20 Jan Getting that Classic Sound Back

The San Diego Union Tribune

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.”


From: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/20/fin-olivieri-pays-homage-to-ac-dc-guitar-sound/?fbshare=1945110

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18 Jun K.O.T.S. Schaffing it up at Sweden Rock 2014

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.


Final setup.

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_of_the_Sun_(band) (most complete bio of the band)
http://www.kingsofthesunband.com/ (official page with a whole discography to listen to)
http://www.youtube.com/user/CliffordHoad (official YouTube channel)
http://www.facebook.com/CliffHoad.KINGS.OF.THE.SUN (official Facebook page)

If you are interested in a gear mentioned in this article, check these links:


P.S.: There are more articles in the works and also a new section that should be introduced this summer. Stay tuned!

P.P.S.: Support your favourite bands. Go and see them live, buy their music and merchandise, because that’s the only way they can keep going.

…and remember: “ROCK TIL YA DIE!”


Photo by Ronny Jonsterhaug.

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31 Oct AC/DC’s “Walk All Over You”, The Schaffer Replica™ Series (A SoloDallas’ Cover) NOW WITH EQ Settings and RECORDING Details.

One of the first things that I want to let you know is that our videos won’t be blocked in any country from now on (unless they lock me up for copyright infringement, that is, which sooner or later they will and then some of you who have direct access to Mal or Ang will have to vouch for me). Our videos are now on our own server. Should be visible from any media player too, including the pads, peds, pods etc. (more…)

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13 Jul Ken Schaffer’s First Post: Hello, SoloDallas.com!

Gentlemen of the Quest,


This may be redundant – or ironic – but allow me to introduce myself.  Hi, I’m Ken Schaffer. This is my first post to SoloDallas. I designed and built the SVDS in 1976, had a ball introducing just about every band to it… and, 5 years later, disappeared from rock to develop other kinds of technologies. I stepped away from SVDS in about 1981 and went on into other hot pursuits such as satellite earth stations, Soviet-American breakthroughs and more unconnected tasks.


So maybe you can imagine my surprise when after 30 years I got some timid letter from one Filippo Olivieri… (more…)

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05 Mar The “Raiders Of The Lost Sound” And A Cheap Marshall: Your Schaffer-Vega Diversity On A Budget Amp.

This “test” has been missing for a long time. Too long.



With happiness your,

SoloDallas Team 🙂


Raiders from SoloDallas on Vimeo.


Technical Info



PS The more I think of it, the real thing I was willing to say was “The Touch Of The SVDS” (on any amp it goes into).

I will say it now.


The SVDS and its “magical touch”, © Ken Schaffer, NYC.

And you folks want to know what the SVDS user manual (and some ads) used to say? “We beat time and space”.

Boy, wasn’t it real for us. These units have beaten to hell Time and Space. Yes, because 30 years later, they’re still here and working, and making their thing. 

Wow. Just wow.


See for yourself!


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