Thursday, May 11, 2006

Instrumentally Yours

My guitars. Tools of the trade nowadays, but I have viewed my chosen instrument at times as a best friend, confessor, conversation piece, and surrogate speaking voice. I've owned many fine guitars over the years, and I miss a few of them. The '70s tobacco sunburst Les Paul that suffered a broken headstock at the hands (feet) of a lighting guy. The Gibson double neck that I took to college and used during an audition for a '50s/Elvis cover band (unsuccessfully). The Hamer that I played in my first post-high school band, "Thrust" (yes, I know...I'm pretty sure it was named after one of the controls on the then-popular video game "Joust". Really).

The guitars I have now are not particularly valuable. I like them for their practicality and the sounds they make and inspire.


The above photo shows some of my favorite guitars. Top left is a Jerry Jones Tic-Tac Longhorn Bass. The tic-tac is usually used to double an existing bass line, most often one played on an upright bass. The tic-tac adds the clicky attack to the thump of the acoustic. Listen closely to any Patsy Cline reord to hear tic-tac master Harold Bradley double bassist Bob Moore's upright. Also good for playing twangy lines like the hook in Steve Earle's "Guitar Town" or Glenn Campbell's "Witchita Lineman".

In the top middle is a 1985 Fender Esquire, made in Japan. I love the mid-80s Japanese Fenders. Fender had recently changed hands and all production came out of Japan for a while until the U.S. plant could re-open. Great stuff. I traded a G&L Tele to a guy on the internet for this guitar. I did not use it much, until I sent it to Mark Jenny, who replaced the body with a "reliced" or "faux vintage" body and finish. It looks and feels like a real '52, and even fooled Marty Stuart, who actually owns a real '52. The Esquire is my main electric guitar at the moment.

Next to the Esquire is my 1968 ES-125, modified by the fantastic Jeff Senn. I've posted about this guitar before, and after putting new strings on it this morning, I have hardly put it down today. Very unique sounding guitar, and my only one with P-90 pickups.

Bottom left is my 1985 Fender Telecaster '62 reissue, also made in Japan. I once had two of these, but this one is my favorite, even though I put two nasty gouges on the top by lifting up without the case latches being closed. Dang. Jeff Senn will eventually get this guitar, strip the poly finish and do a nice relic job on it.

Next is a Mexican made Stratocaster I bought at Guitar Heaven for $265. I added an EMG David Gilmour pickup package with treble and mid boost and it came with locking Sperzel tuning machines. I don't play Strats too much, maybe Jeff needs to turn this into a player...

Leaning against my Fender Deluxe Reverb is an old Supro lap steel. I need to get around to learning the instrument, but it sounds great.

The Cat Daddy is my L-5 George Gobel. Astounding guitar, loaned out to studios on occasion and acquired when I played with Mandy Barnett. This guitar sports flatwound strings and a wound G string, and it excels at Mel Bay-sounding chords.

Acoustics and Electrics

My favorite acoustic at the moment is the 1967 Epiphone El Dorado. It has a sweet and warm sound, is well-played and has a bit of Nashville history to it. This guitar belonged to a studio session player who used it to cut a #1 Dottie West song.

The Gibson ES-350T is up next. My very favorite guitar, I have had many offers to buy it from some pretty famous folks - Peter Frampton, for one - after they played this perfect guitar. I had it built out while I was working at Gibson. They put the Chet Atkins Bigsby vibrato unit on it at the factory and it is a gem.

Top right is an Aspen Luthier guitar made by Mandola in Finland for a Texas music conglomerate. I have it set up as a "high strung" guitar - essentially the octave set of strings from a 12-string set. This gives you an octave higher string on the E, A, D, and G strings, with the B and E remaing the same. It sounds very zingy and is great for doubling an acoustic track on a record.

Bottom left is my Danelectro Longhorn Bass. Not too bad.

Middle acoustic is my made in Japan Epiphone from about 1975. Found it in a pawn shop in Nashville. Nice guitar.

The Danelectro U1 is a single-pickup guitar that I have set up for slide. Flatwounds and high action.

The mandolin is a Lotus , also made in Japan in the '70's. Great workmanship, sounds killer. Bought at Guitar Heaven for $100.

There's a few guitars not pictured that I love, too. I play one or more of these friends every day, and it's always a pleasure.


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