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GV Welcomes RM! | PART 3 | Your Questions Answered! | Roger Mayer x Guitar Village

Adam Leaver: April 21, 2023
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In our third instalment of “Guitar Village Welcomes,” Sam poses a series of quickfire questions to Roger, curated by our friend and YouTube content creator Millstap. In Part One below, Roger answers some of the more technical questions relating to pedals, Hendrix’s preferences, and the evolution of the music industry.

Full Transcript

Hi Sam from Guitar Village here we recently had a great interview with Roger Mayo we learned so much about his pedals and quite a bit about Jimi Hendrix as well due to the popularity of that and you guys having a lot more questions we decided to get him back in to answer some of them at this point I want to say thanks to milstep if you’re not already aware of him he’s a fellow YouTuber and he’s pretty much an authority on Hendrick’s tone so he helped us put a load of these questions together so big thanks to him now because you guys had so many questions we’re breaking this up into two parts this is part one and part two will follow very shortly oh without further Ado let’s get stuck in what brand of strings did Jimmy use Fender rock and roll lawyer 150 series 150. okay and how often did he change the strings or did he even do it himself oh yeah well the strings first of all the 150 series uh rock and roll light strings were um the gays used were 10 [Music] um 13

26 32 38 and they were pure nickel wound they weren’t nickel plated Steel and that my that the the pure nickel strings are slightly less magnetic than a uh you know a steel wound string but a softer sound better sound okay and do you know what type of picks you used uh Manny’s picks medium medium okay now um why did Jimmy uh string his uh low E string the wound string on the wrong side of the peg the wrong side of the pack yeah so there’s some pictures where instead of going um from the nut and winding the same way as the other strings he goes the other way around with it most news to me oh fair enough well Jimmy changed strings quite often because many times some of the guitars especially if he had you know raped raped the guitar on the uh amplifier the actual uh action of doing that has actually cut through the round part of the uh strings oh wow so so the strings were like useless so you you had two scenarios number one was the strings were obviously you know no good and yeah the other time was they uh never really stood the chance of wearing out you know because Jimmy played very very powerfully and very loud so the stream I would say it would be nothing to change the strings almost every day wow yeah it’s a lot I think that’s where where Modern Pros tend to do the same thing as well now yeah but every day I mean uh going up on stage when Jimmy was playing I would have a back pocket with at least five or six uh first strings and B strings oh we got through that many oh yeah we could break five E strings easily well on what just on one gig oh yeah yeah incredible now did Jimmy have a particular method for tuning his guitars Yeah by ear so you just it literally just got one string perfect do you use like anything for a reference or well not not really because we we didn’t really carry around tuning books with us and and the fact of the matter is that there was no such thing as an electronic tuner so the only the only other choice you might have had in the studio was to uh you know tune off a piano But there again if you um if if you were recording with the bra section you wouldn’t want to tune necessary to a piano you would want to change to a B flat or an E flat from the horn yes because it wouldn’t it wouldn’t sound right okay um ah if Jimmy only found uh I think this goes back to our previous interview actually so I think you said that out of 20 strats two would have been good what was Jimmy looking for in particular um and how did you pick out what he wanted to hear from his guitar I mean basically many many times we didn’t have the luxury of having that bigger choice 1968 you could go to Manny’s and you didn’t have that much choice maybe you’d have to you’d have to arrive there when they just had a brand new shipment and even then you might only have 20 guitars to look at of which if they would build the combinations of um you know the different necks you know might be Rosewood or Maple or or Maple and so on and so forth but they’re again Jimmy’s hands you know quite large and my hands are similar so you would notice by picking a guitar up in five seconds whether it would suit some someone yeah so I mean a very thin neck would be of no use to Jimmy you know so ideally the neck would be the first Port of cool then when choosing the right guitar it’s the only selection process we would select guitars just by taking them out the box not even taking the fully out of the cardboard box but just pull it pull it out so you can feel the neck right and yeah well once you’ve found one where where your hands in felt good then you might take it out the box but you never plug it into electric electric amplifier it’s pointless you know it’s going to sound good anyway no it’s not going to sound good but you get used to when you when you’ve seen a lot of guitars you get used to how the wood sounds and that’s what you have to go by because if it’s a wooden down right the electronics is not going to do anything they’re fair enough you’re just wasting your time um okay I’ve got a question here they’re asking uh how did Jimmy conquer the volume and tone controls being in the way obviously as his guitar was flipped over um there’s some photos that it appears he would remove the volume knob to keep from hitting it all the time no it just probably got knocked off it’s just going for it enough the the the the actual volume control knob would never be removed on purpose so Jimmy would have been playing hard thrashing it away and then just popped yeah or or that particular photograph was taking it at the end of the set where you’re virtually looking at a sacrificial guitar I see so it didn’t matter whether you had a normally or not um someone’s asked were you involved with the actual setup of the guitars you know did he did he like his tremolo set flat to the body or floating up in there oh we we used to set them um obviously uh well one of the secrets in the Stratocaster is you we always use five springs for a start yeah now with the Stratocaster terminal uh one of the most important things is to get the tension on the five screws there’s five screws that with the terminal block pivots around and you have to get those in the exact tension that they should be so that when the terminal block rocks it comes back to the same position yes if you get one or two of them wrong then the tremolo block starts going skew with the whole guitar goes out of tune so you know it’s it has to be done