|1961: (Age 15): Allan’s gets an acoustic guitar which Sam buys from Allan’s uncle (this guitar may actually have been (or been preceded by) his mother Vera’s acoustic Spanish guitar). It lays around for a couple years unplayed, but years later Allan begins to noodle around on it. (16, 64, 35, 27, DD)|
|Allan's father buys him an f-hole cello (arch-top) guitar (probably a Hofner President). (16)|
|1963 (Age 17): After seeing an electric guitarist in a pub, he, his father and/or a friend of theirs attaches a pickup to his f-hole cello guitar. (16, 51, 5, 67)|
|Sam's friend builds an amplifier for Allan’s guitar. Allan is intrigued by the building process and learns from observing the process. (51, 17)|
|Allan gets a 15-watt amp from his parents (possibly the same one Sam’s friend built?) which produces a nice horn-like texture when it feeds back. (34, 7)|
|Allan buys a (blue) Fender Strat, but 6 months later, in a Kitchens department store in Leeds, Allan is transfixed by a cherry red Gibson SG Standard, which he buys. A friend takes over payments on the Strat. (5, 7, 16, 51, 67).|
|1969: Allan plays his Gibson SG Standard through a Vox AC-30 amp (this SG/Vox combo is used for the ‘Igginbottom record). (7, 61) (Actually Mick Jackson remembers Allan playing Marshalls, not Voxs)|
|1969: Allan tries to play sax (as taught by the sax player from the Glen South band) and clarinet (as well as showing interest in oboe and English horn) but has health issues. Allan finds a violin in a junk shop. (17, 22, 34, 40)|
|1969-72: While with the Glen South Band, Allan somehow parts with his cherry SG Standard. His next guitar is a Hofner Colorama with a bent neck and a broken truss rod. Allan soon replaces it with a 1960s Gibson SG Custom guitar, which sounds nice but is not as well made as his previous SG (3, 5, 33). He begins using a Vox AC30 amp.|
|1972, Nov: Allan records with Tempest using a Gibson ES-335 semi-acoustic, after trying out and liking Paul Williams’ ES-335. He also plays around with an ES-175 (he doesn’t sell off the SG Custom, though). (11, 33, 51, 64b)|
|1974.07.16-18, 23-26 (CC) – Allan records “Bundles” with Soft Machine using the white Gibson SG Custom and the ES-335. He also plays acoustic and 12-string acoustic guitars.|
|1975: Allan still plays the white Gibson SG Custom with Tony Williams as well as a Small Stone (or MXR) Phaser with a Marshall stack (51, 64, 64b). The white SG Custom later gets repainted pink and then blue.|
|While Allan is “out in the country” visiting his girlfriend, he hears that his blue (previously white) SG has been mysteriously sold off to a pawn shop by Tony’s tour manager to get back his/her fee. After returning to NYC, Allan sees the guitar at a music store but can’t afford to buy it back, and so instead gets a black 1961 SG Custom with 3 pickups. (35, 62)|
|1975.07: Allan records on Tony Williams’ “Believe It!” (37) While working with engineer Bruce Botnick, Allan finds his preferred miking set up (“Neumann U87 placed between the center and the edge of the cone.”) (61)|
|1976: Allan acquires a new 1973 Fender Stratocaster, but is unhappy with the magnetic interference from the pick-ups on the strings. Nonetheless, it gets used on the 2nd Tony Williams record, “Million Dollar Legs”. (16, 64b)|
|1976, May (24-26) (CC) & June: “Velvet Darkness” is written in 2 weeks and recorded in 9 hours at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in NJ. On one track Allan uses Tony’s girlfriend Tequila’s cracked acoustic guitar. (3)|
|1976, July: Allan is forced to sell the black 1961 SG Custom in order to get enough money to fly back home to London (but with the ’73 Strat). (7, 35, 40)|
|1976-78: Back in England, Dick and Gordon Knight make a custom neck (maple with ebony fingerboard) for the $300 Strat Allan brings back from the States. He also replaces the Strat’s 3 single coil pick-ups with 2 PAF humbuckers salvaged from his previous SG Customs (center position). This guitar is used from Gong (first heard on the Gazeuse! album) thru UK, but is sold before moving to the States. (64b)
Allan also acquires 2 more guitars: one with a neck made by the Knights attached to Boogie maple bodies, fitted with Dimarzio (Gibson copy) PAF pick-ups (5, 16), and one with a Boogie Telecaster body made out of ash and fitted with a Fender Jazzmaster neck. He also owns an Ibanez cello guitar (Gibson L5 copy) and a 1938 Gibson Kalamazoo acoustic.
For lead amplification tones, he uses Marshall 50 heads with 4x12 cabinets, and for clean tones two Marshall 100s with a short Dynachord stereo delay to create a sense of subtle stereo. He also uses a Burman for lead sometimes. (11)
1977-79: With Bruford, he plays both the maple and white Knight-customized Strats and a red Gibson SG. He also adds a 50 watt Hiwatt top to his Marshall 50 and Marshall 4x12s, all with modded elements. The Vox AC-30 also makes a reappearance in 1979. (46) Effects-wise, he no longer uses a noise gate or an MXR phase shifter at this point. (3)
Chronology of Allan's Gear in the Late '70s/Early '80s
|Dynacord digital delay between clean L5 amps to give a stereo effect|
Pete Cornish custom router bay
|Lead: Hot-rodded 50W Marshall (or 50W Burman (Pro 501) custom head) w 4x12 cabs (Celestion speakers)|
Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps
1979: After Bruford (Holdsworth & Co, etc)
|(L5 amps include a built-in limiter)||Lead: Hot-rodded 50W Marshall, Hartley-Thompson transistor amp (set for 2 different lead sounds, depending on bridge/neck pickup)|
Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps, Vox AC-30, 50W Hiwatt
1980: False Alarm
Allan says his favorite guitar is now the SG...
