amp. This is what Clapton used during his second era with the Bluesbreakers and the Beano recording. He also used it on the early Cream rehearsals. The amp was a 1966 Series II combo. It had a GZ34 rectifier tube and the new Marshall “script logo”. It also had 3xECC83 tubes and 2xKT66 power tubes. It was a 2x12 combo and the speakers were either late G12 Alnicos, G12-20s or early G12-25s. The G12 Alnicos were being replaced by much more efficient ceramic ones. The G12-20s are the old 20W Greenback, designated G12M for medium sized magnet. The G12-25 or G12H was rated at 25W and a heavy magnet version of the G12.


You can see it in the back.


Modern reissue of the model.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:10 PM   #2
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Cream
In June 1966 Eric Clapton would form Cream together with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. During their 18 months lifespan they would become a monsterous rockband, recording four studio albums and playing countless of shows.

Guitars
Beano Les Paul
Only used during the rehearsals, got stolen.

Borrowed Gibson Les Paul
This was borrowed after Eric lost his Beano Les Paul. It had two PAFs and a Bigsby bridge. This is believed to be from somewhere between 1958 to 1960. However the guitar clearly has a heavy flame top, which makes it either a 1959 or 1960 model. Eric only borrowed this guitar and used it during the Windsor Blues Festival in late July 1966. He also said he recorded Fresh Cream with his borrowed Les Paul, which could be this, since the other borrowed one was later bought.


A very good picture, clearly showing the beautiful flame top.

1960 Gibson Les Paul
This was Eric’s second borrowed guitar. He borrowed it and later bought it from Andy Summers (later of The Police fame, who was moving to a Strat). This guitar was his third sunburst, with black PAFs, stop tailpiece and the switch plate missing. He also later took off the pickguard and mostly played it that way. There is a possibility this guitar was stolen in 1967. However Eric is seen using a Les Paul during the soundcheck at the Oakland Coliseum 1968, during the Farewell tour. This could have been this guitar. This could be the one used for Fresh Cream, Eric just said he used a borrowed Les Paul for that. However this one was later bought, there is a possibility he was speaking about the other one.


You can clearly see Clapton using it here.


Also another very good photo, shows the flame top on this one.


With the pickguard and switchplate removed.


The Oakland Coliseum soundcheck. Is it this one?

1960 Les Paul Special
It was only used once at a gig at the Marquee Club in 1966. This one was loaded with 2xP90s and had a Bigsby tremolo. Believed to be a 1960 model, because of the larger pickguard, but there is a possibility of it being a 1959. The next time he had the sunburst Les Paul. Seems only to have been used during this gig.


Picture from the gig.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:10 PM   #3
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1964 Gibson SG “The Fool”
If the Les Paul was the guitar for Bluesbreakers, this was the guitar with Cream. The model was first said to be a 1961, but it has been proved to be a 1964, because of the six screw pickguard. It came with a Deluxe Vibrola vibrato and 2 Patent pickups. The PAF stood for Patent Applied For, while the Patent pickups were when Gibson got the patent. The Vibrola was changed to a stop-tail and the tuners changed from the stock Klusons to Grovers. While this originally was a cherry burst, Eric got it repainted by a Dutch group called “The Fool”. They we’re the ones who painted Beatles’ instruments. The guitar was first painted with a white primer and then with oil based paint. This guitar saw extensive use in Cream. Clapton used it as his main guitar all through 1967 and into 1968. It was his main guitar on both Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire and also a few parts of Goodbye. It was also his main guitar from May 1967 until the middle of 1968, it’s heard on almost all of the live albums from the time, for an example the Fillmore and Winterland performances. In 1968 Clapton used it less and less. The reason for this was that the paint started coming off, even when he played. He was already using his other guitars more and more. He then left it at George Harrison’s house and the guitar eventually ended up with Todd Rundgren. According to him, the shape was very bad. Rundgren later sold it for $150 000 and that person later sold it on for $500 000. The current owner is unknown.


Front.


Picture of the back of the guitar.


Eric playing it. Classic picture.


Another great picture.


You can clearly see that the paint has come off the neck in this picture.


With the Deluxe Vibrato.

