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mark555 last won the day on March 24

mark555 had the most liked content!

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About mark555

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    Needs To Get Out More
  • Birthday 01/22/1960

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  • Location
    Yorkshire, England
  • Interests
    Guitars, sea fishing, family, travel.

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  1. What a twelve months I've had, it's been a roller coaster to say the least. It all started at the end of April last year when I was redundant from my job. Thankfully I have always had a mortgage protection insurance policy, so my mortgage is paid for up to two years from one month after the job loss, so we've done alright. It wasn't long before other companies and recruiters were showing interest in me but there was a huge obstacle to over come, which was the possibility of my losing my driving licence in October. Over here in the UK the police have placed so many speed cameras on the roads that it is unbelievable. If you are one mile an hour over the limit, they have you, and three points are on your licence. Get twelve over a three year period and you get an automatic ban for six months. When, like me, you normally drive 50,000 miles a year you are going to get caught sooner or later. This obstacle was too much and no one would take a chance. And, on 23rd of October last year I received a six month driving ban from the court. So, I thought I'll find something where I don't need to drive for work, it was impossible because every prospective employer I approached took the view that as soon as I got my licence back I would go for better employment - in fairness, they were right. But come 15th December, this became a moot point as events took an unexpected turn.t With two weeks to go before Christmas, My wife Helen and I had not bought each other our Christmas presents and Helen insisted that we go to a shopping mall about thirty miles south of where we live and she was not taking no for an answer. However, she did not know that rain was falling and as soon as it hit the ground it was turning to a layer of thick black ice which in the dark, we could not see. As Helen was driving, I walked down our drive to get in the passanger door. However, I never made it into the car. I fell forward on the ice, with all my weight going on the front of my foot which turned under itself, giving me five breaks in various bones in my lower leg and ankle. It was rather painful to say the least. I spent two nights and three days in hospital, and was superbly looked after. Well, Helen and I thought if trouble comes in threes, we've had three big ones and things can only get better. However, on Sunday January 13th Helen was coming driving home from church on her own (we usually go together but with my broken leg I was unable to attend for a while) when she was blinded by low winter sun and she lost control of the car and wrote it off smashing down some steel railings and taking out a traffic light. She was taken to Hospital in an ambulance and spent the day there getting checked out and getting X rays and what have you. Thankfully, all she suffered with was some very nasty bruising, but that took quite a few weeks to heal - what we learned was that no matter what, your health is all that matters. Anyway, without going into it in depth, it's four months today since the injury, and I can now walk without my big plastic support boot if I take it slowly and use a walking stick. But the injuries meant that we had to cancel three months of bookings. In a way, it worked out well because Robin, our other guitar player started with some health issues and the bands down time was helpful to him as well. One of the side effects of my leg break was my getting very fed up with many things in general, but what drive me round the bend was cabin fever, and not being able to get out. Also, because of the cast on my leg I could not take a bath or a shower so every morning I would sit in front of our wash basin and wash and clean up. I remember the first shower I took