Guitars & S*#t

This is a page dedicated to my love of guitars and guitar related items.  For some reason, I was compelled to document some of the gear that has floated through my transom through the years, most of which I sincerely regret letting go….probably a big fat bore for non-players…

Mid-60s GibsonMelody Maker
An incredibly thin, light body with a fairly big and beefy neck. Not sure where I got this but it was only a couple hundred bucks (these days just the pick guards command that).  Finish showed a lot of ‘checking’ but not wholly unexpected for a nearly 50 year old bird.  Didn’t like the original pickup (think I was looking for more gain at the time) and had it swapped out…then either the shop didn’t give me that original back or I lost it.  Either way, big disappointment when I rediscovered this guitar years later.  Pretty cool axe and good shape, but sold it to buy other gear.  Wish I still had one.

Early 80s (?) Gibson “Flying V-2”

Traded to neighborhood guy for something or other, who knows what.  Gibby made some real slick looking V-2 models, high end stuff, but this seemed more a beginner’s bit.  Nice feel, fit, finish, but couldn’t keep tune for shite.  Mine also didn’t have have the slick trem unit seen here.  Wish I still had it.

Washburn “WI-66 Pro Quilt-Top”

Shit, yeah.  We’re talkin’ a top five model here folks.  About the best you can do in the $5-6 hundo range.  Nice Seymour Duncan pups, beautiful quilted maple top on mahogany body, cool Washburn “W” inlays, Buzz Feiten tuning system, WWIII resistant case, wonderful body contouring.  Humbucking tone for days, but my only grips is the “VCC” tone control system.  It was always…always…on ten.  So what’s the point?  Traded to mate J for a Strat I originally owned but had buyback rights on so I could sell the Strat and move on to yet another axe.  I believe he’s still using it to good effect.  Beautiful, beautiful guitar. Wish I still had it.

80s Era Mesa Boogie “Mark II B”

The first amp I ever spent big bucks on.  Probably a mistake as I had no idea how to make it sound good–those early Mesa’s in particular are quirky as all get out!  Also, this amp was LOUD–60 watts, but sounded more like 200.  It literally buzzed with electricity.  Seriously….like every time you touched it you felt you could be electrocuted, it was that hot.  Convinced there was something wrong with it, took it to shop and it got a clean bill of health.  Frustrated, I sold it, but since started ‘getting’ that Boogie sound…how to lay off it a bit and get that sweet sweet crunch.  All kinds of power.  I want it back.  I want the verge of electrocution.

2005 (?) Schecter TSH-1

An impulse buy, but a really fun one. Typical high quality Schecter build, thin necked, nice touches like the nice blonde binding on the ‘f hole,’ the cool pick guard, bitchin’ tailpiece, P-90 (a relative rarity for the brand).  Really, really cool guitar.  Just didn’t find it a go-to machine.  It was kind of a tweener.  So, like so many, it had to go.  Wish I had one.

70’s era Ventura “Al Caiola” Copy

A really unusual, really cool bird I picked up for a song from some cool cat who’s wife worked for NPR.  Pretty decent neck, action, feel, etc.  A little bit cheap feeling, partially because of the bolt-on neck (the Gibby’s would be set-neck of course) and the pickups were a hair muddy.  Cool, complicated looking switching system was utterly useless as only one position really sounded good.  Sold to move on still more gear.  Wish I still had it.

60’s era Teisco “V-2” (I think)

This Mosrite-knockoff (mine was Candy Apple Red) was ONE HEAVY HUNK OF WOOD. Loved the styling and the idea of the whole thing, but it was tough as hell to play, the pups were just okay, and it didn’t hold its tune very well.  The cat I bought it from also had a matching Teisco amplifier–apparently the two came as some kind of set.  They were in great shape and should never have been separated.  If I had purchased them both I’d probably still have ’em.  But as it was this was just a really, really cool novelty that I sold to get more shit.  Wish I still had it.

70’s Era Yamaha “Studio Lord SL-500”

How can you not love a guitar named “Studio Lord”? You can’t, really.  Plus, I just really dig Yamaha gear.  Top notch for the dollar, that’s for sure.  A lot of guys say these SL-500’s aren’t all that compared to the what are they 750’s?  Well I’m here to report that this felt every bit as good as nearly any Les Paul I’ve ever held, and was a fraction of the price.  Bitchin’ pickups, fairly smooth low action, just a hair sketchy on holding tune.  Don’t be fooled.  If you want a cool LP without buying an LP, this heavy duty rock machine will do you right. Wish I still had it, but…

2004 (?) Marshall “JCM TSL 122”

Can you say “OH HELL YEAH!”? Dang, this amp only did one thing well, rock f’in ass.  Clean setting pretty average, lead settings too noisy and over the top, but “Crunch”? It’s everything you ever wanted it to be.  The 2 12″ Celestion speakers just gave it…gravitas…sounded great quietly played but could light up a pretty big room..as in..light on fire.  EL34 & 12AX7 heaven. Really, really wish I had one.  Plus, it was just so nice to look it.  That beautiful Marshall logo, the classy white piping…muhfuh was tits if you know what I’s sayin’.

