The '68 Les Paul / The Strats / The Baretta / The Flying V / Joey's Guitars

The '68 Les Paul

Is your '68 Les Paul the guitar you've had the longest? Where'd you get it (what's the story behind it)?

My '68 Les Paul is the guitar that I have spent the longest time with. It's real obvious if you look at old pictures of the guitar compared to more recent ones. The finish keeps being worn away. I bought that Les Paul, right out of high school, from a guy for $200. And amazingly enough, I think it's only had 1 or 2 fret jobs since I've had it. In fact, it's desperately in need of one now & has been for about 12 years. Dave what's the deal with the 68 Les Pauls? The music that has been made associated with this particular guitar, is astounding.

DAVE: I'm not sure what it is about that vintage of Les Paul, but it seems to be one of the special years thay made them. Early on in my career I used to think it wasn't that special to have a 60's vintage until I started looking for a new Les Paul. Damn it's hard to find one that feels & sounds just right. Must have been the old 50's stock they may have used when they cranked the production back up on these LP's? I have no idea for sure but I still like mine.
....that goldtop Les Paul was a nice one but the thin neck kinda bugged me after a while (the neck was shaved & had a black finish to the back of it). I felt like I couldn't get the best out of it & dig my teeth into it. So I traded it in on my black SG2000 in Walnut Creek. I'm not sure what happened to it after that. BTW - I understand my 68 Les Paul did originally have P90's (or something like that) & I believe, was a gold top. When I bought it in 1970/71-ish it had already had the full size humbuckers & the red sunburst finish, so this had to happen very shortly after it was new. I could see where it was routed out to make room for the humbuckers, when I started to tweek the pickups in it, in the mid 70's (just took off the covers & cut the ends off the pole screws to be flush to the bottom of the pickups). Neil Schon showed me that one & I tried it. It seemed like it strengthened the mids a bit (maybe I was just hearing things, but I thought it made a difference).

The Strats

Babe Magnet:
Hey Dave, I'm curious about something. I recently played a Clapton Signature Strat and LOVED the sound I got with the mid-boost in that guitar. Does yours have that and do you like that system?
DAVE: I have 2 strats with those electronics. My Fender Clapton Blackie strat & my new Fender blue custom made strat. I like the mid boost (center knob) & use the gain boost on occasions (the back knob). The gain is cool on some parts, but most of the time I have it off & just get the gain out of my amp instead. The center mid boost is very cool & gets that old-twangy-strat kinda thing that works great for the cleaner stuff I play. The one cool thing about playing the bluesy material is that I get to play more cleaner stuff than I usually did & it makes me play differently. I've learned a lot of great new riffs & chords since I've been playing in this band. I still love my other 2 Fender strats without the boosted electronics, but I can say that, for me, the Clapton strats are definitely keepers. The black one has a maple neck & is brighter than the blue one with the rosewood neck. I like them both for the slightly different sounds & neck feel. Then there's the sunburst Custom Shop strat. That doesn't have the gain of the Clapton models, but that sucker is way heavier than my 2 Clapton-type strats & has a big, deep & clean sound with a "means-business" feel that is hard to not love. The other strat is sort of a mettalic purple Custom Shop with an upside down neck & 2 Duncun Custom humbuckers. It's cool too, but lately I've been focusing on my Clapton's. Sorry for the long answer, I just started to think about all the strats I've been surrounded by lately & had to mention something about each of them. And don't worry, I still play my trusty Les Paul every day. That sucker still kicks ass!

Babe Magnet: Based on my limited knowledge of Strats, the Blue one has gotta be a Custom Shop job. Very pretty. I think that Strat looks just fine in your hands Dave. I'm still learning about Strat setup. Don't know if you got a much earlier question from me regarding the strings you use. I really like the tone you play with on the Strats. I assume that you don't use much in terms of effects.

