Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - 20

VaN Wilks
Stormin' out of Austin

T

exas-born guitarist/vocalist Van Wilks' first
new album in a decade, 21st Century Blues,
is full of loud Texas tones.
Born in Galveston, he grew up in Lubbock
and Brownwood, "...and I'm still growing up in
Austin!" he laughed.
In 1964, Wilks' father and uncle bought him a
Tulio guitar and Alamo amplifier (with a Jensen
alnico speaker) from a Lubbock pawn shop.
Later acquisitions included a Fender Mustang,
a Gretsch Tennessean ("because it was close
to George Harrison's Country Gentleman"),
Fender Princeton, and a '66 Bandmaster as
well as a Kustom tuck-and-roll amp with two
15" speakers. His ultimate guitar was acquired
more than 45 years ago.
"In early '69, I got dad to stop at Strait Music in
Austin," he recalled. "Somehow, we walked out
with a black Gibson Les Paul Custom - $500! I
didn't know what a Fretless Wonder was at the
time, but I quickly found out! 'Mona' is still my
main piece. She's a bit road-worn but I'm proud
to say every mark on her was made by me."

Vintage guitar

20

July 2016

ask zac
WiTH ZaC CHilDs

Don Bouque's Gretsch Clipper.

I have a Massie squire 1263 amp
and am trying to find out anything I
can about it. on the back, it indicates
it was "MFG Massie Electronics Los
Angeles, Calif." It has two 6V6 output
tubes, three 12AX7s, and a rectifier tube, and the front has a Normal
channel with Volume and tone, and a
tremolo channel with Volume, tone,
speed, and Depth. - Preston Stedman
In the '40s, amp builder Ray Massie
worked with leo Fender at Fender
Radio Service, and helped design early
Fender amps. By the early '50s, he'd
left leo to open an amp repair shop,
and eventually to begin making amps
under the Massie moniker. The amp
has similarities to Fender designs (the
brown Deluxe, in particular) due to
the men having worked together.
I have a '57 Gretsch in sunburst
with a single pickup, t-roof logo,
white rectangular label, and serial number 21819 or 21849. Can
you identify it? - Don Bouque
We asked Gretsch expert Ed Ball, who
told us, "This guitar is, in fact, a Clipper
(model 6186) from the 1957 model year.
The 218xx batch is a 100-unit group of
Clipper models (#21800-21899), of which
I've documented 15 examples. This
batch has the slightly evolved headstock
overlay that lacks the 'Electromatic' tag
that earlier Clipper iterations possess.
These also pre-date the introduction
of the cutaway body, which occurred
prior to the end of the '57 model year
on the Clipper. This specimen has an
aftermarket refinish and changed pickup."
Zac Childs is a guitar tech in Nashville. If you
have a question about guitars, anything from
nuts and bolts to historical or celebrity-related
inquiries, drop a line to him at zac@askzac.com
or visit facebook.com/askzac.

Van Wilks: Dave Pedley.

He also has a '57 Fender
"Mary Kaye" Stratocaster, a
PRS Custom 24, '67 Gibson
ES-335, a Collings City
Limits, and a Scrotchtone
Lurktamer built by Jim
Hamilton with a lipsticktube pickup and given to
Wilks by Billy Gibbons in
'79. He uses vintage amps
and effects.
"I began playing Austin
in 1971," he recounted.
"Tommy Shannon and I
formed a band called Fools,
which toured all over the
country before he joined
Stevie Vaughan."
Several years ago, Wilks
played onstage with ZZ Top
and keyboard player Mike
Flanagan at the Montreux
Jazz Festival; the performance appears on ZZ's Live
at Montreux DVD.
"It was the first time ZZ
ever played as a 'little fivepiece band from Texas!'"
he laughed.
21st Century Blues includes "Drive By Lover,"
co-written by Wilks and
Gibbons, and "There's a Sin
in There Somewhere," with
its ancient-sounding intro
that features a '29 National
Duolian tuned to an Open
G and capo'ed on the fourth fret. The electric
rave-up on the song is Wilks' Les Paul capo'ed on
the second fret, running through a '64 blackface
Fender Super Reverb and a '71 Marshall 50-watt
head with a model 1959 Marshall cabinet.
Two other Austin musicians appear.
"My longtime friend, Christopher Cross
(VG, October '11) wrote 'She Makes Me Crazy'
for me and did all the rhythm-guitar parts at
his studio," Wilks said. "Then I added a heavy
rhythm and recruited Malford Milligan to join
on the vocals. The PRS Custom 24 is exclusive
to this song and has a major role in the defining
sound of this record. The vibrato system is far
and away the smoothest I've ever felt."
"Midnight Crossing" is an ethereal instrumental with spoken-word Spanish, a Danelectro
baritone, the PRS, and eBow.
Wilks plans to tour Europe and hopefully, the
U.S.- "...the same as the last many years! Just
pick up that guitar and play and keep searching
for that elusive tone! I've got a guitar if you've
got a stage!" - Willie G. Moseley


https://youtu.be/FvRXSLhZCqA?list=PL1293D4CB8DBFF1B9 http://www.facebook.com/askzac

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - Cover1
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Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - Contents
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Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - Cover3
Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - Cover4
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