Mahogany Tele

After 30 years of playing an ES335 almost exclusively, I became a Telecaster convert around 10 years ago. Originally, I was just looking for something smaller and lighter to take to gigs around town. It took awhile to make the transition, but I eventually became hooked on the possibilities of one of the original electric guitar designs.

This baby is a USA Custom (RIP) body and neck, finished by Starr Guitars. The body is lightweight mahogany with a flame maple top. The neck is rosewood with MOP inlays, and they did a great job on it! This Tele features traditional output Harmonic Design pickups, and Callaham hardware.

Since I’m playing jazz almost exclusively these days, I’ve been using a tiny solid state power amp made by Quilter and run a DIY preamp and effects into that to create a complete setup. It’s easily loud enough for most jazz situations and stays clean. It’s visible on the pic of my gigging board below.

My search for a better tone over the years lead me to DIY effects. The possibility of customizing my effects lineup to my liking was just too sweet to not do. I now have way too many pedals, which I talk more about here.



Gigging Board

Gigging pedal board

This is what I bring to most gigs I play in New York. The Quilter Micro Block is the power amp; the unlabeled black pedal is a Lab Series L-5 preamp designed as a DIY project that I built. The reverb, delay (set to “ducking”) and compressor are self explanatory. The blue pedal is a DIY project of the VFE Merman (klone); the aqua pedal is a DIY project of the VFE Choral Reef. I keep everything on except the chorus for most situations, unless I really need to take out the midrange/hint of breakup created by the klone. I run the klone into the compressor to keep volume spikes evened out. 

Recording Board

Recording pedal board

For recording and when I feel un-lazy, I bring out the big board. As you can see, I’m a Strymon fan—the reverb and delay really sound great to me. I’ve experimented with various modulation effects, but I don’t use them a lot for jazz. The front end of the board is the same VFE klone (red box), a DIY Diamond compressor (light blue box), a DIY dual EQ (orange box) and DIY OD (lime green box). The “Lab Series” pedal is described above—this one has a fancy enclosure created by the project designer. The looper is by BYOC pedals, but I didn’t build it (irony alert!).