The first thing I saved up for when I started work was a decent guitar and amp. I bought a Yamaha RGZ guitar on the basis of a very good review because Soundcontrol in Glasgow were selling them very cheap and didn’t have many left. I was very lucky, it could have been a disaster but it played as good as some Jackson guitars 3x the price.

I wanted a Mesa Boogie MkIV amp but they were way too expensive so opted for a Marshall Valvestate 8040 instead. It was loud and had a valve pre-amp which were my main criteria.

I also had an Amiga A500 computer at the time and played a lot of games on it. Then one month a magazine had Octamed, a tracker on the cover disk. Bear in mind this was 1991 and the Amiga had a 7Mhz processor, 4 track sound chip. Octamed squeezed 8 tracks out of the equivalent of a calculator.  Unfortunately samplers were very expensive so I could only play with a few supplied sounds but did manage to create some tracks. I didn’t understand midi so couldn’t get my keyboard working with it. I bought a drum machine but didn’t understand how to program it. Eventually I had some limited joy with midi and a fullsize keyboard but it was very hit and miss so all in all that put me off electronic music making.

I stuck with the guitar instead and got into effects. I had a few pedals then bought a Boss SE50 half rack unit. It was good but only allowed certain effects in a certain order which I thought was rubbish for a rack unit. I really wanted an Eventide Ultra Harmoniser (because Joe Satriani used one) but couldn’t afford one. Instead I bought a Zoom 9030 which I loved but it was very easy to over process the sound so over time I used it less and less.

It was very good for recording which I did on a Tascam portastudio. I could have recorded on my PC by this time but being a bit of a purist and having had bad experiences I went for the 4 track.  Of course it is the much harder option because you have to play all of the instruments yourself and ‘live’ too.  The Zoom plugged straight into the 4 track and because it had a pre-amp, distortion could be cranked up way beyond what would cause feedback through the amp. The sound died very quickly if you fluffed a string though. I was also going more acoustic and recording with a mic required careful placement which was an art in itself which I never quite mastered.  Ultimately the portastudio, Zoom and Yamaha were traded in for an acoustic period.

I did end up buying the Yamaha back after a couple of years because I missed it. I knew it was mine because I’d fitted a Dimarzio Fred humbucker before I sold it.

I do miss effects and about a year ago I borrowed a Boss GT-8. Simply amazing. Unfortunately was a bit pricey at the wrong time but maybe now is a good time to downsize my amp and get some effects again.

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