Practice Room

If I had the money, I’d buy a house that would include space for a sound-proofed music room.  Then I’d load it up with guitars and a few amps, just to mess around on (when the weather’s inclement).

“Which guitars?” you ask.

Kim’s Top Five Favorite Electric Guitars

Fender Stratocaster

I like playing rock ‘n roll, and the Strat practically defines the genre.  Also in rock:

Gibson SG Deluxe

This version, with the triple humbucker pickups, still sounds better than just about any other.  For some reason, I just prefer playing it, over the

Gibson Les Paul


Don’t get me wrong:  it’s #3 on my list, and I’m a really fussy listener when it comes to sound.  And for a change-up in the sound, my #4 pick is the

Rickenbacker 350

That jangly, chime-like sound reminds me of the 1960s, and how bad can that be?  But assuming I wanted a more stripped-down, basic sound (and I would), there’s nothing better than the

Fender Telecaster

I prefer the Thinline semi-acoustic body, as pictured.

For a practice amp, I’d actually have two, the Fender Twin Reverb and the Vox AC-30 for that old-fashioned (but still wonderful) sound of my youth:


…and the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, for the more modern stuff:

That’s about it, for guitars.

Now for my favorite noisemakers…

Kim’s Top 3 Bass Guitars

Rickenbacker 4001 (or 4003) S

Nothing compares to the Rick — not the Fenders, nothing — and frankly, I only need the Rick (as did the late Chris Squire of Yes).  But just in case I ever got bored (unlikely) and wanted a different sound, then:

Gibson Thunderbird

It has a sound unlike any other bass guitar (listen to any Wishbone Ash album), and played loud, it sounds like a wild animal growling.  Finally, I’d like a fretless bass — I used to play one occasionally when we wanted a “nightclub” sound for early evening sets in a restaurant setting, but the one I really want is the

Rickenbacker 4001 FL

Rickenbacker doesn’t make a fretless bass anymore (the fools) but I bet I could find a decent luthier who’d swap out the fretted neck for a plain one.  (I don’t need the dots — just plain maple like the one pictured, or rosewood.)

As for amps, I’d need only two, the Roland 120XL, whose COSM simulator would give me room to play with different amp sounds:

…or, if I just wanted to plug in and forget about fiddling about, then the wonderful

Orange AD200B, with the BC 115 15″ 400w speaker cab

While I like the versatility of solid-state / transistor amps like the Roland, nothing beats the sound of valves;  and I like the ability of 15″ speakers to push those deep bass notes (it’s all about pushing air, and a powerful amp and 15″ speakers get it done).  I never actually owned an Orange, only played a three-month gig with a borrowed one — but oh baby…

…just looking at all the above makes me want to play in a band again.

Anyway, I thought I’d put this up just so people could realize that this website isn’t all gunsgunsguns.  I have a gentler, more artistic side too.  And it was sparked by this article.


  1. As a community service to those from this side of the wet ditch, when Kim refers to valves he means vacuum tubes. Many audiophiles still feel that vacuum tubes have a better sound than solid state devices. In the days of bipolar junction transistors you could actually detect the sound of the electrons traversing the base from the collector to the emitter. It was called shot noise. Today most everything is field effect so the difference is less.
    I would expect Kim to have a big stack of Marshalls.
    If you want to see a musician with all the toys, watch Rick Beato’s Youtube channel. One of his best things is his “What Makes This Song Great” series now up to almost 100 episodes where he dissects songs into their constituent parts and shows you how they are put together. For us non-musicians it gives us a picture of what goes into Creating a musical piece. My favorite is when he did Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son.”

  2. I’ve played nearly all these instruments.

    Personally, I’d have a guitar built. You’d pretty much have to do that these days or pay out the tuckas for a vintage version. Once you’ve played a custom guitar or bass, you can never go retail again.

    I have a custom strat, which I love and just sold a telecaster that I built. Nothing I’ve played in the last 10 years is stock retail. Probably my favorite was a Gretsch 5420 (couldn’t afford the 6000 series). Filtertron pickups are out of this world. I’m partial to the ES-335 Gibson as well.

    Guitars are like guns. You need several to cover different jobs.

    Far as basses go, I’ve only had two I’ve loved – a 5 string Jazz bass and a Carvin LB70.

  3. I’ve been using the quarantine to fiddle around with a lot of hobbies, including music.

    I picked up a 61-key keyboard (which is surprisingly nice for the $200 I spent) and some other gadgets, and part of the fun has been getting some interesting simulated sounds to go with it.

    I just got a very nice Rhodes piano sample for $20, and while it doesn’t have the punch of a real Rhodes, it’s pretty darned close. I also have a few others, like a classic Wurlitzer and a couple of decent grand pianos.

    You can make some really sweet sounds for very little money nowadays.

