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John Entwistle’s Gear: 1986–2002

Buzzards and Little Manhattan

Alembic

News (June 2012): Christie’s to auction Status Buzzard as part of its Popular Culture: Rock & Roll Memorabilia sale, to be held on 12 June 2012. The instrument is currently owned by Brad Rodgers of whocollection.com.

The Who

A circa 1996 Status Buzzard Prototype; No serial number, in black basket weave finish, irregular shaped carbon graphite body, chrome parts, irregular shaped headstock with a de-tuner and Status Graphite Buzzard in red, graphite neck, twenty seven fret graphite fingerboard with roman numeric position markers and LED side markers, two Hyperactive pickups, four rotary controls, two toggle switches, black bridge plate with four adjustable saddles; and an original aluminium framed rectangular flight case — owned and played by John Entwistle, during tours with The Who and The John Entwistle Band, and seen in performances at the Royal Albert Hall, 2000 and 2002; accompanied by a letter from the drummer/producer of the John Entwistle band concerning the provenance.

Estimate:

£10,000–£15,000 (US$15,440–$23,160)

Realised:

£13,750 (US$21,258)

Provenance:

Ex-lot 112 John Entwistle Estate Sale, Sotheby’s London, 13th May, 2003

From the collection of Brad and Diana Rogers [sic] of www.whocollection.com

Exhibited:

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, from 1998–2007

See lot details at christies.com

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1986–1989

Gold Warwick Buzzard, courtesy RockStarsGuitars.

Click to view larger version. Gold sparkle Warwick Buzzard, courtesy RockStarsGuitars.

White Warwick Buzzard, courtesy RockStarsGuitars.

Click to view larger version. White Warwick Buzzard, courtesy RockStarsGuitars.

Green Modulus Buzzard, 1991, courtesy Marc Forrester.

Green 1991 Modulus Buzzard prototype.

Bass: the “Buzzard”

The original Buzzard was designed by John and Warwick in 1985, with prototypes and the first models in wood. John then contacted Modulus Graphite, which made two graphite Buzzards. Modulus then manufactured six graphite necks for Warwick for use in John’s Warwick-made basses. (Read the history of the Buzzard at warwickbass.com/news/37.htm (offline).

  • Modulus Buzzard graphite basses (two; for which John paid full retail)
    • One in green, which John used on the Ringo Starr tour.

      Prototype, arabic numbers on fretboard, no serial number. From Bass Culture:

      “Modulus Graphite made this prototype for me. Unlike all the other Buzzards, this one has no leds in the neck. I used this for almost every show on Ringo Starr’s All Star Tour of Japan and the USA.” Warwick Buzzard/Green

  • Warwick Buzzard
    • Designed by John, featuring:
      • Long-scale neck
      • 2 EMG P-bass split pickups (note: later reissue versions used MEC pickups).
      • Weight approximately 12 lbs.
  • Warwick 8-string basses
    • Bartonlini electronics

Amplification: 1989

John’s rig consisted of three-way-split signal, bass-mono, bright left and bright right. Below are two considerably different descriptions of his rig.

Description 1 (from Guitar World)

  • Treble/high-end signal
    • Bass into Alembic splitter, into
    • TC Electronic 2290 multi-effects processor (has five external effects loops, which allow it to function as MIDI controller)
      • Loop 1: Linked to a Gallien-Krueger GK2000 CPL preamp;
      • Loop 2: Connected to TC Electronic 1128 graphic equalizer;
      • Loop 5: Linked to Yamaha SPX1000 stereo multi-effects unit;
    • SPX1000 stereo output to the left and right channels of a Trace Elliot RA500 power amp
    • Power amp feeds four (two each channel) A.S.S. 212 2x12 cabinets loaded with Fane speakers.
  • Bass/low-end signal
    • Bass into Alembic splitter, into:
    • Trace Elliot MP11 graphic equalizer, sending a mono signal into:
    • Trace Elliot RA500 power amp.
    • Power amp drives four A.S.S. 1x15 cabinets with Fane speakers and horns.

