I came from Alabama with …?

zithar banjo

..a banjo in my trunk! Euh, actually it was not Alabama. I acquired this piece of antique from JnR Music, Hasselt (www.jnr.be). When you buy the Pete Seeger -“How to play the banjo”- handbook , you might as wel go for a banjo! Master Luthier John Joris introduced me to the five string chick’n-pick’n-twang’n-pluck’n banjo sling’n! Thanks John, I hold you responsible for a new addiction: bleeding fingers!

New instrument on our block is the W. Dennis 4477 Zither-banjo. The oldest instrument in my collection. More antique instead of vintage… William Dennis (°1864 – Hampstead) was the English instrument maker who conceived this instrument somewhere between 1890 and 1895. The name of the luthier is stamped in the headstock and on the fretboard near the pot along with the model number 4477.

banjo

The Zither-banjo is the English cousin of the American banjo. A zither-banjo has a wood backside which acts like a “resonator.” It is a bowl-shaped back a bit wider than the head of the banjo. This allowed the sound from the back of the banjo’s head to come out the front of the instrument. The resonator increases the volume of the instrument remarkably.

The English banjo makers used the same gauge string for the fifth and first string. The drone string was not fixed to a tuner on the neck but it was “tunneled” behind the fifth fret. The drone string dives into the instrument neck and comes out at the peghead near the sixth tuner.

The headstock has six tuners. One is a faux tuner. All tuners have knobs made of horn. The neck is made of mahogany and the fretboard is ebony with pearl inlays. The pot is a nice solid dark piece of rosewood with pearl inlays on the rim. The heel of the neck carries a nice abalone ornamental inlay.

Overall a nice piece of “antique” that will still be in use after 130 years! No shit, no pills, no coke! … my friends are into hiphop but I am into folk!

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Gibson LP Standard CS Splatter

Gibson Les Paul Splatter

Another beauty from the Gibson Custom Shop! A 2011 Gibson Les Paul Standard one-off guitar in a striking “Splatter” finish.

I don’t have much information on this one. It resembles most a ’57 ebony but with a slightly thinner neck. The headstock has the vintage style Kluson tuners and a pearloid logo inlay. Rosewood fingerboard and 22 frets. Not sure what pups are in this but to my ears it sound like 57 Humbuckers.

Gibson Les Paul Standard CS Splatter

If you want to get noticed on stage, this is your guitar! Look at the striking color of the top. It is an ebony guitar splattered with a sort of “watered down” green ink and covered with a gloss finish. The weight of this Pauly is very comfortable, it might have some sort of chambering or not… I can’t “hear” any cavity when tapping the top or back. The action is low and the playability is superb.

But who cares about the specs? This is a guitar you play to get noticed and to look cool. Plug it into a Marshall and you are ready to rock! Under a stage light it will make you shine like a Chevy on snow chains in a tunnel! It will turn heads, even by those who don’t like… how Rock’n’Roll is that!

Would you rock this guitar? Let me know!

Fender Classic Player Rascal Bass

In 2013 Jason Smith from the Fender Custom Shop created an oddball!  A bass guitar with everything from somewhere else. The headstock of a Fender Coronado, the bridge from a Guild, Pickups from a Danelectro… combined with an offset Bass VI body. The Fender Rascal is the “Frankenstein” among bass guitars.

This weird bird was a huge success at the music trade shows and Fender decided to put it in production as part of the Mexican “Classic Player” series. It is a four string short scale bass with lipstick pickups. A bass with guitar pickups? Yes, and the sonic range is awesome!  Besides the “normal” five position switch you can expand your tonal range with another two  by pulling the volume knob.

I like these oddballs, they look cool, play great and sound fantastic! For the demo I plugged this one into a vintage (1969) Marshall SLP and a 4×12 Marshall cab. To my ears it sounded great. It has a very old skool sound, almost like an upright bass. As Antoine says at the end of the demo: “it is not a slapper bass”, … but for anything else it will do the job and make you look cool!

El Credito R – Gretsch Anniversary

El Cigar!

In 1972 Cigar Master Ernesto Perez Carillo launched “la Gloria Cubana” in the United States. Later on these cigars hit the worldwide market under the brand “El Credito”. El Credito is a strong tasting cigar with complex aroma’s.  Definitely not a cigar for beginners, be sure you grow a pair before you start smoking the El Credito series “R” (rated R – only adults?). IMG_7975

In 1968, Ernesto Perez Carillo fled from Cuba to Miami and started the cigar company and created some tasty cigars based on his personal taste in flavours. The brand name “la Gloria Cubana” was dropped due to trademark infringements and changed to “El Credito. In 1999 Ernesto Carillo Jr honoured his father by creating the “Series R”.  By now these cigars are on the market for almost twenty years and they are loved by “experienced” cigar smokers all over the world.

