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Over the past 4-5 years, pedals have gotten smaller. The realities of smaller stages and travel restrictions have made it imperative that pedalboards become smaller. Virtually every manufacturer makes mini pedals. I've got a small tuner and an MXR Sugar Drive(more on that one in a later post). And a small volume pedal.

Ibanez has produced a line of mini pedals to augment their line. The TS(tube screamer) Mini is one that recently acquired a space on my board. The tube screamer is arguably the most well-known and copied overdrive pedal in existence. While there are many companies that have modified the basic sonic blueprint, in my opinion, there is only one authentic one, the Ibanez Tube Screamer.

There have been a number of designs from Ibanez, from rather inexpensive to a somewhat pricey hand-wired version. Recently, i tried out three TS models; the TS9, the TS808, and the TS Mini.

The Mini, to my ear, represents the ideal marriage of the TS9 and the 808. It has the warmth and give of the 808, coupled with the high end stridency of the TS9. And to my ear, it has a bit more headroom than either one. 

One of the wonderful aspects of the TS is that regardless of which guitar I play it through, the sound of the guitar comes through. The Gibson Les Paul Goldtop with P90 pickups is a big sounding instrument, and because of its girth, the guitar sounds bigger and wider with the pedal. In fact, the overdrive knob is kept relatively low. With the John Page AJ, the tele quality really shines through.

Another quality is that with the overdrive knob turned up, the pedal doesn't lose clarity. While it doesn't have as much headroom as other pedals I use, unity gain is easily achieved, and in some ways, easier to dial in.

A special thanks to Ibanez for producing the most famous overdrive pedal on the market.



Over the course of my career, I've been drawn to a Les Paul.When I lived in Boston, a friend of mine lent me an old Paul from 1969, and said that it was the perfect guitar for me. 

Recently, I listened to an interview that guitarist Robben Ford gave, in which he said that the LP is the perfect electric guitar; outside of the weight, which a padded guitar strap would mitigate considerably. The P90 version is remarkably versatile, in that the single coil pickups, combined with the thickness of the body, really put it in a league all its own. 

I remember seeing an old photo of Jim Hall, back in the 50's, playing an LP Goldtop. Larry Carlton used one in the late 70's on Michael Franks' recordings.

Gibson over the past few years, has had more than their share of problems, but 2018 saw a turnaround, quality-wise.

Mine is the Classic model, in that it has Grover tuners instead of the Kluson vintage type. I've been a fan of Grovers for years. The frets are medium jumbo, and are cryogenically treated, to increase their hardness and durability. The pickups are no longer wired to a circuit board, and have a treble bleed cap, orange drop capacitors, and Gibson P90 pickups.

A nitrocellulose finish almost always sound more open, to my ear, than a urethane or polyester finish.

My experience has been that the LP with p90 pickups is a near perfect combination of girth and sparkle.




About a month past, I was invited by the CEO of John Page Classic Guitars , Howard Swimmer, to an event for the aforementioned. It was a live concert showcasing an artist playing John's guitars. A very nice affair and turnout, and I was able to speak to Howard;a subsequent meeting was scheduled the following week. We talked about all things guitar; the music business,one of our favorite guitarists named Emily Remler, etc. I had a chance at that time to play the AJ, the Ashburn SSS and SSH guitars. 

I immediately gravitated to the AJ, which in my opinion, is a complete re-design of the classic T style instrument. John has an uncanny ability to maintain what we guitarists like about a T style guitar, and at the same time, minimize or eliminate the anomalies. 

The guitar is invitingly comfortable and light. It has a belly cut and a forearm contour that allow it to almost disappear when playing. John designed the pickups, using a P90 in the neck and a single coil T Style in the bridge. The bridge pickup is reversed from the classic slant, to allow the treble strings to have more girth and at the same time, eliminate the ice-pick shrillness that happens in its classic position. The P90 is amazingly articulate, very clear and powerful. The bridge pickup is very focused and balanced. When both are on, it's single-cut heaven. Whether played clean or overdriven, the tonality is all the way there.

The workmanship is flawless. It's a completely professional quality guitar. The other features are a 12" radius, Gotoh vintage tuning gears, a rosewood fretboard with a very comfortable C neck shape, an alder body, and metal threaded screws that go into the neck from the body; this allows for an extremely even neck/body coupling that resonates in a way no other guitar does. The ashtray style bridge has brass compensated saddles that produce perfect intonation; they can be strung through the body or from the bridge itself.

