The Redmere Soloist In Use

Input from the people that owned, gigged, recorded with or made and maintained them.

After so many people took the time and trouble to get in touch (thank you to everybody), it seemed worth setting up a user page  as well as one for the technical stuff.

If you have any pictures, stories or sound files that you wouldn't mind sharing, please get in touch via the 'Contact Us' page. Nothing will get used without permission and you're welcome to send in edits or delete items later on.

Text in red italics has been added by me

CRD is me

8th December 2012, From Gary Dobbins

I had a recording studio and small instrument store in Boston in the late 70's (Crosstown Studio and The Boston Musician in Beacon Street). I bought the first three Redmere's that were sold in the US. I sold the first two and still have the last. ....We had a problem with the second one and had a repair person rebuild the unit putting in sockets for the chips to allow easy replacement and they strengthened all the rails to the circuit boards. I have lost the front grill but liked the sound better when it was off anyway. The repair person (they had a shop somewhere and I think the person had some nice Moogs at the time (that he played). He created the schematics for the unit as he fixed it. I don't know if that's where yours came from. I don't remember his name. We created a tape of the Redmere sounds for a Music convention in Boston in 79. A guy named Jack Morgan played and discussed the different sounds. Don't know where he is now. The amp still works (I just had some repairs recently (new caps etc.) The first channel was modeled after the Twin Tweed Fender (with the diagonal speakers) and I believe they used Steve Howe's. The second channel was modeled after Claptons Marshall (I believe from the Combo from the Blues Breakers era) and the third channel was modeled after the Vox AC30 (one of Brian Mays'). These bad boys were around 150 - 200 watts. The road case was always unstable because of the weight of the speakers in front. The metal was not high grade as most of it is pitted and tarnished from age The amps listed for ($)2,600. I bought each one for ($)1300 each. We also bought an Orange OMEC, the first and only completely digital (programming and circuitry of map) Orange. We could not sell it and my partner has lost it. It did not sound as good as the 16 Oranges that I bought and sold during that time period.

12th December 2012, From Gary Dobbins

......We did a very definitive tape that was to try and sell more of the Redmere's but the amp was ahead of it's time and I was somewhat sad. I also had a number of other hand made guitars that never sold (I ended up selling them for a loss). I created the Retail Instrument store and the Recording Studio as from a player's point of view but never found an audience in Boston or at least just a few that seemed to get it. By the way, I was just busting out some loud volume rock on the Redmere. I just got it back and have been testing it out. I need a couple of SADs; 512 and 1024 as the flanger and chorus are not working. I also need a 4013 to complete the job. I found a repair tech that replaced all the dried caps and the basic amp(s) sound like new. He did a great job. I'll have him finish the rest soon.

30th January 2016, From MJK

Catch up with MJ's work and music at www.mjk.asia

 

.....I eventually bought the second Redmere Soloist that came through Gary's store, The Boston Musician. It had two caps swapped in the Chorus section, and the high end was cut off until my friend Grady Moates discovered the mistake and corrected it (we had a complete set of drawings). I used to play in Jack Morgan's band and I used the Redmere onstage with Jack circa 1982.

The cool thing about the footswitch is that you could actually press two of the switches together and they would both activate and combine sounds. I used to set mine up with Position 1 as a clean Chorus, Position 2 as my main high gain sound and Position 3 as a clean Flange. That way I could add Chorus or Flange to the high gain sound by simply stepping on the centre/left or centre/right switches. So I could get five sounds instead of just three. That was particularly useful for solos, as the addition of the second sound would also increase the overall volume. In addition, there is a DI output right off the speaker line, and I used that for gigs and it sounded surprisingly good. I'm very glad to see that the Redmere hasn't been forgotton. It was quite a piece of engineering and some of my best early guitar sounds on recordings are a result of that amplifier.

