Photo courtesy of Katie Palumbo
I have truly been blessed and I thank the Lord not only for the opportunity
to share and experience music in so many ways, but also for the instruments
that help me express that music.
This is one of the most visited pages on my website so I guess someone's
getting some good out of it. Please feel free to drop me a line if I can help
answer any questions about this gear.
Since I perform different styles of music as a soloist and with a variety
of groups, it's important that the instruments and equipment I use are
well-suited to each style, whether it's playing on the church worship team, a
Jazz quartet, a Gypsy Jazz trio, or in a solo fingerstyle setting.
This is a 1979 Gibson ES-175D. It's a great Jazz
guitar. It was the first pro guitar I owned. Right before my Junior year in
high school, I sold a trumpet that I played and bought this guitar from my
local guitar shop. Great tone and so versatile. It's suitable for many
styles of music. The 175 has served me through many, many performances over
the years and it's holding up very well. It's still my main Jazz box.
This is a 2004 Eastman Uptown. This is the guitar
I use when I need to get my Freddie Green on. For a few years, I toyed with
the idea of swapping out the neck pickup in my ES-175 with something that
would give me a more woody tone for Swing and Bigband playing. However, I
knew I was never going to get that solid-wood archtop tone from a laminate
archtop with two fixed pickups. The Eastman gives me that traditional Swing
sound and didn't break the bank at all. The construction is amazing —
all hand-made/hand-carved. Great volume, acoustically, and a neck that's
almost identical to that of the Gibson.
It had been a long time since I bought a new
acoustic steel-string. My main dreadnaught was seriously lacking and I
needed something that would serve better as both a good fingerstyle guitar
and a good strummer. I also needed something that would project well when I
play unplugged. After much (MUCH) playing and listening to various guitars
around the Seattle area, I decided this Taylor 414CE was the one for me. I
really like the crisp sparkle and full low end I get from it. I compared it
to other Taylors (even in the 700 and 800 series), as well as other brands,
but this particular guitar just stood out for me. Great guitar.
This is a custom-made, Noble baritone acoustic. I
love the haunting sound of baritone guitars and the inspiration that comes
from the lower tunings (not to mention tunings like the Half-Nashville
tuning Pat Metheny uses). Duane Noble (http://www.dlnobleguitars.com/
) built this guitar for
me with Koa back and sides, Sitka Spruce top, Boxwood binding, Mahogany
neck, and Ebony fingerboard. Duane's guitars are just beautiful; pleasing to
both the ear and the eye...world-class, all the way! His inlay and
woodworking skills amaze me. I had Duane install a B-Band
pickup system. This
system is great at capturing the lower frequencies of the baritone while
keeping the highs crisp and clear. It picks up the natural sound of the
guitar very nicely and I'm extremely happy with it. For a closer look at
this guitar, be sure to check out the
Baritone Image Gallery
This is a Fender Strat. It's a remake of the
1960's Strat, in Olympic White. I replaced the factory pickups with a set of
Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups. They work great. I also mounted a Roland
GK-2A divided pickup on it so that I can connect to the GR-33 guitar synth
and control other MIDI instruments (I love playing steel drums on
I bought this Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700 not long
after they hit the market. I was a bit skeptical at first about buying an
"acoustic" guitar that depended so heavily on electronics for it's sound.
However, once I played it, and perhaps more importantly, recorded with it, I
was convinced this was the way to go. It models so many amazing acoustic
guitars and other stringed instruments, all perfectly EQ'ed and balanced,
without the need for any tone tweaking. It's perfect for heavy strumming,
light fingerstyle, and everything in between.
This is the Carvin NS1 nylon string. It has a
beautiful tone that's perfect for latin Jazz, as well as fingerstyle and
classical. This is the first guitar I've ever bought sight-unseen. Carvin
builds each and every guitar to the exact specs of the player so I knew what
I'd be getting in terms of wood, hardware, and measurements. However, I
didn't know how it actually sounded until it was delivered. It sounds great.
It's a very versatile guitar. The feel of the neck is amazing — much like
the neck of the Noble baritone. The tone is round and warm. To top it all
off, it has a synth pickup built in so I can control my guitar synth with
it. It sounds beautiful to fade in strings during a soft, fingerstyle
This is the guitar I play in our Gypsy Jazz trio,
The Hot Heads of Gypsy Jazz. Gypsy Jazz definitely has a sound all its own.
