SOS released their 14-track Strength & Conditioning album on July 26, 2014, and as the band continue to support the recording, we thought we’d check in with frontman Mike SOS to chat a bit about gear. Here’s what SOS had to say about his Sovtek MIG 100 Tube guitar head.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
SOS: Sovtek MIG 100 tube guitar head. A difficult piece of equipment to track down and obtain, as the company has discontinued making heads and has concentrated on solely making tubes for quite some time.
What about it makes it so important to you?
SOS: I bought this, alongside the matching Sovtek 4×12 cabinet (which I also still use), right before the first SOS live gig in 1995 from Big Al at Underground Studios, who at the time also worked at the Electro Harmonix shop in NYC. It has been with me ever since, and between playing in Seizure Crypt and SOS, I have played over 400 shows with it. Every NYC Marathon, every all-ages matinee, every Tompkins Square Park gig. Plus, I’ve lent it out countless times and everyone digs playing through it.
The sheer volume this piece of equipment is capable of pumping out is ridiculous, and its clean tone is by far the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. An amazing balance of power and clarity that despite a few routine trips to the workbench (and a couple of accidents along the 20 years I’ve owned it), the Sovtek MIG 100 guitar head continues to be an integral part of my rig and of the SOS sound.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
SOS: It’s my main guitar head and I used it to record all the songs on Strength & Conditioning.
What are the major pros and cons?
SOS: Pros: LOUD! Awesome clean tone. Bad-ass combination of power and presence. Cons: It is heavy as hell. Navigating it through crowded clubs and moving it around in general is not fun. The parts are easily breakable, as I’ve replaced ALL of the terribly flimsy plastic input jacks and toggle switches with metal counterparts at least once, not to mention a less-than-stellar carrying strap that hasn’t been reliable since the early 2000s.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
SOS: In place of my Sovtek MIG 100, I have another Sovtek MIG 100 that I purloined on eBay about 10 years ago when I discovered that Sovtek was no longer producing in the United States. Our guitar player Nick uses it on stage to recreate an SOS twin Sovtek assault!
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
SOS: This piece has served me amazingly for two decades through thick and thin. But in all honesty, it’s a pain in the ass to drag around. When I curse about its cons and contemplate replacing it, I quickly remind myself I’ve yet to find a guitar head with a better clean tone. Without its pristine clarity, I’d be unable to recreate the heavily effected SOS sound via the infamous SOS pedalboards of doom. I’ve had the great misfortune to had to have tested this out when the tubes blew during gigs through the years and I had to either use someone else’s equipment due to emergency or plug direct into the board. If anyone has any suggestions though, I’m down to hear them.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
SOS: If you can track one down, play through it and feel the difference. If it’s for sale, hit me up!
Check out the song “Run It Down Into The Ground” here.