Friday, October 28, 2011

The 3 P-90 Stratocaster - My favorite cheapo hotrod yet!

  Here are some photos from a project I did for Dan,one of my favorite customers. He and I both enjoy hotrodding cheap guitars,turning them into one of a kind,gig-ready workhorses. You may remember Dan's EpiTurser Partsocaster from last year. Our latest "masterpiece" is our Squier Stratocaster with three P-90 style pickups. We used a pair of Seymour Duncan SP90-1's in the neck and middle and had the custom shop wind the middle pickup reverse wound/reverse polarity for hum cancelling in the two and four position! In the bridge,we used a SP90-2,a pickup with more winds and ceramic magnets in place of the Alnico V magnets for more output.
Here's where we started,a Squier Strat,three pickups and a pickguard outline from Allparts. This style of pickgaurd (part # PG 0992) is a favorite of mine because it gets me out of having to cut the outline of the pickgaurd and gives me free reign to add whatever I want to the inside.
Here's our "guts". The large,almost "bathtub" route means no additional routing necessary. Less cost to the customer,less time spent by me. Yeah!
I've got the spacing figured out and marked with white china marker. The pickgaurd is mounted on some scrap wood to give the router room to work.
Pickup holes done! Next,I did the slot for the five way switch. Dan prefers his volume control out of the way so we put it about where the first tone control would be. Instead of a tone pot,we add a switch connecting the neck and bridge pickup,allowing for all seven possible pickup combinations.
P90's aren't connected to the pickgaurd like traditional Strat pickups,they're screwed right into the body of the guitar. I did,however,use the pickgaurd as a kind of jig to hold the pickups in place while I did the soldering.
Next,being careful to get the spacing right,I screwed the pickups down. (...and yes,I did move that neck pickup wire. Oops!)

All done! It definitely turned some heads while it was on the bench. It sounds really great too. By the way,like many of the features they offer,the custom RW/RP winding Seymour Duncan did for the middle pickup was no extra charge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The new Unholy Cadaver is the old Hammers of Misfortune...or something.

  I suppose I should mention,before the new Hammers of Misfortune album comes out this Tuesday,the other HoM related album that was officially released this year. Recorded on eight tracks in 1997 with all the instruments played by John Cobbett and Chewy Marzolo,it shows their concept for Hammers of Misfortune was sound from the beginning. Long,ambitious songs with layered and complimentary guitar parts and thoughtful,intelligent lyrics are already here. Cobbett and Marzolo handle the vocals as well,with a few guest spots from Lorraine Rath (who also did the stellar cover art), Erica Stolz (Lost Goat) and Mike Scalzi (Slough Feg). When Unholy Cadaver decided to become a performing band,it was Stolz and Scalzi who completed the lineup. Aside from the high quality level of the songs,I'm struck by a couple of things. First,John Cobbett is quite a good bass player.These are genuine bass lines,not just a copy of the guitar part an octave down. Second,hats off to engineer Rich Morin,who got some nice sounds on what must have been a small (non-existent?) budget!
   A handful of these songs were released as demos and distributed to a few metal zines but this is their first real release. It's loving treatment from Shadow Kingdom Records comes in double vinyl that includes a Cd in a gatefold cover and a page of liner notes. Separate mastering was done for the Cd and vinyl. I wish more bands showed this level of care in the presentation of their music. Thank you Hammers of Misfortune and Shadow Kingdom Records! I got my copy from It arrived quickly and was well packaged. You can also get it directly from I have ordered stuff from them and found them professional as well. They list Unholy Cadaver as in stock as of October 23,2011. They may also have it in colored vinyl for a small up charge.

The gatefold cover has a clever place to store the Cd.
Back cover.

