Axes That Chop But Don't Cut

I'm a casual jazz player (mostly finger-style nylon/electric) although I've been getting back into my rock roots (mostly Hendrix and some Clapton) since acquiring my Les Paul. My favorite nylon jazz player is Earl Klugh.

That's what I wrote eight years ago. Over the past two years (2017—2018), I've completely re-engineered how I hold the plectrum. I've adopted the style of George Benson for jazz soloing speed on my Les Paul. The feel is incredibly relaxed and natural and the physics of it makes tremendous sense to me. Since then, I now realize that even Jimi Hendrix uses this same plectrum grip. I'd actually noticed it a long time ago but wrongly put it down to him merely having longer fingers, rather than being critical to his playing ability. Now I wonder how it's possible to play at speed in any other way. It's painful to see various rock and jazz players doing strange thumb-twitches and other weird contortions.

This all came about quite accidentally when I discovered some Benson-like players on YouTube who took the time to explain how it works (for free, of course). For reasons I still don't understand, I've never been able to get that level of instruction from any real-life guitar teachers — whom I paid into the bargain!

I'm now able to play things that previously I could only dream about. This is immensely gratifying. YouTube has provided me with the best guitar teachers I never had.

1995 Gibson Les Paul Custom Classic

  • Serial number: 5_9143
  • Steel strings
  • Single cutaway
  • Blackface headstock with pearl "Gibson" logo
  • Pearl tuners
  • Gibson Custom Shop emblem on rear of headstock
  • Two black/white opposing ceramic Humbucker exposed pickups
  • Trapezoid pearl fingerboard inlay
  • Bound burgundy curly maple top with deeper binding in cutaway
  • Fretboard rosewood 16/22
  • Scale length 24.75 in.
  • Action settings
    • 4/64ths for e @ XII
    • 5/64ths for E @ XII
  • Purchased 1999

1989 Gibson Chet Atkins CE

  • Serial number: 81739615
  • Nylon strings with piezo-electric pickup
  • Single cutaway
  • Solid mahogany body
  • Parallel volume and tone controls on upper treble bout
  • Pearl tuners
  • Fretboard 16/22 rosewood
  • Scale length 25.50 in.
  • Purchased 1998

1998 Ovation Custom Viper EA-63

  • Serial number: 527220 USA
  • Nylon strings with piezo-electric pickup
  • Gloss (polyester) neck natural with slotted headstock
  • 1-7/8" nut (jazz neck)
  • Fretboard 14/24 (angled tail-piece like Elite)
  • 10" fingerboard radius
  • Spruce top semi-solid body
  • CP100 Thinline piezo pickup
  • 3-way EQ mounted on the upper bout
  • Scale length 25.25 in.
  • Action settings:
    • 5/64ths (High E) @ XII
    • 6/64ths (Low E) @ XII
  • Signature on plastic truss-rod cover
  • Purchased 1998

1996 Takamine Santa Fe PSF-65C

  • Serial number: 96120814
  • Nylon strings
  • Exciter Palathetic piezo pickup
  • AccurAcoustic EQ in treble bout
  • Single cutaway with solid cedar top
  • Rosewood back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood 14/21 fingerboard with turquoise inlays
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Scale length 25.5"
  • Soundhole rosette has "black crows" motif
  • Gold tuners with amber pearloid knobs
  • Strap button added at neck joint
  • Modified bridge for lower action
  • Purchased 1997
  • Production began in 1993 and ended in 1999

1985 Ovation Custom Classic/Country Artist

  • Serial number: 305035
  • Model: 1613
  • Nylon strings with piezo-electric pickup
  • Concentric Volume/Tone on upper treble bout
  • Stereo output jacks
  • 5-piece mahogany/maple neck
  • 5-stripe body bonding
  • Deep bowl (~ 6")
  • Scratch guard
  • 14/20 ebony fingerboard with pearl dot inlay
  • Rosewood (tiered) string-thru bridge
  • 3 per side chrome tuners
  • Single round soundhole with leaf-pattern rosette
  • Resides in Melbourne, Australia
    • That's my Dad (at 89 in 1998)
    • He's a banjo picker
    • He got me started when I was 10 years old
  • This guitar has a phenomenal action and sound!
  • Purchased 1998 (sold 2010)