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Life in Guitarland

We’ve seen them before. Some articles seem to be written by people whose primary fixation in life is “me, me, me.” Everything they experience is viewed through the same me-colored lens, which, with its haze of scratches and fingerprints from excessive vanity, makes the most trifling of life’s events seem ageless, even grand.

This is one of those articles.

Hold on, though. There’s more to it than that. This is the story of a personal journey through the world of music that begins humbly and ends just as humbly as it started. The fact that your reporter (should I say “moi”?) has experienced it at all is amazing enough, for under any other circumstances I might not have found myself in circumstances that presented so ripe an opportunity to learn and understand that most sensuous, invigorating, physically challenging and just plain righteous of musical instruments: the guitar.

Would you rather watch TV or play guitar?

Would you rather watch TV or play guitar?

Guitarists: Defining the Breeds

The world of the guitar, from what I’ve seen of the various “shows” held here and there, is populated with individuals whom one could classify into three types: There are collectors who couldn’t give a damn about playing but are attracted by aesthetic or monetary value; there are players who’d probably be better off collecting; and there are those who appreciate how truly awful it is to play poorly and therefore practice like hell out of fear that one day they’ll awaken to find they’re a better fit for category two. (For a hint, reread this paragraph.)

I am one of the individuals from the third category. I live to play the guitar, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a responsible adult I’d play the guitar night and day. Actually, it’s as much the music as the instrument – maybe more. Put it this way: To play really well, and play like you mean it, you have to dig in to that fretboard. You have to drive the sludge of misguided assumption and fear out of your hands and out of your brain. To do that takes commitment. It isn’t for babies.

Think about it. To play your best means sacrificing those precious hours in front of the flat-screen, where you might otherwise be perfectly happy growing a big TV butt and shrinking your brain while undertalented, overpaid inflata-babes drive up the advertising revenues and your reserves of testosterone. However, to get to the point where you know that what you’re playing is meaningful and clear of hype. To do that, you’ll have to take your treasured six-stringer through neighborhoods you don’t want to live in . . . at least, not permanently.

If you want to play well, practice hard. That’s what I learned early on in my adventure. On the path I’ve taken, there were players with minds to match their hands; people who saved the partying for after the gig, not before it; people who worked and worked and worked and worked at being better musicians, better thinkers and better teachers. I’ve been fortunate to know these people, and I’ve applied those lessons throughout my career as a journalist and musician.

The Twin Horizons

I soon learned that the many possibilities within the timber of the guitar would establish a certain mark upon which I could focus my own musical efforts. That mark became a line that separated what I was capable of from what I wasn’t yet capable of doing, so in that sense the mark was like the horizon itself. For instance, I knew from the first moment I touched a guitar that it was what I wanted, but it was when I found myself in a circle of very expressive players that I knew the instrument would always hold more than my efforts could reveal. That’s what the guitar is, though. It’s a mystery, or a kind of kaleidoscope. The more you turn it and twist it, the more it displays its infinite randomness and potential. And that’s what makes it so damn fun to play. But the more you play, the more the guitar becomes a philosophy. It’s an approach to listening—a way of sensing and feeling—that lets you know it’s okay to strive and fail before you try and succeed. In that way the guitar is one of the world’s great gifts, which is why so many talented artists have told me that their songs and solos seem to appear from out of nowhere. A good friend recently said there’s no such thing as musical genius. Instead, he said, there’s only the act of channeling from a sphere of creativity that’s far too big for one mind to perceive or identify. It made sense to me. Certainly it’d be more fun to pull some incredible theme out of thin air, or maybe out of a dream, than to feel it was some godlike and wholly intentional act: “That’s it, I’ve done it. I’ve just produced another masterpiece, the likes of which the world shall not see a-gain.” There’s way too much pressure in that. It’ll give you acne.

Well, on with the story. You’ll be impressed, I think, because it’s entirely true and free of exaggeration. It might be a bit more intense than what you’ve experienced on your trip, but then it might not be. After all, the story is really more about the experiences than about—well, moi—so the commonalities will reveal themselves as I relate the events. But hopefully those events will help us define a new philosophy, based partly on the old ones but enriched with something newer and less moi-centric. Here goes:

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" was all over the radio

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" was all over the radio

It was a long time ago that I began to play the guitar. I was in the eighth grade, and George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” was all over the radio. I’d already learned to play the drums, but since there was little chance that my parents would allow a second set of tubs in the house (the drums belonged to an older brother), I figured my chances would be better with the more compact and more “affordable” guitar. There was one of those in the house too, and it belonged to another brother. I’d been watching him for quite a while, experimenting with his little Orpheus tiger-striped acoustic in the rare dogpoop sunburst. Actually, what I really wanted most was just to pluck those six strings from low to high and follow with a single strum, which was a symbol of the old “Peter Gunn” TV show. Anyway, Guitar Brother eventually relinquished the Orpheus, but rather than deciding I should keep and treasure it the aforementioned two jerks joined with still another brother in destroying it. (Perhaps my oldest brother would have stopped them if he were there. No, he’s classically educated and hates rock ‘n’ roll, so he would’ve helped ‘em.) Hey, but at least it was fun to watch. It also showed me, right at the start of my life as a guitar addict, that there’s always another deal to be had somewhere. So, having owned the Orpheus only a matter of hours and suddenly finding myself without it, I became immersed in the culture of hunter-gatherers. Guitar Bro’ moved up to a Japanese-built Orlando classical, and I got a neighbor’s cast-off Mexican gut-string with the “Missing Tuner Button” feature.

Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar

Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar

One day Guitar Bro’ came home with a replacement for his Orlando, but this one wasn’t about to find itself skewered over a piece of rebar like the Orpheus had. It was a ’63 Gibson Hummingbird in mint–and I mean mint–condition, which had been closeted for eight years by a guy who couldn’t stand the thought of scratching it. (His everyday guitar was a Martin.) From the moment I heard that H-bird, with its thunderous and metallic bass end, woody lower mids and ringing trebles, I knew it would become the sonic standard by which I’d judge every other acoustic guitar. Put it this way: My brother still has it, and I still want it. I want that bitchin’ cherry-sunburst finish, the frets that are wide as skateboard wheels, the fully intact pickguard, the dual-trapezoid inlays, and everything else. Oh, and I’ll take the beat-up Victoria case, with key.

