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Fargen Amplifiers continue to blow us away with the Retro Classic 25w head.

Fargen Amplifiers continue to blow us away with the Retro Classic 25w head.

Fargen Amplifiers have proven a big hit with our customers, since we introduced them to the UK after the 2013 NAMM show. A year on and NAMM 2014 continues to lord this great range of boutique amplifiers from the California custom shop builders who celebrate 15 years or ear melting excellence this year.

With a new range launched at NAMM 2014 including the Fargen Jazz Custom SE combo, The Townhouse 20 and the limited edition red/white/blue High Gain Classic 50, we cant wait to get our hands on these new models when they hit the UK later this way.

But for now, at Sounds Great Music we continue to enjoy the current range and remain the main UK retailer for these super cool amplifiers. They look great, sound great, and are built great and offer great value for money too.

And non more so than the Fargen Retro Classic 25w head. The Retro Classic is also available in a 1 x 12 Combo option, but today we’re focusing on the brilliant head, which we paired with a 2 x 12 Fargen Cab in our recent You Tube demo.

Ben Fargen is no stranger to vintage cool and is clearly influenced by the classic Marshall style in both looks and sound, But this Fargen Retro Classic takes us effortlessly back to a time when hand wired Super Bass and Super Leads were simply the best.

The retro classic is a single channel all tube design, with 3 Tung-Sol 12AX7 preamp tubes, 2 Tung-Sol KT66 Power Tubes pushing 25watts and a single GZ34 Rectifier Tube for vintage response. But before anyone just considers this a Marshall copy, think again! The Retro Classic has a secret weapon! The Fargen Decade switch offers the user three classic tones in one superb amp. This allows a seamless shift from a late ’50s Tweed Bassman (Jim Marshall’s inspiration for the first JTM45) to the vintage snap of a Bluesbreaker-style JTM45, and to the gained-out, raunchy sag of a cranked ’68 Super Bass head. This is complimented by a familiar control layout or presence, bass, mid and treble and a post phase master volume and a variac switch on the reverse panel can drop voltage to tame the 25 watt monster when required.

Fargen Retro Classic Amp Features
’59 position = late 50′s tweed bassman: Plug in your tele and get some smokey greasy blues with that hint of “wood” tone we all love
’65 position = Dead on JTM 45: Clapton Bluesbreaker tone’s….all day long
’68 position = 12000 Series Superbass: You know it…you love it…you want it!

The Fargen Retro Classic should be high on the shopping list for anyone who wants classic vintage Marshall tones, but cannot afford or find the 3 or more models needed to produce this range of sounds and with variac control you don’t need to be playing stadium gigs to get the most from it. This has neighbor friendly volume control combined with enough grunt and dynamic range to cover 99% of most mortals gigging needs.

Fargen Amps – we love em!

Neil Batty

Watch the You tube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6OddfOSi0g&list=UUbLBncZrYCb3kEdaxlXiVzg&feature=share&index=3




Release date Thursday 20 February 2014

Attachments / Links






Buying your first Electric Guitar.

When you decide to take up the guitar, the choices available can be quite daunting. Well, fear not, this Sounds Great Music guide to buying your first electric guitar is here to help!

Basic things to know about on an electric guitar…

Body Shapes
There are many different body shapes available but the most popular are the Les Paul style and the Stratocaster style. These are the guitars that have pretty much been around since the beginning. There are other more exotic and unusual shapes, but the Strat and Les Paul are a good place to start.

The pickups take the sound produced by the strings and transfer it to the amp. The type of pickup usually defines the basic sound produced by the guitar. The two most popular types are Humbuckers and Single Coils. There are other pickups available but these two types are by far the most widely used.

These pickups produce a loud fat rock sound, they tend to be darker and more chunky sounding. They are great for warm clean tones too. Famous Humbucker player include Slash, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Paul Kossoff, Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen.





Single Coils
The Single Coil pickups are slightly thinner sounding and brighter, they are great for blues and clean sparkly tones. They can also sound great with distortion and produce a biting tone that cuts through a band mix! Famous Single Coil users… Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen.




