Gear

Guitars

Like many guitarists out there, I’ve got a bunch of guitars; arguably more than I need. I’m partial to the Fender Telecaster — it is the perfect blend of form and function; simplicity and flexibility; durability and tone. But I like playing all kinds of guitars — and do! Whenever possible.

Vintage stuff is cool, but I’m more of a practical player than a collector, so I gravitate towards guitars that are reasonably affordable and playable. Also: I’m not much of a “modder,” so with the exception of maybe some new pickups or swapping out a set of tuners, most of my gear is pretty stock.

What follows is a list of my current collection of stringed instruments:

Fender Custom Classic Telecaster

Fender Custom Classic TelecasterNumero uno, mío. If I had to pare the whole kit down to one guitar, this would be it. Bone stock, it’s a Custom Shop model with a “Nocaster” bridge pickup and a Twisted Tele pickup near the neck. The neck is a “C” shape, but chunkier than any other guitar I own; it’s beefy. At first I was a bit worried about this, but now I realize it just fits perfectly. That birds-eye maple; it’s purty, too…

The control plate is reversed, meaning that the volume knob is right where your little finger can grab it without any trouble; something I prefer. In fact, I’ll probably mod my other Tele(s) with this alteration at some point.

Tones on this guitar can go from Les Paul-esque — with the neck pickup and the tone rolled back about 1/4 — to barking, to classic Tele twang. It’s got a four-position pickup switch: Neck, neck and bridge (in phase), neck and bridge (out of phase), and bridge by itself. The third position is absolutely killer; I play in that one and the aforementioned tone-roller most of the time.

2010 Fender Custom Shop “Custom Classic” Telecaster
Manufactured May 1, 2010
Corona, California
Weight 7.5 lbs
Body Premium Ash with urethane finish, 3-tone Sunburst
Neck Lightly figured C-shaped maple with polished satin urethane finish
Fretboard 9½” radius, maple
1 11/16″ nut width
Frets 22 medium jumbo frets
Tuners Fender/Schaller Deluxe staggered, cast/sealed machine heads
Neck pickup Fender Twisted Tele pickup
Bridge pickup Classic Tele pickup
Bridge Custom Classic bridge with solid-steel bridge plate, 6 chrome-plated solid milled brass saddles
Other features Reverse control plate with 4-way switch
3-ply parchment pickguard
“Nocaster” chrome dome knobs
“Top-Hat” switch tip
Schaller straplocks
Custom Shop hardshell case

“Bluegirl” Tele

1996 Fender Telecaster, "Bluegirl"A 1996 Fender American Standard Telecaster in Sonic Blue. AKA “Bluegirl.” This is the guitar I play almost as often as my number one Tele because… well… it’s a Tele, and I am admittedly swayed by a beautiful face (and a rosewood fretboard). This one doesn’t play or sound quite as nice as numero uno, but what it lacks in sonic and tactile charm, it more than makes up for in the eye-candy department.

That’s not to say it sounds bad. I’ve replaced the stock American Standard pickups with a set of Bill Lawrence Keystones. Improved tone, for sure!

The neck is slim, but very comfortable and the weight is manageable. I had her refinished in nitrocellulose laquer after an unfortunate incident with a cheapo guitar strap damaged the original finish.

“Bluegirl” Fender American Standard Telecaster
Manufactured May 1, 1996
Corona, California
Weight 8 lbs., 6 oz.
Body 2-piece alder, thin nitrocellulose finish, Sonic Blue
Neck D-shape Maple
Fretboard 9½” radius, rosewood
1 11/16″ nut width
Frets 22 medium jumbo frets
Tuners Stock American Series sealed tuners
Neck pickup Bill Lawrence Keystone (“Deluxe” version with chrome-plated cover)
Bridge pickup Bill Lawrence Keystone
Bridge Stock American Series 6-saddle bridge
Other features Schaller straplocks
“Bluegirl” decal on back is the cover art from Wink magazine, January 1947; by Peter Driben.

’57 Vintage Reissue Fender Stratocaster

Fender '57 Reissue Stratocaster

My first — and for many years, only — “real” guitar. I bought this used back in 1990 at the long-since defunct Coast Music in Laguna Hills. Guitars of this era can’t be reliably dated based on serial number, and the neck has been shimmed with a piece of paper that’s obscured the date stamp, so this one’s a bit of a mystery. Best guess is it is a mid-80’s American-made Strat.

Apparently, the person that owned it prior to me left it uncovered in the back seat of his car on a particularly scorching California summer day. As a result, the wood expanded and set all kinds of crazy cracking and finish checking into this thing. I was able to get it for a pretty good price, given the condition of the finish (ironic that, today, it would cost EXTRA for this; it’s a “relic,” after all).

Everything on this guitar is stock except the tuners, which went out a few years back. It’s also been refretted once, and the neck refinished in nitro (although it’s pretty much worn off the back by now). The neck, for what it’s worth, is skinnier than Lindsay Lohan’s ankles.

I don’t play this one as much anymore, but it does great for glassy clean stuff. especially in the “out-of-phase” in-between pickup positions. It’s the only guitar I have with a vibrato bar, as well. So it’s handy for that kind of Mark Knopfler shimmer when you need it.