I suffered through a long succession of cheapo guitars, all of them quality-challenged except for the Orlando classical I’d inherited when my brother bought the Gibson. (The Orlando had some truly outrageous Brazilian rosewood. Today, something like that would be a thousand dollars.) But it really didn’t matter to me how bad the instruments were, because I’d practice at least two hours every day, beginning immediately after school. The guitar gave me the power to create chord progressions that reflected the influences of my musical upbringing: the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, Dylan, and the theme from “Bonanza.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced?

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced?

Hendrix, Live at Leeds & The Threshold of a Dream

Interestingly, I wasn’t yet hip to the electric guitar when I first heard Are You Experienced blasting out of the hi-fi in a neighbor’s garage down the street. I wasn’t really aware that Jimi was doing all that with a Strat, but sonically it struck me as some of the most powerful and poetic sound I’d ever heard. Over the years I thought about it—becoming a Hendrix freak in the process—and eventually I realized that the instrument and technique are tools that serve the music, not the other way around. In some schools of thought it’s called transparency.

Music was going all the time in my family’s house. And that, I suspect, is where this particular upbringing differed from others. Oh, there was the occasional silence—after all, it wasn’t an insane asylum or a supermarket—but listening to music was a pretty serious pursuit. As much as we gave our time to it, we gave our imagination to it. So, listening wasn’t just a matter of hearing, it was a matter of believing . . . and the music had to be great before we would believe in it. The fundamental distinction is that music wasn’t entertainment in that house, nor was it something we were “allowed” to have “once we’d reached a certain age.” Admittedly we were Anglophiles or even Europhiles, but that’s because there was so much orchestral music to be heard. It was a sensibility that encouraged a real affection for groups like the Moody Blues, as well as later bands like Hatfield and the North. They had everything: melody, harmonic sophistication, musicianship, great production. The haunting improvisations of the Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal, and the sonorous melodies of German bassist Eberhard Weber were a revelation too. Listening to their music teaches you that jazz was never strictly an American art form; there’s a classical-based contingent that’s every bit as important.

The Sparkling Storefront

Unshakeable faith can make for a lonely devotion, particularly when you follow something as nebulous and mystifying as music. But as luck would one day have it, a little shop was opening on a commercial street not far away, just down the street from the liquor store. And on the plain stucco edifice over the storefront a guy was spray-painting the image of a cherry-sunburst Les Paul. Wow. I was in high school by this time, and I was totally ready for a place like that. Not that I’d ever held a real Les Paul, but I’d ogled them in the display cases up at the music store in the mall. But I knew this was going to be different. It had to be, because I could clearly sense it. Shoot, I could smell those old guitars and musty little amps from out on the street. And there were two or three guys in the shop, just casually talking and playing. I scooted past the scaffolding and stepped inside.

Man, the sound was awesome. I can still see this quiet little gentleman sitting cross-kneed on a stool, cranking big, beautiful blues out of a ’68 Les Paul Custom and a blackface Fender Deluxe. He’d slur, squawk and bend those riffs in a way that was so filthy-dirty and lowdown, I knew I just had to get some of that. The sound was huge and authoritative, but at the same time the man’s approach was perfectly languid. It was one of those moments when you simply have to assume the music comes to you. You prepare, you perfect your tools, and then you lay back and play it. Awesome!

Thankfully, the owners of the vintage shop recognized me as one of their own: a happily addicted adolescent guitar nut who’d do anything to taste that magical concoction of six strings and twenty-odd frets. Maybe they thought I might even buy one of the seven or so ’55 Goldtops that adorned the walls there. Think of that: I was this nice Catholic kid whose every move betrayed a lack of experience in the world, and I was hangin’ out with guys who owned and sold some of the most righteous guitars ever made! I went there nearly every day, and tried not to be an ignorant little punk. That was the hard part.

Other people started hanging out at the shop too, and quickly it became a haven for players from throughout the South Bay. (That’s basically the part of Southern California occupied by Long Beach, which I also learned had an inordinately high number of monster guitarists.) If you were deemed by the owner to be good enough, and careful enough, then you could take the guitars off the hangers and play them. The deal with the shop was this: It wasn’t so much the guitar or the amp as an example of collectible history or an indicator of market value. Instead this was a place in search of the perfect recipe. To that end, everything was considered in excruciatingly precise detail. Fretboards were cleaned and conditioned (with linseed oil, now considered a possible carcinogen), pickups and wiring were inspected, and the amps were taken through a comprehensive auditioning process in two key environments–the carpeted, rough-pine paneled shop, and a crude cinder-block storage room at the back. There were catalogs of tubes and transformers, and there was a constant procession of speakers. These guys would put just about anything in a tube amp: Altec, JBL, Gauss, Jensen, Celestion, Eminence, and eventually some cheap no-name jobs with paper domes and extra-large voice coils. If an amp or guitar had the potential to sound great, the people at the shop could get it there.

Fender was the amp of choice at the shop.

Fender was the amp of choice at the shop.

What to Play?

Fender was the amp of choice at the shop. But these were no longer standard-issue Fenders. A local technician who’d developed a relationship with the shop owners had come up with a way to install a “clipper circuit” in place of the tremolo control. A friend told me it effectively electrified the front panel, but I hardly cared. Once I got up the nerve to say, “Mom, I need a blackface Fender Twin Reverb with master volume for my new gig”–and finding that she’d go for it–I was ready for my new moniker: “The Mayor of Solotown.” Sure, I tried the Marshall route eventually, courtesy of a road-weary hundred-watter that had been stripped of its vinyl, together with a similarly raped slant cab whose basket-weave grille was decorated with the residue of beer and barf. I just hated the thing. It sounded so dead – so devoid of ambience. I just couldn’t seem to play the room with it like I could with the open-back stuff. Another member of the inner circle urged me to keep the Marshall, saying it just needed fresh tubes. (Actually, he was right.) Well, a little reverb could’ve helped too! So, I took it back to the shop and got two amps: a silverface Twin circa ’70-’71, and an Ampeg VT-22 of roughly the same vintage. Man, that was nuts. I had way too much power, feedback that was totally controllable per distance and proximity, and the juicy Ampeg “cone-cry” that Marshall designs, good as they might have been, didn’t have. Those two amps worked together almost intuitively, and they made my little ’76 rock-maple Osborne solid-body sing like Pavarotti with his meatballs in a vice. I still think it was one of the most amazing sounds I’ve ever heard.

