Reelin’ in the Tone

Posted: June 6, 2011 by phanson in Tips & Tricks

60th Strat AnniversaryWhew! Been a while since my last post, I’ve been busy this month. In addition to playing guitar, I interviewed Vivian Campbell, Andy Summers, Bruce Bouillet, Steve Lukather and we just posted my interview with Rick Derringer at I also released my new album Mindscanner, it’s at CD Baby and iTunes. Check it out if you have a chance. “Mindscanner

A while back I posted “Tone is in the Ear of the Beholder.” Here’s more on that subject:

You know the song “Reelin in the Years” by Steely Dan with that amazing, classic solo played by Elliott Randall? Here’s a quick excerpt to refresh your memory: Reelin’

Guitar World is featuring this song in the upcoming August issue and it’s my job to figure out GW’s pedal and amp suggestions. Since he had such an unusual tone, I decided to contact Elliott directly and ask him what he used, this is what he wrote back.

Hi Paul,

Ah, the million dollar question  :-)

It was my 1963 Strat, w/1969 PAF humbucker (neck position), into a (long) cable, then into an Ampeg SVT turned up to 11. Absolutely no FX. No DI track, just one AKG 414 mic – placed “just right”.

To be honest, I’ve never heard a fuzz box (or overdrive box) come close to the original sound. I can get fairly close on certain smaller amps turned all the way up; it’s really about the strain on the amp’s circuits that make for the “magic”.

Let me know if there’s any more info I can give you for this.

All my best,


still reelin’

Hi Elliott,

Just so I get this right, did you use a regular 8×10 SVT cab too, and tone knobs set high also?


Hi Paul – yes, it was a stock SVT setup (found out just last month that the amp belonged to super-engineer Dennis Weinreich, who was working at Village Recorders, and who also moved to London …small world)

As for the tone settings, my usual choices are treble +7 / mid +3 or +4 / bass / +1

…Then Roger Nichols did his own personal tweaks to suit the room, and I’m afraid I never made note of that :-O



Talk about being knocked over with a feather. I’ve played with bass players who had SVT’s my whole life and it never even occurred to me to plug into one. It’s so strange. Elliott is a true thrill seeker and that’s what you need to be in your own quest for tone! Also, the performance and what and how you play is what makes it work. It’s what you do with the gear, not so much what the gear is… just thought I’d share that with ya. Keep reelin!


  1. bingefeller says:

    That’s very interesting! I always thought it was a guitar into a loud amp with a Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer as a boost.

    BTW, are you going to be posting your interviews with Steve Lukather and Bruce Bouillet online anywhere?


    • PH says:

      Almost finished editing the Bruce podcast. I’ll edit the Andy Summers next then the Steve Lukather. These podcastst are sponsored by Boss so when Boss approves we post ‘em.

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