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September 2008

Washburn Paul Stanley Preacher PS9200


Thanks to the good folks at Washburn, I was able to get my hands on a top-of-the-line Paul Stanley Preacher PS9200 guitar --perfect for classic 70's rock.  Everything about this guitar is heavy duty, from the tone, to the weight, to the list price of $3900.   Admittedly, you can get it for a street price near 3 grand, but it's still the most expensive guitar I've ever played.  Heck, I've bought cars that cost less than this.  So what the heck, if someone gives me the opportunity to test drive a $100K Tesla sports car, I'm gonna say yes, even if couldn't afford to buy one. Like the Tesla, the PS9200 is very cool, but its out definitely beyond my budget.  Still, it's a nice day dream to own a high-end guitar like this.

Paul_stanley_2  Here's da specs:

  • Mahogany body
  • Mahogany set neck
  • Tone Pros Bridge
  • Stop Tailpiece
  • Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickups
  • Rosewood fingerboard with Pearl trapezoid inlays
  • 22 jumbo frets
  • 24.75" scale
  • 12" fingerboard radius
  • Double action truss rod
  • Graph Tech nut
  • Chrome hardware
  • 18:1 GroverR tuners

I don't know exactly how much this beast weighs; all that mahogany adds up.  It's the heaviest guitar I've played; certainly heavier than a Les Paul, and just over 9 pounds according to my bathroom scale.  So you better make sure you spring for a nice padded strap.   But having a nearly 2 inch thick slab of mahogany also gives you great sustain and a beefy tone.  You can also forget about playing this guitar sitting down; it's just not shaped for balance in a seated position.  But these are minor nits.  Lets face it, this guitar is about being cool and playing loud.  And it more than does the job in terms of looks, tone and playability.

I think the Preacher is one of the finest looking guitars I've seen, especially in black with a cream pick guard.  It just oozes classic rock and roll style.  Think of it as a Les Paul / Paul Stanley / Washburn love child and you're not far wrong.  In a stand, the left bout looks odd, but it looks great when you're playing it and it's unique style grows on you.  Hat's off to Washburn and Paul Stanley for coming up with a something that stands out among all the Gibson and Fender clones out there.

In the tone area, the guitar packs plenty of punch with its Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickups.  It's more of a 70's rich rock tone than the over-distorted super-hot pickup sound of 21st century metal.  It's a classic, warm humbucker sound, perfect for rock, blues and jazz.  The bridge pickup is plenty sharp for solo work and the neck pickup gives you extra smooth tone for rhythm guitar and Paul Stanely riffs.  You might not get the searing tones of a Keith Richards solo, but its still pretty versatile.  The hardware and controls are all high quality, as you would expect at this price.  The neck is comfortably slim and fast, though not as slick as the carbon glass fretboard on a Parker guitar or Washburn's WM526.

If you're looking for twangy rock sound or a budget clone guitar, look elsewhere.  But if you want a luxury high-end guitar to rock and roll all night, this is the real deal. 

Graveyard: Classic '70s Rock from Sweden


Heaven knows I can't get enough of my two favorite Swedish rock bands Brainpool and the soon to be defunct Hellacopters.  Luckily, I've just discovered another great Swedish rock band called Graveyard.  These guys are straight out of the '70s with long hair, long guitar solos and a sound that's reminiscent of Free or some of the more tuneful songs by Black Sabath.   

The band played earlier this year at Austin's South by Southwest music confab and has a tour through the Southern US and all the way to California in the fall.  Check 'em out on iTunes, MySpace or Amazon.  Hey, even Rolling Stone liked them.

Elvis Costello & The Police Live Video

Following on my write ups on Elvis Costello and The Police live at Shoreline a few weeks back, I've decided to post some videos from the show.  Unfortunately, the quality is low as I was far back in the 2nd section.  Still, it gives you at least a flavor of things.  And remember, I risked life and limb --or at least being thrown out of the show.  So I hope it was worth it for the die hard fans!  (Photos and reviews are in the original postings.)

Next time I guess I better get more expensive seats or a bigger zoom lens.  If anyone has recommendations on a digital camera that's better than the Canon G9 for gigs, let me know.  The G9 is nice and compact, but the zoom is just 6x and there's still some shutter lag compared to an SLR.  But at least I can bring it into gigs without too much hassle. 

