Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I was lucky enough to see SRV in concert in August 1989, during the In Step tour. It was an outside concert on Harriet Island in St. Paul. I may have been far away from the stage, but I still fell under the magic of his music.
Which leads me to this: since SRV’s death, there have been many clones come out, like Kenny Wayne Sheppard and Corey Stevens, and probably thousands of others around the world, all brandishing Sunburst strats and wearing a hat.
This leads to severe criticism on guitar forums all over the Internet. Are these musicians original? Are they just copies of SRV, who he himself proudly admitted that he took from the people before him, and made the songs his own?
I used to think these guys were silly to try to emulate SRV. Now I think it is great, because in today’s bland music scene, they are least trying to keep this kind of music alive. SRV is not around anymore to do it, so why not all those guitarists across the world? I see it all over – particularly on YouTube - with young kids, picking up a guitar and wanting to play like SRV. How cool is that? The fact the young kids, both boys and girls, are doing this kind of music instead of listening to Hannah Montana, that Spears lady and others, is a very good thing!
Onto John Mayer: I am always amazed at how much criticism is leveled at John Mayer for daring to sound like SRV. Here is a guy who loves to play guitar and is one of the new great, young guitar players with mainstream success, bringing SRV’s style of music back into light. And all these guys do is complain about how stupid Mayer looks when he plays, or that he found success playing AOR music before going into the blues with the John Mayer Trio. We, as guitar players, should appreciate any effort that a guy like Mayer makes to keep SRV’s (and others) brand of charged-up blues rock going.
It really does not matter to me that it has all been done before. I just like the music, and how it makes me feel. I miss Stevie Ray Vaughn. But his music and spirit is alive in all of us who like to play in his style, paly his songs and learn from what he did. I suppose it is the passing down from one generation to the next. Maybe someone out there will discover a new direction to take it.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
When I plugged it in, I remember being under whelmed with the soap bar pickup. That was probably because I had never had one before. I decided it needed a humbucking pickup. I managed to find one even with my limited funds. I had no tools to get it in, though. Out comes a screwdriver, which worked well as a chisel. I made the rout just big enough. Of course, today, you would never, ever do this. Back then, it was just an 18 year old beat up SG Jr. I did not know the year of the SG, but it had to be between 1964 and 1967.
The guitar sounded great with the new pickup. I was using a Lab Series L-5 amp with it.
It was as light as a feather, and had a crude vibrato bar on it, which worked well enough. It was not meant for dive bombing, Van Halen type playing, but with a subtle touch, you could get those Allan Holdsworth styling’s.
I used the guitar for maybe two years, until GAS go a hold of me (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). I traded it for a Les Paul Custom. The original pickup went back on, and the rout was small enough to where you did not even notice that I took a screwdriver to it.
I really miss this guitar. It is the only one I ever regret getting rid of. With the damage I did to it, it may not be all that collectable, but it played great and had the true reliced look, due to years of playing and abuse by its former owner. Today, Gibson and others try to replicate that look. This one was the real deal.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The features are typical Telecaster, with a one piece maple neck with skunk stripe on the back of the neck, slotted tuners, 21 frets vintage style frets, three saddle adjustable ashtray bridge, and volume and tone controls. The neck was slightly chunky, with a laquered finish, which seems sticky to me, as someone who is used to satin finished necks. But I got over that quickly as I played this guitar through a Classic 30 amp.
The setup was great on this guitar, and finish darn near perfect. Then neck pocket was as it should be. The guitar does not weigh much at all, which is great for my old back.
All that aside, what about the guitar sound? I found that this guitar gave me the twang my Standard does not, although I am changing the pickups on that one soon. I play a lot of blues and classic rock music, and use Stratocasters, along with my Standard Telecaster. The guitar just sang and the semi-hollow body projects the sound beautifully. The neck pickup gets a smooth tone, slightly dark, if you roll off the treble. I really prefer the neck pickup on this guitar.
The bridge pickup is a little harsh, but controllable. I could see doing a pickup change someday but I don’t own this guitar, so I am only thinking out loud here.
This guitar is on my wish list, although I am really intrigued with building my own with Stew-Mac parts. I am a little wary of the small frets, and if I were to spend the money, I would want the larger frets.
However, if I never get around to building a partscaster, this one would do fine.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Early 1983 Squier Stratocasters, which were 70’s era copies, are going for over $500. A friend of mine had a black Squier strat, with a rosewood neck. He first stripped off the damaged black finish to reveal a highly figured ash body. He also installed Fender Vintage noiseless pickups. It was a fantastic guitar that was later, unfortunately, stolen. He later bought another one off of e-bay, and after keeping it a few years, sold it for over $500.
These guitars are as good as any American made Strat of that time. That is reflected on today’s market. My 1986, an E-series on the serial number, is collectable, but not nearly as the early 1970’s-style copies or the JV series.
I bought another Squier Strat in late 1987 that was made in Korea and was made to be similar to a 1957 model. It was ok and could have possibly been better if I had taken the time to fix it up.
Another friend has a 1983 Squier Telecaster, in black with a maple neck. It has the vintage styling’s, with the 3 brass saddles and small frets.
By far, it is the best Telecaster I have ever played and has the classic Tele sound. This guitar outdoes any American or Mexican Telecaster I have played in recent years. I made an attempt to get my Mexi-Telecaster to sound like that by ordering a vintage style GFS pickup. It comes close, but is not there yet.
