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  • Bruce H. McIntosh
    scotsman@afn.org
    Visit my work homepage
    Last revised Jun 10, 2017

    Some of you may know me
    And many of you won't
    I am just a player in the band

    Guitar stuff


    Intro

    I've played guitar off and on since I was a teenager,tho not with any great distinction :- . I currently serve as guitarist and sound guy (which involves a lot of running back and forth at rehearsals :-) ) for the praise team at Living Faith Fellowship here in Gainesville. While I don't consider myself any great shakes as a guitarist, "His grace is sufficient for me", so I guess that makes my playing sufficient for Him. I'm deeply grateful to have the opportunity to offer my talent to the Lord who redeems me and gives me life.

    Guitars

    As for what I play, well, that's become something of a moving target of late. In the beginning™ there was the ancient cheap Aria steel string I cadged from my brother. Then high school hit, and with it my first electric, a Peavey T-15 short-scale in a radical brown metallic finish reminiscent of your great uncle's Olds 98.

    After about a year of flailing about on the cramped little fingerboard (and some disparaging remarks from a guy across the hall in the dorm at ASU), I traded "up" to a Hondo Les Paul copy. At some point I decided to take the covers off the pickups, to see if I couldn't get some more oompfh out of things. That's when I discovered the fraud - cheap chintzy single-coils hidden under the humbucker covers! Thus followed The Year of The Upgrades™ - new tuners, a couple of rounds of pickups, crazy switching schemes (that would show up later on the Black Telecaster - about which more later), pickguard, and knobs, it was actually a fairly respectable guitar. Then I dropped out of school, moved home, and lost track of it. Oh yeah, a Madiera 6 string and a Takamine 12 string passed through my possession at some point.

    After ASU and I were through with each other I got the NASA job. Then, flush with the joy of a regular paycheck came the Black Telecaster, and It Was Good™. Acquired in 1984, it was made by the (alas, now defunct) Baltimore firm of Koontz and Thurston and obtained from John Sprung's American Guitar Center. It has a DiMarzio Super II in the neck position and a Duncan SH-4 JB in the bridge spot. My own oddball wiring with enough switches to confuse an EE gave it sonic versatility. This guitar would be the first inanimate object I would rescue from a burning building.

    The Martin Shennandoah D-2832 showed up about the same time; John Sprung wound up with most of my pachecks there for a while! [ed. note - I really never will stop regretting NOT getting that $450 Les Paul Custom - what WAS I thinking?] I also obtained (and later sold to afford a replacement for a busted car stereo - another case of what was I thinking) a Guild D212 which could be tuned to concert pitch and sounded, if not quite as good as an F-512, pretty darned good.

    After the Black Telecaster and the acoustics came a KT Model 15, again finished and assembled by John Sprung and wired by me. That one had a double cutaway body, thru neck with 24 frets, all gold hardware, and Duncan Jazz and JB pickups. I sold it and the junky red scrounged-parts Strat copy, a few years after Sue and I got married, 'cause the guitars were taking up too much space.

    There was a brief excursion into an Epiphone AJ-40TLC, but I sold that after just a couple of years to our music minister for a birthday present for one of his sons, our then-drummer.

    I went for several years with just the two guitars, (well, there was the cheap noname classical I inherited from Dad, that he'd bought off a streetcorner vendor in Italy in the 50s when he was in Uncle Sugar's Canoe Club) the Black Telecaster and the Martin, but as with most guitarists, GAS reared its ugly head. Yes, the dreaded Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, which compels otherwise satisfied musicians to twitch, drool, and spend aortic-hemmorhage levels of money whenever a music store salescritter says, "Hey, check this out!"

    Thus, in the spring of '07, I got the itch for something a bit mellower, jazzier, than the Black Telecaster, and wound up getting a Jay Turser JT-134QMT semi-hollowbody. It's not bad for a CNC-made Chinese made guitar, and it looks really nice with the figuring on the top and the gold hardware. And there matters stood. It got to where I was taking both electrics to church every Sunday. Surprisingly, I found after a while I was playing the Turser more than the Black Telecaster; it just felt more comfortable after standing there for a couple hours (rehearsal, then the service). The Black Telecaster does get the nod for most fingerpicked and more-acoustic-oriented songs - the tone is a bit brighter, and the strings are farther apart making for easier fingerpicking.

