Over the years, I've spent... well... a lot of money on instruments and equipment. When the collector in me meets up with an area as expensive as guitars, it can get ugly. Here, you will find a summary of my current rig along with some of the pieces I plan to procure in the near future. Music runs in my family. My father has played guitar since childhood. My mother and sister have both played for as long as I've been alive at least. I've been playing since junior high, and I can't think of a more worthwhile way to spend my time. Click here to see a picture of my father, some uncles, and myself engaging in the family tradition circa 1982. I'd be the littlest one.


Mystery Classical
Year: 1982?
Color: Unknown Wood Grain
Name: Wonderbat
Added: 1982?

So the story goes that when my sister was about 8, Mom and Dad decided it was time for her to get her first guitar. They went to a store (which no one can remember now) and found a rack of about 20 of these things, all basically identical. But no two guitars are exactly alike, so Dad actually pulled all of them off the rack, played each, and picked the best one. The one that had the best tone and intonation. It was my sister's for many years, and at some point in her college days, she passed it down to me. There is no label or other distinguishing features on the little fella. So essentially, none of us know who made it or where we got it. But I'll be damned if it still doesn't hold intonation perfectly. It sounds like a million bucks, and everyone who picks it up agrees it's about the easiest playing guitar you could want. Dad used it for a while, too. I play it nightly as I fall asleep. In terms of return on investment, this thing trumps everything else on this page.



Epiphone Casino
Year: 2000
Color: Turquoise
Name: The Graduate
Added: 2002
Mods: Gibson P-90s w/ Retrofitted Nickel Covers
Schaller Roller Bridge
Bigsby B-7
1956 "Duane Eddy" Style Bigsby Handle
Gotoh Locking "Green Key" Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I got this fine guitar as a graduation gift from my family. I'd had my eye on a turquoise Casino for about five years at that point... truly the "dream guitar" of my youth. In fairness, I was attracted to its aesthetics really -- I didn't have the experience at the time to know what else to look for in a guitar. But I learned. It's a full hollow-body with a brilliant jangle. And to this day, it's the most beautiful guitar I've ever seen. The Epiphone Casino was first made famous by the Beatles when John, Paul, and George each bought one in 1964. Another interesting note is that Johnny Marr's famous tremolo riff (the hook and calling card of The Smiths' biggest hit "How Soon Is Now?") was recorded with his Casino.



Epiphone FlameKat *SOLD*
Year: 2003
Color: Ebony w/ Flames
Name: Le Baron II
Added: 2003
Sold: 2008
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

When I finally bought a new car, it was time to retire my faithful 1990 Chrysler Le Baron. I originally planned to sell him for low blue book, which would bring in almost enough to cover the cost of a new FlameKat (hence this guitar's sobriquet). It later occurred to me that my old car would be better off being donated to charity, and if you know me at all, you know that my good ol' Le Baron soon became the legal property of PETA. So I was left with no money earmarked to for the FlameKat. But I bought it anyways. I figured it was a nice way to reward myself for being such a stand-up guy. Anyways, I don't need to tell you what drew me to it. It looks as hot as can be... flame design, dice knobs, etc. It's got a pair of mini-humbuckers that give it a nice bite.

UPDATE: As it turns out, I never really played this guy much. Once I hit my stride guitar-wise, the over-the-top styling was a little much for me. I found a good home for him with a guy who needed a FlameKat to round out a trio with his AlleyKat and WildKat.



Martin Concert Orchestra Model (O-18)
Year: 1927
Color: Unknown Wood Grain
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2004

This is a family heirloom. It's a guitar my grandfather bought which was handed down to me by way of my father. It would require thousands of dollars to restore it to playable condition, so for now it is just stored in a humidified case. But technically, it is part of the collection, so here it is.



Epiphone Dot Studio *SOLD*
Year: 2004
Color: Ice Blue
Name: The Janglebeast
Added: 2004
Sold: 2009
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Black)

To be honest with you, I never really intended to get this guitar. When I was in the process of deciding between a Jazzmaster and a Jaguar (see below), I happened to come across it in a guitar store, and I just instantly dug it. It's not particularly fancy... just a standard archtop with no frills. But it's the only axe I've ever seen with that 60's-era Batman blue. All the trim is black. It looked too cool to pass up, and it was a steal. So, Dot, welcome to the family! Besides, I needed a guitar to keep in constant Nashville tuning. And so was born "The Janglebeast."

UPDATE: As part of my changing attitudes about guitar collecting, this was the first to get the old heave-ho. It's a fine guitar, but I ended up with that Gibson 335 was my main axe for a long time. With the exception of one stage performance of "I Won't Share You," the Janglebeast never got the attention it deserved. After a brief residency with Dad, this guitar landed in the hands of Sus' cousin Kaitlin, whose music career was just getting started. Hope she remembers us little people when she's on MTV!



