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- Mark Knopfler Gear Database (7)
- New Theory on the Sultans of Swing Sound: DiMarzio FS-1 Pickup in the Middle Position (9)
- No, it seems he swapped middle and neck pickups in late 1978 (see article),... Dec 04, 6:36 AM
- Hello Ingo, You might want to look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8I9kalsGdQ At 2.32 you'll see... Dec 03, 11:12 PM
- This sounds very interesting. To me it sounds more like middle but at times... Oct 31, 7:11 AM
- Explaining and demoing the tapped Walk of Life Telecaster Pickups (3)
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- Hi Again, Just in case you're interested in having a look at the MK72... Oct 31, 2:19 PM
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- Keys for all Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits songs (1)
- Mr. Raven, please list the tunings that are in open tuning such as the... Oct 31, 1:23 AM
- Sensational: Sultans of Swing guitar track solo - without backing tracks - from Guitar Hero 5 (83)
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Posted in: Effects,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on December 03, 2013
The Ernie Ball volume pedals often become scratchy after a long time of usage. While you can replace the current poti model with a brand new poti, it is almost impossible to get a replacements for the older poti types. However, the older potis can be opened and cleaned which – not always but often – cures the scratching. As I did this successfully a few days ago, I took some pictures to demonstrate the procedure.
The poti was the Canadian type used in the mid 90ies but the previous Allen Bradley / Clearostat poti used before can be treated in the same way.
First, I recommend to remove the two screws that hold the black metal block which holds the poti. The string can be released from the poti easily then (you might take pictures before so that later you know how it was assembled).
With these poti types, the wires are plugged to the poti and can be removed without any soldering (again, take notes where they were, or take a picture).
Now the poti should be clean. Note that disassembling the wiper from the carbon resistor is not possible with these poti models so you need to clean it like this. Mount the case again, bend down the tabs to close it. An instruction how to assemble the string again can be found in this video:
Note that you can clean a modded volume pedal in the same way, just make sure to assemple all wires and the string exactly as they were before!!
Another note on this topic: I meanwhile tend to believe that the different taper on Mark Knopfler’s volume poti is not due to a different poti model but to an electronic solution possibly built into his rack. A first prototype circuit works promising, and also avoids the noise of a scratchy poti electronically. Watch out for future updates, I hope to offer something here soon."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Guitars,Mark Knopfler gear,Vintage guitars by Ingo on November 29, 2013
The following video explains the idea of a tapped pickup as they are typical for the vintage Schecter Dream Machines, and demos the sound of the Walk of Life pickups – my replicas of the Schecter F520T / F521T pickups. These are the pickups that Mark Knopfler plays in his red Schecter Telecaster – the one used for Walk of Life, and also in the black Schecter Tele that he used for e.g. Solid Rock.
After a short inroduction, you can listen to all the eight different sound combinations that are possible with this type of pickups in the second half of the video."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Vintage guitars by Ingo on November 04, 2013
I already reported in two previous blog posts (here and here) about the difficult situation we are facing when buying or selling guitars with parts of Brazilian rosewood (e.g. the fingerboard on vintage Fender or Gibson guitars).
Yesterday I was on Germany’s biggest vintage guitar show in Oldenburg. Last year the show was cancelled due to exactly this issue – the problems of displaying guitars with Brazilian rosewood in public. This year Brazilian rosewood played a role again: there was an info booth where you could compare samples of different rosewoods and a workshop on Endangered woods on musical instruments with PD Dr. Gerald Koch from Hamburg University.
Distinguishing Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) from similar rosewoods (e.g. Indian rosewood) is not easy (some info and pictures can be found here). The samples of these two rosewoods at the info booth looked very similar, even the number of pores was similar on these. I also did the ‘smell test’: Brazilian rosewood is said to have a typical sweet odor, a bit like vanilla or roses. However, I have to admit that – after some sanding of the samples – both had some odor but I found the Braz rosewood neither stronger nor ‘typical’. And another rosewood – Cocobolo – smelled to me much more of vanilla than the Brazilian.