Gibson Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty”
A 1958-1960 model with three PAFs. These guitars had a mahogany top and an ebony fretboard leading to a different tone, with quicker response. While his main guitar during the era was the SG, Eric used it for the Disraeli Gears sessions. It can be heard as the rhythm guitar on Strange Brew and Outside Woman Blues and it’s the only guitar used on Take It Back. While not seeing much use live, Eric always had it as his backup guitar. This was actually very uncommon, back in those days you mostly changed strings onstage. He also took of the pickup covers later on. However as the SG became more and more deteriorated, it saw more use. He used it occasionally with Delaney and Bonnie. It is unknown where it is today. Because of it’s rather slim use, not very much is known about it. Eric hasn’t mentioned it a lot and the few photos that exists of it are mostly from the sessions.


Disraeli Gears sessions.


Post- Cream with Delaney & Bonnie.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:11 PM   #4
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Gibson Firebird I
This is from either 1963-1965, when the reversed Firebirds were made. It featured a much simpler setup, with a single bridge pickup and a wrap-around tail. The mini-humbuckers were quite different in tone to the full sized ones of his earlier guitars. This meant the guitar had a much more trebly tone compared to his old guitars. It was used live more or less exclusively and can be seen during the Farewell tour and is heard on the live tracks from Goodbye. If you listen, you will hear that the tone here has much more treble and bite compared to his earlier guitars, thanks to the mini-humbucker. It also saw quite some use with Eric while he was in Blind Faith. A good example of the difference in sound is first to listen to Politician from Live Cream II, where he clearly uses humbuckers and then to the one found on the Goodbye and you will hear the difference in tone.


Detroit 1968 with the Firebird.


Playing the Firebird.

1964 Gibson ES-335
This is actually a guitar Eric got while in Yardbirds, but it didn’t really see use until this period. When Eric stopped using his SG, this took over as his main guitar during live shows, with the occasional use of the Firebird (during the Goodbye concert at Albert Hall, Eric played the first set with this and the second with the Firebird) and also the Custom. It's very possible this is the guitar we hear on Badge, because of it's sweeter tone. This model is a 1964, with block inlays and the sharper horns. You can also see it in the “Yer Blues” segment in “The Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Circus”. During the 40 years Eric has used it, it’s had the volume pot changed for a repair, a fret dress and the tuners changed to Grovers and that’s it. Even the original case, with CREAM stenciled on it is still what it lies in. This is one of Eric’s all time favorite guitars. He said himself that it was the best sounding guitar he ever played. It was the only guitar to stay with Eric during all his changes, he used in the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and during his solo career. Even though it had a very special value to him. However, in 2004 when he decided to auction of his guitars, this was one of it. Eric said that for him, this was “the star of the show”. Both this and Blackie was bought by Guitar Center. Blackie did go for more, but this one claimed a price of $847,000, the most money a Gibson guitar has ever claimed. Gibson has also made a signature of the exact guitar in 2006.


The ES-335 in person.


Eric playing it.

Effects
Vox V846 wah-wah pedal
Eric got this pedal at Manny’s Music, 48th Street in New York, while recording Disraeli Gears. However the model of the pedal has never been stated. I have however found it to be a Vox V846 wah-wah. Eric himself said that the man at Manny’s told him about this new, crazy pedal he had. This was a Vox wah-wah. I did however want to know what model it was. It was not a Clyde McCoy as many stated. It was a V846 pedal. The V846 was introduced in April 1967. Disraeli Gears was recorded in May 1967, making the V846 less than a month old. This would certainly make the pedal very new, as Eric was told when he bought it. This to me seems consistent with it being a V846. The characteristics on his wah-wah tone also sound like a V846. This pedal would see heavy use in Cream, both during the recording of Disraeli Gears, being used on many songs, like World Of Pain and most importantly Tales Of Brave Ulysses. On Wheels Of Fire it also saw quite some use, for an example on White Room, where it plays a big part. It was of course also in his live rig and the only pedal he used.


