Photo: Ed Nazarko

Bob's Blog


Ever since I restored my Thorens TD-125 MKII turntable I've had a renewed interest in my vinyl collection. While involved in this process I discovered that one of my all time favorite records, Chick Corea's Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, was missing. I must have loaned it to someone. I'm waiting for a new reissue copy in the mail.
Both musicians and people who come to hear me ask me a lot about the equipment I use. Many people know that I work on my own amps and have built a few of my own. The guitar I play the most frequently often elicits a lot of notice, so let me start with talking about guitars.
As with most professional guitarists, I have many guitars. Most of these are factory made: Gibson, Fender, Takamine nylon string and others. Of these, I mostly use my Gibson Super 400 for some of my recording work. I used the Super 400 on the trio tracks and my Engel guitar on the quartet tracks on Shadow Box, my latest CD. I play the Gibson L5 on duo and lower volume gigs. I recently picked up a very nice Eastman guitar from Lou Del Rosso of Guitars' N Jazz; his link is on my Links page.
My mainstay guitars are my two Rob Engel custom archtops,  which you see in all the website photos and pictured left. Rob is an old friend and a great guitar maker. I've been playing my first Engel guitar since 1991 and used it on all of my own recordings. A couple of years ago, I changed the pickups to Lindy Fralin. The guitar fits me and my style.  Rob and I worked together on the measurements and the shape of the neck. I've tried many custom guitars, and they all seem to have one problem: Feedback. Rob's guitars never feed back, even at Charles Earland volumes with two Leslies! Rob's website and email address are on my Links page.  I am playing my latest Rob Engel guitar in the photo at the top of this page. I have been using it since November 2007. It's truly an incredible guitar, a real beauty.
I carry my guitars in gig bags made by Undercover Cases. They provide great instrument protection and have some truly unique features. Check them out, they're the best; their website is listed on my Links page.  
I have been a long time user and endorsee of D'Addario strings. I use their EXL145 set on my Engel guitars and Chrome Flat Wounds on my archtop guitars. I also use their Planet Waves picks, heavy gauge.
I just started using K-T-S bridge saddles on all my guitars, check them out on my Links page.
One of the amps I am currently using is a Fuchs Clean Machine made by amp guru Andy Fuchs in Clifton NJ. It's a fantastic amp with headroom to burn and sounds great with my Engel and Gibson guitars. I used one of Andy's ODS-50 combo amps on my new recording Shadowbox.  Andy also has a new Jazz Classic II Amp. 150 watts, 12" speaker, and 30 lbs. He is in the works of having them in production now. Check him out on my Links page.
I have also recently been using a JT-14 amp from Tyler Amp Works. It's based on a Princeton circuit with larger transformers, putting out 22 watts and weighing under 30 lbs. Check John Brinton's site out on my Links page.
Generally I like Fender Amps or "Fenderish" amps. If I had a roadie, I would use my blackface Fender Twin Reverb that weighs in over 80 pounds. For my own recordings, I have been using a blackface Showman head that I have modified. I used this amp on Shifting Sands along with a Fender Tweed Bassman and my extensively modified Deluxe Reverb. However, on Playing For Keeps I only used my Deluxe Reverb. It seems to be my best sounding Fender amp at the moment. There are very few original parts left in this amp, like the pilot light for example.
I recently finished building a 2-10" speaker amp with a modified Fender Vibroverb circuit. I've used it on a couple of gigs and it has promise.  I recently pretty much entirely rebuilt my early 70s Fender Princeton.  I am always looking for a Tweed or Blackface era Fender.   

Write me with any questions at