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2005 Ibanez JEM7VWH

This is my main guitar and it's a dream to play.  I just bought it at the beginning of June 2005 from Guitar Center here in Pittsburgh.

Here's the story - A few people told me that the Kramer Pacer didn't seem to be as loud as the Stratocaster so I wanted to change the pickup from a Seymour Duncan Distortion to the DiMarzio Fred.  Fred is what Joe Satriani uses in his guitar.

While I was there, I asked one of the guitar techs if they had an Ibanez Satriani model and they did.  So, he set me up in the amp room and I fooled around with the guitar for a bit.  I have to admit that I wasn't blown away and I was hoping that I would be.  I really like Joe's playing and the guitar is well built, but I wasn't happy that there were only 22 frets.  And the sound wasn't anything that really stood out.  So I then asked if they had a Via model.

And they did..............

As soon as I saw the guitar I fell in love with it.  I plugged it in and began to play.  I liked having 24 frets and I loved the sound of the Evolution pickups.  So I really took it for a spin trying all pickup combinations, turning the volume knob to 5, etc.  There was another tech in the room with us and we were talking about the local music scene, what everyone's dream rig would be and other music related things.

Then I noticed that my hands were playing all by themselves and in a way that they had never played before!  The Prestige Neck felt so nice to play and my fingers just started to go up and down the fretboard with the greatest of ease.

At that moment the guitar tech said, 'Yeah I noticed that myself.  Your hands just started to play by themselves a few minutes ago.'  That's all I needed, I was hooked.

As the paper work was being written up every guitar tech in the store came over to say, 'good bye' to the Jem.  They each looked at me like I was about to marry a former girlfriend and they weren't so sure about me (and maybe they still had a 'thing' for her).  An assistant manager put it this way, 'Each one of us has had an affair with that guitar so we're sorry to see it go.  Take care of it.'

That's the story of how I bought the Jem.  I have to admit that I don't feel like I own the Jem, I feel like the Jem and I are partners.  I've even named her 'Lilac' because one of my favorite scents in the world is lilac and the vine on the fretboard reminds me of flora.

I look forward to many years of creativity with Lilac.

The Jem came with .009s on it and of course it was tuned to A=440.  I tuned it down and put a set of GHS Boomer .009s on it


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1983 Kramer Pacer
With a Rockinger Locking Tremolo system

I bought this guitar from Pianos 'N Stuff here in Pittsburgh.  I was playing in '3D Mirage' at the time and wanted to invest in a better rig.  I bought the Pacer at the same time as I bought the Fender Twin Reverb.

The Rockinger tailpiece rests on the body of the guitar so I can only dive bomb down, there's no pulling up.  That worked out well for me as most of my bands have tuned down 1/2 step so that could be done very easily.  Here's a close up of the bridge and locking nut.

I've made many recordings with this guitar and used it when I was attending GIT.  I love it and will always have it although I have to admit that the Jem is now my main guitar.

I had to replace the tailpiece one time because the trem arm threads were being stripped out in the actual bridge.  And in the early 90s I replaced the frets, I did that job myself.  I can't say that I'd do that again and fortunately I didn't screw up too much.

I leave the clamp screw out of the 6th string spot on the locking nut so I can detune it down to Db.  I can then do songs like 'Unchained' by Van Halen.  I've learned to give the string a quick tug if I dive bomb real low.

I've recently been using GHS Boomer .011s on the Pacer.  I had put .011s on my strat to attempt to get the Stevie Ray Vaughn tone and I decided to keep the same gauge on the Pacer.  At first, it wasn't happy with me but it did adjust to the extra tension.  If you look at the rear view, you'll see the 4th spring that I needed to offset that tension.  The claw is screwed into the body as far as it can go.  And I'm glad that we tune down to Eb.  If we were in standard tuning I'd probably need a 5th spring.

Here's a link to the review of the Pacer that appeared in Circus Magazine back in the early 80's.  Incidentally, this is the guitar that the original Kramer Eddie Van Halen model was based on.

