Sunday, March 9, 2008

Jose Luis Velazquez Requinto Romantico

This was my first guitar. It was a gift from my aunt when I still lived in Mexico over 20 years ago. It had remained in Mexico at my parents' house for over a decade before I decided to bring it with me to the states. It is a requinto romantico handmade in Paracho, Michoacan by Jose Luis Velazquez. It has a solid spruce top, solid palo escrito (Mexican rosewood) sides and back, rosewood fretboard and mother of pearl soundhole inlay (pictured below.)

The requinto romantico is a small guitar that's tuned all the way up to A. This gives it a very bright and beautiful sound, perfect for rasqueo style in Mexican music, or soloing over trio-style songs. Growing up, I never gave this guitar the respect it deserved. Now I have a lot of appreciation for its craftsmanship and sound.

There's not a whole lot of information available online about this luthier or requintos in general. But, Candelas Guitars sells requintos made by Tomas Delgado. His mahogany requinto is remarkably similar to mine.
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Fender Vibro Champ Amplifier

This is the first amplifier I ever bought. It's an all-tube Fender Vibro Champ from the late 70s or early 80s. I purchased it from Elderly instruments when they would still ship amplifiers. I've used this little amp in a lot of my recordings. It doesn't have reverb, but it does have tremolo, which I like. The tremolo on this amp sounds more intense than the one in another bigger Fender amp I own from the same era.

Another nice thing about this amp is that it breaks up easily with my Les Paul. It's not the most reliable amp for playing live, however, as it does peter out if the volume is set anywhere past 8. Still, for recording, it sounds huge.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

2000 Gibson Gary Moore Signature Les Paul

Here we have a very nice Gibson Les Paul. It is a Gary Moore model from the year 2000. It's in a very rare and unique transparent black finish. You'll be hard-pressed to see another one like this anywhere else. I purchased this guitar from my local vintage guitar shop. I saw it hanging on the wall and could not believe it was a Gary Moore model, even though the words "Gary Moore" were engraved on the truss rod cover.

All the Gibson literature I've come across proclaims that this model was only available in a "lemon burst" finish. After I purchased the guitar, however, I contacted Gibson about the unusual color. They wrote me back within 24 hours and informed me that the transparent black finish was not part of normal production. They did acknowledge, however, that mine was a Gary Moore model based on the serial number. With respect to the finish, in their words, "it could have been custom/special ordered, or even just a small run were done this way." If anyone out there owns one like mine, I would love to know. In any event, this is a wonderful guitar that I feel very fortunate to own.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

1986 Fender American Standard Stratocaster

What better way to inaugurate my guitar-related blog than with an American classic. This is my most recent purchase. It is a first-year Fender American Standard Stratocaster. I've wanted a 70s strat for a while, but prices on these appear to be artificially inflated. I've been told that in the 80s it was cheaper to buy a 70s strat than a new American Standard. This situation has apparently reversed itself, so I opted for this 1986 American Standard in Inca Silver. I think these 80s American Standards are of outstanding quality compared to newer strats.
Before I decided on this one, I went to a vintage shop where I tried a number of strats. I tried everything from vintage reissues to custom shop items. I then saw an 80s American Standard in the "cheaper strat section" and I decided to try it. That 80s standard played and sounded better than all the other "$1,000 or more" strats I tried. But I didn't like the color.
Then I saw this one online and the price was right, so I bought it. I am very happy with this guitar. I had never understood why so many guitarists went gaga over strats. I can now say that I finally get it. This humble stratocaster plays, sounds and feels amazing.