Everything Changes but Guitars? I disagree.


I saw this graphic online through Guitar Fail the other day, & again through Guitar Squid:

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

At first, it made me laugh and think “humph, yeah…” in agreement.  The more I thought about it though… it’s wrong. How is it wrong?

Well as far as concept cars go, it’s a whole different world from everyday-use practical cars.  Nothing has gone all that far from 4 wheels, 2 headlights, gasoline powered.  (Yes, there are hybrids and flex-fuel all over the market… but arguably people don’t like them unless they look like “normal” cars.)  But, this blog isn’t about cars.  I’m sure you knew I was going to talk guitars, because that’s what I do.

There are a ridiculous amounts of varying styles of guitars & guitar innovations out there.  Some of them may not be “reinventing the wheel” exactly, but there is always some great stuff happening, and there has been since the inception of the stringed instrument.  How do you think we got so many varieties?

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

I agree that too many axe-slingers fall into the Stratocaster or Les Paul shape trap.  For years I held a disdain for both shapes… but I come back to them.  Why?  Perhaps they’re good designs.  Perhaps they’re iconic.  Perhaps they sound incredible.  Perhaps they work.  There are many other options out there.  If you find yourself chuckling to and agreeing with this graphic, I challenge you to help me to add to my list of innovative guitars.

Any fans of the Guitarz Blog, Tone Fiend, Guitar WTF?, or gUitarREN should be into this.  (Any cool guitar blogs I’m missing?)

Let’s talk about how the guitar is ever-evolving… Shape, materials, string count, innovation, & general insanity.

Indy Custom - Flycaster (Tele-V) Telecaster Flying V Hybrid

Indy Custom Flycaster (or Tele-V?)

There are lots of shapes out there past the Stratocaster or Les Paul, whether it’s somewhat normal or custom insanity.  There’s the SG, the Telecaster, V’s (Flying, Jackson & more), hollowbodies like the Artcore or Gretsch models, the Explorer, the Ravelle, all the crazy B.C. Rich shapes, the Airline, even the Flycaster.  Are there really not enough guitar design shapes out there to satisfy you?  The Stratocaster doesn’t need to change shape, because there are plenty of other options out there!  I’m barely hitting the tip of the iceberg here.  I didn’t even touch on my B.B. Stone, FlipOut, or Batman axes.  How many distinct guitar shapes can you name in the comments?  (Actual produced shapes, not one-offs!)  Bonus for posting or linking to photos.

There’s also material.  Certainly guitars are mostly made of all types of wood, but there’s also plastic, graphite, Res-O-Glass (fiberglass), the Lucite / plexiglass / acrylic transparent guitars, aluminum necks, and so much more.

Once we get past the plethora of guitar makes, models, & shapes available… there are so many other innovations.  Some are great, some not-so great.  Just off the top of my head I can think of:  Synthesizer & MIDI Guitars, Fretlights, 7/8/12 strings, double neck guitars, the chord buddy, the Coral Sitar, built-in-wireless, the robot guitar, 3D printed guitars, Evertune… but none of them have really busted the mold (yet).  They’re all niche stuff.  This doesn’t even get into the many styles of bridges, tuners, tremolos, locks, and other parts that have been refined… or wiring.  You can get CRAZY with wiring.

World's Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

World’s Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh, PA (Photo Credit: Kara / @ohidontthinkso)

The traveling guitar exhibit is at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh right now.  I can’t wait to check it out.  It’s got the world’s largest playable guitar.  I was lucky enough to get a preview the other day via Twitter.  Tell me that’s not an innovation?  It will no doubt inspire many to pick up the guitar, or dust off the one they already have.  The entire exhibit displays guitars, how they work, their history, & all kinds of fun interaction.

So, next time you think that the guitar has become stagnant, I ask you to go get your hands one one of the many non Strat options above… or even a non-standard Strat option… like a Fat Strat, hot-rodded wiring, or a backwards one.  There are plenty of different, innovative, and goofy guitars out there.  Rock out on something original!

SATURDAY! Star Wars, Guitars, and Antiques …all in one place?


A while back, a friend of ours who is a teacher invited my wife & I to a Learning Festival that’s happening at her school this Saturday (May 12th).  I can’t wait to go check it out!  All of my favorite stuff is going to be in one place.  Garrison Carida of the 501st Legion will be walking around in Star Wars attire, there will be a dude showing his guitar collection (there’s 50 of them!), they’ll be raffling a Fender Stratocaster from Moonlight Music, there will be free appraisals of collectables, and much much more!  Looking at the flyer, it’s like I put the thing together with all of my favorite stuff.