Here is an overview of some – partly new – aspects discussed in the workshop:
* The overlap between Brazilian and Indian rosewood on vintage Fender guitars is wider than previuosly believed. While almost all Fenders up to 1966 had Brazilian rosewood, it can be found in the late 60ies or even early 70ies as well.
* It is confirmed now that it is possible to gig with instruments with Brazilian rosewood! This was not clear as displaying instruments with this wood commercially is not allowed. To play an old Fender on a gig where you perform for money can be considered commercial, but it was stated that on a gig you mainly present your music and not your instrument. The same should apply for e.g. Youtube videos where you play such a guitar. However, if you want to sell it it is not allowed to present it on Youtube for this purpose without having the proper CITES papers.
* Trading these instruments beetwen the different economic areas (e.g. the US; the EU, Japan,..) is NOT possible, even with CITES certificate!!!
If someone offers e.g. a 1962 Strat on ebay and offers world wide shipping, this is illegal. The instrument can be confiscated when passing the borders!!
* If you want to sell such an instrument WITHIN your economic area, you need the CITES certificate.
* You can get the CITES paper when your guitar was made before 1992 (the year Brazilian rosewood was added to CITEX annex 1) AND you can prove that the guitar was imported to your econmic area before this date. If you e.g. bought the 1962 Strat on Ebay US in 1995 and let it ship to Europe, your guitar was imported illegally and you cannot obtain a CITES certificate for it !
* Hamburg University is a leading place for identifying endangered woods. They sent samples and information – including pictures of the endangered wood and the most similar legal ones it can be mixed up with – to many customs authorities all over the world. So hoping that the customs officers will not recognize endangered woods on a vintage guitar you are to buy is highly risky at least!! As customs are responsible for controlling trade with endangered species, they must be qualified and are thus trained for this.
* Instruments made before 1947 are free to trade in the EU.
* Everyone agreed that the CITES laws were intended to protect species, and not to criminalize guitar players who have owned their vintage guitar for maybe 30 years. But the idea is to control and reduce any demand for these species: if you cannot buy e.g. ivory legally, there is less demand for it and so less elephants are killed.
* CITES is a world-wide law which cannot be modified by local authorities. So if trading such an instrument is not allowed, authorities have to confiscate it and are not allowed to make exceptions."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Misc,Vintage guitars by Ingo on October 04, 2013
This week I had the pleasure to work an a Schecter Dream Machine. It is a really lovely hard-tail Strat with gold hardware. I am not sure about the wood (none of the codes that normally identify these) but the neck might be Pau Ferro (“Bolivian rosewood”). I am rather lost with the body, maybe ash that is stained, or Shedua, walnut,… ?? Any help is welcome so use the comment function to let me know what you think.
The main “problem” with the guitar is that the pickups have been replaced with some kind of Seymour Duncan Hotrail humbuckers – surely good pickups but at leat not my cup of tea for a Dream Machine. The Hotrails required a completely different wiring of the mini switches and also the addition of two push-pull switches. To be honest, I did not fully understand the way the up and down positions of the mini switches were combined with the two push-pull potis.
As I had a set of original F500T pickups waiting for a guitar like this, it was no question that these two had to come together.
In the following you will find a photo tour that demonstrates the work - hoping some folks will find it interesting or useful.
After assembling the pickups – it was a complete set with all wires still being taped together – I found it impossible to follow which wire end belongs to which of the three pickups. I connected a volts meter and touched the pickups with a screwdriver until the meter reacted to identify the corresponding pickup.
