Friday, August 28, 2015

1980 Ibanez Iceman IC-50 Electric Guitar

Vintage Japanese axe, with original hardware and custom paint job

This is another guitar that I've owned for over 20 years and I also found this one at Westminster Jewelry and Loan. When I bought it, it was black and had many rough patches on the body, where it had been scratched and/or dinged. My buddy decided to strip it and sand it down a little to smooth out some of those blemishes and used crackle paint from the local hardware store for the paint job. A thin layer of lacquer was applied to seal it and it has slightly faded into a bit of a sweet cream color today.

The hardware was also in very bad shape, the tail piece and saddle were dipped in some sort of black coating that used to make a better grip on tools. Maybe it wasn't the best idea, sonically, but it looked cool and lasted a fairly long time.Another distinguishing feature on this guitar is the nut at the end of the fretboard, someone scalloped it at some point and that's not something you see on what is considered a mid-level guitar, at best.

I took this in to Clay at Beach City Pawn and Guitar to replace the toggle switch and clean up the electronics. He also set it up and raised the pickups. This one always played and sounded so good, that it was actually my main guitar when I first got it and I played it at my first gig over the vintage Les Paul that I've had for nearly 25 years. The pickups aren't quite as hot as the Gibson and it's a great option for laying down rhythm tracks. I'll take it back to Clay at some point to restore it further, the tuning keys have a fair amount of tarnish and the frets could use a cleaning.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

1980s J. Steele 300/301 Precision Bass Guitar

Vintage Korean Fender P-Bass copy, saw action at some of my first gigs and still going strong

Virtually everything featured here over the last few years is something that has been found within that time frame, with just a few notable exceptions. This cheap little nugget is something that I found at Westminster Jewelry and Loan around this time in 1993. I bought this for $85 and over 20 years later, there is little to no information available about the make or model. Used Price suggested the model numbers and stated that they were made in 1987, but that's all I could find.

I gigged with this and put in countless hours of practice in 1993 and 1994, but by the time I moved on to other bands in later years, I had upgraded to a mid-level Ibanez. A friend of mine cleaned up the pots a few years back when he was fostering it and it still sounds and plays great. The neck isn't quite as fast as the Ibanez Roadstar that sits in front of it on the rack, but I still pick it up every once in a while, for old time's sake.

Some of the stickers on this bass are really special, especially the ones on the back. There is a Philadelphia theme on both sides, but the Philadelphia Music Company is a now-defunct music store from that area and where I first fell in love with guitars as a kid. The White Zombie sticker was a fan club thing 20 years ago and is probably worth just as much as the bass today. Of course, the KNAC and Pirate Radio stickers are original, and those were the two main radio stations that I listened to as a teenager in So Cal in the early 1990s.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1975 Takamine F400S 12-String Acoustic Guitar

Vintage Martin lawsuit copy, solid top 12-string, made in Japan

The quest for vintage solid tops may have ended, as this guitar is definitely an upgrade from the F-385 that I picked up a few months ago. This will require some TLC though. The body has warped and con-caved at the soundhole and one of the braces inside the body has also cracked. I wanted this guitar so bad, that I bought it knowing that I'd have to put some cash into it and I even took the train down to Oceanside to pick it up...

As soon as I got back home, I took the guitar to Clay at Beach City Pawn and Guitar to assess the damages. I was relieved to hear that giving the wood some moisture would help the body go to back to something resembling its former shape over time. After only 4 days of this treatment, I can already see the difference and I plan on taking new measurements on Saturday. There is also a crack on the bottom edge of the body, but it looks like it may only be in the clear finish.

This is something that will definitely have before and after photos, like the Yamaha FG-200 that I found last year. That one didn't really have any structural damage, but it was still in bad shape and now it looks and plays great. Hopefully, this will have a similar outcome. Clay also noted that the action wasn't bad, even though the body had sunken in so deeply and the bridge and neck are both in good shape. Hopefully we'll have good news to report in a couple of months.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

1988 Peavey Studio Chorus 210 Combo Amp

Another sweet Peavey amp is added to the collection, vintage Made in the USA

All of the pieces featured here have some sort of history and sometimes you end up with something that once belonged to a classic artist. This one seems to be an early model and was owned by guitarist Lanny Cordola, who Peavey once sponsored while he was in House of Lords and signed to RCA records in the late-80s.

