Back when I was like 12 or 13 I bought a bass for forty bucks at a hock shop. It was a standard scale, so it wasn’t really condusive to my small hands and non-existent skill. It also weighed about a hundred goddam pounds. I learned about two bars worth of a “walking” blues bass line and the riff (actually the guitar part unchorded) from Smoke on the Water. Then it broke. Something fucked up with the electronics, I don’t know. Fucking thing was ancient, and el cheapo even when it was new.
So I saved up and bought another bass so I could play in a rocknroll band with my friends from school. I went to a different pawn shop and buy a brand new Cort “Slammer” bass for a hundred bucks. Because its red , basically. It was a short scale too, which was much easier to play. Though I really still couldn’t play for shit.
During this time, with both basses I just plugged into a Pioneer home stereo head using the mic input and just settled for the distorted puking sound of the home stereo speakers. I think at some point I got a hold of an old 15w Vox guitar amp to use, but it wasn’t as loud and I wound up blowing it out. This was somewhere around the time that shitty band I was in transitioned from playing metal poorly to playing thrashy punk quite passably.
A couple of years later I bought what I consider to be my first real insturment. An Ibanez silver series bass. With it I got a big fucking amp. It was a 2×15 400w Sunn bass combo. That fucker was Loud. The complaints would rain in from all about the trailer park when I’d crank that bitch up and try to play the intro bass part to John Wayne Was a Nazi by Millions of Dead Cops.
Wound up that I sold that amp about two years after to the bass player from Abolishment, my buddy Johnny. He used it for fucking ever and I think may even still have it, or at least some parts of it that still work.
The years pass. I decide to start playing guitar. I had fuckloads of different guitar set ups. For awhile I was running a Fender ’68 Bandmaster head I got for 20 bucks cause it needed a new 6L6 tube. That thing sounded lovely, it just wasn’t loud enough. So I went to see Mr. Gallucchi at his music store in Scranton back in the day and he sold me a Sunn 4×10 Beta Lead half stack combo for 200 dollars. It was the single greatest piece of amplification equipment I ever used. I’d owned Peaveys, and even a Marshall valvestate combo, but had smoked all of them. Usually it was a fried voice coil that sounded the death knell. I liked to play loud and overdriven using either a vintage MXR Distotion Plus, or a RAT box for distotion. I started to put that Beta Lead through its paces and it just growled like it was starving for more power, moar volume, ditch the mids and full fucking up on the low and high-end. It demanded it.
So I borrowed my cousins rack mount overdrive and ran it into the beast. Turned it full throttle, clicked my RAT, hit an open e 5th chord and as it rang out checked the master volume on the amp pushing it higher))) and higher))) Until that motherfucker was Wide Open. Volume at that level, when it’s pushing a wall of thickly distorted, slow, power chords…it will, and it does impact a motherfucker. The shit will rattle your sternum and if your right up in front of the amp you’ll feel it in your balls.
I had that amp down in my Aunt and Uncles basement in this town where I now, again, live. We played some shows down there in the basement when my Aunt and Uncle would go to Atlantic City for the weekend. They were more sound experiments really. I mean, we had a drummer and a singer and had written some loose songs. But Louie D. would come by with his bass and his big bass rig and it invariably turned into a very strange evening of improvisational music. I learned that they call this, what we were doing back then around 94, its called today “Punk Floyd” I guess, though there was a great deal of drone going on at times.
After I left that band, Skunkwater, and moved back up to Scranton I brought my Sunn in tow. I had it for years, played with Plaid Jello using it, formed Grundlepunch using it, had it still when I went back to bass for Bela’s Fix. Would routinely crank that motherfucker up at the 409 punk house and give a four am rendition of the first six minutes of Hung Bunny.
Then, the unthinkable. After fife years of not doing junk, I decide I want to get high again. My girlfriend at the time and I go to a party in North Scranton where my guitarist and front dude live. I had already copped my dope, from one of my “Friends” in A.A. So we got to the party and I headed straight for the bathroom. Everybody knew. I was nodding and scratching and had the dope voice. Big fight with gf. gf wants to go home now. We get home. Big row. I pick up my 73 fixed bridge Fender Stratocaster and instead of hitting the crazy bitch over the head with it, I smash it all over one of the radiators in the room. Not two months earlier I had gone out to NYC and got it priced. It was worth 1600 dollars. All I got out of it was the fifty bucks my cousin payed me for what was left of the neck.
So at this time I still had a lot of other gear. I had my four track. And my rack mount effects module I used with it. I had a Krumar synthesizer. A drum machine. Two basses. Various microphones and studio cans. And I did have another guitar. I forget what make it was. It was like an uber metal guitar. Double coil pickups, locking tremelo. I paid eighty-five bucks for it from this chick named Dawn. She was the band photographer for Belas Fix. I didn’t like that guitar too much though. So I talked to our guitarist, Slug and he said he’d trade me a guitar for my amp and seventy-five bucks. I was like yah sure. Lost the amp. Took the body off the guitar I got from him and had it attached to an old g&L studio pro 100 neck. The result was an awesome guitar. I still miss that Beta Lead. It was an old one, from before Fender bought Sunn.
Just so you can have a taste, here’s some SunnO))) And I shit you not, when I’d have my Sunn pushed hard down in that basement it sounded alot like this