Friday 29 November 2002

Ever wanted to play guitar but are convinced that you are totally unmusical? Then this could be for you: the McNally Strumstick. Looks really cool to me!

Thursday 28 November 2002

Now here's useful - - a UK-based supplier of guitar parts, accessories, strings, effects, books, videos, etc, etc.
The Official Hagstrom Website - oddball swedish guitars.
Ever since I posted that entry here about the Aria Legend plexiglass guitar that I was selling, this website has been getting lots of hits from people searching for plexiglass guitars.

Here are some more perspex-bodied guitars:Of course the original perspex guitars were the now legendary Ampeg Dan Armstrong instruments from the 1960s. These had been re-issued in relatively recent years, although I can't find a link to any official webpage for them. However, there are some nice pics of the Dan Armstrong see-thru bass over at

Wednesday 27 November 2002

Line illustration of classic stanceLooking through my bookshelves back at home I re-discovered an old paperback book I bought many years ago at a jumble sale, "Guitar" by Dan Morgan. This was published back in 1965 and is, in places, absolutely (unintentionally) hilarious.

A few examples:
The Solid Electric consists of little more than a neck, pickups and a small solid body, the shape of which has no bearing whatsoever on the tone produced. [...] ...because of the lack of acoustic properties, a Solid can be produced more cheaply. This is not to say that one cannot pay a very high price for a Solid Electric with special refinrements and gimmicks - but the reason for this is more one of fashion than of true musical value. The big disadvantage of a Solid is that without an amplifier it is incapable of producing a musical tone. I would never advise a beginner to start with a Solid.

You're going to have to cut those lovely long finger nails on your left hand. If you don't make this sacrifice for your Art, you're never going to be able to press the strings down in the correct manner.

Jazz guitarWith modern amplifiers rated anywhere from ten to fifty watts, it is possible to make a lot of very nasty noise with an Electric guitar. Somewhere along the line a lot of groups have got hold of the idea that the louder they play the more 'beat' they will have. This can be very wearing on the nerves, and from the customer's point of view about as entertaining as being dropped from a great height into the middle of Armageddon. There's absolutely no sense in trying to give your audience shell shock. Play at a reasonable volume, but err rather on the side of quietness - they may even listen to what you're doing, INSTEAD OF BATTLING TO SURVIVE IN SPITE OF IT.
The book also generously devotes a whole six and a half pages to a chapter on BASS GUITAR:
Of late years there has been a considerable vogue for the use of Electric Bass guitar, a four stringed instrument pitched an Octave lower than the standard guitar. [...] Taking the place of the conventional String bass in a group, the Bass guitar has several advantages over that instrument. A lot of String Bass players have been able to get away for many years with producing nothing more than a percussive 'thud' from their instruments, and paying little attention to the harmonic correctness of the actual note they are fingering. There can be, and neither do I see any reason for, such faking on the Bass guitar, which produces a clearly audible musical tone. When the vogue started, many Bass players who thought they were onto an 'easy number' moved over to the Bass guitar - only to find for the first time in their careers that they now had to concentrate on playing the right notes. For the guitarist, on the other hand, the Bass guitar is an easy number.

Tuesday 26 November 2002

My Guitars

My guitar collection, as of November 2002
Well, it may seem to the casual reader that I've been selling off all my guitars (the Eko 12-string, the Strat, the Tele, the Aria plexiglass) but I do still have a modest collection of instruments, as can be seen in the above picture - plus one or two in the background that are "projects" and will most likely be sold when finished.

At the moment the collection is as follows:

Fernandes Revolver Pro
Fernandes Revolver Pro
This is my main guitar and the reason that I stopped playing Fenders. It features a 24-fret neck, Floyd Rose licensed tremolo, EMG pickup in the bridge position and a Fernandes Sustainer in the neck position. I always used to be a huge fan of the EBow but this guitar and its brilliant Sustainer system makes the EBow virtually redundant. The main difference is that when using the EBow, you want a clean sound on your amp and let the EBow do the over-driving, but with the Sustainer it works much better with an overdriven sound. You can also sustain and slide whole chords, or just use the Sustainer to beef up your sound, and used in conjunction with the Floyd Rose things can go Over The Top very easily. Another bonus factor is that the guitar never seems to go out of tune. I just love it, although I'll admit that it isn't the prettiest guitar in the world. It is actually finished in a dark metallic green (which doesn't photograph too easily) which has earnt this guitar the nickname of Emerald.

