Archive for the Instruments Category

The Gear

Posted in Blogs, Instruments, Music on January 10, 2014 by mikelewismusic

Ah, gear.  If you’re a musician or music fan, chances are you have an obsession with gear.  I know I do.  Over the years I have owned and played many pieces of gear.  Fortunately, I have many pictures of the pieces I have owned over the years.  This piece is a chronicle of those precious instruments that have made it up on stage with me.  Some are dearly departed, and some I still own.

The Avila P-Bass and the Avila Les Paul

These two instruments were the second and third instruments I owned.  The first instrument I owned was a cheap Sears Les Paul copy, but I upgraded to a Black Beauty Les Paul Custom replica made by Avila.  I bought it at Bonavero’s Music in Chula Vista.  Bonavero, the owner of the store, was notorious for showing the handgun in his pocket to kids who frequented the store, myself included.  He seemed like a grump, especially since he despised the more popular Harper’s Music Store up the street.  Harper’s had all of the name brands like Fender, and I made the mistake of asking Bonavero if he had any Fender basses.  Because all he sold were cheap copies of the name brands, he felt I was being a smart-ass (I was not, I sincerely was asking if he had Fenders and I did not know the nature of his shop at that time). Thus, he promptly chased me away.  However, because of lack of funds I eventually found myself back at Bonavero’s and eventually ended up buying the black Les Paul copy.  Soon thereafter, I needed a bass so back to Bonavero I went and bought a Candy Apple Red P-Bass copy, also made by Avila.  Because I made these purchases, Bonavero started treating me very nicely but I kept my distance – with the gun in his pocket and the aforementioned Fender incident, I always remained wary of the guy. I used the bass with The Radical Molesters.  Cliff Jomuad, the leader of the group, needed a guitar so I loaned him the Les Paul copy.  We played our first gig at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley (San Diego), CA, and both instruments were used for the gig.  Here is a shot of us with the instruments.

RADICAL MOLESTERS - 1st gig 5/22/82

RADICAL MOLESTERS – 1st gig Mission Valley (San Diego), CA 5/22/82 – L-R – Cliff Jomuad with my Avila Les Paul copy; me with my Avila P-Bass copy

Cliff customized the Les Paul with the Pete Townshend-inspired “5” at the bottom.  Cliff used that guitar for several months until he bought his own Gibson SG copy, a guitar he used for several years.  As for myself…

The Black Rickenbacker 4001 I saved up money from my day job working as a security guard in a hospital, and soon I had enough for a new bass.  I had always dug the Rickenbacker basses, mostly because of Geddy Lee of Rush, and I also dug Prescott Niles of The Knack.  They looked really cool and had a nice tone.  I spotted two used ones for sale, both black, at a local guitar shop called Freedom Guitar.  I played both, and ended up settling for the one that was less dinged up.  Paid all of $400 for the Ricky, and this bass served me for a couple of years.  Played quite a few gigs with this one with both The Radical Molesters and their follow-on band, The USSR.

Mike playing in the USSR

Rehearsal with The USSR – Roger Delong’s garage, Imperial Beach, CA

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Playing with The USSR – Private Party, Chula Vista, CA.

The Blond Rickenbacker 4003 In 1984 I upgraded to a brand new Rickenbacker 4003.  I bought it at Guitar Center for a measly sum of $600, but foolishly traded in the black Ricky 4001.  I never even bothered to figure out the year of the 4001, I wasn’t that into gear at the time.  And also foolishly, I thought “new is better than old”, never anticipating the vintage aspect of the older black 4001. The blonde was a solid instrument, and served me throughout the rest of the 80s, up until my hiatus in the 90s.  This bass was mostly my main instrument throughout the time period, and it made it’s way onstage at many venues and parties.

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1989 – with The Radical Molesters – Spirit Nightclub, San Diego, CA

Mike with The RADICAL MOLESTERS, Del Mar Fair, Del Mar, CA, 6/29/89

Mike with The RADICAL MOLESTERS, Del Mar Fair, Del Mar, CA, 6/29/89

The Steinberger In 1985 I purchased a Steinberger XP-2 headless bass.  The Steinberger was all the rage and I managed to locate one in San Diego, although not the all-graphite XL-2 model.  This one had the graphite neck attached to a wood body, and the body was shaped in a V pattern, not like the oar paddle shape of the all-graphite XL-2.   I liked this bass well enough to gig with it during most of my tenure with the band NEIN.  This bass notably made it onstage at the Holiday Bowl Parade held downtown – we played right across the street from the Star of India.  Alas, the pictures and film footage is long gone, but we have the rehearsal pictures from our downtown studio; it will have to suffice.

