Monday, 24 December 2012

All my lovely gear: part review, part show and tell

Foreword - I love my granddad Albert for one good reason; He passed down the "Artistic" gene to me. He plays piano, and paints amazingly good pictures, he's also a talented writer, and satirist. My dad also has musical talents, he can sing, play guitar, he's a very good drummer considering he's never had a lesson in his life. He doesn't often draw, but when he does its good, he told some pretty awesome bedtime stories in his time, and even though some may think it's a bit gay (I certainly took the piss out of him when I found out, but have come to be mucho jealous) he is an excellent jive dancer!
So I contribute all my love of the Arts to them. Cheers guys.

Anyway, onto the Post...
My dad was having a mooch around in Granddad's attic and found this:


It is a 1965 Hofner Ambassador, we call it The Hoff.

This gem of a find was bought by my grandad some point in the mid 60's. Bless his argyle socks, but he can't remember even purchasing it let alone the date he brought it home. Also by its condition, We reckon it's been in the attic since the late 60's! Well, Dad blew off the cobwebs and got the pick ups re-wound and KABOOM Jazz guitar heaven ensued. This bad boy sounds gorgeous plugged in, or acoustic (though it is not an acoustic, the hollow body and venetian cut outs give its a beautiful haunting resonance) its strings have as far as we can tell never been changed; It was in perfect E standard ( A11/E) tuning even after 40 years!
I took it on stage with me on Saturday for a gig with one of my bands the Diamond Bays (it turned afew heads, and my very respectable musician friend Dewi was impressed by it.) It was however a big risk taking it on stage without a back up guitar or a previous soundcheck; I had no idea how it would sound at a louder volume through my amp... It sounded fucking awesome.

Review time: Introduced in 1965, it's a thinline archtop with twin Type 511 "Staple" pickups (descirbed as Nova sonic pick ups in the original advertisements), and two Florentine cutaways on it's 2" deep body. The Finish is tobacco sunburst, and has fully inset neck joint (as opposed to Hofner's usual cantilever violin style joint). It has a cambered rosewood fingerboard with triple inlayed fret dots, and an adjustable truss-rod. A volume control and dual tone control for bridge and neck pick ups. 3 way pick up selector.

"The Hofner Model Ambassador  was built for Selmer only.  it was a short lived model that deserved to sell better than it did. Serial number designations suggest that less than 500 were produced. By 1968 Selmer was in trouble and not really promoting the Hofner range as it needed to be.
The Ambassador came with two '511' pickups though there was an option for De Armond pickups at extra cost but very few customers appeared to have ordered these. It had a 2" deep body with very distinctive Florentine style cutaways. The only finish offered was 'Tobacco Sunburst'. The Ambassador had a fully inset neck, a change from Hofner usual practice.
The Ambassador was a good looking guitar with a definite solid and robust feel to it. It represented a change from the archtop range that had been built up to this time both in looks and construction. A few exist in private collections but it remains one of the more obscure models, usually forgotten when the Selmer archtop range is discussed. A pity as this was one of the best thinline archtops produced in the 1960s." -

Did you read the bit that said less than 500 made, and only a few exist in private collections? Shiiit, that makes me a private collector of guitars... hells yeah.
Sadly for me, Dad is keeping this one. I'm borrowing it for gigs, but I ain't the owner... yet.


It's a 1976 Gordon Smith Gypsy I call it Gordo

My uncle owned this guitar until about 2 weeks ago when he made the decision to immigrate to Canada (to be a professer in Vancouver as a leading world authority in gerontology, and be in the top 5 of the over 50's iron man contest 2010 etc... clever clogs) NOT THAT CLEVER THOUGH! because He left behind this badboy. His loss my gain; and boy do I mean gain, this thing sounds crunchy as hell through an amp. Great sound, great look. But here's the cool bit...
This guitar is one solid piece of wood, the entire model is carved from one piece... that is just unheard of with electric guitars! , It's body is abit smaller than usual guitars, but due to it's construction its probably more stable that way. It has a single Humbucker pickup right smack beneath the bridge. Its finish is Tobacco burst.
I actually had to ring up the Gordon Smith workshop in Manchester to find out any info with this guitar. The serial number is 00033; that means it was the 33rd guitar they ever made; their records literally do not go back that far, they couldn't give me an original price tag, but they said it would be easily worth £650.


It's my Epiphone Les Paul standard.

There is great debate between the Epiphone and Gibson community about the difference in quality of their Les Pauls. I'll clear it up here. Epiphone make a good fucking guitar. This Les Paul has been a badass every second of it service to me, even after I've dropped it, banged it into door frames, used it as a huge drum stick on my drum kit's crash symbol, and even run over it on my motorcycle! (long story, long being the list of drinks that I had, and the 'learning the hard way' speech about riding a motorcycle while being pissed as a fart) I've been a bad owner, but this guitar has preformed excellent no matter what I do to it. It's a Warhorse. That said, A Gibson is a fucking Gibson, end of discussion.
Cynthia (that's it's name) was bought as a gift for Christmas 2009; since then I rarely go a day with out giving her a good fingering (sorry, had to get a dirty joke in there)
Totally standard features, red sun burst finish, chrome hardware, humbucker pick ups, gold plastic dual pick up specific volume and tone dials - I love this feature, it allows me to do a nice tremelo effect Ace Frehley style.
As far as Hard Rock goes, this guitar is the Daddy, Huge sound from the Humbuckers, and the weight gives it a really solid feel whilst playing, I feel like I could take it into battle with me, bludgeon a few vikings to death with it, then play a ballad about the day's slaughter Swedish Operatic Metal style.


