Dad's Gear of the Present.

Here's what's I'm playing in the Basement these days...
NOTE: This page goes down pretty deep. Maybe I'll split it up in the future, but for now, scroll on!

Electra X-145

This is my Electra X-145 from about 1982 - I acquired it in 2006. It was originally set up like a strat, but I decided I'd rather have a faux-Jazzmaster and made the conversion over several months in 2010.

The X-145 has a maple body, a Wilkinson trem (set up to float), and two Jazzmaster pickups that I mounted myself. What a job - routing for the pickups, finding the right pickguard blank, and then plotting, cutting, and fitting the pickguard. Then I had to make sure I wired it correctly.

It was all worth it, since I think it sounds and looks great and has become my main guitar with the Aquatudes. AND nobody has one just like it!

Here's a page that chronicles the modification process in photos and copious text.

Fender Jaguar MIJ

After playing in my surf band, The Aquatudes, for a year or so, I decided I wanted a Fender Jaguar to get the authentic surf twang. (Forget that I owned a 1966 Jag in my twenties and sold it for a song!) I found a nice MIJ '96 sunburst model online. It had a RED tortoiseshell pickguard, but I quickly replaced that with a nicer-looking (to me) black pearloid guard, which I think lets the sunburst show through better.

I've strung it with flatwound 11's for the plunky, drippy surf sound. The guitar sounds fantastic through the tube reverb and the Ampeg Gemini II! I like the action of the floating vibrato, too.

univox hi flier

Here's my circa-1975 Univox Hi-Flyer. It's a so-called "phase 4" model with Univox humbucking pickups. It has a 24-1/2" scale length. Of course, this guitar is a really loose copy of the Mosrite guitars made popular by the Ventures.

One day I walked into a cool guitar shop in Westerly, Rhode Island, called Frets and found this pristine original Univox waiting for me. I replaced the original black pickguard with a white one for a more appropriate Mosrite-like effect.

The guitar originally had a wraparound bridge, but I've recently installed a GFS Xtrem vibrato - now I can use it with the Aquatudes and whammy away.

Silvertone Jupiter 1423

Here's my 1960's Harmony-built Silvertone 1423 (sometimes called the Jupiter), bought in 1979 for about $50 at a guitar store in Naugatuck, Conn. - I couldn't leave without it. I've used this guitar at many live gigs and it has graced some of my instrumental recordings with it's characteristically twangy DeArmond sound, including the lead parts on "Venture This," "Shim Jambs (Before Cutting Bands)," and "Bongo-Shmongo."

Although it has no visible holes, it's a hollow-body guitar with a nice resonant sound to it. If I could put a Bigsby on it without drilling holes, I'd be in rockabilly heaven.

Electra Strat (Thorn-head)

Here's my Electra "Strat" copy in intense red from the 1980's. People that collect Electra guitars refer to this as a "PCM Electra" with the dreaded "thorn" peghead. It was apparently made in Korea way before that was a good thing.

Somewhere along the line, someone put actual Fender pickups in this plywood-bodied beast, so it sounds pretty stratty. I added a new Gotoh trem and flatwound strings. I also wired in a switch to get the bridge+neck pickup combo. Even after a professional setup, it only plays "okay," so it doesn't get a lot of use at gigs.

Electra X-140

This was my main machine for a long time- my Electra X140. I've owned this guitar since 1980, when I found it at a guitar store in NYC.

Tom Bittel Hartford DOAI've made some modifications to this guitar over the years. I reshaped the headstock slightly and removed the Electra "peace sign" logo. I "renamed" it with a "VOID" stamp from a stationery store.

At right is a photo of me in 1983 with my pre-mod Electra on a cable-access show called "Hartford Dead or Alive." This was with my trio called "Nice Young Men," which included my brother Dave on bass and vocals.

Kalamazoo Archtop

This is my Kalamazoo archtop acoustic from the 1930's - not sure of a model name or number. It was a mess when I bought it - pieces hanging off, a couple of big open cracks in the body, and internal braces rattling loose inside. I applied some TLC (and Titebond glue!), strung it up, and found myself with the inspiration for a whole bunch of my favorite original tunes.

The photo shows the guitar with a Barcus Berry contact pickup that I've since removed. I recently bought a floating jazz pickups to mount on a duplicate pickguard that I fabricated. It'll have mini-pots for volume and tone also mounted to the pickguard. I'll update the photos when I get to finishing that.

Hagstrom I Bass

This is my Hagstrom I bass from a batch of 1162 made between 1966/67 (thanks, Jules from!). It has a clear Plexiglas back-painted front-piece and a red vinyl-covered back. It has two pickups, four slider switches, and a single volume knob. It also features a wooden bridge - which makes for a unique "thunky" bass sound.

I keep flatwound strings on it. This is the bass on all DNB tracks. I occasionally get the opportunity to play this bass in a live setting.

Magnatone Artist Mark VII

This is a Magnatone Artist Series Mark VII from around 1960. I've owned it since 1993. It has one pickup with Alnico #5 magnets, volume and tone knobs and what appears to be a "loud-soft" switch. The body is hollow-core with birch front and back panels. The neck has a rosewood fingerboard and uses a zero-fret design. I think this old Magnatone looks more than slightly Rickenbacker-esque - in fact, the series was designed by Paul Barth himself.

