Rickenbacker 325c58

It is THE guitar I use in DelGaudio.  Purchased used in March of 2017.  The Beatles are the reason I'm a musician and this guitar has always fascinated me!  It is Rickenbacker's exact re-issue/recreation of John Lennon's first real American guitar - a 1958 325 Capri.  To say that originals are exceedingly rare would be an understatement. I've read that only 28 were made and only 8 in this color.  For more info on Lennon's 325, click here.  The re-issues were made from 2002-2009 and mine is from 2003.

Owners of this guitar often "Lennon-ize" them.  The previous owner installed the Bigsby B5, but thankfully not the bowtie bridge.  I prefer the original bridge and its ability to intonate the guitar.  I replaced the main shaft and roller bar with Callaham parts, removed the spring and disassembled the arm.  This guitar is tricky enough to keep in tune without wiggling a Bigsby!  Like John, the middle pickup had been disconnected.  I geeked out and found a guy in Australia who repros the knobs Lennon used to replace the original oven-style knobs.  Yep...I did.  Next, I didn't like the .0047 inline cap on the bridge pickup and the taper of volume controls so, I just had a new wiring harness made - pots and all, but minus that inline cap.  The controls are still laid out the same way (volumes on the bottom, tones on the top), but with 50s era Gibson wiring.  Losing that inline cap brought a bit of low-end back to the bridge pickup and the 50s era Gibson wiring made the volume controls much more usable. Lastly, I replaced the stock tuners with Waverly tuners.  They look quite close to the originals and work infinitely better.

So how does it sound?  Chunky, chimney, plunky (in the coolest of ways), tough and sweet.  Truly unique and a total inspiration!  How does it play?  I set the action on all of my guitars on the high side and the action on this little guy is remarkably fast.  The short scale is a bit odd, but I've gotten used to it.  For tone and tuning stability, you must use 13-gauge flatwound strings.  If you're looking for singing Gibson-type sustain, keep lookin'...You have to play to it's strengths and peculiarities.  That's why I love it.

PRS Private Stock DGT's

Meet Ruthie and Del.  I never name guitars, but these two are the exception.  Named after my Mom and Dad, both of whom have passed on.  I bought Ruthie (left) in June of 2017 and Del (right) that October from Willcutt Guitars in Lexington, KY..  They are top of the line guitars from a company that I believe is consistently making the best guitars today.  I found out after purchasing Ruthie, that these two guitars were built after PRS held a Facebook Live video where fans got to choose the type of guitar, woods, color and finish to be used in a new, Private Stock build., I just HAD to have the other one!  They are one serial number apart. Yep...full on geek.

Both guitars are exactly the same, save the different figuring on the top woods and the color.  Bodies are Black Limba and the necks are Wenge.  Fingerboards, headstock veneers and tuner buttons are Macassar Ebony.  Ruthie has a flame maple top and her color is Magma.  Del has a quilt maple top and his color is Blue Steel.  They are totally stock.

They are incredibly versatile instruments and my main guitars for every other type of gig I do.  Capable of Les Paul power and Tele snap.  The coil tap sounds are actually quite usable and the vibrato bridges are smooth and even. Some people accuse PRS Guitars of being soul-less.  That's just bunk!  Listen to David Grissom.  He's been using them for over 30 years.

PRS Vela

This frost blue metallic gem is an incredibly well-built guitar for under $1500!  Purchased new in the Fall of 2018.  This model is from PRS's S2 line (Made in USA w/Korean electronics) and is the guitar I usually take on fly dates.  It's got a comfy neck and I love the top-loading/brass-barrel bridge.  Initially, I dug the original pickups, but after a while...meh.  So, I changed them to a set of Lindy Fralin Big Singles and a completely new wiring harness (all made in USA).  The difference?  Night and day. The Big Single has an almost gold-foil quality to its sound, and its output is just a shade under a P90.  Lastly, the tone pot pulls out and flips the phase on the neck pickup for the out-of-phase sound when both pickups are engaged.  I love the simplicity and retro vibe of the Vela.  I don't mean for this to sound like an ad, but y'all really need to go check one of these out...

The Fenders

2008 John Cruz Masterbuilt '56 Tele (left)

2019 Jason Smith Masterbuilt '69 Strat (right)

It's kinda funny that these two guitars represent, respectively, the oldest and newest guitars in my collection.  I bought the Tele not long before I joined Billy Joel's band for the Last Play at Shea shows in July of '08.  The Strat, I bought in the Summer of 2019.

Soon after I got the Tele, I had it re-fretted with 6100 fretwire.  I changed the pickups to a set made by Don Mare (0038 bridge/'53 neck) and changed the entire bridge assembly to a Callaham Vintage T Model.  Ya just can't beat an ash body with a maple neck and this Tele is, to my ears, the best sounding Tele I've ever played.  I've owned others, but always came back to this one.  I will have it for the rest of my life, period.