Insert with lyrics.
The beautiful vinyl was flat and flawless.
Insert with photos and history.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 10/18/2011

Jeff Beck - Live at B.B. King's Blues Club: Collectors Edition
   Not only a reissue,but the always dubious "Collectors Edition"...Hmm,thankfully this is great stuff. Already released online back in 2003,this is the first "real" release of a great live performance of the Guitar Shop trio. That album,featuring drummer Terry Bozzio and keyboardist Tony Hymas is a favorite of mine,despite the dated reverb sounds,especially on the drums. Hearing this version of the Jeff Beck Band play together again,minus the '80's production, is a treat. They cover a handful of the Guitar Shop songs (Where Were You, Big Block, Savoy) but the real treasure is hearing Bozzio and Hymas take on fusion era Beck classics like Scatterbrain or the Charles Mingus
standard Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Beck and the boys seem to feed off the energy of

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 10/11/11

Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination
   I'm enjoying the new batch of bands that has been tagged with the "thrash revival" moniker. Like any genre of music,some of these bands are more creative than others. Skeletonwitch is one of the bands who aren't satisfied with a watered down copy of classic thrash. Influences from black,death,Viking and NWOBHM are woven into their music. Many fans aren't quite sure what genre to put Skeletonwitch in and to me,that's part of their appeal. Ignoring the progressive tendencies of some classic thrash, they craft short,tightly arranged songs that feel more raw and punk inspired than some metal fans might be used to.They manage to pack in lots of ideas,keeping songs interesting and attention grabbing throughout. The vocals are especially modern

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pat Martino - New album,new book,new signature guitar!

  Guitar fans,the long wait for new Pat Martino music will be over soon! Martino will release Undeniable this Tuesday,October 11th. It is in the classic organ quartet line up of guitar/sax/organ/drums and will be reviewed in this weeks Best Guitar Albums of the Week (naturally). Be sure to check back.

   October will also see the release of Martino's autobiography Here and Now! on 10/25/11. It is available for pre-order from Amazon:

   Also new for Pat is his signature model guitar. It is available only direct from  Benedetto. Check out this elegant guitar at the Benedetto site:

This great video from The Pace Report has a great interview with Pat and some live footage with his Benedetto guitar:

The Pace Report: "Here and Now: The Tales of a Great Jazz Guitarist" The Pat Martino Interview from Brian Pace on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 10/04/2011

   Well,I hope you enjoyed last week's  massive outpouring of great new music because this week...has less to offer. It's not entirely dried up like we've seen a few time this year. You'd think with music "industry" getting to be more and more like one big company they could perhaps regulate the good stuff a bit better. There are several more good things coming out in October so stay tuned...

Merle Haggard - Working in Tennessee
   Well,you wouldn't know it if you listen to "country" radio,but Merle Haggard has been quietly making some of the best music of his career for the past ten years or so. The 74 year old Haggard has even beaten lung cancer. If you haven't been paying attention to Merle for awhile (or at all) give 2000's If I Could Only Fly,
featuring the amazing guitar work of Red Volkaert or it's follow up, 2001's Roots Volume 1, with Volkaert AND Lefty Frizzell sideman Norman Stephens. These are both shining examples of what people mean when the talk about "real' country music. His latest,his second for the Vanguard label,features his band The Strangers and superb session guitarist Reggie Young provides some tasty guitar work. Production is handled by Haggard and his long time partner in musical crime, Lou Bradley.
  As usual,it's not just the music that's a bit too "real" for current radio. Haggard has never been afraid to tell it like he sees it and this time around is no different. The song "Too Much Boogie Woogie" lays into the formulaic pop country that pollutes today's airways.His remake of "Workin' Man Blues" features his son Ben along with Willie Nelson,a guy who also knows a thing or two about real country music."What I Hate" allows Haggard some well needed social commentary. If you prefer pop stars in cowboy hats,there's plenty of that around but I'm glad too see there are still some folks around who still hold to apparently outdated ideas like writing songs you actually mean and playing music you love.

This is normally where I say something like "Plenty more Cd reviews below"... I almost don't want you to read it as I have to say unkind things about one of my heroes but if you must know my thoughts on the new George Benson album,read on.