Fender Reissue '62 Jaguar
Year: 2004 (1962)
Color: Surf Green
Name: "Cheeky" Roberts
Added: 2004
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Nickel)

As long as I've played guitar, I've snubbed Fender guitars. They make great amps, but every Fender guitar I'd seen or played looked boring and felt cheap. I was quite happy with this opinion until one day, out of the blue, I was struck with a sudden desire to get an old classic Jazzmaster. These guitars were originally created with the intent of dominating the high-end jazz guitar market. In that regard, they were a total failure. But for whatever reason, they became the quintessential surf rock guitar of the early 60's. Truly, just about every surf band used them. To capitalize on this craze, Fender released a surf-slanted brother called the "Jaguar." After much consideration, I finally chose the Jaguar over the Jazzmaster. It's Surf Green, which is, incidentally, my favorite color, and I'm thinking about switching in a black pickguard... a sort of mint chip ice cream type theme. Anyways, a Fender has joined the family in the name of perfecting an authentic surf sound. I still hate Stratocasters.



Gretsch Chet Atkins Nashville (6120BS)
Year: 2004
Color: Blue Sunburst
Name: His Highness
Added: 2005
Mods: T.V. Jones T.V. Classic Pickups
Tru-Arc BR-120 Bridge
1956 "Duane Eddy" Style Bigsby Handle
Grover Locking Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Gold)

I'd had my eye on a Gretsch for a while, and I figured I'd start with their flagship Chet Atkins "Nashville" model. It's your standard issue rockabilly guitar, with proponents like Brian Setzer, Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, The Reverend Horton Heat, and on and on. And even Johnny Marr had one he loved. Most commonly, you see these in that hideous Gretsch orange finish, and sorry if this is heresy, but I am not a fan. I don't want to play an ugly guitar in public, no matter how good it sounds. But digging a little deeper, I found this ghostly blue sunburst design, with that maple grain flaming through, and I got the last push I needed to get one. And so now I got one.



Epiphone ES-295 *SOLD*
Year: 2005 (1952)
Color: Metallic Gold
Name: n/a
Added: 2005
Sold: 2007

The Gretsch Nashville is a fine guitar, but it's got the newer Filtertron pickups, and I was thinking I needed something with a little more twang (i.e. single-coils). This here is Epiphone's version of the famous 1952 Gibson ES-295 a.k.a. Scotty Moore's guitar during Elvis' Sun sessions. A couple of P-90s and a full hollow body make this an ideal axe for authentic Sun-style rockabilly. As you can see, it's got a beautiful gold top and a jazzy Florentine cutaway (as opposed to Venetian).

UPDATE: I had been looking at putting one of those big 9.5" Bigsby handles on it too, "Swingmaster" style. I never got around to it, and in fact I never really did much with this guy at all. Selling him only made sense, and he went to a good home with a gigging rockabilly band. I'm sure he's happier now that he's actually seeing some stage time and getting the love he deserves. And I guess if I ever really get the itch to have an ES-295 again, I'll probably just track down a genuine Gibson.



Squier Bullet *SOLD*
Year: 2005
Color: Daphne Blue
Name: The Ghettar
Added: 2005
Sold: 2007

On the road in Phoenix a while back, I was in desperate need of a way to work some stuff out on a guitar, as well as just practice in general. I'd been threatening to get a "travel guitar" for years, and so here I finally did. I checked out some 3/4-scale models at a local shop, but I wasn't impressed. And they were still big enough that I'd have to count them as a third (and thus checked) piece of luggage during anyway. So I just went with a cheap-o full-sized electric that I wouldn't need to worry about getting lost or damaged. This Squier Bullet (read: knock-off Fender Stratocaster) suits my needs for the road, but it ain't no dinner thing. For a long time, I didn't even list it on this page. I know that at first glance it looks as though I've violated my "no Strat" policy, but believe that this is certainly not part of the official rotation. If there had been a rugged solid-body for under $100 that was not a Strat style, I'd have bought that one. Ghetto + guitar = "Ghettar." But don't think I don't still pay a price. Every time I walk through an airport with it, people in the know look at me and assume I'm one of a billion nameless Strat players. As if.

UPDATE: When I got off the road, I had no more use for this thing, so I gave it to Dad thinking he could get some use out of it. To my dismay, he loved it so much, he went out and bought himself a fancy new Fender Strat... and then passed the Ghettar onto an uncle! The curse of the Strat continues to spread! Ghettar, I should have killed you when I had the chance!



Fender Telecaster (Lite Ash)
Year: 2004
Color: Vintage White
Name: El Twango
Added: 2005
Mods: Fender Locking Tuners (Chrome)
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)
"Ashtray" Bridge Cover
TK Smith Custom Bakelite Armrest

So I got another Fender. Damn it. My anti-Fender bias isn't working out so well, is it? I needed a plain old versatile solid-body electric, and a Tele seemed like the natural choice. The classic all-purpose working man's guitar. And twang city, which I was sorely in need of. This "Lite Ash" edition features a lightweight ash body (more my speed given my penchant for hollow and semi-hollow archtops). Seymour Duncan pickups. A bizarre Birdseye maple neck for personality. And of course, no Telecaster would be complete without a classic "ashtray" bridge cover (so named because often times musicians hated it and instead used it as an ashtray). But it definitely took some getting used to. Telecasters really cut through the mix and have a drastically different tonal quality than most of the guitars I typically use. I had a hard time dialing in a good sound, and as such, El Twango was banished to guitar collection purgatory. Not sold off, but not played regularly either.