I also want to mention that a company namde MusicYo is currently manufacturing the Kramer line, Kramer went out of business some time ago.  There is also a great website dedicated to Kramer guitars called VintageKramer.com


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1997 Fender Stratocaster

My wife Michelle bought me this guitar for my birthday in April, 1997.  This was my last birthday before becoming a father and that was a real special present from her.  I had always wanted a single coil guitar.  All of my previous guitars had humbuckers in them and I wanted to get the tones that a Strat can give you.

Playing a single coil pickup is very different than a humbucker.  Humbuckers will let you get away with sloppy playing but single coils will not.  THey have great tone but if you don't have enought strength behind a hammer - on or pull - off or if you don't pick the notes cleanly, the Strat will let you hang in the wind.  But if you have a good technique and execute your licks well a Strat will really give you a great sound.

Once I got my Strat I really got into Stevie Ray Vaughn.  In fact over the last year or so I decided to go ahead and use .011 strings like SRV.  I wanted to play 'Scuttle Buttin' and felt that I needed to extra thickness for tone and accuracy.  The Strat accommodated the .011s very well (better than the Kramer) and I think I'm able to play with .011s althought I've decided to go back to .010s because of the Jem setup.

I also decided to modify my Strat with a set of Fender 'Vintage Noisless' pickups, a Fender TBX Tone Control and a Fender Active Mid Boost Circuit  This essentially makes the guitar and Fender Eric Clapton artist model.

I like the TBX tone control but I'm not sure about the mid boost circuit.  I need to play with it some more.  Retrofitting the guitar with that circuit was very difficult and the instructions didn't say anything about having to route out a little more room in the pickup chamber.  The tone circuit is mounted underneath the volume and tone pots.  There's very little room in there and I actually pierced the finish on the back of the guitar with the screws of the circuit board.


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Crestline Les Paul Copy
With KISS signatures

This is my oldest guitar and the one that I used in my developmental bands, the first version of 3D Mirage and Zephyr Windz.  This is the only guitar that I've owned that has a separate volume knob for each pickup and that came in handy for the on-off-on effect as well as shutting it down quickly.  When I was using this guitar I was also usually using a Big Muff distortion box and those things can be unruly. 

I loved playing this guitar and made many changes to it over the years.  I created my own logo and painted that on the truss rod cover, I added the white pickguard and had to replace one of the original pickups.

On August 1, 1995 I attended the Kiss Convention here in Pittsburgh at the Monroeville Expo Mart.  I took this guitar and had the then current members autograph it.  Click here for a closer look.

Once I bought the Kramer in 1983, this guitar stayed in it's case in my bedroom but I have found memories of it.


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Kapa Continental
the 'Party Naked' guitar!

I got this guitar back in the early 90s and just decided to paint it all whacky.  I did the Van Halen method of taping it and painting the open parts.  I used the flourescent spraypaint the the utility companies use to mark the their locations on streets and such.

I would use this at the end of a show when the band is being introdcued.  I would turn it over when I was introduced and the audience would applaud.  It actually doesn't sound too bad either.


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Fender Catalina
Steel String Acoustic Guitar

I bought this at Lawrence Music when I needed an acoustic guitar.  I don't use it much but when I have it when I need it.

It's a well built instrument but not the top of the line.  I believe that the neck is closer to an electric neck than an acoustic.  I added a piezo pickup under the bridge and the Dean Markley pickup in the soundhole.  I have them wired with separate volumes to the output jack.

I also own a Gracie Guitar Stand for this guitar.  I used it live in 'Tish' where we started a song with an acoustic and the electric kicked in right away.


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Fender FC-100
Nylon String Acoustic Guitar
Serial Number: 0100044

I bought this guitar when I attended CMU for the classical guitar lessons.  I replaced the tuning pegs with Gotoh pegs which gave it a much nicer look.

I typically use D'Addario Strings and of course this is picked with your fingers.  I love the sound but don't play it much.  Although every once in awhile I will take it out of the case and open the material that I worked on at CMU.  It takes a little warming up but I eventually get through it.


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Westone Quantum
Bass Guitar

I bought this at a pawn shop because I needed a base to record some material.  It has a long neck and takes some getting used to after playing a six string.

I like the look and sound so it works fine for me.  I'll probably use it for my solo material here.


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