Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sloe Gin

I really like Joe Bonamassa's playing. On his latest disc he gets into acoustic blues in a big way. Beautiful tone and masterful playing. I think one of his best yet. Here is the opening track from Sloe Gin.

Ball Peen Hammer

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Song Remains The Same

It's been updated and restored. I doubt there is anyone who hasn't heard this yet. It's out now and on my wish list for Christmas.

I remember going down to the Broadway Cinema when I was in high school to catch it when it played. Back in my day repertory theatres were the only way to catch movies a second time around. No vhs or dvd rentals then. That's something my kids will never understand, or ever enjoy probably. There was something really exciting about catching the midnight showing of TSRTS or Rocky Horror Picture Show ( Yeah, I was there in the back row. Didn't dress up though, not quite that fanatical).

Anyhow, TSRTS is one of my all time favourite concert movies. Sure, Robert's voice isn't up to par and maybe Jimmy was off sometimes, but the whole vibe of the movie hasn't faded for me over the years. It still smokes now as it did then.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fret Doctor

I purchased this product quite a while ago and haven't had a chance to use it until now. Put it on with a q-tip and wiped it off. Easy as pie. Fret board looks beautiful. Nice and dark and feels great while playing. Slick without being greasy. I notice a definite reduction in friction on the board. Smells nice too as a bonus.

Fret Doctor

Click the link for it on the left hand side.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I found this little program through one of the forums. It's a neat little package that slows down songs in real time while retaining pitch. Not only that but it gives note suggestions as well. I found that pretty handy.

Very easy to use. you can seperate out a specific part for continuous playback and EQ the song to try and bring the instrument your interested in to the front. I haven't had a good chance to sit down with it but I like what I have seen so far.


It has a 30 day free trial before you have to buy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Black Magic Woman

There have been a few threads on the forums I haunt about Peter Green. A lot of people didn't realize that Santana's biggest hit was actually written by Green. Even more had never heard the original, so I thought I would share it with you.

Black Magic Woman

Green was, in my opinion just by listening, a big influence on Santana's playing. It's most evident on Green's The Supernatural.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Foghat - Slow Ride (Live - 1978)

I haven't thought about this band in years until someone posted this link on the MyLesPaul forum. One of my favourite lost tunes from my youth.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I finished the Dave Thompson book on Cream the other week and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a lot of insight into the events and people surrounding the group. It jibes well with Strange Brew but gives information on what the group wanted to do from the outset, and what they felt they actually accomplished.

It provides some great insight into the perspectives of each member, Clapton in particular, and how they changed over the life of the group and what influences caused the changes. I found the feud between Baker and Bruce amusing. The origins of it are really quite juvenile set against the larger picture. The same complaints are expressed by Baker again during the 2005 reunion shows.

This book combines really well with Strange Brew to give a great picture of the music scene at the time and the people in it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guitar websites

Here are a couple of sites that I have stumbled on over the last little while.

Blues you can use is a site by the author of the books of the same name. There are about a dozen on-line lessons with more to come. I've only had a chance to gloss through them but they are pretty informative.

Vanderbilly is a great site I found through a mention on Guitars Canada. Really well done videos that, to my eye and ear, are pretty bang on. Vanderbilly himself does a great job on copping the tone and feel of the songs he demonstrates. It's more songs lessons than theory lessons but an excellent site nevertheless, especially for Zeppelin fans.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little history

is sometimes a good thing. I finished a book on the history of pickups that I found very informative. A good look into the major players in the 40's and 50's. There was also some information on technical considerations when designing and winding a pickup. It made me re-think my approach to magnet and winding combinations. Went into some detail about magnetic field shape and it's effect on tone. I felt it was an excellent book that can only have a positive impact on my pickups.

I have also started the auctions again now that I am caught up with some orders that I have had since August.

It's not on my site but I have started making 7-string pickups. I've made 3 or 4 sets so far with great results.

Fleetwood Mac - Homework (live in France, 1968)

I love finding these old clips. Peter Green is in fine form. This is from before the drugs and psychological problems started to take their toll. Danny Kirwan looks like he is on another plane of existance. Everybody looks pretty into it and happy to be there.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Trews - Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me

I really like this tune. This is the first relatively new band in a while that has caught my ear.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Head and cabinet

Here are the photos I received from Steve at Trinity:

It looks really sweet. I'm glad I opted for the red instead of the purple. I'll have them by the weekend so I'll have this puppy ready to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

18 watt test drive

I purchased the tubes I needed yesterday and fired up the amp using the speakers on my JCM 800 combo. They are the original G 12-65's and the sound was great. I had to move one wire that I misplaced on the board for the boost but other than that and a ground I forgot to solder there were no issues.

The sound is exactly what I was looking for. Tube distortion and tube rectifier sag. I should have my head and cab next week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amp build

Well, here is the completed kit:

Took me about 20 hours in total I think. It's ready for tubes and the head box. Here's a shot of the power tranny:

Here's a shot of the board. It's a little blurry. Okay, it's a lot blurry but you can still get a good idea.

I still have to get tubes for it. I still have the 12ax7's that originally came with my JCM800 which I will use so I just need the rectifier tube and two el84's. I had the head and cabinet done in red tolex, just to be different. Upon the recommendation of a local amp guru I went with a greenback clone from Eminence. They were a good enough price that I don't mind taking the chance.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

18 watt kit

I pulled the trigger on a kit yesterday. Can't wait to get my hands on it. I chose one that is similar to the original Marshall with the tremolo channel. This one can be jumpered for some extra overdrive. If this one goes well I think the next one will be a jtm 45 clone.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I'm back

Well the Casino is over so I now have the time to start blogging again. I bought the Cream book a while ago and now I can't find it. I was going to start that once I had the time and post a review. I'll be damned if I know where it's gone.