He remained dormant there for years, waiting, dreaming, until I eventually found that with care and practice, I could tame that savage treble. When controlled, he's a great fit for early Smiths tunes, and I can absolutely nail that Alessandroni-esque razor wire spaghetti western tone (although he reportedly used a Strat himself). I'm always trying to balance his serious bite without decapitating the audience. Just the same, I rock him with a red strap -- stained with the blood of the non-believers, you know. And now I happily hang out with my twang out.

OK, so Fenders have grown on me. A little. But I would like to restate: no Stratocasters. Ever.



Epiphone Casino *SOLD*
Year: 1999
Color: Turquoise
Name: Tiffany
Added: 2006
Sold: 2009
Mods: Gibson P-90s w/ Retrofitted Nickel Covers
Bigsby B-7
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

"But wait a minute, didn't you already list your Casino?" Well, yes... I listed the first one of them. It's complicated. This is what I'm talking about with Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I'm so in love with my first Casino that when I saw this mint condition Casino, also in turquoise (which they no longer make), my OCD took over, and I decided I needed a backup in case anything ever happened to The Graduate. Plus I put a Bigsby on this one, so it's not exactly the same. Don't judge.

UPDATE: In some ways, it was a hard decision to let this one go. After all, we're talking about the twin sister of my #1 guitar. This is one half of "The Twins." This is TCB history. This is the ultimate symbol of my guitar collecting excess: a guitar identical to one I already had! But that's what made it somewhat easier to let go. In my old age, I've recognized the absurdity of that. And while I'm glad to have pictures of the time when "The Twins" ruled the stage (ha!), those days are gone. I'm a different person now, with a different perspective. I'm happy to say this guitar went to a local band that is sure to get some use out of it, and the experimental part-swapping I did on it led to the mods I ended up making to The Graduate. R.I.P. Twins, 2006-2009.



Ovation Celebrity (CC15)
Year: Unknown
Color: Wood Grain
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2006

This 12-string beauty was passed down to me from my bandmate, Peter Weldon (formerly the other "Marr" in This Charming Band, and famed guitarist in the 90's band The Rosemarys). Now, its history is understandably hazy, and you need only look at its worn and sticker-covered case to know how much Peter loved this guy. My first foray into the land of 12-string acoustics comes courtesy of Peter's generosity. Thank you so much, brudder!



Gretsch Nashville (6120DE)
Year: 1999
Color: Ebony Burst
Name: Denial
Added: 2006
Mods: Gotoh Locking Tuners (Custom Made)
Schaller Strap Locks (Gold)
Pinned Bridge

This beautiful Duane Eddy signature has several unique features worth mentioning including a pair of DeArmond DynaSonic single-coil pickups, a roller bridge, and a brass nut. The pickups are sparkling bright, and the Bigsby is as smooth as they come. I particularly dig the ebony burst finish which still lets some of the wood grain show through. It ends up looking like it was made of water-damaged or dead wood. Along with a mix of gold and chrome hardware, I look at this guitar and I think "silent movie" and "evil zombie cowboy." It's my main guitar with The Rumble Strippers, and along with the rest of my current rig, it produces my favorite tones of any combination I've ever played. This one's special.



Rickenbacker 330/12 *SOLD*
Year: 2004/2005
Color: Blue Boy
Name: n/a
Added: 2006
Sold: 2009

I know what you're thinking: "Roger McGuinn" of the Byrds. And you're not far off (he played a 370/12). McGuinn more or less pioneered the jingle-jangle sound on his 12-string Ricky, and I'm trying to capture a little of that magic (and maybe make a little of my own). The necks on these Rics are not extra wide the way most other 12-strings are. It makes them easier to play in some ways, but harder in others. Once you get used to it though, no sound compares. On an unrelated side note, all modern Rickenbackers come with Schaller Strap Lock compatible strap buttons. These are my kind of people.

UPDATE: Many of the guitars I bought when I was first going wild with collecting ended up being ones that were nice to look at but ultimately just gathered dust. I started thinking that they should be in the hands of people who are really going to love and appreciate them, because despite what I used to think, there's no real value in simply owning them. I could go on for hours about the philosophical implications of what led me to put this guy up for sale, but I'll spare you. In the end, this awesome Ricky (with that rare color-of-the-year finish) was gobbled up by someone less than a week after I put it up for sale.



Rickenbacker 330
Year: 2006
Color: Blue Burst
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2006

About a million famous guitarists swear by Rics, and you might be surprised at who all plays them. The obvious supporters include The Beatles, Pete Townshend, Paul Weller, Johnny Marr... and now me. The jangle of a Rickenbacker through a VOX amp has always been a staple of British-influenced rock. But I'm not British. How then did I get sucked into this club? Well the blame can be placed squarely on Orlando and Peter, both bandmates of mine in the early days of This Charming Band. Orlando plays Rics almost exclusively (he's got a beautiful pair of them -- one black, one white) and Peter's 330 makes such a great noise that after playing it... well I couldn't resist. What can I say? These things play smooth. Ultra-high quality craftsmanship, all made in the U.S.A. They're timeless, and for good reason, it seems.

