BALLS OUT ROCK 'N' ROLL
Every electric player should own a guitar fitted with P90's! Les Paul, Neil Young, George Harrison, Matt Bellamy and countless others have all used guitars fitted with the little blighters.
I fell in love with the sound in 1977 after hearing Danny Kustow playing an Epiphone Coronet in the Tom Robinson Band.
This Les Paul Deluxe custom shop '60 model is my favourite P90 loaded solid body and sold to me by my good friend Rob Livesey. It plays like a dream.
"The Gibson Les Paul Special is a variation of the Gibson Les Paul guitar. It was introduced in 1955 as a model to be an intermediate between the Gibson Les Paul Junior and the more expensive Gibson Les Paul Standard. Like most of Gibsons other budget models, the Special was produced in a TV Yellow finish, which was made by Gibson as a finish that would look good on black and white television. In 1958, the model received a major change when it was introduced as a doublecut model instead of the traditional singlecut.
In 1961, the Les Paul received a drastic change when it was formed into what we know today as the Gibson SG. Once Les Paul's contract had expired later that year, the Les Paul submodels changed with it. In 1968, when the contract was renewed, the original models were rebooted.
P-90 pickups were introduced in 1946 when Gibson resumed guitar production after World War II. They were initially used to replace Gibson's original "bar" or "blade" pickup (also known by many as the "Charlie Christian pickup") on models such as the ES-150, and by the end of the 1940s, it was the standard pickup on all models.
The P-90's reign as the Gibson standard pickup was short-lived, however, as a new design of pickup, the humbucker, was introduced in 1957."
I have been using this for more rocky parts on my new recordings. It sounds remarkable, straight up, through any of my amplifiers.
Using my Germino Classic 45 / Club 40, just link the channels, turn up the bright channel till you get the required amount of breakup, then add some of the normal channel to add body. Cinch.
The only issue I have is the neck joint which, due to the easy access to the 'dusty end' of the neck, allows even moderate pressure to bend it out of tune. Of course, these and all SG's suffer from the same problem but Derek Trucks, Frank Zappa, Duane Allman and Eric Clapton didn't / don't really have a problem, so who am I to comment!
Strung with superb Curt Mangan Nickel wound 10-46
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
Nothing looks like IT, nothing sounds like it...
The MOOG Guitar Model E1 in black with the additional MIDI interface is now discontinued. It's is tricky to play but perseverance has lent a unique tone and expression to many recordings.
MOOG say: "Since its introduction at the Summer NAMM trade show in 2008, the Moog Guitar has received numerous industry honours including Guitar Player Magazine's 2009 Reader's Choice Award, Electronic Musician Magazine's 2009 Editor's Choice Award, 2008 Summer NAMM "Best In Show" honours, a 2008 “Best of What’s New Award” from Popular Science magazine and a 2009 Mix Foundation TEC Award. More importantly, it has inspired players to new creative heights, and opened the door to totally new forms of expression with a guitar."
Designer Paul Vo visioned that it could be used as a 'standard guitar'. I am afraid he's wrong, but would you want to - nothing else sounds like it!
The pickups, which contain coils to excite or deaden the strings don't cut the mustard and like a sitar or baritone guitar, it's a real specialist, tool. But what a tool...
I used the MOOG on my last solo album 'The Knife' and the Electrolite EP, specifically the middle eight guitar figure in 'Come Home'. For this, I teamed it up with a Stomp Under Foot 'Red Menace' (Big Muff style fuzz) and the Van Weelden TwinkleLand. It is strung with superb Curt Mangan Stainless steel 10, 13, 17, 30, 42, 52.
The example track displays its eerie ambience...
Take a listen and enjoy!
MY WEDDING PRESENT
Not sure why I had never owned a Gretsch before; they sound fantastic!
The build quality of this Japanese reissue is exceptional with sustain to die for with a great balanced tone somewhere between a single coil and humbucker hollow body
This is a very special guitar as it was a wedding present from my wife and musical partner Suzy Starlite!
Originally launched in the mid-'50s, the 6120 has gone on to become legendary, played by Chet Atkins, Eddie Cochran, Neil Young, Pete Townshend and Brian Setzer to name a few.