A benefit of being a familiar face was that I could hang around at the shop and play all these incredible guitars, but honestly the owners didn’t expect me to pony up for something truly vintage. I’d just walk in, and within a few minutes I’d be playing a ’57 three-pickup Custom – a guitar that was so good it could almost play itself. I could pick up a Goldtop with those delicious off-white soapbars and a stoptail, or even the co-owner’s customized Olympic white “studio Strat” with Mighty Mite brass hardware, EMG active pickups and a shimmed Jazzmaster neck, and blow out the licks till my fingernails bled. Over time I bought this guitar and that, like a scarred-up Guild Aristocrat and a fabulous mid-’60s Kazuo Yairi replica of a Martin 0018. And of course they knew I’d buy the ’63 ES-345 that someone had stripped bare with a steak knife and spray-lacquered. But no one ever said, “Hey, why don’t you buy something.” We of the inner circle even helped sell guitars, because we could make them sound like they should. I’d demo guitars for buyers all the time, and if I played it they’d probably buy it.

Once, though, I demoed a guitar for a kid just about my age, and I almost wished I hadn’t. I’d been at home practicing like crazy, and after a while I decided I’d visit the shop. There was this kid there, and he was interested in a particular Les Paul (a white Custom, I think). The manager said to me, “Hey, play something to show what this guitar can do.” So, I sat down and . . . and . . . found that I just couldn’t seem to play for beans. It was as if I was just too tired. Maybe I just felt like a trained monkey. In any case, all the whiplash-inducing improvisational skill I’d developed was singularly absent from my cells, and I just plain stunk on that guitar.

The kid still wanted the Les Paul

The kid still wanted the Les Paul

The kid still wanted the Les Paul. But once he’d left the shop, I told the manager I felt lousy about having played so poorly. His response was one of the profound surprises of my life up to that point: “So, you’ve been playing too much,” he said. “Now it’s time to just listen for a while.” It was far more wisdom than I deserved, but that’s the kind of friend this guy was capable of being. He was honest, and in his business he was equally so. It was another lesson: Be a listener. Listen to others, listen to your intuition, and listen to the silence that coincides with the noise. There’s a musical comparison too, I think. So much of what passes for kick-ass product these days is exactly that, a product that’s out to prove it can kick your ass. Time was, when there was a give-and-take in even the gnarliest music. There was an ebb and flow, and the tension and release that has characterized so much of the best music.

Our favorite albums

Our favorite albums

The Immersion Diversion

Clearly I was learning more about playing the guitar than I could have at any music school. It was everything in one package: musical, philosophical, technical, aesthetic, nostalgic and futuristic. There was a massive influx of ideas and tastes running from Delta blues and Africana to British progressive rock, on to German and Dutch hard rock, and tongue-in-cheek quasi-classical stuff from the studios and piazzas of Milan. We believed we should be able to grasp it all, and that we should be able to play it all. But that was part of the era. Perhaps none of us had a master’s degree in music, but there was a constant and intensive exchange of ideas and information. We’d bring in our favorite records by King Crimson, Automatic Man, Soft Machine, Caravan, Golden Earring, Be-Bop Deluxe, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa, and even the maniacally virtuoso French ensemble Magma. We’d listen to Taj Mahal, Leon Redbone, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and of course Jeff Beck. The power, the greatness and the grittiness of all that would get mixed together, and there at the confluence of it all we felt that absolutely anything was possible.

The guitars at the shop were generally a cut above, but the one that really had it all was a Flying V dating from about September 1957. It had a honey-colored Korina body so gorgeous, and a neck profile so perfect, that simply holding it was enough to make you forsake any other electric instrument. More than any Les Paul, Strat or Tele, it was the guitar. The tone was monumentally hot—bright, sassy and almost too sensuous for words–and the action over those polished frets and board edges was like something you dream of. And guess what? We used to play that sucker all the time, usually through the shop’s number-one Deluxe with that juicy master-volume setup. Man, it was so effing beautiful! But wait, you’d better steel your nerves for this, because it’ll either make you laugh like an idiot or cry like a baby. Ready? I’ll continue.

Birth of an Angel, and Others

Word had it that our beautiful “V” had been sold to a buyer somewhere down in Texas. But since it was obviously too special to be shipped, his plan was to drive out to the coast and pick it up. We never saw it leave the shop, nor could we have handled seeing it go. But a week or so later the shop manager told us the news. He made the report with an “ouch” of a smile that said all too clearly, “Easy come, easy go.” It turned out that the man who’d purchased the “V” only made it about halfway home with the guitar. He’d been running hard across the Arizona desert in his ’50s Ford pickup when suddenly he caught a whiff of smoke. Something smelled funny, like maybe rubber or wiring. Then he saw the flames licking the edges of the hood up front. Soon there was billowing smoke, fire was everywhere, and just one thing to do: pull over and get the hell out of that truck. He released the door, kicked it open, headed across the blacktop for the opposite shoulder and Kablooey!!! A gigantic pressure wave knocked him on his butt, from which position he could see a mushroom of molten iron and oil roiling toward the blue.

Damn. The Flying V was in the Ford.

Damn. The Flying V was in the Ford.

It was then that he remembered: The Flying V was in the Ford. He had set it up front with him, leaning it against the bench seat so that he could admire it as he drove along. But as the truck flamed itself to a crisp on that Southwestern highway, the soul of one almighty and godlike guitar silently winged its way to Heaven.

Other axes came and went, and we enjoyed them all. There were baby-blue Strats, Mustangs with racing stripes, Teles and Esquires, a Firebird V that a customer bought and had edge-radiused and refinished wine red, a particularly fine Les Paul Standard with the top refinished in translucent clover honey (like orange juice), and a ’58 blond dotneck 335 that I sincerely wish I’d put on layaway. And if your pickups weren’t up to snuff, good ol’ Bill the shop manager would fix that. He pulled the stock Hi-A units out of my Osborne and replaced them with DiMarzio PAFs that he’d hotrodded with longer magnets. He also installed some pre-amped EMGs and a five-way switch in my Ibanez Challenger II “Buddy Holly” Strat replica. Damn, what a great guitar that was. Wait, there’s something in my eye. Just a minute, the tears will pass.

