Like an artist who uses different paints to portray emotion or provoke thought, I search out gear that allows me to paint my own musical scenes. Tracking down great gear can be both invigorating and stimulating. Sometimes the history behind a certain piece can be really inspiring. I have had this unquenchable thirst to build upon this gear palette of mine ever since I picked up my first guitar.

For electric guitars, I find that maple necks have a bit more sparkle in the top end, and a rosewood neck seems a bit darker and warmer. The notes from a maple neck seem more in your face to me. Lightweight electric guitars seem to have less sustain but more spank and high-end tone. Heavier electric guitars seem to have more sustain and be darker in tone.

1966 Fender Telecaster with rosewood neck The neck on this guitar has that hand-polished feel after years of playing. It’s a really inspiring piece that almost plays by itself and has tone for days. It has a Gibson P.A.F. humbucker in the neck that is really warm in tone and a Kinman Broadcaster in the bridge that sounds like the original (which I still have) but with more output. It’s a sassy ole girl with spanky twang. There’s something about an old guitar and all the history behind it. When I play this old tele I find myself in a time warp thinking of all the great music that was being played back when this axe was first around. I think of what it would have been like to be a player back then and what life was like in that time era. It’s a mojo thing.

1969 Fender Telecaster with maple neck This guitar is pure honky-tonk and Bakersfield in tone. It has a set of Kinman AVN 60 pickups in it. Greg makes the best noiseless pickups I know of. They sound like a vintage pickup but without the noise and hum. It has a standard 3-way switch in it. Who knows who played this guitar before me or what great licks were played on it. Having a guitar that was around when Roy Nichols and Don Rich were gigging is way cool in my book. When I pick it up I can’t help but think of that time period and the memories that were made and played. If a guitar could speak and tell us where it’s been and what events it’s seen, what a story it would tell.

I have one electric that is my main stage guitar. It is the most versatile instrument I have ever owned and is so magical in playability and tone. That guitar is my 1971 maple neck Telecaster If I was on a deserted island and was only allowed to have one electric guitar, this tele would be the one I would want. Hopefully there would be electricity on that island for powering my amp as well! It has a Joe Glaser-installed b-bender in it for bending the B string up to a C sharp. It’s the best bender I have ever used. It is very smooth and I dig the long throw (pull) of the lever. It is more steel guitar-ish in feel, which makes for more natural sounding bends. Joe also did some wiring similar to Brent Mason’s wiring in it. I have the two pots though. My tone pot is actually a blend. When the bridge pickup is on it blends the middle pickup in with it and blends the two pickups together to take a bit of bite off the highs. It has a Seymour Duncan '54 vintage tele lead pickup in the bridge, which is pure twang heaven in this axe. The middle is a Seymour Duncan hot stack strat pickup that gives it that glassy strat tone. The front is another Gibson P.A.F. humbucker for the more jazzier tones, but it actually has a sort of Hendrix-y feel to it when playing blues or soulful stuff. This guitar is the most versatile tone-wise piece that I play. I have a 5-way switch for more combinations and a mini switch that can add the bridge pickup to any other pickup combination chosen.

2012 Gibson Les Paul Traditional I love the simplistic beauty of a Gold Top Les Paul. I got this piece in Vancouver after a good friend and fellow player Jay Buettner gave me a tip about it being for sale. The Classic '57 pickups sound sweet for any style of music and have great note articulation.
It's perfect for thick guitar parts that just need a bit more girth or a solo or fill that needs lots of sustain. It opens up another door of tonal colour. Les Paul was the innovator of not only some of the finest guitar designs ever made but also some of the finest guitar effects and recording techniques ever used as well. His multi-tracking is legendary.

2008 Reverend Gil Paris with rosewood neck This axe is a blast to play and has a lot of tonal capabilities. It’s body is chambered and that helps give it some woody tones. It has two Reverend humbuckers in the bridge and neck and a Lace Sensor in the middle. It also has a great tremolo bridge and arm system on it called a Les Trem. I wonder where they got the Les from? Paul? I like to create moods with this guitar. I used it on the single “Temptation”. With the trem I was able to create a cool vibe in the rhythm section. It’s like a Bigsby but not as bulky and it stays in tune very well as the strings don’t stick in the saddles. I can play anything from rock, country or rockabilly on this guitar. It has a bass contour knob that can really fatten up the low end if I want. With distortion or overdrive on, and using the bass contour, it can sing and sustain for days when I find the sweet spot.

2008 Reverend Charger 290 with maple neck This guitar is a great straight up rock and roll guitar. But it’s equally great for other styles also. The P-90 pickups are really beefy sounding. Being a chambered guitar also, it is very resonant and woody in tone. It’s great to play really aggressive stuff with it. With the bass contour in it as well, I can roll up the low end and it will just howl with any type of overdrive used. It brings out a bit of that rebellious bad boy attitude in me when I play it.

2008 Blade Texas Standard with rosewood neck The Blade pickups in this axe sound really great and for doing any type of material that needs a strat-type of tone it comes through in spades. It is glassy,quacky and woody. My luthier Byron Olsen knew a few tricks on how to make the standard whammy bar stay in tune and it does that quite well. I feel at home playing anything from Hendrix or SRV blues-styled material to country or rock with this guitar.

