Carter Vintage Guitars

I was in Nashville a few weeks back and I had to make the pilgrimage to Carter Vintage Guitars. Compelled really. No choice but to go and look at what old guitars are selling for these days.

The shop is located in a somewhat run-down part of the city. I walked there from the downtown core and I was glad to be doing the walk during the day. At night? I would take a car.

The store is pretty down to earth. A small lobby opens into a larger area with a lot of used guitars and amps.

Many of the electrics were priced in the upper middle tier: say $3,000 to $5,000 USD. And lots of Gibsons and Fenders. I guess the guitarists in Nashville like to stick with the two mainstream brands.

Towards the back of the shop they had a small display of truly vintage instruments.

The price tage for the 1950 Broadcaster on the left had been marked down from $70,000 USD to $59,000 USD and the 1953 Telecaster on the right was asking $55,000 USD.

Clearly targetted towards a specific market that would likely never take the guitar out on a gig.

I wonder how many vintage guitars are just stored in closets as investments? Guitars that are never played and rarely seen.

Seems sad.

New From Strymon

A new Strymon pedal was just announced. The cloudburst seems to be a smaller version of the Big Sky although with a much simpler interface. I’ve not used one so I can’t really comment further.

However I have been looking at changing up a few things on my pedalboard.

It started with the Eventide H90. I purchased that pedal when it first came out. And it is awesome. So many wonderful sounds in there.

But I had to punt my Big Sky off the pedalboard to make room for the H90. Here is what the pedalboard looks like right now.

Most of the signal flow is being managed by the Mastermind except for the top row (compressor, Iridium, Timeline, H90).

What I would like to do is remove the POG and the Julia chorus as I can readily get those sounds from the H90. I would then route the second IO in the H90 through the Mastermind for mono effects like pitch shifting and keep the first IO for the stereo effects like delays and reverbs. I could also put the H90 chorus sounds either before or after the amp modeller, the Strymon Iridium in this case.

That would free up some space on the bottom of the pedalboard where I could add something like the cloudburst or perhaps the Jet Revelation. The Julia pedal would be replaced by one of those pedals.

The POG would come off and allow room for a two-button switch for the Mastermind or possibly another pedal.

I have the H90, the Timeline and the Iridium connected via a MIDI hub which is driven by the MIDI commands from the MasterMind. Both the Jet and the cloudburst support MIDI and I have additional capacity to plug them into my MIDI hub which lives underneath the pedalboard.

Current pedalboard requires multiple offline editors to set up tones: RJM Mastermind, Strymon Nixie, Eventide H90. I guess that is just the nature of the beast these days.

Still debating between the cloudburst and the Jet Revelation.

Here is a video comparing the Jet to the Big Sky. Looks like I could get most of the reverb tones I might need from the Strymon like Shimmer, Cloud and Bloom and the Jet seems to get a lot of good reviews online.

History of the Roland JC-120 Amp

“I’d rather chew glass than play through a solid state amp.” This from a hardcore guitarist who was clearly committed to his tube amplifier.

When I was first touring, the state of the art of a sound system was not like it is today. Those systems were more of a sound reinforcement system, that is to say, they tried to get the vocals on top of the backline. And the backline generally had to have enough power to punch through all the stage noise.

I bought a Roland JC-120 way back then. Likely 1975 I think. Whenever it was first introduced. Sold it some years later.

Big brute. Two 12-inch speakers. 120 Watts of solid state power.

It was loud. And clean. No such thing as edge-of-breakup tone on this amp.

The band I played in back then was pretty successful but alas existed before the Internet. Which means it was pretty invisible today. I can’t find any shots of the rig I used back then. It would have looked something like this:

I do remember that I only had a few pedals on that tour. An MXR Distortion+, an MXR Flanger, a Cry Baby wah. I think we tuned to the piano as we also toured with a horn section. I guess I was primarily focused on playing clean with this amp.

Sweetwater posted a story on the history of the JC-120 which you can find over here.

The unique character of the amp, aside from its clean tone, was the built in chorus. Roland used the chorus circuit from that amp to launch the first chorus pedal and the first BOSS pedal ever made, the CE-1 Chorus Ensemble. That was in 1976. Here is what that chorus pedal looked like:

If you have $1,500 or so to spend, you can find these pedals used on Reverb. A vintage Roland JC-120 can be found for much less money. Not as portable though.


What one thing has travelled with you for most of your life? For me it is a guitar.

I don’t remember all of the details around when I first brought the guitar home. Steve Kirman, of Steve’s Music in Montreal, sold me the guitar. I was young. It was my first big purchase and my first good acoustic guitar.

When I retired, downsized and began travelling in 2018, I left that guitar with my oldest son. Our travels were interrupted by the pandemic and we are no longer travelling as much. Now that we have a new place in Canada, my guitar could come back home.

I named the guitar “Elizabeth”. Not sure why. It just seemed to be a thing back then, naming guitars.

I checked the serial number to date the guitar and here is what I found:

With the serial number 97313, the guitar was built in 1974 — 48 years ago. I was 16 years old as I purchased it just before my 17th birthday. It is one of the very few possessions that has been with me throughout my life.

It has a few bumps and dings. One year I had left it in the trunk of my car. There was so much heat that the glue holding the bridge gave way. A bit of an expensive repair back then.

The Guild D40 is still in production. As I appear to be for the moment.

I took it out of the case and strummed a few chords. Still sounds great after all those years. And it brought back so many memories. Welcome home old friend.

New Guitar Days are the Best Days

Too many guitars? Impossible. That’s like saying too many pieces of art. There is always room for one more.

Well, no, I do not need any more guitars. Except the one that is getting picked up today.

