This column is Manny Dylan’s write up. His expertise on golden oldies and alternative music mesh flawlessly with revivalist culture in the musician’s world. This is your one-stop hub for all things vintage in the music community.
Continuing from last months post, I found quite a few parts that simply worked out to be perfect fits for this guitar, Sound wise the guitar has more of a strat sound because of the pickups I had available. The aged finish on the neck is comfortable and easy to play on, not sticky, and has a certain mojo that a thinner neck finish can facilitate.
The neck I ordered was intended to be a copy of my Ronaldo Custom Tele’s original neck (was an ’83 fender tele neck). The 80’s to 90’s C neck profile with a more modern radius (10″ fingerboard radius), Rosewood fretboard, and Kulson tuners.
The included bone nut was something i needed to take to my guitar tech, but otherwise everything fell perfectly into place. I really enjoy how worn in the instrument feels, as well as how I can feel the woods vibrate because of the thinner & lack of paint. Theres a bold character to this guitar that a stock telecaster off the wall simply would not be able to contain.
Rewind to Spring of 2016, at my favorite guitar shop I am shown a MJT T style body. It was previously lake placid blue, but the way that nitrocellulose works is that it checks and ages over time so blue turns green over time, and this body was a wonderful shade of green, granting this guitar the name “Clover”. This was a first and pivotal step in my journey in my happy accidents guitar, starting with the matching of a rosewood board with a tortoise pick guard and my spare pickups going into this creature. The spare pickups in question are the neck pickup from my ’85 S type guitar, and the bridge pickup from my black telecaster before I swapped the stock single coil pickup for a Seymour Duncan Lil ’59 which I also highly recommend. This pickup blend is very special for me, the neck sound is a bit like an on board low pass filter, and the bridge sounds like a Tele bridge, bright but punchy, together they blend into a beefy but bright sound that’s something I’ve rarely found in other instruments, with a boost in signal as well!! =]
There is a charm and comfort to a worn in paint job on a guitar and my enjoyment of the character in the MJT body brought me to the point of ordering a neck from them, stay tuned ;).
The fender bass is a classic instrument, since its debut in the early 50’s it has been used in nearly every style of bass playing, and every genre of music. Vintage fender basses now cost upwards of $5000 , on the low end of the spectrum, sometimes less, but classic era basses cost the remortgaging of a home.
I myself would love to have capacities to afford such luxuries, but in the absence of such funds I found a great way to upgrade my Mexican made p bass, the Wilkinson 4 saddle bass bridge!
My p bass is an early Mexican made one from 1992, the neck is a more j bass profile, and it has shaller tuners which are solid, and these had a thin layer of finish on the neck which feels very nice. The bridge has always been ok and reliable on it, but it seemed to be a chrome, or nickel plated brass. The Wilkinson bridge has large brass saddles and upon installation and first playing it feels and sounds livelier and louder. These are marketed as a classic style bridge and it is very accurate. I found a massive difference in the resonance of the bass acoustically, and some extra clarity in the notes.
The old bridge had an ok sound, and the bass sounded good before swapping the bridges out, but I much prefer the feel of the bass with the new bridge. You can find the bridge I ordered here; http://www.wdmusic.com/wilkinson_bass_bridges.html
A P 90 pick up is an electro magnetic pickup that was designed for installation in Gibson’s 1948 ES-300*. They are characterized by several traits, having a single coil cut combined with traditional humbucker warmth, hum in both the neck and bridge positions(hum cancelling in the middle), and having the kind of output to really push a tube amp into a proper overdriven (not distorted) tone.
My introduction to P 90’s happened when I went to the Berklee summer guitar program a while back, my roommate had a 1956 Gibson Gold top Reissue that I had the pleasure of trying out for a short while, while not a fan of Gibson scale length this guitar was pretty well set up and played beautifully. Hearing how my friends pickups responded when plugged in, and the warmth and presence that this guitars electronics had simply blew me away!
Fast forward to 2012 (ish), around a week or so after I had acquired one of my favourite T style guitars, and in the same shop where I acquired that T style guitar I see a white Fender TC-90, an oddity among their usual sort of guitars. It was wired with a set of Seymour Duncan P 90’s and I was immediately hooked! I had to sadly let this one go, but I found another TC-90 in vintage white years later. When I got around to using it for my live shows, as well as for recording, I found that the pickups had a special way of pushing an amplifier into a overdriven gain stage, and getting some very delicious tones out of my rig.
* By 1940, Gibson introduced the first in a series of new and improved electric guitar pickups, culminating in 1946 with the P-90, a powerful single-coil design with two Alnico III magnets (aluminum, nickel and cobalt) and individually adjustable polepieces. In 1948 Gibson put two pickups on the ES-300 model, giving guitarists a broad new palette of tones to choose from. http://www.gibson.com/en-uk/Divisions/Gibson%20Gear/Pickups/History/
In honor of the passing of the great late B.B. King I thought it fitting to start my contribution to this wonderful page with a reflection on a visceral topic; why the blues feel so good! My exposure to blues music occurred at a pivotal time of my life, the angst ridden era of adolescence. There may be no better soundtrack to the flux of hormones one experiences at this phase of their lives. The blues being historically born from suffering, and being the result of having a musical outlet for such suffering makes for great synergy with the experiences of the average teen.
There is a magic in the blues; turning deep-rooted sadness into a beautiful piece of music and poetry. This is why when I listen to the blues there is a sense of absolute joy in the experience, a visceral release of whatever sadness would be affecting me at that point in my life. Entering the realm of performing this music, adds another layer to the experience, not only could I partake in the experience of the writer of whichever standard I would be playing, but the improvisational nature of this music made it possible for me to actually be creative within that context. It became very much like finding my inner voice, a way to communicate without the need for words, even leading me to my own voice as a singer. Furthermore, the experience of jamming with a group of strangers (and well I might add) with whom you share a love for blues/jazz/rock, but all share different experiences from life, and how long they have experienced life; for that matter.
Blues music at its core is the pinnacle of catharsis, taking every sadness one has experienced and translating it into music and lyrics that embody ones pain and sorrow, yet manifest itself into an expression that is akin to joy and freedom, a release from ones burdens; even if it it’s for only a bittersweet moment.