Welcome to my small but growing collection of guitars (gallery here). My first guitar was an imitation Les Paul, no longer in my possession. But the first guitar I bought that was not a ‘copy’ was an Ovation solid body electric which was new to the guitar world back in 1976 or 1977, when I shopped and bought it on famed 48th St. (guitar store row).
Detail of inside cover of EWF's Gratitude album
When I saw that white guitar on the inside cover of the Earth Wind & Fire double album Gratitude, with its bizarre shape, it must have spoken to me, ’cause that’s what I bought.
- Ovation Deacon
And used for two decade, or thereabouts, before I put it in various basements as I got older. More recently, the Deacon and it’s sibling the Breadwinner have been rediscovered, and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello owns two Breadwinners that he uses on tour.
The so-called ‘guitar collection’ really started on my 50th birthday, late 2008. My friend encouraged me to pick up guitar again and in commemoration of my bday, I bought a 2008 PRS Custom 24 with a 10-top tiger-striped top, beautiful bird inlays, two humbuckers and a five way dial.
PRS Custom 24 - detail
Got it from Guitar Center, on 14th Street, huge shopping mall of a guitar store, not like days of old, or like the swankier, smaller boutique, Rudy’s Music. I had brought the Ovation Deacon up from the basement, got the techs to set it up with new strings and action fixed and played it, but it was bit unwieldy and not so playable compared to modern electrics.
But the PRS Custom 24 was beautiful, modern electrics, decent humbuckers, beautiful one-piece ’10′ top and highly playable, and for two plus years it was my go-to guitar.
Two years later, spending the summer at a lake in Connecticut led me to a small guitar store, Guitar Hangar. I fell in love with a PRS Hollowbody I that rocked but also had smooth, silky jazzy tones and a piezo pickup for acoustic tones. Cool, beautiful guitar. More playable than the Custom 24, and way more variety of tonal color with its piezo option and extra output jack so you can run it through two amps.
PRS Hollowbody I 2009
Done. Okay, that really fed my initial gear acquisition syndrome, I now had three guitars, two were new and way cool, and one was high-quality build and cost to match. I was thrilled to have two such well-built guitars. Both of them PRS, and that appealed to me. Paul Reed Smith was the luthier that brought boutique guitar design to mass production, and in the process shook up the guitar making world, becoming the third largest player after Fender and then Gibson.
Fast-forward a year, and I was not happy with the tones I was getting out of my solid body Custom 24, hankering for something to pair with my hollow body. Played a normal American Strat, about an $1800 guitar, and really, really liked the feel and the sound. But, somehow I knew a stock Strat would not satisfy.
Ebay is a cool place to look at guitar eye candy, drool over $10,000 guitars or even $4,000 custom shop strats! Somehow I plucked up the nerve to buy a guitar without playing it first. The reason for my courage lay in the fact that this was a Masterbuilt Strat from their custom shop. So, you have stock Fender guitars, some made in America, some in other countries. Then you have custom shop Fender guitars, that are made but their crack team of luthiers, and they are beautiful, hand-calibrated and lovingly built and costing several thousand each and more. Lastly, you have Masterbuilt Fender Custom Shop guitars, each of these are made by individual luthiers, master builders in the custom shop, and they create and shepherd the building of a one-of-a-kind Fender. Yes, that’s what I got.
Jason Smith Masterbuilt Fender
Jason Smith Masterbuilt Fender
This Strat actually had a pedigree of sorts, having been custom ordered by Long Island’s Music Zoo store owner in 2007. It’s story was online, which made me feel safe, as it was reviewed here. That purchase was exciting, the guitar plays like butter, is incredibly special, beautiful and I’ll never part with it, too valuable to me. Exposed me to single coil guitar slinging, too. I hear you never forget your first.
Two other purchases complete my collection. For now. Again, after playing a Taylor acoustic at my friend’s house last summer, I realized I wanted and NEEDED a good acoustic to add to the collection. Guitar Center had a sweet, pretty and great sounding Taylor 814CE that fit the bill.
2011 Taylor 814CE
Done and added to collection in 2011. Lastly, this month, as you can read here, bought an inexpensive cherry red Epiphone ES-339. Got that one modded and it plays great, now it sounds sweet as it looks.
My new un-modded Epiphone Es-339
For now, this story ends, but not for too long, I warrant. 20th Anniversary this coming week!