The GTRS guitar (mine is an S801 model) is a Mooer product. It's called an "intelligent" guitar because it has its own built-in effects. This is the sort of thing I would have thought as a gimmick in the past, but for a particular playing situation that I find myself in, it is an absolute life-changer.
An entire signal chain can be created and stored as a preset (a total of 40 presets), including amp and cab modelling, pre and post effects like compressor, overdrive, distortion, modulation and reverb/delay. Presets are stored across 10 banks of four and can be switched on the fly via a 4-button footswitch that connects to the guitar via bluetooth. It also has a built in tuner, accessible via the footswitch that appears in the footswitch's display.
All this is programmable via an iphone app, which is pretty straightforward and it has been put to extensive use by me when playing rehearsals in the studio and regular gigs in a duo. In both these situations, all I have to is turn up with the guitar and my wireless, plug into the PA or audio interface and start playing.
For the duo gigs I bring along a compressor pedal as a convenient way to connect the wireless receiver and also to make the notes I play "bloom" and sustain more. It allows me to play with a very light touch that way, so I can change from quiet to loud more with my fingers than changing sound effects without using an excessive amount of distortion.
I have made some modifications to the guitar. I replaced the stock tuners with Musiclily locking tuners, more recently I changed the bridge saddles to brass ones. Initially this was because the original steel ones were getting pretty rusty (as I play right near the beach every week). The brass ones won't rust, although they will definitely change colour (they already have lost their shine). It just so happens that to my ears the tone is a little nicer after the saddle change. It's a little fuller with a clearer top end. A little more sparkle without being overly trebly. I like them.
The other mod was a bit risky, but I felt it was necessary. I often play in low light and I found the black side-dot markers on the neck very hard to see against the darkish-brown roasted-maple neck (that too has become darker over the last year or so of owning this guitar). What I did was drill out the black markers and inserted white ones instead.
It really has made a significant difference and is much easier to follow the dots now!
I keep things very simple with regard to the sound effects. To be honest, the effects are not the best I've heard by a long way, but I found an amp & cab model that I like and works well for my uses; the Marshall Plexi & corresponding 4x12. The reverb and delay are useable and also the noise gate, EQ and clean boost.
By itself the GTRS is pretty impressive for what I use it for, but with the external compressor (a DemonFX Cali76) it is even more impressive. For rehearsing with a band I have different presets programmed to the duo gig setp, still using the same amp & cab model, but with more gain and distortion!
So what started out as something I saw online and thought "I'd never want one of those" ended up being something that I went back to and thought "I need one of those as it will mean I have almost nothing to carry to my regular gigs!"
The GTRS stays in tune, sounds nice, looks nice and just works for me. It's pretty heavy, but I can forgive it that, seeing as what it enables me to do without any hassle. For me these days it's all about having useable tools that get the job done efficiently, so that I'm more likely to look like I know what I'm doing!
One of the best gear acquisitions of my entire life. It cost £89 British Pounds new back in 2019 and has performed countless gigs to this day. It is one of my regular live-performing stage guitars because it's just so easy to play.
It is very lightweight, it's a hardtail, it has a 3-way switch and an unconventional wiring scheme. Optimised for the stage. It is designed to provide the most effective and useful tonal options on stage at the flick of a switch.
I've experimented with wiring for the stage with this guitar as the main guinea pig and thie current wiring scheme seems to be the most useful so far.
It's wired as follows: A master volume, a volume for the neck pickup and a tone control for the bridge pickup.
This way I can roll the volume back on the neck pickup a little to clean up the tone when needed. I play mostly on the bridge pickup all the time, but I can easily throw the switch to the neck position without looking down and there are my most-used settings. The middle is not used that much, but it's an alternative rhythm tone with more treble and more hair than the neck pickup.
The tone control for the bridge is for balancing between that and the neck pickup. With the neck pickup being loaded down by two volume controls and rolling it's volume down, it can get a bit dark-sounding. I can then dial in the amp and pedals to make it brighter and less muddy. That is why I left the tone control off the neck pickup. Then I can roll off the tone on the bridge pickup if that is then too bright with the way the amp is set up.
