Blog Post Categories
- Dire Straits/ Mark Knopfler live pictures and videos (31)
- Guitar in general (91)
- Vintage guitars (46)
- Mark Knopfler gear (144)
- Misc (72)
- MK guitar style and licks (84)
- Recording (16)
- Understanding music (28)
- Contents (List)
- Mark Knopfler Gear Database
- User Pictures Gallery: Build your own MK guitar
- Gear on all songs for all albums – WIKI
Recent Forum Posts
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Stumped identifying speakers in 212HD 130
By: Mike D - 6 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Music Man HD130 212 maintenance
By: direstrat - 6 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Schecter one piece birdseye maple neck with serial number
By: hamerfan - 7 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: unknown equipement on the musicman guitar strap
By: J.Francois - 9 months ago
- Forum: Playing style, riffs, licks, soli, chords
Topic: Lights of Taormina SlideTuning?
By: mrandel - 11 months ago
- Tokai Springy Sound - Japanese Vintage Stratocaster Copies that caused lawsuit (5)
- Enjoyed the articles covering Tokai and Squire. Check out my photo book of Tokai... Feb 19, 6:15 PM
- Gear on album Brothers in arms (15)
- Out of phase, middle position roll off one of the tone controls all the... Feb 16, 11:59 AM
- National Style-O 1932 and 1936 - Double Power (4)
- Is this guitar for sale? Feb 14, 12:27 PM
- Sensational: Sultans of Swing guitar track solo - without backing tracks - from Guitar Hero 5 (95)
- Ha Ha Ha – copied and recopied stories stolen from other neighbouring cultures. Not... Feb 12, 6:48 PM
- Tonight, at the Principal Church of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter,... Feb 07, 5:58 PM
- 8-7-12Mirela spune: Buna. Ai putea sa imi cauti si mie driverele de sunet si... Feb 07, 5:02 PM
- Johnnie:Allt rÃ¶rande detta Ã¤r givetvis "clearat" med IFK, sÃ¥ du behÃ¶ver inte oroa dig.... Feb 02, 5:01 PM
- Mark Knopfler on facebook and myspace (3)
- The Schecter Story: Schecter Guitar Research - Dream Machines - The Van Nuys Era (24)
- Easy way to cure a scratchy voice coil in a guitar speaker (2)
- Hi. Great, great, great! I had that same problem with my Music Man RD112... Feb 06, 2:31 PM
- The wrong colour of the first Mark Knopfler Signature Strats (40)
- Finally I bought a used one last week. SE00064 dakota red Jan 15, 9:59 PM
- Schecter Dream Machine red 1980 (12)
- Color is Candy Apple Red, but it has a silver undercoat like earlier Fender... Jan 15, 8:55 PM
- Suhr Custom MK-1 and Pensa Custom MK-1 (5)
- I disagree Cathleen Jan 04, 12:58 AM
- Music Man Guitar Amps (39)
- Hi i have had a m/man 210 hd one thirty fo 30 yrs. ,great... Dec 20, 12:12 PM
- Coming new products (16)
- Any news on the availability of the DM Bodies? I would love to build... Dec 19, 2:20 PM
- Guitar refinishing – nitro vs poly and how to remove a polyester finish (54)
- Keys for all Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits songs (5)
- I think Tunnle of Love is in F major. In Live version,they had finished... Dec 09, 7:11 PM
- The Gibson Chet Atkins CEC - Classical Electric Guitar with Nylon Strings (18)
- Hi Thanks for the info. I have one of each at the moment. I... Dec 07, 4:33 PM
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- MK-Guitar on Facebook
- MK-Guitar on Twitter
- My Facebook profile
- My old Dire Straits Guitar Page
- My personal homepage
- My Youtube channel
Latest updates and news
Tweets by @mk_guitar_com
Top Comment Authors
- Ingo (421)
- Jean-François (166)
- Jeff - Anthony (36)
- Erik (33)
- Fletch (29)
- J.Francois (29)
- Dermot O'Reilly (28)
- Arthur Luz (23)
- TheWizzard29 (22)
- zach (22)
- John (20)
- Knopfleberg (20)
- Philipp (19)
- Eduard (18)
- Morten (17)
- danny (14)
- Jim (14)
- thomas (13)
- Alex Mircica (12)
- Lapelcelery (12)
- Chris (11)
- Ryan T. (11)
- David (10)
- liftedcj7on44s (10)
- dave (9)
Posted in: Amps by Ingo on May 31, 2011
This post is about two of Mark Knopfler’s Fender vintage amps, the brown Fender Vibrolux – the Sultans of Swing amp that was covered in this blog article – and the similar-sized and similar-looking brown Fender Vibroverb.