Also wanted to share that I went through great trouble to find some drop-in locking tuners that I could have installed with no permanent modifications to the wood. On Rickenbacker forums, I read that you could replace the stock Schaller minis with Schaller M6 mini "top mount" locking tuners. After months of looking (and absolutely no help from any U.S. distributor), I eventually tracked down a set from a little shop in the U.K. Had to order by phone, and spent a pretty penny on them. Well when I went to have them installed, we found two things: First, the headstock is so thick that the screw-in bushings that came with the locking tuners were not long enough to "meet" the machine head in the middle, so the threads wouldn't catch. Luckily, the stock Schallers on my Ric came with extra-long bushings to solve exactly that problem, and since it's all Schaller, they appeared to be compatible. Secondly, and the real problem... the post of the tuner didn't stick up far enough to expose the string hole. So when it's installed, the string hole is buried beneath the surface of the headstock, and there's no way to get the string through the post. I've since learned that while some people have been successful here with no trouble, others have had the same issues I did. Just comes down to varying headstock depths. So I had to abandon this idea and eat the cost. It was a pisser.



Epiphone Les Paul Standard *SOLD*
Year: 2006
Color: Gold Top
Name: The Gold Standard
Added: 2006
Sold: 2008
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I'll start off by admitting that I was totally inspired to get a Les Paul when I got on a T. Rex kick. I was completely infatuated with the spellbinding saturated tone of "20th Century Boy." I'm just getting comfortable with this, my own 20th century toy, but I can already say that it's the best solid body electric I've played. So far, it falls in line with everything I'd heard about Les Pauls. The thing absolutely sings with some overdrive on it, and it's got sustain for days. I strummed it before starting this paragraph, and it's still ringing. And I type slowly. When it comes to a rich, bluesy crunch, this is the best my collection has to offer. What can I say? Solid gold, and easy action.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, now that I have my Gibson LP-295, I have outgrown this guy. I wanted him to go to one of his many admirers over the years, and he did! Who better to offload him on than Charlene, who screamed "fuckin' Les Paul!!!" every time I brought him to a show? Something tells me he'll be plenty appreciated in his new home.



Martin Dreadnought (DXC1E)
Year: 2006
Color: Sitka Spruce (Hand Rubbed)
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2006

Finally I've picked out an acoustic for myself. Acoustics aren't generally my thing (other than "Wonderbat"), but maybe that will change with this addition bearing the well-respected Martin name. It's entry-level as far as Martins go. I think I'll hold off on spending $2500+ on an acoustic until I decide that it's really a direction I want to go in, you know? This should give me a whole new angle to work from, and it's equipped with a Fishman pickup so it's gig-ready. It's time to explore...



Gretsch Nashville (6120DE) *SOLD*
Year: 1997
Color: Ebony Burst
Name: Acceptance
Added: 2006
Sold: 2009
Mods: "New Style" Gretsch Strap Buttons

"But wait a minute, didn't you already list your..." I know, I know, damn it. Shut up.

UPDATE: Buying this guitar was perhaps my most egregious error in judgment in my days of wildly collecting guitars. I loved that first Duane Eddy model so much, I decided I had to find a backup for it as soon as possible, just in case. Well, that was the old me. The new me recognizes how ridiculous that is, not least because I'll die of old age before I wear out all of these guitars. The only logical thing to do was to sell it, and so I did. A rare guitar indeed, and a great find for the fella who took it off my hands.



Airline/National '64 Newport *SOLD*
Year: 2006 (1964)
Color: Sea Foam Green
Name: n/a
Added: 2006
Sold: 2014
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

This is a reproduction "Map" model done by Eastwood Guitars, specialists in making modern versions of out-of-production instruments. The unique "Map" guitars were made only briefly from 1962-1965. They are shaped roughly like a map of the U.S. and were made of "Res-O-Glas" a.k.a. fiberglass. Eastwood's version is chambered wood, and corrects a major problem with the originals -- they had no truss rod! This happens to be one of the special pre-production "NAMM 2007 Limited Edition" models. Only 24 were made (12 in red and 12 in sea foam green). Some of the special features that came with the NAMM model include NOS Valco knobs and Airline single coil pickups.

UPDATE: I never really found myself steppin' out with this beauty the way I expected. And after years of it sitting idle, I gave it one last run through at practice before finally accepting that it just wasn't for me. It was so nice to look at, but it didn't feel right in my hands. So I sold it to a local who's sure to make it his own.



Fender Jaguar Baritone (Bass VI) Custom
Year: 2006
Color: 3-Color Sunburst
Name: Big Bottom
Added: 2007
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

When you want to really double them over with a low blow, as a guitarist, how are you gonna do it? To get that dark sound that's so important in surf, spaghetti western, and even some Cure type stuff, a regular guitar is too high and a bass is too low. That's where a baritone comes in. This particular model is a bit lower than a standard baritone in that it's tuned down a full octave to E rather than just down to B. All the tone controls are the same as a standard Jaguar. Something like the opposite of a 12-string, the same old chords just sound completely different on a guitar like this. Its name is a tip of the hat to Spinal Tap of course, but the inspiration is partly owed to the equivelent model as it's marketed in Japan -- there, they call it the "Fender Bottom Master." For serious. I assume the connotation was intended to be something like "Jazzmaster with more bottom end," but uh... they may have missed the mark.