I'm a little pissy that Guitar One ceased publication. I am now getting Guitar World without the cd which is a waste of time. Now I have to hunt for a new magazine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mojo picks

Just received the one I ordered the other day. Nice little pick. Made out of a 1944 quarter, the year that Jimmy Page was born. You can get other years that famous musicians were born in as well.

It plays really sweet. I can't believe that a metal pick would feel as nice as it does against the strings. Just glides right over them.

Here's a link to check them out: Mojo Picks

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live) 1976

One of my favourites from this band. I've been a fan of theirs for quite a while. As a matter of fact I keep finding out that they did a lot of my favourites. You know what I mean, you hear a song every so often that you like and then find out later who it is.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

On-line lessons

Here is a site I stumbled across ( well okay, I admit I followed an advertisement link) that features on-line guitar lessons. It has a lot of variety on it. From country to heavy metal, fingerpicking to shred. I signed up for the free account but when I have the time I am definitely going to get the full membership.

Here's the link: Guitar Tricks

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I purchased several Cream cd's from Amazon and they were delivered the other day. This is all because of the "Strange Brew" book which gets more interesting with every page. I was a radio listener for a long time and was only really familiar with whatever you heard on there. There's a lot of good stuff on them and it's great to listen to it and know what was happening at the time as well.

For instance that Clapton beat Hendrix to recording with a wah pedal (I'd have to look the song up). Clapton was at one point very intimidated by Hendrix and his playing skills, so much so he considered quitting ( so the story goes). I found another book about Cream which I will read once I finish this one. With the time I have to read that should be October sometime.

Here's one from their first album that's sort of appropriate as a squirrel took out our power this morning.

Cat's Squirrel

Friday, June 29, 2007

Kunio Kishida Live 2007 Alabama Boy

The author of "Tone Man" playing one of his original compositions. Hard to tell but I think that's and original burst.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tone Man

For those who don't know this is Kunio Kishida, an avid 'burst enthusiast and player. I just received my copy of his book of the same name and spent hours looking through it. Picture after picture of original bursts. It's my understanding it's a mix of his current collection, guitars he has owned previously and other examples. "Nancy", his main guitar is pictured on page 8. This book is a must have for any Les Paul devotee.

Kunio has also recorded a couple of albums, "Swamp Waters" and "Alabama Boy". You can also catch him on Youtube.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Beginning of a classic combination

In mid-August of 1965 Jimmy Page was the house producer for the newly formed Immediate Records. Jimmy played a huge part in getting John Mayall in for a recording session with his hot new guitarist, Eric Clapton. Eric brought his recently acquired gear along to the session. A Les Paul that he purchased from Lew Davis's guitar shop sometime in May, as well as a Marshall amplifier.

The sound from this combination so horrified the engineer he turned off the machine, saying it was unrecordable. He couldn't believe anyone wanted a sound like that. Page persuaded him to turn it back on and he would take full responsibility and history was made. The Mayall single "I'm Your Witch Doctor" was the result. Page has stated in interviews that Clapton deserves all the credit for the creation of that Les Paul/Marshall sound.

This is out of the Strange Brew book that I have been reading. It's fascinating to see all the interaction of the players and bands as the time goes along. The book lists not only live shows but who was there. Peter Green saw Mayall with Clapton and was inspired to purchase a Les Paul for himself. I don't think I need to tell anyone how that went. Jack Bruce ended up playing with John Mayall and Clapton because Ginger Baker wanted him out of the band that he was in previously. Clapton knew Steve Winwood from impromptu jam sessions on stage with Spencer Davis.

I have always been interested in where these musicians come from. When I was younger they just seemed to come from nowhere. This book is highly addictive.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cream - Crossroads

After reading the "Strange Brew" and listening to John Mayall I have a greater appreciation for Clapton. Here is one of my favourites from Cream.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Otis Rush - I Can't Quit You Baby

Nice version of this tune done in 1966. Great hang time on the first note. Notice the similarities between this version and the Zeppelin one. The main repeating riff is used by Jimmy Page and built on for the solo. Zeppelin's version is classic Page arrangement with Jones and Bonham providing a rhythm framework for Page's guitar and Plant's vocals.

Otis is playing a righty turned over and still strung for the right hand. It's damn hard to do that.

Friday, June 1, 2007


This is the album that started it all in the U.K. John Mayall with Eric Clapton broke blues music with the general public and started the blues boom in England. Clapton has legendary tone on this one. So much wood you could make your own guitar. He's using an early Marshall JTM 45 turned way up. Not only did he set the benchmark for tone but he changed the way the guitar was recorded. He refused to turn down so the engineers had to figure out a way to mic him. And figure it out they did. This album and the debut from Butterfield Blues Band are probably the two most important white blues albums of the 60's.

Steppin' Out

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Classic Rock

I think I am addicted to this magazine. I picked up a copy on a whim because of a Thin Lizzy article. And I had a gift certificate from Christmas for Chapters. The Lizzy article turned out to be one of three and very interesting. I ended up buying the subsequent magazines just to finish the story.

It's one of the few mags that I have read cover to cover in recent memory. It happens to jibe with my current taste in music. And the Blues Rock special issue is killer. It's given me more cd's to hunt down.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Strange Brew

Subtitled: Eric Clapton & the British Blues Boom.

