Cover – Elvis Costello’s “Lipstick Vogue”

New posts coming soon! In the meantime, take a look at my latest release!

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Joe Walsh’s All-Rosewood Neck Stratocaster

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Joe Walsh has often been seen with this instrument. It has toured with him and the Eagles, and perhaps most infamously, was his guitar of choice for the “Strat Pack” concert at Wembley, an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stratocaster in 2004.

Rumours about this Strat abound on the internet, but Alan Rogan, guitar tech to Joe, Pete Townshend, George Harrison, and the Rolling Stones among many, was stage manager for the Strat Pack concert, and gave an interview to Guitar and Bass Classics magazine, where the had this to say about the Strat:

“Joe likes the sound that rosewood gives… It’s very different from the usual maple. It’s really hard, so I had it refretted with Joe’s preferred frets, which are higher than normal so he can get under the string.

At first we had the neck on a ’54 reissue body, but now he’s put it on an Eric Clapton body and it’ll probably stay there, because it’s really working out. It’s from the Fender custom shop, and the pickups are noiseless.”

So there you are. For those still wondering about the origin of the instrument, it is a Rosewood neck from a ’54 reissue (something like the one pictured below), on a Clapton body.

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Pete Townshend Strat Update!

sjm-l-oslsun-0813-18You don’t have to go any further than this very blog to know Pete changes his stage setup frequently, but recent times have brought a simple, unusual change to Pete’s stage guitars.

At the Outside Lands festival (perhaps earlier), Pete was sporting a series of his usual Strats, with a new feature.

Above the piezo volume knob behind the trem system, his Strats now feature an emory board, on which Pete can be seen sharpening his pick during the set!

 

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Mark Knopfler’s Pre-CBS White 1964 Fender Stratocaster

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One of the benefits of being one of the best selling songwriters, not to mention most famous and idiosyncratic guitarists, of the last hundred years is that Mark Knopfler has his pick of vintage instruments.

This is his white Strat. A 1964 Fender, in “too-good-to-be-true” condition.

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This Strat toured with him on the Sailing to Philadelphia tour in 2001, being used for different songs at different times, and was one of the principal instruments in the recording of that album. It can be heard playing the lead parts in both the title track and “The Last Laugh” on the record.

 

For the more recent “Tracker” album, the guitar was set up for slide for the song “Lights of Taormina”

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Note the cheeky “Money for Nothing” reference in the design on Mark’s slide!

Apart from it’s clean appearance, the most interesting detail on this guitar would appear to be the small ‘catch’ which has been installed on the pickup selector switch.

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One would assume the switch is still the original 3-way selector, and this small ‘catch’ is to hold it in the in-between bridge/middle position.

To hear Mark talk about this guitar, check out the mini-documentary “Tracker: A Track By Track” on YouTube!

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Pete Townshend’s Guitars at Desert Trip

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I’ve talked about Pete’s Lace Sensor Stratocasters before, but this year has marked a more substantial change up in his guitars than we’ve seen for about twenty five years!

Gibson recently reissued a Pete Townshend signature Les Paul deluxe, and Pete has been playing one of these onstage, fitted with two Gibson mini-humbuckers and a piezo acoustic pickup.

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Even more interesting however, according to the official tour blog, in early September, Pete received some new Strats!

“Pete now has a pair of new Fender Stratocasters made with Gibson “mini-humbucker” pickups, the pickups he used throughout the 1970s. This gives his modern Stratocaster style has a bit more of that old WHO sound. In the olden days, Gibsons were naturally heavier and nastier than Fender guitars, but modern electronics have made Pete’s current Fenders superstrong, and wide-ranging beasts. He has a dozen sounds he gets from just working the guitar itself. He’s also been a proponent of an “acoustic” sound from the guitar; his electric guitars have a special pickup that simulates the strummy sound of an acoustic guitar. He likes to mix the two quite often, and has had this setup for many years now. It’s a unique thing that almost no one else is doing consistently.”*

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*You can read the blog at https://www.thewho.com/september-11-2016-oberhausen-arena-hall-oberhausen-germany/

George’s Bangladesh Stratocaster (Update)

I recently saw this video of John Lennon and George Harrison recording John’s ‘How Do You Sleep’, and noticed an interesting footnote to my earlier post about the Bangladesh Concert Strat.

It seems George’s Strat of choice for the sessions was very likely the Bangladesh Strat before it was sanded to it’s natural finish.

Let’s take a look at the info we have.

  • The Bangladesh Concert took place in August of 1971, recording on Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ (on which ‘How do You Sleep’ appears) finished by early July of the same year. Consistent with George having time to strip the finish between the two.
  • The sonic blue Strat in the video has a maple neck, and a mint green 3 ply pickguard, an uncommon combination indicating it comes from the crossover period between Fenders white single ply, maple neck combination and the rosewood boards which were to become standard later. The Bangladesh Strat shares these features.
  • The Strat isn’t set up for slide at the CFB as this one is here, but it would be when George taped his Dick Cavett Show performance on Nov 23 with the sanded Bangladesh Strat, so George was known to use it for slide, and seems to have favoured the instrument during this period.
  • The spacing of the 12th fret markers on the fretboard is consistent between both.
  • This Strat has the same strap as the Bangladesh Strat.

So, if my suspicions are accurate. Not only have we identified that the CFB Strat was originally sonic blue, we’ve determined that the finish was stripped between George’s recording sessions for ‘Imagine’ (probably ending early July) and the final CFB rehearsal on July 31!

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John Mayer’s Electric Guitars: Where the Light is.

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On the easy to recommend “Where the Light is” DVD, John Mayer plays an impressively tight set, switching between an equally impressive number of instruments. What follows is simply a list of the electric guitars seen on the DVD, with a little information about unique features.

  1. Gibson L5

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The DVD opens with John playing a Gibson L5 to a backdrop of the sunset over L.A. The guitar seems to be stock, the model fitted with 2 humbuckers.

2. Fender Custom Shop white strat

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After the opening acoustic set, John takes to the stage with the trio to begin the first electric number. His weapon of choice; an olympic white Fender Strat.

Though at first glance this guitar seems to be one of the Hendrix signature models Fender ran for a little while, Closer examination reveals a Custom Shop logo on the rear of the headstock, and none of the Hendrix signatures seem to have the same combination of features found on this example. I.E: Upside down headstock, right-way-up Fender logo, large block “stratocaster” text and a regular pickup slant.

3. Hardtail sunburst strat

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Next, what looks to be a genuine vintage sunburst strat. No custom shop logo on this one and very believable wear on the body and hardware.

4. Hendrix “Monterey Pop” Strat

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A replica of the strat Jimi famously used and abused at the Monterey pop festival.

5. Guild Starfire

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Guild’s answer to the Gibson 335, a twin pickup hollowbody.

6. Cypress Mica John Mayer signature strat

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One of a limited run offered by fender, this guitar has John’s signature on the headstock, and specs common to all of his signature stratocasters. The pickups are his signature “Big Dipper” pickups and the control knobs are an unusual design for a fender.

7. The “Black One”

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This guitar is probably the one most associated with John. Made at least in part by John himself during a tour of the Fender factory in California and designed to his specifications, it was his guitar of choice for a very long time.

8. Gold Leaf Strat.

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A custom shop made Strat very likely based on the gold leaf strats Eric Clapton had the custom shop build in the early-mid nineties. Of course, unlike Clapton’s, this model has a rosewood fretboard. Reportedly, this guitar is John’s favourite for “Vultures”

9. Sunburst John Mayer signature strat.

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The same specs as the Cypress Mica strat, but with the more standard fender control knobs.