I’ve been writing a couple of articles in parallel and one was kind of negative, and a bit of a rant, and I didn’t want to start the new year out on a negative note. And what better way to start the new year out but to talk about gear! And in this case, gear that I would love to get…
I spent the last couple of years trimming back on my gear collection. I went from 20 guitars and am now down to 6, though I only play 3. I still have 6 amps, but that’s the bare minimum for me as they provide different sonic presentations that I like, though admittedly, that’s only meaningful in my home studio. I just gig with 2 amps.
It’s still a lot of gear, at least for me, and probably not much relative to many gear freaks out there, and in general, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got. BUT, there’s still some gear out there that I want. So here’s my current wish list:
Gretsch Brian Setzer Nashville Hollowbody Electric ~ Every time I play this guitar in a shop, I just get transported to another dimension. I sold my previous Gretsch. It was a good guitar, but my affinity for it ran its course. But if I ever get this one, it’ll be a keeper along with my Les Paul and custom Slash L “Katie May.”
Preston Thompson OM Acoustic (Cutaway) ~ This one would be a real stretch for me as the starting price for one of these is $15,000, and it would have to be a pure custom guitar as the OM’s don’t normally come in a cutaway, but I asked Mr. Thompson if that could be done and he said he could. In any case, I was up in Sisters, OR this past summer and happened to stumble into his guitar shop/factory while walking around the town. I played an OM made of “shipwreck” Brazilian rosewood, which was literally recovered from a shipwreck in 1937 off the coast of Brazil. It had an Adirondack Spruce top. I’ve never heard an acoustic guitar sound like that – ever. The challenge with that guitar will be finding a preamp/pickup system that will do it justice. I like the LR Baggs and Fishman pickups. Maybe Thompson has a recommendation.
Fender ’65 Twin Reverb ~ As I’ve gotten into playing reggae, there’s a clean amp sound that I’ve been absolutely craving, and that is the Twin Reverb sound. No, I’m not trying to sound like anyone else but myself, but the traditional sound of a reggae guitar has come from a Fender Twin. Having played both real and modeled versions, there’s a certain vibe about the Twin sound. It’s hard to explain, but that vibe is something I’m after.
VHT Special 6 Ultra Head ~ I bought the original VHT Special Combo pretty much the week it came out. At the time, I knew nothing about the amp. I happened to be passing through Beaverton, OR and poked my head into a guitar shop where I saw that little amp. The owner said that he had just put it out on the shelf, and at $179 at the time, I immediately sprung for it!
Well… I sold that amp a couple of years ago, then recently saw that VHT had come up with a variable-power Ultra version. I wasn’t interested in a combo because I like to mix and match heads and cabinets, and this amp fit what I’ve been looking for lately to add to my classic rock band rig.
Roland JC 40 ~ I almost forgot about this (and am actually adding this as a late addition after I posted this article). In any case, a few months ago, I was looking to get an old JC 120, then saw that Roland had come up with the JC 40 that apparently had all the vibe of the original 120, but was smaller in stature.
I have to say that the first clean tone that I fell in love with is that JC 120 clean tone. I used to use a JC 120 back in the ’80’s and loved that amp. But it was such a beast to lug around that I stopped using it.
And make no mistake, though this amp is solid state, its cleans are simply magnificent. This is an amp totally worth considering if what you want is an amp that is all about clean headroom.
DigiTech Trio+ ~ I recently went to the DigiTech website to look for a new version of the Hardwire RV-7 Reverb, as my RV-7 is starting to really act up (more on that below), and on the home page, I saw the Trio+; a pedal I hadn’t heard of up to that point. I admit, I haven’t had my ear to the ground these last couple of years with respect to gear, so it came as a real pleasant surprise to see a new pedal. At first, I thought the pedal was simply one of those multi-function pedals that gave you the ability to have something like chorus, reverb and delay all in one.
But then I saw a demo video on the pedal’s product page featuring Andy from ProGuitarShop.com. Over the years, I’ve found that Andy doesn’t do demos on just anything. He does demos on the either the best or most interesting stuff out there, and for him to have done a demo on this pedal immediately told me that it was a special pedal. So I watched the video and was immediately like #mindblown!
I thought the BeatBuddy was cool – a programmable drum machine in a pedal. But this was something entirely different and so much more: An instant band creator! Unlike other rhythm machines that essentially dictate the beat, this box LISTENS TO WHAT YOU PLAY, then comes up with a beat and bass line! On top of that, it includes a looper, and you can program a sequence of up to 5 song parts and store them!
To say I’m excited about this pedal is kind of an understatement. I could definitely see myself using it for live performance, but more importantly, this will be a great tool for practice and songwriting; especially songwriting. One of the biggest challenges I have with songwriting, and something that makes me lose my inspiration, is finding a beat to lay down an idea. I get frustrated because all I want to find is something close to what I want, then I have to find the right tempo. A lot of times I get so frustrated with that process that I just give up laying down the track altogether.
But with something like the Trio+, I can come up with a riff, loop it, layer on more riffs, add parts, then save the whole damn song! It may not be what I eventually record, but it’ll allow me to capture my idea. Plus, the fact that I can save more than the default 12 songs to an SD card makes this pedal an incredibly invaluable tool! I’m getting it, and soon!
DigiTech Polara Reverb ~ As I mentioned above, my RV-7 is finally seeing its last days. After several years and literally a couple of thousand gigs, it’s finally going on the fritz. Thank goodness it’s a true bypass pedal because it just stopped working last weekend. I can’t complain. That pedal has been absolutely good to me.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that it was starting to act up, so I did a search on the RV-7 and sadly discovered that it was out of production. But in my search results, I saw a link to the DigiTech Polara, so I followed the link. After reading through the literature, it was clear that the Polara is the new version of the RV-7, replete with Lexicon reverb models. To me, Lexicon models are the best. I used them for years at my church gig as an insert module on our board, and that’s what originally sold me on the RV-7. The Polara sports the same reverb models – though I suppose they’re probably updated from my 10-year-old ones – and that pleases me.
On top of that, what finally sold me was yet another demo from Andy at ProGuitarShops.com. The “Halo” reverb mode of the pedal that Andy started with just struck me to the core! This is a new reverb model, and it provides tons of ambiance but also a top-end shimmer that will go absolutely well with my acoustic guitar. Can’t wait to get it!
Okay… that’s this year’s lineup. Realistically, I’ll probably only get the pedals, and maybe the VHT head. But I can dream…