Guitar Gear

 
Endorsements

Peavey, Alvarez Guitars, Morley Pedals

Custom Electric Guitars

#1 1985 – Flames
#2 1987 – Main guitar
#3 2005 – Blue smoke

Acoustic Guitars

Alvarez 6-string, 1985
Yamaha classical, 1989
Alvarez 12-string, 2005
Alvarez 6-string, 2008
Alvarez bass, 2009

String and Picks

Dunlop 1.14 picks
Ernie Ball Super Slinky
Elixir Acoustic Medium

Peavey Amps

XXX Head and 412, 2005
Backstage Plus, 1984 *

Effects

Morley Bad Horsie 2
Morley Pro Volume
Roland GR-20 guitar synth
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Boss GE-7 Equalizer
Boss CH-1 Super Chorus
Boss AC-2 Acoustic Simulator
Boss NS-2 Noise Gate
Boss BCB-60 board
Digitech GSP 2101 LE
ProCo Rat Distortion *
See the pedal board

Studio Gear

Jackson C4P bass
Roland TD-12 V-drums
AKG C 414 LTD
Shure SM 57
Shure SM 47
Aphex 207D Preamp
Digidesign Mbox2
Digidesign 001 *
Yamaha keyboard
SansAmp XDI
Alesis monitors
Sony MDR-7506 phones
Monster cabling

Studio Software

ProTools LE (PC)
NI Kontakt
Waves Gold Bundle
SansAmp PSA1
Superior Drummer 2.0
Drumkit From Hell
Coda Finale
Garritan Personal Orchestra

* Retired

Homemade Electric Guitars
Guitar 1 (1986 – flames)Guitar 2 (1987 – black)Guitar 3 (2005 – blue/smoke)
NeckUnfinished maple, 22 fretsUnfinished maple, 22 fretsUnfinished maple, 24 frets
TunersSchallerSchallerSchaller
BridgeFloyd Rose OriginalFloyd Rose OriginalFloyd Rose Original
Bridge pickupSeymour Duncan CustomSeymour Duncan CustomSeymour Duncan Custom
Neck pickupNoneSeymour Duncan STK-S1 Classic StackSeymour Duncan HotStack
BodyAshAlderAlder
SpecialEVH D-TunaGuitar synth pickup
Three Guitars

My Homemade Guitars

My only electric guitars I built myself (with help). I used Ernie Ball EVH 5150 strings until early 2007 when they were discontinued; since then it’s been Ernie Ball Super Slinky’s.

Guitar 1 has the thickest neck (I like it the least) and flatter frets (I also dislike) but sounds better.

My first electric back in 1984 was a cheap copy of a black Gibson Les Paul (inspired by Ace Frehley of Kiss), followed by my first “real” electric guitar, a white Gibson Explorer (inspired by Matthias Jabs, Scorpions).

 

 

Guitar #1 Before Assembly

Guitar #1 Before Assembly

Guitar #1 Finished

Guitar #1 Finished

Amps and Related Gear
Reamping

Re-amping guitars

Since 2005 I use a Peavey Triple XXX head and slanted cab, heard on all rock albums starting with Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid.

From the beginning I’d used a ProCo Rat distortion pedal and a tiny Peavey Backstage Plus but retired them (still got ‘em). For several years I used no amp at all, just a Digitech GSP 2101 LE, and from 2001-2005 I only played through my computer using a SansAmp PSA-1 software plugin, which is actually still what I use at home. The amp comes out when I leave the house (rehearsal, gig, or to re-amp guitars in a studio for an album).

At home I record direct through a Aphex 207D Preamp into the computer, listening to the SansAmp. I only hear my Triple XXX after the album is done and re-amped. It’s just easier this way.

On the original 2004 release of The Firebard I got stuck with the SansAmp sounds and some bad experiments I’d done. This is one of several reasons that album has been re-recorded for re-release in 2014.

Acoustic Guitars

My first guitar in 1984 was a Yamaha acoustic I soon traded in for a used, slightly beat up black Alvarez that sounds gorgeous. Virtually all of the acoustic music I’ve ever written was composed on this. In 2005 I bought a 12-string from Alvarez, then a matching 6-string in 2008, and finally an Alvarez acoustic bass in 2009 (so far only used on Serenade of Strings).

In 1990 I bought an electric Yamaha classical guitar, later used for my degree and heard on The Lost Art and Serenade of Strings It sat unused in its case from 1996 when I developed tendonitis until 2009 when recording the latter album.

 

Live and Studio Gear

I use very little of what’s on my pedal board live. Besides guitars and amp, I used the Digitech GSP 2101 LE for lead guitar volume boost and echo with more reverb. Then there’s the Morley Bad Horsie 2 wah and a noise gate, and that’s usually all I touch unless going clean with the Boss CH-1 Super Chorus.

Various studio gear from over the years is pictured here.

The Building of Guitar #3

In 2005, I assembled a third custom guitar, with Seymour Duncan contributing pieces directly but stopping short of giving me an endorsement. Prior to having it painted, I briefly attached most parts to create the needed holes, since I can draw on the wood more easily than paint.

 

Guitar #3

 

I asked Mattias Noren (who did the first album cover and my logo) to help draw the artwork at my direction. Daneen Bronson then painted it, but the paint hadn’t cured long enough when shipped it, so marks were left all over the surface. I had to remove them with wet sanding, first with 1500 grit and then 2000 grit paper, and buffing, which is much easier with a power buffer!

Then I truly assembled the guitar for the first time, attaching all hardware, starting with the body and then tuners . At first I didn’t worry things like pickup height as I just wanted everything on there. After adjusting the truss rod a bit I attached the neck, then strung the guitar, adjusting the Floyd Rose spring tension. Next came the wiring, which included two pickups, two volume knobs, a switch, an output jack, and a grounding wire for the bridge.

The all-important setup completed the guitar, starting with adjusting the action by lowering the bridge, then adjusting the pickup height, and finally setting the intonation for each string. I bought most parts from Warmoth, who made an error cutting the nut slot, which required several shims to adjust it properly, and it ultimately went to the local shop for this and to finish off my setup, which I couldn’t get quite right. I didn’t have the shims for one, but I grew tired of adjusting the Warmoth truss rod in the neck, since you need to take off the neck each time, adjust it, put it back on and restring, and see how far off you are. The guy at the shop told me even the pros have trouble with the Warmoth rods, so I felt better about not getting it right.

One thing I’ve always told people is that I make the guitars to have them, not brag about having built them, so it’s never mattered to me that I’ve always needed help along the way. It’s still fun and I like these guitars better than anything I’ve ever played from a manufacturer.

 Posted by on February 14, 2015

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