Description 2 (from Guitar Player)

  • Treble/high-end signal
    • Instrument signal via Sennheiser wireless receiver, into
    • Alembic preamp/splitter, into
    • Gallien-Krueger 2000 preamp, into
    • T.C. Electronics 2290 programmable delay
      • (with an optional 64-second oversampling conversion)
      • Acts as controller for other processors to recall programs
    • Stereo noise gate
    • Yamaha SPX 1000 digital effects processor
    • Korg KEC42 (hum cancellation)
    • T.C. Electronic 1128 programmable 32-band graphic equalizer
    • Two Trace Elliot 300-watt power amps
      • One amp powers one A.S.S. 4x12 cabinet with Fane speakers
      • One amp powers one A.S.S. 16x5 speaker cabinet with Fane speakers
  • Bass/low-end signal
    • Instrument signal via Sennheiser wireless receive (from above), into
    • T.C. Electronic 1128 programmable 32-band EQ or Trace Elliot EQ (presumably Trace Elliot MP11 graphic equalizer)
    • Trace Elliot preamp, into
    • Trace Elliot (RA500) 500-watt power amp
      • Power amp drives four A.S.S. 1x15 cabinets with Fane speakers

Quote from July 1989 interview in Musician magazine:

“Since the last time I played with the Who, I’ve changed absolutely everything, except the basic idea of sound splitting. All I have to do is press a footswitch and the whole thing changes. I couldn’t find one amplifier manufacturer who made all I wanted, so it starts with a t.c. electronics digital delay that controls all the outboard stuff. The Yamaha SPX1000 gives me a lot more effects and splits into a stereo chorus. I’ve got a Gallien-Krueger 2000 CPL preamp, which I use to get a beefy overdrive. I’ve got the top sound, the distorted trebly guitar sound, coming out of four 12s and 16 fives in stereo. That goes into two Trace Elliot 500W power amps. I’ve got a Trace Elliot computer premp for the bottom end, or I can use a t.c. graphic EQ, whichever I favor at the time, going through four 15s. All the speakers are Fanes in A.S.S. English cabinets.

“I’ve designed a new bass guitar for Warwick called a Buzzard, a big, weird-shaped bass, similar in dimension to the Explorer basses I was using. But now it’s shaped like a flying buzzard. It reminds me of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland playing croquet with a flamingo.”

Quote from 1994 interview with John:

I noticed in ’89 you had amps behind you that said something like Acoustic Sound System?

Acoustic [Sound] Services — A.S.S. They’re a company in England. They make all those cabinets. They make those specially, a rig for me.

I was wondering if it was your own line of amps or cabinets.

No, they’re sold commercially, but they’re a very small company in South End in England. They used to make stuff like TurboSound by JBL. It’s just that their cabinets give you a very directional, perfect sound. The bottom end is very tight, top end’s very smooth. I haven’t found any other cabinets like them that last that long. I use exactly the same speakers that I use in those cabinets in other cabinets and they blow to smithereens.

If I were the company I’d be very happy to have that sort of recommendation.

Well I’ve done this tour, I’ve done a club tour, done a tour of sheds, done a couple of stadium tours with The Who with them, and I haven’t blown one speaker yet.

Quote from August 1989 Guitar Player

“I use the distortion from the Yamaha SPX1000 combined with the natural distortion of the overdriven Gallien-Krueger preamp, which gives me long sustain even at lower volumes. I have various choruses, exciters, echoes, and delays on at all times. They’re programmable and all go through the treble side only. I’ve already programmed 10 of the Who songs for the tour, and will probably use the sampler to play back the bass lines during my big solo feature in ‘Shakin’ All Over,’ where I play with the drums and then cue them out to do a free-form thing.”

Excerpt from April 1995 Bassist interview

How did he discover [Trace Elliot]?

“Through the Bass Centre in Wapping. I went there out of interest, because I saw an ad in one of the music papers and thought that if there was a shop dedicated to bass equipment then I should definitely take a look! They had a lot of Trace Elliot gear there. I got invited to one of the American trade shows by Henry Goldrich who owns Manny’s in New York. He said that the trade shows were great events for getting drunk and talking about music all day. Sounded good to me! That was when I really formed the link with Trace Elliot. I found that the best bottom end I could get was through one of their computerised graphic preamps that has 20 built-in programs. They want one back so they can start making them again, but I’ve got all of them! I now use Trace MP60 power amps but also a lot of different stuff on top of that, like a Sansamp preamp, a buch of TC Electronic gear and Yamaha SPX1000s. I’ve found the SPX is the best for giving harmonic distortion when I’m tapping the strings.”

Ca. 1989, with Warwick Buzzard 8-string.

Ca. 1989, with Warwick Buzzard 8-string.

Ca. 1989, with Warwick Buzzard.

Ca. 1989, with Warwick Buzzard.

Click to view larger version: Three 4-string Warwick Buzzards and one 8-string Warwick Buzzard.

Click to view larger version. Three 4-string Warwick Buzzards and one 8-string Warwick Buzzard.

