In 1976, Ken Schaffer (an American inventor) partnered with Vega Corporation (California) to deliver the best wireless system ever made for guitars – soon spreading to other instruments (bass, acoustic stringed instruments, vocals, etc.).
Schaffer wanted to create the most transparent sounding device but luckily, he failed (according to his own memoirs). This wireless system had a sound of its own and musicians of the time quickly realized it, putting it to good use (Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, … ). Over 1000 Superbands and individual artists joined as Schaffer-Vega clients between 1976 and 1981, some of them using this particular system for over 10 years straight (live and in the studio) even after the introduction of newer and, theoretically, more efficient technology in the 1980s.
After years of research, once we at SoloDallas’ realized the breadth of the original SVDS use in those times, we have wanted the whole world to have that sound, and this time, in affordable packages. The Schaffer Replica line of products was born (2013). (more…)
Like many rock fans and aspiring guitarists around the world, Fil Olivieri had a musical epiphany the first time he heard the Australian band AC/DC’s classic 1980 album, “Back in Black.”
That epiphany turned into a decades-long quest for the Dallas-born, Rome-raised Olivieri, whose company, SoloDallas, will be an exhibitor at this week’s NAMM Show in Anaheim. For years, he sought to replicate the striking “Back in Black” guitar tones of AC/DC’s Angus Young, but didn’t know how.
“I became obsessed with it,” said Olivieri, 47, who now lives in La Jolla and was not yet a teenager when he became an AC/DC fan in 1978.
He bought the same guitars as Young (vintage Gibson SGs) and amplifiers (Marshalls). Still, the sound he wanted proved elusive.
Olivieri did not discover until reading an interview in 2012 that Young’s guitar sound owed much to a Schaffer-Vega wireless system. The same system had also been used by Eddie Van Halen, Peter Frampton and other six-string legends.
The long discontinued system, of which only 1,000 had been made, enabled guitarists to roam concert stages at will, without having their instruments plugged into amplifiers. The system included two controls that Young specifically credited for creating the over-driven guitar sound that is a trademark of AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”
After learning that Ken Schaffer had stopped making his wireless system in 1982, Oliveiri tracked him down in New York. They spoke several times at length.
Impressed by Olivieri’s enthusiasm, Schaffer gave the Italian-American his last two wireless units — and his blessing to create the Schaffer Replica, which Olivieri began marketing last year.
His company, SoloDallas, will display Olivieri’s Schaffer Replica wireless unit ($1,299 each) and foot-controlled stomp-box version ($399) at the NAMM show. That fact that AC/DC’s Young now uses Olivieri’s high-end product is an added bonus.
“Muse guitarist Matt Bellamy and Billy Idol’s guitarist, Steve Stevens, both have one now, and Lenny Kravitz, Keith Urban and other guitarists know about us because of AC/DC,” Olivieri’s said. “We made 850 units last year, and Angus has the first one. My company expects this NAMM Show to be really successful for us.”
Of course the TSR has been something of a secret… You know, labor of love here on SD. But a lot of things are converging… Our first production run – sold out on the GT and on the pedal – the great unsolicited comments our first users have begun posting here… Then, Fil’s trip to Vancouver to meet with Angus, and the new album – possibly before the end of the year, to celebrate AC/DC’s 4 decades!!
And now the TSR, that started as a “little special something” for our SoloDallas members… is breaking out: we just got the news that “Guitar Player” Magazine has just today published a sneak preview, “The “Secret” of Angus Young’s Classic AC/DC Guitar Sound?” about the TSR. (If you remember, it was a February 1984 “Guitar Player” interview with Angus Young, when asked “Do you use any effects,” he said “I only use a Schaffer-Vega wireless” which brought Fil on the right track on his search for the “Back in Black” tone.) (more…)
This article (or to be more precise an e-mail on which this one is based) was originally intended for Fil & Franz only. But since I was asked to write something for the whole solodallas.com community and I accepted – here it is then. To you all (Krokus, anyone?).
The whole story began over 2 years ago. Killing time (Starfighters, anyone?) at work, I was reading one of my favourite music blogs. Author was talking in superlatives about one (for me then) unknown Aussie hard rock band called Kings of the Sun. I have never heard about them, so I checked their (old) website, which also had the KOTS Radio – a web player with all songs from their first 3 albums. I hit play and… was instantly hooked! It didn’t matter which song was on, I was tapping my feet within a few seconds (they passed the so-called “shit test”). No wonder that among the fans of the band are such heavyweights as Gene Simmons, Billy Gibbons, Steven Tyler, Eddie van Halen, Jon Bon Jovi and even O’Keeffe bros (Airbourne) were inspired by them.
Fast forward a few months and I was sitting in a pub in Surfers Paradise on Gold Coast, QLD – having a nice chat with the band’s founder Clifford Hoad and his family. I was in Sydney to see the last three gigs of Heaven’s Twenty Twelve reunion tour after 30 years and took advantage of an opportunity while down under to meet my idols.
Btw. Mark Evans was once a member of Heaven band as a rhythm guitarist (!). And if some of you wondered, yes, I met him – actually he introduced himself to me after Allan Fryer (Heaven’s singer; btw. he almost got a gig in AC/DC after Bon died), who was having a chat with Mark, called me to join them! Talk about a surreal event – same feelings as Fil meeting Angus or anybody else meeting his/her idol.
Did I mention that all these blokes are great guys, too?
Quentin Elliott (lead guitarist) and Clifford Hoad (drummer & singer) unwrapping the yellow box.
