LaPatrie Classical Cutaway

With the assistance of Fred at Godin Guitars, I acquired this cedar / mahogany nylon-string for my first guitar/flute duo performance.

As is the case with anything coming from the Godin family of instruments, this is a great guitar and is one of the most comfortable classical-style guitars I have ever used. Action is low yet still responsive - it's become my primary acoustic. While it has a Godin piezo pickup/preamp it also works extremely well when mic'd, which I've been doing more often for live dates. The armrest was highly recommended by Mary Faith of John Pearse Strings. I like it.

I am currently very pleased with John Pearse high-tension classical strings. To fine-tune intonation I do swap out the regular 3rd string for a Thomastik flatwound steel string.

Lowden S27FC

Pierre Bensusan refers to his Lowden as "The Old Lady" and I completely understand his reference -- in my estimation, this is the standard by which all acoustic guitars should be judged. Mine is an Irish guitar, #920, signed by George himself.

My guitar is the mini-jumbo model with a cedar top and mahogany back and sides that practically plays itself. It is absolutely perfect in the studio with a balanced voice across the entire sound spectrum. In addition, I updated the pickups for live performances with an EMG split piezo and preamp setup combined with an EMG ACS magnetic pickup. The live sound, without a mic, has been described as "piano-like" and is balanced and pristine.

I've only replaced the bridge saddles - tuners and frets are original and there is no structural work done to the guitar. The clear pickguard was installed by Jack Romano. I use John Pearse #510L silk & bronze strings which give me the perfect feel and tension for fingertsyle work.

Hagstrom V1N / Viking (mid-1970s)

This is one of the original mid-70s models from the period when Hagstrom was making world-class instruments , which is the same time my Swede was made (see below). This guitar is made from solid birch and is a hollow-bodied instrument -- there is no sound block running through it. It's essentially a thin archtop guitar and, amazingly, has a great deal of acoustic sound. I rescued this from a church bazaar sale where it would have gone out for $75 due to missing strings, a moth-eaten case and a warped neck.

This has become my go-to guitar with my trio -- the response is so immediate and so lively it's hard to leave it behind when I'm going out the door. It's strung with Pearse #2600 Jazz Light Strings.

FYI: I've had many questions about the newer line of Hagstroms whenever someone sees me with this one. They are altogether very different instruments, decent economical guitars, but not of this caliber.



Godin Glissentar

A fretless 11-string guitar with modified classical strings and one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard or produced.

The instrument is a hybrid of sorts, a cross between a Godin classical guitar and an oud, a fretless 11-string middle eastern instrument.

Initially, it's a bit intimidating and requires real concentration to play in tune (and not slide into every note). Once I got the hang of it, I started playing it on everything. The one drawback -- you can't do chords with more than 3 voices. Barre chords are totally impractical.

I did update the tuners to the barreled Godin versions. I used the original Godin/D'Addario strings (which created more finger noise than I liked) until another glissentar-ist recommended Pearse/Thomastik wound classical strings. Great feel, sound and intonation and ball-ends(!). I use two sets, of course, and end up with extra low E strings.
Hagstrom Swede (1975)

This is an original Hagstrom -- I purchased it new in 1975 after playing Larry Coryell's and have used for literally every electric performance and recording project since then. During the 1970s and 80s, the company was producing truly world-class instruments that were compared with the Gibsons and Fenders of that time.

It has had several modifications during the years: I removed the pickguard after the first couple of months as it got in the way and kept causing me to break high E strings. Due to wear & tear I replaced the pickup rings, volume and tone knobs and tuners (now Shallers). I also had Jack Romano modify the tune-a-matic style bridge to allow better intonation on the low strings.

While I've used just about every gauge and type of string over the years, these days I string it with John Pearse #2600 Jazz lights.

Cort-Steinberger (1970s?)

This was from the Zanaras Music inventory. It was the 'always a bridesmaid' guitar -- each time someone picked it up expecting to see only Steinberger scrawled across the body. Of course, the black Cort immediately dashed most hopes of a budget-priced treasure. All I can say is they should have played it!

I have played this with the Group and, much to my surprise, it sounds like my other guitars. I did expect a Fender Strat-like quality due to the single coil pickups, but EMG pickups make a big difference. It's strung with LaBella double-ball-end strings .010 / .046.

This is my favorite guitar for jam sessions, both jazz and blues, because it's so easy to carry. (Note: I had one incident where someone assumed I had a rifle in the compact gig bag and not a guitar -- I had to open the bag to assure him of my peaceful intentions.)

LAB Series amps (1979 thru 1980s)

No account of my equipment history is complete without a photo of the LAB amps.  These are (in my humble opinion) the best amps, transistor or tube, I have ever played through. They get a tube sound, a tube feel and never run out of horsepower (which I know from the old days). On the bottom right is my original L5 (2X12, 100W), delivered to me in the shipping crate way back when; next to it is one of the last L5s made; on top is the amazing L3 (1X12, 60W) which was almost killed by FedEx but resuscitated by me with the assistance of Lowes and the Gorilla Glue company.

At the other end of the signal chain....

My acoustic setup includes a tube preamp (currently an ART) and an Alesis Microverb. If needed, I may use an old Pearl parametric EQ pedal to tweak out problems. I usually do my own mix through a Behringer MX602A mixer and supply my own feed to the sound board. With the Lowden I do my own mix with the two pickups depending on the room and can also control my mic level and sound as well.

With the electric guitar, I use a very simple pedalboard with an Arion Tubulator (a very good tube screamer clone), a Tech 21 Roto Choir,an old Boss DD2 delay, a Boss RV2 reverb pedal and a Boss RV60 volume pedal. Lately, I've included my venerable MuTron Octave Divider to occasionally thicken up single lines. This is the latest incarnation of my pedalboard (which since my
New Light days has gotten lean, clean and modular and capable of fitting into a suitcase).

For the history buffs......
I have used a broad range of effects and setups throughout the years. In my fusion days I had a massive pedalboard built with the following effects: MuTron III, MuTron Phasor II, MuTron Octave Divider, Boss CE1, Boss OD, MXR Distortion+, Boss Flanger, Boss DD2, Boss Reverb, Boss Hall-effect wah, Boss Hall-effect Volume. In addition, I used all of the Dan Armstrong plug-in effects. Of course, I always kept my silver EBow on hand.

For a while, this setup was used in tandem with a Roland GR300 guitar synth, a Leslie combo amp and two Lab L5 amps. I began pairing things down as the fusion heydays (and my happy-go-lucky attitude) gave out.

The abbreviated setup I used during the second incarnation of
New Light included the Boss OD, CE1, DD2, flanger and volume pedal, the MuTron Octave Divider and a vintage Big Muff. I was also down to using one Lab L5.

There was also a brief period when I employed an '80s Stratocaster, mostly as a backup instrument.