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About John: Equipment: The Dearly Departed

The Dearly Departed

While I buy a fair amount of equipment, I am pretty careful about not getting stuff that I won't want / need / enjoy for a long time, so it tends to be rare that I part with anything I really love. That said, there are a few pieces of gear I've had over the years that for one reason or another I've parted ways with, and this page is dedicated to the stories about the ones that got away...

1975 Fender Rhodes Mark I 73
I was on a lunch break from a day job I had in downtown San Diego in 1996 or so when I visited a pawn shop that I was partial to for its wide array of musical equipment. That day they happened to have a road worn, but perfectly working and responsive Fender Rhodes for $300. I played it for an hour, fell in love, called my boss to tell her I wasn't feeling well and was going home, loaded the beast in my car, took it home, and played it for the rest of the day. When I joined King Harvest years later, our keyboard player used it extensively, and even after I left the band he kept it. I think it was in his van when it got impounded and the cost to get it out exceeded the value of the vehicle... Even though I hadn't even had it in my possession at the time (and in fact had relocated to another part of the state), I felt (and still) feel that one as a big loss.

1970's Silver Face Fender Musicmaster Bass Amp
In 1996 I moved into a run down house in the hills above downtown San Diego with six roommates. The place had been a revolving door of renters for years, maybe decades (the person that was actually on the lease was loooong gone by the time I moved in), and had been known as a haven and crash pad for various and sundry artists, freaks, and crazies. A month or so after I moved in, I happened to be clearing out some clutter from a bare dirt crawl space / cellar area and came across this amp, which none of the current roommates knew anything about and had clearly been there for a long time. I replaced the AC line with a grounded cable and was off to the races. I used that mainly as the amp for my Rhodes which I picked up right around the same time (it had a nice breakup at low volumes, and a good frequency response to handle the bottom end on the Rhodes which can get kind of flabby on the wrong amp). To be perfectly honest, I don't even remember when I lost track of this one. Great amp. Damn shame.

1993 Fender American Standard Telecaster
While nothing particularly special, this was the first real quality electric guitar I ever owned (first was a junky red Yamaha, then a decent Charvel that I played through Unbroken Chain and for the first year or so of my time with Oversoul), and began my love affair with the Telecaster. For that nostalgic reason alone, I miss this guy. But the real kicker is that it got stolen, along with a bunch of other gear, from a rehearsal space in Windansea in about 1995. It ended up serendipitous, as that's how I came to be in the market for a guitar and purchased the Ibanez Artist (which I couldn't live without), but I still miss my first Tele.

Hammond M3
One fall, my wife and I were returning from Tahoe to San Diego via the scenic route (highway 395). We stopped in Bishop for lunch, pulling off the highway down a back street to park. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this organ on the sidewalk, and asked Amy if we could go back and check it out. While I wasn't (and still am not) an expert on organs, this baby had a Hammond logo, two consoles of sweet feeling waterfal keys, a couple octaves of foot pedals, a massive tube amp and built in speaker. It was in front of a thrift shop so I went in to ask the proprieter how much. She responded "Oh that? It's free, please take it -- my boss was upset that I accepted it in the first place because we don't normally take furniture..." Sooooo, I grabbed a couple guys from the shop next door and loaded into the back of my Subaru wagon (we almost had to leave some of our non-essential luggage at the thrift shop to make room) and headed back home. I got it home and it powered up but didn't play; with a little Hammond oil and a few days, if finally came to life. The "Baby B" as it's called, really delivered. The vibrato rocker switch halfway between on and off even gave a passable Leslie-ish sound... A few years later, after having had to move it a couple times already and with a big move coming up I sold it (I told the guy if he ever wanted to move it again, he'd better have some good friends). I still wish I had just sucked it up and hung on to it through the move (and all the subsequent moves...).

Ibanez UE400
This 70's multi-effects unit (meaning essentially, 5 classic Ibanez stompboxes in a single rack mountable enclosure with a remote footswitch) had an overdrive (not technically a TubeScreamer circuit, but very similar tonal family), a compressor, phaser, and chorus/flange, and an external effects loop, each of which could be assigned a different order position in the signal chain. There are lots of folks who talk trash about this unit (particularly in reference to the OD not being a JRRC4885 TubScreamer...), I always found the effects to be very usable and the unit overall to be very versatile. I used the crap out of that thing until it got stolen (the Phaser features heavily on Oversoul's recording of Don No One). I had the extreme good fortune of finding another one which I also used the crap out of until the odd proprietary jack for the foot pedal finally bit the dust making the whole thing useless... We had a lot of good years together, and I was very sad to see it go, and may never get used to not looking back to see that thing sitting on top of my amp. Funny story -- given that I was new to rack mount gear and didn't actually own a rack to put it in, I discovered that a large format milk crate (which I'd been using to store cables and the like for a while) is also 19", so I screwed it right into the crate and toured with it that way for years.

Fender Pro 185
While not necessarily so "dear", this was the first real amp I ever had, after graduating from the little Yamaha Budokan practice amp I got with my first electric guitar. A 100 watt solid state Fender, with switchable distortion, boost, and reverb. While these 80s red knob models would later come to be known as a low point for the company generally, this one is definitely responsible for starting my love affair with Fender amps. I played through this amp with Unbroken Chain and my first year or so with Oversoul as well. I even started my signature of covering the grill cloth with patterned silk (from a sarong I bought in Revelle Plaza freshman year at UCSD, if memory serves) on this guy. When I bought my Showman head around 1993, I still used this amp as the cabinet until I found the HiWatt. I sold it to a friend who was very happy to upgrade from his Gorilla.

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