Playing this music on a traditional steel string guitar just doesn't even
approach the authentic sound people come to expect from the genre. Listen to
players like Django Reinhardt, Stochelo Rosenberg, Biréli
Lagrène, and many others, and you'll hear how important the tone and
volume of these guitars is. High-end Gypsy Jazz guitars can cost thousands
of dollars. I opted for a much less expensive model and then had the
shop put on a professional bridge, tailpiece, and tuners, and had the neck
adjusted to a more traditional Gypsy Jazz action and feel. It has a nice,
dry tone for rhythm playing and can definitely cut through with bright, loud
leads. It's a lot of fun to play.
I loved the Line 6 Variax Acoustic so much...I
bought the company! Okay. Not really. I recently found myself playing such a
wide variety of styles in several different groups, with several different
guitars; I wanted to find one amp that could be used in all those
situations. This Line 6 Flextone III was the answer for me. It'll handle
everything from bright acoustic to ear-drum-rupturing thrash metal. I love
the tone I get out of it when I'm comping in a big-band setting, and the
blues and rock tones just...well...rock!
I got this Fishman Loudbox Mini for two reasons:
it's a great sounding acoustic amp and it weighs only 20 pounds! As I get
older, it seems I'm more and more interested in the weight of the
equipment I buy. Of course, since it's me we're talking about, I took
several months testing out lots of acoustic amps with several of my guitars.
The Loudbox Mini handles everything from the baritone to the Eastman and
does so really well. Very natural, airy tone with full bass. And it's loud
enough to push through a 16-piece big band. It has a nice, warm reverb and
even an onboard chorus. The only thing I wish it had was phantom power. I
can get that in the next model up...but that would be a heavier amp. My back
would never forgive me.
This is a Yamaha Stagepas 300 PA. It's the PA I
use for most every solo gig and some combo gigs. At 300 watts, it gives me
enough power for medium-sized venues and it is just amazingly crystal clear
— especially with the Variax Acoustic. The removeable amp locks
(optionally) in place on the back of one of the speakers, making it very
portable and easy to set up.
I decided to upgrade to the Boss RC-300 Loop
Station. This looper has opened up new possibilities. It's three loopers in
one, plus some extras. The independent foot switches for each track are a
big plus and the revamped interface makes it easier to edit parameters. My
favorite new feature is the ability to record loops of different lengths on
the fly. Having onboard effects is nice too.
What's on the board? I swap pedals in and out,
depending on the gig, but these are some I use frequently. There's a Line 6
M5 (great multi pedal), a Tube Screamer, a Line 6 Verbzilla, the amazing TC
Electronics PolyTune, an Ibanez Stereo Chorus, a Boss 7-band EQ, an Arion
octave pedal, and an Aphex Acoustic Xciter. I use the Zoom A2.1u as a
preamp/effects pedal for Gypsy Jazz and those times when I don't want to lug
a bunch of pedals around. I've also got an expression pedal in there for wah
and volume on the M5.
This is the guitar synthesizer I control using
the Carvin NS1 and Fender Strat. It's a Roland GR-33. Ever since I was a
kid, I dreamed of owning a guitar synth someday. It's so fun to play a
guitar solo one minute and then drop into a fretless bass solo or a vibes
solo the next. There are so many possibilities when I have all these sounds
at my feet.
My wife and sons got me this Washburn Rover
travel guitar for Father's Day. A while back, I found myself in a hotel
room, completely inspired after a Phil Keaggy clinic, and I had no guitar
with me. Torture, I tell you! The next day, I went to check out small
guitars that I could easily take one with me when I travel. I played many
different brands and models but this one stood out in terms of tone quality,
intonation, and playability. It has a full-scale neck, solid mahogany back
and sides, and a spruce top. Great little guitar. I don't gig with it but
thought I'd include it here for anyone looking into travel guitars. And, a
bonus...if I ever find myself up a creek without a paddle...I can use
Okay...yeah...I know. It's a stool. Big deal. But
if you're a guitar player, you know how difficult it is to find that perfect
stool. The seat has to be at just the right height so you can reach your
pedals on the floor and you need a foot rest that puts your knee at just the
right height and angle to hold the guitar comfortably. I tried so many
stools and then stumbled upon this On Stage guitar/keyboard stool. I think I
may have heard angels singing when I saw it for the first time. Maybe not.
It really is the perfect stool for me though. And it's a firm stool.