Ask Taff

As part of our Taff Haddock month 14th April - 14th May 2006 we are asking Taff to contribute to a special question and answer session about being a roadie.  As you will know Taff has been a roadie for the whole of Adelangsts career, and before that he worked with Jim Brodies former outfit Skid Dogs.  He is currently celebrating 30 years of being a professional roadie.  Taff has trouble reading, so Muriel his long term partner read these questions to him and Taff responded into a tape recorder.  His responses are provided below.  If you have any other questions for Taff please send them to us for our Question and Answer next session with him soon.  Note that Jim or Moritz do not necessarily endorse or agree with Taff's opinions. Also, don't blame us for the language.

NB: the picture of Taff shown here is a jolly old one before the woolly hat and beer gut set in, but this is the only one he'd give us!

Jeff Randal (Texas)
Taff, congratulations on 30 years of being a roadie.  Can you give us any stories from the halcyon years of Adelangst? 

What the fuck does Halcyon mean.  Look I'm a roadie, don't give me all this posh Shakespeare shit.  Next.

Mark Delalee (Israel)
I heard that you prefer to use 3" grade cables for the preamp connections whilst on stage, but not for connections that go directly to the stage monitor.  Why is this?  My own experience is that 3" can only work effectively over fairly short distances and can start to interfere with recording responses and produce unwanted impedance fluctuations, which can then possibly filter out to the main mixer.

I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.  Get a life. We have a box labelled "Jack cables" and we just use them, although I've no idea who Jack actually was.

Pauline Simons (Gravesend)
Did you know about Moritz's special relationship with his amps and speakers?  Did this start on the early tours or was it just later on that his attentions were made clear to you?

Fuck no, it didn't come as any surprise to me.  At first Moritz used to ask us for a practice amp in his hotel room each night, but as the band progressed and got bigger so did his errrm demands in this way.  In the end we had to put a full 4 stack backline is his bedroom to cope with this appetite for things, well, electrical.  Of course we all thought he was practicing his guitar at the time, which is probably why he was shit hot on stage, but eventually we got a few clues, like finding holes in the speaker cloth in odd places and the like. 

Xiago Chi (China)
Is any of the songs re-recorded and just mimed on stage?

Oh, fuck off.  Next.

Peter Iransham (Norway)
We went to see you on the classic 1984 tour.  When you played Amsterdam we managed to hitch our way down a few days before and got into the MusicHall venue for the rehearsal.  At one stage we noticed that Jim Brodie and yourselves appeared to be having an argument about something and there were quite some raised voices, but we couldn't tell what was going on.  Can you tell us now?

What?  Can you remember exactly what you were saying 21 years ago you prat.  Fuck off.

Sian Thomas (Bristol)
I've noticed that roadies these days don't seem to have such large beer bellies as you guys did in the 70's and 80's.  Why not?

A good question.  There are alot of fucking nancy boys involved these days who are recruited in large numbers from mainly eastern Europe.  They really care for their bodies and exercise and watch what they eat, and so on.  I think they are ruining the whole image.  I mean, what's next?  Is Lemmy going to start dressing smartly and drinking Pimss?  It's just not rock'n'roll.  I still have a 46 inch tummy and I'm proud of it.  I've got a pint of lager by me right now and a packet of Malboro's.  Never did me any harm, it's just part of the roadies uniform, you know.

Sheila Twang (Melbourne)
Did you ever get fed up of people shouting "Wally"?

Yeah, mainly because for most of the time with Jim and Moritz's outfit I worked with Wally Blackshaw.  He was a bit of a head case even before he joined us, having spent some time in a errrm home for head cases.  I think he suffered from some kind of paranoid affliction, mentally.  Anyway you can imagine how this effected him whilst trying to setup on stage.  There he is trying to tape down some cables or something in front of the audience before the band came on, and people are shouting "Wally" and Wally keeps turning around and saying "yeh?" and then more of the audience join in.  In the end it just got too much for him and he had to quit.  I think he's still around somewhere near Hastings, probably still hearing people shouting Wally, the fuck.

Charles Farrar (New York)
What kind of Gaffer tape do you prefer to use?.

At last a decent technical question.  I don't really like the modern duck tapes that are available, I prefer just ordinary black, but some bloody techy management gurus want you to put different colours in different areas to signify certain things.  Like I'd have to do purple for Moritz and Red for Jim, or something like that. . You spend most of your time looking at a fucking key to who gets what colour, rather than just getting on with the job.  Also the width is important.  I prefer 3" duck rather than 1.5", which I refer to as Fuck Duck, coz it's fucking crap, Can't hold anything with 1.5", no way. 

Duck tape is amazing. I tell you, once we lost the whole bloody drum riser, it just vanished off the truck.  Steele Stem wouldn't play on the floor where no-one could see him, so we used. lightweight plastic rods covered in stock foam and wrapped it up with silver duck tape to construct a drum riser there and then.  It lasted most of the set before Steele started tilting badly to the right, and then eventually on the first encore, completely collapsed ontop of Jims backline.  God that was wonderful!

Bunk Arken (Philadelphia)
I noticed on my Marshall 150 watt head that it has two positions for impedance: 6(12) & 3. What does the 6(12) mean? A good friend of mine told me that in this position, it understands what kind of cabinet (either 6 or
12) ohms that it is plugged into it. What is your take on this?