correctly okay um did Jimmy like the string action on his stretch high or low um well we’re using using the set of strings that I I told you um it would be it becomes quite funky you know in other words the the lower string vibrates much more than uh it would do if you were usually say you know 44 or 48 so it you can play funkier which actually means you can actually lower the action on the bass strings and you you’ve also got the the fact with that that you’ve got um uh what should we say it’s easier to to do uh you know vibrato on a bass strings yeah because that’s slightly Stacker so it really opens up a whole new Avenue of playing by not using various experience on the bass and it also means that you can hit the strings much harder than you could if you had the um you know the fatter fatter set of strength yes which we never really used at all did he do the same when he was using his V as well do you know well it gives it Gibson five is is completely different because once you’ve got with a Gibson Flying V is you’ve got a different scale length to start with right number one and number two you’ve got the fact that the matter is or the way the strings are actually attached now with the Stratocaster you have to take into account the full length of the string in other words if you’re going to bend the string you are bending the string right from where it’s attached to all the way through to the um tuning pick right yeah now that’s not the case with the Gibson the actual string length sort of Gibson tend to be shorter yes by by quite a lot really two or three inches maybe so do you think he would use different strings to compensate for that yeah not really so most likely the same setup we didn’t buy two sets of strings we were lucky we had a nice experience anywhere here yeah of course um I think see you’ve answered about in Breaking strings uh quite a bit um did he break a lot of trim arms no never just uh because you can put a stellar Caster on the floor you can jump up and down on the terminal one and you won’t break it fair enough um and he did okay someone’s asked this is an interesting question actually which tickled me a bit um did Jimmy move uh the Strat string tree closer to the nut to hold a cigarette better well never heard of that one fair enough well let’s move on this one I’m not sure if you’ll know or not um how did you put a Telecaster neck on Jimmy stratt at the Newport Jazz Festival oh wasn’t there no fair enough I thought that might be a bit far-fetched that one um so obviously when you flip so you take a right-handed Strat you flip it over to um left-handed e strings is like a right-handed player would kind of bit the opposite way around so you’ve got the low E string closest to your face and high string furthest away um I presume the nut slots would need to be cut for that and the Guitar Center or to hold that reversed just pop it out spin it around and put it back in put it back in probably a bit easier as well isn’t it yeah a lot faster now this is the last in the guitar specific questions um uh what are the facts in your opinion about Seymour Duncan’s pickups and did Jimmy really like them and use them well to be honest I mean when when same all came to me and he he reminded me of one concert that I first made my wife maybe Cincinnati yeah and he said he rocked up with a bunch of uh pickups and we changed him over and and at the time you know I mean we didn’t start using Jimmy uh Seymour Duncan pickups after that meeting yeah now Seymour probably just said I wanted to try these at you me and me probably had a few guitars that needed a few pickups but I mean when I first met Jimmy and uh we went through all the permutations of various amounts of wire and magnets that you could use on the pickups you know yeah the standard ones are fine you know and uh I mean I don’t think I mean to be honest with me I mean you can sit down with anyone who wants a pickup up and they they will give you all kinds of nonsense about magnetism and how many turns they put on it but the fact of the matter is you put more turns on a pickup it’s a trade-off between the frequency response with more turns and lessons and that’s it you know so you’d say there’s not a right or wrong way to do it it’s uh to some people like doing it one way and some like doing it another way so they don’t really have to be honest with you with a lot of pickups that they don’t have a lot of unique selling points with them I mean if if you look at a um a pickup whether it’s a staggered magnet pickup or this or that that only changes the balance of of the standard guitar quite it’s subtle really you know it’s not dramatic you’re not going to get a dramatic change uh with any form of pickup and the reason for that it’s quite simple is the the pickup is a magnetic pickup right which picks up the vibration of the strings vibrating okay that’s it now what’s important is what kind of string you got how the string is vibrating and that then you get down to the uh what wood are you using how what the setup is this and it’s you’ve got about eight other factors because the magnetic pickup can only pick up the vibration of the string get that in your head it doesn’t conjure up any magical sound or sound difference than that in other words if you change if you change the lamination on the neck to say Maple Rosewood it sounds different there’s nothing to do with pick up obvious it’s the vibration of the string so you’ve got to look at it from the scientific standpoint it’s the vibration of the string and that’s the purpose of the magnetic picker now you do get into an another scenario which a lot of people made the mistake of they they started moving the pickups closer and closer towards the strings now when you do that and especially with a single pole piece magnet you know like a Stratocaster style pickup you know you can cause what is called a ghost Bridge you get a magnetic bridge is formed because the the magnetism of the pickup is so close to the string it’s forming another Bridge yeah so as you play up the neck it says it not only it changes the intonation it changes a lot of things and it’s you know it’s a mistake a lot of people make you know it’s many times the best tone it’s got from lowering the pickups and then using amplification after that yes because if you lower the pickups the the actual um magnetic field is wider so it’s got It’s got a wider field of capture of of the string vibrating especially if you bend it or something like that which you don’t get if if the pickup’s too close to the speed the other thing is that people can make the mistake is that if the pickup is mounted in the guitar and um the early stratocasters usually be mounted on Springs the pickup is mounted on Springs with quite a bit of clearance around the Picker so you could you know you could push the pickup up and down and wobble it and the reason for that was that you didn’t want the acoustic feedback from the guitar

