Robin Nolan tries The Mighty Flea Battery Guitar Amplifier

Robin Nolan is a legend in the world of gypsy jazz guitar. He began his career busking on the streets of Amsterdam, and has risen to become one of the world's foremost performers and educators in the genre, with fans including the legendary George Harrison. So, who better to try The Mighty Flea, the battery operated guitar amplifier, which is perfect for busking, but also for playing bars and even concert halls? He still lives in Amsterdam, and he was kind enough to make time to try the first prototype of the amplifier.

In this video you can see that Robin is impressed by the sound, the looks, and portability of the amplifier. If anyone would recognise the perfect busking amplifier, it's him!

(By mistake - I recorded the audio for this interview with the camera's built-in mic. Because of the automatic level control and other factors, the audio, while not that bad, is not as good as it could be! Even so, you can still hear the warm, powerful sound of the amp. A link to a video with better sound is below:

(You can read and see more about The Mighty Flea by following these links:)

Our Conversation

(Daniel) I'm here in Amsterdam, with a new musical friend, Robin Nolan.

(Robin) How's it going mate, good to meet you! We literally just met.

(Daniel) Exactly! We contacted through a mutual aquaintance, and I've been telling Robin about the Mighty Flea, the battery/mains jazz amp, and Robin's been giving it a try.

(Robin) Yeah. Sounds great! You know what, just a bit of background - I grew up busking, playing on the street, and it was so useful having an amp which has batteries in, and which sounds great outdoors and indoors.

(Daniel) Especially acoustic guitar, you really need it. If you're in the street, there's traffic, and people, noisy things ...


THE SOUND

(Robin) It's kind of got that warm, vintage sound ... straight away ...

(plays some gorgeous guitar)

(Robin) ... it's just got that ... like ...

(plays the start of September Song)

(Daniel) You make it sound great!

(Robin) Actually ... yeah ... it makes you sound better actually ... it kind of gives you that ... that inspiration, that old Django vibe, you know, from ...

(Daniel) You've got this little distortion in there now, there's a switch on the back ... I'd just like to take it out ...

(Robin plays a few notes)

(Daniel) this distortion is not like fuzz distortion ... just to give that little bit of crunch because if anything, it sounds so clean.

(Robin) Yeah. That's a great addition! I think all guitarists are gonna love that ... it's nice and clear, but as soon as you add that little bit of fuzz or cream ... I think it's got, for me it's like ...

(plays the start of "Nuages" with the clean sound )

(Daniel) that's the clean sound ... and then, I'll switch it in ...

(plays the start of "Nuages" with the crunch sound, then goes into improvisation )

(Robin) Yeah, that's great. Beautiful man! Great job!


PORTABILITY, CONVENIENCE, BATTERY LIFE

(Robin) OK! and also cool - the weight of it. (Picks up the amp) One finger, I'm not that strong a guy, so that's pretty cool ... !

(Daniel) Yeah - well I think the thing is ... the music industry's changed so much ... it used to be - either we're playing in a little bar, but if you have big gigs, you had roadies ... these days everybody's ... you're going on busses, going on planes, you're jumping around the place - you wanna take something ...

(Robin) You want something practical. Also it's kind of hardy, it's got those corner things on, the material ... it'll take a few knocks, at the same time it looks kinda pretty and vintage . I think it's a great job. It's practical - you can walk out the door with it. You can carry it because it's light. You got your gig bag and you've got that. You can play anywhere. How long does the battery last, if you're doing a gig?

(Daniel) You know - (hesitates) - at least, typically, 3, 4 hours before it starts to get down ... the thing about the amp is, it's very efficient on the use of electricity, so if you're not playing loud, the battery will go on 8, 10 hours. It's really crazy.

(Robin) That's kind of handy. You're not crawling around looking for a plug. You can move. Those kind of gigs where you do a wedding - "Can you guys play over there? ... Can you move over there? ... it's like - you can just move.


THE NAME

(Robin) The Mighty Flea!

(Daniel) (laughing) You like that name!

(Robin) I like that name! It's definitely Mighty!

(Daniel) You ain't heard nothing like The Mighty Flea.

(Robin) Definitely! I can feel a song coming on!

(Daniel) (more laughing) We can make something out of that, maybe!

Summing Up

Many thanks to Robin Nolan for giving up his time to tell people about this unique new battery powered, portable, guitar amplifier!