90’s era (?) Fender Squier Tele Mutt

I say mutt because I don’t think there were two parts on this axe that came from the original model. Well, most of the electronics were in the original body, but I definitely Frankenstein-ed it–it was a real Squier Tele body with some neck pulled out of somewhere, a Lace sensor that failed on the Strat mentioned above but screamed out of this little bastard.  In the end, Tele’s just aren’t my bag, so although I enjoyed putting it together and goofing off with it, it had to go.  Don’t miss it that much.

1982/83 Gibson Epiphone “Spirit”

Ask anyone in the know and they’ll tell you that this weren’t no Epi garbage.  This is the real Kalamazoo deal, small runs of top-quality American Epi’s that can really carry the Gibson name proudly.  Conned my Mom into buying for me (at least it was a bargain at $325) way, way back…in fact this is the only guitar that has made it from the “early days.”  Unfortunately, that shows.  I did some really foolish things–had my brother carve out a big hole for a Kahler locking trem, swapped out the pups and sold the originals, carved my nickname and band references into the wood for cripes sake, and played it so long and hard that it seriously needs a refretting.  Only guitar I’ve actually played into obsoleteness.  Sometimes I wonder what it’d cost to restore it.  Lord knows it was a pretty enough, nice enough, and punk rock enough bird to deserve it.  Oh, and this one came with the WWIV (!) resistant case.  Unbelievable! Never leaving the flock.  Never.

2005 (?) Gibson SG “Platinum” in Sunset Orange

Gibby made a small run of these in this color and then in a straight full body platinum.  Pretty straight forward SG fare–498 and 498T ‘buckers, real nice feel, little upgrades like brushed chrome Grover tuners.  I really liked it.  It looked cool and was fun to play.  Somehow seemed a little more stable and solid than some SGs too.  And I loved those platinum ‘buckers.  In time, however, it had to go.  I think I got back the 5 bones I paid for it.  Wish I still had it.

2008 (?) Schecter “Ultra III”

Dude.  Seriously.  There are two companies that deserve the attention of those who want top quality without paying for Fender or Gibson hype (not to mention Guild, Gretsch, PRS, etc.)–Washburn and Schecter.  This Ultra III–dang, what a piece.  Korean made (kudos!), this was one of the heaviest (literally) axes I’ve ever owned.  Long, expansive, relax and stretch your hand out neck, cool Bigsby licensed tremolo, & three switchable mini-humbuckers that gave a surprising array of screams and scronks.  You could even pull some Strat out of this guy!  Fit, finish, action, absolutely superb.  I hesitate to say it, but I’m going to say flawless.  Sold it before moving to Singapore.  I needed the dough.  Will miss her always.  Maybe a top fiver.

ESP/LTD EC-1000

A top level guitar I yanked out of a pawn shop–I just couldn’t resist it.  Gorgeous quilted top, nicely recessed knobs, good hardware, cool inlays. I should have loved it.  I just…didn’t.  One, I think I just don’t care at all for EMG pickups, especially these metal-focused models.  Two, it slipped tune a bit too much for such a supposedly high end instrument.  And, in the end, it just felt a hair gaudy to me.  It had to go so I could move on.

90s Era Charvel “Spectrum”

Purchased just hours before one of my band’s first shows (during which I thought it performed terribly), this turned out to be quite the interesting bird.  Wild upturned headstock, interesting pickguard, annoying Floyd Rose, active electronics…think Jeff Beck rocked one for a while.  Pulled it out of my sister’s attic and found that I quite liked it.  Very nice build quality, smooth, thin neck, held tune nicely, and sounded pretty great.  You just really had to know what you’re going for with this one–it’s not just a plug and play affair.  But kudos to Charvel. Cool axe. Charvel, then Charvel/Jackson and Jackson have put out some really great concepts and guitars over the years.  But the variance in quality and the market for cheap copies are both huge.  Beware, but be curious.  Wish I still had it.

