My thing for the guitar started when I was 12. A buddy of mine that lived across the street from where I grew up got his first guitar and I was hooked ever since (thanks Jeff). I got mine a few months later for Christmas in 1985, and have been a guitar junkie ever since. It wasn't until about 1995 (when I graduated college and got a real job) that I could afford to start "collecting". I reached approximately 15 axes about the same time I was knee deep in with a band called Shades Of Wrong. We had a seven year run as a cover/party band in & around Indianapolis at such clubs as World Mardi Gras and CT Peppers, as well as the surrounding college fraternity scene.
Side bar: Tracy & I bought Jeff’s parents house in 2007, so I now live across from my childhood home!
Over the years I had only sold three guitars that I owned, but that would change in 2008 as you will see below. The first guitar I received that Christmas in 1985 was a Peavey Mystic. I played it for about 2 years when I decided I need one of those ultra cool whammy bar thingies! So I sold it and purchased my first Charvel. Aside from that, I owned a Les Paul Custom that I decided to sell because I was too much of a Charvel snob. I couldn't justify playing a $1000+ Gibson when I was too proud of my lesser expensive axes that I had torn down, customized and rebuilt to my specs - and played & sounded just as good. A few years later I purchased a very cool Jackson Custom Shop guitar with a killer airbrushed graphic on it. What I failed to realize was I could not play a 24-fret neck. That may not mean much to the average person, but if you are a guitarist who is accustomed to 22 frets like myself - trying to play a 21 fret or 24 fret neck is quite a challenge. So I sold it and moved on to my typical Charvel collection.
My future spare time seems to be all but spoken for with 8 project guitars to tinker with. Someday I'll slow down, but for now the wheels in my head are always spinning! Here is a breakdown of all the axes in my collection, along with their stories.
*80's Charvel Model 3A - "Mustang". My second guitar ever purchased - new from a guitar store in 1987. These things were about $400 when new back then! This is a Japanese made Charvel like most of mine that I have personally customized. Like all of my Charvel Model series axes, gone is the cheezy Kahler trem. I filled in the smaller post holes, and re-drilled & installed a Floyd Rose Original. I also rewired the pickguard with Semour Duncans - George Lynch Screamin Deamon in the bridge and Pearly Gates in the neck. The tone pot has been removed (I don't use them), and replaced with a Les Paul style 3-way p/u selector. The strat style 5-way is not functional, but does feature a chrome valve cap for looks! Like a few of my Charvels, a friend that builds custom street rods (Hot Rod Alternatives - Jamestown, IN) did the paint work. This one is a heavy metallic silver, with a metallic charcoal pickguard. Like all of his paint jobs, this one has stood the test of 7+ years gigging VERY well. The name is obvious—with the addition of several Mustang emblems. This guitar is my main standard tuned axe in today’s shows with Shades of Wrong.
*1980's Charvel Model 3 "Lil Devel". Bought this used at a guitar store for about $175. Another Japanese Charvel like the "Mustang", except the Model 3 is a H/S/S pickup configuration. I added the Floyd, another Screamin Deamon in the bridge position. The middle and neck pickups are a custom, reverse wound set from Carvin. They were pretty cheap but sound very nice. The middle pickup has 12 adjustable poles, and the neck uses two rails in a mini-hum configuration - much like a Duncan Hot Rail. The tone pot is still in place, but has been bypassed. Hot Rod alternatives did the paintwork - but this time with a little re-work. He had the body complete, and wanted me to bring the pickguard to a show so he could test the fit. Unfortunately he did not allow quite enough room, and the guard covered some of the flames! He took it back, blended in some yellow to cover the error, and re-worked the flames. Turned out damn nice!! I did the pickguard myself with some glittery holographic paper from the local Hobby Lobby. Kind of cheap, but I really like the outcome - especially on stage with the lights shining on it! And our bass player added the Lil Devil sticker, which blended in nicely. Hence the name! Today this axe is used primarily as a backup for standard tuning—a little error on my part doesn’t lend the tremolo to any pitch ups.
