The Velvet Finger

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The Velvet Finger, a child of the sixties with a seventies guitar, eighties amp, nineties underwear and 21st Century debts.

 

Sometimes glimpsed with a horribly mutilated ukulele but only if coaxed out with lots of alcohol. If you see The VF with such an instrument, do not approach him, just call his carer.Understated, seldom heard above the rest, unassuming, shy and retiring - see if you can spot him in the shadows or catch a couple of notes from his limited repertoire.

 

The VF will be signing autographs in return for a donation to 'Autumn Riffs' retirement home for deluded lead guitarists. (Patron - Mr B May)

 

Rumours that The Velvet Finger went off the rails and insisted on a new waistcoat and bottle of 'regaine for men' before he would play the New Year's gig are exaggerated and without foundation. (Although he was actually wearing a bit of foundation on the night, and eyeliner, and a corset). Come and marvel at what can be done with an old guitar, three fingers, tight trousers and a huge lack of talent.SO...Just what is the Velvet Finger.

 

Here is my story. Simple yet stupid, short yet not tall. I'm a man of almost no interesting contradictions whatsoever. Learning a bit of guitar from a distant ex-brother-in-law, I started playing purely to try to impress the girls. Sadly this never worked. Suffering from an addiction to guitars, I have tried many in search of some kind of sound that will make me appear as if I can play a bit. Stratocasters have far too many knobs and switches for a simpleton like me and I must admit to never being able to get a good sound from one (there is one good sound which is that 5 way one notch up from the bottom with a bit of tone rolled off but I digress). I know they are brilliant but I'm no Jimi Hendrix so I have to rely on the electronics to make up for my lack of talent. Teles are great for some stuff but a bit to samey for the range we play. (New hot pickups have just given new life to mine though)

 

An old 70s SG had been my axe (how cool is that? I said 'axe' instead of guitar) for the past 30 years but was bit too much for lots of our 21 Whiskeys set so I needed to mellow out man.I now have a Les Paul (everyone has to get one eventually I guess). It's a Studio model from the mid 90s and nothing special but it does the job and sounds relatively inoffensive, usually.Curiously I found out it was made on the same day as I was but about 30 years later.

 

As far as amps go, well, I do like talking amps but to keep it simple....I love valve amps but the old ones can be a bit tempremental. An old Selmer Stadium slaved from a 70s Fender Champ was floating my boat but getting really grouchy. Earth problems, shot speakers and a huge belt (keeps the heart going though) at an outdoor gig saw them retired for my Session stuff.Session made amps in the 80s using mosfet transistors and innovative eq that just worked really well. Lots of top musos used them (Jan Ackerman, Dave Gilmour and loads others) and they weren't too pricey. I saw Steve Walller use one with a Hagstrom in Camberwell once and it was a great sound. Sooooooo.... I use a Sessionette 75w 1x12 for the small gigs and a stupidly heavy 2x12 90w for the outdoor venues. Having the same controls on both is easy on my limited brain and being able to mix clean and crunchy channels makes getting an acceptable (audiences can be such a bore) sound a doddle. Session gear is all bomb proof and made from girders so they are very reliable. They all use Celestion speakers, they're designed to break up nicely on some frequencies and make a pleasing difference to the sound too. These are seriously efficient and accordingly loud.

 

If you ever want a Session amp, talk to me first as I have owned Rockettes, Duettes, 2x10s and Acetones and they are all suited to slightly different applications. Beware of some of the crap on the www. They are not 'better' than valve amps - just different and superb in their own right.Dream stuff? Well I love hybrid Musicman amps but they go for silly money and need looking after to keep them sweet. As for guitars, I can't leave Gibsons alone. 335s make me look like a little boy playing his dad's guitar, Explorers, Vees and Firebirds are a bit crazy but a 60s Junior would probably do it for me. I fancy trying one of those Bob Marley firebrand LPs too but it may not be that much different to my Studio. Appatently a lot of LPs are hollowed out to make them lighter - I may get mine Xrayed!

 

Pet hates? Marshall amps with IC output stages, expensive guitars with bolt on necks (I know, I know...) pedal boards that turn guitarists into Michael Flatley every time they break into a solo and putting any instrument straight into the PA without its own amp. I would love to be able to use pedals, but I find it hard enough to remember where to play a solo in C so the extra pressure would frazzle my brain. I just set my bridge pickup to half volume (it attenuates the neck too a bit), put the neck on max and play both for rhythm, neck for lead.I use Ernie Ball Super Slinkys in case you want to buy me a present and 0.8mm picks. I adore curly leads and use a 10m red Bullet with Nuetrik silent jacks (little pointy bits of genius).

 

That's it really. It's always nice to talk about gear after a gig. Feel free to come and bore me with guitar porn talk whenever you like.Oh I nearly forgot. Heroes?Jimi (obv) just the best fills and most honest guitarist talent ever and Peter Green for the wonderfully emotional guitar solos using nothing but an incredible guitar sound and huge talent.Everyone else can be traced to Jimi, Peter or both and then electronics does the rest. (That should put the cat among the pigeons with some of you!)Love and light, you beautiful people.