This book was inspired by an idea to un-cover the last corner of Eric Clapton's career. Specifically the time period between 1965 and 1970. It is done in a day by day, year by year format detailing performance dates, recording dates and press interviews and releases.

It is fascinating to trace the history as it unfolds. The author, Christopher Hjort, has done a lot of research and pieced it together with his own assumptions when evidence was not available. By this I mean some things documented are placed in likely order based on events before or after.

A lot of players wander through this history but it is mainly focused on Eric, Peter Green and Mick Taylor and the various groups they were in. But it's not just the history, the photographs are impressive as well. The book opens with a shot of Eric Clapton crouched beside two Marshall stacks with an original 'burst. I don't know enough about Clapton's early career to say if it's the "Beano" burst but I have read comments in interviews with him that he could never find another that suited him, and therefore never replaced it.

This book is just a great read for fans of the players and the period.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Small Faces - Itchychoo Park

One great band that spawned two great bands. Steve Marriott left to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton and the remaining members recruited Ron Wood and Rod Stewart to re-define themselves as The Faces.

I can remeber hearing this on the radio when I was a child. I actually think that part of this classic music kick I am on is a search for half remebered songs from the radio. Tunes that have been buried in my memory from my older siblings playing their records or the car radio on long trips.

Ronnie Lane must have been a rather tiny person. That bass looks bigger than he is, altough it might be the camera angle.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Super Session

This is the album that turned me on to Mike Bloomfield. I also realized that Al Kooper ( Bood, Sweat and Tears) was an absolute master of the B3. If there is any keyboard that defined a genre it's the B3.

Bloomfield did about half the tracks before he checked himself into a hospital ( or had an anxiety attack, I can't remember which from his biography)and Stephen Stills came in to finish off the session. One of Stills' tracks, Season of the Witch, was recorded live at The Fillmore in December of 1968 ( the 13th to be exact, which thirty years later would be the day my daughter was born) with Mike Bloomfield on guitar.

I find it interesting to listen to the differences in approach between the two and the evolution of the song to live performance. It's a bit shorter with Bloomfield staying within the context of the studio recording but adding his own unique personality.

Super Session

Live at the Fillmore

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jimmy Page Signature EDS1275

I would like my den to look like this, but it doesn't. This is the first run of the Page Signature. These are aged to look like the original. I count 26 so I assume Jimmy gets his choice and the other 25 will list for $33,500. Way too much money for me but I predict, like the 25 aged custom shop LP signatures, they will increase in value from the starting gate.

From all accounts just beautiful guitars but the Epiphone banner in the back kind of ruins the picture, for me anyways.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dazed And Confused - The Yardbirds

A Yardbirds take on this song. Different lyrics though. I always knew that Page carried over a fair amount of stuff from this group but never really knew specifics. It's interesting to see how much was kept for the Zeppelin version and what changed.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bill Graham's vault

Ever been to Wolfgang's vault? Amazing site. Wolfgang Grajonca fled Germany for the United States and changed his name to Bill Graham. Sound familiar? The Fillmore? All those great concerts?

Bill Sagan aquired the huge collection of Bill Graham's memorabilia and concert recordings and has them for sale on his site. There are about 300 concerts available for streaming and some for download at a pretty reasonable price. I found two Led Zeppelin concerts from 1969 which are legendary. There's also Humble Pie, Mountain and Black Oak Arkansas to name but a few. Probably one of the best sites I have ever come across. Except for mine of course.

Wolfgang's Vault

Friday, May 4, 2007

Hot And Nasty Black Oak Arkansas

These guys set the standard for attitude. Not the best musicians but they knew how to use what they had. On the other hand that might be the definition of a great musician. The singer reminds me of someone, but I just can't recall the name. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Faces - I'm Losing You

30 years on and this still comes screaming out of the speakers. This is from the early 70's when Rod Stewart had good taste in music. Ron Wood is playing a custom made LP style guitar. I can't remember the name of the luthier offhand but I think he made the bass as well. Ron Wood has far more talent than he shows in the Rolling Stones.

Friday, April 27, 2007


So now that the real crunch is over I can get back to a more regular schedule. I have spent the last two weeks dealing with the start up of my summer gig. It's back to the usual 40 hour week for me so I will be winding evenings and weekends. I hope to keep up with the blog during that time.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pickup parts

I have started my summer gig this week so I have 3 days a week that I can wind. Such as life. At least I get a steady paycheque.

I received my rod magnets the other day. I can't believe how little space they take up. I had to make some budget decisions so I decided on Alnico 2 and 5. I figure I can cove more bases that way. I'll get some A3 later on in the summer.

Just sent some sample pickups to a music store in Marseille. I'm interested in what the gentleman has to say about my pickups. I have been considering getting into some of the local stores but have held off, although I am looking forward to having this store stock mine.

I have a first for me this week. A rewind of a mini humbucker. 10k with 4 conductor is the final spec. It is going into a telecaster with a 50's style bridge pickup so it needs to match the output. It will be 5k in single coil mode to match the bridge and will be one kickass mini at full throttle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

John Mayall-Bluesbreakers,

With Mick Taylor. The best stuff the Rolling Stones did was with him. Probably their best period ever. Everybody looks really uncomfortable synching this tune, but thats television. Mayall had a serious eye for talent. First Eric Clapton, then Peter Green and then Mick Taylor.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Reverend Billy

Here is an early tune with Billy Gibbons when he was in the Moving Sidewalks. This is from the "Chrome, Smoke and BBQ" box set.

Joe Blues

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Second life

I signed up for it and was on-line for about two hours today. My wife is using it at work for her emerging technologies course. The library she works at is on-line. Anyone can visit although you have to be a student to fully access the library. It is hoped it will become a valuable way to reach long distance students and such.

