People often ask about my instruments...and the collection has been growing, with some very interesting recent additions!
Here I'm holding the latest 'baby' - a beautiful Style O National Reso-phonic guitar. I was on my way to San Francisco to talk with Reference Recordings about plans for a new audiophile acoustic project. As my route took me right past the National Guitar factory door, I stopped in for a visit...well, you know what happened next!
This is one of the guitars featured on my new album: 'Professin' the Blues'
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Group portrait of the guitars on the new 'Professin' the Blues' album! Beeton resonator, Maton acoustic, 4 string 'FB Classic' cigar box guitar & the new National Style O
Hanging out & testing driving a few guitars with Jason Workman at the National Guitar factory, San Luis Obispo, California
The unique 'FB Australian Classic' - a custom 4 string electric cigar box guitar made in Yackandandah by Shayne Soall
Another very special one-off! Rare USA National ResoLectric Baritone Guitar - one of only two in existence...it's a low-toned beauty!
Funky cigar box guitar made by Shayne Shoall, Yackandandah, Australia. This unique instrument is the inspiration behind my 'Box & Dice' album. After proving to be a crowd favourite on recent tours in Europe, it was time to make it's recording debut!
MATON MS T-BYRD Check out my newest beautiful Maton! Australian Quandong with Rock Maple cap, neck & fingerboard - this guitar is a beauty... I love the Chris Kinman 'Broadcaster' pickups in my 'Blue Empress' Tele so much that we experimented with fitting them to this new baby. It's fascinating to hear the difference between the two instruments. The T-Byrd has incredible 'spanky' midtones and is proving to be versatile and very playable. Love it!
NATIONAL RESOLECTRIC Dating from around 1993, this is a rare Model 2. Only 78 were made - and mine is serial number 69! This new acquisition joined me on the road recently in Europe. Most of my shows were electric trio gigs - but in addition to my trusty Mastersound, I also wanted something funky to play slide on, yet 'rigid' enough to do some finger-picking on as well... Although a bit temperamental to keep in tune, the Reso came through the tour with flying colours!
BEETON RESONATOR This beautiful brass-bodied instrument, built by Australian maker Greg Beeton, has taken centre stage recently on my new release 'Blues for Hard Times'. It features handsomely on several songs and on the album artwork! It is a single-resonator model - and it really 'sings'. It was built for me (in top-secret) as a wedding present from my splendid husband Steve 'The Preacher' Clarke. Originally set-up to play finger-picking country blues and ragtime material, I've now also started using it for playing acoustic slide. See more of Greg's beautiful instruments at www.beetonguitars.com
'49 SUPRO LAP STEEL A year or so ago, I commented: "This is the latest addition to my collection! A 1949 Supro lap steel guitar with classic cream 'MOTS' finish and fabric cord. (And, yes - that really does stand for 'Mother of Toilet Seat') This is a whole different instrument to get my head around, but I'm looking forward to the challenge..." Well, I've still got a long way to go with that challenge - but the new album does have one track featuring lap steel!
THE MATON CUSTOM ACOUSTIC This is where it all began for me...my first guitar was a Maton Acoustic Dreadnought, built in my home town of Melbourne, Aust. That wonderful old instrument has long been retired from active service...currently I'm playing this beauty, recently built for me by the Maton custom shop, with my style of acoustic blues playing in mind. It has a spruce face and carved Indian rosewood back, which gives it a great gutsy tone. It's also fairly sturdy - I've had some past issues with my tendency to use my acoustic guitars too percussively (!)
Check out the beautiful detailing on my new acoustic! Inspired by one of my favourite 'rockabilly' gig shirts, Andy Allen from Maton's Custom Shop used these great fret inlay designs - and I love the humour of having '13' (for my 'Lucky 13' album) on the 12th fret! Check out Maton's Custom Shop here.
MATON 'MASTERSOUND' CUSTOM ELECTRIC Originally designed as a short-scale model, this custom-shop Mastersound was one of the first long-scale versions made. The luthiers at Maton also obligingly messed around with different components, including 'hotting up' the pick-ups and converting it from a 3 pot control configuration to my generally preferred 2 pot set-up. This is a wonderful, rude-sounding guitar with lots of bottom end and it's definitely become my main instrument for both live performance and recording. The Mastersound features on the 'Lucky 13' album & my latest release 'Blues Woman'. Check out www.maton.com.au for more info on Maton guitars, including their innovative use of Australian native timbers as tone woods.
I'm really excited to share this recent modification from the Maton Custom shop! Back in 2003 when I won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, The Preacher gave me a 1935 American Silver Dollar as a celebration gift. It's a nod of respect to pioneering blues guitarist Memphis Minnie, who famously wore a silver dollar bracelet. The tone pot changes on my Mastersound had left a blank hole in the scratch plate, so we had the brilliant idea of setting my keepsake dollar into it - and I reckon it looks great!
THE 'BLUE EMPRESS' TELECASTER This beautifully crafted and finished custom Tele was built for me by Steve White from Florida, USA. A guy who is fanatical about detail (yes, the screw heads on the scratch plate ARE all in alignment) - he designs a one-off color for each of his instruments. The 'Blue Empress' also has an etched plate with my photo on it at the base of the neck, instead of a serial number! The blue sparkle finish photographs differently according to the light - beautiful... It is fitted with Broadcaster pick-ups from Chris Kinman, Australia, for vintage tone and no hum. www.kinman.com Along with the Mastersound, 'The Empress' is currently my other main gigging and recording instrument.
MATON CUSTOM BB1200 HOLLOW BODY SEMI-ACOUSTIC A beautiful hollow body electric that combines a great look with a classic tone. The Queensland Maple body, capped with Victorian Blackwood, and a Rock Maple neck gives maximum sustain, a beautifully warm and rounded tone, but still with plenty of 'bite'. The high gloss finish is a Classic White with black bindings. The BB1200 is fitted with Tonepros nickel stop tailpiece and bridge set and has recently been fitted with new pick-ups - it sounds fantastic...and I'm still exploring the range of sounds it can produce!
THE OL' TELE A wonderful, honest old plank of wood...this was my first electric guitar (I started out on borrowed instruments). A '68 Fender Telecaster that had been 'messed' with by the time I got it; it had an incongruous Gibson style tail peice and a crappy bridge & bridge pickup that didn't match. It was only really playable on the front pickup - but that always sounded great! The previous owner had at least removed the unsympathic '70's black metallic paint-job. I played it and played it until I wore off the fret board. A while back, Australian luthier Jim Dyson designed and made a great hand-wound back pickup to match the original funky vintage front pickup...but it's still been in retirement and 'not quite playing right'. So - currently it's at the workshop being rebuilt. I let you know how it works out...
GRETSCH 6120 RHH - REVEREND HORTON HEAT CUSTOM This was such a buy I had to have it...although strictly speaking I can't afford to own it! I love the vintage maple lacquer finish, along with the 1955 Gretsch western block cactus, steerheads and fence pearl inlays on the ebony fret board. This guitar has a unique combination of 1958 TV Jones Classic pickups and an eccentric control set-up, pinned rosewood Adjusto-matic bridge, 1956 B6C Bigsby tremolo, Sperzel locking tuners, and clear Pickguard. What is it with me and Reverends? Anyway - it sure makes me wanna twang!