Hiwatt Catches up with Keith Scott
HW - Which guitarists inspired you as a young person?
KS - As a guitarist, I had many influences...of course the Beatles TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was very important, it wasn’t until later I had the urge to be more involved in learning more about guitar, plus hearing the English guitarists version of American blues was very exciting, i.e.: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor etc. were a big influence and it also re enforced the importance of the original artists. At the time my father had me listening to big band and contemporary jazz people...he loved guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Howard Roberts, so I was listening to them via my dad. Jimi Hendrix was another of the guitarists that expanded the boundaries both creatively and artistically, and that anything was possible in a recording studio...later Miles Davis and John McLaughlin were influential, as was Pat Martino too. When I started recording popular music records in the early 1980’s, I began to listen more to contemporaries such as Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour etc. anyone that would inspire me to try different styles.
HW - What led you to buying a your first Hiwatt and where did you get it?
KS - I was in the market for a new amp in around 1974 since I wasn’t totally happy with my set up at the time. I had a 1972 Marshall 50 watt head and an 8x10 tall cabinet. It was loud enough but did not have enough headroom. I toyed with the idea of a 100-watt Marshall set up though I was careful about sound level since I was mostly playing in night clubs and volume could be an issue. I went to a music store in the Toronto area where I was touring at that time, and tried 3 different set ups...a 100 watt Ampeg V4 rig, a 100 watt Marshall rig, all with 2 4x12 cabinets and they had just got these 100 watt Hiwatt rigs in. I had been interested in Hiwatt amps since seeing The who use them in the live Woodstock movie, but what interested me most was they had a built in Master Volume that actually seemed to work right. I plugged my Norlin era Les Paul Custom in and was sold. I purchased it on the spot.
HW - How do you like to use your Hiwatt i.e. What’s your favorite guitar/effect combination to use through it or has this changed over the years?
KS - I used to plug straight into the hi-gain input of the Hiwatt Custom 100 amp with my Les Paul and the built in boost circuit was usually enough gain to cover most rock sounds...the built in boost circuit was the brain child of a “Hutch” Hutchinson who did the mod for the Canadian amp market to get the Hiwatt to compete with Marshall and Ampeg, later on I decided to try a newer model Fender Stratocaster and to gain it up, I ran a Electro Harmonix LPB-1 booster into the input, that gave the rig a much hotter sound, but I ran dry into that set up for many years.
HW- What tracks/albums have you used your Hiwatt on?
KS - Early in my recording sessions with Bryan I used the Hiwatt for backing tracks.
HW - The Hiwatt tone has featured heavily in your custom-made stage amplifiers can you tell me more about those?
KS - The custom hybrid amp was the brainchild of Steve Palermo, a Hiwatt rep. on the west coast of California. Steve was offering examples of them to different guitarists that used Hiwatt rigs on stage at the time...I think Neil Schon of journey was given one as was Paul Dean of Loverboy and maybe others though I cant remember who they were. The pre amp was of a Hiwatt design, i.e.: a 100 watt head and the power section was 4 EL-84 tubes ala a VOX AC-30.the “chime” of the VOX amp was apparent but it had the extended mids of the Hiwatt preamp, matched with Celestion 25 watt 12 inch speakers did the trick...and I initially had a couple of single 12 combos and also added 2 more rack mounted amps powering 2 by 12 cabinets.
HW - Which Hiwatt Amps do you still own?
KS - I still have the 2 hybrid combo amps, though I’ve loaned one to a friend and the original 100-watt head and 4x12 cabinet with original Fane speakers that was purchased in Toronto in 1974! Plus Hiwatt gave me a lovely Custom 20 combo in white tolex a few years back and I have 50 watt Hiwatt Bulldog combo at a friend’s house in Vancouver Canada that is mine. Oh, and I also still have a nice 50 watt DR head we used a lot in the early 1990’s when we recorded with “Mutt” Lange.
HW - What do you like about the Hiwatt tone and how does this fit in with your needs as working musician?
KS - I think the Hiwatt has a very unique sound though it resembles a few examples available like Marshall and Marshall and VOX...the midrange is maybe more exaggerated with the Hiwatt than other amps.
HW - Which track is your personal favorite, which it features the Hiwatt tone?
KS - I used the Hiwatt tone on the basic track of the title song of Bryan’s record “into the fire”...I always refer to that track as being my favorite that we ever did, though it wasn’t considered the most successful track by many.
HW - Which artists are you working with at the moment?
KS - At this time I am working with another Canadian singer “Jann Arden” who is produced by my good friend Bob Rock. Jann has a new CD coming out soon and I am going to tour a bit with Bryan in Europe this summer. Bryan is also recording constantly and should have a CD out by Christmas. Last year I recorded a fair bit with Michael Buble via Bob Rock again.
HW - Which artist would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Photo: Derek Hatfield
The Keith Scott Hiwatt Collection