Excuse me. Once in a while I remember letting that one go.

Robin Trower, Guitarist (Procol Harum)

Robin Trower, Guitarist (Procol Harum)

Fame However Fleeting

Big-time guitarists would come to the shop, too, usually after hours. For example, it was said that Robin Trower came in one night to audition three ’57 Strats that had been brought in for his consideration. And once I was invited to “drop by” with my guitar when Larry Carlton was scheduled to come in and try a caramel-sunburst ES. I was there for it, just waiting. Eventually he showed up, and after a few minutes he took a seat adjacent to me, on one of those funky squash-colored naugahyde ottomans that every guitar shop ought to have. He just started doing his thing, so I immediately jumped in with mine. It sounded good to me, and I could tell he was diggin’ it, so we played that way for at least half an hour. Eventually I packed up my guitar, but I loitered long enough to listen in as Carlton finished his business with the management of the shop. (He said he liked the ES but that the neck would need some work, which I took to mean reshaping.) Then, when I got home, Bill called from the shop and said, “So, after you left, Carlton goes, ‘Jeez, who was that kid!? He’s great!'” It was nothing, really. When you’ve been living and breathing Wishbone Ash for months, and practicing every waking hour, you aren’t going to feel intimidated by a few Steely Dan riffs.

Larry Carlton, Guitarist & Composer

Larry Carlton, Guitarist & Composer

Life goes on, and eventually I was too busy to visit the vintage shop very often. There was a change in management anyway, so the vibe was noticeably absent. In time I became a full-time writer, covering my favorite subject as an editor and contributor with various magazines. But in all the years since those days, when music focused our minds and fueled our fingers, I have yet to hear more than a handful of guitarists who can touch some of the players I knew from that little vintage guitar shop in Long Beach. I’ve lived in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Tokyo, and I’ve met, interviewed and studied with brilliant players. Latin, world music, rock, metal, the studio scene, fusion, and etcetera: all have their names and signatures. But when you find a place where you can immerse yourself in the art of the guitar—where you’re totally free of inhibitions and ready to learn from players of every genre—then there’s no question about it. That’s where you’ll find musicians who are quicker, faster, more fluid, funnier, more powerful, more dedicated, better equipped to improvise and easily equipped to out-rock any of the supposed masters from this or any crop in recent memory. Simply put, it’s the place.

Jeff Beck, Guitarist (The Yardbirds)

Jeff Beck, Guitarist (The Yardbirds)

The Philosophy Part

What did I learn, and what sort of philosophy emerged from my experiences there? Well, to review them and sum up I’d say it’s as important to attempt as to succeed; that the process is nothing without the quest for the process; that it’s all for nothing but never simply for entertainment; that it’s always worthwhile to want to be the best, even though there is never one “best”; that one should listen to the lessons of accident and random occurrence; that the person that makes the music, though the music fulfills the person; and that if you don’t play as if it were your very last time on this little blue planet, then you’re just wasting your time.

I also learned that you can play almost any kind of guitar you want and sound as good as you want. For instance, I don’t think any of the best players from this particular circle had the money it took to own one of the best guitars in the shop. In fact, I know they didn’t. Those guitars are intentionally priced to remain beyond the reach of the player, so that they’ll neither suffer from player wear nor embarrass the collector who can afford them but can’t actually play. But if you think we ever discussed it or worried about it, you’d be wrong. As I said earlier, we could play the vintage gear nearly anytime we wanted, and it was great. But then we’d head for our own guitars. I had my Osborne, which, if you can imagine, looks like a Rickenbacker 325 with a Mosrite headstock and Gibson-style hardware. Jeff had his lucite Dan Armstrong. Ronnie had a Strat with a fat little Tele neck on it, and Martin had an early issue of the Ibanez Artist in that nice violin finish. With the exception of my Osborne, nearly everything we owned was pre-owned, and certainly everything we played needed some serious tweaking due to overuse.

It’s still a challenge to defend an older guitar against a newer, better-built one. And since I nearly played the Osborne to death—to the point that I’d often fall asleep with it on my chest—I’ve placed it in the deep freeze until I can resurrect it. Instead, I play any of several guitars. For example, I had a superstrat built at ESP Craft House Tokyo in ’85. I hand-picked all the components myself, right down to the slab of northern ash, birds-eye neck and Bill Lawrence pickups. I even had the luthier assemble a Kahler Pro trem with a combination of brass and stainless parts. It has an oiled neck with a lacquered fingerboard, and the body is translucent cranberry. (Don’t ask how I put a belt-buckle dent in the top of the guitar.) Then I have a Yamaha SBG1300TS double-cutaway in gothic black. It weighs more than a Toyota and has a baseball-bat neck, but what resonance! There’s also an early ‘60s Eko model 200 “Mascot” archtop in showroom shape, aged to a delicate apricot blond. It’s small, but like many Eko acoustics it’s loud and very responsive, with tremendous sustain. And I have a four-pickup Eko Cobra that, despite the uprooted frets and shrunken pickguard, still manages to produce a sound that Stevie would’ve swapped his axe for. My current favorite, though, is a beautiful Eastwood Sidejack Deluxe in caramel sunburst. The fretboard is so slick and fast, I just can’t stay away from it. If I were to characterize its sound, I’d say it conjures the tonal balance of a Firebird, or maybe a super-hot Tele. There’s a “long scale” quality about the sound, which I really like.

See? There’s nothing outlandishly expensive. Sure, the Osborne is rare, with a serial number of “0003.” The ESP is tailor-made, and the Eko 200 is a sweetheart Django machine – a total rocket. But I treat each of them as a tool to help reach an artistic goal. It doesn’t take a fabulously expensive guitar to succeed in this respect. Instead you’ll want a guitar that doesn’t hold you back. You can play a guitar that challenges you, but a challenge is distinct from a hindrance. If the pickups are too hot or tend to feed back, you can pull back from “11.” When the intonation is off in the octave register, you can adjust it or deal with it. When there’s a tendency to play one guitar a bit more staccato than you’d like, you can simply relax and play more legato. You can even pick harder, or play fingerstyle, and achieve a similar result. Just make the instrument your own. Teach that guitar how to play and how to sound its best. Then it can teach you in return.