 

.....btw, I not only used the Redmere live, I've also used TWO different Soloist rigs in studio sessions. the first rig I used in the studio was probably the first one sold in the store. The second one sold in the store is the one I ended up with (I'll detail that story below) - that I am positive about. It's my belief that Jack Morgan was the first US artist to record with a Redmere in the USA, and that our band "Britain" was the first US band to record with one in the USA.

 

.....our band was recording in the basement studio (called Crosstown Studio), and Jack had asked us if he could be our producer. We agreed. We had heard a lot of his own material recently recorded in the same studio, and also stuff he had previously recorded (including if i am not mistaken, that Redmere demo reel)

 

.....Jack was managed by Tom and Randall Barbera, who were also the managers of 'Til Tuesday (#). Jack and I recorded at Longview Farm (#)  together on many occasions (both in the 16 track and 24 track studios). That's where I met Jesse Henderson (#) the recording engineer (who subsequently engineered some of my first solo sessions later on) . I used the Redmere at Longview on the session work I did with Jack.

 

#Lot of very good 'Til Tuesday clips on You Tube

#Longview Farm Studios, North Brookfield, Massachusetts

#See Jesse's engineering credits at www.discogs.com/artist/365726-Jesse-Henderson-2 including sessions for Arlo Guthrie, Cat Stevens and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Now for the history, starting at the beginning.... 

1978-1979: 

We were a working road band playing covers, and we ready to cross over into recording and performing our own music. We'd written several songs 
and went to Crosstown Studio to record them along with a name change to Britain. Gary introduced us to the Redmere and we fired it up. 
Immediately, we fell in love with the sound. We used it on the first three tunes we recorded, along with an Orange combo that was also in the store. The Redmere was incredible because we were able to use it's channel switching and onboard effects to good use while recording. Not 
only did it sound excellent, the recorded sounds were astonishing. Being able to press the footswitch and change sounds also eliminated the 
need for complex overdubbing and punch-ins. Crosstown was an 8-track studio, so the Redmere was extremely useful in saving tracks, bouncing, 
etc. Our first tune had a heavy grind sound on the verses and chorus, and then a softer cleaner sound in the bridge. We used the Redmere with 
the Fender channel + Chorus effect for the clean sound, and the VOX channel for the grind sound, and did the whole song in one take, one 
track for that guitar. brilliant!

 

.....I haven't seen or heard from Gary since 1979. He is without a doubt, one of the most brilliant men I have ever known. To say that he also is generous and kindhearted would be a monumental understatement. He supported our entire band, including making sure we had food and a place to live during our recording session work. 

.....the Redmere was light-years ahead of it's time, and that kind of channel switching WITH effects was unheard of! it would be a long time before 
that kind of guitar sound control would become commonplace. 


.....I do not have copies of any of those nine songs we eventually recorded in Crosstown, but I used The Redmere on other sessions done with Gary's Studio partner David Dachinger (#) (ddmusic.com). Dave probably has copies of tunes I played on by songwriter Carl Bova (#). btw, Gary Dobbins himself cut a ripping guitar solo on one of Carl's songs with the Redmere. There is a three part harmony introduction to one of Carl's songs that I did with the Redmere and it sounds ahead of it's time. Gary wrote and recorded an album with Crystal Dowd (#) and he used the Redmere for all the guitar work.

 

(#)David's website is at www.ddmusic.com and recording credits at www.discogs.com/artist/146493-Dave-Dachinger 

(#)Very interesting interview with Carl at www.classicbands.com/DesertHighwayBandInterview.html

(#)Crystal went on to become a visual effects producer on major film productions including Titanic and The Day After Tomorrow and was a post-production coordinator on Terminator 2: Judgement Day

 
1981: 

The Britain band had broken up by now. There are surviving recordings of Britain, done in a big studio, engineered by Dave Dachinger (I have them), but we used all Orange amps on those sessions.

