Cedric Burnside wins arms race

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I admit it. I have participated in the arms race before. When I was in my ’90s alternative rock band, Vision Thing, I bought a Marshall half stack. Then the other guitarist got Fender’s 100-watt The Twin, which he pitched. And the bassist has a Trace Elliot AH500X. And it was on. The volume and gear increased until we got pretty damn loud, and it was a constant battle to hear and be heard. In the end, I won a bit, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. I was doomed to lug around two 4x12s: one with a 50 watt Marshall Super Lead and the other with a 100 watt Mesa / Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-O-Verb. Yeah, that sounded fantastic, but… damn it! My back!


Grammy-nominated blues artist Cedric Burnside recently fought his own arms race, with himself. And emerged a winner both tonally and physically. Take away, Cédric: “I have an Orange Crush 35RT, and I like it. I don’t use any pedals other than a booster for the solos, so I like to play clean, but the Orange wasn’t loud enough for the big ones so I started looking for bigger Fenders, and I ‘ve tried a Twin Reverb and a few Deluxes, then found the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb. At 200 watts, it has balls and it’s light as a feather. I was like, ‘This is for me.’ “

But the catch is, Burnside, who leads a guitar-drum duo, splits his signal between a guitar amp and a bass amp, and his Peavey Basic 50 has suddenly become a Roman candle for his ICBM Tone Master. Thus, it increased its lower-end weaponry stronger: a 500-watt Ampeg PF-500 head with a Portaflex 115HE enclosure. Relaxation resulted. “I love having a solid-state platform for concerts,” he says. No tube issues and, with the Tone Master weighing 33 pounds and the bass rig at 45 and changing, his schedule is the only thing heavy.

Cedric Burnside wins arms race | Love & Sockets

Obviously, it’s not ideal for everyone, but Burnside plays rad ‘n’ trad Mississippi hill country blues, a subgenre that relies on spare fat riffs, grinding hypnotic rhythms. and single note lines and slides, with every raw edge left dangerously rusty. He expertly learned the trade playing the drums for his grandfather, the great country singer and country guitarist RL Burnside, and just a few years ago he became a powerful 6-string songwriter. . In fact, there is no better living supporter of the hypnotic style. For proof, listen to his 2018 Relic of Benton Country, a fusion infused with traditional and exploratory sounds. Since then, despite COVID, Burnside has been on a fast lane. The album was nominated for a Grammy, it starred in a feature film (the period play on racial injustice Texas Red), played numerous festivals, opened for Great Van Fleet and other rockers, and recorded a new long-player, I’m trying. He was also named a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow.


Cedric on the Tone Master Deluxe Reverb: “At 200 watts, it has balls and it’s light as a feather. I was like, ‘This is for me.‘”

Although Cedric thanks “God and RL Burnside” for their success, he doesn’t play exactly like one of them, even when playing songs from his legendary “Big Daddy”. He has a more pointillist style of soloist, with a wickedly barbed sound, and bursts of notes that are more akin to Ali Farka Touré or to the modern school of Tuareg guitarists, like Bombino and Mdou Moctar. He heard none, although the central artery of the sounds of the desert and the Mississippi hills is clearly African.

Rig presentation – Cedric Burnside

As far as these amps go, Burnside sets his Fender bass to 4, mids to 6, and treble to 6 or 7. He has 12 “Celestion Neo Creambacks.” I think my sound is crisp. my fingers. ”he suggests. Usually he skips the reverb and occasionally uses a little tremolo for effect. For the bass head, he cuts the treble, sets the midrange between 3 and zero, and pumps the bass all the way. . This is nonsense sound for beautifully straightforward, unironic music. And it plugs in a guitar built by Mike Aronson from Aronson Custom Guitars. The body is a single piece of ginger colored shedua, and the neck is mahogany with a pau ferro fingerboard. The pickups are Harmonic Design Z-90s. There is a 3 position rocker switch and a volume knob. “All I do is turn the volume up and down , so I told Mike the tone knobs weren’t needed, “Burnside explains. (For a review Mindful of this distinctive guitar, check out our April 2020 Rig Rundown with Burnside, or watch the online video he made to demonstrate his Tone Master, where you get a full view of his technique on the neck. .)

“I’m not really a super sophisticated player,” says Burnside, “but I know what I like, and I know what I mean, and with this guitar and these amps I got everything I got. have to say this. “

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