Is That A Stock Photo?

I have a couple more amps up for sale on Reverb. And, as it happens every time I post photos on Reverb, I get messaged by someone asking me if these are the “real” photos of the amp or if are they stock photos.

Reverb won’t upload stock images if the listing is for a used item. They check the EXIF data of the images. Amongst other things, the EXIF data of an image includes information that can determine whether a photo is stock or not.

What do I do to take a great product photo?


A sheet of white paper.

The paper was taped to a wall and rolled out. The amp was placed on the sheet of paper. I used my Olympus EM1 camera mounted on a tripod. I shot the image at 1/60th of a second, f2.8 with a 50mm equivalent lens (25mm f1.8) and ISO 1600. I did not use any studio lighting for the shot. I used the existing halogen lighting that was in the room.

Brought the image into Lightroom. A little bit of colour correction. Boosted the whites. Exported it out to Pixelmator where I brushed out the remaining shadows and then I cropped out the background clutter.


This is a stock photo from the Mesa Boogie website.

And my front-facing shot again:

Maybe I take too good care of my gear? My Lone Star Special is over 12 years old and still looks like new. Perhaps that is why I get people asking me if the photos of the amp are real or not. I need to rough things up a bit. Rip out some tolex. Throw some dirt on the grill cloth. Smear the control panel with grease.

Rock ‘n roll!

Why I Sold My Kemper

Morgan AC 20 Deluxe. Sold.

Clark Beaufort. Sold.

Fender Super Champ. Sold.

Mesa Boogie Road King Dual Rectifier with 4×12 Cab. Sold.

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18. Sold.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Sold.

Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special. For Sale.

Fender ’64 Deluxe Reissue. For Sale.

Fender ’57 Tweed Deluxe Reissue. For Sale.

That leaves me with two amps: the Swart STR Tremolo and the Swart AST Mk II head and 1×12 cab.

With retirement, downsizing and a focus on travel for the next few years, carrying all of these amps really made no sense which is why I sold most of them.

Getting older comes with its own set of challenges. Hauling around heavy amps and heavy pedalboards being one of them.

I have always been a tone snob. As far as I was concerned, tube amps were the only way to get a great guitar sound. I found the early digital modellers, like the Line 6, to be less than satisfactory. Some players I knew were able to get some great results from that class of technology but it wasn’t for me.

And then the community of guitarists that I hang around with started jumping into modeling. Specifically the Kemper platform.

I’ll be south during the winter months travelling in a 40-foot diesel coach. Although the coach offers a lot of living space, given the form factor, I have to travel light.

Guitar amps are bulky.

Modellers like the Kemper promised great sounds and portability.

I bought one.

I struggled to get “the sound” I was looking for from the Kemper rig.

I purchased thousands of profiles trying to find a few gems in what appeared to be a large pool of mediocre tones. I ditched my pedalboards and went all in with the Kemper for about a year.

I gave it a chance.

The Kemper just didn’t work for me.

It also grew in size and weight.

By the time I added the rack case, the Kemper remote, and a bunch of external pedals, I had a rig that was pretty much the same bulk as my smaller amp rigs.

I sold the Kemper and bought the Fractal AX8.

Very portable. Very affordable (relative to the Kemper). Really great sounding models out of the box. And great sounding effects.

The software side of the Fractal was significantly ahead of the Kemper.

I came across this post: Why I Bought a Modeling Rig and Why I Didn’t Go Kemper.

Similar journey.

Having made the move to in-ear monitors, I don’t miss the “amp in the room” sound. The tones from the Fractal are consistent stage-to-stage relative to an amp, the amp models and effects are pretty easy to tweak and even with some limitations on the CPU, I find that I am so close in tone to what I had been using before with my amps that the few drawbacks are pretty insignificant.

Plus I can carry a guitar, the Fractal and a small gig bag without breaking my back. Setup and teardown is a snap. I don’t worry about tubes going microphonic and I don’t worry about being too loud on stage. I rarely play gigs where I am not being mic’d through a system. And, whenever that does happen, I pull out one of my Swart amps.

I use the Fractal for everything now, even my jazz playing.

It sounds great to my ear and I can take it with me wherever I go.

