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    This blog post is not about a Mark Knopfler amp but still has a clear connection to Dire Straits: the Peavey Deuce VT was the amp that David Knopfler played on stage with the band between 1978 and 1979, and thus contributed to the band’s unique sound.

    Note the red light which shows that the effects channel is activated

     

    The Peavey Deuce VT was built from 1978 to the early eighties. Before, a similar model called Deuce (without the VT) was available that had – besides various other technical differences – a tremolo effect instead of the phaser.  As a combo with two 12″ speakers, it has similar dimensions as the Fender Twin Reverb or the Music Man HD 130 212 that Mark played at the same time. In fact David started to play the Peavey at the same time as the Music Man appeared for the first time, in late 1978. Before (mid 1978) both Mark and David were seen with Fender Twin Reverbs on stage. I assume both were bought together when they felt they needed to upgrade their equipment for the following tours.

    The Peavey Deuce is – just like the Music Man – a hybrid amp which means the pre-amp stage is solid state, while the power amp has four 6L6 tubes. Today solid-state is considered to be inferior because of the harsher distortion compared to a tube, but back then it was almost high-tech, considered to be more reliable than an all tube design – no crackling noises, no whistling pre-amp tubes, less danger for a failing tube in the middle of a performance. The amp is bulit like a tank, solid and heavy, suited for professional usage on big stages.

    While Mark’s Music Man is basically an upgraded Fender Twin Reverb, with the same controls, the Peavey Deuce VT has its own layout: two channels (Effects and Normal) , built in reverb (works on both channels) and the phaser effect (effects channel only). On the left we find four input  jacks, two for the effects channel, one for the normal channel, and one to use both channels (together or switchable with a foot switch).

    The Normal channel has a control for pre gain (gain before the EQ section), bass, treble,  and post gain (after the EQ section), the Effects channel has controls for pre gain,bass, middle, treble, post gain, and color and rate for the phaser. The phaser of the Deuce VT is said to be really good sounding. The phaser we hear live on the songs Down to the Waterline or Once Upon a Time in the West might be from the Deuce, but some sources also claim that a MXR stomp box was used for this matter. However, many pictures from this time seem to prove that David’s guitar cable went directly into the Peavey,  so live it should come from the Deuce.

    Finally we have  a Master section on the amp that has only one control for the reverb which affected both channels.

    The four 6L6 tubes creates an output power of 120 watts. Most amplifiers in the pre-amp section are ICs (TL 072 or 478).

    The amp was optionally available with heavy-duty speakers called Black Widow. These are much heavier, more solid and can handle more power  than the stock speakers. I know from David himself that his amp had  these.

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    Today I was jamming a bit on the acoustic guitar and still had the camcorder ready from the last video yesterday, so I simply let it run a bit and recorded this sponatneous version of Dire Straits’ “Where do you think you’re going”. If you wonder about the sound or even about the string bending on the acoustic – check out this old blog post about the string gauge on this guitar.

    I always find that playing at low volume leaves you more room to get louder when necessary and causes a much nicer guitar sound. Unfortunately you get some noise when recording with the built-in camcorder microphone as it turns up the record level automatically and catches more noise from the cheap mic pre-amp in the camcorder. The camcorder compresses the dynamics, and youtube compresses again I think, so you will lose much of the dynamics anyway but still it makes a big difference I think.

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    Here is a youtube video that demonstrates some of the 36 possible pick-up combinations of our loaded Schecter-style pickguards. Each pick-up can be switched to the full or tapped coil which means a fat sound or a vintage-like sound. This way you will not only get new combinations that are not possible with the standard 5-way switch like bridge & neck or all three PUs, but you can also mix full and half pick-ups in any combination.

    The guitar is my old Japanese JV Squier, over a brown Fender Vibrolux amp, no effects except some reverb.