Two volume pedals are used to control the stereo sound.
|MXR Noise Gate/Line Drivers|
2 volume pedals - a mono one for the level of the signal going to the digital delay, and a stereo one for the chording amps.
Experiments with chorus units and limiters for the chording (rhythm) channel.
1981: IOU w. Paul Williams
The Dick Knight Boogies return.
The Hartley Thompson amps are perfected.
|Dynacord digital delay (tight delay) between clean L5 amps to give a "stereo" effect|
L5's include a built-in limiter
|Lead: Hartley-Thompson transistor amp (set for 2 different lead sounds, depending on bridge/neck pickup), 2 cabs each with two Goodman GP-12 speakers|
Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps
(all amps except HT's sold to pay for mixing "I.O.U.")
Allan relies on A/DA and Yamaha delays to create spatial sound fields.
Hartley Thompsons are brought over from the UK, while Fenders are used for clean tones.
| "Just before I sold my Stratocaster, I met [Charvel luthier/designer] Grover Jackson in London. We went out for a few beers and he was willing to listen to ideas I had about certain woods, whereas a lot of other people wouldn't. They'd say 'you can't make a guitar from this wood or that wood.' But Grover listened to everything... He told me that when I came over to the States, he was going to make me a guitar. When we came to California, I didn't have a guitar (I had a guitar, but it was just a cricket bat). (Grover) made me three Strat-style guitars from various woods - the one I preferred was made from basswood. I had him make the necks wide at the top [near the headstock] like Gibsons, and about 2 1/4" wide at the body end of the neck. So that means there's a good 1/8" on either side of the outer strings, which is really nice. The strings used to really fly off the edges of the Stratocasters. We used Gibson string spacing and Seymour Duncan pickups. I'm really happy with the guitars Grover made. They're the best guitars I've ever owned." (11, 16)||Two A/DA STD-1 units (Stereo Tapped Delay, 55ms to create stereo effect, for both rhythm and lead channels)|
Korg stereo volume control between the A/DA STD and the stereo rhythm amps (controls volume of chordal channels simultaneously)
Steelmaster mono volume pedal, controls volume from rhythm guitar to the A/DA (mainly for noise reasons)
Yamaha E-1010 analog delay (for textural echo SFX)
(custom rack, see below)
|Lead: Hartley Thompson, Fender (occasionally)|
Rhythm: HT, also Fender Twin Reverbs, Fender Princeton IIs, Fender Super Champ into Yamaha 200w power amp and Marshall 4x12 cabs
1983-85: Road Games
Allan relies on the red Charvel mostly, but soon gets turned on to some Ibanez prototypes.
His delay effects become more complex, as he mixes manufacturers to get more organic mixtures.
|Four Jackson Charvel Guitars (blue one is the new addition), all w. one tone and one volume control, plus pickup selector and custom "brightness" switches.||Multiple delay lines for textural/spacial effects:|
Two A/DA STD1 (stereo delays)
Dynacord DDL 12
Yamaha E1010 (analog delay)
Scholz Rockman (on "Three Sheets to the Wind")
Two AMS units (DMX 15-805 Digital Delays?)
|Lead: 2 Hartley Thompson 100w amps (later 200w) w 4 Yamaha 4x12 cabs (mixed Yamaha and Celestion GI2 speakers)|
Rhythm: 2 Norlin Lab Series L5 100W amps, later 2 Yamaha P-2200s (200w), plus 2 Yamaha PGI pre-amps, S412 speakers
|1984: Metal Fatigue is recorded mostly with one of his Charvel Jackson guitar, using Hartley Thompson and Jim Kelly amps and harmonizers effects (on "Metal Fatigue"). This album also sees Allan trying out Kramer's new "stereo" Ripley Hex Guitar ("Panic Stations"), a Roland guitar synthesizer ("In the Mystery") and a Maccaferri (Ibanez) acoustic guitar ("Home").|
|1984-85: Ibanez begins developing guitars for Allan, eventually resulting in an Allan Holdsworth "signature model" (the AH10). Allan begins using Dan Pearce amps, as well as Jim Kelly and Sundown.|
|Allan works with Emmett Chapman on some custom Chapman stick designs (in alternate tunings).|
|1985: In early 1985, Allan gets to try out the SynthAxe MIDI-controller and falls in love with it immediately. He pairs it with Oberheim Matrix 12 synth modules, mostly.|
|1986-87: Allan begins using a breath controller to modulate the SynthAxe output. He supplements the Oberheim modules with Kurzweil Expanders.|
|1986: Allan begins using a stock Steinberger TransTrem as his main electric guitar.|
|1987: Allan begins developing some custom studio gear, including the "Juice Extractor" (a kind of line level attenuator) and a portable speaker box enclosure.|
Gear Notes for Secrets
|1991: Allan adds several Bill DeLap "piccolo and baritone" guitars to his arsenal. The 3 (semi-hollow body) baritone guitars have scale lengths of 34", 36" and 38". When these become unavailable, Allan switches to DeLap "regular scale" guitars. During this period he continues to use Boogie amps (adding the original Dual Rectifier to his modified 50 Caliber) and sometimes Norlin L5s for his clean tones.|
(to be updated as new Chapters are posted)