Ludovic Bors about his Fender Rhodes and Ampeg Amp + Fender Cabinet
“As a musician and a producer, my instruments and the sound they produce are the most important thing. My Fender Rhodes, a Mark I from 1975, holds a special place in my heart and my creation. I bought it when I was 22 years old, back in 1993. At this time I was into Hip Hop and Acid Jazz, digging Rare groove, Jazz Funk & Soul. I was dramatically impressed and fascinated by the sound of the Fender Rhodes...At the same period I also had a Jazz Funk band and I played in Fusion bands, producing my first Hip Hop tracks with very basic equipment.
Once, after a rehearsal, the guy who ran the studio talked to me. He was older than me and told me that he played in a prog rock band during the 70s and the 80s. He told me that he had an old Fender Rhodes that he would like to sell. It was not expensive, but I did not have enough money. I collected all my savings and asked my family if they could lend me the missing part of the total.
Two days after I bought this Fender Rhodes. I immediately fell in love with this amazing instrument. The keyboard touch was so different. I learned that it's not an easy instrument to play and it influences what you play and the way you play. I learned how to tune it and to adjust the sound of the times.
For nearly 30 years I've been using it in almost all my productions : Hip Hop, Deep House and of course Soul & Jazz Funk.
Yet there is one thing about my Rhodes that took me a long time : finding the best amp for the beast! How would I get beautiful and deep basses whilst keeping the trebles of the times. Which was the amp that would transcribe all the parts of the keyboard without emphasis on high medium frequencies. I needed an amp that would allow no less than this wide range of frequencies. A lot of people advised me to use a Roland Jazz Chorus 120. Which I tried. It was cool but it didn't reach the deepness of tubes that I heard on my favorite records. Then I tried Fender combos : vintage reverb deluxe, modern twin, bassman etc.... I still was not satisfied by the transcription of the basses. I also tried more exotic amps : Italian tube amps (GRS, FBT, Steelphon...), English amps (Wem, HH, Burns...)...
It's only this year that I finally found the perfect combination as we were on tour in Germany with Principles of Joy & Carlton Jumel Smith. We had a gig in Jena and the guys had a lot of great vintage gear. They suggested we use it on stage if we wanted. When they saw the Fender Rhodes they said: « I think we have the perfect combination for you! » I said Ok and was curious to know what they would propose.
They brought a 70s 2x15 Fender closed cabinet with a Fender Dual Showman head. I plugged the Rhodes and..... what a sound. It was the exact sound I had been looking for all these years!! After the show, as the team made it pretty clear that they were overwhelmed by their numerous pieces of gear, I asked them if they would be ok to sell it to me. How happy was I when they said ok for the cabinet even if they wouldn't sell the head also. So I bought the cabinet keeping in mind the idea of buying a Dual showman in France. Unfortunately it's not a common amp, it's expensive and rare.
Few days after we came back to France, Jérôme, the bass player of POJ, had an appointment with a guy to service his B3 organ. This guy happens to be one of the best french Rhodes tech. While talking with him Jérôme mentioned that I just bought a 70s fender cabinet, and was looking for a Dual showman head. The guy agreed that this cabinet is the best for a Fender Rhodes and that dual showman was a very good choice. But to him there was an even better combination . He invited Jérôme to his studio and showed him his own Fender Rhodes with the same cabinet. It was plugged in a 70s Ampeg v4 B.
The ampeg v4 B is not a common amp either! And it's an expensive amp too! But this time luck was with us because Jérôme actually owns an old 70s v4 b!! We just had to change the tubes which is not easy because it's military tubes, but we would handle it. And as you know, luck always knocks twice! Or is it the postman ? However, we knew someone that had some new old stock of those tubes.
Last week, I had my first gig with my Rhodes, the v4 b and the 2x15 cabinet. The sound was just perfect! Incredible! Deep basses, beautiful mediums and sweet trebles. I'm buzzing to record it.
I now truly believe that my Fender Rhodes is more than ever the keystone of my creation equipment.”
Ludovic Bors runs the french soul label Q-Sound Recordings with his wife Christelle and both do all the song writing, production, label work and everything with so much passion and heart, which you can feel in every album from the label. Ludo is also playing the flute and keys at Principles Of Joy, The Supertights and many more. Plus he is a great record collector with a huge collection of funk and soul records and he does painting and (surprise) collecting gear from the analog times of music production.
Follow his work on Instagram via @qsoundsrecording