A Better Travel Guitar?


I've been using a Speedster Traveler Guitar for a couple of years now.  It's not the best guitar in the world, but I travel a lot and when I'm on the road, it's much better than no guitar.  I've never had to check it, but I've come close to having to choose between my laptop and my guitar a few times in Europe.  However, the guitar definitely takes a beating.  Last trip, it fell on out of the overhead compartment on some guys head.  Twice.  ("Dude, quite messing with my axe!") 

I try to play guitar every single day, no matter where I am.  So I've played the Speedster in taxis, on planes, early in the morning waiting for meetings, whatever.   If my flight is late, I just whip out my guitar, plug it into a Pandora headphone amp, pop on some headphones and I'm good to go. 

But there are a couple things that bother me about the Speedster.  Mostly it just doesn't have the quality construction I want in a guitar.  The sustain is mediocre and the tuners don't hold that well.  And even though the Speedster is pretty compact  (28" long) and light weight (4 pounds) because of it's headless design, I can't help but wonder whether I could get something just a bit smaller and more durable.  Ideally, something I could put inside my suitcase when I'm on the road.

Obviously in this kind of package, you've got to compromise on something.  For the price (under $500), the Speedster is pretty darned good and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to get more playing in.  They also have a few different models to chose from, including the EG-1 which has better quality components and a built-in headphone amp.  But I'd like to get something with higher quality components and a shorter overall body size.  And I'd be willing to pay more. 

PalmGuitar has an interesting take on things that gets rave reviews from their customers.  They've got a high quality electric guitar with a 20.2" scale, smaller even than a 22" scale mini Fender for kids.  While that's not as small as a Lapstick which has a 17" scale, you can tune it like a standard guitar (EADGBE), making it easier to adapt to.  But unlike the Traveler Guitar and the Lapstick, the Palm Guitar has a conventional headstock, which means despite it's shorter scale, end-to-end it's just two inches shorter than the Speedster. 

If only there was a way to get the best of all of these.  Maybe what I need is a custom headless guitar with better components and a shorter scale.  Has anyone experimented with a custom travel guitar?  Should I upgrade the tuners on the Speedster?  Anyone used a Traveler EG-1 or the PalmGuitar?  Let me know your thoughts.

Sonny Landreth Live at Moe's Alley

Sonny Landreth has been on tour promoting his latest album "From the Reach" and I managed to catch one of his two bay area gigs down at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz.  Moe's remains one of the best clubs in the area and it's a surprisingly intimate club for as legendary a player as Sonny Landreth.  I went early to make sure I could get a good spot for photos.  I managed to squeeze in about 5 feet from the stage over on the left, near where Sonny was set up.  I've never seen Moe's this crowded before; it was packed wall-to-wall. 

Landreth's most famous song is his 1985 homage to New Orleans "Congo Square" from the album "South of I-10" but he remains somewhat of an unknown outside the realm of slide guitar fans.  But when you see him play live, it's clear why he's considered one of the greatest living guitar players.  No less than Eric Claption has said Landreth is "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced."

I've posted some photos and video  from the show which was awesome.  Landreth played several cuts from his latest CD including "The Milky Way Home", "Storm of Worry," as well as some of his classic songs "South of I-10," "USS Zydecoldsmobile," "Native Stepson," "All About You" and "Pedal to Metal."  In fact "Pedal to Metal" is an apt description of the show, which maintained high intensity for more than 90 minutes.  My only disappointment was that they never played "Congo Square."  Still, it was a great show and the opening act Mighty Mike Schermer was decent also.  I'll post a separate write-up of that later on.

Listening to a Sonny Landreth CD is one thing, but seeing it live is a completely different experience.  There's a richness and layering of sounds coming from the band that is all the more impressive considering it's a trio.  What's most amazing is to see how much more sound Landreth is getting out of the guitar than any other player I've witnessed.  He's creating all kinds of crazy chords, voicings and bending with his left hand while using the slide and simultaneously his right hand is flying all over the place strumming, plucking and feathering the strings in ways I've never seen anyone play before.  You can see his techniques especially in the videos of "Port of Call" and "The Milky Way Home" below.   

Landreth will be touring through Texas and then out to the East Coast and finishing in October with more California dates and a headliner at the MGM Grand in Vegas.