The guitars and other noisemakers. I.

I’m not really a collector of guitars. Well, given how well I play, maybe that’s the only thing you can say about my musical instruments. The acquisition of the guitars started out as an interest in trying my hand with a cheap electric, after decades of failure with my old Yamaha classical guitar (which I still have). Musical instruments are as much an art form to me as they are a music form, and I have more than I intended mostly because I acquired them as much as art as music. None are highly valuable or expensive instruments, but all represent excellent expressions of the physical art of music.

The top picture centres on my magnificent Ibanez AST77 semi-hollow Artcore electric. This was discovered accidentally as a used guitar, immaculate in condition. It dates from 2004 and is an exquisite modern expression of the Art Deco world, from its understated Bigsby tremolo (the black thingy at the bottom), to the two part mother of pearl inlays in the fretboard, and black accents on a metallic silver grey body. Sounds as good as it looks.


Around it, you can see one of my saxes, the Lafeyette clarinet, the Heinl violin on the chair, and three of my Paul Reed Smith SE guitars – in back, the SE flame maple 2008 Singlecut (the 200th made), a 2006 double cut SE Soapbar II in Blue Matteo flame maple to the right, and mostly out of picture, a solid mahogany 2006 SE Soapbar II in transparent red. Even though the SE Soapbar IIs share the same lineage, the two instruments couldn’t be more different – the Blue Matteo is a 6 3/4 lb teenager – brash and bright, and the mahogany SE Soapbar II, at 10 lb, is his mature old man, deep, heavy and rich in tone. They’re called “soapbars” because the P90 pickups used on them, in off-white, resemble the old hotel bars of soap common to the traveling gig player.


Swapping out the Ibanez in the shot, is my 2005 Indo Fender Squier Standard Stratocaster, in Alder and Rosewood. Quintessentially Stratocaster from the maple neck with big 70’s peghead to the broad lower bout. Inexpensive, but not cheap, no other guitar has a sound like a Strat.

Below, My 9 1/2 lb (!) PRS Soapbar II SE, affectionately known as “Big Red”. This Soapbar has the most wonderful midrange, due, I expect, to the density of the solid mahogany body. Another “from my cold dead hands”, instrument in my collection. I presently have two soapbar IIs, the one in blue matteo in the photo above. Very different in every way from Big Red – light, bright.

Of three acoustic guitars, a Yamaha s50 classical (and the survivor of a boat sinking!), a newly acquired Greg Bennett Rio Grande, and this exquisite M10 Morgan Monroe dreadnaught, below, with its understated ebony fretboard and muted East Indian Rosewood body, a beautiful instrument, extremely finely crafted with the soft well-balanced tone of ebony and spruce over rosewood.

My M10 Morgan Monroe

Back detail of my M10 Morgan, showing the finely prepared rosewood back.