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GEAR AND GUITARS - Toys!


The story so far... Gear

Having worked for years at 'A1 Music' in Manchester, I can honestly say I have played thru nearly all popular classic amps. I like so much diverse rock music that each amp has to be taken into account on its own character. My favourite amps are all typical hard/heavy rock amps and there are two types which I love - firstly the British EL34 Marshall sound for crunch but also the smooth Mesa Boogie/Engl/Soldano sound. Possibly a mix of both types would be perfect! I guess I like anything that rocks...

GUITARS

I have bought and built a lot of guitars. So many are not pictured here... I usually have at least one guitar project on my workbench - the ones below in my current family have become part of my house furniture.
I have 5/6 electric guitars and an acoustic. Sure I do not need them all and to some this is just guitar glutany but traditionally for live gigs I need(ed) a main guitar and then a backup. I sometimes had 2 groups so I had 2 different types of main guitars, so with backups it became 4, and then 5 etc...

Traditional 2010 Gibson Les Paul

I bought this very beautiful Traditional Gibson Les Paul (see pic at top) in 2011 so it must be at least a 2010 which came non-chambered. It looks a bit like a Warren Hayes Les Paul. It puts all the copies to shame. The precision of the fretting is perfect which makes it perfect for recording as the tuning is flawless. It has regular medium frets which is normally a slight put-off for me, yet the neck scale probably compensates this so it plays beautifully.

The neck is perhaps a little too fat for me, a typical 59. A 60's neck is slightly thinner. Still, I have learnt to enjoy the difference which is very pleasing indeed.

In the pic above it has the original pickups - today it has Seymour Duncans, a JB SH4 in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck which I absolutely love.

A Gaggle of old friends

I have 4 here in one shot. I built the black Satch guitar myself but later it was destroyed. Actually all of these guitars now are damaged in some form or other, like me, but still play wonderfully.

Poor old Satch and friends...

1988 USA Fender Stratocaster - Current Family

I bought myself a new USA Fender Stratocaster as a birthday present in 1988. See white Strat in above pic. It was fine as a normal Strat but I really wanted a rock guitar. ESP in Duesseldorf revamped it with a Floyd Rose tremolo and added jumbo frets. I have certainly tried out at least 10 different types of different pickups in it over the last 20 years. I like several different pickups for different reasons, but settled with Jeff Beck Fender 'Noiseless Pickups'. I used this as the main guitar with my Deep Purple bands and has gigged with me everywhere.

1993 ESP Geo Lynch 'Sculls and Snakes' - Current Family

I bought this ESP Geo Lynch 'Sculls and Snakes' back in 1993 - the Jap. salesman was crying as they were closing the shop down in Duesseldorf - they were all jobless and homeless... He begged me to take it (or any for that matter) - the price went from 3200 DM down to a closing deal of just 500 DM (250 Euros today) - they genuinely were broke. Geo Lynch played this personally in one of his workshops in the 'Braun Bär' in Duesseldorf's Alt-Stadt just a week or two beffore I got it. This guitar is also unique as they never had time to finish adding the 'Sculls and Snakes' mother-of-pearl inlays - which is standard with such a guitar. Geo Lynch likes big wide necks and I do not, so later it was re-skimmed down like a Fender neck (43mm), and I moved the volume pot away from under the tremolo arm as I could never get to the damned thing. I fitted a real switch to change pickups and added a DP switch to split the neck pickup. I replaced the original prototype Screamin' Demon humbucker with a LH-100 from an ESP LTD guitar, which I had to split manually. I replaced that with a Seymour Duncan 4 later on. The lacquer over the big snake has split badly and there are a few small fissures here and there - getting old like me. Strangely my Fender, which is older, has no such issues - better quality with Fender I guess...

ESP - old and cracking up like me...

2006 Tweety Stratocaster - Current Family

I bought this Japanese Strat copy on eBay for approx 50 Euros. I was sick of dragging the expensive ESP with me to gigs in case a string broke on the Fender, and one night the ESP even got knocked over, so the nonsense stopped. This is actually an very old Jap. Strat copy from the 70's (name unknown) which had clear lacquer. l replaced the neck with a Fender neck, re-fretted it with jumbo frets, added a Floyd Rose, replaced the old cheap machine heads and it finally got Fender 'noiseless' pickups. It certainly vibrates nicely when strummed and has a strong sustain - it was probably a good table in an earlier life... It is beautiful to play and it has become more than a 'get me home' guitar..

70's Jap Tweety... I also repaired the wood around the tremolo area as the wood split. I inserted a block of hard birch, repainted it yellow and wow! It turned out very well - We call it Tweety.

2008-2009 ESP Ltd Kamakaze

2008 - 2009 ESP Ltd Kamakaze. I used this a lot with Fake Dolls. It was a dream to play but I finally sold it as the neck was too wide and I felt too old for such a poser axe. George Lynch has very large hands and I did not want to skim the neck and ruin it. It was very long and heavy too. It was mostly sat in the celler whilst I played something else. It was really cool, although not for me.

ESP Kamikaze... The Japanese ones go for ridiculas money - like 3000€ new etc. This Ltd came from korea and it was certainly good enough!

Daniel's ESP

2008 - Here is Fabian with Daniel's guitar. I made this from a mixture of parts. The body is ESP and is beautiful wood. The tremolo is Ibanez. The neck was a 7ender which I re-formed. The pickups are Seymour Duncan. It plays very well indeed...

Daniel's ESP Frankenstein...

2008 Zack Wylde Les Paul clone

2008 Zack Wylde Les Paul clone - this is a long story... I bought this on eBay and it arrived with a broken neck (see below).