So, if you’re out there, Martin, Ronnie, Rob, Mark, Bill, and especially my old friend Jeffrey, I want to thank you for making me a part of the group. You’ve taught me more than I could ever say, and you’ll always be among my true guitar heroes.

10 Perfect Guitars & Their Applications

We all know there are some great, classic electric guitars out there… but which ones can be truly deemed “perfect guitars”? Well, this Top 10 list may just have the answer!

Eric Clapton Live

Eric Clapton Live… with his trustworthy Strat!

Hi everyone I hope you have been enjoying my column, here’s more stuff to ponder. It seems every time you turn around there’s another list, 100 best this, 10 worst that’s. Well here’s another list for ya! But at least this one does not involve Paris Hilton. I now that some of my listings may be a bit controversial (one in particular) as I said before these are my opinions based on my experiences. Like all things in music they are not right or wrong, just some good-natured opinions that will hopefully stimulate your own thoughts on this subject.

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar

#1 Fender Stratocaster: The guitar that defined rock and roll music.
This guitar is as crucial a design and tool as can be expressed. It is unparalleled in it’s uniqueness and sound. Nothing sounds like a Strat, the bridge pickup sounds similar but not the same as a Tele bridge pickup. The same can be said for the neck pickup, and the middle pickup is so unique I cannot think of another guitar sound that can be mistaken for it. And the “between the pickups” sound is what it is truly Strat-esque. Leo was a god among men.

Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar

Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar

#2 Fender Telecaster: The most versatile guitar ever made.
The Telecaster, Leo Fender’s maiden voyage into the uncharted world of guitardom. The only guitar that can be credibly used as a rock, blues, country and yes, jazz guitar (even with the stock single coil in the neck position). The best way I describe the Tele when asked why it is my favorite guitar is that my ideas on the Tele are mostly musical ideas not sonic ideas (like the Strat). The Telecaster don’t play itself brother, it’s all there for the taking, but you must be man enough to take it. It’s low maintenance and very consistent from Tele to Tele.

Martin D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

#3 Martin D-28: The standard of what an acoustic guitar should sound like.
I dunno I guess I must have been a real jerk when I was young, because I thought Martins were overrated and inconsistent. I was so brainwashed that one day I went into a guitar shop in New York with the sole intention of buying a J-200. While I was there the proprietor said I must check out this Martin D-28, and I did. Let me tell you this guitar was a dream come true, it came alive when you strummed a chord. The top vibrated so strongly I checked to see if it was cracked. It sounded even and true, it sounded so good that I thought to myself “I ain’t good enough to play this guitar.” So I bought the J-200 with the fancy clouds on the fretboard that sounded like a surfboard. BTW I recently contacted the guy who bought that J-200 and it still sounds like a surfboard 20 years later. The D-28 works for all kinds of music, bluegrass, rock and even blues as it is a very underestimated slide guitar ( not many of us have the scratch to play a 28 for slide only though).

Gibson ES-175 Electric Guitar

Gibson ES-175 Electric Guitar

#4 Gibson ES 175: The best amplified arch top.
I am sure Joe Pass could have played an L5 if he wanted to, and after playing the ES 175 live I understood why many jazz guitar players chose the mid line maple top box. I have found them to be consistent and manageable at higher volumes or when you are set up close to your amp. I also own a Gibson Tal Farlow and have found it to be an ornate version of the 175. I also like the Lawsuit Ibanez 175 copies very much if you don,t mind the narrow neck profile.

Gibson SG Electric Guitar

Gibson SG Electric Guitar

#5 Gibson SG: The ultimate rock and roll guitar.
Short and sweet here. It’s easy to play, it’s light, it looks amazing, it cuts through like no other humbucking guitar on the planet, and it sounds good with virtually any decent amplifier. Here we go, Young, Iommi, Zappa, Clapton, Harrison, Santana (early w/ P90’s), Townsend (also P90’s). Great lead guitar, awesome rhythm guitar. SG Suggestion: Try a hi-output Humbucker in the bridge position like a DiMarzio Super Distortion it will amaze you; it will still cut like a knife.

Gibson L5 Archtop Guitar

Gibson L5 Archtop Guitar

#6 Gibson L5: The standard for what an acoustic arch top is.
I am speaking strictly about the acoustic L5 model only. This is the model that greats like Freddie Green played so well in the big band setting. A little background on the non amplified arch top, I always felt that the guitar player in early big bands served as a chord voice in the rhythm section just as the banjo player did in the New Orleans jazz bands in the early 20th century. They kept the rhythm for the musicians and were barely heard by the audience. Just say it, Gibson L5. Ahhh!

Gretsch 6120 Electric Guitar

Gretsch 6120 Electric Guitar

#7 Gretsch 6120: Eddie Cochran and Chet Atkins, what else needs sayin?
The match of a visionary guitar player and a Gretsch 6120 seems to very common in guitar lore. This guitar has an arch top design, that combined with the Bigsby tremolo and the Filtron pickups give this guitar a sound that is rockabilly yet with a tweak of the tone controls can be tamed into a great accompaniment guitar as well. I always felt that the sound from this Gretsch was somewhere between an ES series Gibson and a Telecaster (not a bad neighborhood). My experience also tells me that the 6120 sounds damn good plugged into almost any amp I ever heard it with. One of my faves was my 6120 plugged into a Lab Series L5 amp housing a 15 inch JBL E130 speaker. This guitar is great for rockabilly, country, surf, chordal rock rhythm guitar, and any ensemble music.

Martin 000-28 Acoustic Guitar

Martin 000-28 Acoustic Guitar

#8 Martin 000-28: The ultimate blues and finger style acoustic guitar.
Also the OM-35 the long scale version of the 000 body size. I know this might be a somewhat controversial choice but, this comes from my own playing experience as well. I always marveled how the great bluesman would manhandle the guitars they played, in lieu of the fact that many of them had these enormous hands. I always felt that the mass of these hands in comparison to the at most times low budget guitars they played led to the sound they produced. This particular mortal (me!) who did not sharecrop or toil as many of these great men had to do just can’t seem to be able to get that sound from a dreadnought, but when I play a 000 size guitar I feel like Big Bill (Broonzy) himself. I can fingerpick with ease and muffle and mute just like Lightning Hopkins. The even sound of the 000 also lends itself to the unaccompanied nature of solo blues guitar. You may ask “why have I not seen some of these great bluesman play a 00-28?” My answer to that question is two-fold I believe economics is one, and the fact that many of our legendary bles pickers preferred more ornate guitars, and stayed away from the “country guitars.” The Martin 000-28 is a true classic!

