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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Fool proof setup?

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Is there a fool proof setup in terms of guitar equipment?

With all the basic stuff to get at least a decent surf sound, I still don't get the sound I want. I have a Fender Deluxe Reverb 65 reissued amp, a Surfybear and as an alternative a Catalinabread Topanga pedal. I tried a slap echo prior to the reverb, but it doesn't really matter.

The sound still has this piano like ring, a modern sound, especially with new strings of course. There's also some distortion that doesn't really belong in the sound, almost no matter how I tune the knobs. I guess it's my guitars. I have a fender fat Strat and a Duesenberg caribou.

Are there any tricks to get closer?
1. What are fool proof amp settings?
2. What strings are better, thicker or thiner ones?
3. What guitar is fool proof and not too expensive?
4. How do you mic an amp (mic and positioning)?

thx and regards

NO! there is no "fool-proof" setting. Attention is required at any stage. Everybody struggles with their 'feel' and it never ends.
Having said that..
Flatwounds, all the way! .-12 gauge for starters. Pyramid, or Thomastik.

The Duesenberg caribou intrigues me, it looks so wonderful. Hope you can make it work.

Last edited: Jun 11, 2020 15:15:50

One thing to consider is the difference between your blackface amp and what they were using in the era of the original surf music, which was a lot of brownfaces. Those have a lot more midrange. I don't mind the scooped sound of blackface amps but it might be considered less authentic. As your Deluxe doesn't have a mids knob, maybe you could experiment with an EQ pedal and see if it gets you where you're happy.

As far as guitars go, your Strat is probably fine, although a bridge humbucker isn't really a part of the surf recipe. Can you split it, at least?

Thick strings are the way to go. I'd say 12s is the minimum size to use. I'm not a huge fan of flatwounds nor do I think they're necessary for surf. I have them on a couple guitars but I often wish for more bite, to be frank. Rounds worked just fine for Dick Dale and Jim Messina...

Thanks for the response!. I ordered some new strings. That's definitely worth a try.

@Redfeather: If I just need an amp for recording purposes: What would be a good choice for a combo? Any vintage fender amp with a midrange knob?

btw: I can split the humbucker on my strat, yes.

The humbucker is a major roadblock to producing a good surf tone in this setup. You can split the coils but ultimately why not build or buy another strat and load it with the type of pickups that will produce great surf tone. That is the first place I would start.

The Kahuna Kings

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kahuna-Kings/459752090818447

https://thekahunakings.bandcamp.com/releases

Hey Slippy Fingers!
I think I have/had a similar issue with my Thinline Jaguar, Surfy Bear and whatever Fender Amp I run it into (Supersonic 60, 1968 Dripedge Bandmaster or Fender Vaporizer).
My clean sound just wouldn't get as surfy as I imagined it with all the stuff I have - somehow I found a way to get me closer - even if some purists may shake their heads:
Try an Overdrive, a Boost or even a Fuzz (Bender or Fuzzface) - whatever you have at hand - after the Reverb to boost those splashy sounds and to give it some warmth! (EQ might work too)

I personally even ended up with Fuzzes in front ('cause I need them for the band)and the Boost afterward - and with both engaged I can dial in a sweet spot with the volume knob of the guitar (treble-bleed installed) - this way it gets super sparkling and dripping and cuts through the mix nicely.

But yes, the Humbuckers might be an issue too. There are surfy pickups that fit a humbucker route. Either Strat-style or staying with Duesenberg: the D-Tron or any other Filtertron style pickup might get you closer. Or even the GFS Surf 90s: great cheap pickups - low output - lots of sparkle.

But even the picking style defines a lot of your sound (and yes, the strings too).

Another quite easy way how to get closer to that Brownface sound would be Surfy Industries new "Brownfacer" - which has been very intriguing to me since its release - but I'm too broke right now to afford it! Sigh

I have to add a personal question: Maybe you guys know more about the correlation between the "Bright Switch" and the "Presence Knob" - are they there for a similar/the same reason?

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Redfeather wrote:

I'm not a huge fan of flatwounds nor do I think they're necessary for surf. I have them on a couple guitars but I often wish for more bite, to be frank. Rounds worked just fine for Dick Dale and Jim Messina...

And Eddie Bertrand, I believe.

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djangodeadman is correct about Eddie. In the live interview with Tiki Tina, he stated without a doubt, roundwounds,no exception.

wfoguy wrote:

djangodeadman is correct about Eddie. In the live interview with Tiki Tina, he stated without a doubt, roundwounds,no exception.

As I recall, he also talked about string gauge in that interview and said that he couldn’t remember what he used in the 60’s but that it was probably whatever was around. I think he said that he had 10’s on his guitar at the time of the interview. I found it interesting that what has become received wisdom was not universally the case at the time, even for one of the undisputed greats.

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I personally think what you are missing is fatness in the sound. This is where you feel the need of using roundwound strings or a brownface amp. It’s not easy to get a fat good sound on a Deluxe amp. One try I may suggest is to use a Brownfacer which has exactly that purpose: make your sound full and fat. It has to be used just before the amp and after reverb for sure because the real trick of surf music is the reverb compression.

