A hopeless addiction


A lifelong obsession with music

I've always been a frustrated musician. I started off playing drums in the '60s as a teenager. Played in quite a few bands and sessions but finally gave up to go to college and study, wait for it, ..... maths. Urk. Decided I couldn't take my drums with me to the clinical beauty of King's College, Cambridge, so I bought a cheap Hungarian guitar and like so many of that generation, taught myself "Angie" by Davy Graham. Like all things which young males do, the ultimate point of this was to generate more opportunities for casual sex, (it was the '60s after all). Didn't work. Too many other young males were doing the same thing and many of them did not share my sloping forehead and refrigerator build so I switched to Classical Guitar and never looked back. Crawled through the grades and a diploma and then switched to the dark side and started playing jazz and blues when I realised that a diploma in Classical Guitar meant that I couldn't even play the chords to "Happy Birthday" much less improvise. I still work my way through my beloved Hofmeister, (the Bach Lute Suites), on a continual basis though - so much beauty in so few pages and have an undiminished love of the waltzes of Antonio Lauro.

My stash, April-2005
The engine room. Practice and some recording take place here. The drum kit is a Pearl Export with my favourite snare drum, a venerable Ludwig 402 (thanks Andy) and my old Zildjians. The cymbals are a 20" ping ride, an 18" crash/ride and a 12" thin crash. The hi-hats are 13" if my memory serves me correctly. Hofmeister in the foreground.
My workhorse. I've played a lot of guitars over the years. My favourite all-purpose gigging guitar is still a Fender USA standard Strat, (this is a 1991), mainly because of the contoured top which fits perfectly round middle-aged tummies. The neck pickup is a lovely sound though. I fitted a Seymour Duncan overwound single pole pickup on the bridge to crank up the Marshall TSL601 I use a bit.
This is the masterpiece of my collection. Its a semi-solid custom guitar made for me by my son Felix. It has a single pole on the neck, a double pole on the bridge and the bridge itself is an acoustic pickup. It produces the most astonishing sounds and is a delight to play. There is another guitar by Fe later.
Every collection should have one - one of the most beautiful guitars in the world, a Gibson Les Paul Standard. This is a 1993. I take it to gigs but very rarely play it but when I do, it brings up the short hairs on my neck. Its not as versatile as a Strat and feels like a mantelpiece round your neck after a little while but its unique.
I play bass in my daughter's swing band. This is a Squier Precision Bass. Its a perfectly good and easy to play bass although it doesn't slap and pop too well, (which may of course be me).
My Yairi 1972 Classical. This is a bit battered now and the fingerboard is getting very worn but it has the most beautiful tone and I've never really wanted to replace it.
This is my portable - a very tasty Steinberger. I carry this when I'm travelling and have jammed all over the world with it on my business trips from blues clubs in Detroit to jazz in Europe. Its a lovely guitar and doubles as a cricket bat for those special moments. You meet some really interesting people carrying one of these around not all of whom are customs and excise representatives.
Another guitar by my son Felix - this was his first, made for himself. He is a student architect but no mean luthier as you can see. The guitars play superbly and he is an excellent guitarist himself.
I expect you are wondering about this one. My other main instrument is the blues harmonica of which I mostly use marine band harps with a "Blue Bullet" mike. However, I recently went out from my office for a sandwich and came back with this trombone of mass destruction returned by the desperate parents of its previous owner. I now know how they felt but will master it one day. For now, think of mating elephants.

I have a variety of other stuff including a couple more secondary guitars and also a 5 string banjo which I used to play in a blue-grass band but is now semi-retired and I expect this will all continue to grow with time. That's the great thing about obsessions - you can't give them up. :-)

11th April, 2005.