Gibson ES-335
Year: 2007
Color: Transparent Black (Satin)
Name: Lazarus (Of The Six Strings)
Added: 2007
Mods: Gotoh Locking "Green Key" Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Nickel)

The Gibson ES-335 (ES = "Electric Spanish", $335 = the price tag when launched in 1958) holds a special place alongside the Les Paul, the Telecaster, and the Stratocaster -- these are the four most influential electric guitars in music history. The 335's groundbreaking semi-hollow design all but eliminated feedback and added some serious punch, while retaining the warmth of a hollow design. This particular model is based on the 1959 "Dot" (though in truth, the specs have remained virtually unchanged since the 50's). It's got a pair of '57 humbuckers with a pretty raw vibe, and of course it was handmade at the Gibson Custom Shop in Memphis.



Epiphone Coronet *SOLD*
Year: 1997
Color: Metallic Purple
Name: n/a
Added: 2007
Sold: 2009
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I first started thinking about getting a Coronet when I read that Johnny Marr had one that he used to keep in Nashville tuning. They reissued these batwinged beauties in the 90's, and though they've been out of production for a while, they pop up on eBay every so often. I guess this is Epiphone's answer to the Telecaster? It's got the interesting feature of being able to "tap" the humbucking pickup (via a push/pull pot) to give you effectively all single coils. I keep this guy tuned to open D for some special songs and for slide duty.

UPDATE: As part of my thinning the herd, I needed to pass the Coronet on to someone who'd use it more. The good news is I found a local buyer for this unusual guitar, so it might just be seen again on a Bay Area stage in the future!



Gibson Les Paul LP-295 *SOLD*
Year: 2008
Color: Gold Top
Name: Goldielicks
Added: 2008
Sold: 2010
Mods: 1956 "Duane Eddy" Style Bigsby Handle
Gotoh Locking "Green Key" Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

Well I've already sang my praises for Les Pauls in general, specifically in reference to the Epiphone I'd been playing. I loved it so much, I decided to trade up to a genuine Gibson. I had my eye on a simple gold top Standard, but something made me wait... and I'm glad I did! In April 2008, Gibson's "guitar of the month" was a limited edition (only 1,000 made) hybrid of a gold top Les Paul and an ES-295 like the one I sold a while back. This beauty has all the features I had wanted plus many I hadn't been expecting like the Florentine cutaway, the Bigsby, the hand-painted pickguard, the split inlays, and the bound headstock. This amazing and unique guitar is a perfect combination of my favorite aspects of my long-lost ES-295 and the Gibson quality Les Paul I was searching for. With its styling and quality craftsmanship, it's brand new but already feels like an heirloom. And it's a tank! Very heavy, with a thick 50ís profile neck unlike anything else I play... frankly, it's just a whole lotta mahogany to strap around your shoulder. But that all adds up to near-endless sustain. And with those pickups, the full frequency spectrum is represented beautifully. It sounds almost 3-D. It may not be my go-to for the more fleet-fingered arpeggiated stuff, but it's definitely gonna add some serious balls to the overdriven numbers.

UPDATE: After picking up that Les Paul Traditional in 2010 (see below), and seeing how "right" it immediately felt in my hands, I had a problem. Here I had this beautiful and very unusual LP-295, which sounds great... but then I also had this new LP that was even more comfortable and versatile thanks to many mods. I couldn't justify keeping two Les Pauls around like that, so as much as it pained me to dump such a fantastic instrument, I made the tough decision to get rid of the LP-295. Someday I may well kick myself for letting it go, but life's too short to waste hoarding things I'm not using. It found the best home possible: Dad! It's his first Les Paul, and I'm thinking it just may change his life.



Danelectro '63 1449 *SOLD*
Year: 2008 (1963)
Color: Keen Green
Name: n/a
Added: 2008
Sold: 2012
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

Danos have always been kinda cheap guitars. It's part of what made them such a common choice for garage bands. But even with these reissues, you can't beat the value. It's a decent guitar for not very much money. The famous lipstick pickups are as bright as ever, but all the nickel hardware has been processed to have no gloss. And the pickguard and vinyl tape around the edges have been aged/stained. Combine that with the undeniable kitsch-cool of Danelectro's designs and colors, and you have something that looks like it just came out of your grandma's closet. Or else it somehow reminds me of a retro laundry room or a 1970's kitchen appliance. Am I crazy? Maybe I'm crazy?

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, I let years go by without ever touching this guitar, and I eventually accepted the fact that I needed to let it go. It went to a novice guitarist who was just starting out and was ready to branch out and get his first electric. I cut him a deal and in doing so, made sure this Dano was passed on to someone who'd give it some love.



Danelectro Guitarlin
Year: 1999
Color: Black Metalflake
Name: Orion
Added: 2008
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I was on the lookout for one of the reissues that came and went a few years back, and just lucked out when I found this one for sale. Talk about rare! This unusual guitar combines the unique styling of the Danelectro "longhorn" body with a neck spanning a full 31 frets! The Guitarlin (guitar + mandolin) was so-named because in theory you can play (with or without capo) in the higher register and get a sound not unlike an electric mandolin. Not surprisingly, it's still pretty hard to make use out of those higher frets. OK, so it's a bit of a novelty, and it looks like a prop from 60's-era Star Trek. Pretty glam, yeah? You may have seen Link Wray with one, as it was he who made them "famous."