Our friend is taking her 7 year old nephew, my wife is taking me.  Ha!  At any rate, I know other geeks read this that may be interested.  Here’s the official flyer:

Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation Learning Festival

Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation Learning Festival – Sat. May 12th, 2012 (Click the image to go to their website.)

So, that’s Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm at Apollo Ridge School District.  Admission is free, and it’s located at…

1825 State Route 56 East
Spring Church, PA  15686

Check it out, maybe we’ll see you there!

Balance ⊖⊘⊖


I used to think I wasn’t picky when it came to my guitar sound or tone.  I thought I wanted a Les Paul through any old amp as long as it was cranked as loud as possible.  I liked a switch to turn the dirt off or on.  Maybe I thought it was cool or “punk rock” to not care about my sound.

Lately, I care about my tone.  It doesn’t have to sound exactly the same all the time… but I have learned to roll the dials in the directions that make me happy.

My Dunlop Cry Baby.

Dunlop Cry Baby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually just sold a Jim Dunlop Cry-Baby on ebay because I didn’t like how it messed with the signal even when it was off.  I may pick up some kind of wah that has a true bypass… but even at that I doubt I’ll use it much.

Any more, I don’t even use a foot-switch for going clean.  I play dirty all the time.  If I need to clean it up, I roll back one of those volume knobs, or use a switch on the guitar.  I generally always play bridge pickup & that’s it.

ERiC AiXeLsyD

I like tube amps.  I have a Crate Power Block that sounds pretty good live, but like razorblades were taken to the speaker cones when recorded or miked in any way.  I wince when I hear bands playing through solid state amps… especially when there are 2 guitars through the same kind of amp.

So, I generally go through this tiny Egnater Tweaker from my friend Dave that sounds huge, or Erin’s Blues Junior which gets incredibly dirty at reasonable volumes.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to just listen.  If I like the sound, others will too.  What I think I want might not be exactly what I want. I’ve learned to trust my ears.

What’s your balance?  What’s your sound?

Have any soldering or guitar wiring advice?


I still haven’t done anything with my box of goodies from Guitar Fetish to beat up that New York Pro Strat clone.  It’s not that I’m nervous, I just haven’t had time to sit down & get it done yet.   I’m also still open to any tips/tricks/advice.

I wrote to Joe Gore of the Tone Fiend blog (if it’s not in your reader, it should be) and he gave me a cool link to videos (besides the ones on his killer DIY page)…  Installing Pickups.

I also recently came across these cool blog posts from Guitar WTF (another good follow!):

I did buy one of these from Harbor Freight…

Jumbo Helping Hands with LED Lights (item#65779 )

Think it will help?  Everyone seems to say it will. I might need a sponge too?

I’ve gotten some decent tips from Facebook, SMG, and Misfits Central.  What else do I need to consider as far as pots & capacitors?

How would you connect the dots here?  What pots & capacitors would you use?

How would you wire this?

How would you wire this?

Should I do the 7-sound thing?  What if I want the neck & the bridge both on at once?

Should I replace the pots while I’m in there?  How do I tell if they’re 250k or 500k?

I’m guessing a wiring diagram with my proposed setup doesn’t already exist out there, not even at Stew-Mac.  Looks like these cats will make one for $30, but I think I can do that myself.  (Although a very rough one.)

I need a crash course in guitar wiring, I guess.  Ha ha.

I also might try to setup a work bench/space in the basement so I don’t ruin the dining room table.

What about a push-pull pot with a poor man’s Black Ice circuit?

Should I get a book?

I know I’m over-thinking this.  There’s too many options.  Ha ha.

Guitar stereotypes are always fun:


So, where do my favorite toys fall on this amusing scale from Gearpipe?

GearPipe.com | Trustworthiness of Guitars Scale

GearPipe.com | Trustworthiness of Guitars Scale

I do have to say…  I don’t get why the Prince guitar is for repugnant individuals.  I guess if you’re not Prince, it is a goofy axe to sling.  I am glad that the boring Washburn/Jackson/Ibanez shape is all the way on the left though.  I just can’t get behind them.  I’m not sure why the oh-so-common Les Paul and Stratocaster shapes convey any level of trustworthiness of the player.  Perhaps I’m over-thinking.  This is quite amusing nonetheless.

Seriously though, I can’t find any of these…

Dewey Decibel FlipOut

Dewey Decibel FlipOut

Galveston - B.B. Stone

Galveston - B.B. Stone

Six Flags Batman Guitar

Six Flags Batman Guitar

If you’re quick and lucky, you can win a copy of this poster from Guitar Noize.