WP just told me I am on a 100-day streak, with today’s posts. That would be since I started that song/day thing back in May. Cool beans.
NB: You can click on the pictures in this post to make them bigger! More detail! Yes!
I got a new toy! And it is amazing. It doesn’t look like it should be amazing. But it is!
Aaron, you say, don’t you already have 3 amps? Yes, I do. But we all know that the answer to the entirely reasonable question of “Do you really need more guitar stuff?” is an entirely reasonable “Yes. Of course. Always.”
Should I have spent the money, in these weird and mildly frightening days? Well…
This has been an unprecedented 6 months. It was recently my birthday. I am approaching 150 days of quarantine in the house with two kids. I really haven’t bought much for me in the last 6 months, not even albums. I’m on a blogging streak. The sun is shining… Yeah, I think it’s alright. Go!
Back when I bought my Boss Katana 50 (Mk.1), it came down to the Boss versus a Yamaha THR10. I wanted a modelling amp with more power than a wee practice amp. The Boss won out, and I love it. But it was a near thing for the Yamaha. The THR10 was an amazing little box amp, and it came in three versions (THR10, THR10C, and THR10X – I’ve listed what they emulated below). There was also the THR5 (and THR5A, acoustic guitar) but somehow I didn’t think about those…
Then Yamaha discontinued the THR series (except the THR5 and THR5A). Gah.
Then Yamaha brought back the THR series as THRii. For the record, Boss has also brought of a Boss Katana 50 (Mk.ii) but so it goes. However, I had my Boss and was loving it, and reviews of the THRii series somehow weren’t quite as loving as for the original THR series.
I was down the rabbit hole of YouTube guitar stuff recently and got reminded of the THR series, and I got a bit wistful. So I looked them up. Nowhere had a new, original THR10 in stock anymore (of course, it’s all THR10ii). But places did still have the THR5. So I watched videos about them. All reports were glowing. I found one at a family-run shop on the east coast. The price was right. Here it is, and here we are. I now own a Yamaha THR5!
Folks, this THR5 is amazing. WAY louder than you’d think – I was showing off its features to my lovely wife yesterday and, at one point, cranked both the Master and Volume, and holy hell, it was scary. It hurt our ears!
Yes, it has emulated chorus, flanger, phaser, and tremolo. Yes, it has delay, delay/reverb combined, as well as spring and hall reverb emulations. Yes, it has an AUX for your iPod. Yes, it connects to the computer for infinte tweaking. In other words, it does everything my Boss Katana does, in a box 1/5 (at least) the size.
Things the THR5 does that my Katana cannot do: It takes AA batteries for play anywhere you wanna go, it has a built-in tuner (awesome, I can’t believe the Katana missed this opportunity) and, less consequentially but still kind neat – it glows orange inside to look like it has tubes haha.
But the sound. It feels absolutely like there should be no way a sound that big, rich, and full should be able to come out of a box that is only 10.5″ across x 4.5″ deep x 5″ high. Seriously.
It just sounds SO GOOD. It’s so warm. So full.
My goodness, what a treat. I am so very very happy this is here!
Do I still want an original THR10? Yes. There are used ones on Kijiji, maybe one day. Would it also be cool to find THR10C and THR10X? Yes. I also want a THR30ii, the new, big gun with all 15 amp emulations on-board (no app fiddling). Because awesome.
Maybe some day. For now, this THR5 is kicking my ass with its amazing sound, its retro aesthetic, and its pure simplicity.
These are the amp emulations onboard for each of the original series:
CLEAN = Fender Twin Reverb
CRUNCH = VOX AC30
LEAD = Marshall Plexi
BRIT HI = Marshall JCM800
MODERN = Mesa Boogie
CLEAN = Fender Deluxe
CLASS A = Matchless DC30
US BLUES = Fender Blues Jr.
BRIT BLUES = Marshall Bluesbreaker
MINI = Dr. Z Mini-Z
POWER 1 = Engl Powerball
POWER 2 = Engl Powerball (lead channel)
BROWN 1 = early Van Halen
BROWN 2 = later Van Halen
SOUTHERN HI = Dimebag Darrell
CLEAN = Fender Deluxe
I’ve been down the guitar rabbit hole on YouTube for ages, more recently in aid of my Goal For 2024 series. I’ve found channels I love, and to which I subscribe, and thought I’d share with you. If you like guitar stuff, here’s a list of 20 awesome YouTubers who’ve got you covered, for both lessons and gear. I regularly check out new stuff from all of these folks (pretty sure I’ve subscribed to them all).
NB: There are surely others I’ve missed, and this isn’t my Top list, just a bunch I love. When/if I think of more channels, I’ll see if there’s enough to make another post in future.
NB: These aren’t listed in any order of preference. They all rock.
Come for the pure gear geekery and awesome demonstrations, stay for the inspired playing and the genuine good humour from Mick and Dan!
Straight-up, beer and coffee-drinkin’ Nashville session man enters the online fray and blows us all away with his guitar wizardry, insights, and lessons. Guitar purity, video simplicity – recorded in his garage!
UK generational family-run store, now with a huge YouTube presence. Cool demonstrations, challenges, and goofy humour with Captain Lee Anderton, Rob Chapman (Chapman guitars), Rabea Masaad, ‘Danish Pete’ Honore, and others.
One of YouTube’s biggest, longest-running (free, but you should donate!) guitar lesson channels. Justin rules.
You can’t help but fall in love with beautiful Mary. Slice of touring life videos, great interviews and playing, and I could listen to her sing all day. Essential!
Budda is Doctor Guitar! Beautiful, clear gear demonstrations and comparisons, and his bluesy guitar-playing is delicious!
Straight-up enthusiastic guitar and gear reviews, especially love Dagan’s videos. His energy is infectious.
Shane gives great guitar and gear run-downs. Love it.
Cheerful, brilliant guitar gear demonstrations and talk, from a friendly Canadian! Love this channel.
Frank, informative gear information from a guy who’s been there, done that, has the t-shirt and is still in love with guitars!
Another of the longest-running guitar instruction sites. If you wanna learn, Marty’s got you covered!
This guy knows his stuff, inside, out, and backwards. Music theory, song break-downs, you name it. Must-watch stuff.
I love his No Plan B approach to his musical life. Great gear and guitar instructional work from a gigging, recording musician giving it all he’s got!
For whatever reason, I’m just catching up on this site now. Awesome guitar instruction and, more recently, song reaction videos with guitar instruction built in!
Straight-up, no-nonsense, no frills guitar instruction over here at Zombie Guitar. LOVE IT.
Tasteful, humorous and incredibly spot-on at all times. Come for the guitar lessons, stay for the sweater!
For fun and honest gear run-downs and guitar awesomeness from a dyed-in-the-wool rocker. \m/ \m/
Humourous, good-hearted guitar gear and instructional videos. Love that green PRS!
So many crazy instruments, so much energy, and all done with knowledge and care. Awesome.
Guitar retailer that just happens to give excellent guitar instruction in a concise way. Your cool guitar uncle!
So there you go, that’s 20… If you have others that you love, drop a comment below and let us know!
Today I turn 46 years old. This gives me exactly four years until my 50th birthday, of course, and thus, exactly four years to save towards whatever this goal will become.
