Grateful Dead Music Forum

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 #82854  by mkaufman
 Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:15 pm

I played my recently completed Cowboy clone at a gig on Saturday and it was fantastic! I am so excited. Less time searching and more time for playing!

My guitar is a heavily modded Matsumoko-made Vantage Artist 800 VA-800 "Phantom". In the late 70's and early 80's, Matsumoko made some great guitars including Electra, Aria Pro II, Westone, Skylark, Epiphone, Washburn and more. Incredible bang for the buck! ... s/pg3.html

I chose this guitar because it shares many of the same characteristics as the Cowboy:

- 25.5" scale fretboard (as opposed to the 24.75 Ibanez Artist scale)
- maple/walnut thru-neck
- ash wings

The fretboard is rosewood as opposed to Cowboy's which was ebony. The fretboard is beautiful and the frets are like new.

The electronics are as follows:

- Dimarzio Virtual PAF DP196 (neck)
- Dimarzio Virtual Vintage DP410 2.2 (middle) - adjustable to 4 positions!
- Dimarzio Virtual PAF DP197 (bridge)
- on/off toggles for each pickup
- neck & bridge pickup have switches for HB series, single coil & HB parallel
- 3 volume controls (one per pickup)
- 1 master tone control
- every cavity is seriously shielded

The guitar plays & sounds great. Just a joy to play. It's lighter than an Ibanez Artist too! To achive the sound, I turn on all 3 pups and set them all for single coil. Interestingly, setting all three volume pots and the tone pot to 10 yields the perfect sound. I guess that maybe one master volume control may have sufficed... I have not adjusted the middle pickup at all - it seems perfect where it is now. rig is now simply guitar -> amp ('68 Showman Reverb TFL5000D - it's a Twin head) -> 1x15 cab with a JBL M31-4 speaker. The M31-4 is a 4-ohm Fender D130F re-labeled for Peavey amps. My amp volume was set between 3.5 & 4. Plenty loud and crystal clean - just perfect!

Let's see if I can post pictures. If not, they can be seen here: ... %20Cowboy/

Last edited by mkaufman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
 #82887  by jeffm725
 Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:43 am
that is just awesome Michael! AS you know, I have been following your quest for YEARS, and I am glad to see you have a little peace with it! :-)

I know you used to be really into the onboard EQ of the artists and musicians pertaining to "the sound" . Just out of curiosity, what made you forego an active EQ in this guitar?

I actually think you don't need it, and I would have set it up EXACTLY how you just did, but I was wondering what led you down the NO EQ path.
 #82895  by jonarobb
 Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:38 am
Outstanding Michael! Congrats..... that middle p/u bracket is just brilliant to allow for different positions. Can you somehow angle it if need be? Saw a shot from somewhere in 75 or 76 where Weir has the middle single pup on a slant. Seriously, right on man! That guitar looks tits. Enjoy!
 #82927  by mkaufman
 Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:31 pm
JeffM: great question and I have the solution. I happen to own an extra working pre-amp/EQ board pulled from a vintage Ibanez Artist. I'm having it built into a stomp box that I can slip into my waist for easy access. It will have the same controls as on my AR500 (low/mid/high & master gain controls). With this solution, I can use it on any guitar! If I can, I'll add a switchable UGB to the box. But, as you said, I'm not sure I need it.

Jonarobb: I thought about an option to angle the pickup, however, in order to simplify, I backed off the idea.

I have a 2nd prototype in the works. This one has vintage Ibanez Super 80 pickups and is based on Weir's 1st Ibanez guitar (model 2681, played '75-'77). The wiring isn't right yet. Here it is:


 #83092  by broesau
 Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:17 pm
Do you have a wiring diagram for you Cowboy #1 setup? I'd like to have the individual toggles for my pickups as well.

 #83241  by mkaufman
 Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:47 pm
Sound samples!

We played a very long private party gig recently and I used the new guitar. I'm very loud in the mix. I'm blown away by the sound.

Even though the lead guitar is low in the mix, there are lots of great parts to this recording, with the exception of some vocal parts that make me cringe. I'm best heard from Ramble on Rose on.

Some highlights:
- Ramble on Rose (> 4:00 & > 4:30)
- Stranger
- Aiko (>5:25)
- Jack-A-Roe
- Around & Around
- Jack Straw
- Shakedown!!
- Scarlet jam into Fire
- Trucking -> New Speedway Boogie -> The Other One

In fact, New Speedway Boogie is quite an impressive recording of the entire band.

My rig: guitar -> '68 Twin Head -> (1) JBL M31-4 speaker (it's a 4-ohm JBL D130F).

Let me know what you think.

 #84395  by Dozin
 Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:01 am
Sweet jesus it works!!

Michael said he uses the single coils on the humbuckers and the volume on all the pickups at 10. So instead of having a volume control for each pickup I just wired them all to 1 volume control and one tone pot. That's it, no switches, nothing,.. and it's beautiful sounding!

I wired the two humbuckers with white, black and green to ground and red hot, which runs the pickups in single coil. I reversed the middle single coil by wiring red to ground and green as hot. Cranked the volume to 10 and it rings like a bell! I used my old Strat for the mod.

Thanks Michael!!!!!
 #84523  by Dozin
 Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:27 am
I flipped it last night and didn't notice a huge difference. I haven't been able to really open her up yet either.