On the 'tube

Reelin’ in Elliot Randall


I always thought Johnny Walker was one of the BBC's best mainstream DJs -- knew his stuff (except here for his 'Springsteen Strat' gaff) and presented it well. Here's an interview he did with Elliot Randall where he was actually interested in Elliot's guitars and amps -- an Ampeg SVT for Reelin' In The Years anyone? Apparently it was loud.

This must be fairly old so apologies if it has done the rounds on GDP before.


Found on --where else -- Wikipedia:

Randall plays a 1963 Fender Stratocaster. The neck pickup is a 1969 Gibson Humbucker. He often plays through a Fender Super Reverb. He was listed as an endorser for Dimarzio pickups in the company's product brochure circa 1981.

In an article in Guitar Player magazine (July 2007) Randall was asked what rig he used to record the solo on "Reelin' in the Years". He states, "That was my '63 Fender Stratocaster with a PAF humbucker in the neck position, straight into an Ampeg SVT bass amp. The SVT wouldn't have been my first choice for an amp--or even my fifth choice--but it worked a storm on that recording!"


Well, an SVT is a pile of 8-inch speakers, with a natural mid focus anyway. Don't feed it any low end, and it won't produce any. Crank it to tube-amp overdrive (I'd want to be in the control room with the amp far away), and I can imagine that combination producing the RiTY tone.

Interesting trivia factoid, I wouldn't have guessed.

Very nice interview, thanks for posting.


That sound, just about all migrange, and mostly upper mids at that, drives me nuts if it's coming out of my own amp. At one time in the near past, I really tried to embrace the mids of those Ampeg amps; just couldn't seem to connect. I don't mind hearing the sound on Reelin', and after so many years (no pun intended) it sounds right by association; maybe even impossible to imagine a different sound. Still, I wonder.......


Journeyman: I know what you mean. But, as Mr Randall says in the interview, the sound is as much in the fingers as the gear.


I’m no fan of that tone. They just made it work and now it’s part of the sonic scenery there. What really makes it work - and would have with pretty much any driven tone - is the playing.

I didn’t like Steve Morse’s early tone in the Dregs - an Ampeg V4 driven to near-meltdown. But i loved his playing, so I got used to it. He now uses other amps, of course - I think Marshall and Peavey through the years, and maybe now ENGL, with an endorsement deal. Still sounds like Steve Morse, but somehow more civilized and formulaic. Makes me kinda miss the V4.

I don’t know if my little old Ampegs - Reverberocket and guitar Portaflex - have that honkin” midrange character fully cranked. I’ve never cranked them thus. They don’t when clean, though.


Journeyman: I know what you mean. But, as Mr Randall says in the interview, the sound is as much in the fingers as the gear.

– Dave_K

That much upper mid range is coming out of that amp, cranked, and of course sound is personal to the player (fingers and ears) but there is no way that particular sound is going to come out of almost any other amp, unless it is EQ'd to do so. I get a different sound out of my Filmosound conversion than I do my Fender amps; same fingers.

I'm not saying that a good player won't find his or her sound from a variety of guitars and amps. There's a quote from Joe Pass that I like that illustrates the fact that tone production is indeed personal and a product of the musician as much as the guitar. Joe was on a break after playing a set in a club and an audience member went up to him and said something like, "Joe, that guitar sounds beautiful." Joe's reply was something like, "Thanks. How does it sound now?"

Just to get back to my initial point, I would find it very difficult to play with that tone because my ear (and fingers) are going for, and expecting something quite different. Elliot made it work, and it's so integral to that recording, that I accept it, maybe even like it from a distance, but I wouldn't have been able to deal with it without feeling unhappy.

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