Can you move forward and back at the same time? To be honest, never given it much thought ’til this past weekend. But, first things first. This one’s a two-parter, about the guitar you see pictured. I shot the accompanying video the minute I got in the house and put the strap from my older electric on it. So, if you want the story behind this weird looking six string, and how I wound up with it after spending 18 months on a modification I desperately wanted for a guitar I truly want to play for the rest of my life, click PLAY below. Once you know the story and get a good look at this baby, maybe you can help me settle on a name for her. At present? It’s still undecided.
No, I haven’t gone all Caitlyn Jenner or anything – although I sort of feel like we spent about as much time trying to get where we wanted. For me, however, my search was for something much easier. Guitar knobs.
Did I say easier? Well, scratch that notion. When I got my first electric guitar, the round knobs were serviceable, but only if I started at 0 or 10. I needed to have a start point and estimate where 5 was, or 3, whatever. The only easy one, of course, was 10. So, I went online and started hunting for the knobs you see pictured on Lori, my Epiphone semi-hollowbody guitar.
I knew immediately what would be perfect. Teardrop shaped knobs, the kind you would’ve seen in a ’50s sci-fi film on some piece of high tech military equipment being used to turn giant grasshoppers into green paste. But despite my best efforts, the search proved fruitless. I called everyone. Guitar Center. Sweetwater Music. Custom shops. The best anyone could do was suggest chicken heads, which I don’t like and aren’t terribly easy to use while playing. I even tried to enlist a resin kit manufacturer to take my design and produce the things in a run that could be sold on Etsy. Still no luck.
So, two weeks ago, my friend Billy’s dad gave me a couple of recommendations for companies that sold all sorts of switches, since he used to be in TV repair, and my friend John, who shared a stage with me at BackStreets Sports Bar the night I played live, suggested searching for places that sold antique radio knobs. He understood what I was looking for, and thought that might be a good option.
After multiple calls to various switch sellers/makers, I struck out. But, when I started searching for old radio parts. Bingo. I found a set of three ’56 Emerson radio knobs. Guy on Etsy had them. He only had one in the size I needed, but that was okay, I didn’t think I was going to find a four pack as easily as I could grab one at Guitar Center. Besides, I had different plans anyway.
Having the knob in hand was all I needed. I recruited my friend Scott, a jack-of-all-trades who’d welded the custom lights I needed for the Redemption TV pilot shoot, and we used the radio knob as a template. We made some modifications, as I didn’t want bevels and routered edges, and voila. Four perfect, teardrop shaped knobs that don’t look like cheap plastic.
A year and a half, but, well worth it. I spent two hours yesterday playing and another 90 minutes tonight, putting the knobs in different positions and changing my sound on the fly. Result? Getting the sound I want or changing it mid-song is just as easy as I’d hoped for.
Never expected when I first started learning a couple of chords, that in five years’ time I’d be playing a guitar this nice, much less modifying it with hand-made parts. Here I am, though, strummin’ away. Next backyard party? Oughta be great fun.
Currently listening to: “Dancing Barefoot” by The Mission UK
Confession. I am not a blues guy. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a whole
lot of great blues out there. Songs I like by BB King and a host of other
artists. That said, given my choice? If the next year passed and no blues played on my Echo? Pretty sure I wouldn’t notice.
Which brings me to this. Playing the blues. Regular readers know I’ve been playing the guitar for a couple of years and while I wouldn’t say I’m good, I’m competent enough to have played on stage with pros and held my own (see the links below), and I play with a few different guys a couple of times a week in a late-start effort to get, well, decent.
Matt is one heck of a player. He’s been in bands, he’s got more talent than I could fit on one of those upload stems they used in The Matrix, and plays several instruments. That kind of good. Not to mention, he’s blind, too, and Pam’s told me you’d never know it by looking at him. You damn sure wouldn’t guess listening to him jam. Anyway, Matt, as you may have already guessed, does like the blues. Quite a bit, in fact. And, he’s been showing me stuff. Mostly rock and roll related thefts from traditional blues, certain licks, run ups and run downs, you name it. And, while I am a product of the ’80s – a music fan grounded in goth and new wave, synthpop and industrial – this? This ain’t all bad. Are there any blues tunes that I actually want to play? I’d say two. I wouldn’t mind learning “Who Do You Love,” even if it leans far more toward the George Thorogood version. And one other, but no need to go on and on about that now.
The blues. Never would have believed , even when I first started actually getting somewhere on the guitar, that I’d wind up here, and certainly not playing any. Might be a little frustrating getting the hang of some of the techniques, but frustration I can deal with. As long as I’m not suffering the blues? Just going to keep at it.
Currently listening to: “The Devil’s Dance Floor” by Flogging Molly
I know, it’s early, but the way the dates fell, had to do our annual Halloween party this past Saturday night. And, while it was a little warmer than we’d hoped (thanks for nothing, Hurricane Matthew, so much for you sucking up some moisture in your wake!), things worked out pretty well. Was a little too humid for the fire to really get roaring, but, by the same token, we didn’t exactly need a fire given how warm it still is. The bug zapper? Boy did that thing get a workout! Thought at one point we’d snagged a dragon in there. Sounded like we were electrocuting Ted Bundy. Kinda fitting, when you think about it.
Changed up the front décor a little, and while it was a bit buggy to spend a whole lot of time outside, we did manage to do some guitar playing. Billy, James and I tried Proud Mary for the first time, with Margaret and James doing vocals. Our best? Uh…no, to be sure. But, November 5th is right around the corner and that’s James and Amanda’s baby shower (did I mention they first met up at one of our parties?), so we plan to be a little smoother on that one.
So, our Halloween party is outa the way, but still got the Cape Coral Spooktacular comin’ up, and of course, Halloween Weekend at BackStreets. If I’m lucky? Sometime this week or next, I’ll finally be able to catch Blair Witch before it leaves the theatres. Here’s hoping…
Currently listening to: “Where the Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave & the Bad
Seeds (feat. Kylie Minogue)
Mentioned a couple of weeks back, before I got sick, that I’d be posting pics of my new guitar. This, however, isn’t that guitar. Oh, it’s my new one, but it isn’t the Epiphone Wildkat Pam and my Mom and my sis & her family had chipped in for with Billy. The Wildkat had some serious problems, so Billy and I went back, spent about four hours testing out guitars, and I came home with this one. An Epiphone ES 335, which was originally in the $599 range, but which I got for around the same price as the Wildkat.
The thing is fantastic. Not only is it gorgeous, it’s an archtop, which I’d been looking for. (I chose this over a Fender Stratocaster, because I like the semi hollow-body better, and the ‘Strat felt tiny in comparison.)
Anyway, my other Epiphone (the one featured in the videos on my YouTube channel when we played Backstreets for my Mom’s birthday), is affectionately referred to thanks to the modifications Scott made for me, as The Halloween Machine. This one has no such modifications.yet. But Scott will be working on a significant one shortly, which is why I’ve named this cuddly 6-string Lori.
Sounds pretty nice, eh? And, yup, that’s F major ringing out (well, for me, most of the time.) This was Tuesday night at Billy’s, with John Fairfield on bass. This was only the second time I’d tried the song, and the first time John had played it since he learned it-back in 8th grade. Hence, some chords being called out as John didn’t have the tab. Fun stuff. Hopefully we’ll have a new song up on the channel soon, we’ve been working on a bunch of different tunes, and will get around to recording another before long.