A few months back I got some plug-ins from Universal Audio and man, they are something. Sonically and visually, just fantastic. And now that they have native versions through their Spark platform that don’t require specialized hardware to run, things just got even better.

I’m still getting familiar with each plug-in’s feature set so as to find the right settings for the right situation, but I love what I’m already able to do with them. To help things out, UA has some fantastic tutorials on their YouTube channel, I particularly like their quick tips series.

Thanks, UA!

Tone Master

The other day I went to a local guitar store with a friend of mine and came across “the one that got away”. I was beside myself when I saw this thing. I didn’t bother playing it right then as I had a strong feeling that it would be mine if I did.

You see, I have been thinking about this amp since the one and only time I heard it way back in the late 90’s. I assumed that this was a new model that would be made for years and years. Little did I know that this was a Custom Shop amp with a _very_ limited run. I never saw it again, until last week.

There isn’t much information about it online other than this from the owner’s manual:

The Fender Amp Custom Shop is dedicated to creating high quality amplification to serve top artists and discriminating players. The Tone-Master is a unique amplifier with many possibilities. On the surface it is a 100 watt, 2 channel switching “Head” amplifier. Upon further inspection one will notice many features which set it apart from anything offered before.

The Tone-Master is a hand-made, point-to-point wired, tube instrument amplifier. There are no solid- state (transistor) devices in the signal path of any kind. This amplifier was created from the efforts of a handful of top craftsmen, players and designers who saw a need and envisioned a new amplifier. Like the other Fender custom amps, the Tone-Master is painstakingly built, one at a time, by a select group of craftsmen at the Fender electronics factory in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

The Tone-Master was created for the discriminating player who requires a high powered, high volume amplifier capable of clean tones, overdriven vintage amp tones as well as heavily overdriven distortion. It has 2 independent channels, switchable via the front panel A/B switch or the footswitch (provided).

Needless to say, I did play it and now it’s mine.


I bought this guitar years ago after learning the hard way that if I find something that I really like I should grab it before it is no longer available. At the time I was looking for something “a little different” and this fit the bill. Part stratocaster, part telecaster, part precision bass, the ’72 was one of the “Fender Pawn Shop Series” models introduced in 2011 and only in production for a couple of years.

Here’s the official press release from Fender:

“The Pawn Shop Fender ’72 presents an unusual combination of classic Fender design elements, not the least of which is its semi-hollow Stratocaster body with an f hole. The result is a truly distinctive instrument with a huge sound, with other features including a U-shaped Telecaster neck, rosewood fretboard with modern 9.5” radius and 6105 frets, Fender Wide Range humbucking neck pickup and Fender Enforcer™ humbucking bridge pickup, early-’50s Precision Bass-style dual-knob chrome control plate with master volume and center-detented pickup blend controls, ’70s-style hard-tail Stratocaster bridge, ’70s-style Fender “F” tuners, mint green pickguard, bullet truss rod, three-bolt neck attachment and deluxe gig bag.”

The other day I pulled it out of the case and put some new strings on it. Forgot just how much I really love this guitar. Feels and sounds great, plus it looks really cool!

Photo was taken at a SF Guitarworks setup workshop a couple years back.



Last year I put together a custom electric guitar, all aspects of it were to my specification. Everything from the parts, the materials used, the look and wear/aging of the paint and hardware, even the type of wiring used for the electronics. I called it “The Duke”.

I love this thing. Honestly, it turned out way better than I thought it would. Essentially it’s all my favorite things in one guitar: mahogany Fender Jazzmaster body & neck, ebony fretboard, extra wide neck (for my big fingers), locking tuners, stainless steel frets, throaty P90 pickups and the amazing Mastery Vibrato.

I point out the vibrato because I was originally given another (inferior) tremolo/bridge and was really not enjoying the way the guitar turned out as much as I had hoped I would. Once I got the mastery installed it transformed the guitar into a completely new instrument. It feels so smooth, solid and dependable. Stays in tune without needing a locking nut and looks bad ass. It’s fantastic. This is without a doubt one of my all time favorite guitars. Thanks Mastery!

That Pedal Show

So glad that I found this channel on YouTube, it has so much useful information on it. Thoughtful reviews on all sorts of pedals/amps/guitars, comparisons of pedals by type (overdrives, distortions, fuzzes, wah-wahs, reverbs, delays, tremolos, vibes, etc.), thorough explanations on pedal related topics (e.g. pedal order, gain stacking, using buffers, power requirements, etc.), interviews with great players, pretty much anything you can think of related to electric guitar is on this channel. Also, they seem to be a couple of genuinely nice “blokes”.

Pedal Board 4.0

I’ve had various incarnations of my pedalboard over the years. In the past I had ones that were designed specifically for acoustic guitar. Others were to be used with either acoustic or electric. This one is a side project that I’ve been working on for quite a while and it’s all about the electric guitar.

It’s pretty large when compared with what’s popular these days, but hey, I’m a large guy with large feet and large hands. Given that I’m not gigging out much these days I decided to go with comfort and ease of access on this one.

Aside from it’s substantial footprint, the biggest feature of this pedalboard is that it is set up to be used with two amps, either one at a time or simultaneously. (I had no idea how good two amps could sound when blended together. It really is quite remarkable.)

So far I’m pretty happy with how it is working out. Sounds really good and I can access everything/make modifications quickly and easily. Now I just need to program the loop switchers and it will be good to go!