Rick Nielsen, Austin City Limits, Fuchs Amps

January 5, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

Nielsen_Rick_ACL_2010_1Wow! Anyone here in the U.S. catch the recent airing (re-airing?) of Cheap Trick live on Austin City Limits? Couple quick observations after watching:

> Cheap Trick is a ROCK BAND. Lots of big guitar tone, great classic rock/Beatles-esque tunes, good singing – a real freakin’ band! Great to see and hear they’re still doing it.

> Rick’s tone was classic rock wood. Loved it, so naturally had to dive into his gear a bit….

Amps, Speakers = Fuchs, Celestions

Rick’s backline was all Fuchs amps. Couldn’t see exactly what they were – wondered if they were Fuchs Mantis heads, killer-sounding heads based on a Jose-modded Marshall. (I’ve played one, and it’s Woody all the way, though can go beyond that.) Didn’t think they were the Dumble-esque Fuchs ODS heads because – well, just didn’t sound like it.

Nielsen_Rick_Fuchs_Train-45s_1Turns out they were Fuchs Train-45 heads. I’ve played those heads as well, and like everything Andy Fuchs designs and builds they are stellar. Quick Train-45 description, from the Fuchs website:

Inspired by the fabled “Trainwreck Express” vintage amp [non-master, the louder you turn it up the raunchier it gets], the Fuchs Train-45 has a host of sweet spots…. The Train’s tone controls are extremely responsive, touch-sensitivity is phenomenal and note separation is also nice. The bright switch produces tones from bassy to shrill. Gain control adjustments achieve punchy, loud, blues tone on up to great rock tones.

Rick played at least a dozen guitars in the portions of the show that aired (it was not aired in total), and all sounded good – and distinct, a key property of most great amps.

The Fuchs rep is for making audiophile-grade amps, and since Andy started with the ODS series he’s known for making those types of amps. But as noted on an AmpGAS post a while back, all of his amps can rock – glad to see Rick proving it!

Debra Muller from Fuchs said Rick’s amps are “stock, no custom tweaks,” and added: “Rick is a great player and a terrific guy, and we love working with him! It was a lot of fun to make the checkerboard amps.”

This premierguitar.com interview says that he uses Celestion Vintage 30 speakers with the Fuchs heads. V30s are known to be more mid-scooped than Celestion Greenbacks or G12H30s, and for that reason are favored more by metal players, but obviously Rick makes them sound like classic rock.

Lots of Guitars, Pickups = ?

Rick is known for having a massive collection of vintage and custom guitars, at least 2,000, which he keeps in his basement by the water heater (kidding about the basement).

Anyhow, in this show he pulled out an old Les Paul, a Hamer Explorer or two (including what looked like an 8-string bass with a DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup in it), another Explorer that was either an old Gibson or a similar-looking old Ibanez Destroyer (also used by EVH, Ace Frehley, Rickey Medlocke and others), a Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird a la the Rev. BFG and an old DiMarzio Super Strat with a Floyd Rose bridge and pink neck.

In this unenlightening Hamer.com interview, Rick professes complete ignorance of the details of how he likes his guitars set up, etc., deferring all such questions to his tech. Maybe that’s because he has so many guitars he loses track, maybe he doesn’t much care as long as it feels good.

BUT, it does seem that many of his older guitars have replacement pickups in the bridge position. Some may just have the pickup covers removed, but there are so many with old double-cream pickups in them that I’m assuming he likes the sound of DiMarzio Super Distortions (DSDs).

Why do I assume that? Because he’s of the era when DSDs were huge, the pickups look old and DiMarzio has a patent on double-cream pickups: Seymour Duncan can’t make them.

Also check out this old interview:

More: New Trains

> Debra from Fuchs noted that 50w and 100w versions (also EL34-powered) of the Train-45 will be intro’d at the Winter NAMM Show next week – brief press release below. Andy Fuchs told WoodyTone: “The existing Train-45 will remain in the lineup, and be joined by two new Train-II models. They are new designs, and include dual cascaded gain controls (two gains), plus a master volume, high, mid,low, accent and thrust controls.”

Fuchs Audio Technology introduces two new amps in their Train series: The original Train-45 will remain in production, and is now joined by two new models designed by Fuchs. The Train-II will be available in both 50w and 100w versions, both sporting fan-cooled EL34 power tubes, two stages of preamp gain controls, a master volume, treble, middle, bass, thrust and presence controls, as well as a full-function effects loop featuring series and parallel operation, and line or pedal level use, and with a footswitch to control a lead volume boost.

[Train-45 controls are: 3-position brite switch (brite/flat/dark), gain, high, mid, low, presence.]

All amps feature custom US-made power and output transformers, a 5-year warranty and are built on an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis using the finest boutique audiophile-grade components selected for tone and reliability. Available in heads or combos.

Fuchs will be showing this, and many other new products, at the 2011 NAMM show in Anaheim at the Fuchs/Coffin Case booth in Hall C, booth 4130.


> Also from the premierguitar.com interview: effects = Dunlop Cry Baby wah; strings = Dean Markley .011-.048; picks = custom R.N. model, V-Resin .073 mm.

> You’ll see in the clips that the much-loved Bun E. Carlos isn’t hitting the skins. Apparently the band issued a statement last year that Bun E. won’t tour but remains a band member. The drummer is Rick’s son Daxx.

> Rock stars have peddled booze and hot sauce, but Bun E. may be the only one with a coffee named after him.

Category: Celestion speakers, Dean Markley, DiMarzio, Dunlop/Cry Baby, Explorer, Fuchs, Gibson, Gretsch, Hamer, Ibanez, Les Paul, Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick

Comments (2)

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  1. tony conley says:

    That 8 stringer was a mandocello!

  2. Eric says:

    Awesome article. I was going crazy trying to figure out the guitar Rick was playing on "When the Lights Are Out". Now I know … and am disappointed they are so darn expensive.

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