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Guitar Musician e-zine     07/05/2006

In This Issue:

  "Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it."

                                                                        -John Lennon / Beatles

Some Humor

  The young man from Texas A&M came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck
from the parking lot!"

Bubba replied, "Did you see who it was?"

The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."


A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar

Click here for all products by Peavey.

Peavey Penta System

Five heavy-hitting amps in one

By Phil Montoya

The last rig you'll ever need

In the 140W Penta head, four EL34s and four 12AX7s are brilliantly configured with Peavey's proprietary Pentatone circuitry to produce five radically different gain voicings. It's just like having five separate boutique amps in one box, selectable with the turn of a single knob. The Penta cab translates that bold pure-tube signal into substantial sound that's smooth or edgy with 1/2" poplar sides, a birch baffle, and four hefty Peavey Penta custom 75W speakers. Taken together as a system, the Penta is revolutionary in its extreme flexibility with all-analog, all-tube purity of tone.

But does it sound good?

In the past decade there have been countless attempts to make amps that sound "like" other, better amps. "You can have this sound or that sound," reads the ad, but I just want a good sound. A single amp that mimics tonal characteristics of several classics is a great idea, but if it doesn't have the essential sonic integrity that made the originals great in the first place, you've missed the boat.

With the Penta, Peavey definitely has not missed the boat. There are five very different circuits in the Penta head and each sounds and responds like its own animal. Most importantly, each sounds like a good amp . . . a really good amp.

Giant shoulders

Peavey Penta System
Penta 140W Guitar Amp Head w/ Penta 412 Straight Cabinet

All five gain voicings share the boutique-quality circuitry and construction that produce such solid, sweet tone. Custom USA transformers, ceramic tube sockets, ultra-high-quality components, and obvious attention to detail make this a truly high-end tube amp. The four matched, hand-selected EL34s produce the kind of dense, vibrant distortion that only cascading big bottles can produce.

Passive and active bass, mid, and treble knobs provide dynamic tone shaping that has a very audible impact on all five gain circuits. An active presence knob pours on the high-end sparkle by rolling off the high-frequency damping in the power stage. Master volume and gain controls let you dial in a broad range of distortions.

A low-gain instrument input handles active instruments with aplomb and a standby switch holds its head of steam while you take a break. A footswitch input toggles between the Pentone gain-circuit chicken-head selector knob on the front panel and the one on the back of the head. So you can toggle between any two settings with your foot. It's easy to flip between settings on the front knob if you want more options. An impedance select switch (18, 8, or 4 ohms), ground reverse switch, and rear-panel fuse keep the current in line. Don't look for an effects loop, this baby's designed to sound great without outside interference. But I had great results running though a reverb and wah up front.

Five-headed monster

The gain voicings on the Penta don't have names as such, they're represented by icons--a tree, a badge, a bull, a cactus, and a mudflap girl. The tree voicing responds like a good vintage Fender--particularly like a Showman I used to play through, with a lot of natural compression and snap, even through humbuckers. This is a great voicing for clean tones and slight crunch. It's also good for running distortion pedals through, lending sweet tube warmth to harsh pedals.

The badge voicing comes on like gangbusters, like an AC30 in disguise. Its classic in-your-face punch is an iron fist in a velvet glove, with slightly rounded edges and relentless drive. It's a good, solid rocker that'll shine on everything from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "Vertigo."

The bull voicing lands squarely in Marshall territory with lots of higher-mid grit and tons of gain. Its sound is a little fuller than my '75 Master Volume head. It's extremely transparent, responding readily to picking dynamics and string bends.

The cactus voicing is similar to the bull with the midrange peak shifted from the higher mids to the lower mids, sort of like having a touch of fuzz effect. This is one Billy G. would be right at home with. It has a subtle notch in there somewhere that gives it a creatively edgy tone without ear-splitting highs. The cactus was definitely my favorite voicing, one that's both musically pleasing and refreshingly unique.

The mudflap girl voicing is obviously Peavey's homage to its own formidable XXX, with scooped mids, kickin' bass, and screaming highs--in the same tonal universe as a Boogie Rectifier with even more sass. Metal mongers and shredders will go nuts over this one.

The four custom 12" Peavey Penta 75s bear the inscription "specially voiced for vintage tone." It's no lie, they're the perfect match for the Penta head's blistering 140W of output.

In the last analysis, this is one seriously killer amp . . . make that five seriously killer amps. I'm sold.

Features & Specs:

    Penta Head

  • 140W RMS into 16, 8, or 4 ohms
  • 4 matched EL34 tubes and 4-12AX7 tubes
  • DC-powered preamp tube heaters
  • Pentatone selects between 5 EQ/gain voicings
  • Gain control
  • 3-band passive EQ
  • Master volume
  • Presence control
  • Ceramic tube sockets
  • Custom USA transformers
  • Ultrahigh-quality components

    Penta cab

  • Specially voiced for use with the Penta amp head
  • 11-ply birch baffle
  • 1/2" poplar sides
  • 4 - 12" rear-mounted speakers
  • Striking brown-weave grille cloth




Understanding the I - IV - V Progression

Gregg Spivey; Melbourne, FL

Q: Why is the I - IV - V progression so popular? It seems to be in almost every song I want to learn whether Rock, Country or Blues.

A: Here is what I have found to be the reason that this progression is so popular:

If you take the notes of each chord of the 1-4-5 progression lets say in "C" to make it easy they would be:

C Major - C -E - G

F Major - F - A - C

G7th - G - B - D - F

The "C" Major scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B and if you look at the notes of each chord it's pretty cool to see that you have every note in the "C" Major scale played and the 1-4-5 notes (C-F-G) are played two times each within these chords to really enforce this progressions sound.