Many guitars will allow you to switch between pickups (a lot of guitars will have a mix of Humbuckers and Single Coils for versatility). There is usually a pickup selector switch, some kind of Tone and Volume control (sometimes one each for each pickup). These controls allow you to switch between sounds and vary the tones produced from the guitar. A good player can get a huge variety of sounds one one pickup just by altering the volume control!

You will also need some kind of amplification otherwise you are going to be pretty quiet (and that’s no fun at all!!). A small practice amp is usually fine for  a beginner and anything up to 15 watts should be sufficient. many guitarists insist on valve amps as they sound the best, although these can be very loud and need the volume to sound good. Also small valve amps tend to be pretty basic, so sticking to a small transistor amp will give you more features and better sounds at lower volumes.

So that’s the basics covered, we will now have a look at a few popular models of guitars and amps to get you started….


Yamaha Pacifica 112V
A super versatile award winning guitar, the Pacifica has been around for a long time and is still a favourite for beginners and advanced players alike. It features a Humbucker and two Single Coils for great versatility, a great Tremolo and a five way pickup selector switch. A great all rounder and a very playable instrument.

Cort G210

A great alternative to the Yamaha Pacifica, the G210 is a very similar guitar with HSS (Hum/Single/Single) pickup configuration, tremolo and classic shape. Again, a great instrument for all styles of music.

Ibanez GRG170DX

A modern take on the Strat, this guitar features two humbuckers and a single coil. This guitar will give you fantastic rock tones and the middle single coil allows for some great blues and clean tones. A modern fast neck, tremolo and low action make this a great choice for the rock player.

Ibanez ART100DX

A great take on a classic body shape, the ART100DX has a light weight body, a
lovely thin neck and larger frets for easier bending and vibrato. A great look and a great guitar!



Line 6 Spider IV 15
This little monster is bristling with cool sounds.  It features 4 amp models, from sparkling clean to super heavy Metal.  There are 6 effects to choose from including Tremolo, Chorus, Delay and Reverb. A built in tuner will keep everything sounding sweet! We are big fans of the Spider IV 15 and can give you all the tips to get some great sounds!




Fender Mustang I

This 20 watt amp has 17 high quality amp models including 57 Twin and 60s Thrift. 24 onboard effects will keep you busy while the USB connectivity allows for user programming and audio recording. The Fender Mustang comes with free Fender Fuse software for even more online features! A great little amp for the more adventurous and those looking at the possiblilities of home recording.



Hopefully this brief guide will point you in the right direction but there is no substitute for coming down to our store and trying some gear out for yourself. We are all gear mad here and ready to help you on the road to musical success! Heres a quick glossary of terms you might come across when looking for your new guitar..


Axe : Guitar
Action: Height of the guitar strings from the fretboard. Too high and it’s hard to play, too low results in buzzing.
Capo : A device that attaches to the neck of the guitar allowing the player to play open chords in different keys
Effects Pedal:  A floor effect that is stepped on to turn on/off. Enhances the guitarists sound. Also known as Stomp Box
Feel or Feeling: Mysterious technique that allows you to sound awesome, hard to master. e.g. “That guy has so much feel” or “That guy sucks, it’s all technique and no feel!”
Fret:  Small metal strip that goes across the fretboard.
Fretboard:  Flat part of the neck that the strings are pressed against
Headstock: Top of the neck of the guitar where the Machine Heads live
Licks: Small phrases of solos, e.g. “That guy wails, his licks are awesome dude!”
Machine Heads:
Pegs that the stings are attached to on the headstock, used for tuning the guitar.
Multi FX Unit: A collection of great guitar effects all in one unit
Nut: Part of the neck where the fretboard begins.
Pick:  Small piece of plastic used to strike the strings. Also known as Plectrum, Plucker and Thingy. A staple diet of your vacuum cleaner.
Pickups:  Magnetic device that are positioned under the strings on the body of the guitar. Converts string vibration into sound (in a roundabout way!)
Pick Guard: Plastic ‘shield’ that protects the guitar from wear and tear imposed on it by the user.
Rack: A collection of various and usually very expensive effects units. Very popular in the 80s. The Edge from U2 is famous for the size of his rack.
Riff: Small section of a song made up of a catchy guitar part. Tony Iommi is the riff god.
Complete guitar setup including guitar, amps and effects
Solid State Amp: An amp that uses transistors rather than valves. More affordable and lighter than a valve amp.
Set up: Guitars need love, a set-up is like a service for a guitar. It makes sure all parts are working in harmony with each other.
Style of guitar playing where as many notes as possible are played very fast. Google Yngwie Malmsteen.
Stomp Box:
See effects pedal.
String Gauge:
Thickness of a guitar string, packs of strings are usually denoted by the gauge of the thinnest string. For example, “Dude, these 9s are all floppy, I need a pack of 12s for my extreme form of metal playing”
String winder: Helps to wind the strings onto the machine heads, simple but invaluable
Tapping: Two handed technique where the picking hand taps the strings on the fretboard allowing for some mind blowing licks. Eddie was a master of this.
Tube or Valve Amp:
Amplifier that uses old school Valves, more expensive and louder than Solid State amps.
Tuner: Device to help with tuning the guitar
Tremolo : Bridge system designed to allow the player to raise or lower the pitch of the strings (also known as Whammy Bar, Wang Bar, Vibrato Bar

