Instrument Fleet

Fleet Wall (L to R): Donner Uke, Carvin 8-String, Tanglewood Mandolin, Amalgam Jazz, China-Faker,
EVH Tribute, Octave Mandolin, Doubleneck

Click here to see a large image gallery!

11950s (Kay?) Archtop Acoustic Guitar (Bank Robber)Most likely made in the 1950s, this was my first guitar purchase. I found it hanging at Kobey’s Swap Meet in 1983ish for $15. I asked the guy if he’d take $10 and we settled on $12, which I promptly borrowed from my sister. Looking back, I should have saved the 5 good Kluson tuners that it had on it. The only replacements I could get were a set of Grover tuners that would have looked better on a Les Paul, but this was done way before ordering parts on the Internet existed. The name Bank Robber came about because the original tuners were so hard to turn (maybe I should have actually oiled them) and I felt the tension was so high on the strings, that I told my friend John that I could hold up a bank by bringing my guitar in and threatening to tune it unless they gave me all their money. I turned it into an acoustic bass a few years ago–everything is reversible, so no harm was done to it.
2Early 1970s Hondo P Bass (Hentor) – This bass was in my friend Marcy’s lawn mower shed for a few years before I got it. I was at her house and she said “Hey, you play guitar. Do you want this?” Of course I took it even though it was missing a couple strings and tuning pegs and was filthy dirty. It sat in my closet for a couple years and I read an article about Jaco Pastorius and how he famously removed the frets on his bass–so of course I did the same–not knowing anything about doing it. After the frets were removed, I mixed up some wood putty, slathered it on the fretboard, painted it and tried to customize it to my 17 year old liking. Through the years it has had a replacement neck and I added a Jazz pickup to the neck position and eventually upgraded the pickups to a set of DiMarzio Model PJ. Now a days it’s back to it’s fretless glory (unlike the photo), with a pickup scavenged for another project I was supposed to start last year.
31985 Yamaha BB300 Bass (#1) – Top of the ol’ heap, this one. This is a bass my friend John gave me in a cardboard box, unassembled. John also gave me some extra pickups and I decided to add a bridge-side Jazz pickup to the reverse Precision split pickup it already had. Since I had no idea how to route a pickup cavity or have never actually owned a router or how to wire a guitar or bass at the time, I just wrapped the wire around the volume control that was already in there after I used a hole saw drill to gouge out a suitable chasm for the pickup. I left it unsoldered for about 10 years until I decided to make it permanent and document what made the sound so special. The result is an amazing mistake and my favorite bass!
41999 Carvin Custom Shop Bolt Guitar – I was in a coverband and the only guitar I had besides a purple Aria Pro II Knight Warrior was a doubleneck Carvin guiar/bass from the 1970s. At the time, Carvin (now Kiesel) had just opened a showroom in north San Diego county and they were looking to buy back old guitars they had made. I went down and they offered me $600 of credit toward merchandise. John helped me design and order a beautiful Ferrari Red guitar built to my specifications, which is mostly stock as of now–although I did tinker with it to try and put a piezo pickup and preamp in it.
52000 Ovation Celebrity Guitar – A trip to the now defunct Daddy’s Junky Music in Manchester, NH yielded this guitar after my wife said “Get it, if you really want it.” So I did.
6Aria Pro II Doubleneck 4/6Read all about it here.
7Carvin B4 8-String Bass ConversionRead all about it here.Finished bass
81986 Carvin LB50 Koa – I had a Geddy Lee Signature Jazz Bass for a while and ended up trading it for a Roland TD-7 electronic drum kit After a few years, I traded the drums for this bass. It’s all stock and sounds great. Lots of tonal options as it has humbuckers which can be split as well as set to out of phase with each other, along with tone and volume for each pickup.
9Fender Squier Jazz Bass (Amalgam) – I bought a loaded (all hardware included) Squier Vintage Modified Jazz body on eBay and a Telecaster Bass neck for it. They were together for a while and decided to replace the neck with a Vintage Modified Jazz neck as well as a sweet deal on some Fender Geddy Lee Jazz pickups that I couldn’t pass up. Adding a BadAss II bridge, tortoise pickguard, Hipshot Xtender and similar to Geddy’s “amalgam” alchemy symbol decal for the pickguard rounds out the bass to a great sounding Jazzer, especially after I did a wiring modification on it.
102019 Chinafaker 4003 Bass – Read all about it here.
11Tanglewood Electric Mandolin – After watching so many of Jerry Rosa’s videos on YouTube, I decided to get a mandolin project. This one came without tuners, so I bought a set of Grover tuners for it, strung it up and hung it on the wall. Maybe someday I’ll actually play it.
