Of all the things I’d seen at Sweetwater’s GearFest 11 one of the things that stood out the most to me was the performance of Greg Koch as he demonstrated Fender’s new line of Pawn Shop. This guy is so out there that not only is he off his rocker, but he smashes it to pieces while he rocks out, and that’s exactly what he did during his demonstration of Fender’s new line of Pawn Shop guitars through a Fender Super-Sonic Twin amp.
With three different topics to hit in one performance let’s start with the man whose hands here doing the dirty work.
Greg Koch. Why am I mentioning him first? Because he’s not a household name and as good as this guy is he really should be. Greg Koch began playing when he was a wee lad in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he also studied jazz at the state university. Over the years he’s become one of Fender’s top clinicians to go hand in hand with his band the Greg Koch Trio, which unfortunately plays mostly in Wisconsin.
I don’t think I could single one aspect of this guy out as a best characteristic. Everything about him is so well developed that if he’s great at anything it’s being himself. His erratic personality can be heard every bit as well in his playing as it can when he talks and I’ll be damned if it isn’t something to behold every second of the way. His influences bleed through in his playing, but they’re a far cry from dominating his sound. You might catch a whiff of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, or Pat Ballard in his playing, but the way he plays is all him. Long story short. If you ever get a chance to see this guy jump on it. He’s a freakin blast.
There were a few guitars that Koch had played along the way, each of which was part of Fender’s new Pawn Shop line. Within this line are three models. The Pawn Shop 51, 72, and Mustang Special. Each guitar has its own look and sound, all of which sound like they belong in the Fender family.
The Pawn Shop 51 is armed with a Texas Special single coil pickup in the neck and a Fender Enforcer humbucker at the bridge. The master volume control can be pushed and pulled to split the humbucker down to a single coil for all those wonderful single coil tones. It has an alder body and a maple neck. Curiously they’ve used a knob as a three way switch instead of a separate switch.
The Pawn Shop 72 is armed with Fender Wide Range humbucker in the neck and an Enforcer humbucker in the bridge. The body is semi-hollow alder with a stylish F hole ground right in there along with an alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard. The 72 features the same three way pickup selecting knob as the 51 has.
The Mustang Special is decked out with not one, but two Enforcer humbuckers, but has a three way toggle switch as well as a sliding switch for both pickups with a maximum of 18 different pickup settings. The body is also alder and the neck is maple with a rosewood fretboard.
The recently announced Super-Sonic tube amp he’d used was certainly versatile having all sorts of settings out the wazoo. I can’t speak from hands on experience, but a many settings as there are, the amp doesn’t look like it loses that simple plug in and start jamming effect, so you should be good to go without any diagrams like some more complicated amps out there.
The amp can switch between 25 watts and 100 watts for when you want to wake up your neighbors and when you want to wake up the whole street. The Notch Tune control gives you elbow room to shape the tone of the distortion and the nifty addition of the Automatic Bias control gives flexibility to how hard you want to push your tubes. On top of that the three way switch between normal, loose, and tight options gives an even vaster array to your tonal selection.
In summary of the Fender gear it’s very apparent that Fender knows their style and sound and they really know how to bring it out in the best ways. If you’re not a fan of that Fender specific sound then you’re probably not going to get your rocks off over their newer products, but those die hard fans will rejoice for sure if they haven’t already.