Sunday, September 8, 2019

Pignose Amplifers - The Whole Story

Kimbell and Edlund
The Pignose Amplifier was invented by Richard Edlund and Wayne Kimbell back in the late 1960’s, during the days when they were both working for a graphics agency.

Back in 1968, they were doing a photo shoot at a Rock ‘n Roll trade show, when Edlund saw a 5 watt battery powered amplifier made by an audio visual distribution company called Pacific Radio. There were plenty of 5 watt amplifiers back in the day, but most were AC amps in larger cabinets.

English Leather Box

Edlund came up with the idea of a creating small battery powered amplifier. English Leather Cologne was popular back then and it was packaged in a small hinged wooden box. Edlund used one of these as a chasis for his small amplifier.

Warren Zevon 
During this same time period, Edlund was hanging out with his friend Warren Zevon,  Zevon was recording an album and was cranking his Peavey amps up to get feedback. This drew complaints from other artists at Wally Heider’s studio.

 Edlund asked him to try out his homemade amplifier and Zevon wound up finishing all the sessions using the tiny amp.

Original Pignose Knob
It is questionable how Kimbell and Edlund came up with the name Pignose, but after the decision they ordered rubber snout-shaped knobs to be made. One of their friends, producer/director gave them an advance, got a copyright attorney, and with the money they made 65 amplifiers.

The guys came up with “The Legendary” moniker by giving all 65 amps away, in hope someone would take interest and offer funding. It paid off.

Jimmy Guercio
At the time Record producer Jimmy Guercio was having a lot of success with the band Chicago. Guercio had recieved one of the Pignose amps and got Chicago's guitar Terry Kath use it on a recording. Kath fell in love with this little amp, going so far as to imagine a wall of Pignose amps.

Terry Kath of Chicago
Guercio, Kath, and the rest of the band offered to invest in the manufacturing by becoming partners and set about to fund Pignose Industries Inc.

Edlund redesigned the amp to look much like it does today, and named it the 7-100. Pignose Industries set up production. They used Martin guitars for distribution, and  printed thousands of red, white, and blue stickers to advertise the amplifiers.

Vintage USA made Pignose7-100
The amp made its debut at the 1973 Summer NAMM show, as The Legendary Pignose Amplifier. The earliest amps were covered in real pigskin.

The company made and sold over 50,000 amplifiers the first year.

The amp is in a 9 x 6 x 4” case, and weighs about 5 pounds. It pumps 5 watts into a 5” speaker, and is powered by six AA batteries, or an optional 9 volt AC transformer.

The cabinet included two guitar strap hooks, to allow the player to put a strap on it and wear it over their shoulder.

JCM2000 with JCM900 cabinet
and a Pignose 7-100

The Legendary Pignose 5 watt amp was sort of thumbing its snout at guitar and bass players that were obsessed with Marshall Stacks, and other huge amplifiers. And a lot of artists, including Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon recorded with a Pignose amp.

Micro Amps
Since 1974, there have been a few imitators. In this era, there are many tiny modeling amplifiers, including the Roland Micro Cube, Vox, Yamaha, Smokey Amps, and quite a few others. But the Pignose amp was the granddaddy of them all.

Vintage Pignose 7-100

This little piggy may not have the bells and whistles of the newer amplifiers. And it not just a one trick pony. This little piggy gives a down and dirty distorted guitar sound, but you can actually get a clean and chimey sound out of it if you try.

Preamp out jack
When it is miked, the Pignose can sound huge. It also has a preamp output on the back that allows it to be plugged into a larger amplifier.

You can get a slightly different sound by playing with the cabinet opened or closed. If you have a friend open and close the cabinet while you are playing, you can get a sort of Wah-wah sound. The portability of the Pignose allowed electric guitarists to strap the amp over their shoulder while busking.

1974 Pignose Ad
with Terry Kath

The accountant for Chicago ran Pignose Industries from 1974 until 1982.

Howard Chatt

In 1985 the company was purchased by Howard Chatt. He has owned and run the company since 1985.

Keith Richard's Vintage Pignose
The original price of the Legendary Pignose 7-100 was $79.95. The price rose to $159.95. Later on it was reduced back to the original price. It currently sells for $110 directly from the company, but is available from many stores at only $75.  Most other mini amps are now retailing at $160 to $300. Vintage USA made Pignose 7-100 are still available, and are selling in the $160 range.

