Ashdown is pleased to announce that they're joining forces with Geezer Butler, to build his bass rig for Black Sabbath's 'The End' farewell tour...
And so it comes to The End: Black Sabbath's Final Tour
As most of you will be aware of, the current Black Sabbath tour, which began in January this year, is to be their last. Sad as it may sound, it'll be their most massive tour ever, and the final chapter of one of most legendary bands in Rock ’n Roll history. A fitting way to go!
“It started nearly five decades ago with a crack of thunder, a distant bell ringing and then that monstrous riff that shook the earth. The heaviest rock sound ever heard. In that moment Heavy Metal was born, created by a young band from Birmingham, England barely out of their teens. Now it ENDS, the final tour by the greatest Metal Band of all time, Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osborne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler close the final chapter in the final volume of the incredible BLACK SABBATH story. " - Black Sabbath Press Release
Ashdown & Geezer Butler Build 'The Rig Of Doom'
Ashdown are proud to be a part of such a momentous occasion in the history of such a ground-breaking band, and have joined forces with Geezer Butler to design his bass rig for Black Sabbath's farewell tour.
During the past 18 months Ashdown have been busy working on a number of new projects and custom rigs for various bass players, but none have been as exciting as this. After talking extensively with Geezer’s long standing tech, Terry Welty about Geezer’s touring needs, Ashdown had a few ideas for a solution, able to withstand the rigours of the road with some very specific features to meet his needs.
So, they got to work on a "Rig of Doom", destined for ‘The End’, and based on Ashdown's late, great friend John Entwistle’s final touring set up, with the premise to be able to separate the high and low signals to suit his current custom stage cabinets, which consists of 4 x 412’s and 4 x 215’s.
Ashdown took an original JE pre amp and came up with a few specific modifications; they needed to be able to split the signals to run 4 cabs for the full range signal into the 412’s so they modified the existing two-way crossover to a custom transformer derived crossover able to power 4 outputs to feed the two APM-1000’s that would drive his on stage 412’s.
This was also mimicked with an identical pre-amp and power amp configuration to power the Low pass signals for his 4 on stage 215’s. Geezer also needed a little more grit in his tone, so it was decided to increase the current to the pre-amps on board JJ-12-AX7 tube to give it much more of a rich harmonic distortion to suit his legendary tone.
This was quite a challenge in itself as many of the parts originally used to build Entwistle’s rig back in 2001 are no longer available. Luckily one of the Ashdown engineers had squirreled away a small reserve of parts shelved in 2002 after John’s untimely death. The result is seen below and is being used on stage for ‘The End’ tour. There needed to be two identical rigs due to the touring schedule, so in the end Ashdown built 9 custom power amps the APM-1000’s along with 4 Custom RPM-GB pre amps.
Meeting Geezer Butler
For the past 3 years Geezer has also been using an Ashdown CTM-15 drop head combos as his dressing room rig for his pre show warm up. On Thursday 18th February 2016, Ashdown flew over to Detroit to meet up with Geezer and Terry at their show to go through the rig, make a few cosmetic changes and make sure everything was working as expected. The Ashdown guys had a great day running through the rig and changing the front panels to a new custom front panel with a new two colour screen with an off white border and a Sabbath purple overlay.
It was a long day having flown over from London the day before, but Ashdown managed to get the rig built and ready before line check and sound check! Standing on stage in front of the wall of doom while it was being played really was “ground shaking and devastating” according to the Ashdown team, a huge wall of tone with “lots of low end punch and definition. And the mids and top end were clear as a bell”, one person commented.
Post sound check Ashdown got to work on the rest of the rig to make sure all was good to send on tour across the world. Show time came and the excitement in the sold out Palace Arena in Auburn Hills was out of this world as they kicked into a greatest hits set, opening with the 1970 single ‘Black Sabbath’. The band were on fine form and wonderful to see them enjoying it as much today as ever before. This show was a special one for Tony Iommi who was celebrating his ‘49th’ Birthday. Ozzy led proceedings by singing Happy Birthday and presenting him with a Birthday Cake. They went on to perform an epic two-hour set full of classics.
After the show it was time for Ashdown have a nice chat with Geezer, who was made up by the custom rig and excited to be using Ashdown on the tour. It really was an honour to shake the ‘hand of doom’ and be able to say thanks for the opportunity of working with him. As you can tell by Dan’s face, he was a little chuffed to say the least! It really does mean the world to a brand like Ashdown - a small family-run company - getting the opportunity to work with such a legendary bass player!
“This combination of amp and preamp is the closest I have found to emulate the ‘old school’ sound I had in the 70’s, with its punch and clarity it has the sound of DOOM I love” - Geezer Butler
Keep an eye out on more news from the tour as it picks up its pace late into the year!