ToneQuest Report: May 2024 – Vol. 25, No. 7


Mitch Colby, a legend in the industry with roots in Marshall and Vox, resurrects iconic amps like Jimmy Page’s Supro Coronado and the Colby Elpico, a homage to rock’s ’50s heyday. Bob Palmieri’s Duneland Labs revolutionizes pickups, boasting designs with 17 magnets, favored by pros like Nels Cline. Praised for their rich tone and versatility, Duneland’s humbuckers are disappearing fast, endorsed by luminaries like Bill Frisell. Reviews rave about Duneland’s latest 2024 model, celebrated for its expansive sound. Meanwhile, the vintage Fender Tweed Vibrolux, affectionately dubbed the Knotty Pinelux, enchants with its classic warmth and haunting tremolo, evoking a bygone era of rock ‘n’ roll magic.

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What's Inside This Issue:

MITCH COLBY – AN INDUSTRY LEGEND NEVER SLEEPS – To pull off a mind-bending great amp, the aperture of the lens for your frame of reference must be wide. Mitch Colby’s time with Marshall, Vox and Park, as well as those that were and inspired by their likeness has led to him experiencing stunning, standout examples of all of those classic amps as well as the dogs and everything in between. After 45 years in business, he knows his way around a circuit and specifically what each minor tweak will do to the sound and feel of a great tube amp. Mitch gets it right in a collaboration with Jimmy Page and Perry Margouleff to produce a replica of Jimmy’s Supro Coronado and legendary tone and one of the most collectible modern guitar amplifiers. We caught up with Mitch to delve into the inspiration of the original Elpico AC55, Dave Davies, The Kinks, and the evolution in building his new Colby Elpico—Tungsol preamp tubes, a JJ and TAD, Heyboer transformers, and Celestion G12M Greenback speakers… possibly another modern collectible? It’s all there for you to decide.

TIME WITH A COLBY ELPICO – Mitch Colby’s Elpico pays homage to the original little green amplifier, built by the Lee Products Company from across the pond back in the 1950s, the decade which arguably started this whole rock and roll quest. A young Paul McCartney also bought one and still has it to this day. Colby’s rendition of the Elpico nails the original sound but in “Mr. Marshall” fashion, it can breathe fire at the outermost extensions. The guitar tones on that Kinks album are pretty clean, with “You Really Got Me” being somewhat of a tonal outlier. And, can we detect that the speaker was slashed and re-amped as Dave suggests? Sure sounds like it. You might find that it changes how and what you play and that you’re playing the amp as much as your guitar. Mitch and his team do tidy work and we’d expect that these amps, like other Colbys, will put a smile on your face for a long time.

DUNELAND LABS- INTERVIEW WITH BOB PALMIERI – We haven’t come across anything so out-of-the-box regarding pickups in ages—and nothing like 17 magnets in a humbucker. “Standing on the shoulders of giants, decades of experience and in context of great pickups and guitars,” Bob Palmieri explores tone beyond the lead of PAFs. “Response is my guiding force. That is the way I approach pickups—how they respond to what the artist and strings are doing.” Read about his pickup choices for wires, magnets, pickup covers an integral part of the Blackpole pickup design, crash and burns, and successes. Bob has a great working relationship with Nels Cline, Wilco, recently producing a record at their loft and even has plans for a duo performance. We encourage you to open your minds and hearts. Your ears and playing won’t regret it!

REVIEWS – DUNELAND HUMBUCKER SETS 2021 And 2024 – We hadn’t heard about these until fairly recently. Our understanding is that materials and labor cost around a grand to produce them, and as soon as professional players like Nels Cline and Bill Frisell heard them, they all got scooped up and disappeared. The 2021 Model 4 neck serves notice! Thinking of artists, early Jeff Beck would have blown the world away even more with these in his Oxblood Les Paul days. The new 2024 set with “regular” bridge is even more open for sure. The neck is woody, stunning, and truly gorgeous. Worth their weight in gold, and far more. And, pretty darn unbelievable. Would we ever want to be without them? No.

1957 FENDER TWEED VIBROLUX AKA KNOTTY PINELUX – Our friend Rich Nelson suggested we spend some time with his 1957 5F11 Tweed Vibrolux. When that first gaze is cast upon the beauty of a Fender Tweed that is not only ripped, torn and missing in that perfectly beautiful way, it gives us pause to ponder the past. But the smell—oh, that’s the good stuff—and were we surprised that others in the house that typically roll their eyes away from any talk of tone asked to smell it? No, it’s that cool and invites the behavior. We affectionately refer to this one as the Knotty Pinelux. When strumming our first chords there was a crackle present on the note decay and it wasn’t getting any better with a little time and tube changes, so a quick call was made to CW and off it went to our best tech in town. The transition from clean to that classic warm tweed breakup is there in spades and the tremolo is spooky, rich goodness. We promptly tuned our guitar to open G to see if Keef could hear us knockin’, and we’re fairly certain that he did.