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JUL 5-9, 2021
Instructor & performer at
Great Guitar Escape
Glen Cove, NY



By age 10 and 11 I was doing alot of cover gigs doing Rush, the Rolling Stones, Ramones, Pink Floyd, the Cars, Billy Joel - needed a good guitar. This was my first good guitar - an Ibanez Artist AR50BK. Bought it on my 11th birthday, September 25th, 1980.

(pic taken Aug 14th, 1981)

I was into guitarists like Ace Frehley and Angus Young. Then I turned 12 and had heard Eddie Van Halen for the first time. It was the first time I heard anything that required a vibrato bar - that was the only thing missing from this guitar. I'd compensate by doing shit with the tuning pegs - for the deep bends in Eruption, I'd detune the low-E string and then tune it back up, stuff like that. That shit wasn't gonna cut it - I needed a bar.

I found a company that made something called a " Bowen Handle" (photo on right) - it was a vibrato bar that attached in place of the tailpiece (made for Gibson-type setups - separate bridge and tailpiece) I put it on but it wasn't very effective. (This led to me getting my next guitar, a Fender Stratocaster...)

Eventually I put a Floyd Rose vibrato bar on there around '88. I chipped off the paint and sanded down the body to the bare wood. Then I took a half-inch wood chisel and started scraping shapes into the body. I took whatever happened during the time I was scraping the body and carved it into the wood. Watching Star Trek, hanging with nekkid girls, giving someone the Awol album (my old band's album...) I was working on the Pensive Expenguin guitar around this time and carved a penguin into the body. I was doing some painting and carved an artist into the body. I cut off my armpit hair and used it for the facial hair on the artist's face - polyurethaned it on there.

The hippie-looking guy on the top left was a self-portrait. The babies represented vulnerable parts of yourself. The angel baby was next to the self-portrait to connect the peace and comfort I felt when I was by myself. Also nearby were the penguin (representing building guitars, something that gave me a positive purpose), and Spock (representing watching old Star Trek's - something that entertained me as opposed to always having to be the one who entertains others...) The angel baby was centered between the smiling self-portrait and the emotionless Spock, with guitar-stuff above to keep me balanced.

Directly under the guitar-strings was the other part of me - the baby in the guillotine. The one who entertained, and was at the front line of being judged and punished by how people see you. When people judge, they're taking what they feel they're lacking in themselves, embodying it all as you, and then attack the object. It's always some weak self-pity shit where they self-project the worst traits they have. Fuck 'em. Two ways to go from there - to the right, where there were a bunch of fingerprints representing the true identity, the real you. Or to the left - the devil baby. Why a baby? Humility. I was 18 and in the baby stages of finding who I was, trying not to be scarred by obstacles.



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