Last modified on 01/25/07 - Keith - Guitar - Update: July 16, 2002

Quote of the day: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." --Abraham Lincoln

Wow, I haven't been very good at keeping this page up to date. A lot has happened in the last few months--mostly in regard to new instruments. First, I bought a new guitar in March, a Guild S-100 Polara:

The Polara is a solid-body electric guitar with two Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups, a JB model in the bridge position and a '59 model in the neck position. The body and neck are mahogany, and the fretboard is rosewood. Physically, the S-100 resembles a Gibson SG guitar but from the reviews I've read on Harmony Central the Polara blows the SG away! The S-100 is a very well built guitar which has unfortunately been discontinued by Guild--I probably bought the last one ever sold as new in a music store, since my guitar was sitting in the store (Marty's Music Store) for two years before I bought it! This guitar sounds great, especially as a lead instrument using the JB pickup! It also looks great--especially the model I got with the natural finish. The Polara also has a cool phase reverse switch which allows the pickups to be wired out of phase, resulting in a very different sound which I especially like for rhythm chords. The action is nice and low, but the Polara was not happy with the D'Addario EXL110 strings I put on right after I bought it. Apparently, the tension of the EXL110 strings is lower than the guitar was set up for, because by June the strings were buzzing quite a bit. However, before going away for two weeks in late June I tuned the Polara up 1/2 step and now the guitar sounds as good as it did when I bought it. As a result, I am going to try D'Addario EXL110+ strings which have a tension that is about the same as when the guitar is tuned up 1/2 step.

My next purchase was prompted by a trip to the ICRA 2002 Robotics Conference in May. I didn't want to be cut off from playing for the 4 days I would be at the conference so I decided to find an instrument I could easily pack in my luggage for the trip. I looked at many travel guitars, mini guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, etc. What I wanted was an electric ukulele which I could connect to my Zoom PS02 and which would be quiet (not disturb the people in the next room). However, there aren't too many steel-string electric ukuleles on the market and I heard some negative comments about the one I found. Eventually, I heard about a company in Germany called Risa Musical Instruments which makes several small instruments including a Guitarlele (a small 6-string guitar) and a Uke-Stick (a nylon-string ukulele with a piezo pickup and no sound chamber). I was intrigued by the Uke-Stick which appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I couldn't get one in time for my trip so I bought a $30 Johnson ukulele:

Needless to say, the Johnson is not a quality instrument but I actually discovered it is fun to play. It easily fits in my suitcase and I don't have to worry too much about losing my luggage! It's fun to pick up while I'm watching TV and it's not so loud I have to worry about disturbing the neighbors.

However, I eventually decided that I really wanted a Uke-Stick so I could use my PS02 on the road, and maybe even do some recording in my hotel room. So after I got back from ICRA I emailed Rigk Sauer at Risa and ordered a Uke-Stick:

Luckily, my inability to get one in May actually worked to my advantage because an improved model was being introduced in July and I was able to order one for the old price--thanks Rigk! I just received it last night and it is a very nice instrument! The fit and finish are superb, the fretwork is very nice, and it sounds great through my PS02. It's amazing that I only paid $99 for this instrument plus $16 for the gig bag! (The price has now gone up to $125 for a Uke-Stick and gig bag--still a bargain!) By the way, Rigk Sauer is really great to deal with--he put up with a lot of my questions when I was trying to decide what instrument to get. It's almost impossible to get this kind of service from a "big" company like Fender or Gibson unless you are dealing with the custom shop and buying a $3000 instrument. My hat's off to Rigk and Risa!

So I've bought three new instruments in the last 5 months which seems amazing because I hadn't bought any instruments for many years. Unfortunately, I've been too busy to do any recording, but I have a few ideas for songs when I get the time...