But I will still keep a couple of tube amps.

Just in case.

Real Guitar

Good thing I brought a hat.

We had a beautiful day with a large group of people in one of the main parks in downtown Kingston. The stage was out in full sun which really messed with the tuning on my guitar. Every moment I was not playing, I was tuning.

I used my Fractal AX8 digital modeller and my Shure wireless in-ear rig. Everything worked flawlessly.

Especially on a small stage. With the Fractal, I don’t have to worry about an amp being too loud for everyone else in the band. Direct to the FOH and let the sound person set the levels.

The iPad, which you might make out on the leftmost side of the picture, controlled my monitor mix to my in-ear rig.

Even though I was only a few feet from the drummer, I could barely hear him. Not sure if that was a good thing. I love his drumming.

Air Guitar

Why did YouTube put this up on my recommended list?

The horror. The horror.

Kingston Guitar Shop

Cool guitars is no more. At least not the storefront:

After two decades, the last store selling musical instruments and gear in the city’s downtown core has closed.

The Kingston Guitar Shop, at the corner of Wellington and Clarence streets, has seen its sales drop by about half in the past five years, said co-owner Gord Mylks, as people turn to the internet for their purchases.

Tough time to be in retail.

Killer Guitar

From Vanity Fair:

Earlier this month, Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, finalized a divorce settlement with ex Isaiah Silva. As part of the agreement, Silva gained possession of the 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar the late Nirvana frontman played in the band’s legacy-burnishing 1993 appearance on MTV Unplugged.

The instrument is a genuinely iconic artifact of alterna-rock history. As TMZ reported at the time, Cobain wanted a full break with Silva as soon as possible and hoped it would help settle things for good. The settlement came five months after a judge declared the marriage over. According to reports, Cobain will keep the home the couple purchased together.

Silva, however, does not appear to be letting things go. According to reports, he filed a new suit alleging that Love conspired with Britney Spears’s former manager Sam Lutfi (who has also reportedly managed Love), 13 Reasons Why actor Ross Butler, private investigator and security expert John Nazarian, and musician Michael Schenk to murder him and steal back the guitar.

All that for a sixty-year old guitar. It is a unique piece though. Martin only made 302 of them.

Reverb puts the estimated price range of the D-18E at somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000.

Chicago Music Exchange had one and put up this video on the guitar:

Because Cobain played it live on MTV, someone is probably willing to pay millions for it.

Perhaps even willing to kill someone for it.

Bill Collings Tribute AT 16

After Bill Collings’ passing last July, we wanted to build an instrument to pay tribute to him and to show the world that we would be continuing on the trail that he’d blazed for us over many years. One of the most rare and coveted instruments we offer is a carved acoustic archtop guitar, which Bill Collings built personally over much of his career. Whenever he completed one of these impeccable instruments, it was clear that he had accomplished a craftsman’s dream; a perfect union of exquisite lines, colors, and proportions, equally inspiring to play or simply behold.

I’ve owned three Collings guitars and I still have two of them: one acoustic and one jazz. Exceptional craftsmanship and amazing tone.

Hard to believe that he is gone. Good to see his team still creating such terrific instruments like the AT 16.

Gibson Goes Bankrupt

This was my business card way, way back in time. Telephone number and address is long gone. I elected to use my Gibson Les Paul as part of my calling card. My 1976 Les Paul was my first good electric guitar. Purchased over 40 years ago now. A Les Paul was a player’s guitar.

The brand really meant something to me back then. And perhaps it might mean something again in the future.

Things do need to change at Gibson. My observation from a post I had written about Gibson going down back in February:

Other than being a financial basket case and making shoddy guitars with a nasty CEO and disengaged employees, everything else is going well at Gibson.

From Bloomberg’s release on Gibson filing for bankruptcy:

Juszkiewicz, who has found himself at odds with creditors in recent months, will continue with the company upon emergence from bankruptcy “to facilitate a smooth transition,” according to the agreement. Court papers call for a one-year consulting deal and compensation package for Juszkiewicz. A representative for the company didn’t respond to questions about whether Juszkiewicz will remain as CEO or in a separate role.

Getting rid of Juszkiewicz would be a great start in trying to restore the Gibson brand.