    1. Don’t get me started on keyboards. It makes me regret having quit learning piano when I was 11.

  4. Ah, my other favorite noisemakers: My baby for 20+ years is ShariLou, a Warmoth swamp ash with flame top Strat clone body with a Chandler neck w/ ebony fretboard, loaded with EMGs and a Kahler Licensed Floyd. And another strat, and another strat, and a tele, and an Epi Les Paul, and (newest toys) a couple of Gretsch beauties – a DuoJet and now a semi-hollowbody with cat’s eye holes. Amps are a Mesa Nomad 45, a Fender Blues Deluxe, and a 1966 Blackface VibroChamp. Plus the acoustics.

    Wife insisted on the baby grand, though I, like you, quit decades ago and sorely regret it.

    Pictures if i could figure out how to upload.

    Rarely play out anymore – age does its thing – but I can shake the house, if need be. Maybe psyops, if the time comes.

  5. re:
    mid-1950s Telecaster

    My da could walk into a music store, pick up just about anything, and make music with it… accordion to bugle.
    He gave me his battered Tele in about 1968.
    I re-finished the body in our woodshop.
    After all these decades, the neck is still the size of a baseball bat, the frets still stand proud.
    Treble down through the single-coil neck pick-up, it’s perfect for my jazz.


    bass, and bass players

    We operate a small organic teaching farm near the outskirts of Eugene Oregon [motto: “Keep Eugene Weird!”] [I am not making this up.]
    Eugene is home to the School Of Music at the Eww.
    I noticed many musicians need to perform; I do my best to support them at intimate venues, small clubs, and cafes.
    Here is Eugene-based chanteuse Halie Loren with versatile pianist Matt Treder.
    Insane-o-maniac Mark Schneider is absorbed in his bass.
    Mark often performs with an Epiphone fretless.

    Mark Schneider is a long-time counselor at Mackenzie River Music, the Oregon go-to store for vintage guitars and amplifiers.
    Mackenzie River has an acoustically-insulated room strictly for sampling ancient amps.
    My highest recommendation!
    Kim, when should we expect you?

  6. I agree on the SG. Prefer it to the Les Paul, in fact, because they tend lighter. The weight on the shoulders wears thin real fast. I sold my Les Paul last year, intending to buy and SG. I allowed myself to be talked into looking at Schecter. Ended up with a Demon S1, which looks a lot like an SG, but with asymmetrical cutaway horns. It’s a joy to play. The action is fast. The tuning is persnickity, but once you get it, it stays in-tune, rock-solid for days (Ernie Ball Extra Slinky strings). Because of the difference in market prices between the Les Paul and down market axes, I also was able to get a second guitar — an Ovation Applause, which I love.

    If I had an unlimited budget, I would probably go for a Marshall stack with a 100w lead top and two 4×12 speaker cabinets. The Spark Smart Practice amp is intriguing. But, being as impecunious as I am, I ended up last year with a Fender Super Champ II — a distant cousin to the Twin Reverb. I likey.

  7. Les Paul supreme.
    American Strat.
    American Tele.
    Knockabout strat copy for exotic tunings and slide.
    Flying V on order.
    Taylor 414ce.
    Old Maton six string.
    Two classical guitars.

    Marshall JCM 900, Fender Deluxe Reverb (reissue), UK AC 30 and an 80s JC120.

    Plus an embarrassing number of pedals.

    I have a dedicated room at the back of the garage, but it’s not soundproof (yet).

    I’m thinking long and hard about investing in one of the new generation modelling systems and ditching most of amps as I’m getting too old to lug them around.

  8. I’ve got a Rick 4003 bass. While it is the best sounding bass I have and has far and away the best tuners, the tail piece is shit which is a problem on Ricks. It is THE most uncomfortable instrument to play thanks to the right angle binding that digs into my forearm and the lack of any decent thumb rest (I manufactured my own). I love my Rick 360 guitar (in beautiful blue). I waited for 18 months on Ebay to poach one in my price range. Also have a Fender fat strat that I got for free and refurbished. Eventually I’d like to get a Tele but I don’t like any of the stock colors.

  9. I think I could be happy with two or at most three electric guitars – – a Telecaster, a Telecaster with humbuckers, and a Strat. Probably one bass, a Precision, just to play around with. A nice parlor-sized accoustic.

    Then a basic drum kit. Think more Charlie Watts than Neil Peart.

    A marimba, because I love that sound.

    An upright piano, perhaps rigged as a tack piano, to play ragtime.

    A Hammond B3.

    A Mellotron.

    Some basic recording/mixing gear.

  10. That center PU on the SG can be problematic.
    The downside to an SG is the neck tends to be heavier than the body and that causes them to nose dive.
    My 1990 black SG has 2 DiMarzio PAF Pro pickups and I play it through a Digitech DP-1 into a Fender Stage 112 combo amp. I have several other rigs but that is my main system. For acoustic I have a 1992 Charvel C325 with onboard electronics that I play through a 1984 Acoustic combo amp.

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