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  • DUANE BETTS

" I got 2 phones, I got 2 super reverbs...

Firstly, let me apologize to everyone. My intention when I started this blog was to be a more frequent contributor, but the last five months have been especially busy. My tour guesting with the Devon Allman Project ran right into our recording session in Muscle Shoals for the debut album of the Allman Betts Band, Down to the River, and then the holiday season, more touring, cruises, festivals and the live debut of The Allman Betts Band.

Before the Allman Betts Band tour got underway, I was home for a week and had a little time to work on my rig and test out some of the changes I have been considering. Tone, of course, starts in the soul and in the hands, channeled into a guitar, and projected by an amp. No doubt, the amplifier is an integral component of my sound.

For the past few years, I’ve been working mostly with a Fender Super Reverb with 4X10 speakers- Eminence, I believe. It’s a ’65 or ’66 black face, I’m not quite sure, and was gifted to me by Derek Trucks. I’ve filmed a Rig Rundown segment you can easily find online, so I’m not going to be redundant with too many specifics here about that particular amp. Needless to say, I’ve loved the sound I’ve been getting.

But, I also love that classic Marshall tone. For many, Marshalls are the Holy Grail. I was considering adding a 50-watt Marshall Plexi with a 2X12 speaker cab to my rig. The Allman Betts Band has scheduled some bigger festivals for our summer tour, and it might be nice to have some more muscle onstage.

Down in Florida, at my dad’s place, I spent some serious time beta-testing a couple of 50-watt Marshall heads and 2X12 cab with EV speakers. I came away feeling as expected about the Marshall: it sounded great and had that trademark tone I knew it would. Yet, I also came away feeling like I didn’t need to add it to my rig for the live show.

Coincidentally, I just re-tubed my Fender amp, and in doing so renewed my love affair with that amp and its tone. So, I made the decision to supplement my stage set-up with another Fender Super. It gives me the flexibility I’d been looking for, with an amp I know really well. I can daisy-chain it with the main Fender on bigger stages, or simply keep it as a back-up; always good to have some insurance on a long tour.

I love the sound of multiple amps; accentuating the natural low end and giving it a stereo effect. The concern is, with three guitarists in the band, they may have to double-up, as well, to balance out my increase in volume. That’s something we don’t want to do right now as we have a complementary stage volume that works nicely for us. But, it’s a nice option to have, as I said, for bigger venues.

As for pedals, I keep it simple. I have an Analog Man King of Tone that I use for boost, a Carbon Copy analog delay, and a tuner. That’s it. Recently, I’ve been getting used to using plexiglass baffles in front of the amp. I was never a big fan, and it’s always a trick to find that sweet spot, but now I’m taking advantage of the fact that I can get my tone at the higher volumes without having my stage volume intrude of the others onstage with me. Plus, it makes our sound man happy and usually helps all of you sitting in the front row to hear the vocals better.

I keep my amps in the base of the road case, giving them a little lift off the ground. The top two speakers get above the baffle and this provides sonic space from the speakers to my guitar, giving me the response I like. As for stage monitors, usually I keep as little as possible in them; just my vocal and a little keyboard (as typically he’s on the opposite end of the stage) allowing me to hear better and stay musical.

For the session at Muscle Shoals, we recorded and mixed in on two-inch tape. I used my road set-up for the most part. So, what you’ll hear on the new record is the Les Paul guitar, among others, this amp, and the pedals that I’ve talked about here in my blogs. I have to tell you, it turned out exceptionally well. I’m really anxious for everyone to hear it, and we think it might even surprise a few people.

I make no promises about how often I’ll be writing these blogs, but I hope you enjoy them when I do. I’m so excited about the Allman Betts Band album and being on tour again. It was great to kick it off in New York City, and it’ll be great to come see all of you in the next 14 months.

See you out on the road. -DB


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