I am blessed with a wonderful collection of guitars that I have built up over almost 50 years of playing. And I hope to continue playing for many more years.

I will be serving in Florida for a few months at the end of this year and I do not want to use any of my existing guitars. For better or worse they are either too valuable or too cherished for out of country gigs.

I’m picking up a PRS S2 Vela. It is not a student level guitar nor a premium high-end guitar. Something in the middle. A good value for the money type of guitar of which there are many choices in that price band.

If it gets damaged or stolen, I won’t be too upset as it would be easily replaced.

I may keep it or I might sell it once I get back to Canada.

My first offset guitar and certainly a unique tone stack. Looking forward to playing it later today.

What The Cool Kids Play

Fender. A brand that dominates the global guitar marketplace. That market for guitars is estimated to be somewhere around $4 Billion. Fender is a private company so it is a bit of a mystery in terms of their financial performance. But they have been around since 1946. They own and license the following brands: Fender, Squier, Gretsch, Jackson, EVH, Charvel, Bigsby, Guild, Sunn Amps, SWR, Tacoma, Kaman and Presonus.

Andy Mooney has been the CEO of Fender since 2015. He came from Disney Consumer Products.

Servco Pacific is the majority owner of Fender.

Which is really a bit odd.

Servco’s business areas include automotive distribution, automotive retail and, er, guitars. The company is headquartered in Hawaii (which must be nice) and became involved with Fender as a dealer of its products in the 1950s.

They were part of the investor group that bought Fender back from CBS back in 1985. From literally a two-car garage operation in 1919 to a multi-billion dollar business in 2022, Servco is one of those businesses that few know and owns arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the music industry.

Anyway, all that to say this: Fender seems to be the guitar for the new bands coming up. At Coachella this year, most of the lineups were playing Fender.

And offset guitars, like the Jazzmaster pictured above, seemed especially prominent.

Way back when I first started, Gibson and Fender were the brands to own.

You remember Gibson guitars, right?

Classic Rock Solos

My touring rig pictured above. Yes. I used to go around with a massive 4×12 Mesa Boogie monster. Nothing quite like the feel of all that sound smashing against the body at high volume.

My bandmates might disagree though. That rig was so, so loud.

I generally spend a few hours a day on guitar. Over the past few years I was spending that time on prepping for performance which included learning parts and memorizing parts.

That part of my playing is temporarily on hold which provides an opportunity to have some fun learning, or re-learning, classic rock guitar solos.

I’ve built a list of 50 classic rock guitar solos and I am working through them one by one.

Curious to know where I started?

It is the song that cannot be played. Especially in guitar shops. However, it is a great classic rock solo and it was one of the first I learned when the song was released in 1971.

I love this live performance of the song as it was an amazing tribute to the original:

The tough part about learning solos like the one in Stairway to Heaven way back in the 70s? I had to figure it out by ear. I made a copy of the song on cassette tape and had to manually hit play and reverse to pick out the notes. Back then, I had it fairly close. But when I went to relearn it this week, I did miss a few notes here and there.

Fast forward to today and it is so easy, relatively speaking, to learn these songs. There are numerous note-by-note transcriptions like this one:

There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of video walkthroughs like this one:

Sean was kind enough to include a half-speed version:

And a backing track for whenever you get the fingering and the speed down:

Granted, I use the YouTube player feature to slow things down. Shift plus comma to reduce playback speed, Shift plus period to speed things up. And YouTube is kind enough to maintain pitch when changing playback speed. Perfect for musicians.

I can’t imagine the amount of time it used to take me to learn parts before the web. One benefit, I suppose, is that I really learned how to listen to music and pick out the notes which, more often than not, were buried in with all of the musical elements.

How is it going with this solo?

Pretty good. I hadn’t played it for over 40 years or so. A few of the riffs had never left my fingers.

Surprising that was.


Wires and connectors. The fundamental elements to connect the pedals together. Often overlooked in terms of the overall cost of building out a new pedalboard.

I worked with Bruno at Tone Design. He was so helpful and he spent several hours with me over the month or so that it took to build out the pedalboard. If you are doing a major pedalboard build I would highly recommend Tone Design.

We looked over what would be needed for the board and the pedals and then I ordered the following items:

  • 30 SPS5 1/4 TS Black Connectors
  • 25 SP500 1/4 TS Right Angle Black Connectors
  • 8 Lightbulb 1/4 TRS Black Connectors
  • 4 Minicake 1/4 TRS Right Angle Black Connectors
  • 50 feet of Mogami 2319 Cable – for TS Connectors
  • 20 feet of Mogami 2528 Cable – for TRS Connectors
  • 84 inches of Dual Lock 250/400 Black

The cost to wire up the pedalboard? $620.63

It wasn’t the only cost. I needed the tools to do all of the soldering. Here is a photo of my soldering workstation with the wires and connectors ready to go:

To make all of the cables for the pedalboard took me a week. Yes. One full week to solder and build the cables.

I needed the following tools to make it happen:

  • Klein 5-inch Lightweight Flush Cutter
  • Eclipse 30-20 AWG Wire Stripper
  • Irwin 10-20 AWG Wire Stripper
  • Weller Bench Top Smoke Absorber
  • Weller Soldering Station
  • Solder
  • Vise

Those tools cost me $376.27 and there would not have been a practical way to do a job this large without them.

Let’s add things up shall we?

Pedals: $6,187.96

Pedalboard and Looper: $1,955.03

Wires, Connectors, Tools: $996.90

Total for this pedalboard build: $9,139.89

Easy enough to think about pedals as a secondary component of the electric guitar sound, particularly in Praise and Worship. Until you start building out pedalboards. And then it hits you. Pedalboards can easily cost more money than a high-end guitar.