Here is the equipment I currently use. Detailed descriptions are listed further down this page.
- 1989 Fender ’57 re-issue Stratocastor
- 1980 Ibanez Blazer
- 1989 Martin D-16M
- 1982 Gibson “The Paul” Deluxe
- Laney LC50II
- Lovepedal BBB (Black Beauty Balance — 07 version)
- Alairex HALO prototype
- George Dennis GD65 Parametric Wah-Volume
- Korg DT-10 Tuner
- Bill Lawrence solderless cables (though there are other cheapies from Mars Music still in action)
- Echo AudioFire 4 audio interface
- Shure SM57
- SE 2200A (large diaphragm mic)
- Event EMP1 preamp
- Fender 250LR nickel-plated steel electric guitar strings (09-46 set)
- Elixir Light Nanoweb acoustic guitar strings (12-53 set)
And here is a list of equipment I owned at one time or another (not including pedals I had briefly to try out)
- Line6 Flextone
- Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
- Reverend HellHound
- Peavey Chorus amp (solid state — my first amp)
- Ibanez RG550 (my first electric guitar)
- Barber Small Fry
- Barge Concepts BP-1
- Catalinbread Silver Kiss (v1)
- Menatone Kar Krash (8-knob)
- Korg 301-dl delay
- Korg A5 multi-effect
- George Dennis GD020 Mono Volume
- DiMarzio Area 58
- DiMarzio Virtual Vintage Blues
- DiMarzio HS3
- Seymour Duncan Little ’59
- Bill Lawrence L-280S
Details about My Current Gear
1989 Fender ’57 re-issue Stratocastor
I bought this guitar when I graduated from college in 1996 from a friend/classmate. It was his brother’s that he wasn’t using. Because it’s a ’57 re-issue, it has all the vintage specs — 7.25″ neck radius, 3-position switch, and a piercing, ice-picky bridge pickup. Over the years I tinkered with just about every aspect of this guitar — I sanded off the black finish and put wood varnish on it. Tuners I believe are Gotoh locking model, the nut is Graphtech, the bridge is L.R.Baggs X-Bridge (though the piezo part broke a long time ago, I still like how this bridge sounds) and the pickups are now settled with DiMarzios: Area 67 for neck and middle, and Virtual Vintage Heavy Blues 2 in bridge. I wired all the pickups to the main tone knob, which is also a pull-pot for activating neck pickup, so I can get neck/bridge combination.
Because of the round vintage-spec radius, the action gets rather high on higher frets, making this guitar rather hard to play — but it still sounds great and I practice with it most of the time.
1980 Ibanez Blazer
I loved my Strat and I wanted a second guitar that was very similar to it. But I didn’t want another Fender as I felt that I could get a better value for my money by looking for older guitars from less celebrated manufacturers. At first I bought 1994 Washburn USA Silverado, which had this gorgeous see-through red finish. It was a fabulous guitar, fantastic value for money. (I think I got it for like $350) But after a while I realized I didn’t really desire to play it — the guitar was too pretty and too perfect. I’m a tinkerer and I like my guitars to look rather “relic-ed” so I sold it and took a chance on this one, a $200 eBay gamble. Well, years earlier I had seen a guitarist I respected a lot play an old Ibanez Roadster which he really loved, so I was hoping that this gamble would pay off.
I’d say it did. Its frets were a bit rough on the edges but I had that worked on and it really plays very well. It has a gorgeous swamp ash body and more merciful 12″ radius. The pickups that came with it were rather weak so I swapped them out to the same combination as my Strat (Area 67s in neck/middle, VV Heavy Blues 2 in bridge) and now I am a happy camper. The sound is quite similar as well, though probably because of the body wood this one has a tad less mid-range than my Strat. I do dearly miss having a tremolo, though, so I am eyeing a Stetsbar… one of these days I’ll try it.
1989 Martin D-16M
My first serious acoustic guitar was a Taylor 612C, but its small maple body sounded, well, small to me, so I sold it to get a more balanced sounding guitar. This proved a rather challenging search as I just couldn’t find an acoustic guitar around $1000 that I really loved — until I stumbled on this one at South Austin Music. The note on it had said that it was on consignment for Eliza Gilkyson. At the time Austin’s radio was blasting her bluesy rocker “Mama’s Got a Boyfriend” constantly, and I knew that she toured hard — and this guitar had showed it in its numerous nicks and dings. I was looking for a more Taylor-ish modern tone but I was smitten by this guitar’s history and character (plus I was tired of going around looking for a guitar) so I bought it.
It being a Mahogany Martin, it has a very traditional sound with a stout low-end. It can sound a bit scooped in the mids with wrong picks, and it can’t do the cutting treble or dramatic dynamic range of Taylor — but it seems to sound better and better as it continues to age. It once got a huge hole on its side from a bicycle crashing down on it in an in-studio accident, but the local expert repairman Leonard Shapiro fixed it for me (fortunately I had all the pieces) and if I didn’t point it out you wouldn’t be able to tell that the guitar had suffered such a serious injury.
1982 Gibson “The Paul” Deluxe
During the recording of Minnasia’s Everything to Your Cause EP, I struggled more than I expected to get a guitar sound I wanted. In the end I am satisfied with what I got, but in the hind sight using my Ibanez (above) as my main guitar was a mistake — its ash body has a scooped mids that can sound a bit dull. Anyway, I had always identified myself as a single-coil player but this was the first time I wondered if I wasn’t painting myself into a corner by sticking to a rather meaningless artistic approach like that.
I had picked up numerous Les Pauls in stores and had never, ever liked them, and I can say the same thing for humbuckers. But one day at Willie’s American Guitars (the world’s best guitar store — I’m so happy to live in the neighborhood!) this unadorned, natural-finish Les Paul caught my eye. I picked it up and immediately noticed how easily it played — I just felt like this guitar was made for me. It turns out, it’s a fairly rare model. I don’t know who thought of an inane name like “The Paul” but it’s basically a stripped-down Les Paul with no maple top, no binding but a tummy-cut. A previous owner had replaced the bridge humbucker with some sort of Seymour Duncan that has way too much output for my taste, but its (assume stock) neck pickup is warm and beautiful. I just love this guitar’s neck. It just plays so well. So I just need to replace the bridge pickup with something low output + option to split coil (b/c I do miss single-coil sound too much) and again put a tremolo… I don’t think it’ll go as far as repainting my identity as a single-coil guy but for now I’m glad to have a completely different voice in my stable.