The implications of the software are astounding. I thought it was just some thing like the sims but the range of activities is endless. I am thinking of starting a business in the second life world and linking it to my site. I could do a couple of hours a week there and meet potential customers.

You can buy property and build a house. I can even meet my wife on-line for lunch.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mike Bloomfield: Drinking Wine Live!!

Great old clip with Electric Flag. I believe Nick Gravenites is singing. Mike is playing his 59 Les Paul. As always amazing tone. Half the fun in this clip is the audience.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

No idea where this picture comes from but it seemed kind of appropriate.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Celluloid picks

I just received these the other day. Heavy gauge with a slogan and my website printed on them. Really nice quality picks and good work. I was surprised at how relatively inexpensive it was in low quantity. I am going to use these as giveaways and I send one along with each set as well.

I have been using these picks for about a year now and the feel and tone is unique. They feel really silky against the strings and have a medium attack even with the heavy gauge. I prefer the 351 size and shape as well. It just seems to fit my fingers nicely.

Speaking of pick attack there is a great thread on the LP forum about just that thing . It's a discussion of what picking style suits what type of pickup. Some good info and interesting opinions.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Johnny Winter

I love Amazon. I am constantly amazed at what I can find there. I just received the Johnny Winter cds I ordered. One of them is the re-mastered and expanded version of "Second Winter". The first disc is the original album plus two un-released tracks.

For this expanded edition it's the second disc that really makes it outstanding. The second disc consists of live cuts from a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, un-released until this edition. Johnny's brother Edgar was on stage with him and they performed "Frankenstein" well before Edgar recorded it with his band. This is Johnny Winter in his prime and would have been a landmark album had it been released in 1970.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Humble Pie

Stumbled across ths one. One of my favourite bands. Nice 61 LP/SG. There will never be another like Steve Mariott.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tele pickups

Here are my first tele pickups:

Like the strat style all the work is in the preparation. 8800 winds on the bridge and 8000 winds on the neck. I'll do a little math with these figures to get a stock wind amount.

I like the string that protects the windings on the bridge pickup. Neat little idea. The string gets very hard after potting. I am pleased with the way these went together. I have to get a technique down with them as I feel there is a little too much distortion with the fiber board. I'll have to make a small jig to get the bobbin to press down neatly onto the magnets.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tele pickups

I just received my tele stock parts. Now I have to make faceplates to mount them on the machine. Shouldn't be too hard and I am looking forward to this. I have a couple of orders to catch up on and then some spare time.

I am slowly building up my stock of parts. I have A2 and A5 rod magnets on the way and 4 different colours of covers. I figure that should cover all the bases, no pun intended.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Free is what you get when you put together a great vocalist, an amazing guitar player, a solid bassist and an understated but talented drummer. I really only had ever heard "All right Now" growing up and I purchased the BBC sessions based on comments on the LP forum. So I decided to look for some other recordings and decided on "Fire And Water" which is actually one of my faves from BBC sessions.

This is a really solid album. It's the re-mastered version and still closes with "All Right Now" but you get three different versions. This band really leaves a lot of space for the music. I find that is part of the brilliance. All the things that are not done are just as important as the things done. Usually I find some musicians take that stance to cover up a lack of musicianship, but these guys have talent and finesse enough to write the book on it.

Kossoff's playing on "Oh I Wept" is bang on, re-stating the lyric content in a short, concise choice of notes. This music is similar to the type of humour I like. They walk it right up to you but don't hit you on the head repeatedly with the concept. It's left up to you to get it.

Oh I Wept

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Modern wiring

Again, I admit I got this from somewhere but can't remember where:

I am posting this to correct some mis-information in the 50's wiring post. As you can see the capacitors are in the circuit, not out as I previously claimed. It was the wiring from RS that came with my production upgrade kit that has the cap going to ground. That's the one I was thinking of when I wrote that.

As with 50's wiring there are pros and cons and it depends on what you want. With this set-up the tone doesn't change as you roll off the volume but you lose highs. It's all a matter of taste and the sound you are going for.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Johnny Winter-Woodstock

One of the greats. Just right for a Saturday.

I have been reading recently that he is on the road to recovery after firing his manager. He's getting some of that old fire back.

Friday, March 23, 2007

50's wiring

I unashamedly admit this is not my work and I don't know who did it:

I prefer this wiring scheme. You don't lose treble as you turn down the volume which is a plus for me. I have done this to both of my guitars. With this wiring the quality and type of capacitor becomes important. It is "in the circuit" putting signal back into it, as opposed to the modern style where the capacitor takes signal out of the circuit to ground. You can shape your tone subtley with the type of capacitor. Right now I am hooked on paper in oil.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fleetwood Mac "Oh Well"

I just can't get enough of this tune.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jensen's installed

I apologize for the crappy picture. I just grabbed the digital camera which was the first one to hand.

They look really good in there. Still like little beer cans. I was a little sceptical that I would actually hear a difference but it is quite noticeable. More musical I would say. Dirtier in a good way. They are far more vintage sounding than the Hovlands but in all fairness I don't think the Hovlands were meant to be that. They are still miles clearer than the original caps. I am going to change the strings tommorow and really give the guitar a workout.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tommy Emmanuel - Classical Gas

Incredible talent. One of my favourites.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blue Sky

It what I have today in my neck of the woods and also a great cut off of "Eat A Peach". I haven't posted an mp3 in a while so here ya go.