1996 Fender “60th Anniversary Edition Stratocaster”

Made after MIM (made in Mexico) stopped being a dirty phrase, this is one heckuva an axe.  They put a little extra attention into ’em, what with the anniversary and all–such as the beautiful, thick pearl blizzard finish, a righteous thick C shaped neck, I think Tex-Mex pickups, and upgraded tuners.  I liked it quite a bit, but wanted to take it to another level.  I outfitted it with Fender locking tuners and bought a replacement pickguard with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers (a ’59 I believe, and a Pearly Gates).  Man, those pups SCREAM!  Plus, you can still yank out a nice Hendrix-ian Strat sound plus a little quack on the ‘off’ positions.  I also had the bright idea to install (myself) an LSR roller nut, and I’m pretty much a hack.  Overall, though, I got it done, and although it ain’t pretty nor perfect, it did improve the tuning stability.  Some day I might have it touched up a little.  I think the axe is worth it.  For those looking for a relatively cheap (price wise) Strat, these are a really great choice.  Still own it and plan to.

2006 (?) Epiphone “Dot 335” 

A copy of the famed Gibson ES-335, this was an extremely attractive and decent sounding axe I owned for about five minutes.  While I loved the look and general feel, there’s something about a lot of Epiphones that just feels a little chintzy to me.  Plus, the sound range was a bit more jazzy than rock-y.  Okay with it being in the hands of another.

1995 Fender “American Standard Stratocaster” 

It always seemed a bit too low gain, but as I later learned it depends on how you set it up and what you play it through.  All in all, a tremendous guitar–nice, soft, thin neck, stayed in tune nicely. Even kinda liked the sea foam green metallic finish. I once threw it about ten feet through the air in a moment of rock frenzy.  Took a couple chips out of the finish and a small hunk out of the back of the neck, but there was shockingly little damage.  I think in the end you call it “character.”  Sold to my friend J, swapped back for the Washburn mentioned above, then resold.  I own two Strats right now, both of which beat this guy out, but they really each have their own character, and yes, I do miss it.

Ampeg “Dan Armstrong AMG 1”

A gorgeous but ultimately disappointing piece of work.  Really I just wanted a piece of that Dan Armstrong legend (for those not in know, the guy designed a series of highly regarded transparent lucite guitars renowned for their unique tone & swappable or movable pickups.  Ampeg has traditionally been more of an amp manufacturer, but I spotted this guy on eBay and had to have it for $300.  Beautiful flamed top, P-90 pickups (a nice changeup) and just a really nice feel and neck, and cool looks.  Just won’t stay in tune though!  My brother read about this and I may try to swap out the bridge for better stability.  Interesting axe to be sure…

2009 (?) Gibson “SG Diablo”

Wow.  I saw this in the store, and although discounted it was way out of my price range.  Did that stop me? Nope.  The Devil made me do it.  For SG fans, this was the grail. The first ever contoured SG body. All gold hardware, killer 498 & 498T ‘buckers. It screamed both elegance and sex.  It had a certain stiffness to it to, a solidness that in my experience was unmatched in an SG.  Beautiful neck for an experienced, strong handed player. Broke my heart to sell it but I needed the dough.  Top five.

50s Era Voice of Music “VM 152”

Originally made for calling square dances or as a general PA system (you could plus in a turntable and microphone & use the speaker for both), this little 5 watt monster was a great ready made Class A guitar amp!  Cool “TV” front grill, plus it had a nifty slide out chassis with about ten feet of speaker cable so if you wanted the amp and controls nearby but the speaker elsewhere no problem.  Mine was WAY cleaner than this I found online.  Sold to move to Singapore.  Miss her badly.  Doubt I’ll ever see another in such good condition.  And for 2 bones.

1982 Yamaha “FG-345 II”

Got it for free due to strange circumstances but this is a tremendous guitar.  Yamaha really brings it in their acoustics.  I swear the woods are ‘mellowing’ nicely as well. Some fawn over these models, going so far as to call them the ‘Poorman’s Martin.’  For the couple hundred they go for, yeah, they are a steal.  Mine’s going nowhere.  A Beaut.

2008 (?) Epiphone “SG-400” Reissue

Many don’t know this, but SG’s originally carried the name of one Les Paul (he of the famed Gibson Les Paul).  I saw this and immediately loved the aged yellow finish, the original Gibson ‘diamond’ on the headstock, and the “Les Paul Deluxe” lettering on the truss rod cover.  Plus, it’s got not two but THREE humbuckers.  I was dying to hear what that would bring sonically.  In the end, however, the Epi humbuckers were muddy at best, and three just brought more mud than two.  Plus, the chintzy factor mentioned above was definitely present here.  Neat to look at but not much to play.  Don’t miss it a bit.

Kramer “Striker 300T”

The first guitar I ever owned, and truth be told I have no idea what happened to it.  Guess I probably traded it in on something else.  I don’t remember much about it, other than that it was pretty easy to learn on…thin neck, pretty playable.  But Floyd Rose complicated matters, and the Peavey Backstage Plus I was playing it through sounded basically like ass. Certainly don’t miss this one, though I’d be curious to play one again.