Steve Stevens endorses Amptweaker pedals.

Steve Stevens is best known for his acclaimed guitar work with ex-Generation X singer Billy Idol, but he has also recorded and performed with many others as well. He and Idol were all over MTV throughout the 80′s and since then he’s also recorded and/or performed with Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer, Ric Ocasek, Vince Neil, Joni Mitchell, Tony Levin, Terry Bozzio, and many more. He earned a Grammy in ’86 for his contributions to the Top Gun film soundtrack, and in 2008 released his solo album Memory Crash.

Steve uses pedals to enhance his amp tones, and was interested in the the parked wah boost sound of the TightBoost, which is very useful for tweaking soaring solo tones. After trying out the TightBoost, he requested a second one with a modified upper parked-wah frequency….but after comparing them, he decided that the original consumer-chosen upper wah frequency was the most useful tone. The TightBoost parked wah frequency center switch was originally tweaked during the 2010 Nashville Amp Expo with help from area artists attending that show.

“The TightBoost sounds REALLY GREAT!…….feel free to list me as a proud user of your stuff.” –Steve Stevens

“I think the TightFuzz is exactly what I needed. Having the external loop for an eq pedal is SMART! Keep up the innovative work.” –Steve Stevens


A brief guide to acoustic body sizes.

When buying an acoustic guitar, there is a bewildering array of different sizes to choose from. You will hear people talk about Parlour, Auditorium, Concert, Jumbo and many other shapes. Let’s have a look at the most popular acoustic body shapes and what different tones you can expect.

The Parlour size is pretty much the smallest acoustic body size (excluding travel guitars), the neck on these guitars usually joins the body at the 12th fret and they have a body measuring around 13 inches at the lower bout. This shape is ideal for finger picking and are favourites among ragtime and blues players. Although the body size is quite small, a well made Parlour guitar can have a great sound that cuts through because of its strong mid range tone.  They are very comfortable to play and hence very popular with smaller players. The Parlour is also one of the oldest body designs, dating back to the 1800s

Although only slightly larger than the Parlour at around 13.5 inches at the lower bout, this guitar shape was considered large when introduced in the mid 19th century.  These days, they bridge a gap between the Parlour and the bigger body shapes.  A concert size acoustic will have a strong sound and enough volume to handle pretty much any playing situation.

Grand Concert
Measuring about 14.5 inches at the lower bout, the Grand Concerts larger size gives it a more powerful sound that works well for a variety of playing styles. The Grand Concert is slightly bigger that the Concert and also a slightly different shape, this makes it ideal for an electro acoustic. This size of acoustic will offer a good acoustic sound and also the amplified sound is more controllable which leads to reduced feedback.