If you’ve read any or all of my series concerning what to do for my 50th birthday, I thank you. That whole thing started out as a single post, and, me being me, it snowballed into a series.
If you want to read the whole thing, I’ve linked all the parts at the bottom of this post. If you don’t want to wade into that quagmire, perhaps this brief summation can describe the points, in a minimal way:
– I like to play guitar, it’s just a hobby. I do not play in a band, I do not play gigs anywhere. My current skill level is: laughable.
– I turn 50 years old in 2024.
– My original thought: I want a guitar made in 1974, same vintage as me, to celebrate my 50th. This brain fart took root and has led me on this merry mental chase.
– I gave a bunch of good reasons why I should do it.
– I gave a history of my (inexpensive) guitar gear (to date).
– Vintage guitars can be very, very expensive. They might be Japanese imports, Mike!
– I considered (electric and acoustic) Custom Shop guitars, other high end guitars (NOS, Closet Classic, Heavy Relic), re-issues, and anniversary editions.
– I considered standard American guitars, then Epiphone and Squier, etc.
– I considered waiting, and buying a brand new guitar in 2024, going forward with it from there. A 50th birthday vintage.
– I love my current (cheap) guitars, so perhaps, instead of a guitar, maybe an amplifier (high to lower end), or pedals were considered.
– I gave a bunch of very good reasons why I shouldn’t do any of this at all.
– I did cost comparisons of many different guitars, amps and pedals that caught my eye, just to get numbers out in front of me so I could think clearly.
I’m no further ahead on a decision, at this point. I see many of the pros and cons of all of it. I might save towards it for four years, get there, and need those funds elsewhere. Or not do it at all. Who knows?
Maybe I need to admit that, while having a guitar from the year of my birth to mark my 50th birthday would be awesome and life-affirming and I’d never need any other gift ever again, what I might actually be looking for is The One. You know what I mean. I want THAT guitar. The one that is so comfortable like your favourite jeans, reliable and trusty like a best friend, with that tone and playability we all dream of in our heads. THAT guitar. The One. Of course, this would involve a lot of time in guitar shoppes just fondling all the instruments, none of which can happen with this lockdown going on, but the point is it might not be (or it might yet be) a guitar from 1974. Maybe I just won’t know ’til we meet, have a conversation, and click together. G-d, it sounds like a relationship. And it is.
Thanks for reading all (or some) of this brain fart series. I’ll keep you posted as I go along. And if the world is still here and we still have functioning internet and society in 2024, I’ll let you know what happens over all of this.
PS: As a brief update, I have had messaging contact with Budda Guedes, an excellent YouTube guitar presenter. You need to watch his videos, he is Doctor Guitar! For me, he recommends one of the most popular amplifiers on the planet (for good reason), the Fender Blues Junior, as a first, home-use tube amplifier. Hard to argue with that!
If you want to read the series, you can do so here:
Part I: My guitar history, my goal for 2024.
Part II: Acoustic guitars.
Part III: Custom Shop, Re-issue and Anniversary guitars.
Part IV: Amplifiers!
Part V: Pedals
Part VI: Need, reasons to not, cost comparisons
Part VII: New amplifier developments
Today was my first trip to the guitar store since all this quarantine started. It felt so good to be back in there…
Massive shout-out to Andy at Long & McQuade today, here’s a post in two parts!
1) Charlotte, My Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster:
For whatever reason, at the time of purchase, coming from out east as she did, the tremolo arm was not included. I didn’t care, I was just happy to have her in my life, and I’ve played the hell out of that guitar since she arrived. True love.
Lately, I’d been thinking I should pick up an arm for her, just to add to the complete tonal picture of this massively versatile instrument. I looked online, and there are tons, but they come with different sized threads (4.8mm, 5mm, 6mm, etc). I tried to find which one my specific guitar needed, but nothing I found online was definitive. I assumed it was some standard size, but we all know what happens when we assume… Also, part of the problem is likely that Squier more recently re-issued this series, and mine was from the previous series. Anyway.
I called L&M and asked if they knew. Andy, the same dude who sold me this guitar, did not know. But he had a bunch of arms in stock, and said just bring the guitar in and we’ll try them ’til one fits. And the very first arm he tried fit perfectly! It had a black tip, so he swapped it out for that faded white to match the rest of the guitar, and it was good to go. Beautiful.
He only charged me $5, too. I mean, c’mon.
And now I’ve got a whole new world to explore!
2) My Pignose:
I’ve had this wee amp for… I’m going to guess at least 15 years. It’s fun for what it does, gives a great fuzz tone if you set it just right… Anyway, after all this time, the volume knob had become befucked, so now it turned on at 2 o’clock and off at 11 o’clock, rather than on/off both being at high noon (as was original).
I had found a video on YouTube of someone repairing the same amp (though not the same issue), and messaged them my problem. They replied, gave instructions, but it seemed to involve the wiring, and taking things apart inside the amp, etc, and that shit makes me nervous. I left it a while.
On this trip to L&M, I brought the amp along, thinking to ask how they handle repairs (they ship things out). Andy asked what was up, I showed him, and he pulled out a bin of tools, grabbed an Allen key. He pulled off the volume knob, re-set it it where it should sit, and tightened the set-screw inside. Took him 5 seconds. And now it works perfectly again! He even fastened the Allen key inside the amp with some painter’s tape for me, in case I ever need to adjust it again.
Didn’t charge me a cent for the repair, shrugging it off saying it was nothing.
I plugged the amp in, as soon as we got home, and it’s so great to have this wee beastie of an amp back in my arsenal!
I got two guitar-related issues solved today, for $5. Thank you, Andy at L&M! You nailed it!
Part VII: New Amplifier Developments
I was digging around looking at the Fender Hot Rod Deluxes (because of course I was), and I was marvelling at their beauty and tube-driven power. In my YouTube sidebar, I saw a video about amps I’d not yet heard of, the Fender Tone Master series, with Deluxe Reverb, and Twin.
Now, we all know about the classic Deluxe Reverb and Twin amps, right? Behemoths in the Fender amp line-ups now for, what, 50 years? 60? Anyway. Long time champions in the guitar world, massively popular. If you need something for stage and recording, these rock. They’re also found in backlines all over the world. And so on.
Now, Fender has released this Tone Master series, which uses all of their digital processing power to completely, dedicatedly emulate the Deluxe Reverb and Twin amps. Nothing extra, like on my Boss Katana 50 (which I love), which has all sorts of extra amp emulations and gadgets on it. No, just recreate the old originals as faithfully as possible. By all reports, they’ve nailed it.
Looking more closely…
[DR = original Deluxe Reverb / DR TM = Deluxe Reverb Tone Master, and Twin TM = Twin Tone Master]. Prices CAD as of today’s Long & McQuade.
With the original DR and Twin amps, there are a few issues (or non-issues, depending on your point of view), so I’ve put up comparisons by category. See what you think:
– Weight: (DR: 42lbs / DR TM: 23 lbs) (Twin: 60-75 lbs, per model / Twin TM: 33 lbs)
– Fragility/Repair: Tube amps all need work eventually. The Tone Masters are solid state, nothing to be finnicky. Plug and play.