Click to view larger version. 1989 rig.

Click to view larger version. 1989 rig.

Click to view larger version. Diagram of 1989 rig from Guitar World Magazine.

Click to view larger version. Diagram of 1989 rig (see Guitar World description).

Click to view larger version. Alternate diagram of 1989 rig, from Guitar Player Magazine.

Click to view larger version. Alternate diagram of 1989 rig, from Guitar Player.

1996–2002

Status Series 1 Buzzard bass, courtesy Brad Rodgers, www.whocollection.com.

Click to view larger version. Status Graphite Series 1 Buzzard bass prototype (with no serial number); has one gold tuning key and three black ones, along with four chrome pots (potentiometers; one is a stacked treble/bass control) instead of five as in the production version . Courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

Bass

  • Status Graphite Series 1 and Series 2 Buzzard basses
    • One-piece, all-graphite body
    • Graphite neck (with slimmer profile than the Warwick Buzzard’s neck)
    • 26-fret phenolic fingerboard
    • Hipshot Bass Xtender (for instant drop-D tuning)
    • Five 9-volt batteries (two for the 18-volt preamp; three for the LEDs in the neck)
    • Weigh approximately 9 lbs.
    • All fitted with different coloured hardware so John and techs could tell them apart (e.g., one gold tuning key with three black; all gold; black with chrome; all chrome; etc.)
  • October 1999 Bridge School Benefit shows: Taylor AB-1 acoustic bass

Amplification

1996–1997

  • Amplifiers
    • Top rack
      • Korg/Tone Works DTR-1 digital tuner
      • Tech 21 SansAmp NYC model PSA-1
      • TC Electronic TC1128 programmable 28-band graphic EQ/Spectrum Analyser
      • Two Yamaha SPX 1000 Professional multi-effects processors
      • Trace Elliot MP11
      • Alembic IN-1 input module
    • Middle rack
      • Same as top rack, with only one Yamaha SPX 1000; for backup/spare.
    • Bottom rack
      • Three Trace Elliot RA 600 SX output stages.
    • TC Electronic TC 0133 Serial Remote Controllers, to split the mono signal into two frequency ranges.
      • Low range sent to TC1128 Graphic EQ > RA600 SX output stage > driving two A.S.S. 115 1x15 horns
      • Upper range sent to SansAmp > TC1128 Graphic EQ > SOX 1000 > RA600 output stage > driving two A.S.S. 212 2x12 cabinets.
  • Speakers
    • Two A.S.S. 212 2x12 reflex bass cabinets.
    • Two (with The Who) or four (with the John Entwistle Band) A.S.S. 115 1x15 flared bass bins.

1999–2001

  • Ashdown Engineering RPM-1 preamps
    • Features: tube and solid state preamp section, flexible 7-band EQ, a subharmonic processor as well as onboard crossover.
  • One Ashdown Engineering PM600 Power Amp
  • Three Ashdown Engineering PM1000 Power Amps (one as spare)
  • DigiTech 2120 Artist Series Valve Guitar System programmable pre-amp processor, fed into RPM-1 preamp’s effect loop for chorusing and overdrive.
  • Distorted highs run from the PM600 into two Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 212 2x12 reflex bass cabinets, designed for John (see Ashdown.co.uk).
  • PM1000’s lows sent to two (with The Who) or four (with the JEB) 600-watt Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 115 1x15 flared bass bins, designed for John (see Ashdown.co.uk).

In 1999 for solo gigs, it is also reported that for John’s eight-string bass setup, he was using one Trace Elliot power amp per bass string! (i.e., eight power amps!). (Thanks to Ray Davis (abbeyrhode.com), whose band at the time, Blueblood, opened for the JEB at the Last Call, in Providence, RI, 22 July 1999.)

2001–2002

  • One Ashdown Engineering RPM-1 preamp
    • Features: tube and solid state preamp section, flexible 7-band EQ, a subharmonic processor as well as onboard crossover.
  • One Ashdown Engineering PM600 power amp
  • Three Ashdown Engineering PM1000 power amps (one as spare)
  • Trace Elliot V8 400-watt amp (for midrange)
  • Line 6 POD Pro guitar unit (for distortion), fed into RPM-1 preamp’s effect loop for chorusing and overdrive.
  • Distorted highs run from the PM600 into two Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 212 2x12 reflex bass cabinets.
  • Midrange sent to two Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 212 2x12 reflex bass cabinets.
  • PM1000’s lows sent to two 600-watt Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 115 1x15 flared bass bins.
  • Two Ashdown Engineering ABM 810 8x10 cabinets laid on side (see Ashdown.co.uk).