Gretsch Synchromatic (G100BK)
Year: 2006
Color: Black Satin
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2009

I recently got an itch for a 1940's style boxy jazz guitar. And this reasonably-priced Gretsch was just what the doctor ordered. I played the electric version a while back in the Haight... flatwound strings... sounded and felt great! So I got one of the last remaining (and hard to find in black) all-acoustic models. It's my new couch guitar, giving Wonderbat some rest.



Gibson Les Paul Traditional
Year: 2009
Color: Gold Top
Name: El Dorado
Added: 2010
Mods: Seymour Duncan Seth Lover SH-55 (Neck)
Seymour Duncan Seth Lover SH-55 (Bridge)
Jimmy Page Wiring
Gotoh Locking "Green Key" Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

The Les Paul Traditional brings us back to basics. It's got the build and the look of an early LP without all the new-fangled fluff. It's exactly what I was looking for: a workhorse. I wanted a tank of a Les Paul that I didn't have to be so careful with, and this is it. Rather than use run-of-the-mill humbuckers though, I saw this as an opportunity to experiment. Enter the P-Rails. These innovative pickups from Seymour Duncan are essentially humbuckers that -- instead of using matching opposing coils -- use a Strat-style rail on one side and a P-90 on the other. Together you get a humbucker, but each side separately is a true single coil pup rather than just "half a humbucker." But to take full advantage of this, I had to go full Frankenstein. The true magic is in the wiring scheme, devised by the venerable Hermetico himself and expertly implemented by Gryphon. This configuration affords four push/pull pots which control the P-90, rail, parallel humbucker, or series humbucker voice of the pickups, as well as in phase vs. out of phase and parallel vs. in series with each other. Couple that with the standard three-way toggle switch, and that leaves us with a staggering total of 24 unique tonal options, and that's before any pedals are in the chain. I've learned that long-distance shows require guitars be as versatile as possible, and it doesn't hurt if they're tough, too. Look for this curious contraption, this golden gladiator, to become my new all-in-one travel axe.

UPDATE: So when I first got this Lester, I had installed a set of Seymour Duncan P-Rails (a hot one at the bridge) and Hermetico's fancy "Full LP Tone 2" wiring scheme. I was lured in by the promise of all that tonal flexibility, despite the fact that those pickups are sort of hideous. Well, after a year and a half with them, I found that I wasn't using the flexibility as much as I expected. And though the P-90 sound was great and the others passable, the main humbucker tone from those things was just too muddy for my taste. So I opted to swap them out for Seth Lovers to get that more P.A.F. tone I'm comfortable with. I still have some flexibility with the Jimmy Page wiring, and though a split Seth doesn't sound as nice as a P-90, the humbucker tone I use 99% of the time blows the P-Rails out of the water. It's woody and raw and perfect.



Gibson Firebird V *SOLD*
Year: 2008
Color: Classic White
Name: Laika
Added: 2010
Sold: 2014
Mods: Steinberger Locking Tuners (Chrome)
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I honestly have no idea what possessed me to suddenly want one of these, but if it was good enough for Clapton, Winter, and of course Link Wray... well there must be something to it, right? Noted for its "reverse" design, the Firebird series (launched in 1963) was actually dreamt up by automotive designer Ray Dietrich, the man credited with inventing the automotive tail fin.

Other unusual features include banjo-style tuners and a neck-through-body design (whereby head to tail is constructed as a single piece with layers of mahogany and walnut, and then the "wings" are glued on). That leads to tons sustain of course. The pickups aren't simple mini-humbuckers as many suspect, but are instead unique Firebird pickups. They've got lots of bite, even bordering on too much. I've heard the sound of the bridge pickup described as "pouring nails on a tin roof." And it's huge. Long really, like a bass. One look, and you can probably imagine how awkward it might be to play. And certainly it is different no doubt, both in feel and sound. But little by little I'm getting used to it and loving the high fret access!

The bizarre curves and red/ivory color scheme made me think "Soviet space program" for some reason, so this cosmic bird is named in honor of Laika.

UPDATE: I never really took to the Firebird like I thought I would. I still love the look, especially in this color, but it was just gathering dust. I liked it, but not quite enough to justify keeping it. I sold it off to a super nice fella who was most excited to get it. If I ever regret this move, I'm thinking it shouldn't be too hard to scare up a replacement.



Gretsch White Falcon (6136DS)
Year: 2011
Color: White
Name: The Messiah
Added: 2011
Mods: Tru-Arc BR-120/SS/RS Bridge
Schaller Strap Locks (Gold)

This is the heavenly pinnacle of excess in all of six-string history. Candy-colored with gold-plated hardware and sparkly gold flake trim, I look at this thing and think to myself: if Elvis were a guitar. Or maybe Boss Hog. This massive 17" beast of a Gretsch has been called "a hellishly expensive dreamboat." It's also known as "the Holy Grail of guitars." The story goes that it actually started out as a tradeshow guitar, a showpiece meant only to help the Gretsch company promote. But immediately after its appearance, the orders came rushing in. It's had some unusual champions over the years. Stephen Stills and fellow rockasaurus Neil Young, as well as Billy Duffy have all been known to play a Falcon. Of course, they're also popular with the rockabilly set like Setzer, Heath, and Boz Boorer.