Danelectro Solid Body Guitar

Danelectro Solid Body Guitar

#9 Danelectro solid body: The best cheap guitar ever made.
As far a the Danny is concerned, I ask you will it compete with the Les Paul or Strat as your primary guitar? Obviously not, but I ask you is there a more versatile/ quality “off the wall” guitar. It’s an unreal slide guitar (see Lindley in your guitar dictionary). A great rootsy rhythm or lead guitar, and how many of the great Chicago bluesman have you seen playing these guitars? They cut through very well when played alongside other guitars. And the shielding and pickups were very ahead of their times. They look god awful cool, they stay in tune when set up decently. And again I will say that I have never heard a Danny not sound like a Danny through any amp, actually the cheaper the amp the better they sound. I actually prefer the two pickup model for slide and the three pickup for regular application. The twelve strings and odd ball models like the sitar and bellzouki and Guitarlin also sound awesome. The reissues are as good as the originals, and actually play better, although I like the sound of the old pickups better. Go out and buy a half dozen of them right now!!!

Gibson Les Paul Jr Electric Guitar

Gibson Les Paul Jr Electric Guitar

#10 Gibson Les Paul Junior: Turn it up and bang away a no frills no brainer.
The name “Junior” almost demeans the stature of this guitar. When I say perfect I mean that perfect for the application it is used for. Ask anyone who has ever owned one they all say the same thing – “I should have never got rid of that Jr.”; I am also including all the Les Paul Junior variants as well as the early SG Jr.s as they all serve the same purpose to me. I have always felt that when guitar god Leslie West played his Junior his technique was so strong that it compressed the sound like he was squeezing a golf ball through a garden hose. The guitar reacted so well to his hands, there had to be a reason Leslie played the Junior for so long. First of all has anybody ever heard a bad sounding ones? The only difference I have heard was that I prefer the fatter neck Jr.s as they seen more stable and have a bit mote chunk and sustain. These guitars sound great coming through any amp, although they obviously do not sound as good through a solid state amp. I sometimes wish that I could play my Jr.s more often, but my particular style demands a bit of a more versatile guitar. Yes, the Jr. is not a very versatile guitar, but its still perfect as far as what it does, and what it does is kicks ass!

The Best Of The Rest…

These guitars are great, but not perfect. Let’s say… they are a respectable 9 out of 10!

Les Paul model
Too inconsistent, too many variables great ones are great, bad ones suck. Some are way too heavy, I have seen Les Pauls that weighed in excess if 12 lbs, that’s too much and way too inconsistent. I have always believed from the over 30 years of guitar worship that the Les Paul was the red headed stepchild at Gibson and did not get the attention it deserved. Here’s a hint or two on picking a good Paul – from me to you: #1 if the neck pickup has a high endy squawky “cut” you are well on your way. #2 if it could replace a Tele in a pinch it’s a winner in my book. Muddy, low mid laden Pauls give the model a bad name.

Mosrite Ventures
Great look and design, great sound but, Too thin neck and too small frets, bad tremolo (arm too short and too close to the body and gets “mushy” fast, Not great woods that many times don’t match in weight and density. For a more modern take on the design, make sure to check the Eastwood Sidejack series, which is getting even more popular than the originals!

Gibson ES-335
Some with necks that are unplayably thin. Bridge pickups are not trebly enough (not pickups themselves I believe it’s a design flaw). Great blues guitar in the right hands. A one trick pony.

Gibson ES-345 and 355
The Varitone need I say more? I own several of them but they cannot be my only guitar at a gig.

Gibson L5 CES
Too much pickup for a spruce top arch top. The guitar explodes out of your hand when played proximate to an amp, Useless treble pickup. Yeah I know Wes Montgomery played one (his was a one pickup model), well lets not compare ourselves to Wes okay? I also heard from a reliable source that Wes altered his guitars so they wouldn’t feedback, and that his left hand technique restricted this problem also.

Gibson acoustics: J-200/ J45/J160
Inconsistent, too long to break in, by the time you know whether you have a good one or not you are ready to retire. Buy a used one that sounds good and be happy you got a good one.

Rickenbacker V64 12-string
Aside from the string spacing being too close this is a perfect 12 string electric, but not perfect. Check out the Carl Wilson model if you can find one. George, how did you do it?

Great Mistakes in the World of Guitar

Well folks we all know what great guitars have been designed and created over the years, but there were some vessels of musical expression in the guitar world that were, lets say a stroke of mistaken genius. In this column I’ll discuss some of the mistakes that we have more or less taken for granted, and I also give some of my own mistakes that might work out for you.

The great Leo Fender and his mistakes of genius.

When you are a musical visionary like Leo Fender even your mistakes are great creations. Lets start with the most influential and copied amplifier of all time, the 1959 Fender Bassman. The Bassman was a 40 watt bass amp, not a bad idea at the time, knowing that there were no more powerful amps of that era. However, there are some design features that made the Bassman a better guitar amp than bass amp. First of all, it had an open back, (when was the last time you saw an open back bass amp?) not an ideal situation for reproducing bass frequencies, but great for guitar. The two channels, one for bass and one for instruments, were designed knowing that many bands of the era shared amps. This second channel was and is the guitar sound that many of us marveled at for years on so many recordings.

The bottom line is, that Leo made a less than great bass amp that is a great guitar amplifier. Great mistake #1.

Leo Fender does it again!
I list some more of Mr. F’s miscalculations here.

The Stratocaster, arguably the most important guitar in rock and roll history, was originally thought of by Leo as the perfect guitar for his favorite guitar player in his favorite band. The guitar player was Eldon Shamblin and the band was Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Those of you not familiar with the aforementioned band and guitar player they were a western swing phenomenon of the 30’s and 40’s with a very big following in California. Leo wanted to create a guitar that would fit into the sound of the band whose music at the time was fertile ground for arch top jazz boxes. So Leo’s Stratocaster was supposed to be a jazz and swing guitar. I ask again when was the last time you saw a jazz or swing guitar player strumming four to the bar on a Strat?