The Fender Vibrolux (model 6G11a) was one of Knopfler’s earliest guitar amps. Probably it belonged to Dire Straits’ bass player John Illsley and was used for the first demo recordings of Dire Straits, and also for the first record and for their live gigs of this time (late 1977 – early 1978). He still owns this amp and used it regularly on the last albums.
The brown Vibroverb (model 6G16) was a much later addition to Knopfler’s amp arsenal. From what I heard he got it probably in the late 1990ies with some help of John Suhr, and used it e.g. on some Notting Hillbillies gigs of that time.
Both amps were only produced for a very short time: the brown Vibrolux from 1961 – 62, and the brown Vibroverb in 1963 only. Consequently, both are ultra rare. The Vibroverb was reissued in the early 1990ies (1990 – 95).
Both amps have a lot in common: two channels with a similar pre-amp layout (same tone controls, same pre-amp circuit), about 30 watts from two 6L6 tubes, tremolo, and of course the same design like as all amps from the brown tolex era (wheat cover grill, brown barrel knobs, brown tolex etc.). Note that both – like all brown face amps – don’t feature bright switches. Nevertheless, the little capacitor to boost treble that is normally added with the bright switch is still present on the right channel of both amps, so imagine these amps as bright switch off for the left channel and bright switch on for the right channel.
The major differences are the speaker configuration – one 12″ Oxford speaker in the Vibrolux but two 10″ Oxford speakers in the Vibroverb – and the reverb which was only featured in the Vibroverb. In fact, the Vibroverb was the first Fender amp with reverb, and the only one of the brown tolex era. The Fender spring reverb was available with the brown tolex reverb unit and was later – to be concrete with the introduction of the black face design – added to most of the Fender guitar amplifiers. This combination of features – two 10″ speakers with reverb and tremolo in a middle -sized tube amp – turned the Vibroverb to one of the all-time favourites for many players.
Normally it is easy to distinguish both amps on pictures because only the Vibroverb had the grill-mounted Fender logo, while the Vibrolux and other small Fender amps had no grill logo. However, Knopfler’s Vibrolux has a non-original Fender logo that was apparently added later (the logo itself looks like the ones from the black or silver face era). Normally there is a special piece of wood for the logo screws, but not so on the Vibrolux. For this reason, the logo on Knopfler’s amp had to be moved extremely into the upper left corner of the grill so that the logo screws hit the wooden frame of the grill front. Other optical differences: only the Vibroverb has those tilt legs on the sides, and the Vibroverb has one additional control – the reverb control on the second channel – so that is has a total of 9 controls (vol, treble, bass / vol, treble, bass, reverb / speed, intensity). This and the two 10″ speakers are the reasonwhy the Vibroverb is a bit wider than the Vibrolux.
"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
The amp in the background on this video clip from is the brown Vibrolux, as the position of the logo tells.
Posted in: Dire Straits/ Mark Knopfler live pictures and videos,Misc by Ingo on February 12, 2010
Today while surfing youtube I found this rare video which I have never seen before, showing Mark Knopfler as a guest on a Brendan Crocker gig in Leeds, June 18, 1989 (the youtube video title says July 18, June 18 is confirmed and I doubt that there was a second gig one month later). For those who don’t know him, Brendan Crocker is an old friend of Mark’s, also a member of the Notting Hillbillies.
Another guest on this gig was Dire Straits keyboarder Alan Clark.
I still have a vinyl Brendan Crocker EP single with three tracks from this gig (You Don’t Need Me Here, Railroad Blues, Georgia Crawl)"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Dire Straits’ first hit was Sultans of Swing, recorded in Basing Street studios, February 1978. But did you know that there was a different studio recording before (demo version, Pathway Studios, July 1977), and also a later recording (Pathway Studios, April 1978) that was recorded to be released as a single in some countries?
The demo version
This version was recorded on July 2, 1977, together with four other song (Wild West End, Down to the Waterline, Water of Love, and Sarcred Loving which was written by David Knopfler and was never released). The band had just started a few weeks before, and after rehearsing these first original songs they decided to book a small studio – Pathway Studios – to produce a demo tape. The session cost them about 180 GBP. We all know what happened later: Radio DJ Charlie Gillet played these demo tapes in his Honky Tonk radio show, and the band finally got their record contract at the end of that year.