Take a look at that on surfyindustries.com.
In any case there is no fool proof setup in general except guitar - Reverb - brownface showman/bandmaster. That is fool proof for surf music.

Lorenzo "Surfer Joe" Valdambrini
(www.surfmusic.net)

MayTheFuzzBeWithYou wrote:

Hey Slippy Fingers!
I think I have/had a similar issue with my Thinline Jaguar, Surfy Bear and whatever Fender Amp I run it into (Supersonic 60, 1968 Dripedge Bandmaster or Fender Vaporizer).
My clean sound just wouldn't get as surfy as I imagined it with all the stuff I have - somehow I found a way to get me closer - even if some purists may shake their heads:
Try an Overdrive, a Boost or even a Fuzz (Bender or Fuzzface) - whatever you have at hand - after the Reverb to boost those splashy sounds and to give it some warmth! (EQ might work too)

I personally even ended up with Fuzzes in front ('cause I need them for the band)and the Boost afterward - and with both engaged I can dial in a sweet spot with the volume knob of the guitar (treble-bleed installed) - this way it gets super sparkling and dripping and cuts through the mix nicely.

But yes, the Humbuckers might be an issue too. There are surfy pickups that fit a humbucker route. Either Strat-style or staying with Duesenberg: the D-Tron or any other Filtertron style pickup might get you closer. Or even the GFS Surf 90s: great cheap pickups - low output - lots of sparkle.

But even the picking style defines a lot of your sound (and yes, the strings too).

Another quite easy way how to get closer to that Brownface sound would be Surfy Industries new "Brownfacer" - which has been very intriguing to me since its release - but I'm too broke right now to afford it! Sigh

I have to add a personal question: Maybe you guys know more about the correlation between the "Bright Switch" and the "Presence Knob" - are they there for a similar/the same reason?

yes, bright switch replaced the presence control in blackface amps since 1964.

and yes you would need a Brownfacer instead of all that stuff. You are trying to find the words to express the fact that you need a full fat compressed sound. Strange though that guy are not satisfied with the supersonic 60 amp on Bassman configuration. That sound is pretty good and fat. Is this a combo that you have, or head+cabinet?

Lorenzo "Surfer Joe" Valdambrini
(www.surfmusic.net)

Last edited: Jun 28, 2020 03:24:37

Before you disappear down the rabbit hole of gear acquisition, try experimenting with your picking, moving toward or away from the bridge, coupled with different pickup selections.

As several people have already said, the humbucker won't help.

www.thewaterboarders.net
http://thewaterboarders.bandcamp.com/

surferjoemusic wrote:>

yes, bright switch replaced the presence control in blackface amps since 1964.

and yes you would need a Brownfacer instead of all that stuff. You are trying to find the words to express the fact that you need a full fat compressed sound. Strange though that guy are not satisfied with the supersonic 60 amp on Bassman configuration. That sound is pretty good and fat. Is this a combo that you have, or head+cabinet?

Hey Surfer Joe! Thank you for your reply!

Yes - Compression! For sure! Duh I thought of it more complicated but meant exactly that. I successfully tried to achieve it with what I had around - which was as in many guitarist's households some kind of a gain-sculpturing pedal.

And yes, I have the Supersonic 60 head - and as suspected: I prefer the Bassman setting too! - I play it live & in the rehearsal room together with two cabs: a 2x12 Fender (V30) and a 1x15 Mojotone which got a celestial fullback in it - it's not the surfiest speaker for sure - but the JBL K130 I got with the cab left me a week or two after I received it! Sigh and I needed a reliable and quick replacement for ALL the sounds I play - which is not only surf - but also Garage, Psych and Heavy Rock.

And (yet again) yes, I'm (after almost 12 years) still happy with the supersonic - it's probably only a bit TOO LOUD for my needs - I already replaced the V1 tube with an AY7 to have a little more room for volume adjustments.
Before I was at 0,2 and wouldn't even get mic'ed because I was already too loud... but the effect-loop turned out useful - I use it as kind of an attenuator now! Sadly the two channels have a huge volume-gap between them - 'cause the Vibrolux would sound sweet too!

image

But my at home situation looks different and with lower possible volume I need something to take me to approximately the same result more effectively.
But I'm not the one who asked for a fool proof setup - I'm just the one who gave one possible answer. So sorry everyone for the slight diversion!

Also thank you for the clarification of the Bright switch!
May I add another question: what Reverb-tank do you suggest for a fast attack but yet intense surf sound? I have the 45cm Mod-tank with my Surfy Bear-kit (which I've chosen after watching a comparison video at 60 cycle hum) but I'm not 100% happy with it... would you suggest taking the big Accutronics tank or a smaller one?
PS: As stated above: I'm just too broke right now - but the Brownfacer has already attracted my attention! Wink

TENTACULA: Garage-Psych-Heavy-Surf-Rock
Tentacula @ Bandcamp Tentacula @ Instagram Tentacula @ Facebook my gear collection @ instagram

I had the long MOD tank in my 6G15 for a while. It gives lots of reverb but isn't a convincing surf tone to my ears. I swapped it back to the long Accutronics which I prefer.

I believe the Surfy Bear unit is designed for the long reverb tank.

www.thewaterboarders.net
http://thewaterboarders.bandcamp.com/

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