Babe Magnet - You're right - it is a Custom Shop Strat. I had them make it for me to my specs. I specifically wanted that body color & hardware. It is a thing a beauty & plays great too. I believe you can only find that color in the Bonnie Raitt Limited Edition model. I saw one at a local guitar store & called Fender's Custom Shop. I had to have that color, so they found a body & built the rest around it. I have to hand it to Fender. They really care about their artists & do a great job of getting guitars made to special artist's needs. Gibson sucks at their artist relations. And with the price of Les Pauls at $3500 to $5000 a pop, they're blowing it.

Denis: Hi Dave, What was the reason you switched from the LP to the Strat? I remember years ago Blackmore saying that the strat seemed to be a more "open" guitar that let itself play alot more different ways than a Gibson. Also, have you ever try the SG line and if so, which model?

DAVE: I still like both guitars. The strat makes you play differently, just by the way the neck is set up, and of course, the sound. It's the guitar to use for certain styles & the Les for others. I'll probably keep using both for many years to come no matter what style of music I'mm playing. I tried an SG briefly back in the 70's but I preferred the heavier/thicker body of the Les Paul back then. I did have a 62 strat that I loved, when I first started playing guitar. It was my first "real" guitar after my Montgomery Ward $27 strat copy (my first guitar). I bought it in a sleazy mall music store for $225 in Alameda Ca. It was barely used & the salesman was bragging about it being used by some great country guitar player. I didn't care, it was just a cool guitar. I stupidly sold it about 2 years later for $180 when I was broke & needed rent money (major mistake). I wish I could have taken that one back!

The Baretta

Babe Magnet:
I notice that your tracks recorded with the Baretta really cut through, making me curious as to why I haven't seen you play that guitar at any of your shows. On OTBS, I'm also hearing that Floyd Rose - come on! Make us shred geeks happy and break out the Kramer!

I'll bring it out more often in live situations in the future. That thing is real mean sounding, although it can be a bit bright at times. I still like it for tracking in the studio. I used it quite a bit on this new record also.
I remember that I used it on one song on the Y&T tour in November, then I broke a string & put it down. A fan came up after the show & said "glad you put the Kramer down, it sounded thin". Well, ya never know. Of course, I've slight;y adjusted the tone & gain settings on my Rectifier since then, so it might not have quite the same sound now. My blue strat does sound pretty full though when it's cranked up, so most of the other guitars can tend to sound a bit thinner in comparison.

The Flying V

Mickey Nakayama:
Dave, I have a question.
We can see a Flying V picture on the first album's cover of Yesterday and Today.
Did you use the V in your recording?
I think that the tone we can listen to songs in the CD is not Les Paul's tone.
Please tell me!
My friends in Japan also have same question.

Dave Meniketti:
Mickey, the first CD was recorded mainly with my Les Paul & I also used a strat on one or 2 songs. I'm pretty sure that I didn't use the Flying V for anything on that record, or any record, for that matter. But I used it for live performances on occasion for about a year before I sold it. I thought it was too light & was more prone to feedback than my other guitars, so it wasn't a favorite. But it looked cool!

DAVE: The Flying V guitar was a gift from my first manager, Herbie Herbert. He was a big guitar player fan & knew I had liked the guitar when I played it at a local music store, so he bought it for me. That was very cool for him to do that & the first time I ever had someone else pay for anything I owned. What made you switch from the V to the Paul?

DAVE: I didn't switch from my V to the Les Paul. I had the Paul before I received the V. I only played the V for about 3 years before giving up on it because it was prone to feedback & I thought it was too small sounding next to the Paul. That particular V was a re-issue & was lighter than the original V's were. I think if it was made of heavier wood it would have been a better sounding guitar.

Joey's Guitars

HZ219: I've always liked Les Paul Junior's. They are nothing fancy, just a rock solid guitar that are made to rock. Joey played a couple juniors before he started using his black kramer baretta, and as we all know he always sounded great in concert.

That's about all Joey ever played was a Junior. He had a 1960 red double cutaway junior & a single cutaway brown sunburst that was played much less. Since he purchased that red SG junior in 1974 in a store near Seattle, he played it almost non-stop his entire career with Y&T.