A Dang Solid-State Amp!
Joe Walsh isn’t a tone king, he’s a tone emperor. A couple examples: He insisted that Jimmy Page take (buy, whatever) the Les Paul that became Jimmy’s No. 1. And he hooked Pete Townshend up with what to this day is one of Pete’s favorite rigs. (More details on both of these below.)
I’m sure there are more unreported examples, but the bottom line is that Walsh has GREAT ears…which is why it might be surprising to learn that one of his favorite amps is the solid-state Roland Cube 60. Yes, solid-state!
This is the guy who sounded KILLER with Marshall and Hiwatt heads through 4x12s, who obviously digs vintage gear and…is a tone emperor! Solid-state?!
There have been instances of tone fiends loving certain solid-state amps – though Joe Bonamassa’s (and BB King’s) love of Lab Series amps is the only one that comes to mind, and Joe doesn’t play live through those amps (but BB does). Maybe also Billy Gibbons using Marshall Valvestates as power amps. But mostly it’s tubes, for good reason.
Anyhow, here’s some of what Joe has said about these Cube amps through the years.
From an interview on the Boss website (Boss is a division of Roland Corp.) around the time of the Eagles reunion tour (2007?):
Roland: You have a small Roland Cube amp between your monitor wedges. How is that being used?
Joe: “That’s driving the talk box [used on “Rocky Mountain Way”]. The speaker isn’t hooked up – it’s driving the talk box. It’s an old 60-watt Cube — an orange one that’s been painted black.
“Those Cube amps are so great. I used to play with four of those in the early Eagles when Hotel California came out. In fact I used a Cube to play slide on “The Long Run.” I liked to stack ’em too. That’s what I did in the old days. I even made a stand so I had two and two stacked. The top ones drove the bottom ones. I’d like to try out the new Cube-60.
“I used to play a pair of [Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amps]. I used those when I played the second Us Festival . That was during the So What [solo] album. There’s film footage of that out there.”
[Boss/Roland noted that shortly after the interview, Joe received a new Cube-60, and Joe's manager said: "We took it to his dressing room and it’s a killer to say the least! Joe loves it big time." Bear in mind that that is the manager talking to the manufacturer, so maybe add a grain of salt....]
From a 1983 issue of Musician Magazine:
“Walsh’s onstage amplifiers include a Roland JC-120 driving two Peavey 4×10 speaker cabinets instead of its own enclosed speakers, a Mesa/Boogie Simul-Class combination amp also driving two Peavey 4×10 cabinets, and another Mesa/Boogie combination driving its own 12-inch Celestion speaker [undefined], as well as an extension cabinet also containing a 12-inch Celestion [ditto].
Here you can see the JC-120 on-stage at the ’83 Us Festival – but it looks like only the Vox amps are mic’d.
Joe also used a Roland Micro-Cube amp backstage in his dressing room on the Eagles reunion tour.
Why this stuff was in Keyboard Magazine I have no idea – other than reusing content from its sister publication, Guitar Player – but here it is:
More on Page and Townshend
> “Walsh may have significantly altered rock history by giving his pal Jimmy Page a ’59 Gibson Les Paul sunburst—yes that sunburst, the one that became the Zepmeister’s number-one go-to guitar. ‘At the time, [Page] didn’t have that kind of money, so I gave him mine,’ says Walsh with typical modesty.”
> “After receiving an ARP 2600 synthesizer from Pete Townshend in the ’70s, Walsh reciprocated with what he called the Neil Young setup—a ’59 orange Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins model hollowbody paired with a ’59 3×10 Fender Bandmaster and an Edwards pedal steel volume pedal (the rig that would provide Townshend’s signature tone for most of his post-“Tommy” recordings up until 1993). One can only imagine the good karma points Walsh earned by such generosity!
Joe’s Favorite Gear
> “Walsh once told GP that his all-time favorite setup was a ’58, ’59 or ’60 Gibson Les Paul, a wah pedal, a tube-model Echoplex, and a pair of Fender Super Reverbs, and that he prefers a Les Paul with raised action for slide work.”
Joe Helps It Sound Good
> For the “it’s all in the hands” crowd: “Walsh performs his own mods, tricking out guitars and beefing up amps with countless tweaks that range from simply screwing down a stop tailpiece for increased sustain to switching capacitors in a Fender Twin to boost gain and treble response.”