I was doing a search a short time ago for any information about my Fender Super 60 Combo (red knob, 1 X 12). In doing so, I stumbled upon this excerpt of an old John Kadlecik interview from Jammed Online
. The site appears to be defunct now as I have been unable to find any reference to it on the major search engines. I saved the interview to share with the community as it did seem kinda rare (maybe not
) . Well, its good to see that there is someone else out there that appreciates the Fender red knob amps, also.
Here it is:
Jammed Online Magazine- Now, I have kind of a specialized question for you. I spent a
number of years working as a professional guitar repairman and have studied the work Jerry
did in conjunction with Doug Irwin, Ron Wickersham, John Cutler, Steve Parish, and others
who helped him design, build, and acquire so much of the gear that he used for his tone. I
was hoping you’d break down your rig a bit and explain how you go about nailing the “Jerry
John Kadlecik - Sure. And I’ll let you know that was an electronic hobbyist before I was a rock
and roll guitar player. When I was a classical violin student one of my hobbies was both
digital and analog electronics. The analog side was more in the vein of Ham radio stuff.
John Kadlecik - But, back to the rig, I’ve done a bunch of different Garcia set-ups on a bunch of
different guitars. For a long time I played a couple of different PRS guitars as my main
guitars. They both had bolt-on necks and I got em’ pretty cheap. But, I’ve put the same
electronics in an Epiphone Genesis which was a late 70’s, set-neck, Japanese Epiphone;
which was a lot like a Les Paul, in feel. I’ve put it in a mahogany, neck-through, Electra…Lately
I’ve been using a maple, neck-through Carvin.
Jammed Online Magazine- Which electronics are you using and do you use Garcia’s Unity
Gain Buffer system?
John Kadlecik - Three DiMarzio Super 2 pickups which are coil tapped. I use, mostly, just the
single coil side. My guitars have five-way switching, the effects loop, and I use an EMG PA-2
for the buffer. The guts of it are copied from the buffer EMG used to make called the JG-1. The
PA-2 is the JG-1 buffer with a little trim pot for gain adjustment. It also has a by-pass switch. I
actually de-solder the by-pass switch from the circuit board and put a couple of jumper wires
in so that it’s full time. I use my own by-pass switch to by-pass the effects loop leaving the
buffer permanently wired in. But, before I got into the PA-2’s, I built several of my own buffers
which were like on Radio Shack bread-boards (laughs), I had em’ external for a while. But, I
found out that I could get the PA-2’s for like thirty bucks, so, it was time to quit building my own
John Kadlecik - The effects loop was the ingenious part of Jerry’s rig, though. What it gives
you is the loop is before the volume but it’s after all the tone and pickup switches and that
goes to all your basic pedal effects.
Jammed Online Magazine- So, it’s seeing that signal.
John Kadlecik - Right, the envelop filter, the distortion, the octave they all see straight to the
pickups and they see full volume and then your volume knob is after all the pedal effects. So,
the key thing is if you don’t do this, then in order to play dynamically with an envelope filter you
have to have a volume pedal after it. Then, whenever you want to use the envelope filter you
turn your guitar volume up all the way. Garcia was really into working the tube sweet spot that
really means you almost never have your volume all the way up. But, in order to run an
envelope filter you need the filter to see a consistent signal so that it opens correctly; enough
to get nice, even, picking without tweaking sensitivity knobs around. So, when you install this
unit, you have an on-board knob to make micro-adjustments that you need to do to find the
sweet spot on the pre-amp. The sweet spot changes on the envelope filter because it has the
sweep which exposes every little crevice in your pre-amp tone.
Jammed Online Magazine- But, like you said, if you have it right there and available on your
guitar, you can roll right to the sweet spot with a fairly high degree of accuracy.
John Kadlecik - Yeah, volume pedals are just really hard to make little adjustments. They’re
great for doing those swells and stuff like that.
Jammed Online Magazine- As far as effects pedals go, are you using the old original pedals
like the Mu-Tron (Envelope filter) or are you using some of the newer technology?
John Kadlecik - I use a Q-Tron which was designed by the guy who did the original Mu-Tron
and it’s the nearest thing to a true re-issue of the Mu-Tron III. The re-issue that’s out there is a
complete re-design of the electronics.
Jammed Online Magazine- So, it’s not anything like the original Mu-Tron III?
John Kadlecik - No, it’s not. All they did was they got the right to license the chassis style, the
graphics design, component placement and all that stuff but the actual guts inside are just not
right. I really like the Q-Tron. Every old Mu-Tron I’ve tried has either had major issues with its
power supply, extremely damaged housing, or…I have a friend in Portland who said he had
one he thought was pretty sweet and he brought it to me but I just couldn’t make it happen
(laughs). For a while I was using a little Boss Graphics EQ linked in with my envelope filter. I
have all my pedals switched with a loop switching system and you can wire em’ up any way
you want. It’ll turn off and on anything that just has a regular switch; you can turn the reverb on
or off on a Fender Twin, channel switching on a Rivera…whatever. But, I use it just to keep
hard-wire by-passes to all my pedals and also to run a few together in series, ya’ know; the
envelope with an EQ, the distortion with an EQ. Whatever is together can be switched together.
Jammed Online Magazine- When you do shows from the early 70’s where Jerry’s tone was
much more bare bones, do you simplify your live rig to recreate that sound, as well?
John Kadlecik - I’m using the same pre-amp for everything but, the place I feel like I’m selling
myself short is that there was a really short window in time from 1975 to, like the fall of 1976
where he was using the Mesa-Boogie. The pre-amp I use has a couple of things more in
common with a Mesa-Boogie than a Fender Twin. I have a Fender Super 60 which is one of
the Rivera designed “Red-knobbers” from the late 80’s, the 1x12 combo that he did. It doesn’t
even have a speaker in it anymore but it was an amp I got in the 90’s and I used it for a while
then I retired it for quite a long time. But, then I wanted to get back into a more Fender-ish pre-
amp around three years ago now. I started teaching myself about tube pre-amp design and I
went in and looked at the schematics for this thing and…for instance, it had a buffered output
already. Taking a Twin and trying to convert it into a pre-amp, the biggest hassle is trying to
get a line-out somewhere. I’ve got a Dead-Head buddy up in Vermont who is deep into this
stuff and he brought me this Twin head which he said had been modified exactly like Garcia’
s. He got information from Healy, and Parish, and Ron Wickersham about this stuff, and it did
sound great, but the one thing was that it still had this funny output that was actually much
hotter than any line level. I had to find somewhere to “tame the gain!”
Jammed Online Magazine- (laughs) Right!
John Kadlecik - But, with my rig, I had buffered outputs already built in there in the circuit and
all I had to, basically, was go in and kill some of the channel switching circuitry and redo the
tone circuit. I upgraded all the capacitors to increase fidelity. It’s kind of fun to do all this stuff
and not have to pay ridiculous tech rates.
Jammed Online Magazine- That’s a pretty hip little rig.
John Kadlecik - It does the job. I’ve had to go in and do some solder repairs on it…
Jammed Online Magazine- But, you know you guys are on the road a good amount of the year;
a few cold solder joints isn’t a bad track record.
John Kadlecik - Yeah! And we’ve been pretty busy lately....