– Cost: (DR: $1500-$3500 / DR TM: $1119.99) (Twin: $1800-$4200 / Twin TM: $1399.99)
– Originals make a huge sound, not really meant as home/practice amps. The Tone Masters make the same huge noise, but have built-in attenuators with multiple attenuation levels, so you can have low volume without sacrificing tone. Yes, you could have an attenuator pedal on the original, but that’s just more cost and hassle.
– Originals have that satisfying big amp buzz/hum, which makes playing cleanly at low levels at home difficult. The Tone Master digital system should remove alot of that buzz/hum, though probably not all. I’d have to try it to see for sure, but I know my Katana does alright.
Honestly, I could see me with a Tone Master DR and happy for the rest of my life. Tube is great, tube was always the dream, but my experiences with the Boss Katana 50 (oh ye g-ds how I love that amp) have shown me that digital need not suck. Amps just keep improving. And if all the reviews online are right, and you really can’t even tell the difference because the Fender engineers have nailed it completely with these TMs, I’d go for the new-fangled and be done!
Yup it’s a series!
Part VI: Need, Reasons To Not, Cost Comparisons
I had a look around at some vintage guitars. Reality: a decent condition 1974 Telecaster, for example, averages $5000 CAD (and up). A 1974 Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul would be a bit higher, say $6000 (and up). That is not chump change. I’d average a 1974 Fender amp around $1000, though many are higher, but we’ll stick to round numbers.
Now, $5000-$7000 is a lot of cheese, in these (or any) times, but also it’s lower than I might have guessed. Of course, I knew next to nothing about pricing vintage gear before beginning all of this.
Is any of this necessary? Absolutely not. There is no need here, this is pure want.
True, I love guitars. I could spend all day in shoppes playing them, getting to know them. For me it’s an exploration, learning what I like and what I don’t, just revelling in all the shapes and features. I spend time online looking at all the permutations and options, watching YouTube videos of demonstrations and conversations about them… It’s in my blood, despite my minimal actual skill level. I just love them.
So do I need it? Haha no. Want? Yes.
I l’ve already laid out some reasons in favour of doing it. But let’s look at the other side, in fairness.
Reasons To Not:
All of the reasons I gave for why I should do it, in Part I: , can easily be negated by logic and reality:
We have a home mortgage, two kids, two cars and all related expenses, so huge outlay like this project is impractical. I could use that money in so many other ways, like replacing my 12 year old car, or a new roof for the house, or… Even saving discretionary funds, over four years, when I got to the purchase I’d still waver and say ‘well, we do need to replace the deck before it falls down…’
I already own four guitars. The Walden part of my brain says it’s already way too much. Here, my lovely wife would most likely agree. She says ‘you can only play one at a time,’ and she’s right. Of course I say ‘yes, but each time I might want something different,’ to which she rolls her eyes. Eternal back and forth…
This was just a thought experiment, a brain fart that has turned into a pleasant, diversionary research project. Would I actually pull the trigger? Sometimes my constantly enthusiastic brain says hell yes, sometimes the tattered remnants of my rational brain says no.
I’d worry about wrecking it (what you own owns you). I know you can’t be precious but I know that I would. And that’s just me. There’s also two young kids in the house, and they’d never intentionally do anything, but accidents can (and do) happen. Mostly it’d be me, though, I’d be most likely to wreck it somehow.
I’m not a good player at all, so would I even do the instrument justice? Is merely loving it as a fetish item enough? Probably not.
Let’s make a leap with this one… By 2024, will we even have a society, or an economy, let alone shoppes to buy guitars? Will we be on the 8th wave of corona by then? Will the lizard people have become our overlords? At this point, I’ve been quarantined about 90 days, already. Should I, instead, be planning against anarchy or disease (or both)? Who knows! It’s weird to write that, and I’m not a prepper or a conspiracy theorist, but I am a realist who doesn’t trust that lazy urge in human nature to just put things fully back the way they were before it’s done. The way things sometimes seem to be headed, we can’t discount things fundamentally changing in some ways, in future. My bottom line is to think of the kids, first and foremost, long before myself. It’s their future that matters.
I should just be happy with what I already have, honour the guitars that are here (they are good!). Love what you have! This is what my lovely wife says all the time, and she’s right. And, as I pointed out in Part I:, I do love the guitars I have. They’re great! That should be enough. Right?
Maybe (in my lack of knowledge) I’ll learn that vintage guitars and amps are tempermental and a pain in the ass to own and maintain, like owning a Harley motorcycle. I’d always be tinkering and mucking around before playing. Am I really up for that? I mean, I just want to play. I’m not a repair guy at all, so if it’s too much work I’d back away from the idea quicker, or regret the outlay for pain in the ass equipment.
Maybe just a nice amp, lower end price-wise, for better sound and that tube excitement, with the guitars I have here… Like a Blues Junior or an AC15… maybe I could still have something nice like that, with excellent sound, without it costing the price of a used car… A reasonable compromise…
And so on.
Of course, what started all of this was the desire for a guitar made in 1974, my birth year. For curiosity’s sake, I have done a wee bit of digging into pricing, comparing vintage to new stuff. You’ll see this list and say “a wee bit?” but yeah, this really is just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who’s ever researched guitars can confirm, it’s endless. Combinations of items could happen too, of course (e.g. reasonable guitar and amp). Prices for vintage are from eBay (1974 models), and Long & McQuade for new. I might discover, once I can get into shoppes in the city, that vintage prices are lower (or higher). These are just a few examples, found recently, to establish base ranges, for instruments and equipment that caught my eye as I was digging around on the web…
All new prices are current as of June, 2020. This is nothing to say about used equipment, which is out there, too, but not covered here.
1974 Fender Telecaster $5000+
1974 Fender Stratocaster $6000+
1974 Gibson Les Paul $6000+
Custom Shop / High End:
1952 Telecaster Relic, aged Nocaster Blonde $4810
1968 Stratocaster Relic, faded 3-colour sunburst $5000
Gibson Les Paul $5500+
Martin acoustic high end $5269 – $12,149
Taylor acoustic high end $5499 – $11,999
Gibson acoustic high end $5299 – $14,699
Fender American original 50s Telecaster $2599
Fender 70th Annversary Broadcaster $2799
Fender American original 50s Stratocaster $2729
Fender American Performer (humbucker neck pickup) $1599
Gibson Les Paul 50s Standard $3299
Gibson 2019 BB King Lucille $6399
Gibson ES-335 figured semi-hollow $4599
Gibson Hummingbird acoustic $2399 – $6199
Fender PM-1 all mahogany acoustic $879
Fender PM-3 Standard acoustic $999
Gibson G-45 Studio acoustic $1299
Martin 00X1AE Grand Concert acoustic/electric $809
Taylor 114ce Grand Auditorium acoustic/electric $1199
Epiphone BB King Lucille $1099
Epiphone ES-335 Dot semi-hollow $629 (Pro $649) (Deluxe $699)
Epiphone Casino $899
Epiphone Les Paul Modern $799-$979 (solid-faded)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard gold top $699
PRS SE Custom 22 & 24 $1019+
Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic/electric $519
Epiphone 1964 Texan acoustic $649
Epiphone Dove Pro $519 acoustic
1974 Fender amplifier $1000+
’65 Twin Reverb $2029
’65 Deluxe Reverb amplifier $1539
’65 Princeton Reverb reissue $1399
Bassbreaker 18/30 combo $1099
Vox AC30 2×12 $1799
Blues Junior IV 15w $839
Bassbreaker 15w $899
Vox AC15 (C1 $949) (C2 $1150)
Kemper Profiler Head ($2375), w. Remote ($2994), Cabinet 1×12 200w $810
Amplitube 4 (computer) $195, w. Mesa Pro Duo $325
Yamaha THR10 20w ($379) 30w ($569)
Boss Katana 100 (1×12 $499, 2×12 $679)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are so many options, combinations of the above, and so many more out there besides.
