Who’s blog is this? I mean…. really?

29 03 2017

For a while now, a few of us have taken turns writing posts and trying to share what we’ve learned with our other brothers and sisters.

Dark DaysLately, it’s turned into a remembrance page where we spend a lot of time feeling older than our old Strats and Teles while our friends go up into the clouds to rock heaven. Lately, I feel like the Grim Reaper…

So, if for no other reason than to defy death… I’m taking over the reins again.  I get a lot of mail about “y identity” as we set this up to be anonymous in the beginning, to protect our families and our privacy. I thought it’d be fun to stamp the blog with my picture to get the fires started.  But, the hell with it. It’ll put a face to the rantings… and more than a few cool guitars… and you’ll recognize me when you see me under the gels…


You might want to check in from time to time to see what we’re working on as we write new material.  One of the best places to start might be at my “Soundcloud” account.


Help! My computer has gone to POT!

8 05 2014

Okay, recently we’ve been talking a lot about those guys over at The Secret Strat Project.  These guys build incredible  guitars and amps… and then they give them away to Soldiers.

They build stuff like this:

NIghtcrawler gets a GF

And this:

Swampcaster - web

And this;

Green Dragon - web


We were talking with them the other day and we mentioned that we wanted to start talking more about the actual art of building guitars on the blog.  So, we asked them, as a group, what the most common question was.

Almost unanimously, they started going on a rant  about pots. Potentiometers. Those things your knobs are attached to on your pickguard.  Apparently, the most common question about guitars isn’t about “Fender or Gibson?”, or the best pickups or which strings to buy…

… it’s  in regards to what pot you should use in your wiring  harness.

So, those guys are  gonna inspire another “luthier” post. And guess what it’s gonna be about?

Guitar potsQ. What’s the best tone pots to use with my Gibson Les Paul? What tone pots do YOU use in yours?

A. I use  500K tone pots almost exclusively in my Les Paul projects.

I know a lot of people swear by 300k pots, or even the 100k pots that some early Gibson Les Pauls came with. But I just don’t get it. A tone pot can be turned  DOWN to lower it’s value, but it cannot be turned UP past it’s maximum. A 500k pot can be turned down to 250k. You can’t turn UP a 250k pot to 500k.

Do your pickups sound “muddy”?

If so, start by changing your pots out. You’re probably going to find that you have faulty 500k pots, 250k pots or even (gasp!) 100k pots in your  harness.

First, what IS a potentiometer? A potentiometer (a POT) is basically just a variable resistor. It’s a rheostat. There’s no real magic in that little quarter sized case.

You start your wiring harness build by using a voltmeter to determine both the value and the tolerances of your pots. You want to establish the value and the tolerance s of your pots. You want to find pots that are within 5-10% of each other throughout your harness.

Some of those 500k pots will measure 480k or so. Don’t worry about it. You can’t HEAR the difference between 500k and 480k.What you’re looking for are pots that are within the same value range to create a uniform wiring harness. Choose your pots so that they’re all within the same “range” – tolerance. We shoot for 5% here in the shop.

Once you’ve established a uniform value, your main concern is in the “taper” of the pot. The taper defines how much control you have of your tone. You want pots that have smooth distributions from 1-10. Some pots will have noticeable taper between certain numbers, like 1-3 or 8-10. You’re not going to like these pots because your sweep is going to get screwed up – i.e. dead until you hit that  sweet spot on the pot.

This is “No Bueno.” You want a nice, smooth, even sweep from 1-10.

A 500k tone pot will allow more treble than a 300k pot and a 300k pot will allow more than a 100k pot does, Makes sense, right?

If you don’t like the 500k treble (too much, for instance) then simply turn it down between 7 or 8 and you’ll basically have a 300k pot. Turn your pot down between 5-7 and  you’re operating in the range of a 250k pot. P90’s love this range, in fact.

I just don’t get why people cripple their guitar pickups by cutting tone out with “little pots”. It doesn’t make any sense. Its like buying a microwave oven that will only operate for 2 minutes so you can make popcorn without burning it.