Fender Squier Stagemaster 7
Squier Stagemaster 7
I bought this for a song on eBay a few months back. I had for many years been intrigued at the possibilites that a seven string guitar could offer, but I didn't want to buy an expensive instrument and find that I couldn't play it. This cost me the grand sum of £130, so it hardly broke the bank. And very interesting it is too. The seventh string - a low B - is no problem at all. It is easy enough to adapt six string chords - adding extra notes on the low B - or else there is the option to not sound that string. It is also great for playing riffs on - low bassy powerchords. On the whole the guitar is a bit of a growler. It has a very different tone to the bright-sounding Fernandes; this is a ballsy guitar. Oh, and as it's sparkly purple, I nicknamed this one "Amethyst". (There were a few dings in the finish, but I filled these with purple nailvarnish). The only thing that confuses me about this guitar is the upside-down headstock. I often find myself turning the machine head for totally the wrong string that I'm trying to tune.

Bozo the Clown, short-scale bass
Short-scale bass
This was another eBay purchase from earlier in the year. I was looking for a bass guitar that I could use as a "fuzz bass"; something that I could essentially use as a guitar, play overdriven powerchords on it, etc. This bass fits the bill perfectly, and - despite its short scale - sounds quite good as a regular bass too. This may be in part due to the retro-fitted jazz bass pickup. I have to admit that I quite like the sound of the neck pickup - deep and boomy - would be great for those dub-reggae-style basslines. The bizarre "artwork" on this guitar was not my doing. I bought it like that. Basically, someone has painted it green at the top and blue at the bottom, and has then covered the body with cut-out vinyl shapes. The stuck-on red stripe dividing the blue and green halves actually goes along the back of the neck. You'd think that it would be annoying when playing, but surprisingly it isn't. The paintwork is quite crazed in parts so I'd say that the guitar was refinished in this manner many years ago. The angular scratchplate, pickup surround and truss rod cover have all been cut by hand and presumably added by the same person who "customised" this beastie. I have no idea what make this bass is. The person I bought it from thought it might be an Ibanez, but after having done a little research, I can find nothing that looks like it might have been this.

Old 70s Tele copy
Tele copy
This cost me £52. I bought it as project fodder, thinking that perhaps I could refinish it, add a snazzy perloid scratchplate, change the hardware, etc. However, upon receiving the guitar I found that there was nothing wrong with it, and that it's actually a very nice, very playable guitar. The pickups - both of which are chrome-covered - have a surprisingly high output and sound excellent. I'd imagine this would make a nice little blues or slide guitar. The body - which appears to be real wood, by the way, and not plywood, is much thinner than on a real Telecaster and its shape is not very accurate to the traditional Telecaster outline. The most obvious oddity on this guitar is the inclusion of the jack-socket on the metal control panel and not on the side of the guitar. However, it is a very likeable guitar, and I don't want to alter anything on it, as I think it would spoil a very nice instrument. (And if you're wondering why I just sold my real Fender Telecaster but have still got this, can I remind you again of how much it cost? My Fenders were worth lots of money, a money injection which my ailing bank account desperately needed!) As to the provenance of this one, I think that it might possibly be a Shaftesbury, but it is hard to be sure as the badge that was once pinned to the headstock (which is much larger and chunkier than on the real thing) is missing.

Fender Jazz Bass, fretless
fretless Fender Jazz Bass
This is absolurely gorgeous. It was another recent eBay purchase for just £250 and arrived in virtually new condition. It is a Mexican-made Jazz Bass with a lined fretless fingerboard. I love fretless basses. I used to have a fretless Westone back in the 1980s, but I sold it over 10 years ago and have long since regretted doing so. I had been on the lookout for another for a few years, and when I saw this at such a low price I knew I had to have it. I haven't yet gotten around to changing the strings on it, so it is not currently sounding its best. It still has the flat-wound strings that would have been supplied with it from the factory. Fretless basses are often supplied with flat-wounds so that the fingerboards do not get marked while the instruments are in shops, being played by would-be customers, etc. The trouble here being that flat-wounds sound awful. They just make the bass go THUD when the instrument should SING. I will be upgrading to proper round-wound soonest. By the way, the sticker beneath the bridge is of Maggie Simpson, and was put there - I presume - by the bass's previous owner. I left it there because - hell - I like The Simpsons too!

One other guitar I forgot to mention is the lovely little classical guitar that I have featured on the banner at the top of this page. Again, it was an eBay purchase, and was a bargain at only £27. This is the guitar I keep in the living room and grab when I'm trying to work out songs, or just for practice without having the mess of leads, effects, amps, headphones, etc. It is a gorgeous little guitar - much better than the pile of junk that I had to take to guitar lessons with me when I was 12 - and should have retailed for a whole load more, but it was apparently part of an over-stock for a German music fair. The chappie selling this one was also selling a whole load of others just like it, so it sounds like he had a job lot on his hands to get rid of.