after I got the OK from the surgeon (I had two scars, one either side of my ankle from the surgery), that shower felt so luxurious! I'd given myself three and a half months recovery time from the accident to the first gig, and we played a venue we go down well at in a town near us on Saturday 6th of April. We were rusty, and even though we'd had a couple of full rehearsals we were out of practice playing live shows and I have to admit that we were nowhere near as tight as we needed to be. However, we are our own worst critics and the crowd enjoyed us. My 27 year old daughter has never seen me play live, so she brought her friend with her and came for the night, she was very impressed and even said she was proud of what I'd done and my playing. This last Saturday saw us play our second booking of 2019 at The Lion Pub in Castleford, West Yorkshire. Castleford is very much what you would call in America a Blue Collar town. It's a run down town which had its history in the coal mining industry, and when the mining industry went into rapid decline in the 1980's, many were made redundant and lost their jobs The town has never recovered and the jobs there are low paid. So the crowd we played for were very much a down to earth group of people. The pub itself was quite rough, but the crowd were a nice enough bunch of folks who just want a good Saturday night out with what they have. The Lion is also known as a heavy rock venue and as we are not a heavy rock band, we did wonder how we would get on, Robin, our other guitar player (AKA Moaning Myrtle) as usual was making his forecasts of doom. But he needn't have worried because right from the word go we had the crowd with us. At the end of the night, many of the pub regulars told us how much they enjoyed the two sets we played and that it was nice to have something different than the usual bands they have week in week out all playing the same stuff. As a band, we do pack a punch when we rock and one of the highlights of the night for us was when we played the old Bad Company song "I Can't Get Enough" complete with the twin lead guitar solos and it sounded superb. We have a return booking for there next year. One last interesting fact about this pub. Mark, whom plays guitar in Wishbone Ash, is from Castleford, we've known him over twenty years and he is currently touring the USA with Wishbone Ash and this is a pub he is well known at. Robin was talking to him on Saturday afternoon via WhatsApp and he said to give the locals his best wishes, so we did, and we got a real cheer and round of applause for that. Last of all, I've decided that as soon as I am able to, I am going to pull the trigger on a PRS. Since buying a Telecaster, I have come to love the simplicity of one volume and one tone control. I've also played a couple of PRS guitars and on a personal level they work for me very nicely, and give me all that I require in a working guitar. I feel it would immediately become my go to guitar once I got it. The one I get will be a custom 22 or 24 with trem and mahogany neck, nice burst with a red mahogany back. Hopefully I will be working in June and that will be when I start looking at the options. The question is, do I sell some guitars to fund one or just buy the PRS? What I may well do is buy the PRS and sell a guitar I don't use. Watch this space, and as usual, thanks for reading. Best to all, Mark. 2
  2. Wow, what a question to ask! Well, an H150 will out Les Paul a Les Paul, beautiful guitars with you usual style Humbuckers. On the whole I would go for the H150, I think long term you might enjoy owning it more. However, I would certainly put the H137 on the wish list. If you have never payed a P90 loaded guitar, I think you would enjoy the sound and tones, you can turn down the pick ups without losing tonal clarity yet if you overdrive them they are really good for some attacking lead. I had a Gibson twin pick up Les Paul Junior double cutaway with P90's and it was a nice guitar. If you like the H150, but like the sound of the P90's better, you can always buy some P94 pick ups, which are just humbucker sized P90's, a few good pick up makers build them. Good luck!
  3. mark555

