Ibanez Professional 1765536 1976 Japan (I bought this guitar in Cambridge in 1978 to replace a 1974 Gibson SG Special whose Bigsby tremelo had often been a nuisance. This was a vastly better made insrument, with far more powerful pick-ups. It was one of the first of the high-end non-copy Ibanez models that established the brand’s credentials in the UK. It remains a firm favourite.)
Ibanez JEM Steve Vai Signature 2015 C0025F Ibanez Premium Factory, Indonesia (This was purchased from Musicians’ Oasis, Kingaroy, QLD, an aptly-named, excellent store that typically has a surprisingly extensive stock (more than it seems to show on its website) for its location in a small town in rural Queensland. They also had a 2014 white JEM at the time, for much less, but the blue floral finish was too much to resist given that I don’t have a Paisley Telecaster (though one day my sunburst Tele might get swapped for a Tokai Paisley one….) Though rarely heard with clean tones, this instrument also has exceptionally good clean tones from its DiMarzio pick-ups. It’s a wonderful instrument, with an extraordinary action, too, and I expected this would become my favourite rock instrument, but within a couple of months of ownership I discovered the RG550XH below.)
Ibanez RG550XH 30-Fret Guitar 2013 (MY2014) I130506483 Indonesia (Perhaps this should be on the ‘Basses and Extended Range Guitars’ page! This is my favourite non-synth-access rock guitar, despite it being one of the cheapest in my collection. I only discovered the existence of this limited edition model in late 2015 by which time it was hard to find one. I eventually tracked this exaSite Statsmple down at Sounds of Music, Camden, NSW. It is as good as the JEM to play, for about a third of the price and has an excellent clean tone. There’s no neck pick-up but one is simulated via an active circuit. For any would-be violin player, this is a must-have guitar, as it’s very easy to play beyond usual top-note limits. It also goes beyond the JEM in having a string-tension adjuster wheel built into the back. It may not have the blue floral paintwork, but the red sparkle paint (which the photo doesn’t do justice) also sets it out from the norm.)
Paul Reed Smith McCarty 10 Top 2006 269962 USA
Gibson EDS-1275 6/12 Twin Neck 92457732 1997 Nashville, USA (I ordered this one new in Christchurch, NZ in 1997 and it’s a white one purely because it was the last one left in Gibson’s warehouse from the batch made at that time — not because I am a great fan of The Eagles, who used a white one on Hotel California, or because Steve Howe’s one is white. With hindsight, I’d have bought the Epiphone version (in red), but back then I’d never laid my hands on an Epiphone to discover how similar to a Gibson they are. Actually, I’d have preferred an Ibanez twin-neck, as access to the top frets on the Gibson EDS1275 is dreadful beyond fret 17 and it only has 20 frets in total. The placing of the pick-up selector switch is also poor in ergonomic terms. It does have a good sound once in tune but it’s a guitar you need to play often to ensure a good ratio of time spent tuning it to time spent actually playing it. A much simpler (and cheaper) solution to the need to switch between 6- and 12-string guitars is to use the 12-string electric sound in the Roland GK55.)
Fender Telecaster N2927711 1992 Corona, USA. (This is an early example of the updated Telecaster with a six-saddle bridge. It’s a vast improvement on the 1975 model I owned in my student days, whose intonation was impossible to set properly with only a three-saddle bridge and which was prone to suffer from feedback.)
Danelectro 1959 reissue Electric 12-String 21189 2014 Korea (Purchased from Bandland, Toowoomba, QLD.)
Washburn A-10 12-string; early 1980s Japan (This is a very rare beast, with tuning pegs at both ends. I purchased it in Hobart, Tasmania around 1989 and it took me over 25 years to notice that it has coil-taps for both pickups if you pull the volume controls up.)
Electric guitars I used to own: Watkins Rapier 33 (1960s — my first electric guitar, 1971-4. Not bad: I’d like to have one again!), Gibson SG Special (with a Bigsby vibrato unit, which was a mistake) (1974-8), Fender Telecaster (blond/rosewood, but three-piece bridge made accurate intonation challenging, and it had feedback problems) (1975), CSL Les Paul Deluxe (1976-9)
Playing the CSL Les Paul, 1978
Amplification: Roland Cube 80GX, Yamaha 50-112 Combo (bought second-hand in 1977 to replace a Marshall 30W combo that had been stolen at a May Ball), Fender Studio 50W Combo, Line6 POD/POD Floorboard, Line6 XT Live and Peavey Max 100 pre-amps and Roland GR30 and GR55 guitar synthesisers, used in stereo with a pair of Peavey KB/A100 combos. I also greatly enjoy using my Marshall MS4 1W microstack, which packs a surprising punch for its tiny size and sounds quite like a big one.
A shot from the Shredecon wardrobe: rock-star-style business shirts by David Smith Australia.