2002

  • Four Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 212 2x12 reflex bass cabinets
  • Two Ashdown Engineering ABM ASS 115 1x15 flared bass bins
  • Control rack mounted in flight case consisting of:
    • Furman PL Plus Power Conditioner & Light Module
    • Korg Tone Works Large Display Tuner
    • Digitech 2120 Artists Series Valve Guitar System programmable preamp processor
    • Digitech Studio Quad 4: 4-in 4-out multi-effects processor
    • TC 1128 programmable 28-band graphic EQ/spectrum analyzer
    • Ashdown Engineering-Klystron Bass Pre-Magnifier
    • Custom-designed input router.
    • (Another) Furman PL Plus Power Conditioner & Light Module
    • Four Trace Elliot PPA 600 Professional Power Amps
    • Furman Power Conditioner AC line regulator model AR-Pro
  • 5 flight cases for speaker cabinets and Control/Power rack

Selected quotes

All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.

From 15 May 2002, Guitar Center interview

At the bottom end I use an Ashdown signature model, ABM RPM1 (my signature), which is a Klystron Bass Pre-Magnifier powered by an Ashdown PM1000 power amplifier. This is running two Ashdown 8 x 10 cabinets. At the mid range, I use a Trace Elliot V-Type V8 valve amplifier going through two 2 x 12 Ashdown JE cabinets. On the top end it gets even more complicated: to obtain treble and sustain at low volume, I use a Line 6 POD Pro programmable pre-amp or a Digitech 2120 Artist Valve Guitar System. These are powered by another Ashdown PM1000 power amplifier going in stereo into another two 2 x 12 JE speaker cabinets with Ashdown Blue 12 drivers.

My guitar plugs into a converted Alembic input module with an A/B guitar switch to enable smooth guitar changes. The input module has 4 outputs, one to each amp system and the forth to a Korg DTR Digital Tuner. This is the current system I use with The Who. With my own band, JEB (the John Entwistle Band), the system is pretty much the same, only the bottom end speakers are four Ashdown JE ASS 15 cabinets powered in mono by two Ashdown PM1000 power amplifiers. I carry two spare speaker cabinets for each system and two spare racks for both the pre-amps and the amps. A spare for the spare — just to be safe. Guitar wise, I carry four Status Buzzard four-string basses totally made of graphite to my own design and two Status Buzzard eight-string basses.

From December 1996 Total Guitar interview

[Regarding the June 1996 Hyde Park Quadrophenia performance] You were playing your Buzzard bass…

“Yeah, it’s a Status Buzzard and I had the two prototypes with me on that gig. It’s completely graphite, a one-piece mould. But the second one caved in on me. They are, or were, absolutely identical in every way; they feel and sound the same, so I had to put a different colour hip shot on each of them so I could tell the difference. It has the same electronics as a normal Buzzard, but they are currently desiging a proper circuit board for it. When they have finished that they are going to repalce the ones in mine. I wanted them to adjust the sweep parametric mid-range EQ on the bass, so that it sounded like a wah when I turned the knob, and it took them a while to get that right.”

And you were also using ASS cabinets.

“Yeah, I’ve been using those for about 10 years. Originally I had eight 15 and 16 12, but I took them into ML Executives’ warehouse in Shepperton and played a few notes through this rig, and every piece of equipment in the place began vibrating like hell!

“So I thought, ‘No, this is too powerful, even for me!’ So I cut the system in half, including the amps, sent half over to America and kept the rest in England. I’m still using my Trace Elliot 500 amps and a Trace computerised graphic pre-amp. My main effects sound comes from a SansAmp, and on top of that in my rack I have a TC graphic EQ to add some presence on the top, and then the Yamaha SPX.”

“… On the next shows, we’re trying to take the stage volume level down so we can hear each other properly. In-ear monitoring is an interesting idea but it wouldn’t work for me unless I could have something on my feet to give me the vibration I need.”

Click to view larger version. Status Graphite Series 1 Buzzard bass prototype (with no serial number); has one gold tuning key and three black ones, along with four chrome pots (potentiometers; one is a stacked treble/bass control) instead of five as in the production version . Courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

Click to view larger version. Status Graphite Series 1 Buzzard bass prototype (with no serial number); has one gold tuning key and three black ones, along with four chrome pots (potentiometers; one is a stacked treble/bass control) instead of five as in the production version. Courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

John’s rig, ca. 2002, courtesy www.whocollection.com

Click to view larger version. John’s rig, ca. 2002, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

Ca. 2000, John with Status Graphite Buzzard Bass and amp rig.