*1980's Charvel Model 3 - "Black Sunshine" Yet another of my favorite Japanese Charvels, bought for about $100 from one of our band venue's sound engineers. Sensing a theme here?! Again with the Floyd, Duncan Screamin Deamon, and custom Carvin middle & neck pickup. This set up is a tad different with a single rail in the middle, and the same 12 pole in the neck. Again the tone pot is there, but not functional. The paint is also from Hot Rod Alternatives, usind a Dupont metallic black-cherry, with a hint of pearlescent in it. I used a single piece of my handy holographic paper again - which like the "Lil Devil", looked pretty killer under the lights. Notice I said "Looked". Unfortunately this guitar had to be retired as I made a slight error when drilling the post holes for the Floyd. They were a tad too close to the spring cavity, and over time the tension caused them to break through. I pulled all the parts off of it for a future project Charvel. I've kept the body and eventually will re-build it as a Strat with a fixed tail piece. I've always played Floyd Rose trems, but sometimes I just want a good fixed bridge to facilitate tuning changes while practicing. Today it seems everyone uses a tuning variation, and there is no such thing as tuning a Floyd on the fly!
*1980's/Early 90's Jackson USA Soloist - "Snake". Finally, a USA axe! Well so I thought. I bought this off a guy on some Charvel/Jackson forum, claiming to be USA - for $400. After closer inspection it appears to be Jackson Performer series body (not USA made), with a Japanese hockey stick Charvel neck. It features a snakeskin graphic, somewhat like Warren Demartini's. The evidence that it is not custom shop USA is the graphic and the recessed Floyd cavity. The graphic is only painted on the front, it doesn't wrap around the sides and back. And the cavity is made for a cheapy Floyd knock-off - not an original. Its ok by me - I didn't pay a USA custom shop price. I did my typical tone-pot bypass, and changed out the p/u selector to the larger Les Paul style 3-way, gave it a good clean up and adjusted the intonation & action. This thing sounds killer. It has a Schaller/Jackson Floyd, a Duncan Trem-bucker in the bridge, and a Semour Duncan (I think '59) in the neck. This was one of my favorites to play on-stage because as a solid body it was heavier - which added to the tone, sustain and overall feel. Today this is my primary axe in Drop D tuning.
*1990's Charvel DX series - "Flamed". I bought this off a guy for I THINK $50 - he was selling it as a hard shell case, with parted out guitar included! When I opened it up - EVERYTHING was still there to put it back together - down to very last trem cavity-cover screw. This is my only Charvel from the 90's era that featured the reverse headstock with the hideous cursive written logo. As you can see that neck didn't last! I ditched the crappy Charvel trem for a Schaller Floyd. Again, my favorite Screamin Deamon is in the bridge, with the nice Carvin 12-pole in the neck. This guitar sounds & plays suprisingly well. Next to the Les Paul style hum / hum configuration - this is my second favorite set up. With only one single coil, you don't run into the volume and polarity issues you get with a typical H/S/S pickup setup. I swapped out the 5-way selector with a 3 way - and perfect for me - no tone pot! Once I got this guitar to stay in tune (I had some adjustments to make with the trem and the neck joint) it became one of my favorites to play live. Again, its a solid body which I now prefer (probably wouldn't buy another hollowed/pickguard Strat) The flamed paint job was done by a buddy that works at the body shop of a big-time auto auction house. Nice fade work on the yellow, purple and orange huh?! Ironically enough - its the same guy mentioned above that got me started in all of this mess (thanks AGAIN Jeff)! Today this axe is also used in standard tuning.