    The year ends....

    John, thanks for the encouraging words. The ban is for six months and ends in 22nd April. Just when I thought the year couldn't have anything else go wrong, I slipped on ice ans broke my leg. I can't go anywhere of do anything! Will have to get a PRS....
  4. mark555

    The year ends....

    Many thanks, I enjoy writing it, any one kind enough to say they enjoy it is a real bonus and much appreciated, a Merry and Joyful Christmas to you also.
  5. mark555

    The year ends....

    As 2018 comes to a close, the band I play in, Route 62 has had two changes of personal and we are re establishing our selves on our playing circuit and we're happier than we've ever been. Our old guitar player's wife cost us all just short of £2000 but we are now 18 months rid of them both and we no longer hear anything from them. Robin has been playing guitar with us just over a year and has fittted in well, he uses three guitars on stage, a Les Paul RI, a Strat and a Tele. Our Drummer, Graham, is well and truly in the driving seat and fits right in with us personality wise. He's brought a great sense of humour to the band and we like having him around. This year we have added a few new venues to our customer base and have gone down well at each of them, getting return bookings. Over here in the UK you get to play the same place three times a year if you are very lucky, and we have two venues that give us three gigs each. We are aiming to play 26 dates next year, not a lot, but we are al family people, with the exception of our bass player who is divorced, his kids have grown up and he more or less lives alone. He would play three nights a week every week if we would, the band helps him with the loneliness he often feels. However, we now have a very happy line up and for the first time ever we feel that all of us are friends and there are no strains in any of the band relationships. For myself, the year has brought two big challenges. At the end of April I was made redundant from work when the company I worked at started making cutbacks, and I was one of them. The second challenge has been losing my driving licence. This has been because of an accumulation of penalty points on my driving licence. Over here in the UK road side cameras have proliferated alarmingly and if you are one mile an hour over the speed limit they get you. This leads to an automatic 3 points on your licence. Get twelve and you are banned from driving. I was driving 50,000 miles a year with work and just before a lot of points came off my licence I was caught by a camera over the limit. I thought I was in an area with a higher limit than it has and was making an effort to stay within that limit unaware that I was completely wrong. Well, you could say it's my own fault and the courts banned me from driving but I have tried to be very careful and I really do believe (along with any one I speak to) that these cameras are not about safety but are about raising revenue. Even the police refer to them as revenue cameras. Not having a driving licence has impacted on me in two ways. First of all it has severely affected my job search and I firmly believe I'd have been back in work by now. The second way it has affected me is the inconvenience. I really do not mind being a passenger, but I now depend on others in the band to help me. A couple of years ago our car broke down and had to go to the repair shop to be put in working order again. not one of the band offered me any help and I had to hire a car ( I was out of work then also) and fuel it. It took more than my share of the gig money to go and play the gig. Not one of the band offered to share a bit more with me and had I just cancelled the gig (due to unforseen circumstances) every one would have lost their share. However, this time, Robin sent every one an e mail telling them that as a band they needed to be willing to help me. So, my wife drops me at all local gigs, and if it's not local she take's me to Robin's house and we go in his VW van and he brings me home from the gig. Also our drummer has brought me home, so it's a different experience for me and no one has said it's my own fault. I've had lots of support from the guys. We finished the year with our last gig on Saturday night at a Club in Wakefield, the next town to us. It was only a twenty minute drive there, and it's the third time we have played this venue. They have a new Concert Secretary at this venue and he told me that they are looking for a band to play for the last Saturday of the year next year. Our normal fee for this club is £400, but as it is the New Year event they will pay £1000. So, that will be our biggest fee to date if we get it. Years ago in the UK when the pub and club scene was really in full swing, a semi pro band, if good enough, could ear some really nice money pro rata to what they can earn today. But things change and the industry that led to the organisation of many of these clubs has died. Over here there was lots of coal mining and engineering plants, which have all gone. the Clubs we play are what we call in the UK "Working Men's Clubs" where working people can come out as couples and enjoy entertainment and a social life at greatly reduced costs. Often the clubs had their own Snooker, Pool, Soccer, Crown Green Bowling and other sports teams which would be involved in the local community. They still provide a great night out for people but they are getting thinner on the ground. However, the bigger ones are surviving for the time being. In their hay day, some of the clubs would book top singers such as Tom Jones and other big names and they would be packed. Something else you may find interesting is that the Clubs formed a "Federation" where by if you were a member of one club you could visit another club without paying an entry fee. The Federation of Clubs owned it's own brewery in the North of England called "The Federation Brewery" and distributed beer to the clubs of the federation at greatly reduced prices compared to the big commercial brewery's and the saving was passed on to the club members. Today the aim of the clubs is to plow the profit's back into the club so the