“Ziggy Stardust” (David Bowie electric cover)

By Federico Borluzzi:

This isn’t an acoustic cover as the previous ones that I used to submit here…

I played this song with my electric guitar with a light distorsion and I hope it does sound good! This is a great song from The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars by David Bowie (1972).


I have a reason to be personally excited about this song — a while back, I recorded my first David Bowie cover, of “Hang on to Yourself.”  That song is the one that precedes “Ziggy Stardust” on the aforementioned 1972 album.

Now, thanks to Federico, we’re happy to present the title track of the album, a song that ranked in the middle of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Best Rock Songs list recently.  As usual, Federico has done an excellent job of stripping a song down to its basic elements, and electric guitar was a great choice for this one.

As a final note, I’m very happy to be able to promise you some great Federico Borluzzi sessions in the coming weeks and months, as I’ve recently built up several songs in reserve.

So, without further ado, enjoy this one and be sure to hurry back for more!

Fender Deluxe Player’s Stratocaster – Jim Fusco’s Guitar Collection

By Jim Fusco:

Today, I’d like to discuss my Fender Deluxe Player’s Stratocaster!  I wanted this guitar after playing my brother’s exact same model (just different colors).  I couldn’t believe how nice it was to play his guitar.  The string action was low and it just felt so “fast” to play.  It was like it played itself!  The only thing I didn’t like was the “tinny” sound coming from the single-coil pickups, but we both know how to get the correct sound nowadays- get a great tube amp!  So, I decided I wanted my first Strat- a Deluxe Player’s Strat!

Fender Deluxe Player's Stratocaster

This model has a couple of unique features.  Cosmetically, it features gold hardware that you don’t find on a normal Stratocaster.  It also has Vintage Noiseless pickups, which appear on the much more expensive Eric Clapton model.  The guitar also has a button on the front that activates two new pickup combinations, allowing you to use all three pickups at once.  Unfortunately, though, these other pickup combinations don’t sound that good at all  So, they’re not especially useful.

My blue version of the guitar came with a dark brown burled walnut-looking pickguard.  That looks great on my brother’s honey blonde Strat, but not so great on a dark blue one.  I don’t know what they were thinking with that thing…  Anyway, my wife bought me an awesome cream/white pearl pickguard that made it look amazing!  Problem was that stupid button I mentioned earlier.  I had to drill a hole for it in the new pickguard and mount the housing for it on the back of the guard.  It was such a project- no glue I had would hold it in the right spot!  It took a few days, but I finally found a solution.  Oh, and also notice the upgraded volume and tone knobs that match the gold hardware that my brother Mike got me.  They also go to 11- just like in the movie “This Is Spinal Tap”!

These Deluxe Player’s Stratocasters are made in Mexico.  I know some people think less of these guitars, but I can say first-hand that there is almost no difference at all.  The metal pieces are fabricated in the Corona, CA plant (my brother and I took a tour) and the workers…well, even in the US plant, they’re still of Mexican descent!  So, if you have a Mexican guy making it in Mexico or in California- what’s really the difference?  These people all do great work- the quality and craftsmanship on both the Mexican-made and American-made Strats is impressive.  I just can’t justify the cost of having a guitar made literally a 4-hour drive down the road out of the same materials and probably by people in the same families! 🙂

Fender Deluxe Player's Stratocaster

A couple years ago, my parents got me a great present- a tuner that’s built-in to the guitar! It’s called N-Tune and it requires tapping-in to the current electronics and putting a tuning ring under the volume knob.  The volume knob then turns into a pull-knob that activates the tuner.  It’s so convenient and always fascinates people.

I used the Strat almost exclusively on my 2012 album, “Those Around Us”.  It’s so versatile and sounds great clean or distorted.  Plus, it plays very nicely with my Fender Blues Jr. amp.  It’s also the only single-coil guitar I have (other than the P-90s, but that has its own sound) so now it will fill a very important space of my overall sound.  I think this Stratocaster is one I’ll have for a very, very long time!

Ibanez ARX300 Electric Guitar – Jim Fusco’s Guitar Collection

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to another edition of “Jim Fusco’s Guitar Collection” here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!  The Ibanez ARX300 electric guitar, the subject of today’s post, is one that I loved at first sight.

