Among the many and varied questions constantly arriving at the website are those which concern the equipment used by The Searchers during their current concerts. As you probably know we already have a webpage detailing the majority of guitars used throughout the passing years, in particular the iconic ones which helped form the visual image of the group during the embryonic days when it was in its infancy and the hits period when the colour and shape of a guitar was as memorable as a high cut suit or a button down shirt. I thought that it was perhaps about time we listed the hardware that delivers the sound during our shows in this new millennium.

I have actually included the currently-favoured guitars which are probably already noted in the guitars feature but in the main this is a specialist page which provides information to those 'anoraks' amongst you who wish to know the ins and outs of the amplification set-up. I imagine that field of interest is mainly with the musicians among you but I suppose there are others whose interest ventures further than the theatrical and musical side of things.

Being self contained, unlike the majority of groups of our era, we carry a full size p.a. system that can comfortably cope with almost all of the types of venues in which we perform, although in bigger halls we link into their system in order to cover the entire space with a good quality sound reproduction. On the package tour such as Sixties Gold or Solid Silver Sixties the touring company hires a large system which is used by everyone on the tour but we generally stick with our own back line (guitar amps) although the drum kit may be shared, depending on the likes and dislikes of the various players.

In the beginning the backline amps were a jumble of cobbled together home-made items that were eventually dumped in a London hotel at the first indication of success. A brand new set of Fender amplifiers similar to those supplied at the Star Club in Hamburg replaced those but soon the very distinctive Vox units became the standard and looked sharp with their black vinyl covering and gold diamond pattern speaker cloth. They were excellent for their time but electronics is an ever-changing science and as innovations and improvements were introduced the Vox amplifiers were superseded by better quality and more reliable marques. In fact a seventies set of Vox (the firm had ceased to manufacture but the brand had been resurrected) turned out to be unreliable in the extreme and better equipment was acquired.

John McNally is probably the fussiest about what amplification he uses because it takes a very robust model to handle the augmented sound of a twelve string guitar without distortion. In recent years he used an old Music Man Twin and a 30-year old Carlsboro and then acquired another Music Man 150 HD with an identical spare at hand. But at long last he has invested in a brand new Fender amp, the details of which you will find on his page of this section.

There have been many changes over the decades and the list on the following pages is restricted to the equipment in actual use at the time of writing. Of course everything is interchangeable at any time, depending on whims and reliability. No doubt it will need updating from time to time and I will do my best to keep it so. I hope this helps to answer some of your queries.

We have recently downsized our Public Address system and our equipment transport because of the legal and practical complications involved when using large vans and large heavy speakers as we have done up to now. Because of the constant high tech improvements in the audio world a much smaller system can now do a more efficient job and with greater clarity. So far it has proved a huge success, looks much smarter in the medium sized theatres in which we do most of our concerts and makes our crew's life so much easier.

Frank Allen


Click here for the Searchers Guitars page