So what to do, if I’d mark my 50th?
Maybe vintage guitar and amp, go for broke? Or maybe just the vintage guitar, run it through my kick-ass Katana 50… Or maybe just a vintage amp with my kick-ass Classic Vibes I already own and love… Or maybe a decent mid-price guitar for the Katana 50… Or maybe a decent (my first) tube amplifier and jam the guitars that are here… Or maybe reasonable guitar and tube amp…
Or maybe nothing, just be happy with what I already have and honour those, recognize this as the thought experiment that it is and let any new guitar equipment come to me as it will, when money and the right thing coincide, without forcing it with an arbitrary year/date.
Of course, I want them all. Every single damn one. I know I’d love them all. But if I had to choose? I’m honestly wondering if I shouldn’t just save money for four years, see where we’re at, socially and personally, and then see what my gut says.
Good thing I have four years to think about this!
What are your thoughts, now you see numbers, and the other side of the coin? All of my reasons for wanting to do it (Part I: ) are, I feel, pretty sound. All of the reasons to not, as listed above, are also sound.
Let me know what you think!
It’s a series!
Part V: Pedals
I know all of this is pretty far down the rabbit hole, and I’m not even sure anyone really cares about any of this, at this point, I’m just trying to take everything in and come to the best decision. We all know it’ll probably be guitar first, anything else as a bonus, but these mental exercises and musings about equipment are fun, for me, at least!
If amplifier is the route, I cannot forget pedals. True, my first love is a clear, crisp clean sound with lots of headroom and plenty of sweet, sweet reverb. But for those times when you want to get down and dirty, or change the tone in a myriad of other ways, pedals through an old tube/valve amp are where it’s at.
I have never owned a tube/valve amp, and I have never owned a pedal. All of my guitar effects are through my solid state amplifiers (the old Fender G-DEC, and my more recent Boss Katana 50). These amps contain emulations of a pile of pedals, all from the box (no mess on the floor!), so I’ve never had to own a pedal. I don’t even own a tuner pedal (just a cheapo headstock clip-on).
Here are some great examples of pedals from 1974:
Did you notice I missed adding an Arbiter Fuzz Face, a la Hendrix? That’s just because a vintage one of those is probably waaaaaay out of my ballpark. A modern one would do, though!
Do you have any thoughts about guitar pedals? Of course you do! Let me know!
Welcome Back to the ongoing babbling of a guitar nut. This turned into a series, which was unexpected.
Part I: History of my guitars/equipment, and my stated goal to own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024).
Part II: HMO reminded me about acoustic guitars, so they got added into the mix (and damn right)!
Part III: Further down the rabbit hole, I also look at Custom Shop, Re-issue and Anniversary guitars.
Which brings us to…
Part IV: The Amplifiers
Throughout this ongoing process, by natural extension and especially when considering electric guitars, my thoughts turned to amplifiers. I thought, hey, I love my current guitars too, what if I found a vintage amplifier and let the sound of it be my 50th birthday present? Isn’t it the amplifier (and probably pedals), largely, that contributes to tone? At least, equal to the guitar? What if I plugged my $200 guitar into a vintage amp and got a great sound? Says the guy (me) who’s never even played an older guitar (always bought new), and who’s never owned a tube/valve amp (always bought solid state). Therefore, I’m probably talking out of my ass. As usual.
Anyway, I think it’s a worthwhile exploration to have a look at amplifiers, even though some of them could be silly expensive. Still, could an amp, moreso than a guitar, be the route to guitar glory?
Funny, when I think vintage amp, I first think Fender. It’s that tone, isn’t it…
Other great amp makers of the year…
I couldn’t find 1974 Reissue or Anniversary amplifiers, at least not in my cursory search, so if they do exist out there somewhere, I’d consider that too.
There are modern solutions out there, like the Kemper Profiler amp, with everything programmed onboard. There’s also computer software via DAW, like Amplitube, which would provide (probably) any amp/pedal sound you wanted, probably from all of history, comparatively cheaply. From my Mac, which is already hooked through my component stereo and my kick-ass Toronto-made PSB speakers, who’d even need an amp?
What do you think, dear Readers? Is a guitar still the route? Or is it an amplifier? Or is owning older amps a pain in the ass, not worth it?
Getting both guitar and amp together is probably a stretch, unless real deals were to be had.
I’m just trying to cover all the bases (er, not basses…)!
Yep, this has officially become a series, without my intending it to do so. Fun! Thanks for Reading!
Part I: I laid out my guitar/equipment history, and expressed my desire to own an electric guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024).
Part II: HMO correctly reminded me, in my neglect, that acoustic guitars also kick ass. So, I added them to my consideration for the project.
Part III: Further Down The Rabbit Hole
This is just a musing, really, but as this has gone on, part of me wondered about other guitars… I know the idea is to own a guitar from the same year of my birth.
However, the further I get into thinking about this, the more I realize I just want to own every guitar in the world. My lovely wife always sighs, rolls her eyes a bit, and reminds me that I can only play one at a time. And I remind her that, while that is true, one never knows which one I’d want to play on any given day, so having options at hand makes perfect, logical sense. And so we remain at an impasse…
But since I’m talking about expensive guitars, this is fun mental exercise…
A) Custom Shop Guitars:
There can be great beauty in these, and if I found the right one that spoke to me, I could be happy for life. They could be the same money, or more, as a 1974 vintage, so this wouldn’t be an add-on to a vintage 1974 guitar, it’d have to be The One.
On this point, I must mention that I am on the fence about relic-ed guitars, as many Custom Shops are. Half of me thinks it’s silly, and wouldn’t I want to make my own marks and dings and wear on the instrument over time, come by the feel of it honestly? The other half of me thinks it’s cool, especially for the fretboard and neck, already pre-worn to be comfortable as hell from the start, like your favourite jeans that just fit right every damn time. This is another thing which, if I went this route, would have to be decided by playing the instrument, how it feels in the moment.
B) Reissues and Anniversary Editions
Perhaps the best compromise solution would be to get a new guitar that has all the specs and features of that 1974 vintage guitar? You’d have the sound and layout, but still be able to break it in yourself. I’d imagine that, in 2024, there will be 1974 50th anniversary reissues made and released. This route could be a cool way to have the best of both worlds…
C) Brand new 2024 guitar:
Why not consider buying a brand new guitar in that year (2024), and forge ahead from there? It’d be from my 50th year and, since I plan to live until I’m at least 90, I’ll have 40 years to break it in and play it and love it completely before it gets left to the kids…
As you can see, the more I think about this project, the more I complicate things. But it’s good to air these things out. Of course, the only real way for me to know will be to get into the shoppes and get guitars into my hands, see how they feel and play, and listen to see if they speak to me as the one for me. That will probably take a while.