But Lord almighty, do they cost a pretty penny. I used to figure that when I finally got one -- if I ever got one -- I'd be naming it after whichever month's salary I had to use to pay for it. For a while I thought it might be a 30th birthday present to myself, but at that time I was shedding guitars in a big way. At different points, I considered it as a reward for this or that, but I could never bring myself to pull the trigger. Well when I started gigging and writing with an original band after years of personal frustration, I decided it was finally time to lay down the money and get the fancy pants dream guitar for which I'd been hopelessly pining away the better part of a decade. Do I need it? Of course not. But hell, a man's gotta own his proverbial Thundercougarfalconbird once in his life, you know? You can't take it with you. And so we welcome The Messiah (related only in spirit to the Stradivarius).



Fender Classic Series '50s Stratocaster
Year: 2012
Color: Daphne Blue
Name: (undecided)
Added: 2012
Mods: Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

Well if this isn't a sign, I don't know what is. Either I'm maturing or going mad, but in 2012 I was suddenly struck with an urge to give Strats another chance. I was first on a Brian May kick and looking into Red Specials. The idea of three single coils started to creep in, and then I was finding myself digging the classic Nile Rodgers tone heard on everything he plays on as well as copied by every band on the planet who is or is influenced by funk. That quacky sound that only Strats do. But I had to get over how uncomfortable I've always found them to be. After trying one out in a local shop, I found that it wasn't as bad as I remembered. Then I had to wait for a model with a combination of features, look, and price point that fit. As much as they still look pretty generic to me, a deal on a 50's model in baby blue and a vintage tinted neck started me thinking Buddy Holly, Ike Turner, and Magic Sam.

So here I've gone and turned my whole world upside down, challenging the notion that maybe I've been clinging to this anti-Strat bias for all these years for no real reason. Now I just need to see if this thing finds a lasting place in my life, and if I can spin it for myself somehow so I don't feel like a common boring Strat dude.



Gibson Les Paul 60th Anniversary Limited
Year: 2012
Color: Gold Top
Name: Taṇhā
Added: 2012
Mods: Gotoh Locking "Green Key" Tuners
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

After dancing around my lust for soapbar P-90s for years, mulling over several options and configurations of Les Paul and SG models... I finally came across a deal on this killer. To celebrate the 1952 debut of the Gibson Les Paul, this 60th anniversary model was produced using all the same specs as the original -- including the thick neck, the solid body with no weight relief, and the trapeze tailpiece. All features that are all but unheardof in Gibson's recent offerings. This is allegedly one of only 300 made, and it is no ordinary tribute model. Every minor detail was accounted for, and in fact the only difference is that the neck angle has been corrected to allow the wrap-over bridge to function as originally intended. Considering my loose guitar habits, it's truly a wonder I held out so long on getting a soapbar LP, but I'm so glad I did. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect fit for what I was looking for.



Gretsch Double Anniversary (6118T)
Year: 2014
Color: Smoke Green (Two-Tone)
Name: TBD
Added: 2014
Mods: TV Jones TV-HT (Hilo'Tron) Pickups
Tru-Arc AL-120 Bridge
1956 "Duane Eddy" Style Bigsby Handle
Schaller Strap Locks (Chrome)

I had been on the fence about this one for many years, but when I started to see their availability dwindle and a good deal came up, I finally went for it. It is, after all, basically a sort of "budget" version of the the 6120, and I already have two of those. Do I really need another, especially one that's potentially sub-par to my others? (That was rhetorical, by the way.)

Originally created in 1958 to celebrate Gretsch's 75th anniversary, this model has stayed in production more or less ever since. In that time, it's gone through a variety of changes hardware-wise. I wanted an excuse to explore the underappreciated Hilo'Tron pickup, and so I had a set of T.V. Jones' put on there, along with a few other modifications to make it my own. I'm looking forward to seeing how we get along.



Gibson ES-295 (1952 Reissue)
Year: 2013 (1952)
Color: Bullion Gold
Name: n/a
ETA: I don't know if or when I'll get this guy.

I was thrilled to see that Gibson had finally released a true reissue of the ES-295, with all the original specs, complete with that iconic wraparound trapeze bridge. Just like it would have been when Scotty Moore first got his hands on one. It really is a thing of beauty. Once upon a time, I had one of the Epiphone reissues. (I think I'd appreciate it now more than I did back when I sold it.) However, this one looks like the real deal. The only unreal thing about it is the hefty $5300 price tag. I cannot imagine a scenario where I could justify dropping that much on a guitar, but if they prove to be unpopular and see a drastic price reduction, who knows?



Hallmark Wing-Bat
Year: TBD
Color: Black / Flourescent Red
Name: n/a
ETA: I don't know if or when I'll get this guy.

This is not an expensive guitar, but even so, I just don't see myself actually pulling the trigger on it. I think about it every once in a while, but I think I'm just happy such a thing exists. It's basically the 1960s Batmobile in guitar form. And it's got a toggle switch to activate a red LED "turbine boost" at the bottom. I'm generally not moved by wacky guitars, but this is an exception. You can check out the specs here.