What if you decide you need to warm a frozen burrito for five minutes? If that oven won’t stay on long enough (or hot enough), you’re screwed.

Do ya even LIKE burritos? Well, do ya,  punk? 🙂

We love burritos. Especially when they look like this:

Best Burrito Ever

Personally, when I’m not eating burritos,  I like CTS pots. Like a “black bean and shredded elk special”, they’re well-built, consistent and hard working. The quality control is top notch. They’re a few bucks a piece and you can’t beat them.


Does your Telecaster measure up?

21 04 2014

We know these guys in Montana who build guitars for “US Soldiers far afield”. They call themselves “The Secret Strat Project”. Since 2009, they’ve been eating Macaroni and Cheese and building guitars for the boys… and (gasp!) girls… out there flapping from the handlebars in harm’s way.

We KNOW these guys.

They were studio cats when making music was far more important than making money. These guys made their bones when Classic Rock was King.  They played for the sport of it.  They placed for the scars. They never really learned how to “understand” money.

They’re still proving it to this day, pouring their hearts and souls into Alder and Ash, Tolex and capacitors, so that they can give the products of all that labor away for free.

Capt America3-webThey don’t play “pointy necked guitars” and they don’t wear make-up or grow their hair long.

They aren’t “Boulevard Pretty Boys” or “Starbucks Babies”. They’re the guys that you walk quickly past in dimly lit parking lots. They moved to “places farflung” about the  time that “Hair Bands” and “front men covered in wild make-up” started moving into the limelight.  They figured that it was just safer for all those young guys. No “Young Turk” wants to have to admit to getting his butt kicked by an “Old Lion”…

They’re kinda scary if the truth be told. These are “serious guys”. When they “Maple Up”, They can make you cry. For all the bars, scars and wars, they just connect to that Alder and Ash like “Bees to Honey”. What happens when they put the headphones on is almost magic.

But don’t let that fool you… these are also the kind of guys that came back from hard places and then venture out into the night with a knife to return the next day with a deer or an elk thrown over the hood of their truck.

Speaking of knives, they’re the kind of guys that will look you in the eye, laugh in your face and then say stuff like;

“That ain’t a knife… THIS is a knife. And it’s girlfriend is a ’52 Tele…”

Case in point;

NIghtcrawler gets a GFApparently, if you don’t fit the axe they’re building, they just use one to carve you down, until you do. 🙂

They mock up guitars for construction using inspirations from a lot of different places. Apparently one of them is from watching too many “slasher” movies. 🙂

Oh yeah, they’re also Vets covered in scars and bad dreams – trying to insure that kids out there on the rim of the world don’t have bad dreams. You see, they give these kids “Maple Mistresses” to help them get through the long nights, waiting until dawn.

Black BettyIf you have a guitar, an amp, pedals, or other gear burning a hole in your closet and you ‘d like to see it get to a good home, please contact “The Secret Strat Project” Guys by leaving your information here. We’ll see to it that the message gets there ASAP. These guys are doing something great and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Swampcaster 02


A guy walks into my guitar lab, looks at a few tweed cases and then…

18 04 2014

… he goes off on this big jag about how rosewood is superior to maple and  “real players have dark necks” and it’s because of “foolish wood crimes” that Gibson lost all their fretboards… waaaaaaaaaaaaah!

I thought about stabbing him with a Charvel or an Ibanez neck (I mean, it’s the only thing that ‘pointy headed necks’ are good for if you ask me), but…

Oh just stop it! I’ve made my opinions about “pointy headed guitars and the people who play them” quite public. Check THIS out.

And yeah, yeah… I know. Now I’m gonna get hatemail from Joe (Satriani) and Steve (Vai) for that crack …  🙂

I just don’t like rosewood necks and I don’t like them for the same reason that a lot of great guitarists (like Buddy Guy or Eric Clapton) don’t like ’em.

buddy-guy… who I guess aren’t “real guitarists” because they favor Maple in a major way.

Eric_ClaptonRosewood FEELS funny, resistant, rugged, like it’s got more friction. It makes bending harder. It feels “different”.