body going into the pickup and this creates that squish in Hell which which you especially find on telecasters you know on the um on on on one of one particular I think it’s the uh wouldn’t be it wouldn’t be the bridge pickup it’d be the uh yeah be the bridge picker the little small thin pickup yes um that’s not okay interesting and and the fact of the matter is if you if you get that phenomenon you don’t get the um what happens is if you were playing loud and you got the guitar in front of an amplifier the acoustic feedback that will go into the body of the guitar Now does not only it gets polluted because the the pickup is also vibrating in a different part of the of the guitar so it’s not necessarily picking up the quick vibrations from the street so ultimately you really want a fully floating uh pickup that then it does the job of what it’s supposed to do is measure the vibration of the spr of the string yeah so it’s only focused on the string and it’s not going to pick up anything from the body at all yeah you don’t I mean pickups are always a little a little bit microphonic but you’d want to get away from that you know that’s why you have a microphone and the expensive microns are very very elaborate um suspension and damping so the microphone sits and it doesn’t pick up you know the uh all the rest of the vibration from your feet and the rest of the crap and all and so on and so forth yeah I mean that’s what sorts out a really good microphone like a from Chinese copy that you the Chinese copies tend to have a lot of cable noise because they haven’t solved a problem of the um cable being vibrated and then going into the microphone and then they’re messing up the performance of it so it’s very very similar in a way so you you do need acoustic isolation with microphones Amber pickups and then when when when when you do have that then you’ve got the choice of hearing the difference you know if you haven’t got it then you wouldn’t know you know do you know what amps Jimmy used on tracks like have you been to electric ladyland and one rainy wish two two different rear recording sessions uh uh the one rainy wish I believe was was personally that was done at Olympics right and accessible to stop wasn’t it yeah yes and so that was a different studio and that definitely wasn’t a marshall okay what was it probably uh a sound city or a um fender brilliant change in alphabet from the usual Marshalls then you always see him with life well we didn’t use them only well in the actual recording we used we sent me five was appropriate right even back on the access Boulders love Marshalls were used for one particular type of sound and the sound city was it was a cleaner type of distortion different Distortion Circuit of the amplifier was used for for another thing and also you know you can’t get away from the uh great sound as you get with the fender absolutely that actually brings me on nicely to the next question um someone has asked did Jimmy set his amps clean or did he have them already distorting and then add fuzz to it but there’s noises there’s no such thing as sitting a marshall clean Marshall does not have a clean sound and the once once the uh um if you’re talking about where the tank controls might be in set man that’s got a certain amount of things but no the uh the volume controls are normally kind of maxed out and the um the amplifier was driven by the guitar yeah so he would turn the volume down on the guitar to get it to clean up a bit if needed yes yeah and if a fuzz box was being used then that would be used for additional uh feedback and Distortion yes which could be turned off and on but there was enough Distortion with emotional turned flat out which you could control from the act from the amplifier to give you a very broad spectrum of actual control which is nice interesting um I’ve got another question about what amp’s using uh what amp did Jimmy use on the early morning Voodoo Child jam with Steve Winwood and Jack Cassidy I don’t even know where that was recorded now fair enough um oh a different question it’s still about amps but uh who did The Marshall Stacks maintenance on the road

