Having a special impact on my "guitar psyche", all the Kings (but especially B.B. ), Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Ray Charles, Hank Crawford, David Fathead Newman, James Burton, Steve Cropper, Mike Bloomfield, and many great contemporary players, eg. Eric Johnson, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Paco de Lucia, Pierre Bensusan, Lowell George, Ry Cooder, Buzzy Feiten, and so many others for whom I have great admiration.
In particular, I have to mention the late Tippy Armstrong, a virtually unsung guitar champion from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who performed an enormous body of session work in Muscle Shoals during the '60's. Tippy had a "touch" all his own and my intention is to begin a page dedicated to him, including soundbytes. Tippy could grasp the essence of virtually any style of music and perform it in an amazingly convincing way. I've been accumulating a nice volume of anecdotal info from those who were around him most. Incidentally, Tippy sold me my first electric guitar, a Fender Musicmaster that I wish I hadn't parted with. (Note: Tippy's tribute is now available. Link: Tippy Armstrong's myspace tribute.
Through the years, I've acquired a relatively small collection of acoustic and electric instruments. Generally speaking, they are mostly stock, original issue, and vintage. The quality and spirit in these older guitars is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. However, some of the manufacturers are really giving it their best shot.
Most musicians would agree that beyond their intended purpose, musical instruments are "works of art" and admire them as such. I certainly do, and so I've included a few of my personal axes that are especially appreciable in that sense. I hope you enjoy their beauty as much as I.
Fender Stratocaster-This one came via Bernie Leadon (former Eagle's
guitarist) in a straight across swap. He wanted my 1963 Telecaster, and
I wanted his Rosewood neck '63 Strat. This is the guitar that I gig with,
for the most part. It has been modified to the extent that I had it painted
(it had a real hack spray paint job previous to my acquiring), and I put some Tele knobs
on it for better volume swell control. At that time, we were unable to find the color match I wanted, baby blue vintage. But through an ingenious luthier who's name escapes me, we found a very close match at a local VW dealer in Santa Monica... yep, Volkswagon paint. Otherwise, it's stock. I find it, and Strats in general, to be an extremely versatile guitar that adapts
well to many musical styles. It is particularly suited to the Billy and the Beaters gig I play in the L.A. area.
1970 Les Paul Deluxe-Not necessarily a "hot" guitar in terms of its popularity, but I feel this axe delivers some very special tonal qualities with its "Mini-humbucker" pickups. I purchased it as new back then and primarily use it for an open E-tuning bottleneck guitar.
1959 Gibson Les Paul Special-Cherry Red and mint with stock black Gibson "soapbar" pickups and a very sweet rosewood neck.
1968 Gibson ES 335->Again stock with red finish...and Humbuckers.
1952 L7C - recently acquired and probably my current favorite guitar to play. Beautiful in appearance and feel. (Acquired from Joe DeLeon.)
1984 StratoRixter-a guitar assembled (by Greg Loeb, Los Angeles, CA.) according
to some ideas I had for an instrument that would incorporate the elements
needed to give me access to most of the tones I use in my playing and that
also had a neck best suited to my playing. I think we went through around
125 necks before finding THE one. The guitar is primarily a Strat style
ESP body and ESP ebony neck with two original Mini-humbucker pickups in
the bridge and neck positions and a "stacked" Strat pickup by D'Marzio in the middle position. I use the conventional Fender vibrato
bar. This axe has a wide range of tone that it has surprised a few people listening to it recorded and thinking it was an L5, Strat, etc.
Yahama Electric Guitars-an assortment of "endorsement" electric guitars.
(?)0018Martin-Stolen several years back, but remains my all time favorite acoustic that I have owned. This guitar was used on a few of Wet Willie's earliest studio recordings. I hope to replace it one day.
Orpheum Mandolin-First made by Oprheum, a
company that existed from around 1875-1910 and made mostly banjos and an
oddity called the "banjolin" They then sold the company to a manufacturer
named Ruttberg and Lange who continued to make the Orpheum instruments
until the 1960's when a Japanese company bought the name. If anyone has
any more information, please send it too me. This is a very beautiful sounding
1976 Aria Pro II-Another endorsement, I've held on to this one. It was inspired by the big dreadnought Martins although it sounds completely different. Has more of that Gibson Jumbo quality.
1979 Ovation Legend-An endorsement also, it records direct very nicely for this genre of guitars (acoustic electrics). Stereo pickup and stereo/mono outputs, tone and volume.
AEX500N-A classical guitar hybrid with a thin body, f-holes, a narrow
neck and onboard pickup and eq. Great for recording direct, it can deliver
a nice classical sound, and therefore good for quickie sessions where I
want that sound without a lot of mic placement. It would be quickly dismissed by
guitarists whose niche is strictly classical or flamenco.
To be continued...
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