In the near future, I'll be doing videos of these remarkable guitars. I'd like to personally thank Howard Swimmer for his vote of confidence, and I look forward to continuing with John Page.

i can't recommend these instruments enough.





The first 'boutique' pedal I bought was a Fulltone Full-Drive 2 Mosfet OD; actually, it was a gift, in November of 2007. I still have it and use it, as it is a supremely versatile and reliable pedal. I have used a few others(it would be imprudent to name them), but have always returned to the FD2. The second Fulltone was bought in 2013, the OCD. Somewhat different in tonality than the FD2, it has a lot more headroom, and is more 'British' sounding. It took a while for me to learn how to use this one, but it's as equally compelling as the FD2. 

Fulltone is one of the few products that never fail. Mike Fuller is a brilliant designer, and I am so happy to be able to use Fulltone pedals.


I started studying with Charlie in 1991, when I was living in Newburyport, Massachusetts--I was on his waiting list for about a year and a half, when the call from his secretary came that there was an opening on Tuesday at 8/30am--It took all of 15 seconds to say yes!!!!!; so I would make the trip down to his studio in Beverly--It had the weight of meeting a guru, but a funny one---I used to call Charlie the missing Marx brother as he was really funny and at times just goofy, but in a very real way---He used to kid me about the fact that I recopied his lessons with a fountain pen(mr mont blanc!!!) There was no pretense about him--and when it came to music, there was absolutely NO MESSING AROUND--you had to work or you could not study with him---No exceptions---He could play everything literally from Bud Powell on up, but I think Bill Evans was his favorite, if there was such a thing---And he had a way of giving you exactly what you needed to work on at that time in your development---Uncanny, very intuitive---I've kept all of his lessons and studied with him from 1991-5, then took a break beacause it was a really busy time with a lot of gigs---But if a student cancelled and there was an opening, he'd have me come in----When I left Boston, I did not get to see him often, hardly at all---I would return for a weekend to 'get away' but it was really an excuse to see if he could fit me in; and it was the same as on the first day I started with him--He was always positive, encouraging, an incredible player, funny, warm and genuine to the core---Charlie was the kind of person no one could buy, one of a kind--- When I learned that he was ill with cancer in 2008, I was not sure as to how far it had progressed---A few days later, the word came that he passed away, and was devastated---Actually, it was a rather strange feeling, because a part of me understood that the lessons he gave me would last for the rest of my life, so I didn't feel like he was gone, at least in a metaphorical sense,but it was terribly saddening to never see him again in person---More than that, I came to realize how grateful I was to have had the honor, the privilege to have him take me on as a student---and am eternally grateful, even more so now---


Joni, Miles and Picasso are my patron saints. The thread that runs from them into my musical, personal and spiritual life is truly intoxicating, like a fine cognac; layers of art and inspiration. Song to a Seagull, one of Joni's early recordings, weaves a story of late 60's Greenwich Village; innocent, authentic, and utterly compelling. Kind of Blue, THE modal masterpiece, hits me on any number of levels. It's pure jazz, it's chamber music, it's NYC cool, in the truest sense. Joni and Miles were for real, not a creation for the masses. The reason why this music isn't heard or expanded upon is the culture we now live in doesn't support it. It's a largely artificial and digital age. It's interesting to note that guitarists Robben Ford and Michael Landau,& saxophonist Wayne Shorter worked with both Miles and Joni. Joni is also a painter who was largely influenced by Picasso. And Miles' music is timeless, like Picasso's art. Over time, I've come to understand the influence they have left on me, when I was younger, and more so now, that I am older. One of my favorite recordings is Joni's MILES OF AISLES; recorded live in 1974 with Tom Scott and the LA Express with guitarist Robben Ford. This is a must listen for any guitarist in terms of how to play behind a singer. Seriously, I hear so many guitarists who do not know how to play underneath a singer, especially a female vocalist. Joni and Miles brought out the absolute best in any musician they worked with. They had the magic touch, the Midas touch, if you will. There is nothing left to say or improve on KIND OF BLUE, SKETCHES OF SPAIN, ESP, or anything else that Miles recorded. There is nothing left to improve on BLUE, COURT AND SPARK, THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS, HEJIRA, or anything Joni did. There is nothing left to say about Picasso's GUERNICA. I remember a sunny March afternoon, walking in Paris to go to No5 Rue de Thorigny, to the Picasso Museum. And being left speechless, like a sword split me in half. I remember seeing the 'We Want Miles' tour and having that same speechlessness. Likewise with Joni's 'Refuge of the Roads' show. That there is nothing left to say is to say there is everything to learn; a timeless well to drink from.