Two years of using digital amps lead me back to the real thing.

The last year has been a massive overhaul for me, in terms of gear. I started the year with a Kemper Profiler and many of you will know that I have raved about that piece of kit for the best part of 18 months now. It’s a game changer. However, I missed the flexibility of real amps and pedals at my fingertips.

I’ve come full circle and spent too much along the way in order to come back there. But all is not lost, I’ve now got killer tone and learned a lot along the way!

January 2019

In and Out: Victory The Super Kraken

Victory The Super Kraken and Suhr Reactive Load I.R.

In order to scratch…

I repurchased my first ever Stratocaster!

My Red Strat before I sold it in 2017.

Earlier this month, I was contacted by the current owner of my very first Strat, he wanted to know if I’d be open to the idea of buying it back. I sold it to him in the summer of 2017 because I wasn’t using it.

I foolishly thought that I no longer needed the Fender around and proceeded to let it go. This was just one stepping stone in a long line of regrets that have come back to bite me in my life as a guitarist, chasing the “latest and greatest” and that greener grass that sometimes doesn’t exist.

It wasn’t always about guitars, it started with music.

Charvel/Jackson ad

I sometimes feel like I’m somewhat narrow minded when it comes to music nowadays, but in truth, I listen to a very wide variety of things. I grew up on a concoction of rock, metal, gospel and theatrical music. Although I don’t listen to a lot of the things I used to, it’s nice to remember it and flick on some old school music to remember the good old days. This is my music inspired journey to playing guitar…

My dad was a pastor and we did a lot of travelling around to different churches, one of my ealiest…

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Everyone knows that’s the rule, right?

I grew up swearing by this ethos. If I had a good amp, it would pretty much mask anything, old strings, a rubbish guitar made of driftwood, bad technique…okay, not so much, but I’ll stand by the guitar part.

Fact is, a cheap guitar will sound fairly decent on a good amp. A good guitar will sound absolutely awful on a cheap amp.

At least that’s what I grew up thinking. I’ve come to realise nowadays…what is “good”? And who defines “awful”? We have great recordings using small practice amps, nowadays, who cares?

Regardless, in those days I could only…

The new for 2019 Marshall SC20H JCM 800 in 5w/20w small form.

Back in January 2019 NAMM I’d heard about the brand new Marshall JCM800 Studio head, but thought nothing of it as I was still in full flow, Kemper-loving heaven. The Kemper had killed my “GAS” for amplifiers successfully for the last 12 months or so, but recently, my passion for amps has bitten me, with a vengeance.

I had a brief flirt with amps back in January 2019, but it didn’t amount to much as ultimately, the amp in question didn’t quite live up to my expectations and the Kemper trumped it in terms of versatility. …

The paralysing limitations of having access to every guitar amplifier in the world.

I admit, the last few months have been a bit of a struggle with the Kemper. Not because it sounds anything less than superb, but simply because the profiles aren’t versatile enough once I’ve found 'the one’.

Once I’ve settled on a profile, I’m stuck with it because no other profile comes close. That makes me feel a little uneasy as I’d like to feel a bit more freedom than that. The ability to tweak the EQ in a meaningful, not approximated, way has been increasingly more appealing to my immediate needs as a musician and creative.

Enter the Kraken

Victory Super Kraken — what a gorgeous looking amplifier.

In January, Rabea…

2017 PRS Custom 24 Charcoal Purpleburst


My first experience of a Paul Reed Smith guitar was in church in the late 1990’s. The guitarist, Mo Sullivan, had a goldtop double cut, it could have had 22 or 24 frets, I’ll never know, but it looked cool. The curves on that guitar were like something I’d never seen before, it was an exquisite piece of art as far as I was concerend.

Mo was in a band called ‘Kosher’, he wrote some very cool riffs and was someone my friends and I looked up to, he taught us a thing or two on the guitar that I…

My love affair with 80's rock and metal epitomised in a single guitar.

Caparison Horus M3 Revive Series in ‘Black Rose’

11 January 2018 and my close friend and best man at my wedding was going about his usual day job, meeting clients and organising finance for businesses around Wales, except this particular day was a bit special. Today Marc was meeting with George Ösztreicher. A prolific businessman and the owner of South Wales music stores Cranes Music.

Mr. Ösztreicher has owned a few businesses in his time and Marc was meeting him to discuss a few business matters. During his meeting, George explained about his businesses and how Cranes had sadly closed its Cardiff store to focus on other things…

Westdale Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

How many times in life do you get to have an extended period of time off work? I’ve been gifted an opportunity to have a few weeks off and I intend to make them count! I’m in between jobs though so things will have to be done on a tight budget.

Why do you have a month off?

My contract came to an end on the 31 July, the project ran its course and I delivered everything I could in the 2 years I spent at Companies House. …

Sat in on a few user testing sessions today and it struck me just how unnatural it is to be a facilitator.

Your team should have User Researchers. Designers shouldn’t facilitate sessions, but sometimes we’re left with little choice. So the best thing you can do is give your design a chance to be tested properly, but there are some rules!

These may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at just how hard they can be to follow through with, especially under what can seem like fairly pressured conditions of a user testing session.

1. Prepare a scenario

Be prepared. Unless you’re lucky enough…

Jonathan Thomas

User experience designer and guitarist

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