It's my Hamer. I bought this when I was 16 for £190 from a less than reputable establishment ha.

I have NO idea what this guitar is! I've searched everywhere, on the web, emailed Hamer, asked on countless forums, and got nadda. The best I can figure out is that it was made in Korea as part of Hamer's Slammer series; and it is a variation of the Diablo.
It's a super strat shape with 2 humbuckers (duncan design) the neck one being on an angle. volume dial for both, and seperate tone dials, all metal. It has a Licensed Floyd Rose trem bar - And may I say when properly set up, it sounds like a Stuka dive bomber, simply amazing. Rosewood 24 fret finger board. As far as guitars go it weighs a tonne, but surprisingly plays extremely fast and sleek.
Now here are the differences from every other Hamer, Slammer series, or Diablo.
Mine has dark red/maroon glitter finish, I can not find a single other guitar by hamer with this finish (also I don't care what people say, the glitter looks amazing with a stage light on it)
It's fret inlays are Boomerang shaped, and the fret board finishes on an angle; I've never seen this on another guitar.
I've been offered between £500 and £700 for it (not bad considering I payed less then £200), but I'm not selling, especially since I don't have a clue what it's actually worth.


It's my Ibanez G200ECE-NT Classical Electro Acoustic

Christmas present 2010 (haven't I been a lucky boy?) I love this guitar, I've called her Catalina. I play alot of classical, flamenco and folk music; this guitar hits the spot perfect for all of them. Wonderful to play. Rosewood fret board, Mahogany and Spruce body, inbuilt tuner, and a slider for tone and volume. For le grande finale it has a top notch duo of an inbuilt B-Band UST pickup and SRTn Preamp - to all of you who have no idea wtf that means... and nor should you, because you aren't all dorks like me; it means that I could have this guitar turned up to 11 on the worlds biggest amp, and the only thing you will hear (aside from your teeth shattering inside your head) would be the sweet tone of full bodied, warm toned, pitch perfect sexy flamenco strumming. No feed back. Ever.


It's my Pearl Vision 5 piece drum kit and 5 piece Sabian B8 Pro symbals.

(Apologies, I do have actual photos of my kit, but the lighting in my garage is poor, and due to the limitations on angle in there, I'd have to post about 3/4 pics so you get the idea of it... google images to the rescue instead)
I've been seriously pissing off my neighbors for about 18 months now. I keep this monster locked away in the deep dark depths of my garage, as the walls inside the house can not contain it's ferocious bellowing! I call it the Balrog for this reason. I work in a job where stress can reeeeeally factor in at times, also I generally get pissed off quite quickly, so kicking the fuck out of a drum kit usually helps me chillax. I'm by no means a great drummer, but I can pull of a good bit of Metallica and Muse, so in my modest opinion I'm doing pretty good.

Kit Pearl Vision- Black Birch;
22" x 18" Bass Drum (VBL2218B)
10" x 8" Tom (VBL1009T)
12" x 9" Tom (VBL1209T)
14" x 14" Floor Tom (VBL1414F)
14" x 5,5" SensiTone Snare Drum (SH1455S/C)

Symbals, Sabian B8 Pro- Bronze Alloy
14-inch Medium hats B8 Pro
20-inch Medium ride B8 Pro
16" Medium crash B8 Pro
15" Thin crash B8
9" AXX Max Splash


Marshall 50MGDFX 50 watt

This amp has a 12" speaker, two channels (clean and overdrive), five effects options (Chorus/Delay, Delay, Chorus, Flange, Reverb), FDD (Frequency Dependent Dampening), CD ins, emulated line out, and emulated headphone jacks. It also has a footswitch to change channels and turn on effects.
Clean and Overdrive have separate settings. It weighs approximately 3 metric tons, to move it I require a dozen Hebrew slaves being whipped by an ancient Egyptian wearing one of those dog face god mask/hats. Also the cooling fan in the back makes it sound like a space ship when you turn it on! I'll some it up in a word; it's a 'Beast.' 

Line 6 Spider ii 30watt

Great practice amp. I bought it off my buddy Kieran for 30 squids. Well worth the money (especially since they retailed £200 at the time hahahaha). Sounds very nice on all of its 4 digital settings. It has a drive, treble, mid, bass, and master volume dials as well as a channel volume dial (groovey little feature that makes it great to equalise the sound and minimise feedback). It has 2 seperate digital effects dials to allow dual effects: chorus flange, phaser, and tremelo on the first. Sweep echo, tape echo, and reverb on the second. It also has 4 preset channels: 
Clean - well... it's clean.
Crunch - crunchy low gain sound, based on Led Zeppelin
Metal - Bright Overdrive sound, based on Metallica
and my favorite... INSANE
When you press the Insane button this amp turns from sweet little red riding hood, into the fucking wolf! Jeeeeeeesus Christ! It's utterly fucking mental!