Watch out for more details and pictures of this wonderful guitar in a future blog post."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Guitars,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on September 30, 2013
Mark Knopfler’s guitar sound on the first two Dire Straits albums is firmly associated to the 1 & 2 position (bridge & middle) of the 5-way switch. This position causes a special, nasal “out of phase” sound. The term out of phase is technically incorrect as both pickups are still in phase but – similar to a true out of phase wiring – certain frequencies are cancelled or at least decreased and others boosted so that the resulting sound of both pickups together is totally different from the sound of a single pickup.
In one of his two red Fender Strats Mark had a DiMarzio FS-1 pickup (confirmed in a Guitar Player interview from early 1979).
This DiMarzio pickup can be heard in the neck position on countless bootleg live recordings of the original Dire Straits setup. It has a louder, warmer and fatter sound which on stage Mark played on songs like Single Handed Sailor, Once Upon a Time in the West (only live versions), Follow me Home (live), or sometimes on Wild West End (live). He also liked to switch to the hotter FS-1 sound just for the solo, e.g. on Sultans of Swing (live in late 1978), or Where Do You Think You’re Going.
The FS-1 in the Middle Position
Both the stock vintage Fender pickups and the DiMarzio FS-1 have staggered pole pieces (the stagger on the FS-1 is a bit different), for this reason they are hard to distinguish on pictures. However, the pole pieces of the FS-1 – then in 1978 being rather new compared to his 1961 Fender pickups – are shinier than the old corroded Fender pickups.
I recently was watching a picture (below) of Mark’s maple neck Strat from early 1978 (backstage at the Marquee club). The guitar had the pickguard that came of his 1961 rosewood Strat (the one that often had a black volume knob), the pickguard normally with the DiMarzio. I clearly had the impression that there is a stock Fender pickup (with corroded, slightly bevelled pole pieces) in the neck position. Instead, the middle pickup looks much newer and might be the FS-1.
The picture quality is too bad to be a real proof but at least it is a hint. When thinking about it I realized that on all the live recordings with this pickguard from that time (Chester, Birmingham, London BBC, Revolver TV, Greenwich rehearsals) there is not one single example where Mark plays the neck pickup (!). All 1978 concerts on which he plays the neck pickup (in fact astonishingly often) are after October 1978 (Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris Chorus TV) , just after his 1961 was refinished to red. So I assume the DiMarzio moved into the neck position at the break when the 1961 Strat was refinished.
OK, no neck pickup on the summer 1978 gigs. So the next question was, can we hear the middle pickup alone on any recording from that period? If it was the FS-1, the sound should be fatter than normally. If not, it might have been a stock Fender pickup in the middle, and the FS-1 was purchased in late 1978.
A song that normally was played with the middle pickup (compare e.g. the Rockpalast video from 1979) was What’s the Matter with you, Baby. And in fact, there is an ultra-fat middle pickup sound on this song on the recording from Birmimgham, Barbarellas club ( July 4, 1978).
The only other existing recording with this song from this period is the one from London (“Live at the BBC” CD). On this concert the guitar sound is extremely bright. What’s the Matter with you, Baby was also played but does not seem as fat as on the Barbarellas gig. But when a/b compared with the other songs it becomes clear that it is the middle pickup and that there also is less treble but more distortion than on the the other songs. Likewise, you can compare Water of Love from these recordings with What’s the Matter with you, Baby to find that the sound is fatter on the second – generally, a stock Fender Strat pickup is about as loud and bright as the neck Telecaster pickup on Water of Love, or even brighter (the metal cap on the Tele reduces treble), not so here.
Another song that seem to feature the middle pickup is Lions. Mark sometimes played the intro or middle solo with the middle position (sometimes even the bridge position. There is a video of Lions live at the BBC Whistle test, and the sound is also astonishingly fat and warm here.