12Ibanez Octave Mandolin Conversion – I wanted an octave mandolin (a guitar-sized mandolin) and converted an acoustic guitar into one. Read all about it here.
13EVH Frankenstien Tribute Guitar Watch the videos here.
14COVID P Bass Watch the videos here.
15Kay Bass VI Conversion – Do you see a pattern here? I wanted a bass VI (30″, long scale 6 string guitar tuned down an octave like a bass) and decided to make my own out of a project bass I had. The truss rod on the bass’s neck was stripped and I bought another neck, shaped the headstock, bought a bunch of parts and came up with a neat instrument. I’ve even fitted it with a Roland GK-3 MIDI pickup (not shown). The Bass VI was featured on the main riff of The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” and many surf songs from the 1960s as well as doubling acoustic bass parts in many songs from the 1950s to the 1960’s. Kay Bass VI Before (L) and after (R)
16Chibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck – I bought a Firefly 338 semihollow guitar from Amazon, new for $139.91! Swapped out the pickups for Gibsons, played it for a few years and traded it for a fake Gibson doubleneck (plus cash on my end), in the style of Jimmy Page’s. It needs some work, but overall is fun to play!Playing my doubleneck fake Gibson
17Kiesel X44 Xccelerator Bass – I saw this listed as a “Kissel Bass” on Facebook Marketplace and decided it was a good idea to drive an hour to see it. At $500 I couldn’t beat it. I’m not sure what the previous owner did, but the action was super high. After making some adjustments, it plays like buttah now and is my main gigging bass.
18Line6 Shuriken SR270 Variax Guitar – I became obsessed with Variax guitars after I saw Steve Howe play one on Yes’s Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame performance (with Geddy Lee on bass). He used his Variax during Roundabout for the acoustic parts and it sounded excellent! This is my second Variax, which I got a really screaming deal on. It just needed a bit of adjustment and a cleaning. I love it!
19Donner DUC-410 23″ UkuleleI reviewed this uke for Donner and they gave it to me!
20Fender Precision Bass I’ve always loved Billy Sheehan’s bass tone that he gets with his basses with the Precision pickups in the middle and Mudbucker-style pickup in the neck position. I used a set of his signature pickups for this bass and may tweak it a little more. This build is my tribute to his original Wife bass that he as retired from gigging.Fender Precision Bass, Wife tribute
21Spector Timbre 4 Jr. Acoustic Bass – Bought from a sketchy dude on Facebook Marketplace. The output jack had an issue and needed to be resoldered, so I got a deal on the bass. My hand could not fit into the weird soundhole to hold the endpin jack into place so I had to enlist my son and his 12 year old hands to reach into the bass and hold the jack with a wrench so I could tighten it. I’ve used it at an acoustic gig with my band. Fun bass that sounds good!
22Yamaha BB300, Deux- This is an all stock, except for the BadAss II bridge, Yamaha BB300 purchased from my friend and fellow bass player, John. This is what my #1 BB300 used to look like before John tried refinishing it. Great bass!
23Ibanez Mikro GRGM21 Guitar – We bought this for my son to learn on and I think he might have played it five times by himself. I tried giving him lessons, but he wasn’t interested in learning that way–which is fine because I never liked formal music lessons either.
241985 Aria Pro II RSB 600 – This is a project bass I bought off eBay. The neck angle was weird on it and after taking it apart to clean it, I noticed mud everywhere. After closer inspection, I came to the conclusion it was in some kind of flood. The guy who sold it to me gave me a partial refund, as he found it in a storage locker and didn’t know anything about it. It’s currently in pieces, awaiting a refinish.
25Fender Squier Mini Precision Bass – I’ve always wanted to build a teardrop bass like Geddy’s and buying this mini bass was my first step. Unfortunately I haven’t taken any other steps besides mocking it up in a computer program and doing some preliminary measurements.
26Lotus L-747 Headless Bass – Built from 1983 to 1988 by Cort in Korea (essentially a rebranded Cort headless), Lotus instruments licensed Steinberger’s tuning system. This model was made in Korea. I bought it for just less than $100 with a Steinberger Spirit gigbag. When I bought it, they said the truss rod was bad and not adjustable. I added a washer under the truss rod nut and was able to adjust the amount of relief and set it up nicely.
27Variax Bass 700 – Bought on a whim because I love my Variax Shuriken so much. It’s got a few very cool models of basses onboard, including an upright bass and a couple synth basses.Line6 Variax Bass 700
Last update, 8 November, 2022