My first bass guitar was an Encore Coaster bass, which I still have. I bought it when I was seventeen from Allan Marshall Guitars in Markhouse Road, Walthamstow and learnt the rudiments on this instrument. I didn’t have a bass amp, so I just played “acoustically” until I got a guitar amp for Xmas, buy my folks had forgotten to buy me an instrument cable so I could connect my guitar to my amp, so I sat there over the Christmas holidays just staring at this silent amplifier. Ho, ho, ho!
My first electric guitar was a second hand Columbus Les Paul Studio copy which I also bought from Allan Marshall Guitars for about £50 in 1990. This guitar weighed a tonne, but had some great sustain. Not sure if I ever recorded with this guitar – I might have used it on my early recordings, but I upgraded that guitar to a Yamaha in 1992. The Columbus eventually got sold at a car boot sale for about £80, so I ended with a profit. Hurrah!
The Yahama guitar I used right up until 1997 was an RGX model, but it was unique in the fact that it had a removable clear PVC pickguard that covered the whole face of the guitar, the intention of which was that you could mount your own custom graphics under said pickguard. So I cut up some pages from a Roger Dean “Views” book that I had and mounted those making it a suitably “Prog” custom guitar. Eventually, I got bored with this and during my “hippy-punk” phase I remember making a montage from loads of small pictures of naked ladies snipped from appropriate magazines in an ill thought-out homage to Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” LP – it was meant to be shocking, but probably looked more sleazy than anything. So after one outing to a band audition, it got trashed. Oh, the folly of youth! I cringe with embarrassment now, but heck, this is the Internet – no-one is reading this, are they?
In terms of electric guitar FX, the very first pedal I got was a Zoom 9000 multi-effects unit. The remarkable thing about this little gadget was that it was about the size of two packets of cigarettes, yet it was a formidable FX unit. It featured digital effects and all manner of settings to tweak and this was my first introduction to digital stereo delay: an effect that I swear by and rely on to thicken up my overall guitar sound and to hide my dodgy playing. Remembering back, I marvel at what Zoom were able to do with such a small device back in the early 1990s. I remember showing it to a fellow guitarist who came over to play once and he was completely blown away by the device. This is when I realised that guitarists aren’t that technologically savvy and tend to rely on huge racks of amps to get their sound. While I prefer to use electronic FX to get the same result.
Zoom 9000
Of course, if you are going to record by yourselves in the early 1990s, a drum machine was par for the course. I settled on an Alesis HR-16B, which to this day is one of the best drum machines I’ve used, mainly for the simplicity of programming. I’m not the greatest drum programmer, so if I can’t pick up the unit and get a rhythm going immediately, I will give up quickly. I remember everyone raving about the Alesis SR-16 has being superior, and it was in terms of sounds, but when it comes to programming the HR-16 was pure gold. I got rid of that piece of kit when I traded in a load of stuff to get a Digitech multi-FX pedal from Hertford Music in Hertfordshire. The HR-16B had some cool sounds of its own and was quite expressive for a drum machine.
Alesis HR-16B
That’s the problem with the whole recording bug, you tend to end up buying new equipment and constantly trading up. Nasty business… 🙂

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