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Inside the Pro Shop with Sean Nicholson: An Introduction

Hi, my name is Sean Nicholson. I have been working at the Gibson Custom division for 15-plus years. I am the lead man in the Pro Shop. The Pro Shop is a small band of guys that do anything from building carved tops, repairing artist guitars, quality control for overseas distribution, and sometimes, just a shoulder to cry on. They call us the cavalry. When a department needs some extra hands, we are called in.

I am an active musician in Nashville, playing with up to three bands at a time. Mostly playing covers (it is the only music that pays in Nashville). But, frequently get out to the writers nights, around town. I am also an avid pedal and amp builder. Nowadays, it is like building model airplanes, but I get to gig with them.

Playing as much as I do, I know what instruments work for me. I am usually the Les Paul guy in the band. And lately, I switch back and forth with my acoustic. Over the years, like most guitar players, I have had a boatload of gear. Vintage, reissue, boutique, cheap, chic, and not so cool gear. I have found, for myself, simplicity works. I once had a pedal board as big as a car, and carried two heads with matching cabs. But, in Nashville… you just cannot do that. Most bars downtown, you need to park and walk to the bar. Having a smaller rig definitely pays off in that respect. Secondly, I am not getting any younger. Lugging a 4x12 down two blocks is not fun for me anymore. There is not a stage in this city that would let you turn up a 50-watt half stack to a comfortable tone. Even with my Deluxe Reverb (with replaced 2x10 baffle, sounds awesome!) I can only turn up to three… maybe. My pedal board has shrunk to six pedals… OK, sometimes seven pedals; depending on the gig (please don’t judge me). Now my rig is compact, and easy to lug around.

This brings me to my favorite Gibsons for gigging. My acoustic is one of the first Gibson Songwriters with the Ovangkol back and sides. It is a very simple guitar with a great tone. No frilly inlays or diamond-encrusted rosette. Just... simple. The sound is kind of a cross between Rosewood and Mahogany. I always get comments on how good the tone is, probably because I am a rockin’ player… maybe?

My Paul is a guitar that we built in 1997. It is a Les Paul Florentine with Standard, appointments and one F-Hole. Like a Thinline. The tone is very even. Not too woofy, not too light , with just a hint of 335. It is not hard to spot all of the guitar players in the audience. My Les Paul attracts them up to the stage like the pied piper. They see the Gibson logo on the headstock, but cannot fathom the single F-hole. The feeling is like pulling your hot rod into a gas station and everyone checking it out. Though, I can only think that… I drive an Escape…

See you next time.


Posted: 8/17/2011 1:52:00 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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