As a performance guitar it just delivers the goods. The pickups are alnico 5. Two no-name cheapos from Ebay and the bridge pickup is a "Big Texan" by Warman (another affordable, but not a cheapo from Ebay). The Big Texan is about 12k ohms and while that may sound like it's a fat, hot pickup. It isn't really, but it does push the amp nicely. I don't really like overwound pickups much as they get really muddy and honky (like Texas Specials... I can't stand those things). This one doesn't seem to do that, even though it is obviously an overwound Strat pickup.
I have posted videos on this guitar before with various different wiring schemes. It started off as white, but I refinished it with a rattle can colour that is a designated Honda colour called Jerez Blue. It's the closest thing I found to an aged Lake Placid Blue, which is one of my favourite guitar custom colours.
The tuners & the bridge have been upgraded too. The only parts left on this guitar that came with this guitar are the body and neck.
This is a working musicians dream guitar; Cost almost nothing to buy, cost barely the same again to totally upgrade everything that matters and still paid for itself after its first gig. It continues to deliver!
How lucky am I to have such amazing friends? This Fender Japan Traditional 60s Jaguar came to me around Christmas time in 2019. A brand-new, shiny Jag, gifted to me by a good friend of mine from Japan. After returning from a trip to Tokyo, he handed me this as a gift to which I was a little overcome. It's not everyday somebody buys you a guitar, let alone one of this quality and pedigree.
It is indeed a very nice guitar. While I love it I'm one of those players who gets frustrated with its "Characteristics" shall we say. Especially those surrounding the bridge assembly.
Initially I replaced the floating bridge piece with a roller-saddle tuno-matic. That fixed a lot of issues for me, even though the tuno-matic is made with a radius of about 12" and this Jaguar has a vintage radius of 7.25". The fact is that I didn't feel any problems with such a mis-matched radius between the bridge and the fretboard. None at all. In fact I think I liked it a little better.
After a couple of years of use (mainly studio) and trying different setups: A buzzstop (did something weird to the tone that I didn't like), Mustang bridge (didn't like it), Keeping the bridge lock button ON to make it like a hardtail (ok, but some un-wanted resonance) I looked into doing something a bit more unorthodox for a Jaguar.
Most players wil say that the whole point of a Jaguar is for the bridge unit and I totally understand that. However I am definitely not most players and so true to form and most likely in danger of triggering Offset die-hards, I took out the vibrato bridge and replaced it with a fixed tailpiece!
Not only that I changed ALL the wiring! Gone are the 1 meg pots and instead 250k volume and tone with a 3-way switch... Aaaaaand I put in a piezo-equipped tuno-matic bridge! The two magnetic pickups are selected in the same way as a Telecaster and the piezo pickup takes over and goes direct to the jack when I flip the switch on the upper control plate.
I could probably buy a new control plate with just one switch hole in it, but it was getting really expensive. I had to buy the tailpiece and the 3-way switch plate - custom parts that are not cheap and the cost was starting to mount up. If I'm feeling flush any time I might buy the plate, but it's only an aesthetic. I quite like how it looks anyway with the spare control holes covered from the underside by some thin, white plastic.
I refinished the guitar too. It was originally white, but the colour really started to yellow quite a lot and the edges and curves started going a strange, browning, greyish colour. I figured I could repaint it white myself and in the future it's easy enough to paint again.
Which I am thinking about doing (although not in any rush) in Lake Placid Blue because I already have a spare mint-green pickguard and the original tortoiseshell one. Either of those would look great with a LPB Jag (probably my favourite colour for a Jaguar).
It's an odd-ball guitar but it has loads of attitude and sounds absolutely glorious with lots of gain!
Back in mid 2021 I got myself a Squier Mini Precision Bass. I was offered a gig playing bass for the end of that year and, being a guitarist who records bass, but doesn't normally play bass live, I was dreading the thought of playing my heavy, cumbersome Squier California Series J-Bass.
I like that bass, but it's pretty hard for my guitarist fingers to get around and it weighs about twice as much as the lightweight Strats that I'm used to, so I decided it would be worth getting a small bass. The Squier mini Precision bass fitted the bill, being small and affordable.