 

One day I walked into Pampalone's Music in Boston, and I was stunned to see a Redmere Soloist sitting there along with the other amps. I asked Ray (the boss) what the story was. He told me that someone brought it in and (as far as I can remember) traded it in for something else. I asked Ray if I could play it, and as soon as I heard it, I knew it was unit #2 because when I tapped the Chorus button, the high end cut off - which I explained in my original message. So I knew it was the one that this local guy Michael had bought back in 79. If memory serves, the price of the amp in 1979 was US$2,700.

Ray knew nothing about the amp. he said he had zero customer interest in it because no one knew anything about it and, because it was solid 
state, players shied away from it. So I asked Ray if he'd like to do a trade, and I offered him my Orange combo. He agreed. He told me later that the very next day, a British guy came in and bought the Orange on the spot. Ray was very happy because he was able to sell the Orange right away and get his money out of it - something that would be difficult to do with the Redmere. So, I took it home with me. 

I joined Jack's band shortly thereafter, and used it exclusively in all rehearsals, studio sessions and live shows, until Jack disbanded his group. I have no copies of any recordings or photos from that era, unfortunately. Ironically, Jack and I also recorded in Fleetwood Studio, where I would spend most of the 80's and 90's doing session work, and also where I kept the Redmere up until I sold it. 

1985:

 

By now I had been doing sessions at Fleetwood as a freelance engineer and producer. I kept the Redmere at the studio and every time a guitar player needed an amp, or just something different, i suggested the Redmere. It blew everyone away as soon as they heard it (for reference, this studio and I were named in SPIN magazine, October 1985 in this article: https://goo.gl/x5uXeJ). I can't tell you how many times the amp was used in sessions, but it was my go-to amp, especially when I was producing and/or playing on a session.

Eventually, I got tired of it, believe it or not, and I wanted to go back to the Orange sound. Truth-be-told, I regretted getting rid of that old black combo. It was the best amp I ever heard. But the Redmere was the second-best. I did find a brand-new Orange 80 watt head, new in the box, unopened from 1979 (believe it or not). My partner bought it on the spot. The photo shows the Orange head with a Hiwatt cabinet, being mic'd with a U-67 tube preamp mic, exactly how we did it in that studio: amp cranked to the max, mic off the floor about 1 foot, back by about 10 feet. That is exactly how I mic'd the Redmere too. The Redmere was the easiest amp to record, bar none. You basically tweaked the sound like you wanted it while playing your guitar standing in front of it, and then stuck a mic in front of it. Typically, the sound coming into the console would be uncanny, very much like what you heard in the room.

I did a few sessions where some guitar part needed to be replayed or some part dubbed quickly, or even some idea that came up while setting up a mix and there wasn't much time to set up a mic to record. So I would bring the Redmere into the control room and use the DI output and plug it directly into the console line input and record that way. The results were always surprisingly good when recorded like that.


 

I forget exactly when I sold the Redmere, but I think it was 1990. I sold the amp to a man named Paul Wheeler, a graphic artist in a big Boston ad firm. Paul did the original Cellular One logo when the company first launched. I needed him to do a logo for my "mjk" project, and I offered him some cash and the amp to do it. He accepted. Photo "Mat021.jpg" shows this logo on a floor tile, used for in-store advertising for an EP that I ended up not releasing (long story).

The last I heard from Paul Wheeler, he still had the amp. In the late 80's, I recorded Paul's band, (I was the producer) and he used the Redmere at my suggestion. that's how he fell in love with it. I'm still in contact with the band's keyboard player, and I will ask him for some audio files with Paul playing the Redmere. 

Chris, I have one more technical detail that I'd like to mention, because your readers might find this interesting. 

