The classic Pignose 7-100 was Erik's very first amp. He got it for Christmas along with a Red Hohner electric guitar in the early 90's. It was the amp he learned to play on, however after a few years Erik upgraded to bigger amps and the Pignose sat unused in a closet, and then eventually the attic, for the better part of a decade. Only recently Erik brought it out of storage and has begun to truly appreciate what the Pignose can do. He has already begun working with it for his next record.
If you read some of the reviews on-line it seems a lot of people really don't understand how to correctly use this amp. Obviously there's no right or wrong way to use it. Opening the cabinet door alone can give you a whole range of sounds. I just think a lot of people expect this amp to be something it's not. With a huge market full of beginner amps that have multiple channels, reverb, effects and even a place to plug in your ipod, an amp with only a master volume that if you turn up all the way distorts can be a turn off.
To be honest, I had no idea how to use this amp for years, which is probably why it sat untouched for so long. It wasn't till I realized it is essentially a classic fuzz pedal, that I really got it. Just like those high end fuzz pedals with silicon or vintage germanium transistors, the trick to this amp is the volume knob and pickups on your guitar. Just crank the amp to 10 and use the volume knob pickup selection to go between those super over-driven fuzz tones to sparkling clean and chiming clean tones. Once you get that this amp really starts to come alive. It's extremely touch sensitive and reacts to your playing like some of those high end boutique amps. I really don't think this amp should ever be called a "beginner" or "practice" amp. It is the real deal and I honestly can't believe this thing sells for under a $100.
According to Pignose, EVERYBODY from Led Zeppelin, to Eric Clapton, to Warren Zevon and basically anyone who had a guitar in the 70's used this amp. I know originally Terry Kath of Chicago had a partnership with the company and if you listen to a lot of those early records you can see how that Pignose fuzz tone really fits with his playing and why he'd love the amp so much.
For me though... it is all about Frank Zappa. Supposedly he used it to record his classic albums Apostrophe and Overnite Sensation . I'm not sure if it was just on some tracks, or the whole albums. Zappa was famous for using anything and everything he could to get the tones he was looking for so there's a good chance the Pignose only made an appearance on a few tracks. The one thing I can say is that if you plug a wah pedal into a pignose and play some licks from Cosmik Debris, Dirty Love, or Zombie Woof; it is 100% clear that he used this amp on this album. The sound is pure Pignose.
This is a great video of Frank Zappa playing a Pignose live on the song "Black Napkins". Watch as he does exactly what I do in my video above. Frank starts by cranking the Pignose volume all the way up, then uses the volume knob on his guitar to first adjust it down to a clean tone, then cranks it up for more gain. As huge Zappa a fan, this video is amazing and just goes to show you what a truly professional amplifier the Pignose is. Seriously, after you watch this video, if you don't already own one Get yourself a Pignose right now! It is the best $75-$100 you can spend on an amp. Add a cocked wah and maybe a little delay and you're in Zappa guitar tone heaven.
Eric Clapton - "Motherless Children"
According to a 1976 Guitar Player intveriew with Eric Clapton, 100% of this song is Pignose. The slide guitar part is dead on Pignose.
Joe Walsh - "Rocky Mountain Way"
Not sure how much is Pignose, but the slide guitar is all Pignose.
Frank Zappa - "Zombie Woof"
You can clearly hear the Pignose at the start of the solo at 2:35
This is another one of those questions I would get a lot on my Youtube video. Obviously sound can be subjective, so instead of trying to vaguely explain it, I just made another video to show you EXACTLy how loud it is.
As it turns out, the Pignose actually has quite a big following outside of just guitar players. Great fuzz tones and a portable package apparently make it very popular with blues harmonica players.
And here's one you may not believe, but apparently my site inspired a Ukulele player to pick one up. How cool is that?
Since I originally got the Pignose back in 1990 it's taken it's fair share of abuse. After being demoted and living for years in my closet it graduated to the attic and sat untouched for over 10 years. Believe it or not, the amp you see pictured is the exact same amp I got that Christmas morning more than 2 decades ago. So obviously over time it's had it's share of bumps and bruises and required some repairs.
The most obvious addition is the input jack. Over the years it became loose broke through the cabinet. I added a washer on the outside to reinforce the jack. Also, the original speaker was punctured (by me in the mid 90's) and has since been replaced with a new pignose speaker. That's why you can see those little bumps on the front of the amp where the screws holding the new speaker push through a little bit.
Beyond that, it is entirely stock. Everything that was inside it two decades ago is still there, and it's sounding as good as the day I got it.
One thing I get a lot of questions about on my Youtube channel is how this amp compares to other mini practice amps, and to be honest, I really don't know. I'm not an amp dealer and haven't tried all the different Vox, Roland, Orange or other mini practice amps. However, I do own a Roland Micro Cube. I know what you're thinking, blasphemy. With the video and the all preceding paragraphs of praise for the Pignose 7-100, why would I dare own another small amp? The truth is, I love the Pignose. It's tiny, it sounds amazing, I love recording with it, it is a 100% a professional pro grade amp; but it really is sort of a one trick (or a few trick) pony. I picked up a Roland Micro Cube a while ago to have as my around the house noodling amplifier instead of the Pignose. It has reverb, effects, a line input for an MP3/CD player, and all sorts of different amp tones. It really is amazing little amp and the sounds it gets are really good, but unlike the Pignose, is still sounds like a beginner amp. The sounds are models of real amps, and are never quite as good as the real thing, plus there's a mild hiss and digital sound on the decay, that although isn't a big deal when messing around, simply is not acceptable for recording anything close to professional grade.
Soâ€¦ there you go, that's my opinion on the other practice amps. They're great for practice, I would have killed to have something that sounds even one tenth as good back when I started playing, but the Pignose wins the contest when it comes to an amp I'd put a microphone in front of while in the recording studio. It's simply not just a practice amp. My vote is for owning both, but I l do love the Pignose.br>