Ca. 2000, John with Status Graphite Buzzard Bass and amp rig.

Ca. 2000, with Status Graphite Buzzard.

Ca. 2000, with Status Graphite Buzzard.

Ca. 2000, with Status Graphite Buzzard Bass.

Ca. 2000, with Status Graphite Buzzard Bass.

Click to view larger version. Diagram of 1996 rig.

Click to view larger version. Diagram of 1996 rig.

Status Graphite Buzzard Bass.

Trace Elliot V-Type V8 Bass amp

Trace Elliot V-Type V8 valve bass amplifier head previously owned by John Entwistle, and used as a spare. 230 VAC. 400 watts RMS into 2 or 4 ohms. Courtesy Ron Knights of the UK band Quench (quenchuk.com), and whocollection.com. Sold via ebay auction March 2004 for £800.

Click to view larger version: Trace Elliot V8 Bass Amp head once owned by John Entwistle. Courtesy Ron Knights.  Click to view larger version: Trace Elliot V8 Bass Amp head once owned by John Entwistle: front view. Courtesy Ron Knights.  Click to view larger version: Trace Elliot V8 Bass Amp head once owned by John Entwistle: flight case. Courtesy Ron Knights  Click to view larger version: Trace Elliot V8 Bass Amp head once owned by John Entwistle: rear view. Courtesy Ron Knights  Click to view larger version: Trace Elliot V8 Bass Amp head once owned by John Entwistle: panel view. Courtesy Ron Knights

Click image to view larger version.

Ashdown/Trace Elliott rig

News (May 2010): Christie’s to auction four lots of John’s amplifier rig, as part of its Popular Culture: Rock and Pop Memorabilia sale, to be held on 24 June 2010. The items are currently owned by Brad Rodgers of whocollection.com.

Rock Stars Guitars for sale at Christie’s

  • Lot 184: The control/power rack system tower used 2000–2002.
    • A Control/Power rack system tower, comprising of several components; two Furman PL power conditioners and light modules; Korg Tone Works large display tuner; Digitech 2120 artists series valve guitar system programmable pre-amp processor; Digitec Studio Quad 4, 4in 4out multi-effects processor; TC1128 programmable 28 band graphic EQ/Spectrum Analyzer; Ashdown Engineering krystron Bass pre-magnifier; Furman Power Conditioner AC line regulator model AR-pro; and four Trace Elliot professional power amps PPA 600s, in flight case — owned and used by John Entwistle whilst performing with The Who and The John Entwistle band, 2000; accompanied by a copy of a letter detailing the provenance, flight case dimensions — 24½x24½x47in. (62x62x120cm.)
    • Estimated £2,000–3,000 (US$3,100–4,500; €2,300–3,400). Realized: £1,500 ($2,244).
  • Lot 185: Two sets of Ashdown 2x12 cabinets and flight cases, used 2000.
    • Two sets of 2x12 Ashdown engineering speaker cabinets, upside down Ashdown logos to front, two flight cases; used by John Entwistle during live performances with The Who and the John Entwistle Band, 2000; accompanied by a copy of a letter concerning the provenance, Cabinet — 14x20x30in. (36x51x76cm.), flight case — 33x33x32in. (84x84x81cm.)
    • Estimated £1,000–2,000 (US$1,600–3,000; €1,200–2,200). Realized: £750 ($1,122).
  • Lot 186: Two Ashdown 1x15 bins and flight cases, used 2000.
    • Two 1x15 Ashdown Engineering speaker cabinets, upside down Ashdown logos to front, two flight cases each with THE WHO stencilled in white on the top; used by John Entwistle during live performances with The Who and the John Entwistle Band, 2000; accompanied by a copy of a letter concerning the provenance, flight case — 33x33x32in. (84x84x81cm.)
    • Estimated £1,000–1,500 (US$1,600–2,300; €1,200–1,700). Realized: £325 ($486).
  • Lot 187: Trace-Elliot V-Type V8 all-valve amplifier. Used as spare, 2000.
    • A Trace Elliot V-Type V8 all valve bass amplifier head, serial number TO136/69/400, with flight case — used by John Entwistle on the last Who tour as a spare 230 VAC. 400 watts RMS into 2 or 4 ohms; accompanied by a letter concerning the provenance
    • Estimated £600–800 (US$910–1,200; €680–900). Realized: £875 ($1,309).

See christies.com

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