     

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    This blog post is about the 50 seconds instrumental part that bridged the two songs Expresso Love and Down to the Waterline on the Making Movies tour (aka On Location tour) of Dire Straits in 1980/81. I always admired this part, especially how it transferred the energy of the ending of Expresso Love to the ‘foggy mood’ of the Down to the Waterline intro.

    For all who don’t know this part – it is only available on several unreleased bootleg recordings -, here is a sound clip (I am sorry for the bad sound quality). To recapture the mood of this section, you should play it *loud*!
    (Note that you can click  on the blue position bar of the player to jump to any part of the clip)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Analysis

    On the Making Movies album, Expresso Love ends on a 4 bar pattern which is repeated until the song is faded out. This pattern goes like this:

     

     

     

    On stage they added  eight bars over a C major chord after this pattern (0:12) . Note that the pattern above already ended on the C chord at the beginning of the last bar, so adding 8 more bars of C should have resulted in 9 bars. Instead, the last bar of the pattern was omitted so that the new part (8 bars of C) started directly after the Bb chord. Doing so the beginning of the new part was highlighted.

    Next (0:24) after these 8 bars of C, the chord progression jumps to E major for the next 8 bars. This is totally out of the harmonical context of Expresso Love (which is in the key of D minor), neither does it fit to the previous C chord (If you want to learn more about which chords have a close relationship and which not, refer to this blog post about the circle of fifths). Again, such a sudden transition to an unexpected chord created a moment of surprise. Knopfler – who played the complete song with  a plectrum by the way – added various chord licks over these E chord bars.  The feel and the sound of this part strongly remind me of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band of this time – in fact Knopfler was obviously heavily inspired by them around this era (note that Springsteen’s keyboard player Roy Bittan played all keyboards on the Making Movies album).

    Next (0:36), they played four bars over the B minor chord (Bm) – which is already the key of Down to the Waterline. Now we understand the role of the previous E major chords as it is the subdominant chord of Bm and thus naturally  resolves to Bm.

    At this time it becomes necessary to reduce the high tempo of Expresso Love for a smmoth transition to the Down to the Waterline intro. For this reason, the tempo gradually decreases for the next 8 bars which run over the following chord pattern (0:42).

     

     

     

    The last bar features a keyboard bass line of the notes  b – f# –  c# – a which resolves (1:01) to the Bm chord of the Down to the Waterline intro.

    Here is the complete chord scheme again:

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    Click track on the 2010 Mark Knopfler tour

    Posted in: Misc by Ingo on June 08, 2011


    We already knew from Guy Fletcher’s forum that on stage the band plays  some songs to a click track – a metronome only the musicians (or at least drummer Danny Cummings) could hear on their inear monitors – but we could only speculate which  songs these were. A click track means a steady beat at a 100% constant tempo while without there are normally little tempo changes going along with the different parts of a song, often very subtle but still a possibly different feel.

    I meanwhile know from a reliable source on which songs a click track was used. These were:

    Border Reiver:  precount to get into the right tempo after the intro of the song (side stick sound in quarter notes plus hihat sound in eighth notes)

    What it is: side stick sound in quarter notes throughout the whole song, including the lower parts before the final solo

    Sailing to Philadelphia: side stick sound in quarter notes throughout the whole song

    Coyote: side stick sound in quarter notes plus “cricket sound” percussion throughout the whole song

    Prairie Wedding: no click track

    Hillfarmer Blues: side stick sound in quarter notes plus maracas (shaker) sound in eighth notes , switched off at final solo

    Romeo & Juliet: no click track

    Sultans of Swing: side stick sound in quarter notes plus hihat sound in eighth notes until first solo

    Done with Bonaparte: no click track

    Marbletown: side stick sound in quarter notes plus hihat sound in eigth notes in the intro (ends when Mark’s guitar starts)

    Get Lucky: no click track

    Speedway at Nazareth: side stick sound in quarter notes plus hihat sound in eighth notes throughout whole song

    Telegraph Road: no click track

    Brothers in Arms: no click track

    So far away: no click track

    Piper to the End: no click track

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