My high string guitar started it’s life in the 1930s, as best anyone can figure, as a Vega parlor sized classical guitar. I was working at Atlanta Discount Music, and next door was a fine repair shop, that I just can’t recall the name of and 2 really good luthiers.
This guy was hanging on the wall when I started working there and was awaiting $300 due in repairs from its owner, whom they tried to contact. It was strung with the lightest gauge normal acoustic strings that we’re made, I think 10-46 or something. The guitar‘s top was braced for light tension, as are most gut string guitars. I’d drop in and play it once a week, and let the guys there know, if they needed to get that $300 for it and just give up on the “owner”, I’d pay it no problem. I guess it was about a year into this they asked if the offer was good. “Oh yes”.
So I kept it “as is”. You can hear it in that string configuration on “Another Chance” on Salvation and Sin. Right after we cut the song I placed the guitar in a very dark corner in the studio control room, NOT IN IT’S CASE. Rick Richards, who is not a clumsy guy like me, walked through said dark corner in his steel-toed jackboots (which did look cool as shit) and accidentally stoved in the side while we were listening to a playback. He dutifully picked it up, brought it over, explained what happened, and thought I’d throw a hissy fit, which by some miracle, I didn’t. “We’ll just get it repaired and go halves on it, I put it in harm’s way”. Band members acting like adults was refreshing.
I was had just moved to Nashville and knew Glaser Instruments was the “best place to go”. Took it to them and they patched it up just fine.
After I acquired my J-50, the guitar went into neglect and stayed that way for a decade or so.
Sometime around 2000, I thought, well, I could really use a high string (which, if you don’t know is the “up octave” only stings from a 12 string set, normal high B&E strings, octave up on the lower 4 strings). Put the set on, tuned it up, played a few chords and I knew I found its purpose.
Way more mellow and woody than the normal “zingy” high string sound from the guitar’s age, it sits in a track. I can’t remember who first called it “the sound of children’s dreams”, it may have been Warner. but Children’s Dreams is what Secret Chef Joe calls it, and it’s stuck.
Master Chef's Hard-wired tele
BlueTele came to me at a really cool music store in the Satellites years.
They claimed it was a 57 telecaster someone had refinished and shaved the neck down, so they were selling it cheap, around 6-700 bucks. I just went for it, even though it felt “funny”.
After taking it apart I saw the neck was indeed dated from back then, but the shaved down neck size bugged my left hand. The body was no more from back then than the man in the moon. Oh well, it looked kinda cool.
I’m a normal tele guy, which means you have a “kit” Telecaster or 2 laying around, because they are dune buggies and you can try ALL your knucklehead ideas out on guitars with no real past, therefore no real regrets.
The BlueTele body got yet another kit neck. I was having all kinds of ground problems and blamed the pots and switch. A friend had the same problems and did a hard wire from pickup to jack. So I yanked the whole plate out and soldered the wiring straight through. No interruption from pickup to amp. Still has a much smaller ground problem, but touch the strings and it’s gone.
It is the cleanest, “plinkiest” sounding Tele I have.
Only on one song on the record, but it’s the feature guitar on “My Babe’s on Weed”. Sometimes less really is more.
'55 Les Paul Jr.
I found this guy at Atlanta Discount Music around '88 sometime.
I knew the guy, Jim, that worked there and it was his guitar hangin' on the wall.
Asked if it had anything weird besides the spray paint red refinish. “Nope, just don’t play it anymore.”
Asked him about the refin, “Came to me that way”.
You can easily spot it was the normal sunburst finish underneath the red. I thought I might get it restored someday. Nah, I like it red.
Can’t see the serial number, but it has a tell. When they first started making juniors, Gibson really was making a bottom of the line, fully functional electric guitar. A student model.
So as a student model, they didn’t bother putting any pitch from neck to body on them from their introduction in 54 through the beginning of 56. Straight line. So, near enough it’s a 55. Hard to get a bridge on it, or change strings because of the lack of angle.
Classic wonderful Louisville Slugger neck (saw a baseball bat in half vertically, fret it, and glue it into the body) from back then. Hard to find that much mahogany in a neck anymore.
And it sounds like it wants to get dirty when it plays, but most old Juniors do.
So many songs on the Chefs record. Yeah, that’s it on the right side on Chase Scene. I think it didn’t make an appearance on 2 songs.
Red does a whole bunch of the talkin' guitar stuff. Rhythm work requires me to ease up on my right hand’s natural flailing technique. I’ll knock a note sharp if I’m chording and flailing and that usually sounds like ass, no matter what I’m playin'. But that tone is worth me being a little careful.
If I get my mind right and put it through the brownface Deluxe, I can get close to Woody in the Faces tone.
'61 or '62 Fender Deluxe
Almost all the talking guitars (we started calling them “talking guitars” years ago when I’d lay what I heard as a melody without words down for Joe Blanton (Secret Chef) to hear my melody and cadence) went through this l’il bad boy. A few rhythms went here as well, but they needed the “extra sauce” that is part of Brownie’s sound.
It was a rescue and rebuild, by Dave Sutherland, from a fire years ago.
We figured it’s a 61 or 62. I could care less. The thing wants to rock.
The response to touch is amazing in this small an amp.
I run it at around 3-4 on the normal channel, tone around 6, then use the Deluxe feature of being wired already cross channeled and open up the bright channel (with tone on zero) to add desired beef. Sometimes it stays on 1, sometimes 7. Too much makes it sound floppy in the lows. Guitar, right-hand intensity, job to be done, all figure into where both channels volume ends up.
The nice natural breakup makes it ideal for recording the featured instrument.
Yes, Dave covered it in brown suede, hence Brownie.