My choice of amps has mainly been inspired by David Gilmour’s tones and setup. For years, prior to Airbag, we toured as a Pink Floyd tribute act and I wanted a similar tone as his as well as an amp that could handle all types of pedals, without colouring too much.
My first amp was a an early 80s Marshall 5210. A 50w solid state version of the JCM800, with a Celestion G12M-70 speaker in it. The clean channel was OK but the distortion was one of the best I’ve ever heard. I regret selling it although I probably wouldn’t have used it much.
My second amp and first real stage amp was a Sound City 50Plus. Actually, the amp was provided by our keyboard player’s father together with a few other backline items. I had it for years and used it extensively during the Floyd tribute era and the early days of Airbag. It was a great sounding amp, with a lot of mojo but like most Sound City amps it had issues that worsened despite several attempts to fix them. I grew tired of all the maintenance and sold it.
The original 4×12” cab is still in my possession. It was originally loaded with four Fane Crescendo speakers (with dust caps) but these were dried out and very fragile. I replaced these with Weber Thames ceramic 80w speakers for a similar tone.
I’ve used many different amps over the years. Most of the Identity album were recorded with a lovely sounding (and loud!!) Fender Super Twin blackface. We didn’t have much clue at the time so we just placed an SM57 randomly in front of the amp and hit record. The solo on Sounds That I Hear was one of those occasions were we tried our best and it turned out pretty good. For a period in 2009 I used a Fender Bassman 100 top, which sounded really good. I used it on several gigs but replaced it later on with the Reeves. I’ve also used a Peavey Classic 30 combo during recording sessions.
Reeves Custom 50
I got the Reeves in early 2010 as a replacement for the Sound City. It’s an all stock standard model without reverb, effects loop or power scaling. The tubes are JJ Electronics L series, which are supposed to be a close match to the Mullards.
Most of the All Rights Removed album was recorded with a split between the Reeves and a Leslie 760 rotating speaker cabinet. It’s also featured on The Greatest Show on Earth and Lullabies in a Car Crash, although mainly for lead tones. It’s also been my main stage amp for local gigs (I never travel with my own amps due to flight costs).
I’m incredibly pleased with the Reeves and it’s a very powerful basis for my pedals and tones. Like the old Hiwatts it can be a tad dark so I’ve linked the bright and normal channels for a bit more presence. I mainly keep it at the very edge of break up. It’s clean but the tubes are pushed hard, which makes the tone very punchy, with a bit of compression.
Laney Lionheart L20
Prior to recording Greatest Show on Earth I figured I needed a smaller amp for recording. One that was easier to tame. I’ve always had a thing for that classic Marshall sound and the Lionheart is kind of a hybrid between a VOX AC and a JTM45, with a dash of a Fender Bassman. Classic tones and a very versatile amp.
It’s a two channel amp and I always use the clean channel set on bright. The drive channel sounds really great though and it’s always fun to crank out a few Sabbath riffs with it! The amp is all stock but I changed the original TAD tubes with JJ Electronics for a bit more headroom and punch.
The amp’s featured extensively on Lullabies in a Car Crash and it’s also been my favoured stage amp on our recent local gigs. I also use the cab with the Reeves. The original Celestion G12H speakers are replaced with a pair of V30s for a bit more warmth.