The single pickup in the neck position can be dialed-in to give a cool rhythm sound, but I've found that the guitar has limited use for me as it stands.

I have an idea though: Being as the electronics are all mounted to the fiberglass pickguard and the body came routed for two pickups, I can envision fabricating a duplicate pickguard and setting it up with two Fender-style pickups and creating a Magna-Tele. The procedure would not hurt anything vintage-value-wise and would be easily reversible. We'll see if/when I get to this one...

Eko 100

In the mid-90's, I stumbled upon this single-pickup archtop guitar - an Eko Model 100 from the 1960's. Legend has it that Hendrix owned one of these as a kid.

I've recently added a GFS Xtrem vibrato to it, which looks kind of cool and makes me want to play it more often. It has a few issues though. The pickup is a bit thin and microphonic and I've had to keep on top of filing sharp fret-ends. These are kind of low-end guitars, but I'll see if I can make it useable. I do like the pearloid pickguard and the EKO script on the body.

Supro Supreme

Ever since I visited Hawaii in the early 90's, I've experienced a (still) growing interest in Hawaiian guitar music. In 2003 I scored this Supro Supreme lap steel on eBay. My online research indicates that this instrument was produced around 1948, making it the second-oldest piece in my collection, next to the Kalamazoo.

I am now progressing on the long and slow (for me anyway) learning curve to master this instrument.


Sigma Acoustic

This is my 6-string round-hole acoustic. It's a Sigma by Martin (their older import brand) that I bought from a friend at work. It has a built-in preamp and a cutaway. It's shallower than most acoustics and has a fairly bright and defiined sound which records well. After getting a good setup, I've been pretty happy with this one and have performed with it a bunch of times, including the Dad's Noisy Basement live show.

Stella Tenor Guitar

Here's my Stella tenor guitar. Tenor guitars have four strings and are normally tuned like a viola: CGDA. Actually, the tenor guitar was invented to allow tenor banjo players an easy way to change over to guitar when banjo began to go out of style in recordings in the 1930's. I really like the painted-on woodgrain finish - extra cheesy!

One day, I discovered the guitar sitting with the bridge in pieces and the strings hanging off. That must have made some kind of noise when it happened! After looking in vain for a replacement bridge, a repair guy at a guitar shop in NYC suggested that I simply glue it back together and onto the guitar body - which worked like a charm!

Harmony Tenor Banjo

Speaking of tenor instruments, here is my Harmony tenor banjo. I bought this at a tag sale when I was in high school - around 1973 or so. I think I paid $20 for it at the time. It has a real skin head and is somewhat plain for a tenor banjo, at least compared to others I've seen. I have no idea how old this thing is.

This would normally be tuned to CGDA, just like the tenor guitar. This instrument appears briefly on "Bad Punch-ins (On Purpose)" on my first DNB album and I've used it on some of the DNB Live backing tracks.

I still have my first amp that I bought in 1975. It's a 1966 Ampeg Gemini II, with 30 watts and a sweet original 15" Jensen Concert speaker. I actually sold this Ampeg twice - to two of my high-school buddies - and later bought it back each time. I've played through this amp in every band I've ever been in. It has great bottom-end, an unusually lush reverb and fantastic tremolo. Ampeg Gemini II

This is the smaller member of my Ampeg family, a later-60's Jet. It has 15 watts of power, a newer Jensen 12" speaker, a simple tone knob, and a cool tremolo with variable speed. It has a great sound when cranked up a bit with the band.

Lately I've been using this amp for more and more gigs. Now that the Jensen is broken-in, it sounds fantastic!

Ampeg Jet J-12D
Here are Dad's drums. There's a Sonor Sonic Plus 20" bass drum, a Tama Swingstar 12x10 mounted tom, and a Swingstar 16x16 floor tom. The snare shown is a great-sounding old Ludwig I got from my friend John K. I also have a CB-700 snare that sounds completely different. The cymbals are Paiste 502's, on Gibraltar stands. Dick plays these at Aquatudes practice sessions and they've ended up on most of the Aquatudes' recordings. sonar tama drums
Tascam 414
For years, this was my main recording machine -
my Tascam Portastudio 414. My wife gave it to me for my 40th birthday. This is the machine I used to record the Dad's Noisy Basement Album. While I now use the Fostex below for main tracking, I still sometimes use the Tascam sometimes for tracking drums, since it can record four tracks at once and lets me do that tape saturation thing.

Fostex DMT-8VL

Here's my Fostex DMT-8vl 8-track digital recording deck. I found it on eBay in 2004 and have completed the Aquatudes' first album and lots of DNB recordings and backing tracks on it. I like that it operates with pretty much the same thinking as my Portastudio and accepts outboard effects (which was kind of crucial to me since I'd assembled an array of effects that I really like to use).

This is my 6-watt Fender Bronco from the 1970's. It's similar to a Vibro-Champ and sounds like a million bucks when it's cranked up! Nice tremolo, too. I've used this for a lot of my electric guitar parts on DNB and Aquatudes recordings. I've found I can even use it live for the Aquatudes in our "cocktail" setup. Silverface Fender Bronco

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