home | equipment

Music so far






Equipment and guitars etc.


Let’s face it, everybody’s got one somewhere in the house! probably minus most of the strings and gathering dust in the corner. Like it or loath it, it is most definitely the people’s musical instrument of the 20th century which isn’t surprising if you give it a little thought. From classical to folk to jazz to rock( and the myriad of offshoots of these forms), the old guitar is right in there voicing it’s opinion! It’s versatility still astounds me and even more so when One remembers that it is, essentially, six bits of wire(or whatever, ) racked up tight over a length of wood! I feel a book coming on so I’ll desist and resist the temptation to prattle on at this point in time and Tell you about my guitars, past and present. Interested? No? Okay here we go!


I’ve never owned a ‘good’ acoustic gtr as yet and probably never will. I’m a lefty and when I started out, there were no left-handed instruments ( or at least not in my price range) and I always remember being advised to learn to play ‘properly’! As I had no inclination to play ‘properly’, cheap right handed gtrs with the strings reversed were the state of the art for me then, and still are now really.

I've always used acoustic gtrs for composing and practice but I, I've never seriously considered using one in live performance apart from for a bit of fun. My present acoustic ‘collection’(!) are: Landola steel strung folky, Aria Nylon strung and a tenor four string steel strung (very nice).

Electric Gtrs

My first solid body electric was a homemade affair which took ages to make but ended up unusable as I got the scale completely wrong and you couldn’t tune it! An English firm called Burns were producing a few leftys at the time(about 1964), and I managed to acquire one called the Sonic. This was a short scale, very small bodied instrument which was totally neck heavy but I loved it to bits and I ended up using it for quite a few years.

My next electric was a Fender Telecaster, bought new in 1967 although it was a 1966 issue. Again this was one of the few leftys available in London at the time and, as It was being financed by my management company, I didn’t even try it out ! I’ve got to admit I hated everything about it when I finally got round to using it and it nearly put me of Fenders for good! I soon stripped the body of it’s horrible cream finish and carved up the body and fitted some old Gibson P90 pickups which, (in my opinion) really improved the appearance and sound of the guitar although it did devalue it somewhat!(gulp).

TelecasterI still have a version of that guitar completely rebuilt by the luthier, Graham Noden, which has a Brazilian mahogany body( black with white bindings), Gibson PAF pickups, Roland retrofit synth access and Washburn 2000 locking trem' for pitch accuracy. Quite a guitar!

My next aquirsition was again bought for me by management, but this was specifically requested by me and was brought back from New York in about 1972(ish!). I was (like many players at the time), totally besotted with the playing of the late great Ollie Hallsall who used an old beaten up Gibson SG custom, I ended up with an SG standard, which probably accounts for the fact I never sounded as good as him!

I got a lot of mileage out of that guitar even though it was badly damaged early on in its life when the headstock was broken off after being hurled accidentally across a rehearsal room due to 240 volts somehow finding it’s way up my guitar lead!

A very versatile instrument which was equally at home in either rock or jazz situations and I must admit to liking the slightly shorter scaling of Gibsons and the extended access to the top frets of the SG in particular. I eventually got rid of it after it was damaged again(deliberately), by a baggage handler at New York Kennedy airport and it was really never the same again.

We’re looking now to the mid’ 80s and the old Gibbo’s not coping any more with the rigors of the road. I had a few bob and I thought that now was the time to do what I really always wanted to do, and that was to buy a Fender Stratocaster and become Hank! You may think I’m being trivial and patronizing, but that could not be further from the truth.

I always loved the Shadows and especially Hank’s salmon pink Strat’! So I bought an emerald green Mighty Mite custom Strat copy! It figures, doesn’t it!?.

StratocasterIn all seriousness though, it’s a fine instrument that I use now and cherish dearly. It reflects the respect the luthiers had for the Strat in it’s construction, which is quite frankly, far superior to Fender’s efforts. I've got a 1972 Fender Strat’ which is great, but the Mite wins hands down in terms of it’s build quality!

Lastly, I should tell you about my Stepp digital guitar which doesn’t get a great deal of use but is nonetheless, quite a contraption!

Conceived and built by Stephen Randall in the 80’s, it was marketed as the first totally ‘electronic’ guitar. It has two sets of strings, ( neck and strum), which have no acoustic properties whatsoever but activate sophisticated switches and censors within the frets and under the strumming area. All the resulting signals are fed to an on board programmer which controls a myriad of functions including , envelopes, pitch change info, memory allocation, patch storage, waveforms, ect, ect, ect! A multicore then shunts the results to a mother unit which houses the sound generators and output facilities, audio out, midi out/ in, etc.

This unit also doubles as the stand for the guitar.

Theoretically, this instrument should be the answer in terms of , response time and tracking as there are no conversion factors to confuse or slow down the processing but sadly, like most things in life, it’s not perfect and is let down by the erratic dynamic response of the strum or picking area. This limits the usability of the instrument a lot , and Mr Randall has disappeared of the face of the earth leaving this problem unsolved!

Still he may re-appear one day brandishing a software update , we live in hope(not!)

Anyway, that’s my choppers so far!

home | equipment






















Alan's and my homemade gtr's!