*1990's Charvel Model 1 - future "DeMartini Crossed Swords". This is a typical used and abused Charvel as I have come to find them. Not worth much more than $100 unless well taken care of. As you can see this one is ready to be torn down, stripped, painted and rebuilt to my specs. The Kahler trem will go into my box of about 8 others and either hit ebay or the trash can! Once prepped, my plan is to give this the custom graphic made famous by Warren DeMartini of Ratt. If you've seen the Round & Round video or any Ratt show, then you know this guitar! It will get a new Floyd Rose and a Seymour Duncan Sreamin' Deamon. And this will be my first true shred guitar - only a single humbucker in the bridge (no pickup selector needed) for that full time distortion sound!
*1990's various Charvels - this is my lot of Charvel projects waiting in the wings. I've got a lot ideas running through my head and nothing but time to do them. One of them is going to be a natural transparent wood look, reminiscent of Nuno Bettencourts Washburn N-2 guitar. A couple more will be replicas of Eddie Van Halens EVH Art series guitars that were re-issued back in the early 2000's (one will be the famous red/white stripe, the other will be the original black & yellow stripe) One is already prepped and sketched out to receive a "waving" american flag graphic like the Peavey Custom Shop guitars. Thus leaving me one idea to come up with the last body in the batch. All will get my favorite Duncan Screamin Deamons, Floyd Rose trems and no tone pots.
*1990's LTD/ESP GL 500K - "Kamikazee". Finally, something other than a Charvel, huh?! This was my first stab at collecting my idol's guitars - George Lynch (now you know why I'm so partial to the Screamin Deamon!). Since this is a LTD, it skimped on several things. So, I updated the trem to a Floyd Original (not seen here in these pics), and updated the pickups from the Duncan Designed to a real Duncan Screamin Deamin and a Duncan (can't remember the exact model) in the neck. Seems George likes the Hum/Single set-up as well - again, no volume issues due to the polarity concerns of having two singles so close together. Oh yeah, George doesn't use a tone pot either (and no, I didn't just copy that habit off of him - I just never used them) so this guitar works well for me. Although I think I'd rather have a Les Paul 3-way selector rather than the push-pull volume pot for the p/u switching. I could do it rather easily, but just can't bring myself to change if from "The Man's" specs! The graphic is actually a decal that is clear coated over - rather than the real custom paint work. But hey - its still a cool guitar, that NOW plays and sounds almost as good as the Original $2600 ESP.
*1990's ESP GL Serp - "Serpent". Yes this one is the real deal! It is an authentic ESP that was valued at nearly $3000 when they came out. I'd rather not disclose the details, but lets just say I got a hell of a deal from a friend and fellow musician! Obviously I didn't need to do anything to this guitar. It has the Schaller/Floyd trem, Duncans (of course a Screamin Deamon) all around, and mother of pearl fret markers with ESP at the 12th. I currently have this guitar strung (and tension/action adjusted) with Zack Wylde Boomer 60's. This is my Drop D guitar. If you are dropping D with just standard 9's or 10's - you should really give this a try. The fat strings on the lower 3 really give it a hole new sound - and feel!
*1990's ESP/LTD GL 500-T "Sunburst Tiger" This was my 3rd addition to my George Lynch Collection, purchased in late September of 2007 via ebay (my first stab at buying an axe via ebay). Just like the auction stated, this guitar was nearly mint with only a few blemishes that would take a trained eye to find. This guitar still features the lesser expensive Duncan Designed pickups and the knock-off licensed Floyd Rose trem. I'm not too concerned with it at the moment because my GL's have become collectables rather than "duty" axes.