1997 Washburn “D-97 Limited Edition”

1,997 of them made, mine, snazzily, is number 1,500.  Picked it up in Singapore for SGD 240, and haven’t looked back.  She’s a sweetheart.  Very crisp, well defined notes without being too trebly…still has a nice low round end to balance things out.  Pretty playable and all in all a great experience.  A perfect compliment to the Yamaha FG-345–that one’s got the bigger sound strummed, the big boom, this one’s got the single note chimey quality in spades.  Said it before, and I’m going to keep saying it–Washburn = VFM (Value for Money).  Acoustics–generally great.  Electrics–generally great.  This one has some fun features like a “Limited Edition” inlay at the 17th fret, old school logo, and what appears a burned in George Washburn logo from their early days on the back of the ‘stock.  Plus, Grover tuners and good woods.

60s or 70s Era Guyatone MIJ Fender Knockoff

Obviously copying famous Fender silverface models like the champ, I picked up an amp similar to this one (can’t find the exact model anywhere!) for a couple hundo in a Philly shop.  You should have seen those old electronics going through customs!  It definitely looked a bomb (albeit a really primitive looking one!) to both the TSA guys and to myself.  Really cool, punchy Champ-like tones.  Fun little 10 or 15 watter.  Let her go when I needed the dough. Wish I had one.  Or even better, a vintage Fender Champ.

80s or 90s Era Trace Elliot “Super Tramp”

Known mostly for their excellent bass amps, Trace had a small foray into the guitar amp market.  Bought this cheap on eBay and I can say reliable, reliable, reliable.  Well built, two useable channels with good individual controls plus a nice boost on foot pedal.  Cool green Tolex.  Great amp for the house, but it really couldn’t hang with a band.  Just got lost in the mix.  I miss it aesthetically but not sonically–even for a solid state backup, a Marshall whoops it every time.

Late 80s or Early 90s Epiphone Strat Copy

Rescued from an antiques shop in Singapore, where it was rusty terribly in the swelter, I had a fun time cleaning this guy up and getting it back into playing shape.  I loved the ‘banana’ headstock–Gibson Explorer style, and am just in general kind of a Strat fan.  Didn’t prove to be much of a player though, despite its decent neck. I swapped a bunch of pickups in and out, giving it more or less bite, but ultimately parted it out using some parts for other projects and selling some parts outright.

Schecter “Omen VI”

My first Schecter.  I think I paid all of $100 for it at a pawn shop. Couldn’t have been more worth it, first because it was an extremely nice guitar to mess around on (metal-side, but bold and cool!), very comfy and well constructed, but second because it was the axe that turned me on to Schecter as a company.  I’ve never looked back.  I would consider one any day of the week–I just wish they did more in the single coil lighter sound kind of range. This one was cool though.  Simple finish, but nice recessed knobs, staggered string through back design.  Great entry to mid level instrument.

Harmony Electric–Date Completely Unknown!

Somehow I ended up owning two of these at once–can’t remember how that happened, but it’s about as simple as it gets.  What was weird is how I honestly couldn’t tell the age of the instruments, though their immaculate condition suggested they were newer era reproductions of an old school design.  Truly entry level, starter type affair.  Okay.  Kind of cool styling I thought except for that terrible awkward headstock.  Worth the $80 or so I paid for them.

2006 Schecter “30th Anniversary S-1”

One of only 100 in existence worldwide, this gorgeous piece of art is just the bee’s knees.  Beautiful quilted maple cap with very unique bevel (if you look to the left of the body in the picture, you can see the mahogany–in other words, the quilt is beveled), Seymour Duncan ’59 and Custom pickups, Schaller locking tuners, 30th anniversary engraved pickup covers and truss rod cover, coil tap, and gorgeous anniversary eagle inlay at twelfth fret.  Fit, finish, action, playability, sound, all second to none.  Unbelievable player and untouchable at $650 (NOS).  Definitely a top five guitar and not likely to ever be let go.

2010 Fender “American Deluxe Stratocaster”

Or, as I like to call it, “The Grail.” This is the guitar I picture myself playing on the porch when I’m 64. Perfect neck, built with a compound radius (only the second time Fender ever use this type of neck), thin C, newest generation N3 noiseless pickups, S-1 switching system (changes whether pups are run ‘parallel’ or ‘in series,’ effectively giving ten rather than 5 tones), Fender locking tuners, WWIII case (with TSA approved lock!), nice leather strap and Schaller straplocks included, two point trem giving greater stability than the standard Strat floater, made in USA, beveled neck joint allowing improved access to upper frets, I mean…like, what doesn’t it have?  And the mojo?  I swear it gets stronger by the day.  An amazing gift from an amazing woman.  Top One.  Here to stay.  Buy one.

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