I think the "friend" who told this to you has no idea whatsoever. Don't ask such idiotic questions in future. Plug in and play, that's my motto!

Reg Wtzlee (Boston)
About the action and strings on my Fender Ritchie Sambora Signature - the string height at the 13th fret is a little lower than I'm used to - maybe a 38th of a inch or so. Taff, I'd just like to hear about your philosophy concerning the setting of the action.

Just play the damm thing! All this nonsense about messing about with the action. Who cares? If you're any good you could play anything. Get a fucking life!

Irlek Burnlta (Tunisia)
I've been playing for 3 years and I've heard of pinch harmonics and I dont know what they are, but when I bought my new Gibson SG, the guy was playing it for me and made incredible sounds with his little finger as he picked;
how do I do this in reality? Whats the purpose of this and is that what pinch harmonics are?

I was once accosted in a bar in Greenville, South Carolina by 2 women desperate to meet Jim and Moritz. One proceeded to pinch my bottom. That's about my only experience of pinching that I can recall.

Klbirla Zygoatz (Serbia)
I have just purchased a  D.E. Poor Witch (silver series) and I want to put really fine strings on, for example 03-20. What do I have to do to my guitar. I'm not sure if its a floyed tulip or not, but the strings go through the bridge and not through the guitar. What do I need to do?

Get a life, that's my piece of advise. What are you talking about? Buy a guitar, plug it in to a decent amp and play. You are a very sad person

Jo Jones (New York)
Taff, in your opinion, can I put a Floyd Tulip Tremolo on a bronze witch? If so, does it have to be a particular one?
Yes, one that preferably works.

Just do it, and don't waste your or my time asking me such nonsense

Yling Xiaogz (China)
I'm in a 5 piece band that playes a few small venues, local to where I live. I use a X-Box dxmg and a line 6 Insect 3 012 amp which provides a total of 7 watts. Whenever I want to use distortion at the high volume level needed, I
just get an unwanted screeching feedback; why is that? the only way to eliminate it is to turn the amp down, and then its quite hard to make out what I'm playing over the other band members. Also, the other guitarist uses a Roost 100 combo and he uses distortion from a Zoom multi-effect pedal attachment and has no trouble with feedback. Taff, please, please help me?

Sack the other guitarist, if I were you. He seems to me to be a total flash git with the best gear but no ability to play through it (you can't beat Roost and Zoom in my opinion!). 7 watts does seem a bit tinny to me; I would recommend for club gigs that you have a minimum of 15 watts available

Jeff Randall (Surrey)
What is the difference in tone between a Roost 150 watt head with the standard speakers and a Marshall 150 watt head with Celestion Pink Alnico Speakers?

Errr, one sounds great and the other sounds fucking awful

Mark Delatree (Weston Super Mare)
Are the Engl Classic amps made in England?
No, France.  Prat.
Joanna Cox (Bedford)
Are the covers available for my Fender 25 watt practise amp?
Ask fucking Fender, why ask me?
Vicky Smith (Halifax)
What is the difference in tone between the Rickenbacker low gain and contemporary pickups?
You'll find they both sound exactly the same. Just play the guitar and get a fucking life
Jonathan Broadhead (Brighton)
How should I use the standby switch on my Roost Custom Shop Head? I need to know in which sequence to power on and off. Currently, I power on with the standby set so that no sound comes out of the speaker until I press standby. I power off in the opposite manner. In your opinion, is this correct?

Plug the fucking lead into the guitar, take the out-lead from your effects box, plug it into the amp, switch it on and start playing. What is your problem?

Rudi Pom Pilli (Ontario)
I have a Marshall 900 Dual Reverb Combo and I see that it is powered with EL-39's rather than the seemingly-more-common 6114's. Do you know why?

No, I don't know why!  Dick.

From Wayne Lord (Rochdale)
Taff, regarding gaffer tape, do you always use  the brand Permacel P-665. I’ve heard  it's the rock band industry tape. My band “The Zeippals” has a roadie that really likes using a different type of tape, P-672.  Trouble is, it is about double the price of P-665, but he says that it is weatherproof, twice as thick, and the adhesive designed for low temperatures.  Why do you think this would be important for us?  Should we get him to revert back to P – 665?

Well, P-665 is easy to rip with your hands yet very strong. The adhesive is also designed to not rip off paint. Once we stuck one of the smaller speaker stacks on a venue wall and left it sit for the whole day under a kilowatt of light a few inches away. The next day it peeled right off leaving the paint on and no adhesive residue.  Fantastic!  Back in the 70’s it would have pulled half the plaster off the wall.  Anyway, P-665 is good enough for me, so tell your roadie to stop being such a fucking arse and go back to the P-665

From Emily Fedoseev (Brazil)
Is it true that you were a Roadie for Judas Priest in the late 70's. If so, did you also roadie for them at Donnington in 1980? I keep hearing rumours that some film exists of Judas Priest from Donnington but I have been unable to source any so far.

Yeah, I was at Donnington 1980. When Rob came on stage, astride his enormous Harley Davidson it was an incredible sight. I've got some 8mm film of the event, plus some backstage film with April Wine, the Priest guys and Rainbow, but nothing to write home about. The quality is a bit poor, but give me your details and I'll get some of it to you on disk.