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RE: Guitar

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Gerry,
I agree with almost everything you wrote - except that Charlie Christian is
the noted inventor of the electric guitar in 1938 or 39. In fact, Here is a
paragraph from Guitar Player Magazine Website that identifies his guitar and
pickup some 10 or 15 years before Les Paul:

"An enduring voice of electric jazz guitar, Charlie Christian bought an
ES-150, Gibson's first production electric Spanish guitar, in 1938 after
woodshedding with Eddie Durham. During his time with the Benny Goodman
Sextet, Charlie also owned a pair of Gibson ES-250s -- a blonde and a
sunburst -- that had the same hexagonal blade pickup as the 150 (ever since,
these have been commonly known as the "Charlie Christian pickup"). His first
amp was likely the Gibson EH-150, which had a 12" speaker. On July 26, 1940,
Gibson shipped as a display item a natural ES-250 with a matching display
EH-250 natural amplifier, and it's very likely this is the setup Christian
was photographed using during some 1941 Goodman sessions. (The current
whereabouts of this one-of-a-kind amp is a mystery.)"

If anything you might have to consider Christian as more influential in the
development of the ES series than Les Paul was. I'm not trying reduce the
importance of Les Paul. In fact, my preferences have always been Gibson's
over Fenders until I played a strat for a while and discovered that Strat
sound that is simply unique. The same is true of the Les Paul - a unique
sound. In my book you must have both as one is not enough! Throw in a Paul
Reed Smith for one of the most beautiful looking as well as sounding
guitars.

Don't misunderstand - I would give my right arm (well not really) for a
classic (or even a new) Les Paul Custom. I think it is a fine guitar. My
first electric was a 1966 Epiphone ES335 (at the time it was called the
Riviera) semi-solid electric. Although I was foolish enough to get rid of it
in the early seventies. I changed styles around the same time and have been
playing mostly acoustics. I have a Martin OMC-28 which only produced 89 of
these "Guitar of the Month" specials. I also own a Taylor 915 Jumbo which I
got from Ben Harper (who was playing with Taj Mahal at the time and is now
soloing on Virgin Records). One of the nice "perks" to engineering - I
traded the guitar for a seismic retrofit of Ben's grandfathers music store
in Claremont California.

I bought a Japanese Stratocaster a few years ago with the intention of
changing the pickups to Lace Sensor Red at the bridge and middle and Silver
at the neck. This is a similar setup to Clapton's Strat, but he adds active
electronic boosters which is available. The basic neck and body are pretty
good (spruce) although a couple years ago I made my own body from Honduras
Mahogany with a book matched fiddle back maple top. It was a first attempt
and I still have to route it out. I like the strat neck - which in the newer
strats are more like the Gibson's necks which I have always loved. This
strat has a wider radius neck and an mahogany fret board (although I would
have preferred ebony as I have on my acoustics, but am not sure how this
will sound on an electric.
The body is full like a telecaster and shaped somewhat like a Les Paul
(rather crude). It stares at me wondering when the garage will get cleaned
out so I can set up my shop and start to work on it. I thought I would
transfer the Strat neck over to the new body and add the Lace pickups with
the active electronics.

If good guitars were cheap here would be my list:

Electrics:
A Paul Reed Smith (your right - I mentioned it in a past post and consider
it one of the finest electrics on the market - certainly out of my range at
the moment)
Gibson Les Paul Custom
Classic Strat with new neck and Clapton Electronics
Gibson ES355-Stereo (Yes, the B.B. King Guitar)
Gibson L5C (40's) (Wes Montgomery Gibson)

Amplifier
Fender Twin Reverb (had a Vibrolux Reverb when I was in my teens, but
preferred the Twin better for the larger speakers and more power).

Acoustics
Happy with my Martin and Taylor but would add:
Taylor 12-string (most likely the Leo Kottke model)
National Resophonic or Dobro  steel Guitar
D'Angelico Archtop

Classic
Jose Ramirez - Segovia model or Classic Hauser (1889 era)

I've taken a hiatus from playing for the last year or so. I think the urge
is returning as I've done this once before for almost six years. When I
started up again, it was like cleaning house. I was a bit sore to start, but
I learned at a much accelerated rate because I cleaned out the "garbage"
that had kept me on the same Plateau for a long time. It hit again last year
as I became more involved in my work. Now I think I'm ready to jump in
again.

I disagree with you about the differences between Clapton and BB King.
Clapton is much more technical and polished. BB lacks the ability to mix
rhythm and lead and relies heavily on sustain and bend to make the strings
"sing". Clapton relies more on electronics to create sound than BB whose
tone is set by heavy gauge strings, a strong hand and soft thumb. Still,
their sounds have never been duplicated by anyone else.

Vocally, BB is much stronger and can really punch out the songs. His timing
is flawless and his enthusiasm is infectious. When BB plays everyone is
having a good time. Clapton's voice is actually much smoother - which I
think comes with age. If you listen to BB King from the 1940's through the
50's and then hear him again in the 60's, he sounds like two different
musicians. I think it took him twenty years or so to develop his style. I
highly suggest the full CD set of BB King as it takes you through his
evolution and you can hear the changes in sound, tone, style and vocal
range.

I don't believe that Blues is a racial music. In otherwords, I don't believe
that you must be Afro-American to be able to sing the blues. Blues comes
from the heart and there are many tremendous Caucasian Blues singers from
John Hammond, Rory Block, Janis Joplin, and many, many others. Some of you
older Chicagoans might remember one of the best blues singers in that city
during the late 60's and early 70's - Bonnie Kolac (who I understand now
lives in Nashville). I can't think of any lady other than Billie Holliday
that can belt out the blues like Bonnie Kolac. I don't say she is the best,
but you sure feel good listening to her - especially during her Earl of Old
Town days with John Prine and Steve Goodman.

Sorry, this can go on for ever. The one thing we have in common, is that one
place near the heart that houses a feeling that no words can explain when we
have a guitar in hand and let ourselves loose with the music. When you get
into that groove, you can fly forever and never come down. You think you
would agree on that one!

Dennis


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