But let’s get back to KOTS. At that time of me meeting Cliff, the Kings were disbanded and he had an accident with a broken jack and almost lost his finger (a falling car cut his finger badly). However, since then he managed to recover, resurrected his band and wrote and recorded an amazing new album called “Rock Til Ya Die” which was released last September and heralded as “the best hard rock record coming out of Australia in the last 25 years” and “album of the year 2013.” I strongly recommend it to every Aussie rock fan – check it out and you will hear for yourself (yes, this is a shameless plug)!
Fast forward to 2014 and Kings of the Sun won a voting competition and got a 45-min slot to open the Friday string of gigs at Sweden Rock Festival 2014.
The TSR pedal that was purchased for the band was delivered to Sweden in advance, so it could be used during the rehearsals and guys had some time to get familiar with its features and capabilities.
Below, you can see some photos from the soundcheck.
Quick thumbs up and let’s go for it!
Plugging the Taipan in.
Let’s tune this baby!
Sandals & pedals.
Dialling the rock ‘n’ roll.
Dave tuning his Destroyer.
Talking guitars with Q.
As you can see on the picture, the final setup of the pedals that Q used was a TSR and a custom-made wah-wah pedal (and a tuner). He usually uses more pedals, but as he personally told me, while we had a chance to chat during the soundcheck, he was going to keep it simple for the gig. Rock ‘n’ roll – he should know better as an Australian.
Q’s main axe is a custom-made Taipan loaded with Mick Brierley’s hand-wound PAF pickups. The other one that he plays is also a custom-made Mongrel guitar loaded with the hand-wound B-90 pups (Mick Brierley’s take on a P-90 pickup in humbucker size). Both guitars were made by Ray Carlton. Australian guitars, Australian pickups.
Dave Talon, band’s rhythm guitarist, plays his beloved Ibanez Destroyers and also a Gibson Explorer.
Both plugged their axes into the Festival’s backline of amps. Q into a Marshall JCM2000 (with “too many knobs” as he remarked) and Dave into a JCM900.
The TSR was turned on for the whole gig. I had a chance to hear when Q turned it off and on during the soundcheck and I would describe it as getting from “clean to mean.”
When I later asked Q what his settings were like, his reply was:
“Just a Mal cleanish bite with a touch of gain, then schaffed the rep ON.”
I think he might have invented a new term: “to schaff the replica on.” What do you think Mr. Schaffer?
He also added: “I can’t wait to try it with my other amps.” Those are: Metropoulos 10,000 series, a couple of Sligo amps and a Marshall 2203 if I remember correctly. Talk about tone heaven.
Now, let’s get down to business.
Menu provided by the King of the Sun.
Here is the official video made by the Festival with an opening track of the KOTS show called Rockpile. I must say, that the sound of it doesn’t do a justice to the real thing I was listening to live. It was effin’ awesome and 45 min they got went really quick.
Thankfully, here is also a video of the full show thanks to Shar of the Nitestar band with much better audio quality if you ask me. Enjoy!
If you want to learn more about the Kings of the Sun, I recommend these links:
please say hello to Mr. Bruno Eicher, better known as “Mr. Marshall Switzerland”. I think this is quite the right name for him.
Bruno Eicher right after receiving his Gold Tag
Gold Tags and vintage SG’s fit great together, no?
And of course he tried it out right after site member Daniel Meier (who obtained this unit for Bruno) handed over his unit. And as it seems, it sounds great on Orange amps as well:
As usual, I’ll hand over the mike to Bruno himself now:
Wow Wow Wow Yes, thats it! I’m speechless and totally happy with my TSR.
I thank God, Filippo Olivieri and the whole SoloDallas Team for their work and what they created. It took me the last 20 years to find the perfect sound for my projects. With the TSR and my Marshall Equipment, I finally found my personal Bruno Eicher sound.
In the past 20 years I tried lots of Effect/Boost devices, but the TSR Gold Tag beats them all and will always be my number one.
Conclusion No. 1 after the tests: less is more and and without any knick-knacks between (the GT) into the amp!
The TSR brings that honest earthy Rock’n Roll sound to my Marshall Equipment and my SGs.
With the right settings, it’s a breeze to play the right sound from clean to crunch just with the volume tuner on the guitar. And it’s amazing how clean the the single notes and chords are hearable.
Said it and picked up his guitar again (Facebook login required to watch video).
This is how Marshall/Gibson addiction looks like in Switzerland. Bruno Eicher is mesmerized of the JMP100s from 1968 and 1972 and collected a few of them.
Just a few of Bruno’s SG’s. Looks like a preference for a specific model?
I can only imagine how this wall of Marshalls would sound. Gives me goosebumps.
Final words from Bruno himself:
As an old, but still young in mind Rocker, I will start through again like in younger years and inspire all the humans out there! Maybe I’ll find on this way the missing band members who will part my passion with me.
I’m searching for: Singer (Bon Scott), Bassist, Rhythm guitarist, drummer!
So, if you wanna join Bruno and rock your ass off: hit it!
Final Salute from Bruno
Well, and if you ask me: Could I please be like him when I’m older?
Several months ago, a guy contacted us and asked us about the Schaffer Replica, about Fil and his search for the tone. This lead to an interview with Franz and Fil (over Skype) and to an interview article on the Austrian online music magazine “Backbeat”: The Raiders Of The Lost Sound. But this isn’t all.
Of course, this very nice guy, Rocco Carletto, as he calls himself, is also a guitarist and plays in a rock band. What else? (more…)