Email Specials from October 2003

Saturday 10/4/03


I was watching Conan O'Brien a couple of nights ago and the guest band was Rancid. They were interesting for three reasons. First of all, they weren't nearly as "punk" sounding as their name would suggest. (They looked all scary and stuff, but the music was decent.) Second, they had TWO left handed guys. (The rhythm guitarist/rapper and the drummer.) And third of all, they had a guy playing a Hammond B-3! Since you're a guitar player like me, you may not know what a B-3 is... It's a big, heavy organ that you play through a big, heavy Leslie rotating-speaker cabinet. The disadvantage of a B-3 is the aforementioned "big" ... and the aforementioned "heavy." The advantage is that it sounds wonderful. There is no better organ sound than a Hammond. (Vox organs are cool in their own way... but their coolness lies mainly in their cheezy-ness.) So it was impressive to see a B-3 in a band called Rancid. It showed that despite their desire to appear "I-don't-care-about-anything" punk-like, they really did care about the sound.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with the late César Diaz. (He stayed at my house several years ago when he was in town for a liver transplant. He used up his old liver touring with the Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughan...) César once said, "If I played keyboards I'd take all of my money and buy a B-3, a Leslie, a van to carry them in, and a dolly to move them. Sure it would be hard to get it around, but you'd always find work. There will always be someone who needs the sound of a B-3 in their show." I guess even Rancid agrees.

Oddly enough, moments ago we were looking for something on the shelves beneath the counter here at the store, and we found some Danelectro Rocky Road "Spinning Speaker" pedals. They're Danelectro's attempt at getting the same rotating speaker sound that you get when you play a B-3 through a Leslie cabinet. (Examples of this sound: Curt Cobain's guitar in "Come As You Are," George Harrison's solo in "Let It Be"...)

The Dano pedal is a fun effect. You wouldn't use it in every song, but it'll add a little surprise now and then. Besides, it's inexpensive and weighs almost nothing. And with this week's email special it'll cost you next to nothing (compared to buying a Hammond and a Leslie...)


See you soon,

PS: The winner of last week's contest for a New Fender Deluxe Acoustic Gig Bag is Bethany M. Thanks to all who entered!

PPS: Here's a picture of Jeff Bell accepting his Free Martin guitar, from last month's Pittsburgh Guitars T-Shirt Contest.

PPPS: Customer web site:
César Diaz
(Sadly Cesar passed away in 2002, but his family is still selling his amps and pedals.)

Monday 10/13/03


The other day I was watching one of the Ed Sullivan reruns that they're showing on WQED, and the band on this episode was The Young Rascals. The show was from 37 years ago, but the song they were doing, "Good Lovin'," is still around. (And I suspect it will outlast anything by Limp Bizkit...) The semi-unique thing about this song is that there's no bass guitar on it. The Rascals were a four-piece band: guitar, drums, hammond organ and tambourine. (Quick: Who are the three most famous tambourine players in Rock History???) (Answer in one of the PSs below) Getting back to The Rascals, the multi-tasking guy in the band was Felix Cavaliere. Felix not only wrote a lot of their songs, he also did most of the lead vocals, played organ AND played the bass parts on the organ bass pedals. Grab a CD copy of "Good Lovin'" and listen to one side of the stereo mix. You can clearly hear the unusual sound of bass pedals... and you can hear a few mistakes. (I like the mistakes. It gives it a human feel. Besides, he was already singing and playing the keyboards, including the solo... all while using both feet to play bass parts!)

I said "semi-unique" above because there is at least one other big hit song with no bass guitar: The Door's "Light My Fire." On that song Ray Manzarek played the bass with his left hand on a small Fender Bass keyboard, while playing the rest of the song with his right hand on the regular keyboard.

But these days... everyone has a bass player. And if you want to get started, we have just the deal for you. Fender has discontinued their Frontman Bass Amp series, and we have a few left. (We also have the new "Rumble Bass" series that is replacing it.) This week's email special features great prices on the discontinued bass amps. They're brand new and have a five year warranty.


See you soon,

PS: Felix Cavaliere didn't write "Good Lovin'" was a cover song.

PPS: Speaking of "covers" I can't get over how much I don't like NBC's version of the British sitcom "Coupling." At first I was confused about my lack of enthusiasm. But then BBC America started playing the original version (on Channel 162 on Comcast cable) immediately after the NBC cover version. If you tape them both you can A/B each scene. The British cast is simply much better at getting into the characters. The US cast seem to be just reading the lines. (The British version is also edited tighter...) How does this relate to music? Well, if you're playing cover tunes, don't just play the notes. Try to get into the song, and make it your own. That's what The Rascals did with "Good Lovin'."

PPPS: The greatest Rock tambourine players: 1) Davy Jones of the Monkees, 2) Eddie Brigati of the Rascals, and 3) Tracy Partridge of The Partridge Family (played by Suzanne Crough). Alternative: Gene Clark of The Byrds (who, by the way, once sang with The New Christy Minstrels!) (See the email special from 9/19/03.)


PPPS: Customer web site:
Bunny Five Coat



The other day someone from The Post Gazette called and asked what my favorite horror movie was. You may have seen my comments in last Friday's paper... The bottom line is: I don't like horror movies.

What DO I like, you ask? Well, I remember back in 1996, a good friend of mine, Steve Hansen, gave me a book about a guy who owned a record store. In the book customers would come in and hang out and talk about music, just like here at Pittsburgh Guitars. It was called "High Fidelity" and it's a fabulous book. In 2000, they made it into a movie starring John Cusack. In the film his record store is full of wacky eccentric characters, just like our customer base. I liked THAT movie.

John Cusack was great in the film, but the movie was practically stolen by one of his "employees" played by Jack Black. Jack's impact in "High Fidelity" led to a variety of movie roles... ultimately resulting in the new movie "School Of Rock." I REALLY liked this movie!! It's got comedy. It's got guitars! It's got Rock! (And it co-stars Joan Cusack, John's sister...)

Jack's two main instruments in the film are a Gibson SG and a white Gibson Flying V. And while teaching the kids to rock, he generally plays through a battery-powered little practice amp.

In honor of the kind of movie that I like, this week's special is small battery powered practice amps.


See you soon,


PS: I will give a free Mini-Deluxe practice amp to the first person who can tell me what kind of bass they are using in the movie. I honestly don't know. It looks German. It has a bound headstock with a design on it, but no logo. I didn't recognize it as a Hofner model. It may have been a Framus. I'm curious...

PPS: Last week I mentioned the world's greatest tambourine players and a lot of people wrote in with their recommendations. I definitely forgot a great one: Betty Cooper of The Archies. Two other heavily suggested players were Roger Daltrey and Stevie Nicks.

PPPS: Customer web site:

PPPPS: Saturday, November 1st "Night Of The Singing Dead, #11"
The Rex Theatre 8PM

Carl's Guitar Corner Archives

Copyright © Pittsburgh Guitars