Maple may sound a bit brighter, but you know what? I’ll work with it.

And for the record…

Gibson Fretboards

Gibson got caught in a political crossfire because they made some people in a certain political administration mad. It had nothing to do with  exotic wood, guitars or even music. Anyone who says otherwise is full of crap.;)


It’s a Mysterious axe, probably enshrined in a deep spring fed cave!

2 01 2014

I’ve heard rumors lately of an old Les Paul that was literally touched (on a regular basis) by several of Rock’s Guitar “Godhood”.

In fact, some say that this axe passed through the hands of the “Holy Trinity” of guitar players.

1952 Gibson Les Paul with SERIOUS MojoIn 2009 this axe hit the auction block. A little bird told me that it’s for sale again…

It doesn’t look like much, does it? Old Les Paul with soapbars. They’re everywhere, right?

Not like this one. This axe has Mojo on it’s Mojo.  The 1952 Gibson Les Paul was once owned and made famous by cult UK blues legend Duster Bennett, the “One Man Blues Band”.

While that’s cool and all, it’s REAL lineage will amaze even the most novice of players. Duster got this guitar from Peter Green. You remember HIM, right? He’s that “Fleetwood Mac” cat.

Peter Green got this axe from some English cat… Eric Clapton I think his name was. You remember that guy right… from “The Cream” (as Buddy Guy would  say…)?

Eric got it from  – BB King.

And BB got it from, guess who?  Muddy Waters…

… who got it right outta Gibson’s treasure vault.

This axe is just dripping with Mojo. If fact, it’s said that it has mystical powers that allow even the most novice player to abilities that would make most life-time Blues players cry in anguish.

When Les Paul’s own ’52 Goldtop hit the auction block in 2012, it sold for $62,500.00 USD

Can you imagine what a Goldtop that passed down through these hands could say? The stories that it could tell?

We’re keeping an eye on this one…


Cap-ital gains…

10 12 2012

Recently, we purchased a Lefty Carparelli S3 LP Clone “Celebrity Axe” in a charity auction.

The guys here have been adopted and then conscripted by a group of reprobates… um… er… Vets that buy and then rehab guitars and amplifiers to donate to American Soldiers serving in the field. They called it the “Secret Strat Project“.

It’s a “paycheck by paycheck” gig…

We bought this axe because (a) we’d had this Korean US Marine on our list for a while and (b) because  it was signed by a really popular South Korean Rock Band and we thought he’d get a kick out of it.


We spent more than we usually would, but all the proceeds from the auction were going to help families in Japan who are still trying to recover after the Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Reactor failure. So, it was all good. We don’t mind eating Mac and Cheese for a few more days to help pay for it. 

But that’s when things took a turn.

We learned that this Marine’s family lives on the East Coast and his little girl, who is a guitar prodigy (according to her “ex-Julliard schooled” guitar teacher, no less) lost her guitar and amp in the floods and heavy weather. We learned that his tear-filled desire was that somehow he was going to replace his daughter’s musical gear so she would stop crying.

Yes, Virginia. Big, Bad Fire-breathing Marines, cry. In fact, where our children are concerned, we’ve all shed rivers of tears.

Wanna make something of it?

I didn’t think so.

So, this time, we’re doing something a little bit different.

We’re going to replace HER gear, by Christmas. Her family lost everything.  She needs “normal”. She needs a neck to hang off of and pour her love into. She needs to channel that love and start healing her heartbreak. Daddy will find out about it the same time she does, probably (hopefully) over a family SKYPE call, on Christmas morning.

At least that’s our hope. All she’ll know is that Santa didn’t forget about her. The card will read simply;

“Merry Christmas! Daddy loves you.”

We already knew that Carparelli’s are REALLY NICE in the furniture department, but we’d heard that because they were built for a specific  price point (they are a GREAT value), they could use a little tweaking to make them even better.

Are they playable, out of the box?

