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Studio 355 has a solid stash of classic valve amps, from Fender to Hiwatt, with Vox being Butler’s favoured brand for most of his career – he has quite a few AC30s, an AC50 head (£400 via Loot), an AC15 and an AC4.
“All my AC30s are from the Suede days and they only cost me £200 each,” Butler says. “The AC15 is very good for recording. It’s bassy, really clean – I got that on eBay. I used it on all the Duffy recordings.”
But there’s one notable new amp, a Lazy J 20, which is now Bernard’s favourite.
“Phil Harris called and said he’d found the best new amp he’d ever heard. I was fed up that every time I moved one of my lovely old things, some kind of unwanted noise spoilt things. I’d got into recording with small speakers – my Vox AC4, Gibson Skylark, Watkins Westminster, my Fender Vibro Champ – but all were decrepit. All those amps drive early without needing volume, but also have limited controls. You have to work the guitar’s tone, volume pots and pickups harder.
“The Lazy J had everything, but with its own character. Plus, it has a voltage control which acts as a master. The Normal and Bright channels affect each other’s tone, even when not in use. I asked Jesse (Hoff, Lazy J maker) to fit a spring and tremolo unit to give me my perfect portable amp. It’s my only amp for Trans. The only problem with my Lazy J [there’s a long waiting list – Ed] is how long I’ll have to wait for a backup.”