Blue Sky

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lots of bursts

All from the collection of Tom Wittrock. He posts regularly on the LP forum and was featured in the book "Beauty Of The Burst".

The second one down on the right hand side has that particular tailpiece to hide bigsby screw holes. Actually if you buy a subscription to the LP forum I think you can choose that poster as your premium.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Jensen PIO caps

They look like little beer cans:

RS Guitarworks has these done to their specs by Jensen. I am waiting on a chance to put these into my guitar. From what I have read these ones are more vintage sounding than the Hovland caps. A little dirtier and organic.

I have been interested in the paper-in-oil caps for a while and when I saw that RS was offering these I picked up a pair. They got them about three weeks after I purchased my RS kit with the Hovlands.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Allman Brothers

I just received "Eat A Peach" and the first album. Great stuff. Been listening to it all day. And winding pickups of course.

"Eat A Peach" is the album that Hot 'Lanta, Duane's second burst, can be heard one. Stellar tone. That guitar does everything you would expect a burst to do. This one has a nice gull-wing flame to it making it a very distictive guitar.

I believe this one is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ZZ Top

Found this shot on the web:

Early shot of the Reverend without his beard. Kind of looks like a schoolteacher.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Peter Green Fleetwood Mac

Ahhh, the real stuff. Two great burst players in action.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Single coil set

My first set of singles:

I ended up re-working the original faceplate design. Originally I had two and figured I would just swap them to do the RWRP middle but they were a little too out of whack. I made a tailstock plate that adjusts for centering. Much, much better. The middle and neck pickup on this set are a little close to the bridge output for my taste but they will work well together. Un-like the humbuckers all the work on these is in the set-up rather than the finish.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mini Humbuckers

These were fun to wind. They have fairly small bobbins but I managed to get them into the mid 6k's. They're really tight to put together. Basically the only thing holding them together is the solder and the wax. I used the A5 short magnet that I ordered along with the parts but I can fit a long magnet in there. I have an order for an A2 9k bridge pickup which should be interesting.

I am really impressed you don't see my grinning mug reflected in the cover.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

My first single coil

And here it is:

Up until now I have only been doing Gibson style pickups but with the new winder I am expanding.

The most difficult part of this pickup is the assembly. Getting everything the correct distance apart and square. I have a couple of pieces of hardwood that space the top and bottom pieces. I used my ever handy drill press to push the magnet rods through the flatwork. It took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get everything together for three coils. They're a lot quicker in the finishing though. Once they're wound the leads are soldered on and that's it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Polepiece screws

Finally got my hands on some screws with larger heads. They are larger than the ones I have been using but not as large as the Gibson ones. Screw used for polepieces have to be manufactured, you just can't pick them off the shelf. Fortunately this supplier makes them for another manufacturer and has some stock.

Now I have two different sizes to tailor the sound. The larger screws are a little thicker tone-wise. Now I just have to work on sourcing some slugs.

Monday, March 5, 2007

100 Easy Guitar Tunes

From French And Saunders. Very funny and a lot of familiar faces.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Spot the PAF

There is a great thread on the LP forum. One of the members has taken the time to record a set of original PAF's along with 4 from the most talked about winders. I am not one of them. Yet. Also the PAF's in another different guitar as a ringer. He has posted them and is asking everyone to identify the PAF. Great fun. I can't say for certain which is the PAF but I know which ones I prefer. They just had something extra to my ear.

One of the other members made some interesting, and I think valid, observations about the contest. He has had a lot of experience with originals and he has found them to sound different in different guitars. You just can't install a set of PAF's into any guitar and expect to get "that" sound. His main point was that they are un-potted and microphonic and pick up the acoustic properties of the wood as well as the strings. You can actually speak into them and amplify your voice. So you need a guitar that resonates well acoustically for the PAF's to really do their thing.

That is something that I had never considered. I make my own personal pickups un-potted and I do it at the request of the customer. I find them to be a little livelier than potted but I must confess I had not spent a lot of time considering why. The set I have in my Studio are a little too microphonic but sound great, considering the guitar. By too microphonic I mean I have to be careful where I stand, but they slide into harmonic feedback with the greatest of ease. The ones in my Historic are very nice but now I am thinking I might try a set that is wound a little looser.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Update on the winder

It's surprising how quickly I have become accustomed to it. I figured it would take a few coils to learn how to adjust it properly but I had it after one. The 50mm baseplate took a little fine tuning but everything fits now. I may try to find a more durable material for the plates, maybe something like that white plastic whose name escapes me. Not plexiglass, that would be too brittle. A plastic that is slightly softer than the bobbins would be ideal.

The lowest speed on the machine is about 1/3 faster than I could wind before. I found a magnetic reed switch used for alarm systems that has the correct re-set speed. Or enough in the same neighbourhood that I haven't noticed a difference. Before I used a mechanical switch and arm device that was noisy and un-balanced. I had to bolt the machine down to the table or it would walk right out the door.

Today I am going to wind a set of mini humbuckers. I have had the parts so long I almost forgot about them. I have to make a couple of jigs for the single coils so I can get them assembled and then wind a set this weekend.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Warning - Dropped guitar

I have decided to do away with the Tonefest clip on my site in favour of posting here. It's just easier. So I moved the existing one over.

This is Mike Bloomfield from the "Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper: recorded live at the Filmore. About two thirds of the way through Mike drops his guitar to the floor.


As always great tone and great playing.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New winder

Here it is:

It took three days and a lot of fiddling but I finished it. It will take some time to get used to it. This one is a lot different to wind on than my original but it is a lot faster. I found a magnetic switch for the counter which is a lot quieter than the mechanical one I was using. You can see the first two coils I made on it in the picture. Took about 1/3 the time it used to.

