Sunday, August 19, 2007

Parade of Guitars

Inspired by Stan's research on his (really sweet) Epiphone, here is a parade of the electric guitars I've owned over the years. I haven't quite had the luck that Stan has had holding onto one guitar. I tend to buy guitars that are either a) crap or b) weird or c) both. What I really want is a Gibson SG, or at least that's what I think I want. I could go buy one or at least a decent Epiphone copy. But I'm afraid it wouldn't live up to my expectations. I hardly even take them down in guitar stores.

Let the show begin...

The first one is (I think) a Mattel Synsonic black Explorer. I could be totally making this up, but I swear I have a memory of this guitar. It had a 9 volt battery to power the built-in speaker. It took me 30 minutes to tune. I have no idea what happened to it, or even if I had the Explorer or the Strat copy.


Next up was the Applause "power-strat" copy. It was 200 bucks literally from an ad in the back of Guitar World. No pickguard, 2 single coil, 1 hb, bad floyd-rose knockoff tremolo, impossible action. This guitar got heavily modded - I cut the lower horn off and glued it back on backwards (I don't know...), put LEDs in the middle single-coil position, dumped tempera paint on it, and most importantly, drilled a hole by the back strap holder to accept a model rocket engine and fitted an igniter switch to it. Did not actually set it off during battle of the bands, but did rock it outside in the parking lot. Probably destroyed in some fashion or another, but I don't remember.

Now I got serious, so Stan, Dylan and I went to Daddy's Junky Music in Manchester, and out of all the guitars there, I decided that the best one would be a black Peavey Vandenberg. Reverse headstock, "dinky strat" styling, real floyd rose - what a shred machine. Except that I was not, am not, and will never be a shredder. So I played my usual pentatonic noodlings and "25 or 6 to 4" with the jazz band. It was possibly the most inappropriate guitar imaginable for these purposes. This picture from eBay captures it exactly as I remember it - for all I know this could be the exact guitar. I can even smell the synthetic fur in the case. Must have sold it before going to college at some point.


At this point I got more into bass, but who the hell wants to look at basses. So we'll just move on to my first pawn shop purchase in Houston - a godawful flying v copy. It met its end by being tossed repeatedly into the air and left to fall on the concrete at one of our house parties. I don't think I played a single gig or anything else with it.

A little later I got involved with The Freshmakers, and we actually played some outside gigs for (no) money, so I needed a real guitar and real amp. I bought a Yamaha Weddington Special, which is a really obscure guitar. I actually went to the financial aid office and got a small loan out for it. The only picture I could find of it is in this ad, beside an equally obscure guitarist. It was pretty nice, really - a Les Paul Special rip with a slightly different shape. I thought I would have it for good, but I needed to pay the rent one day... If you ever come across one, it's probably worth a look.

After leaving college I really had no other electric guitars for quite a while. It was only in California when I accepted a black Squier Strat instead of rent from my roommate that I got back into them. I'm not even going to put a picture up of this. I think if you've ever played guitar, you've played or owned a Squier Strat. They are depressingly mediocre guitars.

Fast forward again to Atlanta, just a couple of years ago, I got a yen to own a decent electric. So I went to Guitar Center, and was really thinking I was going to buy that Epiphone SG. But, I saw this thing called a Blueshawk in the used section and couldn't resist the allure of the weird. Real Gibson, made in the USA, semi-hollow, tiny body, sort-of-P90 pickups, and most bizarrely, 25 inch scale length (Gibsons are usually 24, fenders are 25). I bought it and took it home, but even though you had 15 separate tone options available with the weird switches on it, eventually I deduced that none of them sounded very good. And the fit and finish was pretty awful. And I think I just like maple fretboards better. So I took it back. But, I did write the last song that I have written on it. So there is that.

And now, I am the proud owner of a heavily modified Reverend Hitman guitar. I was lusting after one of these - they're (weird), semi-hollow bodies with like a Formica top and really nice, meaty baseball bat necks. There was a 6 month waiting list for a new one, so I bought one off of eBay, with a "Fat Tele" pickup config. I can't stand Teles, so I made a new pickguard and put in a crapload of pickups so I could select the minihumbucker for jazz, single front coil for Hendrix, single and middle out of phase for Mark Knopfler, and rear hb for ZZ Top. It also has a piezo bridge for nasty, 70s sounding acoustic guitar. That was a mistake. The rest is pretty ok - I don't like the color. I think I'm going to take all the pickups out except the front hb and refinish it or something. Or just buy a new body from Warmoth and have the frets redressed - the neck is the best thing about it.

There you have it - my life in guitars.


gashcrumb said...

Awesome! I want to say that your Synsonic was the Explorer one, but I think you had the Strat copy now that I think about it. I'm sure it met a dire end too. I remember the Applause, that was pretty cool. Hey, but you forgot to mention how on the way back from picking up your Vandenberg we got mistaken for some dudes that robbed that convenience store in... uh whatever town that was and had to go in for questioning and some such shite.

I think you should also do a post on your El Camino. With pix please.

Iestyn Lewis said...

Right you are, we did get hauled in by the cops for questioning, because we all had trenchcoats and were acting all shady.

I was thinking of doing a series of blatant nostalgia posts.

gashcrumb said...

Nice, please do so...

Keath said...

You know - your sister was going to point out the trenchcoat incident as well. You must have been quite the shady hoodrats.

I enjoyed the guitar retrospective and look forward to more blatant nostalgia posts.

Oh, and, you've been tagged. Sorry! :-)

Jeff said...

There's very little that's shitty about a Flying V.

That is all.

Ceridwen said...

I've actually always wondered if you really *did* rob the store and just had a fabulous cover of mistaken identities and run-of-the-mill teenage shadiness. This is a good example of why fiction is more interesting than real life.

Iestyn Lewis said...

Shhhh.... you think I actually work in the sciences? Just a front - still living off the interest from the $600 register take and case of HoHos.

And real flying Vs = teh awesome. No-name knockoffs in fake mahogany and blood-red varnish = teh lame.

gashcrumb said...

I just re-read this post and cracked up again. I just had to say that you're a weird dude.

Anonymous said...

HAY my names mike and just found that first guitar interesting. I have the same one. one of my freinds had it in pieces all broken and someone took a nail to it and scratched th day lights out of it. He gave it to me for nothing so i decided to fix it up.
the 9 v amp was missing and so was the speaker but its still had the pickups
Any way it became a school refinishing project.
it is now black and red with a rippled finish due to the 20 year old clear coat i used. put a speaker in just to fill the hole and got a new tone pot and tuning knob.
Its the only electric ive ever owned so i wouldnt know good from bad. plays ok except that it goes out of tune very easily on the first two strings.
I am suspecting it is an explorer not a strat.

i have before and after pics at myspace if you would like to see it at the link below

Anonymous said...

That poor Reverend....

Iestyn Lewis said...

Ha! The Reverend was restored to stock condition and sold some time ago...

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