Ibanez ARX300 Electric Guitar with EMG 60 and 81 pickups

I remember the moment quite well- looking through a Musician’s Friend catalog and seeing  its wonderful double cutaway body and flamed maple top.  I noticed that it was from Ibanez, my favorite guitar company at the time.  Then, I only had two real guitars- my Ibanez Artcore acoustic and my Ibanez AM73T electric guitar.  So, I knew it would be another Ibanez in my collection after seeing this ARX300!  The funny thing is that I only just now learned that this has a CARVED maple top!  That’s the kind of top you only see on much higher-end guitars, like American-made Gibsons.  Most guitars in this price range (I think it was about $300 to $350 at the time) have laminated or veneered tops.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but a carved quilted maple top is oh-so wonderful.

I was also interested to learn today that this is the ARX300 and not the ARX320 like I’ve been calling it for so long.  I guess the ARX320 came out a bit later.  It looks essentially the same, except mine (the ARX300) has a black painted faded edge and the 320 doesn’t.  The 320 also has silver-looking rings around the pickups where the 300 has cream-colored rings.  Personally, I think I like the cream color better- I guess more “shredders” (who this guitar was made for in the first place) like the more “metal” look.

Of course, anyone that knows the style of music I play here on the music video blog knows that I don’t “shred”.  But, I wanted this guitar for the look alone.  I was getting tired of everyone pigeon-holing my musical style because of the look of my AM73T guitar.  That looks like an old-fashioned electric guitar from the 1950s.  I wanted to be known as a more modern rock’n’roller while I was in the band Masters of the Universe, or MoU.  So, the Ibanez ARX300 would be my “harder rock” guitar.

So, I played it for a few years before I got another electric guitar.  I actually didn’t even have another 6-string electric until I bought my Fender Deluxe Player’s Stratocaster many years later.  So, this was my only alternate to my semi-hollow electric I love so dearly.

When I realized I had too many electric guitars (that was before I got the newest two, mind you), I decided that the best way to quench my thirst for new stuff was to upgrade the guitars I already have.  So, I started thinking of ways to give each guitar its own identity.  I already had the semi-hollow guitar with the Gibson Burstbucker Pro pickups in it, the Strat with single-coils, the Epiphone with hand-wound PAF pickups, the Gretsch with its own signature sound, the P90s with their own type of biting sound, etc.  So, what would the identity of the beautiful Ibanez ARX300 be?

Well, I decided to go back to its “metal” roots and make it my hard rock/soloing guitar.  I did a ton of research and eventually decided on something completely different- new active (battery-powered) pickups from EMG!  I chose the same pickup combination that James Hetfield from Metallica uses.  I didn’t do that on purpose- just turned out that way.  After removing my old pickups and doing an intricate splicing job (as the Ibanez was wired much differently than a normal guitar- just my luck), I was greeting with a great new look on my guitar (as these are “blackout” pickups that have just a matte-finished black covering on them) and an axe that was ready to rock.

Ibanez ARX300 Electric Guitar with EMG 60 and 81 pickups

To be honest, I’m not in love with the bridge pickup.  I think it’s the EMG-81.  It’s too tinny for my tastes- sounds like a fly buzzing when you play it.  I’m sure it’s great for certain types of music, but for my style, I just don’t hear it fitting-in.  But, the true magic of this set is the EMG-60 pickup in the neck position.  Good God.  The thing has this full sounding overdrive without even turning it up- it’s so “fluid” sounding.  I just love the way it makes you instantly feel like a better player.  I can’t wait to bust this out on a future recording- I’m telling you, my guitar solos are going to sound so much better than ever before.  I hope that these new EMG pickups will make my solos stand-out better in the mix, as well!

So, that’s it- I now have an upgraded electric guitar for soloing that looks the part, as well- I’m so glad I was able to breathe new life into my Ibanez ARX300 guitar because I think I’ll always be in love with its amazing looks.  Listen for it on my future original songs!

“A Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke electric cover) [Ep 3, Fall 2011]

By David Reed & Justin Hamilton:

David Reed and Justin Hamilton of Airplanes cover Sam Cooke’s beautiful 1964 track ”A Change is Gonna Come.”  (Shot in Dallas — 5/30/2011.)

[Editor’s Note: This is an interesting twist in the usual format of our Laptop Sessions.  First of all, this video isn’t being hosted on YouTube, and second, this is a two-man combo (increasingly rare here recently).  One beautifully subtle electric guitar and one passionate lead vocal make for the perfect cover song.  Enjoy — I know I did!]

A Change is Gonna Come — Cover by Airplanes from James Daniel on Vimeo.