20th Century Guitar
20th century guitar magazine
20th Century Guitar
Tom Petersson is included on the front cover holding a Chandler Royale 12-string bass. The article includes interviews with both Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson. The photos included in the article are grainy and low-resolution. Petersson made a few comments in his interview about 12-string basses and his bass rig:
“You would never play a short scale bass, would you?”
“Not unless it’s a Musicvox.”
“Those 12-string basses are huge. You never use any active electronics, do you?“
“No, I don’t like active electronics and never have. The more I hear them, the worse they sound. All they are is loud. They makes amps so loud these days, who needs it? This isn’t the 1960’s where everyone is plugged into the same amp including the singer.”
“So when you go into the studio, you don’t limit yourself to the 12-string basses?”
“No, I don’t want to limit myself to anything.If I had to have just one bass, it would have to be a Fender Precision. No doubt about it. They can pretty-much sound like anything. My favorite bass is a 1958 Fender Precision with the anodized pickguard. It’s original red and it’s so great.”
“With the 12-string basses, how do you amplify them?”
“I use three different heads and three different cabinets for three different sounds. I use all guitar amps although I’ll use a Mesa Boogie 400 head for the low end live. You know what I’ve found that has good low end is the Sovtek, those little 50-watt heads. Those things sound great for bass. You can overdrive it just a bit and it is really nice. They’re like the Ampeg B-15’s with overdrive.”
“On stage you use the Rickenbacker Transonics. What parts of those are you using?”
“All of the cabinets but none of the heads. The heads actually sound pretty cool but I’m just kind of leery about using them and depending on them on the road.”
“They look really good on stage.”
“Yeah, that’s what counts. You don’t want to be standing up there with some Peavey amps or something.”
These Rickenbacker Transonics were originally used by Led Zeppelin, who left their amplifiers behind on a trip back to England. They were acquired by Tom Petersson who refurbished them, changing the power amplifier and the speakers.
The Rickenbacker Transonic amplifiers were designed in the late 1960's by ex-Fender amp designer Bob Rissi. Controls include volume, treble, bass, reverb, tremolo, fuzz, volume pedal jack, fuzz pedal jack, Rick-O-Gain output, various switches and lights. Cabinets usually featured 4x12", 1x15" plus 2x12" or 2x15" Altec Lansing speakers. A castor-mounted cradle allowed the amplifier to tilt back and forth, allowing the musician to adjust the speaker position. Only a few hundred Transonics were built over a period of less than three years.
Since each pickup on Petersson’s Chandler Royale 12-string bass has a separate output jack, Petersson needed to have several amps. His live rig features a trio of amps, one for each of the lows, mids, and highs. The output from each pickup is sent to three Nady 701 wireless systems; each of these feeds a multi-switcher that dishes out signals to the amps. In the “B” loop of the switcher is a Rane splitter mixer that receives the signal from Tom’s Taylor AB-1 acoustic bass guitar.
From the switcher, the low-end tone of the neck pickup is sent to a DI box that drives a Rickenbacker Transonic head and a 2x15 cabinet. The mid-range rig – a Vox AC-30 guitar head and two more Rickenbacker Transonic 2x15s – gets its signal from a MESA / Boogie V Twin tube-preamp pedal and a tremolo stomp box. For the high end, Tom plugs the output of his bridge pickup into a Dunlop Rotovibe pedal; crunch is provided by a 100-watt Hiwatt master-volume head that slams two Rickenbacker Transonic 4x12’s. The vintage Transonic head and cabinets gave Tom’s rig a unique look and sound.