    Fast forward a couple more years; owing to a bit of an unexpected financial windfall, and having been exposed to the new inventory at Lipham Music during a series of PA-buying expeditions for the church, I succumbed again, allured by the stunning spalted maple and low-key steel-gray hardware on a new Ibanez.

    Head over here for pictures of the current collection (also accessible by the "Guitar Gallery" link in the menu to the left).

    Amps and Effects

    Shortly I got the T-15, lo these many years ago, I picked up a very generic little practice amp that I think had a Guild brand name, but was available from pretty much everyone and their brother. Later on I got my first decent amp, a little Peavey Decade. I was amazed at how good that teeny amp sounded. Alas, I sold the Peavey when I left Arizona, and, typically, spent a good bit of time regretting the loss.

    Around about the time John Sprung was getting all my guitar money, I dropped some dead presidents on good old Venemans Music over in Rockville, and came away with a Yamaha G20-110-III. The distortion of the lead channel was nothing to write home about, but the footswitchable parametric EQ gave it what in effect could become a seperate "lead channel," quite a handy feature at the time. The setup was completed with a string of Veneman's house-brand effects - delay, chorus, flanger and distortion.

    Sue and I had met and were getting serious about each other; at the same time, I decided to get serious about my effects situation. I sold the cheap stompboxes to a coworker at Goddard, and upped the ante in the form of an all-Boss rig - BCB-6 pedalboard and PSA-120 power supply, SD-1 Super Overdrive, BF-2 flanger, HM-1 distortion, and CE-2 chorus. A couple years after I moved and got married, I added a DD-2 digital delay. Once I started playing with the worship band at church, I decided that two distortions were redundant, since I only used the SD-1 and that only on one or two songs. So I traded the HM-1 in for a PS-3 pitch shift/delay, which I configured as a thicker, deeper sounding chorus.

    Y2k came and all the furor turned out to be for naught. I got a hankering for something a little beefier in the amp department, so the Yamaha went on a shelf, replaced by a Fender RocPro 1000 combo. The hairy chested solidstate brute is my current stage amp at church. The Fender's actually too much amp for the situation; it doesn't really sound that full-bodied and chunky unless it's turned up too loud for the rest of the band. I never could really cost-justify a replacement, so it continues to be used. Ironically enough, our former second electric guitarist's Strat sounded *wonderful* thru this amp. It must be the low-output single coils his guitar's got, compared to the hot humbuckers on the Black Telecaster. I tried putting together a volume control that sat between the effects loop and the power amp in; early experiments were promising, but it didn't really sound all that good. The overdrive sounds in the gain-switched lead channel are starting to grow on me as we play more rock and blues influenced songs, but I'm still relying primarily on that most excellent Boss overdrive pedal for the crunchies.

    I'm now trying out the cheap seats on the digital multieefects bandwagon. Just after Easter I came across a craigslist posting for a Boss GT-8 for a price too good to pass up. So I didn't pass it up. I'm currently in the process of learning my way 'round the beast; it's a frighteningly capable gizmo that I can't wait to get into my stage setup. What little I've heard of it so far just blows me away. In particular the synth and related filtering effects are gateways to whole new layers of tone and expression. I'm keyed. The future is waiting and I'm all over it like stink on a warthog.

    Thoughts for what comes next

    Someone on an online guitarists' forum posted a query as to whether anyone ever got "THE ONE", the single guitar that would make them stop dead, go to pearl of great price lengths to acquire, and once having acquired, never purchase another guitar. I might be at that point with this new Ibanez; we'll see. I certainly won't be buying any more guitars... now my fool head is filling up with notions of building them...

    I've been quietly accumulating a small stable of necks (the one part of construction that really scares/worries/puts me off), and some miscellaneous wood to make a couple of "beater" electrics. The good folks over at the MIMF have abounded with advice, inspiration and encouragement. I'm pretty much one garage in need of cleaning and rearranging away from diving in.

    Another avenue for experimentation that I'm planning on exploring, courtesy several bins of NOS vacuum tubes and so forth inherited from Dad, is the construction of my next guitar amp. Should be fun.

    )