The DiMarzio FS-1 and the in-between (1 & 2) Position
While the DiMarzio alone sounds totally different from a Fender pickup, it also changes the in-between sound (bridge & middle, 1 & 2 ) significantly. The interesting thing here is that the 1 & 2 sound will not become fatter and warmer, but sharper and less nasal. This is because the high frequencies do not cancel themselves to that typical nasal Strat tone as they do with two identical pickups. Instead, the 6k ohms Strat pickup and the 13k DiMarzio blend differently. The sound is more like the sum of both: the warm midrange from the middle pickup plus clear treble from the bridge pickup. I see this as the formula for Sultans of Swing on the first CD. The sound on this song is noticably different from most others of the first album. I assume he plays the 1961 Strat (he calls it his Sultans Strat…) on Sultans, and possibly the maple neck with its original pickguard (probably with three Fender vintage pickups) on most other songs ( This makes sense as he favoured this guitar on the previous tour with the Talking Heads directly before recording the first album).
On all 1978 pictures and videos after the recording of the album, we see him with the maple neck Strat which then has the 1961 pickguard of the rosewood Strat (with the DiMarzio), until in October 1978 he plays the rosewood 1961 Strat, with its own 1961 pickguard again, and the DiMarzio now in the neck position.
The 1 & 2 sound of Sultans of Swing (first album) and on all live recordings (e.g. Live at the BBC) after the album and before October 1978 feature the DiMarzio FS-1 in the middle position.
After October 1978, the DiMarzio moved to the neck position and the 1 & 2 sound became “normal” then (compare e.g. the Rotterdam 1978 bootleg).
I myself already found out that the sound of the DiMarzio in the neck position plus the Fender in the middle (3 & 4 position) is similar to the Sultans sound so that I used this for the Puresolo competition some time ago. With the DiMarzio in the middle and a stock Fender at the bridge, it sounds even more original to me.
(Youtube video demo / sound demo to come)
The VFS-1 as the ideal pickup for the early Dire Straits tone
With what was said before, it seems difficult to obtain all the different sounds of the first two albums and the live gigs from this era, as these require different pickup setups:
** three Fender vintage pickups (all that was played with the original pickguard of the maple neck Strat, e.g. many songs of the first album, the January 1978 tour with the Live at Leeds or at the Roundhouse bootlegs, the early 1979 concerts like Rockpalast,…)
** a DiMarzio FS- 1 in the middle (1961 pickguard before October 1978, e.g. Sultans of Swing (album), Live at the BBC, Live at the BBC Whistle Test,..)
** the DiMarzio FS-1 in the neck position (1961 pickguard from October 1978 on, e.g. Single Handed Sailor (Communique), the late 1978 concerts and all other live recordings from March 1979 on)
What we ideally need is a pickup that can be switched from vintage sound to DiMarzio sound, to put this one in the middle and the neck position. Then we can get all sounds mentioned before. Dreaming? No, this pickup already exists – the VFS-1, which I designed myself exactly for this purpose (this Youtube video compares it to a vintage pickup and to the DiMarzio pickup.
The VFS-1 is a tapped pickup (two different sounds switchable) made to my specs exclusively for me by Germany’s high-quality pickup guru Harry Haeussel. I have been offering it with the loaded Schecter-style pickguards for some time now, as it is also ideal to get the Alchemy sounds without loosing the option for fatter sounds and the 26 sound combinations of the three mini switches on a Schecter vintage pickguard. I also recommended it for the neck position to get the DiMarzio sound or the vintage sound for early Dire Straits tones. But now, with the DiMarzio FS-1 in the middle and its effect on the 1 & 2 sound, it really becomes the ultimate sound tool.
Without the three mini switches (with up, off, down positions each) the two sounds of a VFS-1 can be switched with e.g. a push/pull poti. Note that you can wire the push/pull switch as you want to make the fat or the thinner sound the “default” sound with the poti pushed in. Pulling it will enable the other sound then.
Buy the FS-1 or the VFS-1 directly here
I am official DiMarzio dealer and offer the FS-1 brandnew at the hottest price. So if you read about it here and feel the urge to get one, you can support this site by buying it here instead of somewhere else.
"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
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