Part 2: Gibson V > Tube Screamer > Soldano, Blackstar
Part 1 of this WoodyTone interview with former Quiet Riot and current Ratt guitarist Carlos Cavazo was about Carlos joining the band and writing the new album. Here in part 2 it’s all about the gear details – interesting because Carlos’ Ratt tone is quite different than his QR tone.
WoodyTone: In every photograph I see you’re playing a V now – why? You played them some in Quiet Riot, but is this a tribute to Robbin Crosby in a way?
Carlos: It was purely accidental. I came down one day to the rehearsal studio and was using [a V], and [the band] said, ‘That sounds great. It’s different from Warren.’ I was bringing in some Jackson Charvels – I love them. But it just so happened [the band] liked [the Vs]. It’s a different sound than what Warren has, and makes a good blend.
As far as a tribute to Robbin, I think that’s great if people make that connection. I think that’s cool. I actually used to hang out with him before any of other guys knew him.
What’s your favorite V?
Definitely a Gibson Flying V, a white one I’ve had since the ’80s. I use that once in a while. It’s an early ’80s – I think it’s an ’81 – Gibson Flying V with block inlays.
Will we see the return of the Washburn A-5s you used in Quiet Riot? Do you still own them?
They were actually A-20Vs and I do still have them. I use them sometimes in the studio, but those particular ones I had in the ’80s, my friends pretty much talked me out of them. You know, ‘You’re not using that anymore so….’
Your sound now is a lot more raw than it was with Quiet Riot and Big Noize [an all-star ’80s cover band]. What’s changed and why?
I just do a different thing. Ratt is all about a street kind of vibe – the guitar straight into the amp. In other bands I had a signal-processing unit, and [Ratt] thought it was a little processed. Ratt wanted to go with more of a natural sound, and I agree. I like that sound.
What’s your signal chain?
The guitar [a new Gibson Flying V] with an Audio-Technica wireless, then I have an Ibanez TS808 [Tube Screamer], a Boss delay [probably a DD-3] and then into a Soldano SLO-100. I used those amps on the record as well – a Soldano and a Marshall JCM 800 that was modified. Elvis, the producer [Mike Baskette], owned it, and I hooked into it and loved it. It’s a hot-rodded amp. On the record I used Elvis’ cabinets – I think they were both Marshalls.
I’ve been using Soldanos on tour and some Blackstar amps, the 200-watt ones.
What do you like about the Blackstars?
They have a good natural sound, they’re made very well, the people running the company are very nice and they take care of us very well.
Some people say that the SLOs have too much treble. Has that been your experience?
I actually turn the treble almost all the way up. Maybe it’s the pickup I’m using or the type of guitar, but it’s not very trebly at all. I don’t like too much treble either – it burns your ears out.
How about your cabs?
They’re Marshall cabs with 25- or 35-watt speakers [Celestions]. I have two stacks of cabs at my house, but I’ve been using Warren’s stuff [at the practice space] so it’s whatever he has in his. I think they’re 25s or 35s – they’re stock speakers.
Strings and picks?
I use Rotosound Yellows, they’re 10s, and 85 to 96mm picks. I like a heavier pick for some reason.
Do you modify your guitars at all?
On a lot of tracks on the album I used a Gibson Flying V with a DiMarzio Super Distortion in it, and for other guitar work I had a Jackson Soloist with a DiMarzio Super Distortion also in that. Live I use a red [Gibson] Flying V that sounds great the way it is – I don’t need to change anything.
Are you chasing any tones or are you happy with what you have?
I love what I have going. I think it sounds great and works great with Ratt. I can’t see doing anything different.
One last question: What’s your desert island guitar and amp, and why.
I guess it would be a classical guitar because I couldn’t have an amp – on a desert island there’s nothing to plug into (laughs). I love playing classical and flamenco. I’ve been doing that all my life. But let’s see: I guess it would be a Flying V and a Blackstar HT-5 mini amp. I love the sound of that amp.
– Part 2 of 2 –