Pathway Studios was a tiny 8-track demo studio in Islington, London. Here is a quote I found about it in the Wikipedia. Note that it seems to refer to some later point as Alesis digital reverbs were definitely not available in 1977:
“The studio was very small, about 8 x 8 metres with a 2 x 2m control booth in the corner and an upright piano next to it. You could just squeeze three people into the control booth! The tape deck was a Brenell 1 inch 8 track. The monitors and desk were custom made, and they had a pair of Auratones as well, fed from Quad power amps. The desk was quite small, pushed hard against the front wall with the custom monitors hung above and the Auratones on the meter bridge. Outboard was very basic: a Bel delay line, an Alesis digital reverb and Drawmer gates, but they had a nice plate reverb in a cupboard in the office upstairs. I can’t recall all the mics but they were the industry standard stuff. We got big warm sounding mixes and despite the cramped conditions the mixing process seemed effortless compared to the difficult digital learning curve I have been on in the last two years.”
The following two pictures show Squeeze recording there in 1976.
This Sultans of Swing version (and only this song) was later released on a compilation album called the Honky Tonk demos by Oval records (see below for sound clip).
The single version
After the recording of the first Dire Straits album at Basing Street Studios (February 13 – March 5, 1978), the results were played to Phonogram’s marketing people. Some of them thought that Sultans of Swing was too polished and smooth sounding for a single that is accepted by the radio, so they re-recorded this song on April 20 / 26, 1978, again at Pathway Studios. This single was released in some countries, among them England and Germany, while in others the album version was released (e.g. in the Netherlands or the US). In some countries, e.g. the former Yugoslavia, one verse (#5, “And a crowd of young boys…”) was cut off to decrease the overall length which – with almost 6 minutes – was rather long for the radio. This version features more distortion and compression, it indeed sounds more like rock music. It even appears to be a bit faster although it is practically not. It seems it was never released on CD (see below for sound clip).
Sound and gear on these versions
On the demo version Mark Knopfler played most likely his 1961 Stratocaster (S-No #68354) , at this time he only had one Strat. It was probably not painted red yet but had a wood finish. The pick-up position seems to be the middle pick-up. The sound engineer at Pathway – Chas Herington – was later the lighting designer on the Brothers in Arms tour in the mid 80ies. It was 1985 in Arnhem, Netherlands, when I spoke with him and asked him about the equipment on these sessions. He told me that Mark played an old Fender Vibrolux amp which was recorded with a Neumann microphone. He also stated that Mark’s typical sound came out of the amp this way, and was not created with outboard effects and processing.
I assume that on the single version Mark Knopfler played his maple-neck Strat (S-No. #80470), also through the Vibrolux. This time there is a subtle distortion, possibly also compression (remember the rumour about the Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer). The pick-up position seems to be bridge & middle to achieve that nasal sound.
Here are sound clips with excerpts from both versions.
Demo version (from CD)
Single version (from vinyl single)
Note that Mark also plays one of the two rhythm guitars on both tracks."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Amps,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on January 13, 2009
Mark Knopfler got his first Strat only shortly before Dire Straits were formed. Before that time he had played a Gibson Les Paul Special through a Selmer tube combo amp in a band called The Cafe Racers. It is not clear if he owned the Selmer amp or if it was borrowed. What we know is that when he got the Strat, he plugged it into a Fender Vibrolux which probably belonged to Dire Straits’ bass player John Illsley. Today however, it is still in Knopfler’s possession.
This amp was a Fender Vibrolux from the early 60ies – from the brown-tolex era. Internally Fender called this model 6G11 (first revision), or 6G11-A (second revision, the more common version to be found).
The brown Vibrolux is a really wonderful amp: with about 30 watts from two 6L6 tubes it has enough power to be played in a band with drums and bass, yet it is small and light. It has one 12″ speaker (an Oxford 12L6 or 12M6) and a tremolo effects. Unfortunately it has no reverb (a feature Fender introduced with the later black face series, the only brown amp with reverb was the 2 x 10″ Vibroverb from about 1963), with reverb the Vibrolux might have been the ultimate small combo amp. The rectifier is also a tube.
The controls are pretty much standard: One channel with Volume, Treble, Bass, the second channel with Volume, Treble, Bass, and two tremolo controls (Speed, Intensity) which affect both channels. There are no bright switches – another feature introduced with the black face amps. However, the second channel is called “Bright” as a small condenser across the volume poti adds some treble – the same circuit as a bright switch, just not switchable.