Fender '59 Bassman LTD

Your typical guitarist will rave about "vintage" gear. They'll swear up and down that it's the only way to get an authentic sound. And while I question gear cork-sniffery of that sort, the real problem for me is that when it comes to equipment, "vintage" also means "breaks a lot" and "hard to fix." And I am very lazy. And also not real big on buying much of anything used if I can help it. That's why I love reissues (though understanding there are often major differences in construction). I finally ventured into tube amps with this tweed beast. The '59 Bassman is the undisputed rockabilly amplification of choice, widely used by many heavyweights. It's rich, warm, and has that natural compression and tube distortion that doesn't come with solid-state. There's a weird chorus thing that happens naturally between the four 10" speakers too that's hard to describe. This ol' pine box is a just-plug-in-and-rock kind of amp with a lot of character. Just my style.



Fender '65 Twin Reverb

While I'm thrilled with my Bassman, I started to find that it breaks up a little earlier than I'd like for some applications. I needed something with more headroom, and I found it in this beautiful 40th Anniversary blonde reissue of the classic 1965 Twin Reverb. What can I say about this amp that hasn't already been said? It's a faithful reproduction of the monster Twin at the year most agree Fender amps peaked (just as technological innovation and quality began to give way to mass production and watching the bottom line). For this rare special edition, the typical Jensen 12" speakers have been replaced with a pair from Eminence, serving to add some brightness and punch to the renowned warmth of the classic Fender Twin. And as expected, it's louder than you will ever need, and it weighs a ton.



Vox AC30CC2X

Two amps, you could argue you need one for a backup. But three amps? I risk treading into redundancy territory here. We'll see how it goes. This Vox AC30CC2X 30W 2x12 Custom Classic Combo is based on the amp that helped define the sound of the British invasion. I suppose that when I plug my Ric 330 into it, I'm participating in Britain's Holy Grail rig. It's Beatles, when I'm so obviously Elvis. I don't know if I feel right about it. But the crunch on this model is one of the great unmistakable tones in rock and roll. Peter Buck, The Edge, Radiohead. My goal though was always glam... to cop a little of Brian May's tone. Now, the downside? It edges out my Twin, tipping the scales at over 70lbs.!



Fender '68 Custom Princeton Reverb

I'd never had a little baby amp like this. I wanted something small and quiet enough to practice with at home but with enough balls to handle tiki bar gigs where there isn't room to get the Bassman up to cookin' volume. So far, this Princeton's got a big sound for its size, and it satisfies my desire for something with the silver face drip edge aesthetic. We'll see how it holds up.



Fender '63 Reverb

Along with the Fender Dual Showman amp, the outboard reverb unit is the most fundamental staple of surf guitar. The rule as everyone knows is reverb, reverb, and more reverb after that. And to all of that, add some reverb. It's all about getting a dripping wet sound that screams ocean spray. To get that over-the-top tinny reverb with character, you can't look to a pedal. You have to look to this springy fella. Hand me my Jaguar, let me dunk it here in "the tank," and then... grab your board.



Dallas Rangemaster (JMI)

I've long relied on pedals to give me my grit. I don't like the idea of having the amount of overdrive being dependent on volume. Before all these convenient little stompboxes though, overdrive really meant driving the amp itself. In those days, that's what you had to do to get a distorted sound. I wasn't convinced until I tried this, and I am here to tell you: there is a difference when your overdrive is coming from a pushed-too-hard amp! The Rangemaster loads the input signal and adds its own mid- and treble-heavy color. The result is the juiciest crunch I have ever produced.

JMI Amplification makes some dynamite reissues of long-lost guitar effects (such as Mick Ronson's old Tone Bender). The one that caught my attention though was this full Rangemaster reissue, right down to the cosmetics. The actual treble booster circuit isn't too complex as I understand it, and you can even get pedals that do something similar. But cumbersome as it is, I wanted the true Rangemaster experience as Brian May and Marc Bolan had it. So this little box has a permanent place atop my AC30.



Roland Juno Di

I am no keyboardist, that's for sure. But around the end of 2009, I got an itch to start poking around on an old keyboard I had laying around (left over from my teen years). Over the months, I found I was starting to like it... and before I knew it, I'd worked out a few Smiths songs and even moved on to others. And after having stuck with it a while, I felt justified in getting something a little more gig-worthy. The price was right on this entry-level-but-still-pro Roland, and I've been thrilled with it so far. Here's hoping I stay motivated to learn more!



Shure 55SH Series II

I won't lie to you. I know dick about microphones. If I can sing and talk through it without it making me sound worse than I already do, I'm happy. The only reason I got this mic over any other is, aside from Shure being a reputable brand, it is the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Just like the classic birdcage mics. Makes me feel like Elvis.



Couch Guitar Straps

Good luck finding a strap in a store that doesn't use any leather. I believe these are most easily available through their site at www.couchguitarstraps.com. They make a ton of stylish vegan guitar straps in vinyl and seatbelt materials. Hip, unique, comfortable, and cruelty-free. I've been using them exclusively for years.




Music: "Switchblade - Link Wray"