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 daughter made this one-stringed instrument when she was 9 years old. I still treasure it.
My dad owned this one. I listened to it over and over.
My band (The Jerrys) performed “I Even Love You More Than Elizabeth Hurley” on WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM on April 21. Check it out!
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.
Be sure to check out the AxBox Cigar Box Guitars website for more on these quality cigar box guitars and ukuleles.
Playing “Why Do I Cry” by The Remains on acoustic guitar. The Remains opened for The Beatles at Shea Stadium.
Blues legend B.B. King died two days ago, and I’ve been thinking a lot about him since I heard the news. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he appeared at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Kentucky back in the mid-eighties. A friend of mine set up the meeting, and once inside B.B.’s dressing room, I found him to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
When my wife and I went in, he invited us to sit for a while. Despite the fact that he’d just played two shows, he treated us as family and shared a few stories, one that included his own impersonation of Dizzy Gillespie. At one point, he asked me how I’d heard of him in the first place, and I told him I loved the Beatles and that John Lennon had said he wanted to “play guitar like B.B. King.” He seemed to appreciate the British bands that emulated American blues music.
B.B. King was a great musician and a great man besides, and I’ll never forget how personable he was that night. I should mention that the whole time we were there, he played blues music on a small cassette player. It’s as though he couldn’t be separated from the music, and to me and to millions of others, he never will be.