There are probably some things that I will modify as time goes on but I am pretty pleased with it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Monty Python - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Something funny for a Wednesday. My wife told me this was on youtube and it's one of my favourite Python songs.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Single coils

I just received my single coil parts today and they look great. Probably by early next week I should have a set done. I am focused on my new winder right now and the faceplates are finished for the humbuckers. I had to make a different plate for each string spacing with the way I decided to mount them.

I think instead of a reverse switch I will simply mount the coilwork on the machine the other way for RWRP coils. That way the winder will still run clockwise and the bobbins will come up to meet the wire rather than down.

The next challenge is finding a way to mount the counter.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

betts toler burst vintage jtm 45 kt66

Unbelievable tone! Dickey Bett's burst through a 1965 JTM45 with KT66 tubes and pre-rola celestions. I can actually taste that tone.

57 Classic re-wind

I bought this pickup off of E-bay used and broken.

So I re-wound it to my V-59 specs. Turned out very nice. Used the original A2 magnet and all the parts. It's actually pretty tough to find broken pickups. I've canvassed the local music stores but they either don't have any or they fix them themselves.

I have found that Butstbucker's scatterwound to their original specs are an incredible pickup. Knock a little gauss off the magnet and it sounds very sweet. They also benefit from a magnet swap to Alnico 4 without re-winding.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Montrose - Bad Motor Scooter

This is from the "Old Grey Whistle Test" in 1974. Ronnie Montrose is another original burst player from way back. And check out Sammy Hagar when he had talent.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is funny

I went and got my mail yesterday and there was an envelope for my daughter. She doesn't get much mail so it caught my attention. As I looked closer at it I realized it was a credit card offer.

I know, that's not really that interesting. What makes it amusing is that my daughter is 8 years old. MBNA is offering her up to $100,000 credit, based on approval. If I didn't think there would be fraud charges involved I'd have her fill it out and send it back.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reverse zebra

It's not the best shot but here is the first production VHB-3 with all the "case candy". I do like the set-up of this shot. I think it works well for E-bay.

I like the look of the reverse zebra. Guitars that have a mixed bobbin look always appealed to me as well. Zebra with a double black, double cream with a zebra etc.

This is the one I wound to nail down the production formula. The number of winds, tension, offset and all that.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Instrumental Blues With 1959 Les Paul - Gregor Hilden

Up until I ran across this I had never heard this guy play. Amazing tone. I love the bigsby beard on that 59.

I found this shot of it on the web:

I believe he has since sold it. It's been on E-bay a couple of times that I know of, although that might have been a scam.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More Peter Green

This is from a cd I picked up recently. "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions". Great recordings with all the background chatter from the studio. I find it interesting hearing all the cues and direction from the various people there. Everybody seems to be having a lot of fun and it makes it all the more enjoyable.

All the cuts seem to be live off the floor. I find the music I enjoy the most is done that way. Over the last few years ( well, ten if I have to tell the truth)I have found a liking for live recordings. There's just something about the energy and spontaneity in the performance. Of course you have to have a band that can jam, like Zeppelin or Allman Brothers, to really make it worthwhile. It doesn't work with groups that just play the song as it was recorded.

Here's a clip: My Heart Beat Like a Hammer


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Duane and the boys

Here's a good shot of Duane Allman and his two bursts.

The one on the right is "Hot 'Lanta". If I have my info correct you can hear that one on "Eat A Peach". It's a darkburst with with killer flame.

The one on the left is a cherry plaintop. As you can see from my profile picture I am kind of partial to plaintops. There's nothing like a plain looking guitar with smoking tone.

Friday, February 16, 2007

New Burst Book

"The Gibson Burst" by Vic Dapra. Dapra is a really knowledgable guy by all accounts and I expect this book is very informative. It's been on the go for a number of years. I couldn't resist it so I ordered one, along with "Eat A Peach" by The Allman Brothers.

"The Beauty Of The Burst" by Yasuhiko Iwanade is another must have. In addition to the pictures there are great chapters on dimensions, parts specifications etc. Pretty much any information you need to identify a burst. But I'd still call Joe Ganzler just to be absolutely sure.

There are some great player pictures in there, original owner pictures and interviews with Tom Wittrock, Billy Gibbons and other enthusiasts.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

BB King / Gary Moore - The Thrill is Gone

This is definitely the Peter Green burst here. Two of the finest in a live performance.

Snow Day

This is my street today.

This is the most snow I have seen in a number of years. But that might just be my memory.I took these before the kids got out and I shovelled.

I find there is something really pleasant about being snowed in with the family. I remember heavy snows on my uncle's farm where you would literally not get off the property for 2 or 3 days. Lots of snowmobiling though.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Money shot

This was posted on the LP forum and I thought I would post it here for those who don't frequent the forum ( and it can't be many). It's a '59.

I like the look with both styles of zebra bobbins. You can see some plastic deterioration on the pickguard and the tuners. I believe that is indicative of a specific period of production and only occurs on guitars of that time. There is something with the plastic that causes the shrinkage and dis-colouration.

This was originally posted on and I apologize in advance if I stepped on any copyright toes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Free - Fire and Water

Great tune and incredible tone. For whatever reason it looks like the top on this burst has been stripped. I strongly recommend the dvd. It's absolutely killer stuff.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Between sets

I thought I would take a break between winding sets and do another post to the blog. Here's a tune from a Mike Bloomfield cd that I have been listening to a lot lately, "Live At The Waldorf". I found all the cuts to be good but this one stands out. It's the only one that wasn't recorded at the Waldorf and is aguably the best cut of the bunch.

