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 c. 2010. Over the past few years (starting in 2017), I've completely re-engineered how I hold the plectrum for speed soloing. I've adopted the style of George Benson for jazz soloing speed on my Les Paul Classic. 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 the same, or very similar, pick 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 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 of my real-life guitar teachers — whom I paid into the bargain!

I'm now able to play things that, for most of my life, I could only dream about. I finally understand what jazz guitar greats like, Larry Coryell, Pat Metheny, George Benson, and Wes Montgomery, are playing and how they are doing it. This is immensely gratifying. YouTube is the best guitar teacher I never had.

  1. Ibanez GB10
  2. Fender Stratocaster
  3. Gibson Les Paul
  4. Gibson Chet Atkins
  5. Takamine Santa Fe
  6. Ovation Custom Viper
  7. Ovation Country Artist

2020 Ibanez GB10EM

  • Serial number: PW20030059
  • Antique Amber
  • Spruce top
  • Ibanez strings IFAS6SL stainless flatwound 11—50
  • Bound walnut fretboard 12/22
  • Neck thickness 22 mm at IX
  • Scale length 24.70 in.
  • Walnut bridge
  • Magic Touch-Mini humbucker pickup (Passive/Alnico)
  • Controls:
    • 2 x volume
    • 2 x tone
    • 3-way toggle switch
  • Factory action settings:
    • 4/64ths for e @ XII
    • 4/64ths for E @ XII
  • Purchased December 2020

2020 Fender Stratocaster Roadhouse Deluxe

  • Serial number: MX20151872
  • Steel strings
  • Alder body
  • Maple neck and fretboard
  • Neck Shape: Modern C (similar to Les Paul)
  • Neck thickness 22 mm at IX
  • Chrome locking tuners
  • Vintage Noiseless Single-coil pickups
  • Dot fingerboard inlay
  • Fretboard rosewood 12/22
  • Scale length 25.5 in.
  • Two-point Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
  • Controls:
    • master volume (S-1 bypass detent push-switch)
    • master tone, 6-way V6 rotary tone switch
    • 5-way blade pickup switch
  • Purchased December 2020

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
  • Neck thickness 23 mm at IX
  • Scale length 24.75 in.
  • Action settings
    • 4/64ths for e @ XII
    • 5/64ths for E @ XII
  • Purchased 1999
  • Scratch plate added 2020

1989 Gibson Chet Atkins CE

  • Serial number: 81739615
  • Nylon strings (high tension for low action)
  • Nut: CE 1.75 in. (vs. CEC 2 in.)
  • Hex piezo pickups
  • Active (battery) circuit pre-amp with 6 trim pots
  • 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)