Gear and Stuff – Part II

Where were we?

Oh yeah…gear up to 1999.

2000 and Beyond

Guitars

Well, the 1973 Strat was sold in 2004 in Los Angeles, but it was replaced in 2008-ish with another Strat. This one I took a big chance on. I ignored all my own advice and bought it on EBay on sight and specs alone. Luckily it turned out to be a real tone monster and extremely playable.

The finish on the body and the back of the neck was exquisite…but it turns out it was the result of a wood-grain design imprinted on a plastic film that was then stuck to the guitar. It was a thing Japanese Fenders were doing for a while in the 90s called “Foto-Flame”. There is an urban myth about the Japanese designer who made the wood grain design. They say he was a prankster type and that he designed the likeness of the McDonalds Hamburglar into the woodgrain design intended for the back of the neck. My guitar has it…you be the judge:

It recurs in a repeating pattern 3 times down the neck. I say it IS the Hamburglar and that is also now this Strat’s “official” name.

More recently I finally upgraded my acoustic guitar – keeping the trusty Ibanez as a backup. I got a new Martin! Everything they say about Martin guitars is true….

Oh, and my continuing amazement at the slide guitar stylings of Derek Trucks prompted me to get a used Gibson SG. I have since set it up for slide guitar (raised the action, put fatter strings on it). It was my first Gibson instrument since I sold my first bass in North Carolina in 1983!

Aaaaaand finally….the Tele! I was actually looking for a 3-pickup Tele when I found my Strat on Ebay. Susan picked the color on this one and I couldn’t be more in love with the tones it brings!

 

Basses

We still have the Fender P-Bass Lyte, but we thought we’d try a little something in the acoustic arena. I’ve tried a lot of acoustic bass guitars and I haven’t liked the tone on any of them, amplified or not. BUT!!! One time a musician friend stayed with us while on tour and passing through Knoxville and their bass player had this really cool bass ukulele and we got to try it out. It was unbelievable!

So, we got one and when plugged into an amp it sounds exactly like an upright bass. I have to say, though, it takes some getting used to. The frets are close together and the strings are rubbery. It is all worth it for the tone, though.

There it is placed up against the Martin for size reference. It appears on one recording so far and it is impressive as all get-out in my own humble opinion! Here it is:

Set Me Free by RunningWolf1989

Random other gear…

Since 2000 I’ve picked up a free mandolin and 7 harmonicas, and all that was necessary to enter the digital recording domain. But, to me, the best equipment addition in this era is the Fender Blues Junior guitar amp.

For the un-initiated, it is a “tube” amp…old-school electronics rather than solid-state components like transistors. Surprisingly loud and surprisingly clear, but with a natural overdrive that is to die for. Then for $25 I got a modification kit for it and did the work myself. Add one high-quality hemp cone speaker and I’ve got theee finest small amp in the world!

I also upgraded my homemade wooden pedal board, going pro and even getting a super-quiet power distributor and filter.

I thought a picture of the old, wooden pedal board was a better choice. Just look at that poor thing! literally half of my pedals didn’t fit on it at all. I still play all the same pedals, except the blue one ( a compressor) has since been replaced with a different blue one (a graphic EQ).

When we got the ukulele bass, we got it it’s very own amp…a tiny micro-cube amp that can run on batteries if need be. We thought in an acoustic setting, that would be the most compatible amp and it really sounds great. But now I’ve started testing it out as a studio amp for guitars and it is impressive. I get a way better sound from using a mic on the Blues Junior amp, but we have the kind of studio in which an open microphone for recording is asking for trouble. I sometimes wind up going “direct” just to eliminate noise and this micro cube amp has the best effects ever…ones I don’t have on my pedal board.

I think that’s just about it.

I’ll think up something way less boring and super-groovy for next time. In the meanwhile, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-Tom