ToneQuest Report: January February 2023 – Vol. 24, No. 3-4


In our exciting January / February 2023 issue of Tone Quest Report, we kick off the New Year with an exciting interview with Daniel Donato of  Cosmic Country, head to Texas for some pristine Fender Vintage and more!

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What's Inside This Issue:

Daniel Donato – The Cosmic Countryman – Cosmic Country led by Daniel Donato took stage at Pine Creek Lodge, a gem of a place where Bobby Weir, John Mayer and Dave Chappelle had entertained a full capacity, intimate 1,000-person audience over subsequent weeks earlier in the summer. If you’re a fan of improvisational music that marries up-tempo old-school country vibes and psychedelic jams, this is right where you wanted to be. Music found Daniel Donato a very young age and at sixteen he was forced to hone his chops and stage presence playing with the legendary Don Kelley Band. Our interview reveals Donato’s heady and unique perspective and observations of life—being at the right place at the right time.

Cosmic Country Phaser – The first phaser pedals were used notably by David Gilmour 1974-75 Dark Side Tour, the ‘80s new wave guitar tones and which for many, gladly disappeared when Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, and Eddie Vedder took the reins in the early ‘90s. Today, we see somewhat of a resurgence in the use of modulation effects, but that usage seems to be more responsibly applied versus always on. If you’ve ever had a go with a phaser, you may consider it, like good Moroccan saffron, which can add a little something without overpowering your hard-fought core flavor. Which brings us to our review of the Cosmic Country Phaser, the result of Daniel Donato’s collaboration with Robert Keeley.

Cowboys and Deluxe Road Trips – We took a couple hundred-mile road trip to Corsicana Texas to meet up with an old cowboy who had a pair of amps he was willing to let go of. Mid ‘60s Fender amps do it for us. Cowboy Carl had owned a mint ’66 Princeton Reverb for decades, and just when we finished agreeing on a price, he let the cat out of the bag that there was also a ’64 Deluxe Reverb just as pristine. Could we afford either of these at these fair prices? Join us back at the bungalow where we fire both of them off. Austen Hooks already warned us about the power tubes since we told him one of the 6v6s looked funky on our old BK 407 tester. With the amp on 8…smells like pizza?

George Alessandro And The Eminence GA-SC64 Speaker – Being the cosmic tone chasers we all are, we couldn’t resist ordering up an Alessandro collaboration Eminence speaker for our Deluxe Reverb to taste test—the Eminence GA-SC64 speaker. We spent hours with it and could not resist dropping a dime to George Alessandro and finding out the where-what—get the lowdown on how the collaboration happened, its two-year development, along with speaker and tone wisdom straight from Alessandro—“I have an engineering background and I have been doing this a long time, so I was able to find the voicing the way I wanted it to be, and they were able to reproduce it faithfully, which is critical. Eminence can do this all day long, they’ve got it down.”

Harnessing The Lightning With Brandon Ficquette Of Smokey Bs – Searching for a clean and true spec Strat harness on Reverb we found Brandon Ficquette of Smokey Bs and figured we’d give him a shout and talk shop. Brandon has cool music projects with Bear Wolf, another with Louder Oceans, and his wiring has been installed in more than ten thousand guitars worldwide. That’s solid. We wanted to start fresh and use the opportunity to try out some vintage capacitors for our cherished see-through blonde Strat with maple V neck that we’ve had for years, from our best friend Big Tex we built together ages ago. Sit in on our discussion about Brandon’s journey to starting Smokey Bs and his unique position of being able to work with a lot of guitar players, rock stars, and techs. He shares noteworthy tone tips—including how “the capacitor totally affects the tone and is always in the signal…even when the tone control is on 10—an important factor that many players don’t realize.”

Pedal Powered – Josh Scott JHS Pedals – Josh Scott is by any metric, a guitar giant in the guitar effects industry. The founder of JHS Pedals, his six-foot-six stature belies his self-effacing aw-shucks demeanor, his sense of humor, and a humbleness not often found amongst his peers. In a business that breeds braggarts and hype machines, Josh is a refreshing departure from the music store know-it-alls that come with the territory. We recently caught ups with Josh during a momentary break in his hectic schedule to talk about his influences, how he got into the pedal business what’s happening now and what is along the path ahead…

The Leslie Speaker Revisited – The grail of guitar Leslie packages is undoubtably the Combo Preamp pedal 147 or 145 and will fit in the back of a typical full-sized SUV. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the Leslie was the only way this modulation soup would be available so most of the experimentation took place in the studio embraced by luminaries such as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Peter Frampton. The Leslie is still around, on big arena stages and recording studios, and wherever there’s a Hammond B3. It’s not practical or affordable for the average gigging musician, especially considering there are so many other options these days, for some, the solution would be the MXR Phase 90 but that’s only the about a third of the equation… read on!