Pictured below are some other ideas, examples of guitars that could scratch the itch. Look at all of this MAJESTY! Click on the pics to embiggen!
A) Custom Shop Guitars
Note: NOS means New Old Stock, meant to emulate finding new stock of old guitars in the back of a warehouse somewhere, untouched. Closet Classic means it is meant to emulate a guitar that has been well-kept in a closet at home, not played for years. Heavy Relic, well, that just means they’ve beat the hell out of it in order to try to emulate the feel of a guitar that’s been through the wars on tour for decades.
B) Reissues and Anniversary Editions
Of course, there haven’t been any 50th Anniversarys of the 1974 yet, but in looking through Google images, I did not find too many 1974 Reissues or other Anniversary editions. Perhaps that wasn’t a popular year. I didn’t find any Fender, but it’s possible they exist. I did notice that 1974 was the 20th Anniversary for the Les Paul (1954), but they were released that year of 1974, so they’d fall under vintage (for me), not reissue. There were some 1974 reissues of the Les Paul, though, in later years!
C) New 2024 Guitar
Of course, I can’t include pictures of 2024 guitars here, as they are not built yet, but it’s fun to dream. I’m sure, if society still exists (roughly as we now know it) by then, there will be many awesome guitars from which to choose!
Thanks for Reading!
Recently, in what I believed to be a one-off post, I went through my entire history of guitars and related equipment. If you read all of that, thank you for your patience!
Also in that post, I stated my goal to own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024). That’s just over four years away, which gives me time to save. Vintage guitars ain’t cheap. Vintage Aarons ain’t, either (that’s what she said)! Ahem.
I pointed out the three types of electric guitar under my consideration for the project: The Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, and the Gibson Les Paul.
More has come to light, and with further thought I realize I was remiss to exclude other things, so this has become a series. Therefore, here is Part II…
’Twas Scott, our Heavymetaloverlord, who mentioned he’d prefer a vintage acoustic guitar, given the same goal as me, that he’d get more out of that instrument than an electric. To be honest, I had considered acoustics, briefly, but somewhere along the way in my deliberations of the goal, I’d dismissed them. I shouldn’t have.
Scott is right. A good acoustic guitar can be gold. My own Art & Lutherie, while low-end cheap, also gives a huge and beautiful sound, and just hits every correct button for me. I can only imagine that an acoustic of my own vintage might sound and play exponentially better (depending on the individual instrument). It would also have the same stories to tell, life lived, etc.
During our conversation, I mentioned that I somehow (mistakenly) think of acoustic guitars as starter/first guitars, and as songwriting guitars, but not as every-day players. There are so many things wrong with that line of thinking, and I’ve been blind to it all in my mission to chase electrics. Both are awesome, I was remiss in neglecting acoustics. I mean, the right tool for your mission, that’s the key.
So what’s my mission? I do love electrics. And I do love acoustics. Oh no, do I need to buy two? Haha well yes, obviously, but my bank account says no. But, thanks to Scott, I’ve simply widened my search parameters. I am simply adding genuine acoustics to my deliberations of which one to get. All of the same reasonings for it apply: there’d be a tone in the wood that cannot be replicated (easily) by a new guitar. It’d provide me with constant enjoyment and love the rest of my days, and be an heirloom for the kids. It also wouldn’t require amplification, and could be enjoyed anywhere. So, my mission? 1974 GUITAR.
Below are some examples of beautiful 1974 acoustics. Sharp-eyed Readers will notice that there are no Taylor guitars included. I read that Taylor was founded in 1974, so I’d need to even research if models were available that year, or if they began sales in 1975… I have so much to learn!
Apologies up front for a loooong post. I’ve been chipping away at this for a while. Grab a coffee and a snack, put up your feet, stay a while. I may be on a mission…
As my birthday approaches (next month), I’ve had a goal in the back of my head. It’s a dream, and it may not even happen. But if it does, it will be after a ton of consideration, and would set me up ’til the day I die. And it doesn’t even need to happen. See…
Goal/Dream: Own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974).
Goal Date: 2024, my 50th birthday year
I will explain. But first, a history…
I started playing guitar around 1994. I am self-taught and, moreso now, internet-taught, and even after all these years I’m truly not very good. Not playing-for-other-people good. But, as a music fan, it’s a fun and engaging hobby.
As for guitars, as you can see, even up until today I’ve always trolled the bottom (cheaper) end of guitar ownership:
The Ontario Years I (1994-1999)
1994-ish: Yamaha ??? (acoustic)
My first guitar. I don’t remember the exact model.
It was roughly $300 in about 1994, so not an expensive machine, but definitely a nice one for a beginner.
I got it from the Carpenter Shop in Waterloo, ON.
1997-ish: Epiphone Les Paul Special II (all black) and a Peavy (model ???) amplifier
This was a starter kit from Murch Music (now Long & McQuade) in Cambridge, ON, which came with the guitar, amp, strap, bag, etc. My best guess is about 1997. I loved that guitar, it stayed in tune and had that heavy, fat tone. The all-black just looked kick-ass. The Peavey amp, well, I don’t remember the model, so the picture above is probably all wrong. It was smaller, probably 15w or 20w, solid state amp, a cheapo but it did have an OK sound. I remember one time after I joined a band (for which I played the drums), the guitarist used the amp once on stage and, mic’ed up, it did OK. Not terrible, not great.
The Montreal Years (1999-2001)
I did not buy any new guitar equipment during the two years we lived in Montreal. Weird, really, as there were some really good shoppes there and I never stopped playing…
The Saskatoon Years (2001-2005)
2001-ish: Pignose practice amp
Bought at the Long & McQuade in Saskatoon. It was fun, cheap, although you can’t put distortion through it. I still have it today, but the volume knob on it is now befucked a bit, so I don’t use it anymore. Repair/labour would likely cost close to the same as replacing it, and I don’t know how much I’d even use it, at this point, if I did.
I kept this collection of instruments and amps from about 1994 through to 2005 (from ON to QC to SK). I sold all of this gear (minus the Pignose) to a friend when we moved from Saskatoon back to Ontario in 2005. I didn’t want to carry them on the plane and, despite them being loyal instruments that played well, I felt it might be time for a change on the other end of the move. I kept the Pignose as it was small and easy to move and, worse, with the (faulty) thinking that it’d be all I needed when I got new guitars. Haha I know. Anyway.
The Ontario Years II (2005 – 2020 current)
2005: Epiphone Les Paul Special II (cherry burst).
I went back to Long & McQuades in Cambridge, where I’d gotten my first Epiphone, and I played a ton of guitars in my price range (low end).
I don’t know if it was just familiarity, or if it was that I truly didn’t like any of the others I played, but I ended up buying the same damn guitar I’d had before, in a different finish this time. There’s just something about how it stays in tune, how it feels, it just hits right, and it was definitely affordable.