One more from Leo:
Ah yes the Jazzmaster, I guess when the Strat didn’t make the grade with jazz guitar players Leo figured if I put the word jazz in the name that might make jazz guys wanna play them. Again Leo failed at creating a jazz guitar. History tells us that the Jazzmaster as was the Jaguar were copied incessantly by overseas guitar makers. They being so impressed with the upper end, Fender decided to copy them instead of the more popular Stratocaster, another mistake that has went under the radar.

Gibson gets into the mistake game too.
When Fender came out with the Telecaster and it became popular, Gibson said we must get into the solid body guitar world. We all know that Les Paul was consulted and in 1952 Gibson’s first Les Paul showed up. Legend has it that Gibson, a builder of top end arch tops and flat tops could not see themselves putting the Gibson name of a no frills slab of wood with a screwed on neck. So they insisted that their loyal Gibson customers would want the solid body guitar to have an arched top like their “box” guitars.

So they made a two pickup solid body with an arched top and a fancy gold top.

The guitar was not well received by players, as a matter of fact the Gibson players they were after, and thought the guitar was a non responsive, heavy guitar, especially with the 1952 trapeze tailpiece that made it impossible to mute with your right hand. The players who were the new solid body rebels saw the Les Paul as an overpriced, ornamental, non cool guitar.

One aspect of the Les Paul design that has been debated over the years was did the arch top on a solid body guitar actually make a difference in the sound and was the difference a better sound? That question I will leave to you to answer yourself, my opinion is that all design features affect the sound somewhat.

Interesting subtext to the Les Paul legacy is that when Gibson introduced the SG style guitar, players started cramming to get old design Les Paul’s. Gibson seeing this, eventually reintroduced the Les Paul in 1968 after a seven year hiatus.

Another cool mistake was that when Gibson came out with the circa 68 Paul’s they had leftover stock of Les Paul bodies from the 50’s that were already routed for the P90 pickup. The dilemma was that the new humbuckers did not fit the hole in the body. Gibson thought, what do we have in stock that would fit into this P90 hole? Well after acquiring Epiphone (1963ish) they had a stockpile of Epi’s venerable New York mini hum buckers. They made a plastic ring around the pickup to retrofit it into the P90 rout, and figured we might as well call it something different hence the Les Paul Deluxe!! (Didn’t you ever wonder why the Deluxes were initially all gold tops?)

So I think that great ideas sometimes are not necessarily what they were intended to be, but are still great ideas!

Here are some of my own off the wall ideas…

  1. Baritone guitars set up for slide: I did this by chance at a gig when I mistakenly brought along my baritone instead of my slide guitar. I took some 11 gauge strings strung up the old baritone and played the gig. The guitar sounded unbelievable! Sustain and tone was awesome. The sound was more like lap steel than a regular guitar strung for slide. BTW the guitar I used was a cheapo Kingston Baritone, later on I used a better guitar and that one sounded great too.
  2. Flatwounds on a solid body guitar: I love flat wounds on hollow body guitars, but I have really come to enjoy them on Tele’s and Mosrites (and all their clones). You get that old school Glen Campbell/Joe Maphis sound, great for surf stuff too. Another benefit from this set up is using a fuzz box with the flat wounds on a solid body. You can replicate that hard to capture 60’s studio sound exactly, remembering that many of the studio guitar players in the 60’s were still comfortable with their flat wounds and that many of them were using the same guitar for every session. Check it out! Oh and BTW single coil Fenders, Mosrites work best for this application I find Gibson solid bodies are too muddy with flat wounds.
  3. After seeing Johnny Winter playing a Fender XII 12 string strung up for slide, and seeing Blues great Earl Hooker playing a Gibson double neck with the 12 string neck with 6 strings on it I figured “maybe there’s something to this”, and guess what there is! The added mass to the headstock adds an X factor to the sound in the form of added sustain and a magical high mid cut that really sounds very unique. Suggested guitars to try this on a Fender XII, Epiphone Riviera 12 string (great combo w/ the mini humbuckers), and any decent Japanese cheapo guitar if you string it for slide you will not be sorry.

That’s it for now! Keep on strumming and remember Joey Says Experiment!!!

Joey Leone with his Fender Telecaster

Joey Leone with his Fender Telecaster

Peace and Joy.

Amplifiers: The Real Voice of the Electric Guitar

One thing I have noticed over the thirty years I have been playing guitar is that guitars have their own sound no doubt, but amplifiers do “reproduce” the sound of the electric guitars differently. Case in point, the Les Paul guitar coming out of a vintage Marshall an amp with plenty of treble, sounds fat yet cuts through nicely. I believe the same thing for a Les Paul running through a blackface Super Reverb, it cuts beautifully. Put that same Paul through say a Tweed Pro or a first run Ampeg Reverberocket and it sounds muddy and has trouble cutting through especially using the neck pickup. IMHO a sure test of a good Paul is does the neck pickup have some bite to it.

Now the next question you may ask is, “are there any guitars that will cut through coming from one of these Tweed amps?” I say yes, plug a Strat in that same Pro and see how awesome it sounds, thick yet trebly.

So the point of this column is, the choice of guitars is a primary decision – I don’t think there are many players out there saying “I wanna play a Twin Reverb what guitar should I get?” – and the amplifier choice is key in getting the sound you want. I am sure that there are some guitar strummers out there who would embrace the potential “mismatch” in guitar and amp symmetry, to assist in them finding there own voice. To this I say Cheerio! Always seek your own sound. Sometimes I believe that playing a Tele through a Twin Reverb can be a potentially intimidating experience as so many great guitar players have that combo as part of their signature sound.

So here are a few suggestions that seem to work for me.

Fender Vibrolux Amp (Blackface)

Fender Vibrolux Amp (Blackface)

#1: Fender Blackface Vibrolux amp and most Gibson equipped guitars especially a Les Paul, an SG, or any ES series guitar.

This is a great combo for rock, blues, country, pop and even jazz at a low volume. This was originally brought to my attention by my friend and fellow Vermonter John Sprung (knower of all Fender amplifier lore, etc). And as always he was right, this combo sound great!

#2: Fender Brownface tremolo-equipped amp and a Stratocaster. This is a sound from the gods, an incredibly thick, full, hypnotic sound, not too dissimilar to Jimi’s sound using the Uni-Vibe but, I feel a more organic sound than even that striking sound. I do believe that when you start to overdrive this set-up from the front end with a pedal you do lose some of the clarity and basic integrity of this sound. If you don’t have a Brownface Fender and don’t want to change your primary amp you are now using just to get this sound, you might want to check out the Victoria Tremverb, it’s a tweed free standing unit ala the Fender Reverb unit but has the Brownface tremolo circuit also.