Absolutely. Nice pups, locking tuners, nice bridge and tailpiece, and decent controls. If you’re looking for an “above entry level – Les Paul” type axe, you owe it to yourself to check these babies out…

I will say this;

The money you save buying a nice Carparelli over buying  an entry level Gibson Les Paul will pay for a really nice amp. 🙂

These are really nice guitars for the money, folks. In fact, we’re pretty impressed. This Carparelli S3 is one beautiful axe.

Don’t get me wrong, this axe won’t leave you wanting- box stock.

In fact, we think that it’d  be the perfect “learning axe” (like…  your “second guitar”), one that you could easily and affordably upgrade as your skills increased.

This axe really does have that WOW factor. It’s finish level is much better than MANY axes we see daily and extremely rare at this price point.

The guys in Canada (where these axes hail from) are really paying attention to detail. With it’s nice body and neck quality to build off of,  I guarantee that you’ll have this axe a LONG time… and you’ll look and sound good playing it.



But, with just a little massaging, a Carparelli makes a really NICE “Les Paulish” player, rivaling most “real” Les Pauls you find in the marketplace, for FAR less money.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that we tell you to “ignore the brand  names” and look at “fit and finish”. 

Based on that, this axe gets pushed up high on that list of “must sees” when looking for a Les Paul type guitar.

So, the plan is to carefully gut the axe and get a nice pair of gold P-90s (or maybe even a set of ’57 Classics), along with a handful of high end gold plated components (CTS 500k Reverse pots, Switchcraft switch and jack, etc…) to finish out what is a really well built and quite striking guitar.

And while we started discussing the repairs and mods for this guitar (before we give it to Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve)…

All hell broke loose.

The topic switched to pots, the good switch and jack… and a new wiring harness.

That meant that we got to revisit “Cap Hell”…

Here’s where the argument commences;

The whole issue of capacitors is fraught with peril. Some people swear by Bumblebees (and give away their paychecks to obtain them). Some players  like Sprague Black Beauties.

Um… if you ask me… SoZo’s are cool and quite affordable.

And, they  ALL sound GOOD. But there are as many opinions about capacitors as there are grains of sand on the beach.

Blondes or… Brunettes?

Fender or… Gibson?

Dodge… or Ford?

Big ones or… small ones?

(Hey!  I was talking about guitar neck profiles. What were YOU thinking about? Get your mind out of the gutter, huh?) LOL!

If you ask me… this whole “MY cap is better than your Cap” thing is getting pretty ridiculous.

We took one look at this gorgeous axe and decided that we’re taking it back toward 1959 and Kalamazoo. We LOVE that “Classic Les Paul sound and vibe”. LOVE it.

Gibson_Historic_Bumble_Bee_Capacitors_PCAP-059_aAnyone familiar with most vintage Les Pauls knows that the harnesses commonly bear the .022 BumbleBee’s red, red, orange stripes. Do they sound good? Yes.

But, it’s an expensive proposition.

You too can have authentic ’59 Bumblebee Capacitors contributing to that  lovingly pursued tone of your beautiful axe…

… for the low, low price of $112 a pair.

Let me repeat that… for $112 a PAIR.

Is it really necessary?

THAT’S the question.

And thus, the first stone in the rockfight is thrown;

Any discussion about guitar  capacitors has to start with two components;

The TYPE of  capacitor that you are using, and…

The VALUE of the capacitor itself. (There’s actually a third component – call it a “subset” – it’s the TOLERANCES that the capacitors are spec’d at.)

In my view, it’s the  VALUE and Tolerance percentage of the cap that is of  primary importance. There are 3 different TYPES of caps commonly used in guitars;

1. Electrolytic caps: good
2. Mylar caps: better
3. Polypropylene caps: best

Once you’ve figured that out, you get to choose “values”. If the three types of caps are like “regular, unleaded and premium” fuel in your car, “Value” is HOW MUCH fuel you add.

Generally, most players want to balance guitar pickups  by removing a bit of the harshness/over brightness of the treble pickup, so it’s common to increase the value of the cap in that pup circuit to enhance the effect.

