3 - THE MUTANT COW
OK, so I had the LesPaul rip-off and the Ibanez Artist, but nothing I could play Van Halen on. This was the early 80's and not alot of guitar companies were putting out guitars with Floyd Rose or Kahler vibrato bars on them that I knew of, so for my 13th birthday I got a '57 Fender Stratocaster re-issue.
(photo taken Oct 30th, 1982)
I was psyched. It was a beautiful guitar. But the pickups squealed and had no sustain, and every time I touched the vibrato bar, the guitar would go out of tune. The fretboard was all glossy and curved, and it just didn't feel right. In the other 2 guitars I'd put in DiMarzio Super-Distortion pickups, so the first renovation I made on this guitar was to chisel away the wood around the bridge pickup and put one in there. Over the next few years, I earned money re-wiring people's guitars and gathered alot of extra junk. Ya know, junk is only junk to someone that has no use for the stuff. Eventually I replaced the old nut with a locking nut.
I always loved "B" movies. Low-budget horror movies and weird stuff. Check out the movie Gummo. I remember when I saw the movie "The Funhouse" with my friends, we were about 11 or 12 - back when kids could get into movie theaters without having to be 17 and shit. One kid sat through the whole movie with his hands over his eyes saying "Tell me when it's over..." - that kid was always taking the fun out of stuff. We'd be in the pool and he'd be clinging to the edge for dear life and wouldn't let go. (we're talking a small above-ground pool where the water's up to your chest when ya stand up) - if ya suggested that he try walking to the middle of the pool he'd panic and say "I gotta go home" and scurry out of the pool and run home. Real hard to stay friends with the kid, which sucked cause we had alot of common interests.
I remember when we were 15 I tried to hook him up with this cute girl - we were all hangin' in my basement and I said something funny. As he laughed, his ass laughed too and busted out this phat trombone hit. His face turned blue-ish white and he lowered his head and covered his face with his hands (kinda like when he was at the movies covering his face 4 years earlier) He must have sat like that for a good ten minutes. Probably the longest ten minutes of his life.
Jump ahead to late 1987. One of the scenes in "The Funhouse" stuck in my head, when the kids were checking out the freak show - they were lookin' at this cow, the cow turned its head and there was a second small mutated head growing off it. The Stratocaster would be my interpretation of that cow. I took a bass neck, pulled off the frets and cut the neck across at the 7th fret. I re-fretted the small neck with a spacing similar to a guitar's starting at the 12th fret. I put guitar tuners on the top of the neck and a locking nut. I bored out a section of the Stratocaster's body and attached the neck, and cut away wood to attach a pickup and a Badass bridge, set at the proper distance from the neck so the frets would intonate properly at 1-octave higher than a standard guitar (the strings on the little neck were tuned an octave higher.) I wired in a 3-way toggle switch to select either or both necks, and cut a whole straight through the body where the old input jack was, just for the fuck of it. Painted the guitar red on the front, blue on the back, and set a gold watch-on-a-chain into the body.
fondest memory of this guitar was when I played with my old cover band
"Leonard Nimoy." We played Aerosmith, AC/DC, Kiss, Scorpions,
70's covers... The drummer was great - he was real heavy, and at the
end of every song he'd fall back into his chair exhausted, covered in
sweat like he just ran a marathon. The other guitarist was a bit heavy
too and would roll around the floor on his stomach. Funny band. We just
didn't give a fuck. We'd put up flyers around High Schools advertising
the band - the name "Leonard Nimoy" written in Star Trek lettering
to make people think Spock was making an appearance somewhere, followed
by a personal ad from a swingers magazine of a naked fat woman bent
over showin' her shit, with a written description of her measurements
and what she's looking for in a partner. Always a different ad for each
gig, but they always loved anal.
At one gig in Brooklyn at L'Amour, it was the end of the show and I bent the highest note on the little neck and kept holding it, making it scream. It was so piercing and everyone in the audience held their ears in pain. So I just kept on ringing it out. And they kept holding their ears. Must have gone on for a good ten minutes - probably the longest ten minutes ever spent at L'Amour. I was such a dick. It was the 80's - everyone was a dick.