Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash and his Wobble Boxes

Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash and his Wobble Boxes

I spend an inordinate amount of time researching what kind of equipment players who were so skint they played whatever the could find and afford. It’s not healthy. Case in point, the delicious clangy tone that Daniel Ash got on those early Bauhaus records – not some meticulously crafted tone recipe involving sacrificial blood or eye of newt , but a Fender Telecaster through a couple pedals – a Carlsbro Flanger and Ibanez CS-505 chorus have been noted – into an HH IC100-S solid-state amp are kind of the sum of it. And a healthy dollop of genius.

Of course, most of that gear – cheap as it may have been at the time – is long discontinued and because of the players they’re associated with, have taken on mythic status. That’s not to say there’s not something special about the gear – this thread at The Gear Page theorizes there’s some specific alchemy between the input filter on the amp and the values of the tone and volume pots and caps in Ash’s 1972 Fender Telecaster that is some grade-A trainspotting, and while fun to think about, is impossible to verify.

Until recently, the most direct citation for what Ash played through was this 2017 Instagram post at his Poptone account showing a refreshingly conventional rainbow of Boss pedals, the specifics of which were annotated at Effects Bay:

Daniel Ash – POPTONE Pedal Board – Update @ Effects Bay

Though, when coupled with this interview at the Phoenix New Times where he says:

Are you a gear guy? I’ve always been curious how you got such great sounds.

Oh, god no. I’m the antithesis of a gear guy. I have no interest in it all. Having said that, I’ve caught myself recently looking at gear magazines and all the new effects pedals. But, I have stuck to my old boss pedals. That’s all I really need, and a wah-wah pedal. I’m definitely not a gear head, no.

That’s interesting to me. I’m not much of one either, but I guess I just assumed you must be.

What’s much more important than using lots of different “wobble boxes,” as I call them, is using your imagination. Having said that, I’ve got about eight pedals in front of me for the gig. They’re the same eight pedals I’ve used since 1979.

What do you like to use?

I always use a chorus at full-speed. A good old fashioned fuzz box. Boss do a great fuzz pedal. That orange one? You know it? I really don’t like the heavy metal ones. They just sound ridiculous to me. They sound like sawdust. It’s a real thin sound while this [orange] one has some balls to it.

Daniel Ash
Daniel Ash on Playing His ‘Greatest Hits’ — and Adam Ant — for Poptone @ Phoenix New Times

It’s not unreasonable to think he had some variants of those same pedals in 1979, though only the Boss DS-1 Distortion was in production at the time. The BF-2 flanger arrived in 1980, so he probably had one of those. A compact digital delay and reverb, probably not (the Boss DD-2 arrived in 1983, the RV-5 in 1987); the first Boss tremolo, the PN-2, was a ’90s model. As mentioned earlier, he probably had an Ibanez CS-505 Chorus back in the day, but it’s the same shade of blue as the Boss Chorus he uses now so that’s allowed.

In any case, he was probably being a bit disingenuous about his gear nerd-dom, being a little more forthcoming about the specifics of his equipment in a recent interview with Guitar World, including what his setup is on the 2022 Bauhaus reunion tour currently in Europe and returning to North America this Fall:

As a kid, the first guitar I got was a Tele – it was a ’72. And now I’ve got a 2012. But I got it all mirrored – the head and the body itself. And I’ve got a Fender whammy bar on it. And I did put a Sustainer unit in it for about 1,500 bucks. That’s all I need.

I just use that with my Boss pedals [which include a DS-1 Distortion, CH-1 Super Chorus, two echoes, BF-3 Flanger, TR-2 Tremolo, and TU-3 Chromatic Tuner] – which I’ve used forever. I do have an old ‘70s Carlsbro Flanger – I haven’t found any new pedals that come close to the flange on that.

Live, I use the [Dunlop Cry Baby] wah pedal that everybody uses. I actually own Hendrix’s old wah pedal – or so I’ve been told it’s Hendrix’s pedal. Somebody opened it up, looked at the wiring, and the wiring is definitely not stock. I don’t know if I have any way of proving it’s his pedal, but it definitely is more extreme than any [other] wah pedal. But I don’t use that on the road – I just use that in the studio.

And I’m just going through Marshall gear now [Daniel is unsure of the model, but says he plans on playing through a JCM800 for the upcoming Bauhaus tour]. I used to use the old HH amp tops, and I can get that with the Marshall. It’s all about the Tele. With the Telecaster, you get that cutting sound. And that’s it – that’s all I need.

Daniel Ash
Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash: “I don’t really pick out guitar players in bands – I listen to something for the whole package” @ Guitar World

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