Pignose Hog 20

Pignose currently offers two other portable battery powered amplifiers; the 20 watt Hog 20, and the 30 watt Hog 30.

Pignose Hog 30

Both of these amps come with a rechargeable battery that allows the amp to run for 6 to 10 hours on a single charge.

1980's Pignose 30/60 amplifier
There are a few discontinued Pignose amplifers that were ahead of their time back in the day. One is the Pignose 30/60. This was a 30 watt solid-state amplifier with a 12" speaker. This 1980's amplifier was designed Patrick Quilter, who now sells his own Quilter amplifiers. It was not a big seller back in the day, but I am told that Chet Atkins owned one of these. It can go from clean to dirty with it's Squeal Control.

Pignose G40V

The Pignose G40V was first offered in 1997 for $199.00. This all tube amplifier was designed by amp guru Dennis Kager. Sadly, Mr. Kager passed away in 2018.

Dennis Kager with Sundown Amplifiers

Kager spent his younger days working for Ampeg,  then went out on his own, setting up his shop called Central Jersey Music Service in Edison, New Jersey. It was there he created a line of amps he called Sundown Amplifiers.

One of these was the small but powerful Sundown AC50 watt amplifier. It also came in a 100 watt version. Dennis Kager worked with Yamaha, assisting with the early Michael Soldano amps, and was instrumental in creating Gorilla Amps, which was another Pignose Industries product. Kager was hired by St. Louis Music/Loud Technologies to help recreate the Ampeg SVT-VR reissue. He also worked for Joe Naylor, and created the Reverend amplifiers.

Mr. Kager inked a deal with Pignose Industries to create an affordable small 40 watt all tube amplifier. This amplifiers electronics loosely mirrored a Tweed Fender Bassman, which became the PIgnose G40V.

Pignose G40V front and back
The amps tube complement consisted of two 6L6GC power tubes, and three 12AX7 tubes (a phase inverter, and two for the preamp). They were all inserted in ceramic sockets. They powered a special design 10" speaker capable of handling 80 watts.

Controls included volume, master volume, middle, treble, bass, and presence.

This amp was LOUD. Unfortunately, when it was first offered, the G40V was very underappreciated, due to the fact it was made in China during an era when Chineses products were considered inferior.  Today Fender, Vox, Marshall, Gibson/Epiphone, and other companies make most of their products in China.

The Pignose G40V weighed in a 28 pounds, which was a few pounds less than a 15 watt Fender Princeton Reverb, but the Pignose sold for hundreds of dollars less, and was as loud as a 50 watt Marshall amp.

Pignose G40V

The only issue I had with the G40V was it was a little too bright through the internal 10" speaker. However, the speaker could easily be unplugged. In fact the amp has two speaker jacks. One was for a 4 ohm load, and the other was for an 8 ohm load. One could plug it into a larger speaker cabinet for a most impressive sound.

Pignose G60V

Around 1999 Pignose offered two other Kager designed amplifers; The Pignose G60V, which featured a 12" special design speaker, spring reverb, and effects send and receive loop, and an additional 12AX7 tube to power the reverb.

Pignose B100V Bass Amp

The other amplifier was the B110V bass amp. This one featured a 15" speaker. These amps were covered in a thicker black tolex material. The G40V was covered in the thinner brown material used on most Pignose amps. All of these amplifiers were discontinued, however on the used market, the G40V sells for $200 to $350.00 USD.

Kager K50-15 Amplifier

Though Mr Kager is no longer with us, Pignose Industries now offers a Kager designed amplifier called the Kager K50-15. This is a hand-wired tube powered amplifier that is switchable from 15 to 50 watts. The controls feature, volume, master volume, treble, middle, bass, presence, and reverb. It also includes twin inputs, a power on/off, and a standby switch.

Kager K50-15

The amp powers a 12" high output speaker. It is covered in white tolex, and comes with a cover.  It sells new for $1850.00 USD.  Considering it is a hand-wired amplifier, this is comparable to other guitar amplifiers in that category.

Pignose Travel Electric Guitars

Under Howard Chatt's direction Pignose Industries has offered some very innovative projects including travel guitars, with built-in Pignose amplifiers.

Pignose 7-100's

I believe that when most of us think of a Pignose amp, we remember the epic, little piggy 7-100.

Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Many Guitars of Jimi Hendrix

Stew Williams
I am dedicating this article to my childhood friend Stew Williams. We met in junior high school. Stew played drums, and I played guitar. We started a garage band with several other friends. Stew went on to have a successful career as a radio talk show host, where he shared his big personality with his listeners. He passed away on August 16th and he is missed by his many, many friends.

Jimi Hendrix Experience Xavier University Fieldhouse March 28,1969
I got to see Jimi Hendrix perform at the old Xavier University Field house in Cincinnati, Ohio back in March of 1968. I went to the show with a group of friends including my good buddy, Stew Williams.

Jimi did two shows that evening. I attended the late show and had to sit through some boring hippie light show production for about 45 minutes. Finally Jimi came on stage from the left, while Noel Redding and and Mitch Mitchell came on from the other direction.

Hendrix at the Xavier Fieldhouse 
That night Jimi was playing through two Marshall 100 watt stacks. Noel Redding had two Sunn Coliseum amplifiers backing his bass. While waiting for Hendrix to take the stage a roadie was placing his foot pedals.

Little did I know the ‘roadie’ was Roger Mayer, the electronic wizard who created Jimi’s effects.

Hendrix started out playing a white Fender Stratocaster and played a couple of songs; then a string broke. Today a guitar tech would run up on stage and hand the star another perfectly tuned guitar.

However in 1968 when the string broke, the show was stopped while Hendrix took off the old string and put on a new string. He played a few more songs and the string broke again.

Seymour Duncan with Hendrix
The show was once more interrupted. This time someone from back stage brought him out a white Fender Jazzmaster. Jimi hooked it up and wailed through several more songs and the show ended. At the time, I had no idea who the tech was that brought Jimi the Jazzmaster, but it turns out the guy that brought Jimi the Jazzmaster was Seymour Duncan.

I learned this from an article in Vintage Guitar Magazine that I read years later. Ever since that night I was fascinated with the guitars that Hendrix used. I assumed he only liked Stratocasters, but here he was playing a Fender Jazzmaster. And it turns out that Hendrix had a bevy of other guitars that he used throughout his career.

Jimi with his Supro
His first electric guitar was an inexpensive Supro Ozark model that his father gave him back in 1959. Supro was the brand name used by the Valco company to sell their guitars and amplifiers. They also produced products for the Montgomery Ward Company under the Airline brand and Sears under the Silvertone brand.

Hendrix with Danelectro guitar

When Jimi’s Supro guitar was stolen, he purchased a red single pickup Silvertone/Danelectro guitar, model 3021. He named the guitar Betty Jean, after his current girlfriend. Hendrix played this guitar through his time in the Army.

After finishing a stint in the United States Army JImi saved up enough money to trade his Dano in for a brand new Ephiphone Wilshire. This guitar had twin P-90 pickups, a solid mahogany body and a glued in neck.

Jimi got a gig playing guitar in the Isley Brother’s band. During this 9 month period he purchased his first Fender guitar; a brand new blonde 1959 Duo-Sonic. Sometime in 2010 this guitar was auctioned off for $246,000. In 1959 the Duo-Sonic sold for not much more that $100.

After leaving the Isely’s, in 1964 Hendrix got job as the guitarist in Little Richard’s band. For this job Jimi purchased a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster.

Just before Jimi became famous he used this Gretsch Corvette at the 1967 Curtis Knight recording session. He also owned 1960’s model Gretsch Anniversary guitar.

When Jimi arrived in the U.K. word got around about his talent. Well known band members told each other, “you have got to go see this guy.” It was around this time that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones gave Hendrix a dark coloured Fender Jaguar with dot inlays. Jimi also owned another Fender Jaguar that had block inlays. This block inlay guitar was auctioned off in 2011 for $25,000.

A white Mosrite Joe Maphis Double neck guitar caught Jimi’s eye at Manny’s Music in NYC. He purchased it and was rumored to have used it on the recording of Spanish Castle Magic.

This guitar was featured at Seattle’s EMP and has since turned to a cream colour due to age and the type of lacquer that was used.

White Strat
It was actually not until 1966 that Jimi Hendrix got around to purchasing a Fender Stratocaster. This first one was purchased, with the help of his girlfriend, from Manny’s Music. This was a white 1964 model with a rosewood fretboard. And this became one of the many Stratocasters that he would use in The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Most of his Strats were purchased new and his preference was black or white bodies with a maple fretboard. Hendrix could have purchased a “lefty” Stratocaster, but he preferred to flip the guitar over so the controls and tremolo bar would be on the top.