Ouch! A job for the master...

I repaired the neck and repainted it. I added ESP LH-150 pickups and re-fretted it with jumbos. I wanted to sell it as I do not play Les Pauls, but it finally went to Nico as a Christmas present. However they could not get it to settle so it came back and then was sold on FleaBay again.

Zack 'Fabian Wylde... as you can see it looked great afterwards, but what a bastard eBay bastard dishonest bastard seller...

2008 - 2009 Bach Les Paul

2008 Bach Les Paul - This picture does no justice to this fine hand-made guitar. Solid mahogany and a lovely top. It played lovely too - I added 2 x LH-100 pickups and it really sang!

However the edges of the body were too sharp and cut into my right forearm and stomach whilst playing. I could not play it when standing, especially in rehearsals. I finally sold it on Fleabay.

A very good LP. but a sharp-edged body...

2006 - 2007 Epiphone Les Paul

I bought this on eBay (2006 - 2007) to replace a Bell&Head Les Paul I ruined (I messed up it's fingerboard). This is a rare 1991 'Czech Rep.' Gibson-Epiphone (the only European manufacturer) and as you can see the previous owner has damaged it very childlessly. It looked and sounded great but I sold it a year later as I could not get warm with it.

A ding-donged Les Paul.

OTHER GEAR

Ceriatone 1987 Plexi

My 50 watt bad boy is below Joerg's JTM-45.

I bought my Ceriatone 1987 Plexi to get an authentic looking old Marshall for my Deep Purple band. This bad boy really sings with pedals and is very responsive. Once I turn it up it breaks up, however you reach band-playing volume long before it has even woken up and an amp does not always sound good just because it is loud. I have been fighting for years to get a usable good distortion sound without blowing out the windows and I have given up. I have tried a mix of pedals and attenuators and I also tried some TAD Tonebone EL84 tubes which reduce the power so it breaks up sooner, yet nothing pleased me. With my Strat I attempt(ed) to get a Ritchie Blackmore sound and yet still get a singing response but it was not easy... I used dozens of Tubescreamer overdrive pedals but they sucked away the natural tone and made everything 'middy'. I gave up and settled on a Vox Satchurator as it covers everything in a live situation very well, especially when cleaning up with the volume control. Today it has a master volume gain channel and I use it with a Maxon OD808.
Some time ago 'Stone' added a serial fx loop for me. It can only take +4dB units but this is perfect for my Rocktron Intelliflex LTD. I can also use pedals up front, after the Satchurator, so I still can get some original sound oddities.

I built the head cabinet myself. I must find a grid for the rear panel though... The box is a Marshall 'Greenback' 100W 1960AX which is tonally perfect for 'old vintage' sounds.

Marshall 100 Watt DSL 2000

My old trusty Marshall DSL 100 watt amp

This amp is modern sounding and its preamp channels deliver professional sounds, great for recording. It has nice full gain sounds when it is loud, but I need to use my Maxon OD808 to get it to sing. I use the Classic channel in clean mode just for clean sounds. For everything else I only use the first gain stage of the Red Ultra channel. I push it to approx. 8/10. The sounds are warm and fat without getting muddy. The reverb is ok although I only use reverb from my Rocktron fx-unit.

Gary Moore used these for years and Vinnie Moore used his for recording 'You are here' and 'Showtime' with UFO. Jeff Beck uses them as well so they are quite a renowned work horse.

Jet City 333 H100 Watt

The new kid on the block...

I love this amp as it reminds me of my old 5150 and the F.U.C.K van Halen sound, which is obviously close to the Dann Huff sound from Giant. It has good clean and crunch sounds and has a Soldano solo sound channel. I play a note and it sustains to the max - something the DSL does not do without the Maxon o/d pedal. With the the Maxon o/d pedal it is even wilder!! It also has a +4dB fx-loop which works great with my Rocktron Intelliflex. I recently bought a matching JetCity loudspeaker box for it but I did not like it too much - too buzzy, so I sold it again.

EFFECTS

No guitarist wants to be without a few effects and I need a few basics too. I usually need (like) a touch of reverb, a tuner, delay and a volume boost for solos. Anything else is ketchup.

Rocktron Intelliflex LTD fx-Loop Unit

This old faithful fx-loop unit (the lower one in the pic) is my Rocktron Intelliflex LTD which gives me 3 or 4 echo sounds with different volume levels, pretty chorus sounds, a harmony octivider (which is great for Brian May but I can't get to do what I want) and a noise gate. I prefer this unit as it has the best reverb and delay quality.

This not a new kid on the block, but a great grandad of effect units!

Pedal Box of Tricks

I built a pedal board which is an upside-down telecaster guitar case. If I need an assortment of pedals then I load what I need to reduce any possible ground hum. I needed this setup with the Deep Purple band(s) as the Plexi originally did not have an fx. loop. You can see a few gems in the picture:

This is a rough coffin, but it works fine...

I have had a small number of my main pedals for some time now:

- a Vox Satchurator for distortion with the Plexi only
- a Jimmy Hendrix Cry Baby which is more 'vocal' than a normal Cry-Baby (which has a stupid + weak power connector - moan...)
- a Dunlop Uni-Vibe for the full unadulterated Hendrix/Trower sound (which sadly is not full-bypass and sucks - tone - moan...)
- a Paul Gilbert Flying Machine which is a great flanger with some special effects
- a Boss chorus Pedal
- a MXR Phase 90
- a Maxon OD808 for solo overdrive or even for just a gentle push
- a Zoom G2 Ritchie Kotzen fx unit which I use as a tuner or for quick recordings
- a Whammy 4 pedal