Fender Champion DPS 30 watt

I bought this of my BFF Drew for 50 Squids (they retail less than £100 these days, but are extremely good value)  It's a 2 channel 30 watt, solid state combo that has 1 Volume for each channel and Bass, Mid, Treble, and Reverb controls that are used for both channels. There are also a headphone and extension speaker jacks as well as a foot switch jack. It has a stock Fender 10" speaker.
This is not a big amp, to be honest. Joe the lead guitarist from the Diamond Bays and myself use these on stage, and they look ridiculously small compared to other bands gear... BUT, believe me when I say I dare not turn this little beaut higher than 1.5 unless I'm in a rehearsal room or at a gig. It is LOUD (I capitalised the word loud to emphisise how incredibly fucking loud this amp can be) Let me put it this way. Last night we played a gig in a club, our amps were placed just in front of the drum kit, we didn't need to turn them up higher than 3 on the dial. 'Nuff said.

Other stuff...

Other guitars:

My first guitar was a Encore E1BTR. Gloss black finish 3/4size composite body, maple neck and head stock, rosewood 22 fret finger board. Single double coil humbucker pick up, one volume and one tone dial. It also came with a 10watt portable battery powered amp.
It was a second hand Argos special. My mum got it for me when I was about 14... thus began 6 solid months of 'Smoke on the water' and 'Smells like teen spirit'. I played that little thing until my fingers bled (literally! all guitarists will remember a time when they had virgin finger tips) The little amp didn't have an option for overdrive, but I found out that the glue eroded and the pick up was loose, so if I leaned forward it fell out and hit the low strings, making it sound really fuzzy and distorted.
I have no idea what became of that guitar and amp.

My second guitar was a Cruiser by Crafter ST-120/3TS. Stratocaster style body, sunburst finish. Three single coil pick ups, volume and two tone dials, 5 way pick up switch. Maple body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, 22 frets. I still play it from time to time, It's a great sounding blues rock guitar, when you play it with gain the chords seem to have that SRV shimmer/twang sound to them.
I got this guitar when I was about 15. I actually started to learn how to play when I got it. Learning basically consisted of sitting with my friends Kieran, and Chris and trying to play 'House of the rising sun' and 'Entersandman' every dinnertime at school. I got a practice amp with it too a little 15 watt Cruiser CR-15G. (I still use this guitar, lovely even after 7 years)

My third guitar was a Gould Les Paul. My mate Kieran's dad got a truck load of these (shady gitt) so Kieran, Chris and Myself all got one each. Kiers got a black one, Chris opted for the purple sunburst and I went for the White. This guitar was the bees knees. First of all it looks sweeeeeeeeet, the white makes it look glam as fuck, and the gold hardware is just blindingly bing. All your standard woods and frets and Les Paul features etc. For a knock off guitar it actually sounded very good, and the big frets were nice for playing big heavy power chords and drop-D tuning songs. Sadly my dumb-arse sister managed to drop a dart board case on it and put that whopping big dint smack bang in the body :'( (< that's my sad face) also my strap snaped and the resulting drop ended up with a tuning peg splitting so due to the damage I neglect this fine instrument these days. UPDATE: I got this guitar out the garage yesterday and gave it a good clean and took of the rusted strings. I plan on restoring it to it's former Pimp glory.

My first classical. A Stagg C542. Cheap and surprisingly not nasty. This is the kind of quality you get in your highschool music department. I got it on a whim, and actually really enjoyed playing it. Reddish finish, Basswood body, Nato neck (whatever the fuck Nato is) maple fret board. Since I upgraded to the Ibanez this is now a decorative piece on my landing (definition for yanks - top of the stairs).

Other stuff:
Dunlop Cry Baby

This is my WahWah pedal, a hardy block of boombastic! Great for playing a little bit of Voodoo Child, Maggot Brain, or just messing around with chords whilst imagining I'm a mulleted, mustachioed LA detective running around roof tops chasing 'perps' doing forward rolls and shouting "FREEZE SUCKA!" 

A through G Blues Harps

A little gift to myself this year for simply being a top fellow. Keys A through to G chromatic shiny nickel Harmonicas in a very fashionable faux leather case!

Stagg gig bag

Nylon and polyester zip up, 3 pockets, and Velcro fastening and handle. Also has rucksack over shoulder straps. All my guitars minus The Hoff fit in this.

Stagg acoustic hardcase

Good quality solid hardcase for my acoustics. Felt inlay; The Hoff is a perfect fit into this too, so that's handy!

Gordon Smith custom hardcase

Great little hardwood and leather covered hardcase perfectly made to carry Gordo, Gold felt inlining looks bling.

Well there you have it, a definitive essay of all my gear. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Because it just took me four fecking hours to write! Take it easy y'all.

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