KRIS OLSEN RESOLECTRIC
This is the guitar that starts most of the discussions I have with fans about gear. It's a prototype built by luthier and Roberto Venn instructor, Kris Olsen. I was looking for a Resolectric when my wife surprised me with this one, a gift that left me speechless. It has since become my most traveled guitar, having been the primary sound that gave inspiration the all of the songs written for Salt and has been utilized in many recordings across all of my releases since. However, it took a lot of tweaking to get it to the level of playability it has today. It's an outstanding prototype, all design quirks aside. It features a Highlander preamp and piezo pickup under the biscuit, as well as, a Sunrise pickup at the neck. I replaced the cone with a Quarterman following airline travel damage. With an obvious nod to the National design, this Olsen is far and away a more unique instrument and I wouldn't change a thing for fear of losing it's one-of-a-kind sonic quality. At the time of this writing, nothing has been modified. However, considerations for a new saddle/nut material and new frets are on deck. It is the guitar that I have used exclusively for solo shows and can be heard on many of my recordings.
A cherished favorite, I found this Gibson in a pawn shop in Montana. The clerk in the shop that day told me that an old man brought this 150 and his Les Paul in because he couldn't play anymore due to severe arthritis. I bought it right then and there. My only regret now is that I couldn’t afford the Les Paul, too. All of my research suggests that it's either a '72 or '74, though I'm not exactly certain which. The only thing I know for sure is that I am it's second owner. The previous owner obviously played the hell out of "first position" chords, as the fretboard has fairly significant divots at the first and second frets. A kind of "flaw" that I appreciate because I know this instrument was loved and played a great deal. The finish is a perfect dark chocolate color; or as the "DW" indicates in the name: Dark Walnut. The original Gibson ES-150 was the guitar made famous by the great Charlie Christian. This one, rather different from it's predecessor, is pretty funky with the Bigsby tremelo and a very small neck radius and fretboard width. It’s really hip to play and I've recorded many different styles with it; from jazz to pretty heavy stuff. The heavier the sound, the weirder it reacts with feedback. Overtones caused by the long string span from bridge to tremolo are even spookier with high gain. It is often the primary electric I play these days, having upgraded the "pups" with Don Grosh (Small Block 302 & 327), a fantastic bridge/saddle replacement made by Callaham. Danny Shoemaker of Straight Frets did a wonderful job of tweaking this instrument into truly inspiring playability. The case, offering a crushed purple velvet liner, is absolutely killer, too. The Gibson certainly remains a staple of my studio guitars alongside my PRS and a couple of acoustic instruments. It is used a great deal on the recordings for Big Sky.
DON GROSH ELECTRATONE
The Grosh; so hip, all twang and growl. It's my gold sparkle Electratone with newly added G-90 pickups (otherwise known as P-90s). This one also gets some looks and questions, particularly from Fender players. A small builder in Colorado, Don Grosh delivers truly remarkable, unforgettable instruments. Equally remarkable, the new Grosh G-90 pickups were handmade with "impeccable craftsmanship" and their tone is huge and balanced. Don made a very limited number of these Electratones - around 150 of them - and this is number five. The concept is based loosely on his interest in the classic Danelectro design, but yet, with an obvious nod to the Tele. The body is semi-hollow and made of a laminate that was designed for instrument building. The rim and center block are Poplar. Don’s fretwork is legendary; a truly “played in” feel that he was known for long before other builders started offering their variations on the same concept. Nonetheless, there is no other builder in the industry like Don Grosh and this Electratone is my #1 on the Up Against It sessions. It's an honor to be recognized as a "Grosh Artist".
RIVERA CLUBSTER 25 LTD. EVM
A pair of Rivera amps, both limited edition Clubster 25's with NOS EVM 10L speakers are what you'll hear on Delicious Days and on the road currently in support of that album. These are somewhat based on the Paul Rivera designed, early 80's, legendary Fender Super champ that had the EVM option; one which gave it its reputation for getting a gigantic tone in a small package. I'm also using NOS Raytheon 6L6 power tubes from the mid-40's in both. Running in stereo, these amps have a clarity and loads of headroom that is quite impressive. The EVM 10L doesn't fold. It'll rattle the combo apart before the low-end even thinks about fading on these speakers. What I need is a big clean tone that can translate my hybrid fingerstyle picking technique and take my front end pedals equally well; which include not only gain staging between the vintage Rat and Tube Screamer, but also some ambient effects textures from my Strymon Big Sky. I also use some subtle compression from Empress and a touch chorus from Nuenaber, so a stereo amp setup is ideal. I split the signal using Lehle Little Dual which eliminates any potential for ground loop noise. The Reso, pictured here, is a primary focus for me, so any amp I use has to support that guitar. When performing solo, I most often will utilize a solid-state Crate acoustic amplifier that has been very trustworthy and translates the unique, finicky tone of the Reso very well. However, with the band, I need a lot more amp behind me, so these Rivera's are the workhorses.
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