Solo Setup

Here’s a pic of my live solo-show setup as I was getting ready for a nursing home gig this week at Mukilteo Memory Care…a lovely assisted living facility.  We had a great time!

Christopher J Music Guitar Case Sign


Artcore Bliss!

My new Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93 (Thanks Sweetwater!) with my added RMC Poly-Drive 1 electronics (Thanks Richard McClish & RMC Pickups!) for Roland GR-55 synth access. Ahhhh…. Can’t wait to start playing it nonstop! ??

Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93-a image


California Dreamin’

Thanks to my day job I got to spend a week in San Diego during the huge cold snap and ice storm much of the USA has been enduring during the first week of December. Hey, it’s not even officially winter yet per my calendar.  What happened to “global warming”?  When I was a kid, the “experts” back then were warning of a new ice age….maybe they were right after all.  Or maybe this is just typical earthly climate variation and we shouldn’t freak about this stuff, but just get on with life.  Anyway, it even affected southern California with the temps dipping down to an unbearable 59 degrees causing the locals to don sweaters, scarves and winter coats.


I was able to escape from the conference room dungeon long enough to make a trip over to Carvin Guitar and Pro Audio.  I posed for this pic just seconds before the rain started coming down.

Carvin Guitar Front Doors

In Front of Carvin Guitar

Dear Santa!

Inside Carvin Guitar 1

The axe I “axually” liked the most is the semi hollow body hanging in the center right above my shoulder.  It is a Frank Gambale FG1 Semi-Hollow Carved Top Guitar.  It is an orange burst on quilted maple with an ebony fretboard (you don’t see that much these days) and is even available with an RMC pickup and synth access, a piezo pickup plus a C22B bridge pickup and a Frank Gambale designed FG22N neck pickup.

Inside Carvin Guitar 2

Inside Carvin Guitar 3


Some nice basses in waiting too.


Inside Carvin Guitar 4

This guy has an awesome head of hair.  I’m talking about the dude on the right.

Carvin Hair

The worst part of the trip was when I ended up at the receiving end of a 2 car rear ender and the two rear enders sped off and did “hit and run”.  Because I was on 911 immediately I got the license and description and the cops got the offenders a few minutes later as they were stuck in San Diego afternoon I-5 “gridlock”.  I hear it is a one year suspension for hit and run in California.  “So you had a bad day?”

Rear End Hit and Run Damage


How to Install the Roland GK-Kit-GT3 Divided Pickup Kit

One weekend I spent a day  capturing on video my adventure…..

in modifying my brand new Fender Modern Player Marauder to install the Roland GK-KIT-GT3 permanently, internally in the guitar.  Last year I wrote about my first venture into GK land and how I installed the Roland GK-3 external pickup on an Epiphone Dot semi-hollowbody guitar.


Per Roland’s product description:

This kit includes all parts for permanent installation of a GK-3 Divided Pickup into an electric guitar: a GK-3 Divided Pickup, circuit board, switches, power indicator LED, 13-pin connector, wiring and hardware. Professional installation is required.

  • Divided guitar pickup for use with Roland V-Guitar System, GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer, or BOSS GK Effect Pedals
  • 3-position switching between divided pickup, natural bass pickup, or mix of both
  • Mounts on any electric or steel-stringed acoustic guitar


UPDATE:  Since the above picture was taken the S1 and S2 buttons have been recessed so they are below the surface of the guitar to avoid accidentally making a change mid performance!

First here is my video….wow, I surprised myself….I am actually getting a little better at camcorder action and iMovie editing….and then I have transcribed below my 40 steps from my spiral notebook to install this unit.  Due to YouTube’s rules, I had to split this into two parts to stay under their “10 minute rule”:

Part 1

Part 2

Since this is what I did specifically for my Fender Modern Player Marauder all of the steps might not apply to your guitar if it is not a Marauder or you decide to wire things differently than I did.  By the way, there is a great resource on all things related to V-guitar and DIY guitar projects at the V-guitar user forums site at

  1. Plan the layout.
  2. Disassemble guitar. (be careful not to scratch or damage anything!)
  3. Mask the guitar as needed to protect it while you are working on it.
  4. Mark the locations for the GK components.
  5. Remove the volume and tone pots and guitar cord jack from the metal face plate.
  6. Drill test holes in scrap material.
  7. Verify the fit of all GK parts in the scrap material.
  8. Adjust hole sizes if necessary.
  9. Drill the metal face plate per your planned hole locations.
  10. Drill the S1 and S2 switch holes.
  11. Countersink the S1/S2 holes.
  12. Drill and route the GK 13 pin connector opening.
  13. Drill an opening from the GK 13 pin connector opening over to the existing guitar control cavity.
  14. Make final routing adjustments to fit the opening to the GK 13 pin connector.
  15. Route a groove in the existing guitar control cavity to all the GK preamp board to fit installed on its side.
  16. Do a test fit of all the GK parts. Make any needed adjustments.
  17. Solder the wires (per the Roland wiring diagram) to the GK select switch and the S1/S2 switches.  Be sure to route the wires through the holes you have drilled prior to soldering.
  18. Solder the wires to the GK volume pot. (per the Roland wiring diagram)
  19. Solder the guitar signal wires. (per the Roland wiring diagram)
  20. Attach the connectors to the GK 13 pin connector.  Route the harness through the tunnel and into the control cavity.
  21. Drill pilot holes for and install the GK 13 pin connector into the guitar.
  22. Install the S1/S2 switches into the 5/8″ holes.
  23. Reinstall the original guitar pots and jack.
  24. Install the GK LED.
  25. Install the GK volume pot.
  26. Install the GK select switch.
  27. Drill or route an opening for the GK divided pickup cable near the bridge pickup.  You will need to make a notch also in the guitar’s pickup ring.
  28. Temporarily mount the GK divided pickup and route the cable over to the guitar’s control cavity.
  29. Tuck all wires into their final locations and secure them as needed with tie-wraps.
  30. Attach all connectors to the GK preamp board.
  31. Place the preamp board into the control cavity.
  32. Reattach the metal plate to the guitar body with screws.
  33. Reattach the pick guard to the guitar body with screws.
  34. Install strings.
  35. Tune and set intonation.
  36. Determine proper location for GK pickup according to the string location.  Note:  Maximum distance from bridge to the pickup is 20 mm.
  37. Mark pickup screw hole locations and drill pilot holes.  Install pickup screws.
  38. Use springs or spacers as needed to obtain a 1 mm clearance between the GK pickups and the strings.
  39. Adjust the GK pickup settings on the GR-55 according to the Roland instructions.
  40. Have fun playing your GK equipped guitar.


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Finally, here is a tune I recorded using the Roland GR-55 for the cello portion and along with a mic’d ukulele.  Or Click here to check out my music!