I replaced the pickups with TV Jones 'Classic' and disconnected the tone switch as I kept hitting it in the heat of battle which is very irritating. It's been used on many gigs, but as yet never made it to a record.
Now strung with Pyramid Gold Flatwound strings 011-050 this wonderful instrument sounds best with the Gartone Vibrato King (an exact clone of a 3 x 10" Fender Bandmaster) and Gartone Reverb King (an exact clone of a 1965 blackface Fender Bandmaster).
You will have to wait a bit to hear it recorded, but when you do, you will like it :)
Classic Fender action...
I bought this guitar for my eldest son Jim's 21st birthday from the very wonderful Richard Henry. Jim is more of an acoustic player and after a couple of years, we swapped. He had my Taylor GA limited edition and I bagged the Telecaster - we both had a great deal out of it!
I use this on both my solo records, ThirtySix, The Knife and extensively with Starlite Campbell Band!
Strung with Curt Mangan Starlite Campbell Band custom nickel wound 10-46, it's my go-to guitar, sounds wonderful and plays beautifully even though the neck is like a tree trunk.
Leo Fender just got it right first time with the design of the tuning pegs, pickups and body design; yes, I suppose everything!
Played through my 1962 VOX AC30, 'Lay It Out On Me' is a good example of the tone.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
Lay It Out On Me
Starlite Campbell Band
My signature guitar
After 'meeting' on Facebook via my dear friend and ace guitar player Dave Lang, Jim asked if he could build me a guitar. I, of course, said yes and he indulged me in designing it from scratch!
When it was finished it was clear that Jim is not only a fine guitar builder, as this is only part of the story. He takes a genuine interest in you as an artist, crafting instruments that suit not only your playing style and specification but also your musicality, your soul.
I am known principally for Telecasters but have always hankered after a great semi-acoustic. Years ago I owned a 1958 Epiphone Riviera, which was very cool but never really got on with the 'mini humbuckers'.
It's a strange feeling designing a guitar from the ground up as you need to really think about what you want in every detail. I opted for a chambered body and Jim recommended sycamore, with ash in the centre. The neck is quarter-sawn mahogany on the outside and flat-sawn maple in the middle, flanked by purple heart with a fingerboard of Macassar ebony.
Pickups are Sheptone 'Blue Sky' PAF's with three CTS volume pots, one tone, Graph Tech Ratio tuning pegs, nut and bridge, a six-way NSF controls freeway six-position switch and standard Bigsby tremolo unit.
The sound is, as you would expect, woody with loads of sustain and performs amazingly with the Germino Classic 45 / Club 40 and 4x12. All featured in the adjacent rig rundown.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
THE LUXURY OF TWO OPEN TUNINGS
Lap/pedal steels are everywhere in music that I love. From Daniel Lanois, Dave Gilmour to Steve Howe and Ted Turner. I do like to play slide but the sustain you get from a lap steel is something else.
My first was a cream 1961 Gretsch Electromatic D6 Console (double lap steel) guitar 1961, but following the fabulous experience with Jim Drake, I asked him to make me one.
This is a wonderful instrument fitted with two Lollar 'String Through Steel' pickups (copy of the Supro®/Oahu/Valco) and Graph Tech Ratio Tuning pegs. Funnily enough, both necks sound totally different and I set the tunings to suit. Usually an open G (D,G,D,G,B,D) and open D (D,G.D,F#,A,D).
Used straight into my Speed Shop Tweed Deluxe or with a combination of Origin Effects Cali76 Fulltone OCD, Stomp Under Foot Red Menace it sounds awesome.
Strung as you would expect with Curt Mangan Nickel wound 16-56.
THE ALTERNATIVE TWIN NECK
Neither ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or ‘Hotel California’ motivated me to desire a double neck. If anything ‘tracks from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’ really got me cooking on the idea but until very recently I have resisted as they are awkward, big and heavy. Neither Jimmy Page or Don Fielder wanted them either as these classic tracks started life using single neck instruments.
