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December 31, 2008

Disneyland and Tone Merchants

Happy New Year!

Wow, this year went fast! I have a New Year's Eve gig tonight at the Player's Club here in Camrose. I've got some new toys I'll be using tonight. Looking forward to it!

This year has been good for me, and I have gotten more (mostly positive) feedback than any other year about my website, lessons, gear demos, etc. It seems people get something out of what I put on this website, and that makes me glad. Thanks for hanging out on dolphinstreet! I have the intention to make more good material for this website, and I do try, but forgive me if the wait seems to be long at times regarding new content. Work, family, marathon running and other things make it hard to have enough time to work as much on the website as I would like. More good things will appear here in 2009 though - be sure about that!

I'm back home again after spending the holidays at Disneyland with the family. It was a lot of fun! There are a lot of fun rides for both kids and adults. The California Screamin' roller coaster had me smiling big time - it's so fast! Christmas at Disneyland is an exciting time. They have so much stuff going on at that time. We were also lucky that the weather was a bit cold and wet the first time, because that meant hardly and line-ups for the rides. The last day we went, it was sunny and nice, which meant very long lines and way too many people.

I also managed to sneak away for a bit to do some guitar-related visits. First, I located my friend Mark Wein, who is a guitar teacher in Orange, California. We spent some good time together talking about guitars and we also jammed a bit over some blues and funk grooves. It was a lot of fun. I have gotten to know Mark via various websites but this was the first time I had the opportunity to meet him in person. He has a teaching studio where several other teachers also teach music, and it was very interesting to see his studio. His website is at www.markwein.com - check it out because he has some great lessons there.

Then, the next day, I went to a very interesting guitar store called Tone Merchants - a veritable candy store to be for a guitar aficionado like me. They have a lot of great amps, guitars and effects, and I tried as much as I could while I was there. And there was a lot.

There weren't a lot of people in the store on that Saturday I was there. Good for me - I could try anything I wanted without having to wait for others to be done in the amp room. I can't even remember all the gear I tried, but I took lots of photos.

I tried a few Suhrs, and they were great as I would expect (I have a Suhr Classic myself as you probably know). I also tried Nash, K-line and Grosh strats, and they were also really nice. I also tried a Tyler strat, but I didn't connect that much with it for some reason. Same with the Nash strat - was not that impressed. Now, the K-line strat felt and played really fantastic. It felt like the best vintage Fenders I've ever tried and was the winner in my book of all the strat type guitars I tried. Well, the Grosh was a close second.

Regarding amps, I have to be honest and say I fell in love with the Custom Audio Electronics OD-100. Man, what a great amp! I also tried Germino amps, Blankenship, Goodsell amps. The Germino was interesting but I didn't connect with it - maybe the guitar I used didn't work so well with it or something. I am sure it would sound terrific with a Les Paul. The Blankenship amp sounded like the best Plexi clone I've ever heard. Very impressive amp! I tried a big Goodsell with 6L6 tubes that sounded completely amazing for cleaner tones. Fantastic tone, and a very good choice if you want a big, cleaner sounding amp for blues, jazz and country.

The CAE OD-100 however, impressed me the most. It is incredibly versatile to say the least. It has Fenderish cleans with some Marshall flavour, and the gain channel sounds big and fat even at lower volumes. I found the distortion very pleasing and fun. Sort of a more modern Marshall tone but still able to get Plexi flavor with the gain turned down a bit. I was surprised it could do so many great tones so well and at lower volumes. They had 2 versions, Standard+ and SE+, and both worked great with a strat. I probably liked the Standard+ more, but I would honestly love either.

Lastly, I felt I should buy something after being there for hours and playing fantastic equipment. I saw a Scott Henderson signature RC Booster, which I had read about. It's a little upgrade from the original RC Booster - more or better bass frequency or something to that effect. I tried it through the OD-100 and Blankenship, and it was very impressive. I got a good deal on it too, it comes with a signed photo of Scott, and one of his CDs (one I actually didn't have!). Needless to say, I got myself another (late) Christmas guitar present!

I had a fantastic time at Tone Merchants, and I highly recommend going there if you are in the Anaheim area. The staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and they have the most amazing guitar gear you'll ever see in a guitar store.

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on December 31, 2008

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