NEIN Rehearsal - Posing with the Steinberger

NEIN Rehearsal – Posing with the Steinberger

NEIN Rehearsal - Bunnell Studios, Downtown San Diego

NEIN Rehearsal – Bunnell Studios, Downtown San Diego

Sea Green Rickenbacker In 1991 I took a long hiatus from music.  In 2000 I started up again, and in 2001 joined a band called CenterAisle.  I used a few basses in this band, the first one was a Sea Green Rickenbacker I purchased online.  This bass is very rare – Rickenbacker would make a select few instruments in something they called “Color of the Year”.  The first year was 2000, and the company chose this custom color, which is a version of Fender’s custom color “Sea Foam Green”.  Rickenbacker owner John Hall has publicly stated how he disliked this color (probably because it looked so “Fender” in color), so not many models were produced.  I managed to get one.  I used it on and off with CenterAisle and recently used it with The Magic Montgomery Brothers in 2011.  Because of it’s rarity I prefer not to gig with it publicly, but it is a very nice playing instrument.  So far, miraculously, I have not put one ding on this instrument!  I hope to keep it like that.

With CenterAisle - Private Party, 2002, San Diego, CA.

With CenterAisle – Private Party, 2002, San Diego, CA.

Mike playing as "Mick Montgomery" in the Magic Montgomery Brothers. Holy Family Festival, San Diego, CA. October 1, 2011.

Mike playing as “Mick Montgomery” in the Magic Montgomery Brothers. Holy Family Festival, San Diego, CA. October 1, 2011.

The Hofner While in CenterAisle I procured a new Hofner V62 violin bass.  This was in 2002, and I gigged with it a few times.  I also recorded a demo session with this bass as well.  It was a nice little bass, had very hot humbucker pickups  that produced a nice Beatle tone.

Mike with CenterAisle - Rhythm Lounge, San Diego, CA.  1/18/03

Mike with CenterAisle – Rhythm Lounge, San Diego, CA. 1/18/03

Precision Bass Mania I procured several Fender P-Basses while in CenterAisle as well. A white FSR (Fender Special Run – made exclusively for local (San Diego) music store Guitar Trader) “70’s” Precision bass with rosewood fretboard and the cool giant 70’s headstock logo.  Used this in both CenterAisle and the offshoot band With Intent.

CenterAisle - Playing onboard the USS Peleliu, July 4, 2003.

CenterAisle – Playing onboard the USS Peleliu, July 4, 2003.

Playing for With Intent - Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA, March 2004

Playing for With Intent – Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA, March 2004

Another P-Bass I procured was a 1982 ’57 reissue in the rare custom color of Fiesta Red.  I bought this from a little store in Hollywood called Voltage Guitars.  According to the shop owner, this bass was being sold on consignment from Poison Ivy, the guitarist of The Cramps.  I never got any paperwork to prove it’s province, but it was a cool story nonetheless.  

Mike playing for With Intent - Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA, July 24, 2004

Mike playing for With Intent – Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA, July 24, 2004

Mike playing for With Intent - Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA July 24, 2004

Mike playing for With Intent – Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA July 24, 2004

An unusual one I had was one done up in Pink Paisley.  The Pink Paisley finish was made famous by Elvis Presley’s touring guitarist James Burton, who played a Fender Telecaster in Pink Paisley.  This finish was not popular back in it’s original timeframe of 1968, but in the 90s it had a renaissance during the budding popularity of the “reissue” market.  Fender made a version of the “Telecaster Bass” with the Pink Paisley finish back in 1968, and they decided to have a limited run of reissues made in 2002.  Made in Japan, I bought this one at Guitar Trader in San Diego, CA, and gigged with it quite a few times.

Playing with CenterAisle - Metaphor Cafe, October 17, 2003

Playing with CenterAisle – Metaphor Cafe, October 17, 2003

mikelewismusic – The Acoustics In 2004 I went solo to feature my original songs, and I mainly used two acoustic guitars.  My 2004 Gibson Hummingbird, and a 2002 Martin D-28.  Both are fantastic instruments.  The Gibson is a sweet, yet gritty sounding guitar, perfect for the singer-songwriter.  The Martin had a deep, rich tone due to it’s rosewood body.  The Gibson Hummingbird was the only guitar used on my debut album “mikelewismusic”.

Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA - March 2005

Metaphor Cafe, Escondido, CA – March 2005

Mike - San Diego County Fair, 7/4/06

Mike – San Diego County Fair, 7/4/06

Using the Martin D-28 - Holy Family Festival, October 4, 2008

Using the Martin D-28 – Holy Family Festival, October 4, 2008

I briefly owned a Martin D-41 as well – this guitar is notable for it’s abalone trim.  A beautiful instrument.  

Portugalia Restaurant - Ocean Beach, CA February 2007

Portugalia Restaurant – Ocean Beach, CA February 2007

Hope you enjoyed this little foray into some of the gear I have used onstage in my past career!  Keep on rocking! ~mikelewismusic

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