Archive for the ‘My Guitar Collection’ Category

Guitar Collection: Back to Bass-ics

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Okay, after a long hiatus we are back to another entry in my guitar collection. As I had mentioned previously, I do not have an extensive amount of guitars,(although non guitar players always think I do when they come to the house…), but each guitar I have seems to have a story behind it or at least a place and time it makes me remember.

Up this time we are going back to Bassics. (Har Har).  Like most guitar players, I do fancy myself a part time hack bass player. I mean, shucks, you only have to play one note at a time, and its tuned just like a regular geetar. How hard can it be?  Plus those guys never seem to be without a band or a gig.  its just not fair!!

In all seriousness though, many of us guitar players end up obtaining a bass guitar somewhere along the way in our travels for a variety of reasons.  In my case I have used it mostly for recording scratch trax during songwriting before I bring someone in who really knows what they are doing and can lay that groove down like nobody’s business.   A few times I have played bass backing up either a solo musician or sitting in with a band for mostly original music projects since I have absolutely no cover song repetoire on bass.

This guitar I actually was given, for free, from a repair customer of mine probably 6 years ago or so.  Customer came in and handed me the body and neck that had virtually no hardware or electronics. He said I could probably put it to better use than him. I vaguely remember it had the pickguard, and maybe the bridge at most.   It is a Fernandes brand, but otherwise has no other markings to distinguish what model.  Well, seeing a fun assembly project, I immediately ordered all the parts online that I would need to put this badass bass together and make low end history including: tuners, pickups, and electronics.

The guitar was already routed out for a combo of the P-bass pickup in front and Jazz Bass pickup in back so I kept it that way, and added volume, tone, and a blend knob.  Although I usually NEVER put stickers on my guitars, for some reason this guitar seemed to beg for it.  So the stickers came later when I was playing in some band along the way; combo of Guns N’ Roses and Southpark.

Not much else to say about it;  does the job, I actually dig the color(maroon) and the neck is relatively straight.  Funny thing is I never did see that customer again. Oh well.

Guitar Collection: Guitar or Canoe Oar? You make the call…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Ok, this is definitely the cheapest and ugliest guitar in my collection. I make no bones about it,  and make no excuses.  It served a purpose even if it doesnt get played very often these days.   I bought this Montana Brand(mfg in Romania- hotbed of guitar making knowledge) for $90 in 2003 mainly as a travel guitar for a 5 week trip to Europe and to practice some guitar repair techniques after leaving Summit School of repair in Canada.

it started out with this horrible fretboard; no radius, aweful cheap frets and poorly painted black wood.  So the first thing I did was yank those frets out, sand in a 12″ radius, stain the light wood a cherry color and refret.  Then I installed that Select single coil pickup I bought for cheap from Stew Mac along with a volume knob. 

After that the guitar at least played a little better. I had to stick with acoustic strings as electric strings pulled the intonation out really bad.   I brought the guitar back to the shop where I bought it, and the salesman there was impressed and a bit jealous.  He had the same guitar setup with a pickup for slide but it wasnt nearly as nice as this one.

Turns out this guitar, although it still sounds like crap acoustically, sounds REALLY  good plugged into an overdriven amp, tuned to open D and played with a slide.   It has the electric sound with a nice hint of air to it, but doesn’t feed back.   So that is primarily what i use if for anymore.

Guitar Collection: Bottleneck Blues Baby

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Yet another guitar in my meager collection, this one has the main distinction of being the the first brand new guitar I have bought in a long, long time. I bought it just last year in 2010.  For some reason I am usually drawn more to used guitars(better price, already dings so I don’t have to be careful, who knows?)

I have messed around with electric slide guitar for a few years and had done some on my regular acoustic, but I finally wanted to delve a bit further into that true delta blues sound, and get a real resonator guitar; mess with some open tunings.  Frankly I just wasnt ready for that metal National or Dobro tone just yet, and I finally stumbled onto this Fender model.  Since they are not the most played guitar I could not find a used one.  I finally just bought in new after searching for a few months.

I have not been disappointed.  It is not as loud or metallic as the above referenced guitars, but it is still PLENTY loud.  Plus the combo of wood body with that resonator, I thing, just rounds the tone out nicely.  The guitar also has a telecaster style pickup and under saddle pickup both of which you can blend together.  So it really makes for a great recording and live gig instrument.  It is Chinese mfg but its been very reliable, great tone, and good looking finish.  Definitely gets some looks when somone comes to the house.

 

About slides themselves,  like everything there are far too many  shapes, materials, sizes  of slides on the market to test every one of them, unless you just plunk down about $400 and order them all at one time.  After a few years of trying a few different ones, and asking questions of some great local  slide players here is what I prefer to use, for the time being.  Again, this can always change.  Right now I love using the brass slide on the left for acoustic and resonator slide.  The extra weight feels great, and it has a slight curve to it so its easier to play 5 strings at a time without fretting out. The Dunlop slide on the right, the glass one, is my go to for electric work.  Just the opposite I like that its very lightweight and short. That way I can fly around more for single note solos or riffs higher up on the guitar neck.  The one in the middle is this ceramic slight I bought at the NAMM 2010 show.  To be honest I like it less than the other two but sometimes it has just a different vibe that sounds cool, so I let it stick around.   Last but not least, I wear the slide on my pinky finger. Again, everyone seems to learn it differently but I like being able to make chords with the other three fingers still if need be. 

Guitar Collection: Rockabilly Heaven

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Next up in my personal guitar collection is this model 77 DeArmond guitar that I bought sometime around 2004 when I joined a rockabilly/roots style band. I was looking for a guitar with attitude and a Bigsby tremolo, but I didn’t want to break the bank at the time.

