Bobby Nathan's

Stratocaster and Amp Page

What I look for in a strat is how the neck feels. I love the early slab-board strat necks from '59-'62. Hey if you got one you're not using ... call me.

The best thing about the slab necks if that you can change the radius without ruining the instrument and it's value, although hard core collectors would argue! But hey, I got to play the mother and bending on a 7.5" radius doesn't make it.

I like the 6105 frets. If I re-fret a late '62 - '65 neck I will use the 6105 frets and change the radius on the frets not the fingerboard. The late '62 - '65 necks have only a thin sheet of curved rosewood. One of my favorite playing guitars - this week - is a '63 with smaller frets, but the radius is around 9". There seems to be enough rosewood and the clay dots are still intact so go figure ?

Pickups that are original do have the tone, but I've gotten Lindy Fralin to rewound many an original bobbin and it's very hard to tell the difference. For some noisy NY Clubs like Manny's Car Wash in particular, I'll use a guitar that has Dunacn Stacked Single coils and rather than the buzz or originals the tone can be tolerated.

I generally use 10-46 gauge strings tuned to A - 440, but when I play for 4-5 hours at the jams I've been using the 9.5's and I don't fatigue as fast. I would love to play in E flat more but my keyboard player refuses to use the Midi Transpose feature when I play in C, he has to play in B. And of course my G would be his F#. When I worked a lot with The Uptown Horns I would bring a second guitar tuned to E flat and all my songs in E and A would be perfect for them.

Oh, I do own one '59 re-issue Sunburst Les Paul, I refretted it with 6105 frets immediately. I bought it because it was very light. After playing strat's your shoulder gives out with a heavy Les Paul. I have been playing more at the Blues Jam's with my fingers only and it has a definite tone. The pickups are the Gibson '57 re-issues and they are very warm.

As for amps, I have a big selection of Fender tweeds and blackfaces. At the studio The Soldano SL-100, the 100 watt Marshall Plexi Super Lead, the 100 watt Silver Anniversary, the Fender '63 Blonde Bassman, The Fender Custom Shop Vibro-king and the Vox AC-30 have been the favorites of the guitarist that have recorded with us. Having a studio around the corner from Manny's and Sam Ash has given me the opportunity to try before I buy just about every thing that is out here.

When I play out, it's the amps I've modified and built from scratch that are truly my favorites. You have to have the right amp for the right club cause there is only so much a master volume control can give. Now don't get me wrong , I think a master volume is a must and so is reverb, unless the club has a natural echo.

Some of my favorite amps to modify are Vibro Champs.( I add a solid state rectifier and a Princeton output transformer, a second power tube, a 10" speaker and a "Long tailed pair" phase invertor with Presence control. Of course to do this I have to loose the Vibrato feature.

Princeton Reverbs are next. I change to the out put transformer to a Deluxe Reverb, add 12" speaker, "Long tailed pair" phase invertor with Presence control and rewire the filter network. There is an article in September's Vintage Guitar under Gerald Weber's (Kendrick Amps) column about this very mod. Although it doesn't cover all of what I do, it's still good reading.

The amps I build copy the tweed bassman design. like a cathode follower Eq. with midrange and the "Long Tailed Pair" Phase Invertor with Presence control. I add a blackface spring reverb circuit and reverb recovery tube to the circuit and boy do they scream. For Speakers I like the sound of a 12" speaker or speakers rather than the four 10".

So why don't I make amps commercially? Well, why don't you order one?

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