Gear

Classical Guitars

My next guitar will probably be a Takamine TH5C. It is an electric-acoustic classical guitar with a cutaway. It is very similar to my Takamine TC-132SC except that the TH5C has an ebony fret board and solid rosewood back and sides. Again, I will add a Takamine soundboard transducer and plug it into the on-board CTP-3 pre-amp.

The workhorse of my classical guitars is a 2007 Takamine TC132SC. It has a traditional Torres design, but with a sweet cutaway. It is an electric-classical guitar sporting Takamine’s CoolTube CTP-2 pre-amp and the under-the-bridge Palathetic piezo pickup. I have installed a Takamine soundboard transducer on this guitar and it sounds great. It is mounted inside the guitar on the bass side of the brace that runs under the saddle and it plugs directly into the auxiliary port on the pre-amp. This allows me to control the overall sound of the guitar through the pre-amp.

2007 Takamine TC132SC Classical Guitar

My latest guitar acquisition is a 1988 Ovation 1713 Classic guitar. Like my other classical guitars, it has a cedar top (soundboard) and a 2-inch nut, but this one has a plastic body and an ebony fretboard rather than the typical rosewood fretboards. It takes a little adjustment to play, due to the deep rounded body shape. However, it is by far the easiest classical guitar to play while standing up, which can sometimes be convenient when you are hosting a gig. It sports the original OP-24 pre-amp and I did have to re-glue the plastic rosette back into place. I installed an additional strap nut on the lower side of the neck heal. This allows me to play while standing with a lot more control over the position of the guitar. I have also suggested this modification to all my friends that play steel-string Ovation guitars.

1988 Ovation 1713 Classic Guitar

Bass Guitars

My current working bass is a 1976 Fender American Standard Precision with an aftermarket Mighty Mite fretted neck and rosewood fretboard. It also has a great Badass bridge. This bass has been in my family a long time, as it once belonged to my younger brother Robin. It is simple, built like a rock, and sounds great. Also, it weighs a ton or is that a tonne?

1976 Fender American Standard Precision Bass

My project bass, soon to be my latest working bass, is a 1999 Fender American Standard Jazz Bass with a clear finish and a rosewood fretboard. This bass has been recently refretted by Dave Pellow with stainless steel frets and he also tuned the neck and replaced the nut to make it very playable. I didn’t like the twin volume knobs, as it is difficult to maintain the desired tone when increasing the volume. Of course, I could use a volume pedal but that is one more thing to trip on while on the stage. So, I replaced the control panel and all the associated hardware with a new control panel fitted with a pickup blender circuit. One knob for tone, another for overall volume and a third for blending the output from the two pickups. I will document the project and post it to this website.

1999 Fender American Standard Jazz Bass

Amplifiers

My main amplifier for years was a late 1970’s Polytone Minibrute III. I used it with electric guitars, like Joe Pass did, and I used it with my electric basses. Because it sports about 90 watts RMS of solid state power, it can really handle the bass tones well. Maybe not well enough for gigging, but good enough that it is my regular practice amp over where Analog practices. At one time, I managed to blow the JRC4558DB op-amps in the pre-amp section and since they are not made anymore, I modified the 14-sockets so that I can run 8-pin op-amps. I am presently running LM358 op-amps but I will soon be switching them out for NJM4558D op-amps.

Late 70’s Polytone MiniBrute III Bass/Guitar Amplifier


My workhorse bass amplifier is a Fender Rumble 200. I compared Ampeg, Fender and Traynor solid-state combo amplifiers around the 200 watts RMS range. The Fender Rumble blew the others away. It had the best tone control, smoothest sound and it was the lightest weight. I always like a combo amp with a 15-inch speaker like my old Polytone. For full 200 watts of power, I added a Fender Rumble 112 side cabinet with a 12-inch speaker. Since the Rumble is a D-class amplifier it will provide more power with lower impedance speakers, so adding an 8-ohm sidekick will reduce the total speaker impedance to 4 ohms from the original 8 ohms. So far, my only problem with the Rumble 200 has been getting the full range of tones necessary for songs like Lowdown by Boz Scaggs.

2015 Fender Rumble 200 Amplifier


Sound Systems

This is my basic sound system for playing small rooms and open mics. It consists of a Yamaha MG82CX mixer mounted on a microphone stand, a Crown XLS1500 D-class power amplifier, two Yorkville YX10 passive speakers, one or two Yorkville M160 passive monitor, a Shure Beta 58a microphone and a Shure SM57 microphone. Believe it or not, it sounds great. The Crown amplifier provides really clean sounds that beat out new active (powered) speaker systems.

My Home Practice Room

For playing solo acts or open mics in larger rooms or outdoors, I simply swap JBL MR822 speakers for the Yorkville YX10. The Crown power amp can easily handle the extra power requirements.