An Italian V846


You can clearly see it here.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:12 PM   #5
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Amps
Marshall 1959 JTM-100/ Super Lead
This were the ones used during the early days of Cream. The early ones were only made to order, but Eric was very well known to Jim Marshall, the Bluesbreaker combo largely being a custom job for him. We know that Eric used a 100W Marshall stack with Cream, which would be this. This is not to be mixed up with the JTM-45/100, which was a doubled 45W poweramp (with two output transformers), but this was the early Super Lead models. These had the KT66 tubes, Drake transformers and a solid state rectifier (unlike the tube rectifier in the earlier ones), they also had the aluminum chassis. Eric ran these very loud, probably cranked up. If you listen to the studio version of Spoonful, you can hear the amp sustain and overdrive on the notes. To me it sounds like the KT66 tubes, which are much smoother and cleaner in tone, compared to the EL34s. Eric was known for controlling the volume with his guitar, so he probably ran the guitar lower to get a cleaner sound and then pulled up the volume for solos. This amp came matching with the 1960 cabinets, which had the 20W Celestion Greenbacks back then.
In January 1967 Eric started using two stacks! By using a daisy chain setup, basically plugging one into the other. This idea was taken from Pete Townshend of The Who. Jack also got himself an early Marshall Major during this time. Later Eric instead used a splitter to split the signal between them
During this time speaker blowing was very common and now Celestion had moved up to the larger 25W Greenback, which is safe to believe Eric started using in his cabs when his old ones blew, considering he ran the amp at 10!
This gear would remain on the 1967 tour of the US, so it’s these amps you can hear during the gigs at The Winterland Ballroom and at Fillmore East (found on the Live disc of Wheels Of Fire). Eric did however keep his heads.
In late 1966 Marshall did a switch to EL34 output tubes for their JTM line, starting with a switch on the so-called 1987 JTM-50 models, which would soon be renamed the JMP line. This would also lead to a switch to metal chassis. However the larger 1959 JTM-100 still retained their KT66 tubes until 1967. Eric kept these amps through the year, using them on the Disraeli Gears sessions.
But having toured USA during 1967, a lot of it had suffered. In September, when they returned to Europe, they replaced their gear. However Eric still had the KT66 equipped Marhsall 1959 JTM-100. He also had a tremolo model (1959T), but he never really used the tremolo effect. This is however the left amp used during the Fillmore gig.
In February Cream started a long American tour, However Cream would replace the gear somewhere in March or April, seeing the new Marshall speaker cabinets with casters. During this time Eric would switch to EL34s, being the new standard for Marshall’s powertubes now. This meant a change in tone for Eric. His tone became more distorted and more aggressive.
During the Farewell tour it is said that Eric changed to new stacks. These had both the EL34s and the Dagnall transformers and being the metal chassis versions. During 1968 speaker cabs would probably have been upgraded to the G12H-30 speakers that came to and to replace the Greenbacks, which were prone to getting blown.
All in all, none of us can tell for sure exactly what models Eric used. These are assumptions and would seem fairly accurate. Eric ran his amp full up, plugged into the top input of the Normal channel, which was bassier. He then controlled everything else from his guitar. This is also a big part in his sound.


Live at the Fillmore. You can see his splitter setup here. Note that the left amp is the tremolo head.


Another very good photo showing his dual stacks.


From the Farewell tour.


Live rig during the Farewell tour. Also note the spare wah-wah on top of the Marshall head.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:12 PM   #6
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Fender Blackface Twin Reverb
A 2x12 Blackface (1963-1967) combo. Clapton used one in the studio for Disraeli Gears, being pictured in quite a few photos. To me it sounds like he is using it on the rhythm guitar on Strange Brew. However since it only saw very light studio use with him and the only evidence having of it, is it sitting next to him in photos from the studio.


You can see the Twin Reverb here, also note the Marshall right next to it.

Fender Dual Showman
When Cream played at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, you can spot a Fender Dual Showman on one of the stacks. We can’t tell for sure how much use it saw beside this, since this is the only confirmed photo we have of it. The model is a Dual Showman, looking like the Silverface model. Beside this one photo, nothing is known about Clapton and his use of this amp.


From the Electric Factory.


Silverface Dual Showman head.

Leslie 16
Stated to be the Leslie used on Badge. This is the one Fender based the Vibratone on, they sound very similar. However no sources states exactly which one was used, this is believed to be it.


A picture from an ad for it.

Rumoured gear
Dallas Rangemaster
A treble booster popular with Queen guitarist Brian May and Rory Gallagher. Clapton is said to have used one of these for the Beano tone, left on all the time if so. However much speculation remains around it. To start with, the source of it is not known. There are no photos of Clapton using one. Clapton himself even said that the first effect he ever used was a wah-wah. So far there is no actual proof of him using one. The source has not been confirmed either, but it started when Guitar Geek listed it in their rig. However it even states that the accuracy is not guaranteed. They also don’t list their sources. I can say that this rumor is debunked. First there are no pictures where it can be seen and sceondly it doesn't sound like one is in use. The Mayall tone is brighter compared to the Cream tone, but a lot of that comes ffrom two things: First many sources (including Clapton himself) has said the used the Bright input back then. Also he often used the bridge pickup (compared to both during Cream). The reason I doubt he used a Rangemaster is because it doresn't sound like one. When I tried to copy his tone I got it perfectly straight into a Marshall, with the Rangemaster there was instead too much saturation. If you listen to his overdrive it's got a lot of sustain, but when he rolls off the volume it gets very clean. With a Rangemaster he would have a much spikier tone and not as clean.