This is now the 2nd Peavey amp in the vault and this one is their answer to the Roland Jazz Chorus. When I posted the photos on Facebook, someone chimed in and questioned the ability of this amp to create heavy metal sounds. As recently stated when discussing the Squier 15 Practice Amp, my main guitar is a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom and it's loaded with a vintage Seymour Duncan Invader and a vintage DiMarzio Super Distortion. This is probably why I'm able to get such heavy sounds out of these amps and last night, the Super D (bridge) was churning out Paranoid-era Black Sabbath and the Invader was replicating GNR and AC/DC sounds.

I bought this amp for the stereo chorus, as I prefer the sound of the effects on these old amps to what I'm getting out of vintage pedals and some rack units that I've accumulated. Another thing about this amp is that its loud. It goes from barely audible to stadium rock and there is seemingly no in between. I love it... Back to Lanny Cordola, he has a charity project where he teaches music to children in poverty-stricken countries. Lanny & The MLKs is the name of his band and the bassist/previous owner, Billy the Fist is a local player who also works as the touring bassist for legendary Hollywood glam band, London.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

1978 Yamaha FG375S Acoustic Guitar

Vintage solid top, made in Taiwan, in top playing condition with slight surface wear

Most of the guitars that I buy are purchased out of sheer curiosity. Sometimes I've never heard of the brand or its something that I've seen or heard about and never actually played, so I'll at least check it out to see if its playable and then make my decision. This is a rare case where I saw something that I had to have and it will be tough for me to let go.

Along this now 3-year long journey of testing out vintage gear, Yamaha is one of the names in acoustic guitars that has made a good impression on me. I've been able to find many FG models from the early-to-mid 1970s and even more contemporary models. I even picked up a FG400A from the early-90s during a trip home to Philadelphia a couple of years ago. All of these guitars have been very good players, especially for the price and a some of them have been absolutely beautiful.

This one falls into that category. It doesn't possess the booming low-end tone of the FG-160s and 200s, but it plays like a much more expensive guitar. The diamond inlays and thick binding give that impression and other than a few nicks on the face and headstock, she's still in very good cosmetic condition as well. Someone slapped a set of Grovers on there and probably a long time ago, as they read "patent pending" on the bottom. I'm absolutely ecstatic with this guitar. I paid a little more than I normally do for what is featured here, but it was well worth it and my arsenal of acoustic guitars just got a really big gun.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1980s Fender Eighty-Five Combo Amp

Vintage combo amp, built in the USA and made famous by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood

This amp apparently made its debut in 1988 and the serial number on the back probably means it was made in 1988 or 1989. When I first started playing, the Fender M80 amp was a favorite among my peers and this sounds alot like those boxes to me.

In a bit of a reversal for Fender amps, the cleans on this one don't really sound all that great. Very heavy metal, but the distortion channel is actually better. When I picked this up last weekend and played through it with the Aria Pro II strat, the sounds coming out were a bit like those on the Weezer Blue Album.

That makes sense, as posted in the abstract, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead made this amp famous when he used it to record one of their most well-known songs, 1994's Creep and those albums came out the same year. This is one of my better finds, as its a great amp and I'm probably going to end up paying around the same amount to find the original footswitch. These can go for as much as $200, thanks in large part to Mr. Greenwood's influence.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

1980s Fender F 220 SB Acoustic Guitar

Vintage mid-level dreadnought with sweet sunburst finish, made in Korea or Japan

When I found this guitar, I initially thought it was much older than it really is. Partly because of the label and headstock designs, but mostly because the back of the neck looks like it had been played virtually nonstop for about as long as I've been alive. It turns out that these were produced between 1982-88, but I haven't been able to confirm exactly when or where it was made.

I've featured a few different Fender acoustic and classical guitars over the years and while all of them played surprisingly well (Fender acoustics do not have a great reputation), this one is easily the best of the bunch. It already played great before I took it to Clay at Beach City Pawn and Guitar and after he was finished with it, it just about plays itself.

The action is nice and low and the sound it produces is better than expected. The sunburst finish and snowflake fret markers definitely make this guitar stand out from the bargain bin jobs and the natural relic look of the neck gives it tons of mojo. I'm definitely happy that I made the move to pick this one up, as it is in really good shape and is a solid guitar.

Thanks for looking, more high-resolution photos here.