Monday, June 22, 2009

Magic Guitars and Inspiring Guitar Rigs

This post is a sequel to my earlier article, How To Choose A Guitar That's Right For You.

Memory permitting, these are the guitars or guitar/amp setups I've played on over the years that I found inspiring.

1981 Ibanez AS50 semi-solid through an orange Roland Cube 60(!)
This was the guitar I talked about in that earlier article. What an epiphany!

'70s Fender Stratocaster through a '70s silverface Fender Twin Reverb
I also talked about this guitar in that earlier article. I had only my Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer in the chain -- classic setup.

1949 D'Angelico archtop into a vintage Standel amp
This guitar was on display at the Fine Guitar Consultants booth at NAMM 2000. Not one of D'Angelico's much prized instruments, this was actually a student model with a plywood spruce top. Knowing that John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto worked on building it is enough for me.

It was jazz guitarist Ron Eschete's primary axe for 30 something years and he sold it for some reason. This guitar 'forces' you to play sweet chord melodies and bebop lines. The guitar now belongs to a friend of mine.

Carvin Allan Holdsworth through a Carvin amp
I tried this at the Carvin shop on Sunset Boulevard. I can't remember the exact model of the amp, but it was one of the 2x10 tweed covered ones with the beige chickenhead knobs.

This particular Holdsworth signature was one of the first ever released -- if not one of the actual prototypes. Super low action on a wide, flat fingerboard, a perfectly balanced Wilkinson trem and the warm overdriven amp made Holdsworthian legato lines a breeze.

Early '80s Fender Vintage Telecaster reissue
This one has an interesting story to it. I tried out this guitar at a local used guitar shop. I didn't ask to try it -- one of the shop guys just foisted it on me. And it felt and sounded amazing. It was a well-played instrument with lots of wear in the nitrocellulose finish on the neck and fingerboard. I put it back on the shelf to go home and think about it.

The next day, I got a call from a friend of mine who said he was at the shop looking at the guitar, and asked if I had tried it. I told him it was a fine guitar and to go for it if he wanted it. I was really looking for a reason not to buy yet another guitar.

Long story short, my friend bought the guitar, found it buzzed too much in the recording studio and attempted to shield the control cavity with aluminum foil that caused the guitar to short out intermittently. He called a week later to ask me if I wanted to buy it off him.

Sure. Thanks Josh..

But this guitar really is amazing. It has all the vibe and personality you could ever want in a guitar. Other than high gain, high volume situations where the pickups squeal microphonically, the guitar is otherwise really versatile. And it sometimes 'pings' and twangs mysteriously on my guitar stand at night. Spooky.

Mid '90s Tom Anderson tele-style through a Matchless 2x12
A friend of mine had a serious collection of Tom Anderson guitars at one point. Of the lot, I really cottoned to this particular instrument, a rather plain-looking hollow T-Classic in a sunburst finish. I can't remember anything about the Matchless amp except that I think it was a 2x12. And it was brown.

Another one of those instruments that forces you to play a certain way -- and it all feels and sounds effortless while you do it. Think Brent Mason, James Burton, Albert Lee -- twang for days.

And there you have it. 30 years of playing experience, and only 6 magical guitars.

Rare gems indeed.


  1. Definitely a lesson for me in here. Having changed my gear everytime I bumped into a new product review, I have learnt the hard way, that the gear goes only so far in making the musician.

  2. Yes Guru, we've all been down that gear aquisition road, buying and selling and wasting money along the way. But it's that endless treadmill that keeps the gear companies happy! After awhile we discover that that ultimate tone which we sought outside of us was inside of us all the while.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...