TV Jones, Inc was formed 1993 by guitarist and luthier Thomas V. Jones in Whittier, California. Now based out of Poulsbo, Washington, the company is known for their brilliant recreations of classic Gretsch Filter’Tron pickups in the form of the TV Classic, as well as more modern variations on the theme, like the TV Classic Plus, Magna’Tron, Power’Tron, Power’Tron Plus (developed with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top) and Super’Tron. They do plenty more too: for the full range check out TVjones.com
d you get started? Did you follow the classic ‘accidentally destroy a lot of cheap guitars as a kid’ route, or more traditional luthiery?
As a kid I took my guitars apart out of curiosity. Later on I did many repairs and even attempted to build a double neck electric guitar (6 string and mandolin). Around 1990 I decided to become more serious about guitar repair and construction, so I got a job at a violin shop called The World of Strings in Long Beach, California. I worked in the guitar department for almost three years, and learned to repair and construct stringed instruments based on orchestral instruments. So I got started as a luthier.
What is it about the FilterTron tone that is so magic for you?
The growl, clarity in the bass, and compression –– it is magical.
I imagine you must have disassembled, analysed and reassembled quite a few vintage pickups over the years – what have you learned from this process? Was there as much variation between FilterTrons as there was between classic-era PAFs?
I learned that it’s not just the coils, or coils that make a great pickup, but the combination of superior materials that make a great pickup. Most vintage pickups were made with high quality materials –– that’s all there was. We choose to have our components and materials made in the USA –– the birthplace of the electric guitar pickup.
The Les Paul has been through literally hundreds of iterations over the years. The current Les Paul Standard, for instance, is a very different instrument to the Standard of the 50s. It now features a chambered body and a compound radius fretboard. By contrast, the Gibson Les Paul Traditional is more akin to what we think of when we hear ‘Les Paul.’ It has a 12″ fretboard radius and a weight relieved (not chambered) body. It’s the Les Paul for those who want a more classic guitar, inspired by the iconic LPs of the 50s but also channeled through models like the 80s/90s Les Paul Classic. When I decided I needed a Les Paul, I tested out quite a few before settling on the one I ultimately called my own. This is a review of that guitar.
The Traditional model spec calls for a one or two piece Grade A mahogany body with a maple top (about 2cm thick, certainly more than thick enough to have an impact on the tone). Available colours are Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Desert Burst, Honey Burst, Iced Tea, Light Burst, Gold Top, Ebony, Chicago Blue and Wine Red. On this particular guitar the body is made of two pieces of mahogany, joined right down the middle. The Honey Burst top is flamed maple, and while there were many perfectly book matched and frankly breathtaking tops, this particular example has a bit more character. The bass half is heavily flamed and three-dimensional while the treble side is quite different. With the pick guard on you can barely discern any flame at all. Under certain lighting conditions it’s practically plain. Remove the pick guard and there’s a little more flame visible, balancing out the mismatched effect somewhat, but there’s still a big discrepancy between the two halves. This is something you’ll often see on original 1958-1960 Les Paul Standards, so I’m quite happy to see it on this guitar, although some might consider it an imperfection.
Mr Scary. That muscly guy from Dokken. The dude with the cool kamikaze print and 3D carved skull guitars. George Lynch has been cranking out warm-toned, complex riffs and impossibly catchy-yet-flashy guitar solos for over 25 years with various bands including Lynch Mob and Lynch/Pilson, as well as eclectic solo works like his 1993 classic ‘Sacred Groove.’ Lynch was in Australia for a clinic tour in 2006 and he’s returning in December with the reactivated Lynch Mob, who are demoing a new album before George goes back to work with his other band, Souls Of We, an altogether darker project whose album ‘Let The Truth Be Known’ is out now (click here to buy it from Amazon.com).
PETER: Who is in the Lynch Mob line-up now?
LYNCH: Oni Logan is back on vocals. We have Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake) on bass and Scott Coogan on drums.
PETER: From Brides of Destruction?