Auditorium/Orchestra/Grand Auditorium
This size of guitar is more commonly known as OOO size and they measure about 15 inches at the lower bout. This size of acoustic produces a great balance between playing comfort, volume and tone. The Orchestra model (OM) was designed by Martin and has the same body size but a longer neck and slightly wider nut.

The Dreadnought size was introduced in the 1920s by Martin and has become the most popular body shape by far. It is definitely a favourite for bluegrass musicians. Named for its large size after the British battleship HMS Dreadnought. It measures 15 5/8th inches at the lower bout and has a much less pronounced waist. Dreadnoughts tend to have a great bass tone and good volume. It is well suited to flat-picking but the Dreadnought is a very versatile shape and can be used happily for strumming and finger-style alike.

Introduced by Gibson as the popular J200 model in 1936, the Jumbo is a country players favourite. Measuring about 16 11/16 inches, Jumbos are perfect strummers and project loudly making them a firm campfire favourite.

A lighthearted look at true bypass

One of the questions that we get asked a lot here at Sounds Great Music is ‘Is it true bypass?’. For some musicians it seems that whether the pedal is true bypass or not can influence which pedals to choose. Well, we are going to have a look at what true bypass actually is and whether it really matters.

So, what is true bypass?
The first thing to do is to explain what true bypass actually is. True bypass is when your guitar signal completely bypasses the effect circuitry when the pedal is off. A switch will toggle the guitar signal either into and out of the effect circuit, or directly from the input jack to the output jack. The most common toggle switch to achieve this is the Triple Pole Double Throw (3PDT) switch, this allows a true bypass signal and also the ability to light a LED when the pedal is on. There are other switches and ways to achieve true bypass but this is beyond the scope of this blog.

Sounds like a no brainer then! No guitarist wants anything to alter his tone unless he says so! True bypass must be the best way to go! Well, not always…..

The problem with true bypass is when you are using long cables, especially when you have a pedalboard full of TB pedals. Let’s have a look at an example.

You have a 20ft cable from your guitar to your first pedal in your chain, you have six TB pedals with 1ft patch leads between each one, then a 20ft cable to your amp. With your pedals all off, thats 45ft of cable from guitar jack to amp! Ouch! This will result in loss of tone and signal level, especially if you are using a vintage guitar with low output pickups.  So you turn the amp up and increase the treble to compensate, this also increases background noise and hiss. Now, you go to turn on one of your pedals, suddenly the high input impedance and (usually) low output impedance will buffer all the output cables and the signal level will rise due to less load on the pickups. All very complicated but in short you will be constantly trying to find a level while your tone is jumping all over the place!

This all sounds like a true bypass is a terrible idea! Lets have a look at the alternative…

Buffered bypass
The main alternative is buffered bypass, this is easier to explain and it basically means that any cable after the first buffered pedal your signal reaches, is (in a tonal sense) not there. This is because the buffer changes the impedance of the signal so it can travel along long cables without any tone loss.

Thats the theory anyway. Typically, it is not as simple as that. Throw into the mix badly wired pedals, poor quality components, bad soldering, cheap patch leads etc and you have a recipe for dull tone and noise.

Luckily these days most pedals are of really high quality and the loss of tone is much lessened. This means that (as long as you are using good quality pedals and patch leads) the argument of true bypass vs buffered bypass has lessened considerably.

So have I actually put to rest the argument for/against true bypass? Probably not! But next time you ask the question ‘Is it true bypass?’ ask yourself another ‘Does it really matter to me and will I even notice the difference?’ Most times the answers will probably be ‘sort of’ and ‘probably not!’


Open Mic Day

Open Mic Day at the Pointing Dog


Bring your ‘British talent’ along to celebrate the Jubilee Bank Holiday with an open mic performance with your friends, or simply enjoy the Best of British menu at the Pointing Dog!

For table reservations please call 0161 485 6031

Best performance wins a recording session at Sound and Motion Studios.

To top of the day there will be a live performance from top local band Snatch.


To apply to perform please email : perform@samsmanchester.com 


Pointing Dog
Grove Lane
Cheadle Hulme
SK8 7NE 

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