I still have this beauty today.
2005: Art & Lutherie cedar-top acoustic (blue)
I had a good look at it just now, but it doesn’t even seem to have a model number.
Bought at (the now defunct) Jensen Music shoppe here in my town.
I love it’s huge sound, the feel, everything. In retrospect, I wish I had chosen an acoustic with an electric pick-up in it, but at the time this was the one for me and my budget.
I still have it, still love it.
For those wondering, Art & Lutherie is a division of Godin guitars. They make really nice stuff.
2010-ish: Fender G-DEC amplifier
I was working at the bank back then, and would spend lunch hours just breathing in the guitars at Fromager’s guitar shop. I truly loved a Fender Road-Worn Telecaster they had there, but could never afford it and then it sold. Opportunity lost.
Anyway, one day they had this Fender G-DEC (Guitar – Digital Entertainment Center) amp in on consignment. I fiddled with it on lunch breaks over quite a while. Eventually the shoppe worker said look, just give me your VISA number, take it home for the weekend. If you love it, I’ll charge the card. If you don’t, bring it back. So I took it home, and that night played three straight hours. I loved it. I bought it. It was so much fun, with all its effects, preset sounds and drum/bass loops for practice, and everything. Endless. Made a great upgrade over having just the Pignose.
I still have it here, and just played through it today.
2016: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster
If I were honest, my gold standard dream guitar was always the yellow/blonde Tele with the black pickguard. I mean, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, the list is endless. Good enough for them, good enough for me. Rock, blues, country, surf, rockabilly, you name it.
I’d heard about the Classic Vibe series, which sought to make an affordable copy of those classic era guitars, so it would (reasonably-closely) emulate a Tele bought in the 1950s (with cheaper parts, obviously). I couldn’t find a bad review of them, anywhere online, in fact, most were effusive in their praise. One reviewer called it “sex made of wood.” Hell yeah. So I bought one at my local Long & McQuade. They didn’t have the yellow, only the white, so I did get to play one before buying it, and they ordered in the correct colour for me.
Holy moly, it was a revelation. My first maple neck guitar, my first twangy Tele, and I was in love all over again. Just a different beast entirely than the Les Pauls (obviously). I love it dearly.
2018: Boss Katana 50w amplifier
The Fender G-DEC has done well for me for years, but as I will do, I got down the rabbit hole of Youtube and started watching amplifier reviews. I watched/heard a ton of different ones, without really intending to buy one as I didn’t truly need one. But all reviews pointed at this Katana series as the best damn thing in a long time. I saw how affordable it was, and… I thought the 7w practice amp (size of my Pignose) could be cool but it lacked too many features, though the $130 price wasn’t bad. The 100w (either 1×12 or 2×12) was just too damn big for just playing around the house. So, like Goldilocks, the middle one at 50w was just right for me.
I love everything about it. It sounds amazing, it has all the tones and effects I could ever need to play for hours at a time (without pedals), with more online should I ever choose to download them. It has a power attenuator in it, so I can have it at 50w, 25w, or even 0.5w when I need to be extra quiet, and all that with zero sound quality loss. Still odd to me, there’s no tuner built-in, which is a rookie mistake given Boss’ reputation with tuners, but whatever. This is an absolutely kick-ass amplifier.
2019: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster
As seems to happen to me, another thought began rattling in the back of my brain, that I’d never owned a Strat-body guitar. I knew their history, their place in the pantheon of rock and many other genres. I watched videos about them, the 5-way switch and the contoured body… the disease took hold again, and I dug around relentlessly, though still without real intention to buy one… until, once again based on raving reviews with no bad ones to be found, I finally picked up this beauty from my local Long & McQuade.
At the time I bought it, the series was ending, so there were only two left in their national database. This one came from Charlottetown (so I named it Charlotte). First try, they brought in the wrong guitar (the 60s Strat), but second try they got it right and away I went. I believe they have since revamped the series with slight changes, of course, just my timing. Ah well. No matter.
This guitar is a revelation, every time I plug it in. I love the maple neck, I love all the tonal controls right from the guitar, I love how it feels, the playability, the classic burst finish… it’s a thing of pure beauty.
And that’s me up to today.
As you’ve noticed, none of the guitars I’ve owned have been expensive, or “actual” guitars, as I might call them. Epiphone is a cheap subsidiary of Gibson. Squier is a cheap subsidiary of Fender. Art & Lutherie is a cheap subsidiary of Godin. The Yamaha was the low end of their range.
You know something, I’ve loved all these guitars. I don’t care what it says on the headstock, really, as long as they play well and treat me right. I don’t do guitar hassles, and none of these have ever been a hassle.
I think sometimes what it would be like to own an actual ’52 reissue Telecaster or an American Standard Stratocaster instead of the Classic Vibes, and I did play them in the shoppe. But from playability and feel, even knowing the better wood and parts used on the real Fender, I couldn’t justify the price jumps from my $550 up to their $2000. With small kids and a mortgage, money isn’t in endless supply, so yeah it would be nice to have the actual thing, but mine play super-well too, and they were made by Fender, just cheaper versions with a different name that still falls under their umbrella.
So, after all of that (and kudos to you for sticking around), why this goal, then? Why start to think that I should save up and, in four years’ time, get a guitar from the year of my birth? Do I really need it? Am I not happy with what I have? Who cares?
Well, yes I am happy with what I have. I could cheerfully play away with what’s here for the rest of my life, probably.
Some reasons I can think of to get a 1974 guitar, though:
I’d be 50 years old. It’d be about time I owned something grown-up for myself, instead of just trolling along the cheaper end of things.
I’ve made a lot of sacrifices over the years, opted for less or not at all when I could have taken more, so maybe just once I’m worth it.
There’s a cool resonance there, owning a guitar from my birth year, making me and the guitar a sort of brothers, in a way.
An older guitar, with all its quirks and dings and marks, would have a feel and sound that just can’t be duplicated by a new guitar. A 50 year old guitar would have lived a life, and have stories to tell.
This would be a piece I could hand down to the kids, whichever one has an interest. An heirloom of sorts, because of course I would hold onto it and care for it and play the hell out of it for the rest of however many years I have left on this planet.
We only live once. There is no someday. You have to do things now or you never will. So, it’s about damn time I did it, for myself, you know? Of course, I have four years to save for it, because I refuse to go into a hole to do it, but the reasoning is the same.
This gives me a goal to focus towards. In these trying times, supposing we all survive whatever will come next, and that society still exists in 2024, this allows me to put a little away here and there and then achieve something I will love and cherish forever. It’s good to have a goal.
The only question that remains: Which guitar?
I think it should definitely be an electric guitar. Acoustics are nice, but for me a vintage electric would just be better and I’d likely play it more.
Should it be a Telecaster? A Stratocaster? A Les Paul? I love all three. There are others too, of course, like a 335, or an SG, or a Jaguar, or a Jazzmaster, or… well, you get the idea. But I think it’d be from those main, iconic three. The following pictures are all of 1974 models:
Fender Stratocaster (1974)
These are awesome guitars, always looking good and I love everything about their functionality,
They are built for rock and blues, but they’re also a good all-rounder guitar.