LYNCH: Yeah. Scott also played with Oni in a band called Violet’s Demise, which an amazing record.
PETER: Are you guys recording anything now?
LYNCH: Yes, we have about 3/4 of the album done. We reconvene in late November to finish it, and will continue finishing it til the end of the year. But I’ve got a Souls of We record coming out, which has been five years of work. I’m not sure when that’s going to be released in Australia – actually I’m going to have to look into it. But it’s being released in Japan, the United States and Europe.
PETER: And how far along is the new Lynch Mob stuff? Do you have a label yet?
LYNCH: No, it’s too soon, we haven’t even shopped the record yet. We’re just writing songs. I don’t think these songs are even in the form they’re going to be on the record. We assumed it would be, well, we were aiming for a Wicked Sensation vibe, but I’m hestiant to say it’s more of a Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi vibe. It has elements of it, but of course it gets heavier.
PETER: What is the setlist like for these Lynch Mob gigs?
LYNCH: It’s a mix of the first Lynch Mob record, and sprinkled with a few Dokken tunes. Plus whatever we feel like jamming on that night!
LYNCH: I’ve always got stuff in the pipeline. Right now I have a weird design on the table that will probably never be produced. It’s a Lexan body with a carbon fibre exoskeleton and a throbbing rose coloured LED embedded in the body. Maybe ESP will agree to build one as a NAMM showpiece. I’m hoping. Right now the newest model that I play is the ESP GL57, a vintage-y, beat up lookin’ copy of a vintage Strat, which I had a VG control built into. It’s like an extreme rock guitar for a Stevie Ray Vaughan.
PETER: How do you go about designing a guitar with ESP?
LYNCH: I start with a sketch. I studied mechanical drawing in school and I have a small design studio. I’ll start with a freehand design then move the shape over to a graphic program like Graphite. Then eventually to a full-blown CAD program like Maxicam. I also work with luthiers and finishers on the construction and selection of the components. I’ll work with Seymour Duncan on the pickups, and a machine shop on metal parts design. I designed a custom “V” tailpiece for the high end ESP Super V, but we never finished it.
PETER: You now have a few Seymour Duncan pickups, including the new Super V. What is the creative process in making a new signature pickup?
LYNCH: We usually start with something existing. PAF always a nice start. I’m working on using different kinds of wire and windings, different gauge windings for each bobbin, different diameter and length pole piece screws, potting, etc.
PETER: What is your philosophy on distortion?
LYNCH: Less is more.
PETER: How do you generate your distortion?
PETER: Tell us about the Lynch Box amp with Randall. How does it adapt to your different musical personalities?
LYNCH: Dave Freeman, Bruce Egnator and I worked from the bottom up, designing modules that matched some of my favorite amps: early Boogie Recto’s, Marshall Plexis, Vox AC30s, etc. I started out with Randall in the very early 80′s. I worked with Gary Sunds on the RG 100. So I’ve come full circle with them by getting on board again 25 years later. We plan on re-releasing the RG 100 amp in the next couple years. It was a very unique amp with a signature sound, and it was all transistor!
CLICK HERE to buy George Lynch’s Souls of We – Let the Truth Be Known from Amazon.com
CLICK HERE to buy the Randall MTS Series Lynch Box 100W amp head with modules
CLICK HERE to buy the ESP George Lynch M-1 Tiger electric guitar
CLICK HERE to buy George Lynch: The Lost Anthology on CD from CDJapan.co.jp
Lynch Mob Australian Tour Dates December 2008
MELBOURNE – Wednesday 10 December – The Hi Fi Bar
Tickets: www.justsayrock.com.au, Metal Mayhem: (03) 9621-1666, http://www.thehifi.com.au/
SYDNEY – Thursday 11 December – The Metro Theatre (All Ages)
Tickets: www.justsayrock.com.au, http://www.themetrotheatre.com.au/
BRISBANE – Friday 12 December – The Arena
Tickets: www.justsayrock.com.au, http://www.oztix.com/, The Arena Box Office