Another important consideration for my budget restraints was the fact that I didn't have a bass case or gig bag. Instead of having to spend money on one of those too I was able to fit the mini P-Bass in my existing guitar gig bag. The mini P-Bass is exactly the same length as a Stratocaster and fits in a guitar case with ease. Once I took delivery of this little beast I made a video, which has become my most viewed on Youtube over the last 2 years.
Anyone who knows me will have guessed by now, it wasn't long before I had modified it! I put in an Alnico 5 pickup, which I wouldn't say is really better, but it is more vintage-sounding with a lower output. The stock pickup is excellent, especially if you want to be loud and proud playing on stage. However I do prefer the nuances of the Alnico pickup.
For those who are keen to know what the pickup is. It's a Belcat BP-40A-BK (BK means black I think). It has a DCR of 9.4k ohms. It is not a super hot pickup, but I'd say it's pretty standard for a traditional Precision Bass. I also got a black pickguard from Ebay, which I think looks so much better than the original white one.
I then put Rotosound flatwounds on it and made a follow up video, but they were a little too long to fit the bass properly. They worked, but I didn't like them much. The tension felt a bit too high for me and I found that I couldn't intonate them properly. I went back to the stock strings and added a Fender Hi-Mass bridge. That's the configuration I used for the gig I had forthcoming that year and it stayed that way until September 2023.
The stock strings were getting really dirty and mucky by this stage after being put to constant use in the studio and after discovering that Labella make a specially-designed set of strings for the mini P-Bass (well any bass with a 28.6" scale) I decided to try flats out again.
I'm glad I did. I find these Labella strings leagues ahead of the Rotosound in both feel, tone and performance (seeing as they actually intonate properly). I also decied to switch back to the stock, vintage-style bridge because I prefer the look and seeing as I'm more interested in this bass having a traditional sound I think it suits the flatwound better tonally. The Labellas have a nice dry thump to them like you would expect from flatwounds, but they seem a bit brighter and less muddy-sounding than other flatwounds I have played, like the Fender flats on my Squier J-Bass.
So for now I'd say that there are no planned modifications anymore for my Squier mini P-Bass. I love it as it is now!
My Most Loyal & Longest-Serving Guitar.
As I was typing this post I realised that I have not had any guitar in my posession longer than this Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster.
It very well could have not survived the journey at all after all the abuse it's been subjected to at the hands of my inability to leave stuff alone!
It has had some reconstruction around the neck pocket where it suffered serious damage and it has had a few gouges filled and patched up. It has been refinished about 5 or 6 times and now it deserves to be played with no more facelifts! The frets are getting worn and it may need a refret at some point, but for now, it'll be ok. It still works.
I've been through so much with this guitar. I found it used in Phuket Town in October 2012 and instantly loved it when I picked it up (except the colour). It was originally sunburst with a tortoiseshell pickguard. I went on to strip the finish off the body and the neck (a big mistake) and finihsed it in a Wudtone finish (which turned out to be a horrible decision). Just for the record, I think the Wudtone finishes are pretty awful, but my tastes have changed since 2012/2013.
After my dismall first re-finish attempt I sprayed the guitar sky blue and fitted it with a mint-green pickguard. That was an amazing finish and I refinished it twice more the same colour after some fading of the paint happened and then after some serious damage that I had to repair, I re-finished it again to hide the "surgical scars".
In 2022 my aesthetic principles must have changed because I started to go off nearly all colours except black and white. This resulted in yet another re-finish of my trusty Classic Vibe to what you see now and regardless of whether my tastes change again or not. This is the last re-finish I am giving this guitar. The overall dimensions of this guitar are probable a lot less after all the sanding it has been subjected to!
It has been through many different wiring schemes too, including the Toneriders that are currently in the Red Racer Strat. Now there are a set of unbranded, made in China, alnico 5 pickups. Low/vintage output and sounds perfect for this guitar. Wiring is bone stock, 5-way switch (the original CRL from my old Custom Shop '56 Strat that I had from 2004 to 2014). The tone capacitor needs changing though. I've got a 0.01 micro farad in there and I'm going to try going back to a more traditional 0.047 micro farad instead.
I love this guitar and anyone who knows me will know this guitar. Every musician I know who has played on the same stage as me will have played alongside this guitar at some point.
It is a significant player in the story of my guitar-playing life. I love this guitar!
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