Here it is: Sweet Little Angel/ Jelly Jelly

Enjoy it, because tomorrow's Monday.

Looking back

I recently had three pickups that I made about a year ago come back to me through a customer. He purchased them off E-bay and didn't realize they were the wrong spacing for his needs. I agreed to exchange them for another set and a P-90.

It's interesting to see how my technique has evolved, even over so short a period of time. It's in the fine details. I use to tape the coil after potting, now I do it before. The way I hook everything up is a little different now as opposed to then. Tape instead of heat-shrink tubing on the solder joints. It took me exactly one rewind to figure out that tubing is a hassle to remove, tape is far easier.

I've incorporated ideas I've had from re-winding commercial pickups, and some of my own from out of the blue that just made sense. But there's always room for improvement.

I will be putting the finishing touches on my new winder this week. I've ordered single coil parts that should be here in a couple of weeks. I look forward to expanding my product line with those and a couple of custom designs I've been kicking around.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gary Moore with Phil Lynott - Parisienne Walkways (live)

Gotta love the 80's look. It's hard to see but I believe Gary's playing the burst he got from Peter Green. Awesome tone.

Edit: It was pointed out that the neck pickup isn't reversed as on the Peter Green burst, so this is one of his other bursts.

If you haven't noticed..

I am heavily into Les Pauls. Love 'em. I was cruising around my computer yesterday and found a few pictures.

This is the one on the top left of my blog ( I know it's obvious, but I thought I would say it anyway). That's Jimmy's #1 on the left. I love the mis-matched look of the top with one side darker than the other. To me a Les Paul is a guitar done right. Big thick mahogany body, maple cap and mahogany neck. There is not another style or combination that comes close.

If I remember correctly this guitar was literally found under a bed in Germany. Absolutely dead mint with all the case candy. The bleed onto the neck binding hasn't even faded yet. It's a 1960 with a nice flame top. Now I gotta go play.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Accelerate your guitar playing

I've been working through this dvd for about three weeks now and I'm really seeing improvement. I haven't played regularly for a few years and I wanted something to knock the rust off my hands and get me back to playing regularly. There's not much here to make you a better musician, it's all about speed and accuracy to make you a better player. I've never thought that my technique was that good, so I am hoping to change that. I have even started working with a metronome, at least for the exercises.

I had never heard of Tomo Fujita before but this guy smokes on guitar. He's been around for a while but not really up front. At least not in the stuff I listen to. I've also found those Guitar World dvd's pretty informative as well, although I know the mag is not held in such high regard.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tune for a Tuesday

I have started working on my new winder. It will be made out of a hobby lathe. Nice, heavy duty and it will run way faster than I need it to. I've worked out how to make the bobbin attachments. This new one will allow me to make Fender style single coils and also my humbucker sized P-90 design. I'll post some pictures when it's done.

But enough of that. It is damn cold where I am. Something like -14C for tonight and the house is so dry I could burst into flames. So why not have a tune for a cold Tuesday.

Another Peter Green cut: Greeny


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Slash and Zakk Wylde guitar duel/duet

You can hardly hear Slash but for my money he blows Zakk away for tone and taste. One of my favourite LP players.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Another nice set

Another nice set of V-59's in my favourite colour. This is the wind I have in my guitar right now, except I opted for Alnico 2 in both. The bridge on this set has an Alnico 4.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Tielman Brothers - Rollin' Rock (live 1960)

These guys are just insane. Too bad I missed them by about 4 years. Original Gibson Les Pauls as well.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What I am listening to right now

"The Live Adventures Of Al Kooper And Mike Bloomfield"

This one was recorded at the Filmore West in 1968 and I think it is the first live performance with them. It's nice to hear a truly live album, warts and all. Like the liner notes say they're sometimes out of tune and time, but the electricity of the playing carries it through. The album consists of takes from 6 shows over three nights, with Bloomfield only making the first two. On the third day he was hospitalized and sedated to sleep after being up for five days or so.

There's some good stuff here. Solid blues playing from Bloomfield and Kooper shows what he can do with a Hammond. For my money there's nothing like a B3. Nothing has ever come close to replicating it.

There's a great cover of "59th Street Bridge Song". A rendition of "The Weight" with no vocals. And "Green Onions". But Bloomfield really shines on "Don't Put Your Love On Me So Strong". Pulling every note out of his very soul it's really a phd on blues guitar playing. For me the highlight of the album.

Bloomfields absence on the third day was filled by the likes of Carlos Santana, Elvin Bishop and Steve Miller. Only Santana and Bishop are on the disc. Santana Plays straight blues on "Sonny Boy Williamson" and is right at home. I believe this performance was captured before he recorded with his band.

All in all, some of the best Bloomfield I have heard.

Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong

Monday, January 29, 2007

cookie blues

Now this is pretty damn cool. And funny.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

This one turned out nice

One of the rare double screws that I get to do:

I like the double double black theme. This is a Black Widow high output. There's one luthier in my area in particular who loves these in traditional reverse zebra. The double cream V-59's for my guitar are done and installed. The Alnico 3's I put in them are nice but I think I might swap them for an Alnico 2 in the neck and a de-gaussed 5 in the bridge.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I don't believe I parked my car this way

This is what got me out of bed this morning. Hit and run in my own driveway. It's a nice way to start a Saturday. Oh well, I can get an early start on my day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mike Bloomfield

I just finished reading "Mike Bloomfield - If You Love These Blues". It's his biography as told through interviews with Mike and the people who were around him. It starts from childhood to his death in 1981. There's a great discography in the back which I am working my way through.