*2007 ESP/LTD GL 600-MT "M-1 Tiger" This was a limited run M-1 Tiger guitar that was sold via Sam Ash Music as part of their George Lynch Guitar Clinics. Each store hosting Mr. Scary himself received a small stash of these for sale. I went to see George in Indianapolis on October 8th, 2007 and low and behold a stage decorated with 5 of these beauties. They were still wrapped in their protective plastic (pickups & neck) so they weren't available to play. But when George walked out with one strapped on his back, my wheels started turning. He had taken it to the backroom and tweaked it to his liking, and proceeded to shred on it for all of us to enjoy. At the end of his session, he sat it down and I quickly motioned to the sales guy (he's known me for years) to grab it for me. I guess you could say I bought the axe off of George's back! In the pictures it may appear the guitar is in need of a polish - that is all Mr Scary himself. So far I have not been able to bring myself to play it enough to put my own marks on it - so for now it will be displayed just like George left it when he sat it down that Monday night.
*Not being your typical guitar nut, I would not have been satisfied with taking only one of my 3 GL guitars with me to have it signed. So I disassembled all of them and packed the bodies into a padded bag and carried them with me into the clinic. When I checked them all in with the Sam Ash staff they knew I wasn't a typical fan! My wife helped me take them through the line one at a time - I didn't want to be an over zealous type and hog the signing table. He stayed plenty long enough to get all three of them signed, and then of course to cap the evening off by signing my new M-1 Tiger that I purchased after he played it. He was impressed at my desire to take the three guitars apart to get them all in for the signing, but when he saw me return the 4th time with the new M-1 he said "Wow, you're serious!" What a great evening!!
Side bar: Just eight months after I met George and had him sign my collection of ESP Signature guitars, I made the painful decision to sell them all in order to help fund the purchase of my 1982 Mustang GT. I sure hope they are in collectors hands these days because they were really great guitars, in great shape and of course wearing Mr. Scary’s autograph!
*2001 Washburn BT-2 "Billy T" This was my first attempt at buying a cheapy practice guitar, because I got sick of carrying 3 of my gig ready, Floyd Rose guitars to practice (you can't really re-tune a Floyd in a pinch!) So I bought this thing with case for $179 new. But at practice I realized how shitty the pickups really were. The thing looked and played great considering the price tag - but the pick ups were just horrible. At the same time I took a set of Dimarzio's in on trade, as a labor charge for installing a set of EMG's into a Les Paul for our other guitarist. So what the hell I thought - I slapped them in and I now had a gig ready, fixed bridge guitar! I couldn't believe it - here I am a Charvel (and recently ESP) snob, and I'm also playing a $179 BT-2 on stage! After a couple years - and the 7-String/Drop 6 craze - I decided to string this thing and set it up (again with the tension and action adjustments) as my Drop 6 (B, E, A, D, F#, B) with a set of Zack Wylde Boomer 70's. Talk about fat sounding!! I used it for such band songs as Evanesence and Chevelle. I even used it on our recording of Shallow, which you can hear on the S.O.W. website! Not long after I decided to buy another one, and today I use these axes as my Drop 6 for low B songs, and the other as a Drop C for such bands as Sick Puppies and Breakin’ Benjamin. So what you see above it actually two different, yet identical guitars!!
*2000's Mexican made Fender Telecaster - by far one of my least favorite guitars, but I figured what the hell. A guy offered it to me in trade for a small 6 channel Samson Mixer/Amp so I went for it. It doesn't play worth a crap so currently it is on the project list. I plan to tear it down in my typical fashion and come up with a unique paint scheme for it. Perhaps a Brad Paisley type recreation. I'll replace the bridge with a reputable piece, as well as the pickups, switch, pot, nut and tuners. Then I will finally be able to dive into that country sound that can only be achieved by a tele and classic tube amp combo!
*2000's Washburn "Dime" - Made famous by non other than the late, great Dimebag Darrel of Pantera. Dimebag's life was tragically taken while on stage December 8th, 2004 by a crazed fan. To learn more about this horrific event, check out http://www.dimebagdarrell.info/abbott.htm Back in my Shades of Wrong days a bunch of my buddies decided to surprise me at a show during my birthday with this as a gift. I was shocked! I strapped it on and played it for a few songs, but quickly realized that it was not properly set up off the production line (wouldn't stay in tune and wasn't intonated correctly) plus I needed a trem. So I took it home and displayed it with my collection. I had planned to replace some of the lesser expensive parts with quality parts, but given Darrel's murder and the demise of Shades of Wrong in 2005, I decided to put this guitar back together, clean it up and keep it as a collectors piece.
