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The Gibson ES-125 – Sleeper Guitar Alert!

Several months back I “accidentally” acquired a 1958 Gibson ES-125TD, I had no plan to purchase it … it came and found me; I have grown to flat-out LOVE that ol girl, and I just gotta gush! First a (very) quick bit of history.  The hollow-body P-90 equipped ES-125 was considered by Gibson to be a “beginner” electric guitar, think of it sort of as their version of a Fender Musicmaster/Mustang/Duosonic, etc.  The guitar was first introduced in 1941but none were made from late 1942-1945 due to WWII.  From there, the guitar stayed in continuous production until 1970/71...

Digital, the Future of Electric Guitars?

So, I just finished covering the Summer NAMM show here in Nashville for Vintage Guitar Magazine.  I’ve been attending the NAMM shows for decades now, they are where manufacturers of musical stuff show off their latest creations in hopes of drumming up sales.  For us guitar players, this year’s show was interesting in as much as there was a notable divide between the folks offering up decidedly vintage style guitars, like the historic models from Fender’s Custom Shop, and those offering all-out digital guitar-like thingies.  Let’s talk about that! Digital...

How To Adjust (Set) Pickup Height on a P-90 for ULTIMATE TONE!

Wow!  So, this has turned into part four in this series: How To Set Pickup Height on a Stratocaster for ULTIMATE STRAT TONE!  How To Set Pickup Height on a Telecaster for ULTIMATE TELE TONE!  How To Set Pickup Height on a Humbucker for ULTIMATE TONE! But man, it was brought to my attention that I totally forgot about the lowly old P-90s!  Well, let’s rectify that situation! Once again, I need to make it clear that these are my personal recommendations.  You may be going for something totally different, and as such may want to totally...

Fender Pro Reverb – Ultimate Vintage Club-Gig Amp?

I’m a Fender guy through and through, my first amp was a Brown Deluxe, and my first workhorse gigging amp was a silver-face Twin Reverb; with the JBL D130F speakers, the thing actually weighed more than I did at age 15!  Since then I have played a plethora of vintage tweed, brown, blackface, and silverface fenders.  For the last decade or so, a ’67 Super Reverb has been my gigging amp of choice.  But several months back a ’67 blackface Pro Reverb followed me home from a used music store … and she’s giving the Super a real run for the money! The Pro is an amp that has...

Electric Guitar Tone Capacitor (Caps) Values

As any of you who have bought my pickup sets already know, I include quality tone caps at my preferred values with all my pickup sets.  Yes, they DO affect your tone.  How much?  Well, here’s my list from what I consider MOST important to least. Remember we’re talking SOLID BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR HERE! #1: The amp (taking ALL design features into consideration) #2: The Pickups and Speakers (tie) #3: The guitar’s scale #4: The guitar’s body (materials, specs & methods) #5: The Guitar’s Neck (materials, specs & methods) #6: The guitar’s electronics...

How Frets Affect Tone, Intonation, and Playability

As a bit of an artistic diversion, I “make” a few guitars every now and then, a habit I’ve had since I made my first guitar in Jr. High wood shop at age 15.  Lately, I’ve been making Tele style guitars, since Nashville guitar slingers need top-shelf hard-core road guitars at a working-man’s price.  There seem to be plenty of Strats in this category, but Tele’s … not so much.  The process of making vintage Tele style guitars has really brought fret size to the forefront; as the traditional 3-saddle bridge really makes intonation difficult, which makes fret selection...

Squeaker, My Lil Buddy (apx 1997-2016)

It’s been five years ago now that we said goodbye to my old runnin’ buddy Rosie, and now we say goodbye to the little guy that’s shared our home for nearly the last two decades. We found Squeak by the side of a little country road one Sunday morning in obvious distress.  My now 24-year old daughter was but a pre-schooler then.  It turned out that Squeak had been shot and the bullet had entered his left jaw and exited on the right side of his throat.  He was pretty messed-up, but we paid the vet to have him put back together as best he could be.  That was the...

Alnico II (2) vs Alnico V (5) Humbucker PAF Pickup Tone

Howdy gang!  I just received an email inquiry from a pickup customer in the UK … asking such a fine question that I thought it would make for good blog fodder.  So, let’s get started with the initial email, and the questions and answers to follow.  Good stuff! Hi Vaughn, … I tried Fralin vintage hot singles found them flat, tried his pafs, too nice and soft no grit, then I tried lollar imperials loved these in my LP but the neck was muffled which is why I replaced it with an Alnico II pro for its sweetness and clarity, then I tried his single coils and they didn't...

Sleeper Amp Alert: The B-52 AT-100

Hey gang, I had somthin’ cool pass through my shop that I thought y’all might just want to know about.  An AT-100 that had had its treble and contour knobs busted off.  I spent a little time under the hood replacing the two pots and then played through her for a while.  I wound up with two overriding impressions: 1) that this is a well thought-out and easy to work on amp, and 2) that it sounds damn good.  Given it’s VERY reasonable price, that officially qualifies it as a “sleeper amp” in my book! The construction: She IS a Chinese made PC-board amp … as are most under a...

Why Every Guitar Player Should Learn to Play the Banjo … or something else …

Banjo, mandolin, ukulele, fiddle, dulcimer, and my favorite, the Bouzouki.   Shoot, if ya REALLY want to get in over your head, add sitar to the list.  The point is:  Get outta your “normal” zone where stringed instruments are concerned; when you do you will encounter a refreshing creativity like none other.  Sure, a little experimentation with alternative tunings can breathe a bit of freshness into your creative atmosphere … but it’s not even close to the creative cyclone of a truly DIFFERENT instrument … one that not only has a different tuning, but also a...

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