Ovation "Elite" Balladeer

 

Serial# 423649

The black beauty here is the Ovation Elite Model 1868 steel string acoustic, the version with the ebony fretboard. I bought this guitar second-hand for $600 in Berkeley, CA, a few days after my wife and I got married on the California coast.

 

Carvin Bolt+ "Blueshifter"

Serial# 85493

Another fine product of the Carvin factory in San Diego.

Vital Statistics:

  • Bolt+ with Floyd Rose Trem
  • Floyd locking nut
  • plain maple cap on Alder body
  • Maple neck (tung oil finish)
  • No inlays
  • Headstock color to match body
  • H22N,T pickups
  • Center position AP11
  • Cream bezels
  • On/Off switch for bridge pickup
  • Black chrome hardware
  • Black plastic knobs (K8, K9)

Body finish: Originally I wanted the off-book "blue denim" stain all over the body. But there is a reason that this finish is "off-book". It doesn't always look great. In this case, the end grain really didn't look so good. Sean at Carvin sent me some photos of the unfinished body with just the blue stain, and we mutually agreed that blue-burst edges would be a good idea. The results were beyond my imagining, and much closer to my original inspiration than I thought I would achieve.

Carvin HF2 "Fat Lady"

 

Serial# 74700

The "Fat Lady" is a wonderful product of the Carvin factory in San Diego. She's a Holdsworth "fatboy" model, which means a hollow body - you can tap it and hear a hollow "bok" sound.

You get to specify your options when you order from Carvin, and I had a very clear idea in mind for this guitar:

  • Flamed maple 1/8" top
  • Ruby stain, gloss finish
  • matched headstock
  • Birdseye maple fretboard
  • No inlays on fretboard, side dots only
  • Clear satin finish on neck
  • Black chrome hardware
  • 2 coil taps
  • Engraved truss rod cover: "Fat Lady"

Even though I'd specified gloss on the body and clear satin finish on the neck, they managed to do it. I relocated the strap post from the back of the neck joint to the top "horn". I think it hangs better this way. Others disagree.

Hear the fat lady sing:
[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/fl_sings.mp3]

This little multitracked demo shows off some of the sounds I can get from this guitar, using the Line6 POD 2.0 and Digitech GSP21 effect units. The timing is a little wonky in places.

Here's another piece featuring the Fat Lady: Greener Pastures:
[mp3:http://spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/greener_pastures.mp3]

This solo composition is going for the warm jazz tone but the HF2 doesn't quite want to go there. I'm perfectly happy to go where it wants to, however.

Update: In recent years I installed a Graphtec GHOST piezo bridge in this guitar. Details available on the Carvin Forum: Haunting the Fat Lady.

Yamaha APX10

Serial# 80407210

For a long time this has been my "knock-around" guitar. It didn't take the trip across the Pacific too well and for a number of years it hang on my wall as a decoration.

Recently I decided to experiment and turn it into a fretless nylon string guitar. I documented that process here.

I've strung it with Tomastik-Infield KR116 strings, and it is a lot of fun to play.

Here's a little idea I started working out over the next few days:
[mp3:http://www.spacefold.com/colin/ps/mp3/fretless_nylon.mp3]

Two takes, rhythm panned left and lead panned right. The GSP21 does the reverb, and the Line 6 POD 2.0 adds a little grit, gain, and delay to the lead.

Ibanez 540s

 

Serial# F017776

My main guitar is an Ibanez 540s. This is the original slim sculpted body version in Black Cherry, with Floyd-Rose trem. I bought it in 1988 I think. A friend of mine - a bass player no less - said that one should never let the quality of your instruments hold you back. I sold him the guitar that until then I had been playing (if I recall correctly it was one that I had basically built out of spare parts) and went shopping. It has a seriously good neck.

It still has the original F2 and C2 pickups and frankly I think they get better with age.