members can enjoy a less expensive night out and it is certainly noticable that when we buy drinks we pay 30% at least than when we play in bars and pubs. During 2018 I have taken more notice of pedals and how they are used to a better effect. I'm not talking about having a lot of them for the sake of it, but for enhancing the sound. My friend now plays in Wishbone Ash and I've noticed how he and Andy Powell use pedals to great effect. So next year I'm going to try and enhance my own sound just a little bit where it is applicable, and that it the key word - Applicable. I don't use a lot of pedals but for some songs I'd like to combine two or three - for example, the end solo of Throw Down The Sword uses reverb, overdrive and boost. I'd like to be able to switch these on all at once and off together. I am also hoping to get a new amp and guitar. The Amp I would like is a Fender 30 watt Vibroverb which has a beautiful clean tone. I play on a clean setting and use the OD pedal when I need to, I don't channel switch. I will sell my Fender Hot Rod then the Vibroverb will be the number one amp with my Peavey Classic 30 as my back up amp. Now for guitars. I have over the years had a hankering for a PRS but never really had the money. I've always admired them as a quality product and I've decided to try and get one by the end of next year if things go well enough for us. I will never buy a guitar over the needs of our family or home, and over the last few years I could have had several very nice guitars with the money we have elected to make our home a nice place to live in. But if I can, I will save my gig money next year, sell off one of my guitars and buy the PRS I've wanted. There are other guitars I would like just as much, such as a Gretsche Country Gentleman but what has made me settle on the PRS is that every time I have picked one up and played, my playing has been more fluid. On a personal level I find them very comfortable to hang on a strap and stand up for 90 minutes with one round my neck. I know there are other great brands out there, and I would enjoy any one of them. But I am talking about a working tool here that earns me money and the PRS has come to the fore for that reason. when I win the lottery I'll buy a couple of nice H150's, a Music Man Sihouette the Gretsche, and have a few more hand built ones to my speck by top luthiers. Until then I will just make do with the PRS. I've got to find the right one, but the fun is in the search, the work is in the practice and the playing. The band always takes January off from gigging for a couple of reasons. First of all, every one has spent up over Christmas, the bills are coming in and it's cold so the venues are all about empty. Secondly, we use January to rehearse new numbers for our set list and now we need two different set lists. One for pubs and bars and a seperate one for the clubs which demand a different type of set. The song I am looking forward to playing most is Blowin' Free by Wishbone Ash, it's a song we all love in the band and to me it fills me full of joy. We finished the year off with a great gig and had to play a twenty minute encore at a club that is known for letting you know if they don't like you and they would have let us play for linger had we done so. But finishing on such a high note has made me look forward to next year and the gigs we will play. I hope you all have a great Christmas and that the new year brings everything you need. Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all, Mark.
  6. All great help, much appreciate it. I didn't have a clue what any of this would cost so I might have to hold out for a bit. I really like Boss gear, but as Bob says, it might be too much more than I actually need. I only use four pedals, Boost, OD. Reverb and Delay. I really just want to be able to make a couple of mixes - boost and overdrive, and boost overdrive, and reverb. Maybe one more. I don't use chorus and other effects, I keep it quite simple really. I might add another OD pedal at some point. I get bewildered at times. I've heard Joyo make some usable stuff for a decent price, will check them out.Thanks for the links Bob.
  7. I like things to be as simple as possible.
  8. That's what I want to do, might have a trip to the guitar shops and see what there is.
  9. Never heard of one of those, only been playing electric guitar for forty four years, so much to learn! How do you use them? Any suggestions for a good brand worth looking into?
  10. Hi Everyone Of late I have been wanting to use a combination of pedals in some of the numbers we play live, for example I might want to go from using an overdrive to then incorporating a reverb or delay. One example is the Wishbone Ash number "Throw Down The Sword", which ideally I would combine my Boost, overdrive and Reverb Pedals all at once when changing from playing the chords in the verses to going to the solo. There maybe other combinations I want to use at some point. Does any one here know if there is anything I can add to my pedal board which will allow me to do this? I don't use a lot of pedals, but would like to get more out of what I have without having to do a complicated dance sequence when I want to get the right combination? Thanks in advance.
  11. All this programmable stuff is beyond me.
  12. What a player. Beautiful tone. There's a Jeff Beck gig on you tube where he's playing a rockabilly set and he changes guitar a lot. You can see a load of small vintage amps in the back ground, probably one for each guitar he uses, but fabulous tone every time his hands touch the guitar.
  13. All I can tell you is that I went to see Wishbone Ash on Friday evening and Andy Powell and co guitarist Mark Abrahams were both using Orange amps. The sound of those amps was out of this world. Both AP and MA used humbuckers and single coil guitars and everything sounded fabulous.
  14. I think your new PRS is fabulous. what a shame Heritage could not provide you with a guitar to that standard. I think one reason for the success of PRS is down to their consistent quality, I hope you enjoy many years of playing it.
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