In my town there is a weekly jam on Saturday evening and everyone in the east end of the city comes out to crank it up and have a good time. I had never brought my own amp before, so I was never guaranteed a spot, but on this night I brought my trusty new Epiphone Blues Custom 30 -The Sweet Authority. No one there had ever seen this amp before. On this occasion, there were four guitarists playing at once, with me off to the side, near the exit door. The room itself has a capacity of about 120. I brought along my 1961 Melody Maker (customized beyond recognition with three mini humbuckers and a five way switch) and plugged in directly to the BC 30, with no effects except for channel switching and a bit of ‘verb.
My first solo brought stares of “what on earth is THAT?” The volume on the amp was nowhere near even “4”. The crunch was so sweet it just sung and filled the air. On the first break, guys gathered round to ask questions, and I told them all that I knew about the amp, and it seemed after a while like everyone that night wanted to go out and buy one. After the break, the host let me sing a tune, so I had to take center stage half way out on the dance floor, with the amp was about 15 feet away, angled in a bit toward the center of the room. The song I picked to do was BB King’s “Caldonia” which put me into the mode of “clean rules”. I had to use a center position to get that plinky, in between sound that BB’s 335 is famous for, and the amp did not let me down in this area at all. I had my treble almost off, with my mids cranked. I played the verses with the guitar pot rolled back to almost half and gave full juice on the solos, and although it was just “volume hot”, I stayed in the clean channel.
Above the din of players learning to play with each other for the first time, this amplifier was transcendent, clear, and explicit in all that I asked of it. On the bottom end it was fat and juicy without being muddy, and way up top it did all the plinky business that it was supposed to, given the demands of the song. This is important to me, because when I cover something, I tend to want to really do it like the original artist. This helps me widen out as a musician myself. When I was up there, I took note of the other gear that was in the back line. Beside me, there was a Super Reverb, in the middle of the stage there were two small Marshall combos, and at the other end there was a Peavey Vintage about the same size as the Super Reverb. I had the Class toggle setting on the back of the amp set to A/B, 30 watts. For the duration of the evening, even though I was courteous and generous in respect to supporting the other players when it came time to lay back, my non biased opinion, shared with the others both on stage and in the audience, is that the Epiphone Blues Custom 30 dominated the venue. Very cool.
Photo: Geri Risser