I would seriously consider buying the new Squier Thinline Telecaster. I have always wanted a thinline and have thought about building one with parts. This is priced below $300 and looks like a great guitar. Note – link to Fender site.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
They are supporting the new release, Snakes and Arrows this time around. The three were in great form and hit the stage with "Limelight." Alex used Les Paul guitars for most of the show, with the exception of using his white 355 for the encore. I am amazed at how tight they are as a band. Many of the new songs were featured in the second half of the show. Snakes and Arrows is not a bad CD at all. I have not really listened to it much yet but my initial impressions are positive.
This guy on Harmony-Central is building a Les Paul copy by hand. He is a woodworker by trade and has the tools and expertise to pull it off.
Here is another person building pine-bodied Telecaster copies from old end tables. I would love to play one of these and really like his concept of an "organic" guitar from reclaimed wood and parts that were lying around the shop.
Gibson is finally releasing information of the routing of chambers in production Les Pauls to reduce weight. All of my now-gone Les Pauls were heavy, Norlin-era. The weight is just part the guitars charm, so to speak. Gibson claims that the chambers have very little impact on the trademark sound of a Les Paul. I recently played a new one, and it was very light. I have no opinion on what it would sound like through an amp, as I have not had the chance to hook one up. I would think that since the famous Les Paul sound is rooted in the late 50’s era, that this chambering is not a good idea. I have been reading on Fender Forum and The Gear Page that the sound is almost in ES335 territory.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I was all of 12 when I awoke at 1 am in the morning and turned on the radio to KAAY, Little Rock. From 11 pm to 6 am, the radio show "Beeker Street" was on. They played all the music you would never hear on AM radio. I awoke to the most incredible guitar playing. I did not know who it was. My brother had been listening and said that maybe it was the Allman Brothers Band. I had never heard of them, even though "Ramblin Man" was a hit at the time. Later that week, I bought the Beginnings LP, which had the first two LPs repackaged. I did not hear the song, but I still loved what I heard on the record.
I bought a $10 folk guitar from a classmate – I was in the 6th grade – and started to figure out how to play. My sister gave me a few lessons and I learned G, C, and D chords. A few weeks later, I bought the Fillmore East LP. I then heard the song – You Don’t Love Me – I had heard the part when it was just Duane playing by himself. Within a few months, I had all the Allman LPs, thanks to my mom, who was nice enough to buy them for all of about $7.00 each. By then, I was absorbing all I could from Beeker Street – Robin Trower, Hendrix, Marshall Tucker, Rush, Mahogany Rush, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Yes…the lost goes on and on. My LP collection grew quite a bit that year. I spent hours playing along with records trying to learn it all. I got a Teisco electric guitar and amp by the time I was in 7th grade, and continued to buy a new guitar every year, using my money from weeding the bean fields during the summer.
Those few moments over the Christmas holidays in 1973 changed my life. I never did really play professionally, and I can’t play at all like Duane Allman. However, it has been a lot of fun and I still love to play and listed to music of all kinds.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
The 1997 Strat got the rosewood neck. For some reason, the action is much higher and the high E string is hitting the first fret. The body on this guitar, a candy apple red, is heavy, which leads me to think that it may be ash and not alder. Fender usually does solid colors as alder so I am not sure. The sound of this guitar is very close to the 1986 Made in Japan Squier strat, i.e. very SRV like. I am not sure I really like this combo, and think that a set-up by a pro is needed. I like the action high on a few of my guitars to accomdate slide.
Over the years, I have learned to play almost all with my fingers, forgoing a pick. I saw Derek Trucks up close and finally figured out the correct way to play slide in the Duane Allman way. That changed everything for me. I get much better harmonics from my fingernails and find that that playing with dynamics is much easier. You almost feel like a part of the guitar. I mute the strings I am not playing and can move from slide to regular playing very easily, while keeping the slide on my third finger. I recommed anyone trying to learn slide to watch a clip of Derek Trucks.
I am thinking that any new guitar I get in the future will be made with parts. I want to customize a Telecaster in Surf green, rosewood neck and a humbucker in the neck spot. That would be a great combo.
After years of playing Fenders, I have found that they suit me best. A Gibson or any guitar in that scale feels strange to me. I own an Agile AL2000, a Korean made Les Paul copy bought on a $100 blowout from RondoMusic.com. They are the direct distributors of Agile and sell them without a middleman or any advertising. The prices are low for these. I have been very impressed by this guitar. As a previous owner of 4 Les Pauls, I have to say that it does not come close to one. But it will get you in the ballpark. With a few mods, it could get there.
There are very few imperfections on this guitar. The frets are perfect, the finish is spotless, and the hardware works fine. The pickups are ceramic, and will be replaced with a set of GFS Alnicos next year. The ceramics are fine, but I do like the Alnicos better. The only flaw on this guitar is on the bottom, with a few finish streaks that are barely noticeable. The body is a three piece mahogany, the top is a slab of about 1/4" maple, with a thin flame top maple laminate, which is not a photflame. This guitar works great as a slide guitar, and may be even better with the new pickups and a pro set up. Not bad at all for $100. I have not seen them go that low since December of 2005, when I got this as a christmas present.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I will be looking for places to explore the next time we travel. We have been all over the west, around the Great Lakes, and to Canada the last few years. Last year at this time, we drove out to North Dakota to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Since it was snowing, we had the place to ourselves.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Sometimes the interest goes away for a bit. I took a break from guitars from 1994-2000 when my kids were really little. I picked it up again and found I had lost some of my skills. Picks were hard to find around the house, so I started using my fingers, Jeff Beck style.