Dad's Gear of the Past...
most of the cool (!) gear I used to own. I'll try to list these in as
close to chronological order as possible - it's the memory thing.
first guitar (if you don't count the Emenee Swingin' Cat plastic-body
with suction-cup-amp-pickup that I got for Xmas in 1967 - and I don't)
was a blonde Hondo steel-string acoustic with a trapeze tailpiece.
first electric was a really odd-looking Kent model. Kind of a Hofner-bass-shaped
guitar with a pointy lower bout. I bought it from a childhood friend
for $50 while we were both in high school. What a weird
guitar - I wish I still had it. I don't really remember all the details
of controls, etc., and this is the only photo I have of it. Looks
like it had some slide switches and four normal volume/tone knobs.
It also had a vibrato tailpiece - WITH the vibrato bar.
this guitar and my first (and still my main) amplifier, a 1966 Ampeg
Gemini II, I got into my first band. The photo shows me with the Kent
and the Ampeg, circa 1976. That
band played 50's and 60's oldies and I stayed with them all through
college and grad school, eventually getting good enough to be the only guitar in the band.
next guitar purchase was a 1966 Fender Jaguar with block fret markers,
a bound neck, and a big wear mark where your right forearm rested
on the body. It was a little beat, but I loved it - at least at
first. The Jag would make some great sounds,
but I was too inexperienced to realize what a gem I had, how to set it up correctly, or that
I had already found my ultimate guitar. I think I paid $175.00 for
the Jag. (Back in the present, I have a 90's MIJ Jaguar.)
forget exactly how long I kept the Jag, but I remember I had to practically
give it away. If I knew then what I know now...
was on some sort of holy quest for the f-hole electric of my dreams
(picture Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, etc.). I found an old Gretsch
Tennesseean (or maybe it was an Anniversary) with one pickup
in the neck position and, as I found out later to my horror, a slightly
twisted neck. I can't find a single photo of this guitar and I've
never seen another exactly like it. It was one
of my lesser choices of guitars through the years. I kept that one
for less than a year and, once again, practically gave it away.
- this is not my actual guitar in the photo at the left, but the closest thing I've been able to find online.
I decided I needed a solid-body guitar for
the band. My next acquisition was a brand-new Univox Les Paul Jr.
copy in so-called "TV yellow."
had two P-90 pickups, a Badass tailpiece, and the normal 2+2
knob setup. It sounded neat and twangy, and I started to learn lead
on this thing. The only real issue with this guitar
was that it was very neck-heavy, so I had to hold onto it carefully
or the neck would want to head for the floor fast. That got old
and I eventually sold it.
Around the same time period, I acquired a really nice blackface Fender twin. To finance this, I sold the Ampeg to my
friend Paul, who had just bought an electric guitar and needed an
amp. This was the first of two times I sold the amp to a friend
and later bought it back.
a shot of me with my Gibson Melody Maker (see story below) and the
blackface Fender Twin at a gig at some VFW hall. Check out the Fender
Multi-echo unit on top of the Twin. It was a Tel-Ray unit sometimes
known as an "oil-can"echo, and hooked into the amp's reverb
wires to work.
day while checking out the used stuff at a local music shop,
a guy approached me and asked if I'd like to see his 1964
Gibson Melody Maker. He proceeded to sell me this guitar for
$150.00. It was really neat with one anemic little single-coil
pickup pickup and a "vibrola" tailpiece, which you
could opt-out of by stringing the guitar through the wrap-around
the next couple of years, I proceeded to do things to this poor
guitar that make me cringe today. You just don't do what I did to
a vintage guitar... I replaced the compensated bridge/tailpiece
with an adjustable "Badass" bridge - nothing irreversible
there. Then I decided that I wanted better tuners, so I bought Grovers
and reamed out the holes in the headstock. I replaced the stock
knobs with cool-at-the-time "speed knobs." Then I had
a brass nut installed (everybody did that in 1978, didn't they?).