Often there would an audible "thump" when changing amp channels (not foot switch channels). sometimes this would present problems when 
recording if you were using the foot switch to change channels. It could be dealt with when playing live, and it wasn't a big deal really. However, I had a discussion about this thumping issue with my long-time friend Grady Moates, a prominent broadcast engineer in the Boston area:  http://loudandclean.com/   We had a full set of drawings, and Grady asked me if he could take a look at them. Within a few minutes, Grady realized that part of their approach to achieving a particular amp sound was to change the damping of the power amp section (I've never heard anyone else talk about this aspect before); 
Keep in mind that the Redmere is a modeling amp, and it makes total sense that damping factors being different for each amp being modeled, 
have to be taken into consideration when trying to replicate signal processing faithfully. The approach was good, but the execution left a bit to be desired. Grady devised a simple circuit modification that would significantly reduce the audible thump sound, but retain the damping function intact, as designed. His solution worked wonders! The amp hardly made a peep when changing amp channels! It took him less than an hour to find the problem and fix it. Grady is another amazing person that i've been fortunate to know.

That about wraps it up I think! 

6th February 2016, From CRD

Had a wander down to Chesterton Mill in the rain this morning. It's one of the early sites of PA:CE's office and workshop. Locally known (by me anyway) as French's Mill, the site has been redeveloped into a small commercial estate since those days.

The later premises in Royston and Littleport have both been demolished.

Chesterton (French's) Mill February 2016

6th February 2016, From Derek Coghill

 

 I've just acquired one of these; it's been in a friend's workshop for years along with another couple of combos. The serial number is 50041 and it's been in Edinburgh since the late 1980s at least. No footswitch though. It's an intriguing thing; it works - after a fashion - but the switches (I assume that they're supposed to work with just a touch, going by the noises I was getting?) don't all work.

.....'Helen' built quite a lot of it, by the stickers.  Started on 19/01/79.

 

The amp came from my friend Rachel, who - with her sister (Gaye) - had a band called The Twinsets (#). She says:-

 

" So I'm a bit puzzled myself. When we wanted to practice in the workshop, I asked ........... if he had any old PA stuff kicking around we could use. Mysteriously stuff appeared. This was 8 or 9 years ago tho. ..... I expect we mistreated it horribly, me and Gaye used it for vocals mostly"

 

The other two boxes visible in the photos (sitting on the back seats) are Carlsbro Cobra 90 keyboard combos.

 

Derek

 

Brilliant! ICE from the Seventies. Thanks Derek.

(#) Twinsets stories by Nick Haines at https://unclee.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/fame-part-8-the-conclusion-or-is-it/

      Search "The Twinsets" on You Tube.

Redmere Soloist  in 2CV 1
Redmere Soloist  in 2CV 2

9th February 2016, From Gary Dobbins

See the Redmere in the background. 
This is at Raji's on Sunset Blvd. Hollywood Ca. circa 1986.

The band was The Jesters of Destiny and That's Bruce Duff and Ray Violet. See facebook for more info on the band.

Fun At The Funeral by Jesters of Destiny
Jesters of Destiny In a Nostalgic Mood
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Thanks Gary.

Bruce with Vox Phantom Bass and Ray with Dan Armstrong Plexi .

www.facebook.com/JestersOfDestiny.net/

bruce and ray.jpg

11th February 2016, From CRD

Redmere Soloist From 1978

Picked up a Soloist project today from Robin at HifiWorks in Cornwall. Robin has some interesting vintage hifi equipment for sale at www.hifiworks.co.uk/

 

It's another one with no serial number or factory stickers, but the component date codes are from 1978, one of the speakers is dated Feb 1979 and the serial number is probably up in the thirties or forties.

 

 

 

I'd forgotten how incredibly big and heavy they are. The whole thing (minus front cover) weighs in at 56kg (123Ib) and the chassis on it's own is 18.6kg (41Ibs). Hats off to Derek and whoever else helped to get one into a 2CV (above).

External condition is  pretty good but the inside metalwork is completely shot and it's going to need replating and a complete rebuild. Should be interesting though. No flight case front or footswitch, unfortunately.