’57 Vintage Reissue Fender Stratocaster
Manufactured Mid 1980’s?
Corona, California
Weight 7 lbs., 6 oz.
Body 1-piece alder, worn polyurethane finish, 2-tone Sunburst
Neck D-shape maple
Fretboard 7½” radius, maple
1 11/16″ nut width
Frets 21 vintage frets
Tuners Vintage Kluson-style tuners (replacements)
Pickups Three Fender Vintage single-coil
Bridge Fender vintage with 6 point non-locking vibrato tailpiece
Other features 1-ply white 8-screw pickguard

Gibson ES-335

Gibson ES-335Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gibson ES-335
Manufactured 2001
Memphis, Tennessee
Weight 7 lbs., 6 oz.
Body 1-piece alder, worn polyurethane finish, 2-tone Sunburst
Neck D-shape maple
Fretboard 7½” radius, maple
1 11/16″ nut width
Frets 21 vintage frets
Tuners Vintage Kluson-style tuners (replacements)
Pickups Three Fender Vintage single-coil
Bridge Fender vintage with 6 point non-locking vibrato tailpiece
Other features 1-ply white 8-screw pickguard

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
Manufactured 2001
Memphis, Tennessee
Weight 7 lbs., 6 oz.
Body 1-piece alder, worn polyurethane finish, 2-tone Sunburst
Neck D-shape maple
Fretboard 7½” radius, maple
1 11/16″ nut width
Frets 21 vintage frets
Tuners Vintage Kluson-style tuners (replacements)
Pickups Three Fender Vintage single-coil
Bridge Fender vintage with 6 point non-locking vibrato tailpiece
Other features 1-ply white 8-screw pickguard

Gibson J-45

Martin 5-16 GT

Kala Brand Concert Ukulele

Amps

I’m primarily a Fender amp guy, but I also like the sound of a Tele through a VOX amplifier. Right now I’ve got two amps, which serve a variety of purposes: primarily “larger gig, smaller gig, and practice.”

1970 Fender Deluxe Reverb “15”

1970 Fender Deluxe Reverb 15"This is an amp I bought in the early 90’s from the late Sam Hutton: One of the main cabinet-makers for Leo Fender back in the 60’s. He had an old 15″ speaker lying around that he didn’t know what to do with, so he took a Deluxe Reverb head and built a cabinet for it. As close to an authentic Fender “Deluxe 15″ as you can get, if you ask me!

I’ve since replaced the speaker with a 15” Jensen AlNiCo and it sounds great. Lots of headroom and plenty loud for any kind of gig I’d ever end up nabbing.

1970 Fender Deluxe Reverb 15
Manufactured 1970
Fullerton, California;
Cabinet built in Fullerton by Sam Hutton in the early 1990’s
Weight 55 lbs.
Channels Normal, Vibrato
Controls Normal Channel: Volume, Bass, Treble
Vibrato Channel: Volume, Bass, Treble, Reverb, Tremolo (Speed & Intensity)
Preamp tubes Four 12AX7
Output tubes Two 6V6GT
Rectifier GZ34/5AR4
Output 22 Watts RMS (at 8 ohms)
Speaker 15″ Jensen AlNiCo P15N

1973 Fender Princeton Reverb

1973 Fender Princeton ReverbI just acquired this little gem from Buffalo Brothers Guitars in Carlsbad, CA. If you had nothing but a pair of eyeballs, you’d swear this thing was brand-spankin’-new. It is — to borrow a phrase from Miles Davis — “cleaner than a broke-dick dog!”

I’ll let that one settle for a bit.

Anyway… it’s the perfect amp for most of what I do, and I suspect it will become my main mode of amplification for the foreseeable future.

1973 Fender Princeton Reverb
Manufactured 1973
Fullerton, California
Weight 30 lbs.
Controls Volume, Bass, Treble, Reverb, Tremolo (Speed & Intensity)
Preamp tubes Three 7025 (a/k/a 12AX7), one 12AT7
Output tubes Two 6V6GT, fixed-bias
Rectifier 5u4gb
Output 12 to 15 Watts RMS (at 8 ohms)
Speaker 10″ blue-label “Fender Special Design”

Effects

My Current Board

I’ve got a pretty basic setup, when it comes to pedals and signal processing. For most blues gigs, I’ll just plug into a tuner pedal and then go straight into my amp. There is a world of tones out there if you just work the knobs on your amp, and use the tone and volume controls on your guitar!

For rock-ish stuff, or for when I feel like getting “complicated,” I’ll put a small pedalboard (a PedalTrain Mini) in front of my amp.

My signal chain is very common. Many players run in this order:

Guitar >; Tuner >; Compression >; Overdrive >; Modulation >; Delay >; Amp

The specific pedals include:

BOSS TU-2 Tuner

Keeley Compressor (2-Knob)

Sparkle Drive

BOSS CE-2 Chorus/BOSS TR-2 Tremolo

I like to have some kind of modulation in my signal chain. If the amp I’m using has an onboard tremolo (my Deluxe Reverb) I’ll make it a chorus pedal. Chorus sounds great for clean tones, but I really like to add it with overdrive as well. In rock settings, it really adds to your lead tone!

The unit I have is an older BOSS CE-2. I got it for ten bucks at the Salvation Army a couple of years ago, practically new in the box, with all the papers and everything!

Otherwise, I usually keep a tremolo pedal on there. Great for rockabilly stuff, throbby cleans, and the occasional tune that absolutely requires it (playing with classic rock groups invariably gets you leaning into that CCR stuff, dunnit?). The one I have is pretty new. Nothin’ fancy.

Maxon AD-80 Analog Delay