My first dip into the world of electric 12’s was through a Gibson ES335-12 which I bought from Wildwood Guitars in Louisville, Colorado. Even though it was a thing of beauty, I never really got on with it as I like single coils on an electric 12. I did commit some tracks to 'tape' and now had the same problem as Jimmy and Don - I needed to play them live.
The search was on and after putting out the feelers my mate Andy Davis from Wales mentioned he had a Mosrite for sale. All I knew about these guitars was that Semie Moseley used to work for Rickenbacker and Glen Campbell, Kurt Cobain, Johnny Ramone used them.
They are an odd-looking beast and I liked the fact the six-string sports a tremolo arm.
We were playing Linton Festival and I arranged to pick it up from Andy backstage after the gig.
Matthew Bascetta at House of Tone Pickups rewound the pickups and made a great job. I rewired the controls so the neck selector is at the bottom adjacent to the six-string pickup selector.
It has a unique sound and feel, not surprisingly, reminiscent of a Rickenbacker.
Strung now with Pyramid stainless steel flatwound 10/10, 13/13, 19w/10, 30w/13, 35w/19w, 465w/30w and Curt Mangan Nickel wound 10-46.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
Track to follow soon!
My first 'real' guitar
I had been messing around with a guitar for about six months when, in 1974, I heard Wishbone Ash for the first time. Even then I was obsessed with great guitar sounds and wanted to know how they did it?!. After investigating their guitars and amps, I swiftly set my sights on a Gibson Flying V. This is a story of love, loss and rediscovery.
I saw my guitar for the first time in the local guitar shop Harker & Howarth in Bolton, England. It was not a replica of the 1967 version that Andy Powell played, but a 1974 model with a natural wood finish, more rounded headstock and without the Maestro Vibrola tremolo - but it was a Flying V and it was beautiful.
On my 17th birthday, I walked into the living room and found 'the' guitar in its case waiting for me, complete with my name and address printed on with Letraset; a surprise present from my mum and dad! It was a moment of deep joy as I plugged it in for the first time...
Although I later acquired a 1976 Stratocaster and 1958 Epiphone Riviera, during the '70s and much of the '80s, it was my main guitar.
In the early 80's I did have trouble with the neck and took it to the mighty Ted Lee who plained the fingerboard and whilst at it, fitted a vintage Vibrola and refinished in translucent cherry!
In the late 70's I foolishly changed the pickups for DiMarzio PAF's, which were all the rage, being one of the first companies to manufacture replacements. However, once I knew what I was doing, replaced these with specially wound Lindy Fralin 'PAF' Humbuckers which are also fitted to my Custom Telecaster built by Gordon Whittam.
With time, my tastes changed, making way for custom-built guitars, with wider flatter necks and generally based around Telecasters. The 'V' ended up being used exclusively for slide, with a high tension (011-049) 'open E' tuning. It always sounded fantastic and was known as the 'Devil Guitar'.
I used the Flying V for the slide solo on 'Preacher' and to 'thicken up' the track 'Princess', both from my first record 'ThirtySix'.
When living on the Isle of Man I used to go for a monthly jam at the Blues Club. One night, just as I was leaving, I spotted the case under the shelf and on a whim, picked it up. It had on tired strings and 'slide high' action which I lowered quickly before setting off. So, arriving at the Railway in Douglas I plugged it into my Zen Drive and BlackFace Fender Pro Reverb. What a sound!!! I ended up using it all night.
So, welcome back my friend, to the show that never ends - I really missed you.
As in my first band 'Whitefire', this guitar is at its best when played through a Marshall JTM45 and 4x12, so a Germino Classic 45 / Club 40 is perfect. I also love it through my Speed Shop Tweed Deluxe.
Now, I use it regularly both live and in the studio and sounds fantastic, with bell-like top end and distinctive mid-range balls, very much like an SG. When you wind up the volume the whole guitar resonates and feeds back like no other, which I think is due to the pickups being mounted directly onto the scratch-plate. It's also easy to control using the tremolo arm.
So, the track I have chosen to share with you is 'Thrill You' which features this guitar in a blues environment recorded straight into my Gartone Reverb King (a clone of a blackface ProReverb). Enjoy.
Dad, I hope you are reading this in that big gig in the sky.