Fender Telecaster (1974)
Probably still my favourite of the bunch, iconic and versatile, fundamentally unchanged since day one because they haven’t had to be, and just so punchy and bright. Simplicity at its finest.
Gibson Les Paul (1974) – big, meaty, hairy and strong, these are the hefty rock guitars of legend, yet can also play beautifully clean and true. I’d go for a vintage cherry or tobacco burst, or even the goldtop…
Right now, I would lean towards the blonde Telecaster. Not the Deluxe, just a basic straight-on 1974 blonde Telecaster with black pickguard. A trusty, loyal, true friend for life, capable of playing anything and weathering every storm. Of course, the Strat and the Les Paul would do really, really well in all seasons too.
The big dilemma is the final decision, as any of these would be worth several thousand dollars. It would have to be the right choice and that would be that! There will be no owning all three, at least, not without a lottery win.
What would you do? Which guitar would you choose? Drop a comment and discuss!
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a cookie. Hell, have two.
Thanks for Reading! Play on! \m/ \m/
The other day, I teased that I was expecting delivery of something awesome here at the KMA Eastern offices. Joy of joys, it arrived today!
So. Y’all know my lovely wife calls my guitars and amps The Other Women. But she’s laughing when she says it, and adds that at least she knows where I am when I’m with them. I do love her so!
In older posts, I introduced you to my acoustic guitar, my Epiphone Les Paul, and (most recently acquired), my Squier CV Telecaster. Also, the Pignose and Fender G-DEC amps. I have played along happily with all of this gear for years… except for the Tele, everything is at least a decade in use around here!
And so herein lies a tale I like to call: Another New Other Woman (or, technically: my other other other other other other woman)…
As happens to us all (surely), I’ve spent quite some time over the past year watching guitar gear reviews and demonstration videos on the Tubes Of You. I seemed to be focussing on amps, though, which is odd because I love my G-DEC and Pignose. The only thing I knew would send me over the moon would be a tube (valve) amp, but those are pricey so it wasn’t gonna happen.
Then, back in July (for my birthday), I received an Amazon gift card as a prezzie. Sweet! I spent that thing a million times without actually clicking Submit Order – it was fun just window shopping. So naturally I combined my guitar gear video-watching with some Amazon price-checking…
Yeah OK, I looked at a ton of amps, varying wattages, capabilities. I compared them all and watched a ton more videos. A plan seemed to be forming… I looked at Fender, Marshall, Vox, Yamaha, Bugera, Orange, Blackstar and Boss/Roland, among others, and many models within each brand. There is so much awesomeness out there!
Finally, I narrowed things down to three (maybe four) amps I really liked, and kept them in mind for someday. Then, after Christmas, one of my two that topped the list was listed at a price I liked, and I jumped on it. It arrived today from a secondary seller in Quebec, and in perfect shape.
KMA Readers, I give you a (brief) KMA Exclusive Unboxing Of My New Boss Katana KTN-50, The Photo Essay Edition!
The only thing it doesn’t have, which is odd for a digital emulating amp, is a built-in tuner. Seriously, Boss? My 15w G-DEC has one! Most others do too. Weird. Ah well!
But it can use the Roland foot controller pedal, hooks up to the computer for 50 more effects through USB, though it already has every effect I’ll need for ages already built in:
Booster: blues drive/overdrive/distortion, and Mod: chorus/flanger/phaser
Delay: digital/analog/tape echo, and FX: tremolo/t. wah/octave
And all are easily adjustable (with the twist of a knob) to achieve exactly the amount of effect you need, singularly or in concert. Such a slick set-up, really. Kudos to the designers.
There are 5 main sound settings: clean, crunch, lead, brown sound (that 5150 howl!), and an acoustic guitar setting built in. Sadly, my acoustic doesn’t have a pick-up in it so I can’t try that out. Alas.
It also has a power attenuator, so it can be the full 50w, 25w, or 0.5w for late-night practice. The best bit about that is, there’s no tone or sound quality loss while attenuated, even at 0.5w! Glorious!
They do make three other models in this series: the 7w Katana Mini (which gets rave reviews as a take-anywhere practice amp), a 100w 1×12, and a 100w 2×12 model. I eyed the wee 7w, for the sheer portability of it (and the price), but in my heart I wanted more. The 100w 1×12 and 2×12 are too big for home use, at least for me. And I’m not gigging with it, just playing at home. So the 50w was perfect.
And that is my new Boss Katana 50w amp. It is SO GOOD! It is a thing of beauty. I love it unreservedly. I played with it about an hour already and never got off the clean tone – I was trying out all the settings! The sound is spectacular, honestly. This thing will provide so many hours of great tones and fun – the mind boggles.
Plus, I can now use my time playing through this tone monster instead of watching videos of amps! Here’s to many (many) years of beauty with Another New Other Woman!
Rather than trying to film my hacking away at it, here’s a professional (and really excellent) demo that really captures the tones and capabilities of this beast. Watch the whole thing – I did! Several times! 🙂
No Need To Evolve
Look at this handsome bastard.
Man, I love sharks. They haven’t evolved in hundreds of millions of years because it’s unnecessary. They are already pretty much perfect, apex predators. Why change? They already rock.
I was thinking the same thing about Telecasters. The list of world-renowned players who jam on these guitars is endless, and that’s for every good reason you can imagine. Sure, over the years, people have maybe thought to add bells and whistles and gizmos to some side models, but I never liked those. Gimme a two pick-up, strings-through body with a butterscotch finish and a maple neck and I’d be gone for hours. Days. Weeks. My family may never see me again.
My dream guitar. The ultimate Other Woman.* Like the shark, never had to evolve. It was already perfect. Some day, Tele. Some day!
Look at these handsome bastards.
* My lovely wife calls my guitars the Other Women.
For the past couple of days, I’ve introduced you to my two guitars. I was also remiss in not telling you what my lovely wife calls my two guitars: The Other Women. So there’s that.
Anyway, if you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that (way back) in 2007 I posted this big long post, wherein I gave a run-down of my guitar equipment. And in that post, I also talked about my amps, of which I had two. Well, I still have those same two today and they are still as awesome as ever!
The little Pignose is such a practical, fun little practice amp. You can take it anywhere, and if you’ve got batteries, you can go play in the park under a tree, or wail a solo at a campfire party… Not recommended to put any distortion through it, but for just noodling around wherever you are, this one’s a gem.
And the G-DEC? It is (quite possibly) the greatest practice amp ever. Mine’s the 15W (the 30W is tempting but this one’s far loud enough for my needs here). You can read all about it at that post link I provided above. I know it’s been updated in the years since, but this one has never come even close to being boring, or in need of replacement, for me! It’s got enough preset sounds and user-controlled settings to keep even a marginally-interested player going for hours and hours (and hours). I love it completely.
Following up on yesterday’s post, wherein we talked about my electric guitar (the full story of my gear to be found in a post from August of 2007), I now bring you my acoustic guitar. Electric is awesome, but sometimes (especially when writing songs, or often when I’m playing the blues) an acoustic is what’s needed.
