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1992 California Series Fender Avalon (folk) Acoustic

History: I returned my first guitar the day after I bought it (POS) and bought the acoustic I still play today, a Fender Avalon (folk) acoustic from their California Series (1985-1992).  I was very lucky because the odds of finding a solid spruce top in my price range were next to none and at the time I didn't even know what to look for.   The Avalon has a small, parlor size, body with a solid Spruce top, Nato back and Nato sides.  It's most distinguishing feature however is the Fender Stratocaster headstock.   Not something I have ever been happy with aesthetically, but interesting none-the-less and I have never seen another one like it.  The size of the guitar made it great to learn on and perfect for playing acoustic blues.  So while it wouldn't make a dent in a bluegrass jam session, it is a nice guitar for the back porch.  One day when I have my Martin, Taylor, or Collings the Fender will still have its place.  I modified it by replacing the strap button with a pickup jack to use with a Shadow sound-hole pickup.  I never amplify it though and leave the pickup out to allow as much air to move as possible. 

Specs: Solid Spruce top, Nato back and sides, Ebony fingerboard, parlor size body.  I keep it 1/2 step down and strung with Elixer Original Polyweb coated medium 13s.  Probably a little too heavy a string for the guitar, but I really think it sounds better when you have to put some oomph behind a string bend.  I use heavy Martin picks.

1995 Fender Stratocaster Plus

History: My first electric was a Charvel-Jackson, but I was never into the shred thing and quickly decided that I was a Strat guy (you know... Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Clapton, David Gilmour, Buddy Guy.).  I came up with a list of things that my dream Strat had to have and kept my eyes out for it for over a year.  When I finally found the one that had it all, I bought it on the spot.  Of course I didn't have any money, but I once heard that you should never walk away from a piece of art that you you really, really like.  I think the same goes for guitars.  This should be the Strat that gets me through to my old age.  The only modification I will probably make one day will be to install a hotter bridge pickup.

Specs: My Standard Plus has a sunburst finish, Fender Lace Sensor pickups, Fender Schaller locking tuners, and LSR Roller Nut.  I keep the action in Stevie Ray's exact setup, 1/2 step down, and strung with Elixer Medium Nanoweb coated 11s.  I believe you should have some serious string and a serious pick when you want to put your heart into it.


Oscar Schmidt OM-10

History: I had really wanted a mandolin, so when Amy's friend Chris Burcher from Poverty Creek decided to upgrade, she bought his old A style Oscar Schmidt for me.  I have no idea what year it is.  Outside of rhythm, I can only play Blackberry Blossom and a few other fiddle tunes on it, but it is a lot of fun to have around.

Specs: The Oscar Schmidt OM-10 is an A style mandolin with a tobacco sunburst finish, solid spruce top, and mahogany back and sides.

1994 Crate Vintage Club 50watt 2X12 All Tube Combo (VC5212)

History: Crate introduced the Vintage Club series in 1994.  The vintage creme color tolex covering immediately turned my head, but the tone sold me.  The clean channel is as good as it gets.  Jay Ferrar from Son Volt, Don Herron from BR549, and Mark Knophler use it onstage. The distorted tone is buttery, warm and wonderful, a great blues tone.  It lives and dies by the tubes though.  If you have a good set of tubes in, it is heaven, but let those tubes die off a bit and you have to work a little harder to dial in the distorted tone.  I have always used Sovtek's though, and from what I understand, a switch to GrooveTubes will make a huge difference.  And one other thing, it is LOUD, very LOUD!

Specs: 2 Crate Vintage 12" speakers, 50 Class AB tube Watts,  Power Amp uses 4 EL84's Preamp uses 4 12AX7.  And the bad boy weighs in at a whopping 69lbs.

Peavey Rage 158 Solid State Practice Amp

Not much to say about the Peavey, everybody needs something small to plug the headphones into.  I keep it next to the bed so that I can plug the Strat in late at night when I can't go to sleep.