When you consult an electrical engineer, it gets confusing… They’ll tell you;

“When the 300k/500k tone controls on a Les Paul type guitar are “dimed” (set at full treble), the capacitor is effectively doing nothing; it’s value/make/type makes little or no difference, because it has that 300/500k potentiometer in the way.”

And when you start rolling the tone control back to remove treble, there is by definition a ‘loss of tone’.

So even if, even if, different makes/types of cap made a difference, then you’re trying to hear this under conditions where you are effectively making the guitar’s tone more restricted and ‘woolly’, and less responsive in the highs.

“They’ll tell you that it’s like boasting; “Now that I’ve restricted the treble response of my guitar… I can hear that this capacitor has great tone”.”

Then, they’ll tell you that guitar controls are too primitive to allow humans to actually hear the difference in caps based on the (a) bandwidth of the guitar and (b) that distinguishing between the TYPE of capacitors in this process isn’t possible.

It’s just too crude a process…

“They’ll tell you that we’re influenced by all those articles we read, written by electrical engineers building amp circuits or Hi-Fi Equipment, products with a “higher” threshold of operation that allows differentiation of tones, audibly.”

They’ll state categorically that in a guitar’s passive tone control circuits, a lot of the “concern” about this brand or that brand… is just nonsense unless you have the hearing of a canine.

The illustration will be that unscrupulous dealers spend pennies building caps and then label and market them by selling guitarists fairy stories about quality and tone voodoo…  and then they make millions of dollars doing it.

Okay, is there any truth to this?

Let’s look at the other side of the horizon. Let’s call this land; “Hand’s On-ville”.

For years I spewed the electronic engineer’s commonly held point of view that the type of caps in a guitar make little  difference. It’s what  I was taught as we looked at schematics and electrical theory.

As a player… well, I thought that my ears were just playing tricks on me.

But then… it happened. Years ago, while working on my guitars and many other player’s axes as well, I ended up getting sucked into the lab in our basement as an assistant to my electrical engineer girlfriend, a Russian import who was a pretty well-known amplifier designer/builder/repair tech in the Las Vegas area.

This girl, Anna,  was more than just well put together “Exotic Brains and great looks”… she was the Russian equivalent of a NASA electrical engineer. She looked like a Caesar’s Palace Showgirl and she soldered like a rocket scientist. And, she was a stickler for detail, so she “forced me to learn” as I helped her. Ever try to learn electrical theory in Russian, one syllable at a time? My head still hurts. As I applied myself to these new tasks (because it was better than arguing and then sleeping on the couch) I “learned” that many of our clients could actually hear the difference in the type of capacitors used in both passive and active guitar circuits.

My interest piqued, we started using our clients as guinea pigs, performing blind tests on them (without their consent) and the results were amazing… and replicable.

People will tell you that humans can indeed hear the differences between capacitor types and even capacitor values.

We watched it closely (both audibly and by using a scope to look at waveforms). You can SEE the differences. If you can see them, it’s possible, under the right circumstances to hear them, right? “Possible” and “probable” are two different things, however.

Now, I’m not talking about “Golden Ear – freaky stuff” like “Eric Johnson and his alleged ability to hear the differences between the brands of batteries in his pedals” kinda hearing.

(In fact, that’s a myth  – he never actually said that. I personally asked him about it once. He denied it and said simply that he found a brand of batteries that he liked and then… he stuck with them.)

But I digress;

We watched guys and gals choose caps audibly. We didn’t switch “TYPES” as much as switched “VALUES”. We SAW the differences on the scope as they made their decisions. Were they always right? THEY thought that they were. In the end, that was what was important.

(I still think it was one of those 50/50 crapshoots, to be honest. Like when you go to the eye doctor and he’s checking your eyes in that lens box and he says; “This one… or THIS one… after a while, it’s hard to tell. )

I believe it is the variation in capacitor VALUE that accounts for any sound difference. The capacitor construction isn’t as discernible. Where it gets tricky is when you’re  comparing closely toleranced capacitors (that are spec’d to within a few percentage points of each other) and when you’re using cheaper, “wider spec” (up to 30% different) capacitors.

