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Fender F-5

I recently picked up this incredible Fender F-5 acoustic guitar. My wonderful wife helped me score it for Father’s Day. I wasn’t sure where/when they were manufactured so I contacted Fender’s customer support and they told me they were unable to date it because they’re serial number database wasn’t established until 1993. They were able to tell me that the F-5 was made in Japan and only in 1980-81′. So it’s either an 80′ or an 81′, close enough for me.

Rumours on the internet is that the factory in Japan where they were making these guitars burned down. So they had to halt production suddenly and never resumed it. I haven’t verified this, but plan to look more into it.

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The guitar itself is in excellent condition for being nearly 40 and has a wonderful rich tone. I’m primarily an electric guitar player so I picked this up mainly for bonfires and fun, but I also seem to need an acoustic for special gigs every now and then. This should save me from renting and borrowing guitars.

I’ll probably drop my trusty L.R. Bagg’s M1 Active pickup in this at some point and it’ll be ready for a proper gig. I always recommend that pickup to anyone who just wants more of their guitar’s real acoustic sound.

I won’t name any names, but I’ve owned and/or played acoustics that cost well over ten times what I payed for this F-5 and have found the F-5 truly holds its own with those guitars in terms of quality, playability and tone. It looks great too! It has great sound projection, a wonderful bottom end, the neck is straight and the action is even pretty good as is.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.

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Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

Packs a large punch in a small package.

Recently I was doing some cleaning and realized I had amassed a handful of gift cards to my local music store. I’ve always wanted to put a small pedalboard together filled with mini pedals, but have never owned enough at one time to do it. Mad Professor’s Little Green Wonder was my staple overdrive for a few years and I’ve missed having it since I sold it. I haven’t had a Tube Screamer type pedal now for a while and decided to try out the new Mini Tube Screamer from Ibanez. I liked that it was a mini, and the price was right.

This thing packs a large punch in a small package. While I don’t have any other Tube Screamer to compare it to right now, I have had a number of TS pedals in the past and this one has that tone and vibe in spades. I’ve actually put it on my main board and am rethinking the whole mini pedalboard idea for the time being. I’m sure if I was to A/B it with a vintage TS pedal or my old LGW it might be lacking in some way, but I’m very content with it as it is. If it sounds good, it is good. Right?

My only complaint is the mini knobs don’t have a coloured indicator. This makes it very hard to see where they’re set. There was a little indent on each knob to indicate the setting, so I put a bit of silver sharpie in them and it made things easier to see.

If you’re thinking about putting a mini board together, or just want a new TS pedal, don’t be afraid to check this one out. 

The Black Strat

After a few years of thinking about it, I began a risky project back in April.  I wanted to take my most sentimental and best playing guitar, my Eric Johnson (EJ) Stratocaster and overhaul it to be much more like David Gilmour’s “Black Strat”.

Project 3 Project 2 Project 1 (April 9)Here it is on April 9th, this was the point of no turning back. I remember finishing the first light coat of black, taking the second picture and thinking to myself “what have I done?” even though I wouldn’t say it out loud. By April 22nd and eight to ten coats of nitrocellulose lacquer I brought it inside to prep for final wet sanding.

Emerson Custom Project 6 Project 4 After wet sanding to 1500 grit (it is so smooth) I decided to add some copper shielding to create a Faraday Cage around the pickups.  This guitar has never been very noisy, but I already had enough spare copper shielding to do the job.  My old volume pot had been bad for a few years now so I decided to buy a pre-wired Strat kit by Emerson Custom.  It has the treble bleed volume mod and sounds great.

project-5-may-20.jpegDavid Gilmour’s Black Strat has a recessed switch to turn the neck pickup on in addition to however the 5 way pickup switch is positioned.  This lets me have the bridge and neck pickups on at the same time (like a Tele) or even all three pickups at once. Building the recessed switch holder was tricky for me. The volume and tone pot actually hold the switch in place.  I love that it is recessed now, I can switch it on when I like and never by accident. It was pretty easy to add it to the pre-wired kit.  SwitchAs soon as I finished installing it I read something online about how David Gilmour never uses this switch.  I’ve always gravitated to the neck pickup on my Strat, but I’ve found I love having it on instead of just my bridge pickup.  By June 15th I had it all finished and ready for a full setup.  Stratocastors are the only guitars I feel quite capable at setting up.  Although I would try my hand at a few others.

I had the guitar setup pretty quickly and ready to rock.  It is great to have a guitar that I love the looks of, but also love the feel of in my hands, and how it plays.
The Black Strat 4

The Black Strat 5


At it’s heart it is still an Eric Johnson Stratocaster:

  • stock EJ pickups sound so great
  • The neck is unreal: one piece quarter sawn maple, “soft V” and 12″ radius.
  • larger bridge block (similar to the Callaham)
  • Staggered tuning pegs

These are some of David Gilmour specs it features:

  • maple neck with black dot inlays
  • black pickgaurd over black guitar
  • aged white parchment knobs and pickup covers
  • David Gilmour Neck Pickup Switch Mod
  • shortened vibrato arm (I love how this feels)
  • David Gilmour’s Jimi Hendrix Strap (not technically on the guitar)
  • David’s is also black painted over a sunburst finish

Some of my preferences:

  • sanded down neck
  • “F” neck plate (used to have an ugly EJ Serial Number plate)
  • the only EJ indication is the writing on the pickups inside the guitar.
  • TUSQ XL String Tree to stop the high ‘E’ string from popping out of the nut when bending.
  • Bridge is setup with three springs.

It is a black Strat, but I still refer to it as “The Black Strat” after my favourite guitar of my favourite guitar player.

The Black Strat