One of the things that struck me about Bloomfield was his attitude towards money and material things. It seemed to be a reaction to growing up fairly wealthy for the time, or perhaps a result of. He had an absolute disregard for things, to the point of abandoning cars when they quit and leaving his guitar behind in a bar. I can't imagine leaving my guitar behind. It's like a part of me.

He suffered from chronic insomnia throughout his life which, according to some in the book, led to drug and alcohol abuse and ultimately to the overdose that took his life. The book is an excellent read and gives a great picture of the late 50's, early 60's Chicago blues scene. It also comes with a cd that has some rare tracks on it.

Here's a couple to smooth us into the weekend.

Bullet rag
Blues For Roy

And now I am off to wind some pickups.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Time to get serious

Now that my seasonal employment has ended for another year I can focus on some pickup production. My V-59 wind is extremely popular so I plan on doing a few of those every week.

I have a new vintage wind that has evolved over the past year or so. Three different outputs with the coil mis-match becoming larger with the higher output. I chose each combination to match the wind. Going over my notes these are the combinations that were the most common so I decided to make them part of the model line.

I also have time to really work on my de-gaussing technique. Alnico 5 seems to work particularly well with a slight de-gauss. Alnico 3 is the weakest so I don't bother with that one and Alnico 2 is just too hit or miss. Too often it either doesn't make a difference or it's too weak. I think there is just too narrow a window for it to be truly effective.

Seeing as it's Wednesday let's have a tune. How about some Howlin' Wolf? Hubert Sumlin, Wolf's guitarist, had a huge influence on Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Peter Green etc. Robert Plant borrowed a lot from Wolf as well, which isn't surprising as both Page and Plant were heavily into the Blues music that was coming over from the States at the time. This tune should sound vaguely familiar. It's "Killing Floor".


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Joe Bonamassa- Bridge To Better Days

Great guitar playing and smokin' tone. That's an R9 with original PAF's that he's playing. They've got real character: very smooth, lots of harmonic density and very open.

I just ordered the most recent cd and I'm looking forward to that. This is a guy who's been playing since he was 12 or so. There's a documentary on him and most of it is on Youtube.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tune for a Monday

This is just great tone on this clip. It's a cut from John Mayall's Bluesbreaker's "A Hard Road". Peter Green wrote this one and plays superbly. His guitar sounds as if it is crying. Gary Moore did a version of this one as well but I like the original. As a matter of fact the whole album is great. I got a hold of the re-mastered and extended version which has 22 extra tracks.

The Supernatural

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Led Zeppelin Biography

This one right here:

I thought it was a great book, especially for the fan. There's a lot of background material on the guys before Zeppelin that I found very interesting. That's one of the real kicks I get, finding out where musicians came from before the point that I heard of them.

After that it's a moment by moment, gig by gig, album by album history of the band. I found it very in-depth and well written, more so than the one by Peter Cole. I didn't agree with all the music criticism though. If I like a song, I like a song. I'm not sitting there thinking "That bass could have been recorded a little better" or "The vocals are too far back in the mix". I might be naive but I just figure that about 99% of the time that's just the way they wanted the song to be.

I do agree that Page runs hot and cold and that towards the end of the 80's as his habits were really catching up to him that he ran more cold than hot, but there were still some great moments.

All in all, a great read for the true Zeppelin afficionado.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fleetwood Mac Albatross

Great tone and great playing. It is hard to see if this is live or not. Right when they pan in at the beginning you can see the cords going offstage so it looks like they are plugged in. They don't seem to be synching as I haven't noticed any out of place moves. If it's live then they're having a good time.

Peter is playing his '59 'burst which he later sold to Gary Moore. You can see quite clearly the difference in fade from the one Green is playing and the one Jeremy Spencer ( or it might be Danny Kirwan, I can't tell which) is playing. You know, the more I look at it the more I think that's Danny with the other burst.

This post took three days to show up from Youtube, so I deleted the earlier one and kept this one.

Tune for a Friday

Let's have a great song to send us into the weekend. This is the first cut on the "Free Live" cd. Paul Kossoff is a straight into the amp kind of player and he gets outstanding tone on this song. Originally written by B. B. King you can't get much better than this.

Waiting On You

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Goldtop with P-90's

Thanks to Alistair for sending me this clip. This is his goldtop with a set of my P-90's.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tempering Magnets

This is something I read about quite a while ago and tried it out on the spur of the moment. Basically you cook the magnets in an oven at 400 degrees or so for about an hour and a half. That's not hot enough to affect the strength of the magnet, I think that takes 1700 degrees or more, but it does even out the magnetic field. According to my magnetometer the field is nicely balanced out on the whole length of the magnet.

I have seen this technique called "aging" but as I stated earlier it's not enough heat to have any effect on magnet strength. I have found slightly degaussing the magnet to be a better practise to achieve a killer tone.

And speaking of tone, listen to this.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My New Guitar!

After 26 years of playing I have finally been able to get a serious guitar. A 2006 VOS R8 from the Gibson Custom Shop. I love the smell of Nitrocellulose in the morning, it reminds me of Les Pauls.

I purchased it off of E-bay from Guitarsofamerica. I've actually had it since October but I still get chills opening the case. I opted for the Ice Tea finish as I am not really partial to the cherry colour of the sunburst. I like them a little faded. The plain maple has just a hint of flame toward the edge.

The sound of it is almost exactly what you hear on the Gibson site. I find the bridge pickup to be a little harsh in the top end, but I am going to replace them with my own. I think double cream bobbins.