Warmoth swamp ash hybrid Strat body, hybrid meaning it’s routed like a Telecaster
I have a Squier Tele, a Classic Vibe. I’ve always like Tele’s but my Strats have spoiled me and I wish Tele’s came with a forearm cut. What to do? I thought about modifying the Squier body, and then I thought about replacing the body with a Warmoth Tele body with a forearm cut, since I was pleased with the Warmoth body for my old 1980 Strat. And then I thought what about the comfort of a Strat with a Tele twang? Yes, Warmoth make that. And then what if I ordered a neck? I’d be on my way to a whole new guitar. Things can sure get out of hand quickly, can’t they?

After four coats of applying tung oil by hand it looks like this:
After four coats of tung oilString ferrules installed, that’s a walnut stripe on the back of the neck.
String ferrules added, and neck oiled up. That’s a walnut stripe on the back of the neck.
Starting to get it wired.
Starting to wire it up
All the EMG solderless wiring done, then just snip off the battery clip wires and solder them both to the battery box.
Just have to snip off the battery clip and solder it to the battery box wires
And here it is all assembled and set up:
VIDEO: See and hear the Stratele with EMG T System pickups. More tech details, too, in case you’re curious.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kenny Aronoff and attending his Tama drum workshop. Kenny is one of my favourite drummers. Kenny had lots of great stories about his career, from seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan all the way through to where he’s at today. He offered up a 7-step plan for success in music, and in life. He had stories and anecdotes from his personal experience to illustrate each one. I won’t recount each one here, but I’ll share a quick rundown of what he had to say.

1. Discipline
He talked a lot about practising 8 hours a day. It’s a recurring theme for him.

2. Hard Work. Show up, be prepared, know your stuff.

3. Create a plan that you execute. Don’t take no for an answer, find a way around obstacles, keep pushing forward. Lots of stories to illustrate what he means.

4. Team Communication Skills. Get everyone working together, be a problem solver.

5. RPS. Repetition is Preparation for Success. (see #1 and #2)

6. Healthy Life is a Wealthy Life. Kenny’s recipe for health, in this order, is
- weight training
- cardio
- stretching
- diet (mostly what you DON’T eat, like sugar and white flour)
- supplements (take your vitamins)
- water (drink lots)
- sleep
- meditation

7. Stay focused and relevant. The music biz changes, you better too. Don’t waste time.

And he asked what is the #1 purpose of a drummer? Kenny’s answer: get the song on the radio, make it #1.

If you get a chance to catch a Kenny Aronoff workshop, don’t miss it, even if you’re not a drummer. Oh, and bring ear plugs because they don’t call him the hardest hitting man in show business for nothing!

I used to think that the wood used for the body of a solid body electric guitar didn’t really matter. Then I swapped out the extremely heavy ash body on my 1980 Strat for a new lightweight (3 lbs 14 oz) alder body, keeping everything else the same (same neck, electronics, bridge, etc.). Yes, it makes a big difference. Due to the quality of my video camera’s audio, I don’t think the difference is as apparent on the video as it is to me when I play the guitar. It used to sound much darker, without the typical Strat snap and sparkle. The alder body reveals a glassy quality to the pickups tone that I never heard before. So I am now definitely convinced that the wood matters!

Last week I was on the big island of Hawai’i for the first Hawai’i Songwriting Festival. I attended sessions with some incredible songwriters: Sue Ennis, Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Jason Blume , Brett James, Big Al Anderson, Glen Phillips , Hookman Marlin Bonds, and Adam Zelkind. Talk about inspiration…and information. Also had a great chat over lunch with Michael Laskow, the founder of Taxi. I enjoyed speed mentoring sessions with music supervisor Beth Amy Rosenblatt, and Marmoset’s Ryan Wines (see Ryan’s TED talk here).

Thanks for the Brotman family who were everywhere at once keeping things moving along. The location for the conference was stunning, at the Hapuna Prince. Wow!

Suhr Classic T bridge pickup
Here’s a video post to hear John Suhr talking about his pickups and amps: Factory Tour Part 5. The reason I’m posting this is that I just swapped out the pickups on my Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster for a set of Suhr Classic T Tele pickups.

I am very pleased with the results. I got to try the guitar out last Saturday night at a gig. It’s very hard to describe the difference in sound, but I”ll try anyway. The original Squier pickups are very in-your-face. They deliver a nice tubby fat sound on the neck pickup with a lot of bottom and a bright snappy sound at the bridge. The Suhr pickups are more subtle; in a way the sound is closer to my Robert Cray Strat, and that’s a good thing. The Cray Strat is a great gigging guitar because it’s comfortable, easy to play, and has enough sounds to fit any situation. The Tele was much tougher finding the right level in the mix on stage with it’s all-or-nothing take-no-prisoners pickups, and now with the Suhr’s it plays better with others.

I found the middle position great for rhythm parts, bright but not shrill, easy to control dynamics with picking. The front pickup is not as bold as the stock pickup, but again has a very useful frequency response and both Suhr pickups are nicely balanced from treble to bass strings. I had also considered Fender pickups, like the Vintage Noiseless or the Twisted Tele. Fender offer a huge selection of Tele pickups, but after watching the Suhr factory tour video and playing the Suhr guitars we have in stock at Wentworth Music I thought I’d give them a try and I’m glad I did.

Found this new feature on Fender’s website. Oh my…
Fender American Design Experience

Richard Thompson Lowden Guitar

Here’s an interesting interview with Richard Thompson and featuring some great picking.

These days I’m working at Wentworth Music. Come in and say hello, won’t you?

Good people doing good things

Band gigs have not been as frequent lately, mostly because we refuse to work for just about nothing I guess, and that’s where the economy seems to be driving prices for bands around these parts. Gail and I have been doing more gigs as a duo, so we fired up a new website. It’s super simple, but I like it. Dive in at GailandKarl.com

Gail and Karl, and Jay

Well this is really interesting. Fender keep finding ways to keep their product offerings fresh, and they’ve had a lot more hits than misses. The Pawnshop Series is an excellent case in point. Recently, they’ve introduced a new model that I must confess has me really excited. The Fender Pawn Shop ’70s Stratocaster Deluxe is a great idea. It’s a Strat hardtail body (I own two hardtail Strats, a 1980 model and a 2006 Robert Cray model), with a Tele front pickup (awesome!) and a sweet, bright humbucker. Check and check. It’s got a maple neck, bullet truss rod access, and 22 frets. It comes in 3 colours, and they’re all cool in their way.

I’ve played one briefly, and it’s nearly perfect. I really want one. If/when I get one, I will swap out the bridge saddles because I really like the Graph Tech saddles. I first tried them when I literally wore out the original saddles on my 1980 Strat, and I loved them. I put a set on the Robert Cray and those were a big improvement for me. The only other thing on this Pawn Shop model might be the Jazz bass knobs - I’m just not sure about them. They don’t look that cool to me. What do you think?

Fender Pawn Shop 70s Stratocaster Deluxe

Meanwhile, over at Gibson, they’ve introduced a really affordable US-made Les Paul Junior (or LPJ). Tempting, but if I go by my gut, the 70s Pawn Shop Strat Deluxe is where my money would go.

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