During this era, musicians were trashing their guitars, amps and drums as an added effect for the show. During the March 1968 show I went to, Jimi bashed his guitars headstock into the Marshall, but apparently was saving more serious guitar damage for a larger show.

The first time he became known for setting a guitar on fire on stage in March of 1967. This was at the Astoria Theater in London. Hendrix burned up beautiful 1965 Fender Stratocaster. Tony Garland, Hendrix’s press agent scooped up the remains and placed them in the garage of his southern U.K. home.

In 2008 Garland's nephew put this guitar up for auction and it sold for $450,000.

There was another instance of Hendrix setting fire to a guitar. This occurred at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. Once again this was amid 1960’s Stratocaster. The remains of this instrument were given to Frank Zappa by Hendrix roadie, Howard Parker. Frank kept it as a decoration on his studio wall for a long time and eventually had it restored. 

In the early 1990’s Frank's son, Dweezil took possession of the guitar. Probably the most well know instance of Hendrix setting fire to his Stratocaster was at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Some people in attendance claim that Hendrix changed guitars and used a much cheaper guitar as the burnt offering. Tony Garland claims that burning the guitar was an idea hatched by Hendrix’s manager, Chas Chandler. The Monterey guitar sold at auction for 237,000 pounds in London in 2012.

According to Jimi’s last girlfriend, Monika Dannerman, Jimi’s favorite guitar was a black 1968 Fender Stratocaster with a white pickguard. After he died the guitar she kept the guitar secure at her home until her death in 1996.

Danneman revealed afterwards that Hendrix had played this guitar on the night of his death. The guitar is now either with the Danneman family or in the possession of Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth, a long-time friend of Monika. It was last seen in public on the December 3rd 1995 in London.

A 1966 Fender Stratocaster guitar was given to Jimi’s record company Anim Limited.

Somehow, one of Jimi’s roadies, James ‘Tappy’ Wright took possession of this guitar and eventually sold it at auction for $360,000.

The provenance of this guitar is interesting, since it is said this was the Stratocaster Jimi played it at Monterrey International Pop Festival in 1967 before switching to a different less valuable guitar to which he set on fire.

The guitar that is said he set fire to, during the Monterey performance was a 1964/65 white Fender Stratocaster. Jimi hand painted designs on the body, in the style of his friends, The Beatles. We are told this is the guitar that he ignited.

There are claims that this 1966 Stratocaster was Hendrix’s favorite guitar. It is obvious though that this is a different Strat, featuring rosewood neck instead of maple which was on the Black Beauty.

Possibly the most viewed and memorable guitar Jimi played was the 1968 white Fender Stratocaster he used at Woodstock in 1969. This guitar had the larger head stock design. It was completely stock and is said to be one of Jimi’s favorite instruments.

He practiced on this guitar in hotel rooms and played it on many occasions. The guitar is currently owned by Paul Allen of Microsoft and can be seen at the EMP Museum in Seattle Washington.

After Hendrix became famous he purchased other guitars that were not Fender Stratocasters. Perhaps the most well known is the 1967 Gibson Flying Vee guitar was originally plain black. The psychedelic body paint job was done by Jimi himself. He played it on the concert in Paris during his 67/68 tour – among others.

Hendrix Flying Vee
It was also featured on a few of his songs including All Along The Watchtower and Little Miss Strange. Jimi gave this guitar to his friend Mick Cox in 1969.  It later ended up with David Brewis of Rock Stars Guitars.

At that point, the guitar lost its original paintwork done by Hendrix, but it was successfully restored/replicated in 1999.

Check out the WEM amps

There was a 1969 Gibson Flying Vee that was custom built by Gibson specially for Jimi in 1969. All of the hardware is gold plated, and this guitar is left-handed and equipped with a tremolo bridge. Jimi played it during the Isle of Wright concert on the song Red House.

1955 Les Paul Custom

He owned a 1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom that was purchased in Nashville in 1962 by Hendrix and his friend Larry Lee. This was long before he became famous. Hendrix played it for some time in 1968 and 1969 usually only for the song “Red House”. A week before his Woodstock performance Hendrix invited Lee, who had just returned from an Army tour in Vietnam, to play at the festival with his new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.

Larry Lee with 55 Les Paul
At that time Lee didn’t have a guitar so Hendrix gave him back the Les Paul, which Lee played during the Woodstock set. This guitar is now at EMP museum in Seattle.