Incidentally, does anyone know who FLOYD was on the sticker? (and no, it's not that one). Apparently there was also a number '16' written on it which seems to have fallen off somewhere. 

26th April 2016: After a major strip down and rebuild, it's back together, working well and gone to a good home. There's no flight case front panel or footswitch (and you'll probably never find one). The chassis has been completely stripped and re-plated including the screening cans (which aren't fitted in the photographs), most of the electrolytics have been replaced and it has the original Celestion G12-80 speakers.

(Aug 2017. It's now living with it's new owner on the south coast of England)

Redmere Soloist Corrosion

21st February 2016, From CRD

Left: A link to guitar legend Hank C Burnette's "The Cat Walk" on You Tube where Hank goes into detail about his Soloist.

(If you're a rockabilly fan you can spend all day listening to hundreds of Hank's  recordings on "burnette44" - brilliant) 

No luck contacting Hank for permission to reproduce it, so click "Watch on youtube.com" to read the full story.

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Catch up with Hank on Facebook here

4th May 2016 from CRD.  May the fourth be with you all you Star Wars fans.

A big thank you to Mark Burletson from Brighton UK who's saved this sad old Soloist from the scrap heap and donated it for medical research.  It's an interesting one because it has issue two circuit boards whereas all the site drawings were from issue one. Although it looks a wreck, it's probably an easier rebuild than the one from Cornwall (see above). That one turned out to be a nightmare (worth it in the end though).

Redmere Soloist
Redmere Soloist

The chassis is from 1979. There's no footswitch (as usual), the speaker grill panel and both the internal pre-amp screens are missing, the internal wiring is scrap, the flight case front cover is there but has damaged catches and doesn't fit, the rear, drop-down panel is warped, one of the speaker cones has split and been glued back together (good solid job as it happens) and so the list goes on. Mark says that, when he picked it up originally, half a pint of brown liquid ran out from somewhere.

Speakers are the usual 2 x 12", 15ohm  Celestion G12-80s and power output should be just over 100watts into 8ohms.

It has the usual (insert name of famous musician) history attached to it but, whoever it was, they obviously weren't too fond of it. Never mind, it'll be back with us soon.

Redmere Soloist

If anybody recognises their amp from the speaker or flight case repairs please get in touch . There's another clue written on one of the flight case catches, but I've no idea what it says.

DSCN1211.JPG
Redmere Soloist Flight Case
Redmere Soloist
Redmere Soloist

Quick update: After a very long and expensive rebuild, it's up and running with a new owner. No pictures of the end result I'm afraid, but it sounds great.

July 2017. From CRD.

LEFT: A magazine advert for the 1978 Frankfurt Show. The cabinet featured isn't the one that ended up at the show (see picture below) and the chassis still didn't have the production power amp. 

RIGHT: No mention of the footswitch being an optional extra.

The MM style circular speaker covers have disappeared and been replaced by the production version black fabric grill cloth. The number of screws holding it on seems to have gone from six to ten and then back to eight

(I knew you'd be interested                          )

LEFT: The PA:CE stand at the Frankfurt Trade Show in 78. You can see a Soloist in a tall flight case with staggered speakers and two more configured as stand alone heads. The one at the back possibly has a different coloured front panel.

This photograph is from 'MM Musician and Redmere Amplification' magazine, Summer 1978, which includes two articles entitled 'Redmere Soloist, Tomorrows amp today' and 'The Redmere Story'. Very interesting. Copies of this come up on eBay now and again.

Aug 2017. From Max Green.

I have one I've had since about 1981 when my brother drove me across London to pick it up in a Hillman Imp. No idea how we managed to fit it in.

Serial no is 51049, chassis no. 2519 and kit no.1052.

Shame, but there are no photos of the trip home. Max also came up with this 1979 magazine ad.

In case you don't remember them, this is a Hillman Imp. Photo courtesy of

MartinHansV - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1129954

No, I don't know how they did it either.

More contributions always welcome.