1974 Marshall 18-watt combo amp

1974 Marshall 18-watt combo amp

#3: Marshall 18-watt combo amp and a Les Paul. Not much else to say here really, this sound will absolutely blow you away, it’s the sound we all marveled at on those early Clapton/ Peter Green recordings. I know a lot of you are saying that’s the “Bluesbreaker” sound and yes you are right it is but, I believe you can only get that sound from a hand-wired Bluesbreaker combo.

The new Reissue Marshall 1974x HW is the absolute balls! I own three of these and cannot tell you how happy I am with them. Get one!

Fender Twin Reverb Amp (Blackface)

Fender Twin Reverb Amp (Blackface)

#4: Fender Blackface Twin Reverb amp and a Fender Telecaster. Clean, toppy and true, baby. Your technique will show through with this set-up like no other. If you are confident and want to be heard this is true test. And please don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is a country exclusive combination, because it is not, ask Mike Bloomfield. Those of you familiar with his guitar lineage will know that before the great Bloomfield went to the “Burst” he played a Tele through a Twin for years. Again I will tell you that this set-up will work for blues, rock, country and yes, even jazz.

If you are looking for this sound in a more manageable context try the “Baby Twin” the BF Pro Reverb instead. It will sound similar but break up a bit easier, and a bit more “club owner friendly.”

Vox AC-30 Guitar Amp

Vox AC-30 Guitar Amp

#5: Vox AC-30 amp and the Rickenbacker 12-string and the Gretsch Chet Atkins Models. Yeah I know another no-brainer, but how could I speak on the guitar-amp relationship without discussing the perfect one. As a foolish young man I was heard to say on occasion “imagine if the Beatles had used Fender amps and Gibson guitars instead of those god awful sounding Gretsch’s.” Oh boy was that a moment of genius, heh?

The AC-30 and its Top Boost circuit helped the Gretsch cut through so well on those recordings while still remaining full and complete sounding across the frequency range of the guitar (a reoccurring theme in this column I’d say).

Now onto the Rick 12 and the ¾ scale 325 model that John Lennon favored in the early Beatle days. Both of these guitars were equipped with what has been called the “toaster pickups”, These pickups did not have a lot of output which only enhanced the “jangly” sound we all came to love back then. The AC-30 embraced this aspect and produced a clean but yet again strong sound with not much in the bass end but with plenty of treble and mids. Another seldom ignored aspect of this sound was the fact that the Ricks came with flatwound strings and were smart enough to supply the Lads with replacements.

Just a couple of quickies for you.

  • Polytone Mini-Brute and a Gibson ES 175 (Joe Pass sound, but you can’t buy his technique, sorry!)
  • Magnatone tremolo amp with a Stratocaster (if it’s good enough for Buddy Holly its good enough for me)
  • Any cheapo hand wired amp from the early 60’s (Valco, Supro, Kalamazoo, take your pick) with a Danelectro lipstick pickup outfitted solid body guitar.
  • And last but not least, a Tweed Fender Champ and any quality solid body guitar, cranked up to 10 baby!!!!

Feel free to email me some of your faves and I will include thrm in future columns.

The Beatles in My Cousin’s Backyard Swimming Pool

Growing up in Miami during the 60’s was a lot of fun with the beaches and the good weather, there was a small town atmosphere. I didn’t realize then what a hot bed of music I was living in. Battle of The Bands every weekend at the Concord Shopping Center, your basic strip mall. You could hear the music on my front porch. Mostly Surf and instrumental tunes, matching shirts, guitars and blond Fender piggy back amps…the typical garage band fair , but some of my favorites to this day!

All of this is cronicled in Jeff Lemrichs book – Savage Lost – about the South Florida Garage scene.

Life Magazine, Feb. 1984: The Beatles in my cousin's backyard swimming pool

Life Magazine, Feb. 1984: The Beatles in my cousin’s backyard swimming pool

Every other weekend I would go to my cousin’s house with my 62′ CAR Strat and Bandmaster to practice in his garage. These were large homes built in what they call {in Florida} a Hammock, heavy vegetation all around so that you could not see the house nextdoor or across the street. Richard was the guy behind my cousins house who had drums and a P.A., so naturally he was our first choice to join our band.

Early 1964 we were playing every weekend, the garage ,backyard parties and the occasional school dance.

On the Wednesday before a Saturday night gig, Richard call’s and says he wouldn’t be able to make it, he has to help his Dad, a Dade County Sheriff on special detail. This Sucked! No drummer, no P.A. no Saturday Night Gig!! That Friday after school we went to see Richard to beg his Dad to let him off…..

We were stopped at the drive-way by two huge Sheriff’s officers and told to Go Away.. Up the drive we could see three black Cadillac Fleetwoods { I know Cars!} We asked them to tell Richard we came by as a last resort. Saturday came and went and we were more than puzzled by what was going on. This was the same neighborhood were Jack “Murf The Surf” Murphy lived during his diamond hiesting days!

Sunday I was getting ready to call Mom to come pick me up and go home. About three in the afternoon Rich calls and says he can’t talk about whats been happening at his house but if we will get dressed in our Sunday clothes he will meet us in an hour with a big surprise that will” make everything right with the world!”

Right on time Mrs. Shindler’s gold 64′ Grand Prix shows up, Rich in the front seat smiling from ear to ear! “Sorry I couldn’t talk to you guy’s this week, but we had house guests and security was tight”. What gives? “We are on our way to Miami Beach to the Deauville Hotel for the tapeing of the Ed Sullivan Show!!”

His Dad, Sheriff Schindler was in charge of Beatles security while they were in Miami!! Our pal, our drummer had The Beatles in his house!! His Pool! His room! And he could’nt tell a soul!! Our lives were changed that weekend. We were already Fanatics and had all the records and had already cut back on the surf music! The show was awesome, you saw it too! I buzzed on this for years! That Life magazine cover story was shot in the Shindler’s pool, on their diving board! In 51 years of living that weekend of laying around totally bummed out and dejected is one of the best couple of days I ever had!

Post by: Mark Harvey from Dallas, TX