She’s a blue, Canadian-made Art & Lutherie (made by Godin) that was also quite inexpensive, especially considering the quality of this instrument. She has a cedar top, and a big, roomy sound. There’s great sustain at all times and, not unlike my Epiphone electric, she holds her tuning forever. I toyed with the idea of installing an after-market electric pick-up, but decided to leave her pristine.
This guitar does not currently have a name. My lovely wife said if I played this one long enough, a name would present itself. So far, though, this hasn’t truly happened. No matter, she’s a solid acoustic warrior, and my go-to guitar for all sorts of situations.
I present to you my acoustic guitar!
There was talk, a while back, about guitars. I like talking about guitars! So I thought I’d share the gear I’ve got here.
Now, AGES ago (in August of 2007, to be precise!), I posted about the equipment I have here. None of this stuff has changed. The guitars, the amps, all of it. I am loyal to my guitars.
So here’s my electric guitar. She’s an Epiphone Les Paul Special II, red with a sunburst middle. As noted in that link (above), my Saskatoon friends voted to name her Cherry Firecrotch.
I love this guitar. She wasn’t expensive, but she plays well, has great tone, and (perhaps most importantly), she stays in tune for ages. A true pleasure to play, often for hours at a time.
I give you: Cherry Firecrotch!
Folks, I have a new toy, another addition to the family. But first, let me give you a brief history of how things have reached today’s state of bliss…
You see, I like to think I can kinda play the guitar. Sometimes. Poorly. But still, it’s a hobby and I love to mess around with sounds and songs and stuff. My first-ever guitar, bought from the Carpenter Shop in Waterloo when I was 17 or 18, was a Yamaha acoustic that I played constantly and with which I was really very pleased. It wasn’t long before I wanted some electric capability, so I went to Murch Music in Cambridge and bought an Epiphone Les Paul Special, in solid black. What a great guitar. To go with it (as part of a package), I got a Peavey amp that ended up being fairly useful, if basic. It held up on gig nights with the band, so I suppose it did alright, but I was never completely sold on it. What the hell, it came with the deal, right? Right.
I had this combination of instruments for several years and was really rather happy with (most of) the whole thing. I had them when we moved from Ontario to Quebec, and they came with us when we moved from Quebec to Saskatchewan a couple of years later. Not long after that, I went to Long & McQuaide in Saskatoon and traded in the Peavey amp for the small Pignose, managing to convince them to sell it to me at the price I’d seen at Steve’s Music on Queen West in Toronto. The little Pignose is great – good sound in a very easy-to-transport leather-wrapped box, and it even takes batteries so one could play absolutely anywhere. Super-Nice!!
A few years later, when it came time to leave Saskatchewan for Ontario again, we were travelling very very light, and I decided to leave my guitars behind – mainly for space-saving reasons. Besides, it was a chance for a fresh start. Now, you might think that’s a little crazy, given that I was fortunate to find reliable equipment with which I was happy, but that’s the way it went. Our friend DrRuth immediately bought both guitars, which felt good to me, knowing they went to a good home where they’d be cared-for and played on a regular basis. I kept the Pignose, though, because it was small enough to come with us and I really do love that amp.
Upon arrival in Ontario, I went straight back to Murch Music in Cambridge and bought another Epiphone Les Paul, this time the Special II, in cherry red with a sunburst center. I tried a few other types, but to be honest I had had that black Epiphone for so long, and grown so used to it, that anything else felt like just that – something else. Nothing else felt exactly right. Mind you, a ’51 Re-Issue butterscotch blonde Fender Telecaster would sure make my day, but we’d just moved halfway across this really fucking huge country of ours, and cost was an issue. Anyway, in a blog I no longer maintain, I offered up a contest (a free beer!) to my friends and readers to name the new guitar. The winning entry, an amalgamation of suggestions, came from friends in SK. The name? Cherry Firecrotch. I still owe those responsible a beer, so hopefully sooner than later we’ll get out there for a visit so I can pay up.
After several months of happy noodling on Cherry Firecrotch, I began to miss the acoustic guitar option. Electric is nice, but sometimes (especially for song-writing, I find) an acoustic is just what the doctor ordered. So, I did some research here in my small town. I didn’t hold out much hope, figuring I’d have to make a trip to the city, but I was pleasantly surprised to find just what I wanted at Jensen’s, a little shop downtown. What a beauty! It’s a blue Art & Lutherie acoustic, and the sound is absolutely huge. It’s so clear and strong, and it holds its tune really well. I fell in love, and the thing came home. Simple as that.
Time passed happily and, recently, I was hanging out downtown in a guitar shop called Fromager’s and saw a Fender amp that intrigued me. I read up on it online that night, and realized that it could very well be an awesome addition to the collection. My Pignose is great, especially as a little practice amp, but its volume is limited and the small size of the speaker means it’s not a good idea to run distortion through it. And sometimes, man, big volume and distortion is exactly what I want! Anyway, this Fender amp was on consignment, at a considerable savings from the sticker price of a new one. I talked up the guy and it turns out they allow rentals for a few days, to try it out before buying it. That’s totally what I did.
Folks, my wife is a very patient woman. She has to be, to live with me! Sure, she sometimes calls my guitars The Other Women, but she tolerates my little obsessions with grace, beauty and style. When I began babbling specs about the amp every chance I got, she knew I was hooked. She said she gave me 15 minutes with it when I got it home on rental – if I shut it off after 15 minutes, she knew I wasn’t sold. But when I played for over an hour and hadn’t even realized that the time had disappeared, she just accepted that we had a new family member. As you’ll have surmised by now, I did indeed buy it.
The amp is a 15W Fender G-DEC. It comes in a 30W, which would be a whole lot louder (and has a few more options), but this 15W’s price was too good to pass up. And I gotta tell you, this amp kicks some serious ass. It has 17 different classic Fender amp simulations, 29 effects, 10 reverbs, a built-in tuner, MIDI capability, a 14-second Internal Phrase Sampler recording loop for riff practice and harmonization, and even a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
It’s an incredibly well thought-out product. This thing is totally awesome! I can switch from metal sludge to a clear jazz room effect with a small twist of the dial, using the 50 preset sounds that are factory installed. Plus, I can user-define 50 more of my own and store them, too! It has pre-recorded MIDI bass lines and drum tracks for each of the 50 preset sounds, too, so it’s really a band in a box! I can change the key, the tempo, everything about each option and all very easily indeed. Frankly, it’s the ultimate practice amp. The sound is loud and clear, with no boot-up time between settings.
As if that wasn’t enough, it hooks up to the PC for downloading other MIDI files as needed, allows for hooking up a CD or MP3 player so you can play along with your favourite songs and even has a flat top so it’s easy to set your player on it. There’s a second input jack on the back so a teacher or a friend can join in, and a headphone jack so the whole thing can be kept to yourself so your neighbours don’t get woken up at 3 a.m.! Time just flies when I’m playing on it, as the options really are endless.
I really, really love this amp.
And so, that brings you up to date on the varying history of my musical instrument collection. It was probably more information than you cared to know about a bunch of equipment I’ve owned, but that’s what we do here at the KMA, folks – we go out there on limbs and come back with every scrap of information we can possible uncover, faithfully reporting it all back to you. You’re welcome.
So yeah, the Fender G-DEC. Wahooooooo!!!