2006 brought on the big 40 for me and the birth of the first b3 guitars to send out to the world. 2007 will bring on a new set of challenges as I get married in Feburary

2006 brought on the big 40 for me and the birth of the first b3 guitars to send out to the world. 2007 will bring on a new set of challenges as I get married in Feburary.

Musically I have spread my wings and picked up the acoustic, along with my first few solo gigs. I figured if I could tackle this, it should broaden my horizons and prepare me for the next decade. Maybe it’s part of maturing and a bit of a departure from the rock show we play as “Mean Gene and the Portable Jon’s.” It also helps in the slow seasons to pick up a few extra gigs.

Gearwise, I was shopping on a budget but ended up happy with the gear assembled. I nabbed a Washburn D56SWCE, which is a really well built electric/acoustic out of China. You can see the heavy Taylor/Martin influence in their building and it’s tastefully decorated with wood binding and abalone soundhole purfling.

On stage with the band I noticed that if the bass player is crankin’ it, my acoustic howled. I picked up a moderate volume sound hole plug from lutehole.com. This helped minimize volume issues and turns your volume down if you need to practice quietly at home. It’s available in a variety of woods and volume dampening.

For an amp, I had been at a local buddy’s music store, Lightning Joe’s Guitar Heaven (lightningjoes.com), located in Arroyo Grande, California, where he’s loaded with more cool gear than you can wave your pick at. He had a wide array of amps, but I became most intrigued with a manufacturer called Centaur (centauramp.com). I hit eBay and found an older 100 watt combo for $205 after shipping; a small 2-channel amp with 2 horns and a 15”. Upon receiving it, I noticed the tweeters were missing so I contacted Centaur and they sent me out a pair free of charge. How’s that for customer service!

Upon installing I noticed an EVM 15L, which made me feel like I got a killer deal. Plugged in, this baby has Wheaties to spare. Their newer models feature 3 channels and some with multiple power amp six channel setups. I found it to be a very natural sounding amp and allows your guitar be heard without discoloring, plus it handles vocal and other plug-in accessories with grace.

Another worthy note is I couldn’t believe how quick and black my fingers were turning after only a few minutes of acoustic guitar playing. I had been using the D’Addario EJ26 Phosphorus Bronze Custom Lights 11-52, so I switched over to their EXP26 coated strings with very satisfying results.

Hope you all find new musical goals to take on and overcome with every New Year.

Any questions or comments visit www.finetunedinstruments.com www.meangene.org or email me at info311@verizon.net Fine Tuned Instruments LLC, home of b3 instruments.

Fender Hammertone Pedals Demo | First Look

John Bohlinger tests out a handful of the compact, budget-friendly gray tone boxes designed by effects guru Stan Cotey.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less

A lightweight, portable amp series developed after months of forensic examination of vintage valve amps.

Read More Show less