*Dean & Epiphone "Hunks of Junk" Enough said! I bought these guitars as stage tricks only. I painted the Dean red and gave it a quickie EVH stripe job to simulate his famous Frankenstien guitar. The guitar worked, but that was about all I could say for it. So the plan was to play it during a song that used distorted guitar all the way through, and one where my guitar could be turned down and Ted could handle all the guitar duties - simply put this thing sounded like ass and wouldn't stay in tune for more than a few measures! But it wasn't meant to be heard, it was meant to be seen - at the end of Basketcase by Green Day, I proceeded to bash this guitar into oblivion to finish the set. The crowd loved it so much, I kept my eyes peeled at the local pawn shops for another $40 junker. To my delight, a few months later I found the Epiphone Les Paul copy pictured above. I gave it a quick glitter job with some holigraphic paper, and once again quickly retired it into to pieces on stage. I don't have pictures of this one's aftermath because I cut my hand pretty bad, and while I was tending to my wound, some of the fans were collecting the pieces as souvenirs. The crowd kept wanting more, but by now I figured ~$100 was enough to blow on show-antic guitars!
*2000's Indiana Brand Bass - A bass you say? Sure I like to slap the fat strings every now and then. During our Shades of Wrong days Jimmy (bass player) & I would swap roles for a few songs, so I figured it would be good to have one to practice on at home. During the 7 string guitar and 5 string bass craze, Jimmy actually used this bass for songs that needed a 5 string. We strung this bass up with the lower 4 strings of a 5 string set (like I did with my Drop 6 guitar) in B, E, A, D and we appropriately named it the "Lil 45'er"
*2004 Ovation GCXT Custom Shop - "Ghost Flames". Wow, an acoustic you say. I have a few of them too, but this is my favorite for obvious reasons. This was a limited run and a local guitar shop owner actually called me personally to tell me I had to have it (he knew my collection)! I told him I need another guitar like I needed another hole in my head - but he convinced me to come check it out and that he would cut me a killer deal. Well, when I saw it I immediately went home to do something I thought I'd never do - I got a guitar (another Ovation acoustic) and amp to trade in!! As you can probably tell I don't sell let alone trade anything. This thing plays great like a typical Ovation! Acoustically it is pretty damn good, considering it is an Ovation, but plugged in this thing sounds great. Its no Martin or Taylor - but those things are in a league of their own anyway!
*1991 Custom Legend 12 - "Black Burst". I bought this guitar back in 1999 via the web for $500. It was my first web purchase, and being that it was an acoustic I was particularly worried. But the seller turned out to be good to his word. Only thing stated to be wrong with it was a crack in the clear-coat that runs from the bridge to the bow - typical of high tension acoustics. I've had this guitar now for nearly 10 years and keep it strung up to E all the time and the crack hasn't changed a bit. Upon some research with Ovation I learned this guitar listed for nearly $2000 when new - and that it was given a "Factory Reconditioned" label because the crack happened in transit to the original dealer. Plays and sounds great with its Balladeer style sound whole. The electronics are fair - eventually I would like to upgrade them to the newer style pre-amp like in my GCXT above.
*1970's Yamaha G-55A "Classical" A family friend gave me this guitar back when I was attending Indiana University. I used it for my studies in Intermediate and Advanced Classical Guitar at the IU School of Music. No I wasn't a music student, it just sounds cool saying that! They were electives, and those classes really helped my play accelerate. This was a great guitar to learn sight reading and finger picking on. Today I don't play it much, but during the holiday season I will break it out, along with my Christmas music & other classical pieces and reminisce.