There’s not a ton of difference between .022uf and .024uf. There’s a HUGE difference between .012uf and .050uf.

The REASON that there are so many different types of capacitors is that the caps themselves behave differently. 

Things like operating temperature, frequency and the applied voltages will affect them. But we’re not talking about rocket engines or a space satellite, we’re talking about a guitar. Everything we do with them is on the low end of the spectrum; low audio frequencies, low AC voltages, and zero DC voltages.  The only difference for the capacitor is it’s dissipation measured in Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR). The original capacitors may have a higher ESR but since the cap is soldered in series with the 500K potentiometer, an extra ohm of ESR is negligible to the point of being meaningless.

In the end, it’s about YOUR ears.

Spend what you need to spend and then… solder away. It’s a really insignificant cost as far as mods goes, when you think about  the costs involved in guitar evolution.

If you change cap VALUES (buy closely spec’d/toleranced caps to insure that you’re getting what you paid for)  and TYPES and it makes a difference that you appreciate, it’s money well spent. But forget the “brand mojo” hype – If it’s done because you read it in a trade mag, or because your backline boys insist it’s a necessary mod, then, by all means… try it, but you’re probably just spending your girlfriend’s beer money for nothing.

The only reason we can justify buying those high priced caps around here is when we’re putting a vintage axe back together into it’s original configuration to maintain it’s historical significance. So, if you’re  doing to to attain or restore vintage authenticity, we’ll defend your choices to the end.

In the final analysis;

I really can’t say if your audience has ears that can hear the subtle changes you’ll make in your control cavity. But YOU will, and it’ll give you a little “boost” as you play.

A tone capacitor  in an electric guitar is simply a passive bleed-to-ground.

Remember that by design, it’s not even in the signal path. What you are hearing coming out of your amp is the signal that the capacitor rejected;

In other words, that “capacitor enhanced sound” you’re sometimes paying big bucks for isn’t colored by the capacitor AT ALL.

Combine this with the fact that the current flowing through a passive electric guitar is extremely weak – and I mean much, much  less than what any of these capacitors are rated for – and you get a circuit where the type of capacitor that you used is nearly irrelevant.

If the current were flowing THROUGH the capacitor and then into the amplifier – or if you somehow plugged a preamp in there before the tone circuit – then we’d have something to talk about.

But, IN the end, you’re probably the only one that is gonna know what capacitor you’ve plugged into the circuits cradled in that mahogany hole.

That means if you ain’t got clear covers on the back of your axe, nobody else is gonna see them. And, they probably aren’t going to HEAR them, either.


Me? I gotta clear set of backplates on this ’59 Gibson Les Paul sitting right here. Why? Well… I suppose that it’s just to cater to a voyeuristic nature… Sometimes it’s fun to look at  “pretty girls without their clothes on”… or maybe it’s just a Neanderthal desire to look at “Gibson guts”. 🙂

Plus, it’s a GREAT way to show someone HOW a Les Paul guitar actually works…

We’ll share the mod’s on this Carparelli S3 guitar with you as we go along. Right now, we need to have a talk with the guys in Canada about an axe…

Stay tuned.


Charvels… um… Chestnuts roasting over open pyres…

7 12 2012

As Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule and whatever else you celebrate when it snows… looms;

We’re getting hammered by guys and gals who want to buy that “something special” for their significant others.

guitar-storeMany of their intended targets already HAVE nice axes. In fact, most guitarists have at least a pair of “Maple Mistresses” in their harems.

But, if we’re to believe the statistical data, most of these players bought guitars before they bought (or even budgeted for) that “perfect” Guitar amplifier.

Around here, we’re “vintage” guys. Real men play tubes and we avoid “pointy headed guitars” at all costs. LOL!

I mean, seriously…

Ever try to fight your way off stage using a pointy headed guitar neck? It’s like a spear. If you miss that jerk’s adam’s apple by just a tad, the neck slides off one way or the other. Now, a blunt headed guitar neck… THAT’S a spear.  LOL!