Hendrix's 1956 Les Paul

Jimi also owned a 1956 Les Paul Custom that he played during a May 1968 performance at the Fillmore East Theater in New York City. This guitar is owned by the Hard Rock Café in Chicago.

Hendrix owned a mid 1950’s Gibson Les Paul Special painted TV yellow. Jimi was seen using it backstage at Madison Square Garden while hanging out with the Rolling Stones.

1967 SG Custom

His 1967 Gibson Les Paul/SG Custom guitar is recognizable as he played it on the Dick Cavett Show in 1969. Jimi also played this guitar in Stockholm, Sweden during that same year.

Hendrix ES 345 at EMP

This beautiful white guitar has three Gibson humbucking pick-ups, instead of two seen on the most of the SG models. Hendrix was also seen playing a 1960’s Gibson ES-345 with a Bigsby.

Jimi also owned a 12 string Zematis acoustic guitar that he used on “Hear My Train A Comin’” was a part of the film recorded in 1967 called “See My Music Talking”.

In 1969, Jimi bought a 1968 Martin D-45 guitar from Manny’s Music shop in New York, and composed on it in his apartment in New York. The guitar was bequeathed to Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell after Hendrix’s death. It was then sold in 1992 to guitar collector Dave Brewis, who later sold it to Experience Music Project.

Jimi owned another Martin D-45 ended up with Noel Redding, who kept it in his house in Ireland until his passing in 2003. Chris Dair was at his house around 1998/1999, when he had the opportunity to play Jimi’s D-45. Noel kept it at his mother’s home for years. The whereabouts of this instrument are unknown.

Epi at Bonham auctions
In 1967 Hendrix purchased an Epiphone FT79 for $25 USD. He brought this guitar with him on his first trip to London. His girlfriend, Kathy, says that he would sit on the toilet and play this old Epiphone. He used it to compose songs. Like many of us, he liked the echo one can only get in a tiled bathroom. She goes on to say that when Jimi was working on a song, he would pick up this guitar and then get a Stratocaster to work out the riffs and arrangements for the song.

This is how he came up with his version of All Along the Watchtower. This twenty-five dollar guitar was sold in 2001 for $77,000. There are a couple other guitars that Jimi owned, but were rarely used.

The first is an Acoustic Black Widow guitar. These were made by The Acoustic Company to go along with their amplifiers. His was made by Bartell of California. In fact it may be a Bartell guitar. These guitars were sold under the Bartell logo and the Hohner logo as well as the Acoustic logo. Because of the F hole, this is probably a Bartell.

The other guitar is actually a bass guitar made by Hagstrom Guitars. This is an eight string Hagstrom bass that Jimi used on a King Curtis recording session.

It was later used by Noel Redding. Redding was seen in Hagstrom guitar advertisements with the eight string bass.

Prior to using Marshall amps, he used Fenders. From 1965 to 1966 he was using a Fender Twin Reverb.

In 1967 Hendrix was becoming the next big thing and s
subsequently signed a contract with Sunn Amplification and used their their 100S Coliseum amplifier with Sunn 100F cabinets that contained one 15” JBL D-130 and a JBL L-E 100=S driver horn.

This powered 4 speaker cabinets. Sunn gave him whatever he needed, but Hendrix ended the contract.

He went on the first Experience tour using Fender Dual Showman amps with all the settings at 10, so the amps burnt out, due to the stress and had to be replaced.

Hendrix with 3 - 100 watt
Marshall Stacks

Then he discovered Marshall amps, which he used until his death. He usually linked three 100 watt Marshall heads with six double speaker cabinets.

Marshall 100JH

Marshall built a signature hand-wired Super 100JH amplifier that was based on one of the amplifiers that belonged to Hendrix. Estimates say he probably went through at least 100 Marshall amplifiers.

Jimi Hendrix’s effects were designed by Roger Mayer. He began using the Octavia Fuzz around 1967 when it was still a prototype. He used this on his first big hit; Purple Haze.

Jimi also used a Univox Uni-Vibe pedal which had two built-in effects; vibrato and chorus. It came with a separate pedal to control the speed of the rotating speaker effect.

He also made use of the V848 Vox Clyde McCoy wah-wah pedal. The Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face was probably the effect that we most associate with Jimi Hendrix. He used this at every venue he played and on all of his recordings.

Here is a most interesting link about the recording session for All Along The Watch Tower.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)