would it would have depended what year yeah and uh for instance when when I first went to uh America with Jimmy right the first amplifiers that we were given right in early 1968 were Fender yes and we didn’t it didn’t get didn’t get on too well with those and then Jimmy had some sun amplifiers that were donated to us yeah and they didn’t last very long on the road because they you know various problems and then we moved over then she moved over to having some Marshalls moved over Now in America this is this is a problem people for a fully American listeners the problem we had in America with the amplifiers was quite simply that the American voltage being Montana pardon me 110 or 120 many times the actual current Supply on the stage or the power supply stage was insufficient so what used to happen was when you when you actually played a big call on stage I had to go out and buy a special RMS power meter yeah to monitor the actual voltage that was coming to the amplifiers on stage and it could dip from 120 down to 85 volts that much that much so after after after I found out then we got the um Teamsters to actually run a special lead right from the from the lighting uh bar at the back of the stage to where Jimmy was having his amplifiers plug in to reduce the power suppose lag yeah from the uh from the 110 because the uh 110 uh amplifier uh configuration by Marshall didn’t use both sides of the Transformer it was it was a uh it was a simple Transformer that had a basically um one winding but let’s tap on it yeah so one was one tap was 240 and the middle tap was was 120. now what they should have done is have two separate windings and make the 110 co uh winding be in parallel right and then you would have utilized the core the Transformer much more so the actual Transformer would have had much more Dynamics that’s why many many people that used Marshalls in in America complained that they didn’t sound as powerful as the 240 volt ones that was because the amplifier design wasn’t using uh the um the Transformer configuration optimally oh that’s really interesting so we kind of have a similar thing going the other way apparently with fenders now um where they’re set you know for uh they’re built for you know 110 in the states 120 and then when they come over here they’re set for 2 30 for Europe and then obviously we have 240 here in the UK so this well there’s the the the European people actually um changed the ratification on on the power uh for Europe they they changed the tolerances they didn’t change you know so basically any voltage would is okay from about I don’t know I forgotten exactly what it was but it goes way down to about you know 220 okay 215 220 out to 250 is considered in the ballpark as long as it works it works I guess well no they they had to do that because you know one country had a you know I mean I mean it’s ridiculous because in America you know you you wouldn’t find two ends of the street have got the same voltage yeah you know because of of the way the American Mooring is it’s not that good you know hmm okay last question on amps um were you involved at all with Jimmy’s West Coast organ and amp Marshall mods no fair enough that’s uh that’s us done for amps it’s this is the section now we’re going to move on to the uh the really in-depth stuff um the first one let’s start out with it so someone said they would love to know more about the new Octavia with the hand-wound ferrite Transformer and if it sounds much different to some of the other models like the vision one well all I can say to them is you know yes it does sound different and if they wanted to make a comparison they’d have to put the two side by side fair enough and make a personal decision sounds like some more work for me in one of our videos then um okay moving on so um someone said I would love to know if hfe values for fuzz transistors matter that much or is biasing them correctly the actual key to a good sounding fuzz pedal well that’s that that that is well where to start there that is a little bit of information it’s got has been convoluted by the person who doesn’t even understand what an HIV value is and and then he’s trying to equate the hfe value of a of a transistor and then assume that it would make a a difference a huge difference but then my question is if he doesn’t know how what what the circuit is and how it was biased and so on and so forth and what voltage it was run there there’s no there’s no there is there is a very technical answer but that would be based upon the exact same circuit he might be interested in that there is not a simple answer to that so it’s a bit of a can of worms then well it’s yeah I mean it’s it yeah I mean it’s got really it would be like saying hmm you’ve got a nice car is it but uh does it matter what color the paint color of the car is it’s a bit like that okay that’s understood now we’ve got the last question in this section now bear with me it’s quite a long question um uh I would like to know a little about the discussions you must have had with Jimmy as to the difference in sound and performance when Dallas Arbiter went from using the germanium i n k t 275 to the Silicon bc108 transistors in their fuzz faces did Jimmy notice a difference with them well basically the way the way it was was that had we we had to deal with what we could buy today yes and in 1968 the only ones that were available were the Silicon ones which would be you know the the early bc109s and that series of silicone transistors there was a variation in in the way the Silicon transistors operated But there again I don’t even remember with Jimmy actually him actually actually having any uh German first faces I don’t remember seeing any myself because I was more interested in in developing a brand new style of first box that got rid of all the problems that the Silicon once had that were that were you know that picked up too much radio they were unstable they were this they were that you know so once again it was it was another question when when uh when they changed over the transistors from being Germania to Silicon there’s only one reason they changed them huge price difference the germanium so sisters at that point in time would have been maybe 10 to 20 times more expensive to the Silicon one and the Silicon ones were not available until 67 and 68. so if Jimmy did use them it would have been towards the very end then oh wait what I don’t even know in 1967 if you could buy it as you may be one I see fair enough well that that kind of covers Us for that section that was quite in depth and I think I understood most of the answer so that concludes part one of questions with Roger Mayer part two will be coming out very shortly so make sure you hit the Subscribe button now to check it out


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