Filler: Dominican/Nicaragua – Binder: Nicaragua – Wrapper: Ecuador

 

El Guitar!

Every time I light up the Series R with the daphne blue cigar band I grab my Gretsch Anniversary G6118T.  In 1958 Gretsch introduced the “Anniversary” model.  Over the years the guitar underwent some changes but in 2018 the guys at Gretsch nailed it by combining old and new appointments creating a professional instrument for modern players. It has the trestle bracing, Filter-Tron pickups and a pinned rocking bar bridge. The Bigsby now has a string-through bridge so no more puzzling with the little pins and string balls as we used to do with the old style Bigsby. IMG_7987

The controls are changed too. No more “mud switch” (Who needs a mud switch?) just a pickup selector switch and four fancy chrome knobs with engraved Gretsch logo (volume pup1 – volume pup2 – tone – master volume). This instrument has a lot of brightness and volume. The G6118T sports a laminated maple body, a medium U-shaped neck with 12″ radius fretboard with pearloid thumbnail markers and 22 jumbo frets. The finish is a beautiful high gloss two-tone Iridium Silver/ Azure Metalic.

Azure is the color of the Caribbean sea, … Cuba, … and so we are back to cigars!

 

 

Gibson Super Goldtone GA-30rv

Probably the most underrated guitar amp. I own 3 of these and they are keepers! Not so successful as their smaller sisters: Goldtone 15 and Goldtone 15 RVS (stereo). The Gibson GA30RV is a vintage style amp and very very British sounding!  No wonder,  these were made in the UK.  In the late 90’s, early 00’s Gibson acquired Trace Elliot.  In fact this is a Trace Elliot. The Goldtone 15 was a straight copy of the Trace Elliot Velocette amp.  The Super Goldtone range consisted of two combo’s (30 and 60 watt) and a 30 Watt head.   I purchased these most priced amps in Ol’ England.IMG_7332

This GA-30RV is a class A two-speaker combo with a bunch of features. First thing to notice is the old style speaker configuration – a 12″ Celestion V30 and a 10″ Celestion Vintage 10.  It has a luxurious finish – thick leatherette covering, brass style speaker grills and a gold plated Gibson logo on the front.  This dark brown version has Gibson tophat control knobs. The earlier version amp in two tone brown finishing has the Gibson speed knobs and basket weave speaker cloth.

The class A circuitry features four EL34 power tubes, five ECC83 and two ECC81 preamp tubes. The long Accutronics reverb tank provides a lush reverb with individual control per channel.  The controls are sectioned in seperate preamp channels with level controls for each and a Master Volume.  Each preamp channel can be activated with the controls or the footswitch. If you can find a Gibson 5 way footswitch you can even combine the two preamps and expand the sonic possibilities of this rock- and blues machine. These rare footswiches sell for crazy prices online but if you can find a Trace Elliot 5 button bass amp footswitch it will work also, … and cheaper!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1301.JPG
DCIM100GOPROGOPR1301.JPG

This combo is a classic rock and blues amp. A very British tone and pairs perfectly with a Gibson Les Paul guitar. It can be clean and it can be mean. Solid as a rock, dynamic and unforgivven if you have a bad day.  It does require some muscle to carry around, … so eat your meat!

In the demo clip I use a CS Fender Stratocaster ’64 with lipstick pickups. Very thin sounding pups but the Super Goldtone can make it fart! More on this guitar in a next episode.  Enjoy and keep the comments coming! What is your favourite amp!

Features: Four EL84 power tubes; five ECC83 and two ECC81 preamp tubes; single input jack; preamp select switches; boost select switches; preamp one controls for volume, treble, middle, bass; preamp two controls for gain, level, treble, middle, bass; separate reverb level controls; master volume; line out; loop select; series/parallel switch for loop; separate level controls for send and return; send and return jacks for loop; three-spring reverb tank; 12″ Celestion Vintage 30 speaker, 10″ Celestion Vintage 10 speaker; footswitch jacks for preamp 1/2 Boost (two-button footswitch, included with amp).