Okay, that pointy headed axe might be good for stabbing your lead singer in the .. um…er… well… let’s just say you can use it as incentive to help “him/her” hit that high note…

In fact, I have an old Charvel I keep on a stand on stage for just that reason. I never actually pick up the damned thing unless our “Prima Dona” starts showing her ass… and then… “instant attitude/pitch adjustment”.

Makes me think of “Deliverance” every time I have to apply it… She squeals like a pig… LOL!

Okay, we don’t advocate using your beloved axe as an “extraction tool” or even to sodomize your lead singer… but we have all suffered “lead singer drama” and played gigs in places that we never want to return to… am I right? 🙂

But I digress;

Regardless of what you play, it’s important that what you play sounds good.

And I don’t care how many speakers you stuffed into that cabinet, or even where they came from, if they aren’t being pushed by the right tubes and circuits, it’s still just like owning a Ferrari with an empty fuel tank.  You ain’t going nowhere…

We’re seeing a LOT of what’s out there and frankly, while guitar amps are getting more affordable, the good ones are still out of reach of most guitarists.

IMHO – If you really want to have that “GREAT” amp that “pumps out tone for days”… you need to do it yourself.

And, if you do it right, you’ll spend a lot less than you think and have an amp that you’ll keep forever, or until you get married. (Then, all bets are off and you’ll be selling off that rig to buy diapers and baby clothes, trust me on this…) 🙂

Many of you know that here at SUAPYG, we’ve partnered up with the guys over at RenaissanceRonin  and The Bubba Effect to build “Strats for Soldiers“. The “Secret Strat Project” has shipped over a hundred (104 counting the axe that left today) Stratocasters, Telecasters and assorted Axes to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

(The last time I was in the shop, they had #’s 105-113 on the benches and they were working away like demented elves on Mescaline… They had 2 gorgeous Strats, a pair of Telecasters, a Les Paul, an SG, and a trio of exotic custom chambered guitars that I would give up my eye teeth and more than one of my “mistresses” for…)

These “mad dog” Vets use their own paychecks to build and then donate some really tasty axes and gear to guys and gals who really need some “Maple Love”.

It just made sense to join in and and help them fight an uphill battle… their “lunch money” only goes so far.

Along with those axes (safely tucked into SKB cases) they’re also shipping amps. Usually, they’re of the battery powered variety and we include rechargeable batteries and a recharger. However, if the guy or gal is stationed somewhere in a zone where they have good power and some protection from dust and grime… we ship “the good stuff”.

(Not that battery powered amps aren’t “good”… in some cases we’re able to ship something a little more versatile to some players, so that they can entertain the troops while they use that axe as therapy… and when they get back to their families, they can then gig with it.)

So here’s the skinny;

While we are usually talking “guitar” here;

We thought it might be valuable to SHOW you how to take an Ebay or Craigslist Amp and then turn it back into something really cool AND save some cash in the process.

Along the way, we’re going to point you at the RIGHT guys to deal with – as you stride boldly forward into “Toneville”…

We’re going to start this off by introducing you to a pal of ours, a Nashville Cat who spends most of his days toiling over “Gibson Goodness” in the Gibson Custom Shop.

A veteran of decades of Gibson “Fun and Games”, he’s about as knowledgeable as you’ll find anywhere and he’s personally had his hands on some of the most fantastic guitars you’ve ever seen or heard.

I know it’s true because I currently have one of his own GEMS in my personal harem – scheduled from some really tasty session time.

He’s gonna show you how he crawled through his Fender Bassman, an amp that has literally been passed down through his axe-slinging family.

Along the way we’re gonna look at Super Reverbs (in my personal opinion the most important amp a player of “classic rock, blues or jazz” could ever have…) and we”ll work our way down to Champs and even Blues Jr’s…

So, watch Ebay, your local Craigslist ads, your local Penny Saver, your local bulletin boards at the guitar shot, et all… and look for old amps that need some love.

You still have time to put ’em under the tree with a card attached that reads “to be modded shortly”…

We’re gonna show you how to turn them into real players.

Stay tuned.