It's like the perfect progression to write melodies over!!

This is just my own findings while trying to understand the popularity and perfect sound of this progression.

Hope this helps!


Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House


So You Want to Be A Rock & Roll Star

By Michael Laskow
(Reprinted from 1997)

Michael Laskow It's two-thirty in the morning. Your wife and kids are sound asleep, nestled in the comfort of their cozy beds. You sit alone in your basement surrounded by more electronics than were onboard the Gemini space capsules. Not just any electronics mind you, but knobs, wires, CRT's, and hundreds of chips all dedicated to one singular purpose�making music. Why are you here, like an alcoholic, sadly drinking alone? Are you addicted? The answer is a resounding YOU BET! Why did you become this pale, obsessive, solitary figure?

Let's take a Freudian look at your journey in to the dark side of what has become your own personal MIDI hell. A cavern so deep that Freud himself never dared venture inside for a look.

It all began on a Sunday night in the early sixties while watching the Ed Sullivan show. There you sat with your parents as the Beatles took the stage, and the nation by storm. They were the very definition of "cool". You were focused on their every word, every note, every movement they made. You were, in a word, transfixed. Your parents on the other hand were probably leaning more towards utter disbelief. "Why are their pants so tight, and their hair so long?"

You instinctively knew the reasons for both. Girls dug it. In your pre-pubescent wisdom you knew that if you were going to succeed in life that you needed three things-- more hair, tighter pants, and a pair of Beatle boots. By the end of the week, all three were on the shelf at Sears. Remember, you still had a crew-cut (butch wax and the little round brush with the finger loop in the middle), so the Beatle wig was a must. Your Dad wouldn't let you grow your hair long like those "sissy boys" from Liverpool. All this just to make the girls think you were cool. But something was missing. A guitar. Without it you were like James Dean without his bike�very uncool.

For your next birthday you convinced your parents to buy you that shiney red Supro hanging in the window at the music store. If you were from a "wealthy" family you probably got a Fender Mustang with the "tremelo" bar, and a Champ amp. My parents got me a Stella acoustic and several lessons at the Evelyn Brue School of Guitar. The male equivalent of dance lessons. I still haven't forgiven them. How could girls like a guy who didn't have an electric guitar, and how was I to earn the respect of my fellow musicians when I couldn't be heard over them?

Over the next few years little league gave way to music as the hobby of choice. More groups like the Beatles overtook the airwaves, but none as good (unless you were a Dave Clark Five fan). Soon the Farfisa Mini Compact organ became an acceptable instrument to play and for those"sissy boys" whose mothers had forced them to take piano lessons, this was welcome relief. Compact as they were, they were still too heavy to move, so the overbearing mothers became unwilling roadies. I told you this was Freudian.

The Vietnam war soon turned our focus away from making music for the sole purpose of attracting girls. We were now rebels with a cause. Politics we barely understood became fodder for the songs we wrote, and we played our Beatle records backwards looking for hidden messages. Even though we were only high school kids, our understanding of what was happening to our world at that time achieved a kind of depth that our parents would not experience until the eighties. But for all of us who had ever played an open E chord, the dream to be a rock & roll star still lived on.

For many, the dream began to fade while in college. Maybe all who were destined to have stars that burned bright, had found their success. The rest of us were destined to listen over and over to the records they made. Sadly, some of those stars burned so bright, that they extinguished themselves before their time.

The drive to be a pop icon was tempered by the reality of school, the draft, and an insatiable appetite for state of the art component stereos. In a sense, a beefy Marantz had become a replacement for the phallic symbols that were once a Camaro 327 with glass packs and mag wheels. Like the automobile, a hi-fi delivered a sense of machismo, while satisfying the compulsion to tinker. Wouldn't Freud agree?

The eighties found most of us settling down and finding jobs that were far less exciting than Paul McCartney's. Many of us got married, and started families. Instead of our own dreams, we were pursuing the American dream. Some of us found it. Some did not.

Maybe you've been fortunate enough to have found a little disposable income while you were stuck in the eighties. It allowed you to go back in time and pursue the dream that all began that fateful night in the sixties on the Ed Sullivan show. You've moved on from your hi-fi system to a MIDI system, and spend way too much time in your basement. Maybe it satisfies your desire to tinker, but c'mon admit it, even though you are married to that slumbering Venus in curlers upstairs, the real reason you're in the basement is a latent desire to impress the chicks!

Brought to you by TAXI: The Independent A&R Vehicle that connects unsigned artists, bands and songwriters with major record labels, publishers, and film & TV music supervisors.

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

Jackie Greene, American Myth
By Mike Thomas
On his fourth album, this gifted Sacramento, California, singer and multi-instrumentalist (guitars, piano, Dobro, harmonica, percussion) ventures into brawny, horn-driven R&B territory without forsaking the folk-and-blues thread that runs through his catalog. Nestled in the midst of a collection that often rocks like the dickens (check out the menacing electric boogie of �Cold Black Devil/14 Miles�), Greene�s fluid acoustic fingerpicking (as on such wistful numbers as �Never Satisfied� and �Love Song 2 AM�) never sounded more confident or nuanced. �Supersede,� a nearly ten-minute epic in the classic melodic mold of �My Back Pages,� should revive the early-Dylan comparisons that have greeted Greene at every stage of his development. Along with a core band that features Elvis Costello alums Pete Thomas (drums) and Davey Faragher (bass), plus guitarist Val McCallum, Greene�s supporting cast includes ubiquitous LA session picker Greg Leisz and producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. The alternately rollicking and reflective 13-song set will only enhance the glow of this versatile young talent�s ascending star. (Verve Forecast,


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