I had done some heavy internet research, priced a few out, and had even tried some semi hollowbody guitars like a Guild for example. Then I stumbled upon this brand, which was owned by Fender at the time.  This model in particular got great reviews and folks on forums had good things to say.   The guitar is made in Korea, but has American made DeArmond pickups just like the ones they used to use in Gretsch guitar. It had the Bigsby and is also chambered to keep the weight down and add resonance. 

So I called up some guitar stores, and lo and behold, Fender had discontinued the whole DeArmond line.  A Sam Ash store way out in Ontario(Inland Empire) was the only one with any stock left; they had 6, AND they were blowing them out at only $267/each instead of the original $600 price.  I hightailed over there the same day to check these guitars out.  When I got there they had this Orange one and a few of the Gold Top ones left. 

The guitar was alright, felt like it needed a setup bad, but for the money it was mine. I kept thinking maybe I should just buy a couple more and sell them at some point. In retrospect I should have, could have made some good money.  There isnt a guitar in that price range that can sound like this guitar, and I have run into some folks since who love this guitar.  Oh well, opportunities lost.  At least I got this one, and its a prized possession of mine, and a staple in my guitar collection. 

Those pickups and that Bigsby capture the blues/roots/rockabilly tone SPOT ON.  The pickups are more of a single coil sound with sizzle;  no heavy rock or metal here, but it will get to ACDC territory if pushed.  Plus I just love the Burnt Orange translucent stained look of the front of the guitar, reminds me of an old Gretsch too.  I would say this guitar is modeled for the most part on a Duo Jet.

I did eventually get crazy and customized the electronics and added the cool cat dice knobs. They were not stock. Basically the guitar originally had two volume and two tone knobs. Being a strat player mostly I am used to just one volume knob, so….I rewired the guitar to have one master volume, one tone, and added a Seymour Duncan boost switch with gain knob.  Now its a real rock n roll machine!!

Guitar Collection: Seagull Acoustic

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Next up in my guitar collection is another old friend who has seen the miles,  taken some hits and dings, and hung in there.  it is a Canadian made Seagull model 6. This guitar was bought new in August 1991 along with another electric guitar to celebrate getting a new job.  Actually it was to also celebrate leaving the previous job, where I couldn’t stand my boss.   The guitar was a mid-level priced guitar at the time, around $500 as I recall.  It has an older LR Baggs saddle transducer and built in side pre-amp with EQ and Volume control.  The top had a thin satin finish of some sort that hasnt worn well. The sides and back were also a satin finish but harder material and have worn better.  It wasnt fancy looking even new with a thin brown binding strip around the top and no binding around the back of the guitar.  I was living in Cleveland Heights at the time, but went back to my favorite small music store nearby where I had taken guitar lessons in high school. 

This guitar has been my one and only true acoustic that whole time, and so its gotten ALOT of playing time on it.  If you notice the top of the guitar has quite a bit of wear and one of these days I might just put a whole new top on it if the wood ever wears through.  Otherwise its been refretted once, has had a few string nuts, and a replacement transducer for the original, which of course crapped out during a short gig.

One thing I have to say is that this guitar has just bloomed over the years and has developed a really good sound over time.  I have had friends play it and even remark on its tone. I think that just comes from the wood aging, getting played alot, and a good setup.

New Series: My Guitar Collection. First Up…Gibson SG

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

I am starting a new series of blogs that will appear at random times to showcase my small but spirited guitar collection.   It will give me a chance to share with you what I play,  and share some stories at the same time.  Seems like each guitar I have has a story attached, some interesting some more mundane, but even so each guitar seems to remind me of an era or place in my life.   Hopefully by reading this you too will look at your guitar collection, big or small, and see what each guitar reminds you of: a place, a time, a band, a romance, or just plain stupidity.  

First up is my beloved 1984 sunburst Gibson SG.   I had just recently bought my first electric guitar and amp(Ampeg 50 V3 50 watt tube amp), with my own money, at the local music store where I took lessons in high school in Solon, Ohio.  Well, I walked into the store one evening, saw this guitar, and it was all over. I was immediatly scrambing to figure out how to pay for it.

  Part of the attraction was that I had seen pictures of Robbie Krieger from the Doors and Pete Townsend from the Who playing an SG at various times. I loved both those bands.   The other part of it was that this was just a damn good looking guitar and had that Gibson name on it.  Funny thing is that at that time Gibson actually did not have the best name in the music business having fallen on hard times.  Plus the hair metal band style of playing (wammy bar dives, finger tapping, sweep picking)  and guitars were sweeping the music scene with everyone buying Charvel, Jackson, Ibanez, BC Rich and other new brands.  A Floyd Rose tremolo was pretty much required hardware.  Even at that age I was more of a rock purist and felt there was nothing equal to a Gibson or Fender, and my playing stye gravitated much more towards the classic rock sound and bands. 

So, after begging the store owner for about a week, he finally took my recent guitar purchase back on a trade-in with significant depreciation of course, and another $310 on top of that and I had my SG.  To this day I have not seen another SG with this sunburst finish.  Most all of them seem to be more solid reds, blacks and white color.  I played it regularly until i got to college and picked up strats.  It has the lowest frets I have ever seen, and so I eventually set it up for playing slide guitar, which it is perfect for.   As a consequence there is very little fret wear even 27 years later.  

The guitar is in great shape in general, a few annoying dings and a bunch of belt marks in the back before I knew what I was doing, but otherwise its all original.  I almost never take it out of the house. I know its not “vintage” but it probably will be someday with the price of real vintage guitars.  Plus I just like to keep the wear and tear down on this baby.   It feels like this guitar has been with me forever.  Just about has.