2013 Fender Japan Domestic FSR 56’ Stratocaster with maple neck I found this guitar at a shop that had a line of Custom Shop and high end Strats. I had tried them all and when I picked this up I was blown away. Made only for domestic sales within Japan, not many of these end up in our neck of the woods. It is light, resonant, balanced, and feels like a vintage guitar. It is designed to be a replica of a ’56 Strat. The pickups are alnico and it has all the famous woody tones a great Strat should have. The tremolo works flawlessly. From Jeff Beck to Jimi this axe nails it Blow by Blow to Electric Ladyland!

For acoustic guitars I prefer rosewood or mahogany backs and sides. I find rosewood has great projection, is very touch sensitive and expressive. Mahogany is a bit warmer in tone to me. Thank you brother Byron for keeping all my axes in top working condition!

2005 Santa Cruz Tony Rice Custom Dreadnought This awesome pre-war designed acoustic guitar is modeled after the 1934 Martin D-28 that Tony Rice owns that was previously owned by Clarence White. These two gentleman are the measuring sticks by which we are all measured when it comes to acoustic playing. R.I.P. Clarence. It has Indian Rosewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top. It has an L.R. Baggs Dual Source pickup system installed in it. I like this system as it is easy to get a balanced and natural tone that doesn’t feed back easily to the F.O.H. mix, especially when sound pressure levels are high. Having a blend for the pickup and microphone, I can mix the natural sound of the top of the guitar (sourced from the condenser microphone) with the saddle pickup. This guitar is a monster for playability and tone, and for bluegrass or country, and anything in between, it is a killer. Richard Hoover builds guitars that are world-class.

2010 Nichols Dreadnought This piece has old, aged brazilian rosewood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. I have been playing for many years, and have played many guitars in my time, but this Dave Nichols-built guitar is like nothing I have ever heard or played before. It is one of the most expressive and projective acoustics that I have ever had the pleasure of owning with unbelievable tone and volume. It has great balance and separation between each string and is just priceless for recording or playing any style I throw at it. I have an L.R.Baggs Anthem pickup system in it currently. Thanks David!

2009 SX DJG1 Django Gypsy Jazz Guitar He only had four fingers but did more with those four than any other living jazz player could dream of. I bought this guitar while on a trip to British Columbia. I have always wanted to get a Gypsy guitar and this was an easy way on the pocketbook to get into one. It is not a super expensive guitar but has a nice tone for it's price range. It sure makes you think differently as a guitarist in terms of chord shapes and lines. It has the "petite bouche" soundhole. I am not sure what type of wood it is made of and I'm sure it isn't from a 200 year old tree, but it's built well and I'm sure it will give musical pleasure for at least that long.

1967 Gibson J-45 While looking for a Calton guitar case in New Brunswick, I ended up buying this beautiful guitar at the same time. My dear friend Ray Legere came with me to check the guitar out before I peeled out the cash. The funny part was Ray used to own the Calton case and knew the seller. This guitar has been played and played hard. When you think of kitchen parties, jam sessions, late night songwriting, and shared musical stories, this guitar embodies all of these. It has travel scars all over it. I am so grateful it found it's way to me. It inspires melodies and lyric. For rhythm tracks in the studio, a great J-45 is hard to beat. This guitar has lived a very busy life so far and I intend on continuing that tradition.

2014 Gerry Goguen Brazilian Rosewood D-28 I had just gotten back from a trip to New Brunswick when I got a call from my dear friend Ray Legere saying that this guitar was for sale. I had just played one very close to it at Ray’s house and had told him if he ever decided to sell his to call me. Next best thing turned out to be as good as I could hope for. Gerry has only built 12 or so guitars and there is a 2 year plus waiting list to get them. Made of very old brazilian rosewood and wonderful craftsmanship throughout, this guitar sounds very unique. The top end is very magical and yet it has projection as well. I currently have a Fishman Matrix in it and for live FOH applications I have never heard a better, balanced guitar. Gerry is a very fine gentleman as well. Thanks Gerry!

1951 Martin D-18 How do you describe an acoustic guitar that has aged for over 60 plus years? Heavenly. And the guy that found it? Lucky! I found this piece in need of some heavy luthier love. Byron Olsen was a surgical genius for me and he put on a new bridge, nut, did a great neck reset, as well as closed some cracks in the top and back. The sap in this guitar’s wood had dried totally and it punches notes out like Muhammad Ali did opponents! When folks talk of cannons for guitars, this one is one of the guitars they are referencing. Whether finger-style or flat-picking, there’s nothing like an old, aged Martin! Kudos and much respect to C.F. and Family!

2007 Blueridge BR-160 D-28 On a trip to Cape Breton I found this gem of a guitar for sale from a fellow that was going back to playing smaller bodied guitars. It has a Fishman Matrix in it like my Goguen and it is really easy to get a great FOH mix with it. I bought it mainly as a guitar to take on non-musical journeys but I could use it professionally as well. For the money I have never played a finer example of a D-28 copy that was so affordable but yet of such high quality. 

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