Lastly, I decided I had to have a DiMarzio PAF humbucking pickup,
so I bought one and routed out the body of the guitar and the plastic
pickguard. To be fair, the guitar sounded awesome and it stayed
in tune like nobody's business. However, a couple of years later
when I went to sell it, I found that I had really killed the vintage
value. Live and learn...
in that time period, I also bought a Fender Bassman 10, a
50-watt tube amp with four 10-inch speakers in a sealed-back cabinet.
I ended up selling that to my brother, Dave,
when he joined the band to play keyboard. It turned out to be not so good
for Dave's keyboards and he eventually bought an RMI transistor
amp head and a 15-inch Cerwin-Vega speaker cab.
odd guitar I acquired in this time period was a Guild thin-hollow
body with one pickup - not that functionally different from the
Gretsch. I kept this only a short time, much to the chagrin of another
girlfriend, who had fronted the deposit as a birthday gift...
somewhere in that timeframe I traded my Fender Twin to someone for
a minty brownface Fender Bassman head and matching 2x12 cabinet (little did I know then that this amp would be perfect for my present surf-rock band!) Also in this time period, my brother Dave and I tried to start another
band to play "new-wave" hits. We called ourselves "The
B-Sides" and we lasted about six months...Then Dave and I continued
on with the Wanderers for a few more years.
my first Fender Telecaster. It was a 1971 model in perfect shape and I paid
$275 for it in 1978. This became my main guitar in the band, which
had changed it's name to The Wanderers. By now I was the
sole guitarist in the band.
I found what seemed to be the guitar of my dreams (again!). I sold
both the Tele and the Melody Maker to finance this $450 purchase.
It was a 1958 Gibson dot-neck ES-330, with two P-90 single
coil pickups and a Bigsby tailpiece. The guitar had a great, twangy
sound and I loved the Bigsby for instrumental songs like "Walk,
Don't Run." The fact that the guitar was hollow didn't seem
to be a problem.
is a promo photo of the Wanderers, circa 1980 with me and my ES-330.
There's my brother Dave at far left. Later in 1980, I needed some
emergency money and I traded the 330 for my Electra X140 and $100
another shot of Dave and I playing with the Wanderers, circa
1981 or so. That's me with my Silvertone, which I still
have, and in the background you can see my Melody Maker.
about gear of the past though, check out Dave's Vox Super
Continental organ! Dave could make a few entries himself
about his equipment of the past - like the Vox, Hammond
Porta-B, Multivox piano...
acquisitions and divestments slowed down for a few years until 1985
when I'd been in the Broken Hearts for a while. I had been playing
the Electra (VOID) and my Silvertone with them. Then, bandmate Jamie
Beckett wanted to get rid of his Fender Telecaster Thinline with
two humbuckers and I gave him $275 for it. I was happy to have a
Tele again. That guitar had the sweetest middle-position sound of
any guitar I've ever owned. It quickly became sort of a signature
guitar for me, and appeared with me on the cover of the Broken Hearts'
album, "Want One?".
a shot of the Broken Hearts playing the Grotto in New Haven. There's me on
the left with the Tele Thinline.
in this time period, I also picked up a Vox Super Ace, which was
a thinly-disguised Strat-copy in baby blue. This guitar appears
on one of Michael's "Want One?" songs, "While You
Were Having Fun," with the vibrato.
I found IT - the guitar of my DREAMS (I thought) -
an 80's Gibson ES-335 dot-neck reissue. It had two humbuckers and was in perfect shape for $500. I sold the Tele
Thinline to a guy who played in a Boston band called The Cleavers
to help finance this acquisition. With this
guitar, I moved with the rest of the Broken Hearts to NYC
in the fall of 1985. In the course of the move, I also traded a
nice drafting table for a blackface Fender Vibrolux, which became my main gigging amp in NYC.
make a long story short, the Broken Hearts didn't make it
big in NYC and I eventually moved back to Hartford and got
married. I sold the ES-335 and the Fender Vibrolux when we bought our first house, leaving me with the Electra
X140, the Silvertone, the Hagstrom bass, the Ampeg Gemini
II, and the Kalamazoo archtop (see current gear page).
to Main Gear Page