Monday 25 November 2002

The Paisley Fenders have been sold.
Paisley Fenders
The Stratocaster went for £460 and the Telecaster reached £485. Both went to dealers which suggests that in a shop these will both have even higher price tags.

Wednesday 20 November 2002

Yet another celebrity guitar fails to sell at auction; this time it's John Lennon's Vox organ guitar.

This Website and Making Contact

It seems that a lot of people are finding this website from Google and other search engines using queries such as "how to remove varnish off a guitar", "how to sand a neck", "Telecaster routing", etc. Other times people are looking for information on specific guitars (e.g. Teisco or Wandre) that I may at some point have mentioned.

Please feel free to search through my archives (see right-hand column). This website is a blog - or weblog - which means that it is a frequently updated website, mainly consisting of links to content elsewhere on the internet. If you are looking for a particular type of guitar or information on renovation it is possible that I have covered it somewhere, but you might have to go trawl back through the archives to find what you want. What's at the top of the front page today, will not be there next week or next month!

Perhaps I should see about incorporating a "Search this website" feature.

I have recently added a commenting feature, so you can leave feedback beneath individual posts. If you have any direct questions you can always email me at but I warn you now, I am not a guitar guru as such, just someone with a passion for the instrument. Possibly you know far more about the subject than I do!

Monday 18 November 2002

Auction update: The Eko Ranger XII was sold for £167 (that was fun sending that one off - I didn't have a big enough box, so had to fashion one out of two other guitar boxes and a whole roll of brown tape), and the Aria Legend plexiglass guitar auction has just finished with a winning bid of £180. The bidding may have gone higher but I disqualified one of the bidders because I took a look at his feedback ratings and saw that he had two negatives from within the last four days - obviously he just bids on things which he clearly has no intention of buying. People like that are a right menace on eBay.

In other news, the fretless Fender Jazz Bass is absolutely gorgeous, although it still has the factory-fitted flat-wound strings on it, which makes it go "thud" rather than give that beautiful sustain-rich fretless tone.

Thursday 14 November 2002

Bass guitars galore over at Subway Guitars - a nice collection. - the Musicvox Space Ranger has got to be one of the wackiest modern day guitars currently in production. Nice to see the Spacecadet 12-string bass too.
Get more sustain out of your guitar or bass by clamping a Fat Finger to the headstock, and thus tuning out unwanted dead spots.

Tuesday 12 November 2002

This saddens me. I have been forced to put these two guitars up for auction:

Paisley Strat
Fender Stratocaster, pink paisley, Japanese built JV series, circa 1988

Paisley Tele
Fender Telecaster, pink paisley, Japanese built JV series, circa 1986 - a bunch of people showing off their guitar collections (although in some instances I don't see how one guitar can comprise a "collection"). Perhaps I'll submit some photos to this myself!
Daisy Rock guitars for girls, although it looks like a few boys play them too! Robert Smith of The Cure is a fan.

Thursday 7 November 2002

Aria Legend Plexiglass guitar

Another guitar I'm selling...

This is an Aria Legend solid electric guitar, based loosely on the stylings of the now legendary Fender Jazzmaster guitar. It features two powerful humbucking pickups, 1 volume, 1 tone and 3-way pickup selector, a 22-fret neck with rosewood fingerboard, and body and headstock made from clear perspex making this guitar look ultra cool. The perspex headstock is scarfed onto a wooden neck (which looks like maple) and the joint is absolutely seamless.

The extremely dense body material makes this guitar very heavy, but at the same time it gives it excellent sustain. The action of the strings is nice and low and the neck allows for some fast lead playing. The machine heads work superbly and are very efficient at keeping the guitar in tune.

I bought this guitar new in January 2000 and have only used it at home. It has never been gigged and is in excellent condition. There is, however, one small flaw, namely a small crack inside the perspex body itself, adjacent to one of the bolts holding the neck in place. The guitar was in this condition when I bought it. The "crack" shows no sign of spreading, and the instrument seems to be structurally sound despite this small flaw.

The sound is superb, the guitar is a joy to play, and looks really neat into the bargain. The only reason I am selling is because I have one six string electric guitar too many and one of them has to go! This poor beastie was simply getting overlooked in favour of my other instruments (a Fernandes sustainer guitar and a 7-string, so this poor guitar is basic in comparison)*. It would make someone a great visual and very playable instrument. This guitar deserves to be played and to be seen.

This guitar is being auctioned on eBay, now! (Auction over. Sold for £180)

* This is not the whole story: I need to sell this guitar so I can afford to pay for a fretless Fender Jazz Bass. Is that a good enough reason to sell, do you think?

Tuesday 5 November 2002 - microtonal guitars and recordings - dedicated to providing the best in alternate-tuned music.


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