While visiting my brother last month, I played his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar. For a few seconds, anyway, I felt like George Harrison. Note to self: Next time I visit Todd, be sure to take some Fender medium picks and leave a few there.
Yesterday I heard the new single by The Dandy Warhols for the first time. “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)” provides the perfect antidote to what seems to me to be a dormant time for good new music. In addition, the Dandys have created the video I’ve always wanted them to make—no goofy scenes or themes, just great music with the focus on what I consider to be one of the best bands around. March is in like a lion, indeed. I give the band bonus points for mentioning a Beatle in the song title. Give it a listen.
You don’t see a lot of Sears Silvertone amplifiers out in the wild anymore, but there are actually two in this photo from 40 years ago. To the right is the amp I’m playing through, and to the left is a guitar case with a built-in amplifier and speaker. I received the latter for Christmas when I was in the fourth grade.
My new “Fab Four Pedal Board” is a return to simpler days. The board itself is Pedaltrain’s new nano+, and I’ve loaded it up with my favorite four Danelectro Fab effects pedals (I also refer to the board as my dano+). From left to right:
Fab D4 Echo
Fab D6 Flange
Fab D5 Chorus
Fab D1 Distortion
Note that the distortion pedal is first in the signal chain. Like most guitarists, I prefer distortion before modulation and delay effects. For power, I use the Dan Electrode DA-4 Power Supply with the DA-5 Daisy Chain, which leaves me with an extra plug if I want to use it.
I’m loving the new stripped-down approach to my sound. As I use Planet Waves Micro Tuners on my guitars, I don’t even need to use a tuner pedal (my amplifier also features a built-in tuner if I ever need it). For now, when it comes to effects, this little pedal board is all I need.
At the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park yesterday, I got to play some of the fine instruments made by Kimmer Olesak, founder of AxBox Cigar Box Guitars. “Handcrafted from found objects and the highest quality custom materials,” each instrument was unique and had something irresistible about it. Kimmer invited me to plug into the small amplifier he had in the booth, and I took him up on it. I was impressed by the sound of these instruments and by the craftsmanship it had taken to build them.
Not only did these three- and four-stringed instruments sound great, but many had that little “chime,” or sweet spot—whatever you’d like to call it—that you get when you play a nice instrument. Kimmer (below left, with yours truly) also makes cigar box ukuleles, and in the end, it was a Don Tomas uke that would not let me leave without it. I’ll be sure to post a pic if I can stop playing it long enough.