I've always loved big headstock Strats.  I once owned a '69 reissue in olympic white that I should never have sold. Alas...but that made way for this beauty!  This Strat is totally stock: roasted alder body, roasted maple neck, 6105 frets, Josefina hand-wound '69 pickups and standard wiring.  I used to be a Strat-only player and have owned a bazillion over the years, then got tired of them and owned none for quite a while.  Now, the Strat is back in my life and this one is quite exceptional in its Stratty-ness!  Hey...ya gotta have one.

Collings 290

I'd always wanted a vintage, TV yellow Les Paul Special, but could never afford one.  Then several years ago, Rudy (of Rudy's Music in NYC) handed me a Collings 290 to check out. I was blown away by the sound, playability and build quality. It took me a few years, but I finally got one of my own in the Fall of 2018.

I must admit, I have a love/hate kind of relationship with P90s and oddly, it's for the same reason: their thick, gnarly, single-coil tone.  I've owned several P90-equipped guitars over the years and ended up selling all of them, because I find the modern iterations of the P90 to be far too mid-range focused.  These pickups should have a certain airy quality and the best examples I've heard have been vintage P90s from the 50s and early 60s.  Enter the Collings 290 and it's TV Jones T90s!  To my ears, these pickups capture all that I love about old P90s: single-coil airiness, a healthy (but not overbearing) midrange and a ballsy thickness when overdriven.  Check, please...

The Gretsches

Vintage Select ’62 Jet Firebird Red (left)

Custom Shop Stephen Stern '53 Duo Jet (center)

Vintage Select '68 Champagne Sparkle Jet (right)

I friggin' love Gretsch guitars!  I love all the knobs and switches.  They exude vintage, old-school cool.  As much as I dig the big hollow-body 6120 and Falcon, at the end of the day, I much prefer the size of their "solid-body" instruments. I put that word in quotes because any aficionado of Gretsch guitars knows that Jets, in actuality, are quite hollow.  So, I've got three with each of the classic pickup varieties: Dynasonic, Filter'Tron and Hilo'Tron (all TV Jones). The Jet Firebird is Malcolm Young all the way.  The Champagne Jet's Champagne Sparkle!  Arguably, the coolest custom color ever made!

The Duo Jet is quite special.  It was made using reclaimed wood (pine) from the Bliss Building in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Masterbuilder Stephen Stern used white pine for the body and yellow pine for the neck; even the pickguard, control-cavity cover, truss-rod cover and headstock faceplate are reclaimed pine.  I found it intriguing that a company that was founded and had its golden age in Brooklyn built a guitar with wood from the same borough (and only maybe 2 miles from where the original factory was).  I purchased all three guitars at Streetsounds NYC down in Bayridge, Brooklyn.  Stop by and see the owner, Rocky.  He's a great guy and has the largest selection of Gretsches in the US.

How do they sound?  Killer.  All fine examples of what each pickup variety should sound like.  Though, I'll tell ya, the Hilo'Trons in the Champagne Jet are a real sleeper.

Danelectro Baritone

I bought this guitar in 2013 from a local guy when I lived in Brooklyn.  I needed one for a record I was making at the time.  It's got that retro vibe and is a totally stock, twang monster.  As is often the case with me and new instruments, as soon as I got it, I wrote a song.  I usually keep it tuned B to B, though occasionally I've tuned it down to A.  I think it still has the strings I put on the guitar right after I purchased and cleaned the instrument.  That's going on 7 years!  Hmm...maybe I ought to change 'em.

The Acoustics

1934 National Duolian (left)

2018 Gibson SJ-200 (center)

2018 Martin Authentic 1931 OO-17 (right)

I bought the resonator for a great price and it's a stellar example. It's loud and has got that classic metallic honk. Before I owned it, its neck was replaced by National.  I'm not knowledgeable on resonators, but as far as I know, everything else is original.  Because I barely used it, for a while I was trying to sell it.  Then, I got a chance to use it on a session and thought, "This gootar ain't goin' anywhere!"

Ya gotta have at least one Gibson acoustic, so it might as well be an SJ-200, the "King of the Flat-tops"!  Mine has a thermally-aged Adirondack Spruce top and hide-glue construction.  I just love the color and finish.  Its sound is quite smooth and sweet.  I've heard that J-200s are called "Whispering Giants" and I've played examples where that nickname is true.  However, this one has definitely got some oomph!

If you need one Gibson, then you definitely need one Martin.  This gem is from their Authentic Collection and is an exact reproduction of a 1931 OO-17 in all of its mahogany glory!  It's surprisingly loud for such a small guitar and has quite an ample bass response.  I owe these facts to its being a 12-fretter.  If you've never played a good 12-fret acoustic before, do yourself a favor and play one.  The experience will be transformative...

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