My Favorite Toys

There are a lot of things I love to do. I love spending time with my family. I would say that my #1 hobby is being a husband to the greatest wife ever, and a step dad to the greatest kids ever. Along with that I love movies, music, baseball, hockey, traveling either with or without a set destination, and just spending time with my favorite people, friends and family.

There are two things that sort of stand apart from the others. Partly because of the enjoyment I get out of them, and partly because they require some seriously expensive toys. One is being a guitar player, the other is being a bad photographer. Please allow me to introduce you to my collection of ridiculously expensive toys.

Guitars first.

This is my Gibson ES-335 Pro. I bought this on ebay in 2000 for about $700. It reeked of cigarette smoke and took forever to clean. One day I will get around to replacing that missing tone knob. This is the single best sounding musical instrument I have ever (or will ever) own. Go here and click the play button to see what I’m talking about.
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My first real guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. I loved that guitar. It had such a sweet tone. I never had an amplifier that was worthy of it and I never got to hear just how great it could be. It was stolen out of my car in the Fall of 1990. I replaced it with this Gibson Les Paul Custom. As great as my Deluxe was, it was nothing compared to this Custom. I bought this at the old Daddy’s Junky Music Store in Salem, NH (back when they were in the little building the army navy store on rt 28 is now) for $550. It’s not perfect. It’s not original. When I bought it there was a bigsby vibrato on it as well as two replacement pickups. I took the bigsby off almost immediately and you can see the screw holes in the pictures. Years later my friend Larry swapped out the machine heads and the pickups for stock Gibson parts. The pickups are now classic ’57s. It’s different now, a little less powerful and a little brighter, but it plays like it came from heaven above.
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I also own a couple of acoustic guitars. Neither are anywhere near the high end of the market, but I enjoy playing them both and have been very pleased with the way they sound on my crappy home made recordings.

First the six string. This is a Yamaha FG-401. If I remember correctly, this was a Christmas present from my parents, many years ago. Again, a low end model that has gotten many more miles than one would have guessed when seeing it in the store.
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Next we have the guitar that legitimized my progressive rock song writing (no it didn’t, and I can’t pull off writing anything even remotely progish), my 12-string. This is another Yamaha, a FG-420-12. This thing is beautiful in person and it sounds fantastic. Unfortunately it is an absolute nightmare to actually play. The action is very high and even with a nice set of callouses on my fingertips it tears me to shreds. I bought this on ebay a few years ago. Maybe 2007 or so. I love the hell out of this thing, but if I get the opportunity to replace it with something that has lower action I will. This has shown up on many of the home recordings I’ve done over the last two years. It’s glorious and painful at the same time.
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There is also a cheap Squire Precision bass that should probably be included here, but I loaned it out to my friend Mike when we started a new band a little over a year ago. I left the band in February, but he’s still going. He’s using my Squire as a back up.

Moving on… Cameras!

When I got my first raise from my first job out of college I went out and bought a point and shoot. I started taking it everywhere and really annoying the hell out of everyone. I took it to parties, get togethers, family events, random hanging out, hockey games, baseball games, concerts in clubs around Boston, just about everywhere.

In January of 2010 my wife and I were looking for something that we could each get each other as a sort of post-Christmas super gift. I asked her for a camera. A real DSLR. We ended up getting a Nikon D90 and I have been completely obsessed with it ever since. I have two lenses, a Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm that came with the kit, and a Nikon 55-200 mm F/4 5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX VR Zoom. I will be the first to admit that I know just about nothing about any of this equipment, and that I am still a point and shoot guy, just using a better set up. Still, I love this camera like crazy and will run with any excuse to shoot absolutely anything with it. This page itself was just an excuse to take a couple of new pictures with my D90.

Of course it’s tough to take a picture of your camera with your camera so I took this with my iPhone. More on that in a second.
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My D90 is my real camera, but let’s be frank here… My iPhone is the camera that is with me absolutely everywhere I go. I have used an iPhone 3G, an iPhone 4, and I now have an iPhone 5. There are thousands of random iPhone pictures on my Flickr account. I save everything for no real reason at all. These phones have taken pictures of everything I’ve done over the last few years. I don’t leave home without it. I’m also a sucker for a good camera app. The first one I really liked was Camera Bag. I got into Instagram and Hipstamatic at about the same time, but I have since more or less stopped using Instagram. I prefer Hipstamatic and use it whenever I can. Still, most often I use the native camera app, and I use it often. Ridiculously often. Annoyingly often.
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Here is one more camera that needs to be included. This is a Casio EX-S10. This is the camera that usually gets snuck into concerts in arenas and sheds. It’s tiny, about the same size as the iPhone 5 but a little thicker. This comes with me when I want something better than a camera phone, but can’t bring something that takes up as much room as my D90. It’s been to a few concerts, a few parties, and things like that. I keep it in my D90’s camera bag so if the need arises I have it with me. It is also occasionally used by the kids when I am pretending to be a photographer and they want to get in on the fun. There is one other reason why I consider this special. It was a gift from my wife. She bought it for me when we got engaged. All the more reason to love it.
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I am a little upset about one thing. That first point and shoot that I bought was a Kodak Z740 Zoom. I took some of my favorite pictures ever with it. I loved it. I actually got deeper into it’s functionality that I have with my D90. I thought, and still think, the world of that little sucker. Unfortunately when I went to get it for a picture tonight it was gone. I don’t know where it is. I know it’s in the house somewhere, but I can’t find it. I’m a little ticked off at myself for that.

There you have it. Two electric guitars, two acoustic guitars, a DSLR, a point and shoot, and a camera phone. My favorite toys.

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