We just got back from the Southern CT Guitar Show held this October 30th in Fairfield CT. This was the first time UpFront Guitars was at the show, and unfortunately it coincided with a freak winter storm that knocked out the power to over 500K residents. Needless to say turnout was a bit light, but kudos to the folks from the Fairfield Guitar Center (not that Guitar Center) who organized the show. As always, my brother Neil was their to help haul the gear, work with customers and assist them in trying out product. We had a lot of new G&L and Godin guitars on hand, but most of the emphasis and attention this show was on accessories such as pedals cables and pre-wired control assemblies. So while not a windfall, we met a lot of local musicians, guitarists, and an outstanding guitar maker that deserves special attention.
OTIS AND THE HURRICANES – On the performing side, local guitar hero Chris Cross (not that Chris Cross) stopped by to check out our gear. Chris fronts the blues/roots band with the great name of “Otis and the Hurricanes”. I don’t know Otis, but Chris is a really nice guy and fellow Tele fanatic. Chris bought one of our Tele pre-wired control assemblies made by Emerson Custom Guitars (emersoncustomguitars.com) and swore he was going to solder it in as soon as he got home. The deal on the Emerson Tele assembly (ASAT for you G&L people) is that is uses the “vintage” wiring arrangement used by Gibson in the 50’s and 60’s. In the vintage wiring arrangement the tone capacitor is wired between the volume and tone pot. This differs from most Fenders and modern Gibson guitars in which the tone capacitor just acts as a low pass filter to ground. In the vintage wiring arrangement the effect of the tone control is a function of where the volume control is set. While at first this may not sound beneficial, it opens up a much broader array of tonal options. With the volume all the way up, the tone pot works one way, roll the volume down a little and the tone pot acts differently, and so on. My Les Paul Jr. is wired this way, and I rarely play the guitar wide open. There are far better and more interesting tones to be found working both controls and finding that sweet spot.
In addition, the Emerson pre-wired assembly adds a “volume mod” that makes sure the highs don’t die out even when the volume control is turned way down. Essentially a little R/C (resistor/capacitor) network, the volume mod is a high pass filter that also bleeds through a small amount of full range signal regardless of the the volume control setting. In short, the high frequency roll off inherent with any volume pot is cured and clarity is retained even at low volumes. I’ve done this little trick to my own guitars for years, and for about a buck, Torres Engineering sells the “Famous Treble Bleed” which is essentially the same thing. If you’re buying a G&L from UpFront guitars and want a treble bleed, just say so.
DGN GUITARS – My brother has been telling me about Dan Neafsey and DGN Guitars (www.dgncustomguitars.com) for quite a while, sending me photos of his latest work, and generally gushing over his stuff. I got to meet Dan at the show, and besides being impressed by his easy-going modesty, I was also blown away by his guitars. Dan does everything: Carves the neck, does the frets, the entire finishing process, and even winds his own pickups. In his spare time he knocks out an amp or two. One of the cooler guitars on hand was his take on a double P-90 Singled Cut guitar that was actually semi hollow but no f-hole. Besides being very light for a mahogany guitar, the relatively low-wind DGN P-90’s had a crystal clarity and shimmer that was from another world. Plus with volume and tone controls for each pickup (wired the vintage way, see above) the tonal range was immense. With both pickups on, you can have a field day just exploring the nuances and interactions of various volume and tones settings.
As I mention earlier, I am a long time sucker for anything Tele-esque. Dan brought along a stunning baby blue T-guitar with his own P-90 and Tele bridge pickup mounted in a Joe Barden Tele bridge assembly. The back of the neck was a satin smooth figured maple, the rosewood fingerboard had expertly finished vintage frets, and the opaque blue finish was glassy but also clearly just enough. Plugged into one of our ValveTrain Trenton Amplifiers and the DGN Tele just poured forth with classically husky-but-clear neck tones, and the bridge pickup was twangy and sweet If it hadn’t just snowed it would have been Mint Juleps on the porch. So while I didn’t sell any guitars that day, the blue Tele came home with us.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, Dan really knows what he is doing. And if you don’t need a new custom built guitar, Dan also is capable of doing just about any type of guitar or stringed instrument repair. If you are not in the Fairfield Country area, it’s more than worth the hassle of shipping your prized possession to Dan.