Picture of a Rangemaster.


Guitar Geek’s rig, the source of the rumor as far as I know.

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face
This is said to have been used by Clapton during the Cream era. However there is no evidence of him using it. As with the Rangemaster, the only proof of him using it is Guitar Geek, which is known for being an unreliable source. Clapton himself stated that the only pedal he ever used was the wah-wah. To me it never sounds like a fuzz being used. The reason could be that Eric sometimes seems to “boost” his amp for solos and get more overdrive. Eric himself though is known for often controlling the volume from the guitar itself and adjusting his dynamics. I don’t think his tone does sound like a Fuzz Face. At part he does have a fuzz style tone, but this from him using the Woman tone. Using Woman tone on a cranked tube amp gets you an almost fuzz like character. A lot of this comes from that Clapton used the Normal channel on his amps in Cream (not the Bright like Jimi did) which has a much thicker overdrive, very remincent of a Fuzz. But as with the Rangemaster, since he cranked up his amp and is said to have used a Fuzz Face, there would be a lot of saturation (listen to Jimi's live tone), but there just isn't. It's got a lot of sustain, but it's still rather clean and lacks the sharpness of a Fuzz. So this rumour is untrue.


Picture of a Fuzz Face.


Guitar Geek’s rig. The source of this rumor.

How Clapton got his Bluesbreakers and Cream tone:
Clapton had a very special way of playing. Back when the Bluesbreakers came around, most people had pretty clean guitar tones. But Clapton cranked up the amp full on everything (Volme, Treble, Middle, Bass and Prescence all on ten). On Bluesbreakers it's very possible he used the Bright channel of his Bluesbreaker back then, because of him having more attack. But this meant that the amp distorted and back then it was something new nobody had heard. It was raunchy, but also very dynamic. Clapton often used the Brigde pickup of his Les Paul and rolled off the tone to about 7 (All Your Love and Hideaway are great examples of this). This allowed him to clean up the tone by rolling off the volume and play osfter and dig in when he wanted to.That is what makes his tone so special, the dynamics.
For Cream he had a similar approach. Only this time he used the Normal channel instead as I mentioned. Most other people used the High Treble channel, that is why Clapton had a much thicker tone compared to Jimi (listen to Jimi's Flying V and you'll see what I mean). But here Clapton often used the Middle and Bridge pickup and then rolled off the neck a bit. This gave him a much thicker tone than in the Bluesbreakers, with more sustain and less attack. This is also when he really came up with his Woman Tone. Check out the video in the link to get a demonstartion of what it sounded like.
'The Fool' on YouTube.[/QUOTE]
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:14 PM   #7
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Just to contribute:

'The Fool' on YouTube.
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:15 PM   #8
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^That dislays his controlment of his amps very well too!
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:22 PM   #9
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Oh and could the mods please sticky this and unsticky the Jimmy Page one?
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Old 07-19-2008, 08:23 PM   #10
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Gabel-

i like it!
i added to my favorites.

i hope it gets stickied.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:51 AM   #11
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Socould some mod PLEASE sticky this now?
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:19 AM   #12
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Isn't it a Les Paul/SG, because the SG was origionaly a model of the Les Paul. I think he used a SG when it was called a Les Paul.
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:29 AM   #13
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Nope it is not. SG was originally called Les Pauls, yes. But Les Paul didn't like the SG and has his named removed. This was in 1962. Originally people thought Clapton's SG was a 1961 SG/Les Paul, but because of the Deluxe Vibrola and the 6 screw pickguard it's a 1964, when it was renamed SG.
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:30 AM   #14
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Very nicely done

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Old 07-20-2008, 06:35 AM   #15
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Very nicely done





After I read yours of Jimmy, I knew I had to do mine just as good!
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:39 AM   #16
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While you are probably right about the treble booster it really increases the note definition with the woman tone. you can get a lot closer to the recordings
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:47 AM   #17
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^Woman tone was something he used while in Cream and then he certanily WASN'T using a treble booster. I don't thunk he used one. I coul spot on tone with a Plexi alone for that tone.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:13 AM   #18
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Great stuff Gabel, awesome as ever. Very detailed too.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:20 AM   #19
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While his rig was quite simple, therea re many parts to cover and how his Marshalls changed over the years, being that he used them when they were still very new!
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:21 AM   #20
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Yeah. His bluesbreaker was amazing though. I'd kill to have an amp like that.
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