The Vibrolux does not have a Fender logo on the front grill cloth – the one on Knopfler’s amp is not original.
Knopfler played this amp live in 1977 and early 1978. There is only a limited number of live pictures from 1977, and most do not show any amps. We have the following sources from this period that mention the Vibrolux:
a) Knopfler himself said in a an interview that Sultans of Swing was first written in open tuning on a National steel guitar, but it was totally changed when he got his Strat and played it through the Vibrolux.
b) There are two pictures from an early live gig at the bandstand on Clapham Common, London, September , 1977 (two months after recording the demo of Sultans of Swing, five months before the recording of the first album in February 1978)
c) Two pictures from the Roundhouse, London, January 1978 (more info).
d) One picture from the Marquee, March 1978
e) A personal interview with Chas Herington who was the engineer on both the demo and the single version of Sultans of Swing (both recorded at Pathway studio, July 1977 and April 1978, the song was re-recorded two months after the recording of the first album because the record company wanted more of a rock sound for the single). He also told me that it was mic’ed with a Neumann mic.
There is no evidence that this amp was played on the Sultans of Swing version of Dire Straits’ first album (recorded in February 1978). Possibly different amps were used here (Twin Reverb, Jazz Chorus, and the Vibrolux). In about May 1978 Knopfler started to play Fender Twin Reverbs on stage. The Vibrolux reapperad with the Notting Hillbillies and is still frequently used these days in Knopfler’s British Grove studio.
I know that Knopfler’s amp does not have the original Oxford speaker anymore. I talked with Knopfler’s guitar tech Glenn Saggers about this amp some years ago on on a Notting Hillbillies gig, and he told me it had a Celestion speaker. Unfortunately he did not remember which model (they can sound very different) so I gave Glenn a self-addressed postcard and asked him if he might send it to me after checking the amp the next time. I did not really expect he would remember it, or find the time, but some months later I in fact got a card with the answer: a Sound City speaker -these were often produced by Fane (Thank you Glenn if you ever read this )
Here are some detail pictures of a 1961 Vibrolux:"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Amps,Dire Straits/ Mark Knopfler live pictures and videos,Effects,Guitars,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on October 31, 2008
The bootleg Dire Straits – Leeds – January 30 (31?), 1978 is one of the earliest Dire Straits live recordings (actually the only earlier live recording is only one song – Eastbound Train from the Hope & Anchor pub, London, December 1977). This bootleg concert was recorded about one week before the recoding sessions for the very first Dire Straits album. This gig was the last of a short England tour, where Dire Straits played support for the Talking Heads. For this reason they did not play a full-length concert set.
The bootleg is from a soundboard recording on a tape cassette and contains the following songs: Southbound Again – Eastbound Train – Down to the Waterline – In the Gallery – Water of Love – Setting me up – Me and my friends – Real Girl – Sultans of Swing
Unfortunately the original tape was damaged in the solo of the first song – Southbound Again – the reason why the last part of this song is missing. It continues with Eastbound Train (first seconds also missing), but we don’t know how long it took to fix the tape problem (or even to notice the problem) so we don’t know whether there have been any other songs in between or not.
There are no pictures or videos of this concert, but there are a few pictures around from the concert one day before, January 29, at the Roundhouse in London. These pictures are all black&white, but on some you can see a part of the backline gear, which has been very likely the same for all concerts on that tour. The best picture is the following, a rather small picture from a story in Q magazine from 1987.
It is rather hard to see any details. What you can see are three amps. The one in the middle (behind Knopfler’s head) is the brown Fender Vibrolux (he still owns this amp and uses it in his British Grove studios). The square-shaped amp on the left of it is also a Fender, as it seems a black face, and according to the proportions a 4 x 10″ combo. I first suspected it to be a Super Reverb, but meanwhile think it is a Fender Concert Amp (no reverb). The amp on the right is a Music Man, and is probably played by Mark’s brother David. It is not the 212 Music Man that Knopfler used later this year because this would be higher than the Vibrolux. It must be a 2 x 10″ combo.
The guitar is Mark’s maple-neck Fender # 80470, with its white non-original pickguard (see this article for more information on the pickguard issue). The guitar behind Mark seems to be his rosewood Fender # 68354, I suspect it is still bare wood finish here, I assume it was painted red not before summer that year.
As it seems David plays his Fender Strat, the one that later was black, but here it is also still wood finish (possibly both were refinished at the same time). Unfortunately you cannot see any effects or other details."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)