So last week I bought three guitars
from a guy, and one of them was an Ibanez with a black Floyd
Rose-style vibrato, with one of those wacky vibrato arms that
has a sleeve attached to the arm, which screws on to a threaded
stem sticking up from the bridge. You'd recognize it if you saw
it... And as the deal was "going down" I could have
sworn that I looked in the guitar's gig bag to make sure that
the arm was there...
Then, a couple of days later
I was talking to John, the new guy, and he said, "You should
put some stuff up on eBay." And after I finished saying,
"Can you do it for me? `Cause I'm too busy not wanting to
do it," I said, "Hey, put up this Ibanez since it has
one of those not-so-popular-these-days locking vibratos."
And so it came to pass that he
did put it on eBay. And the first guy who wrote to me about it
said, "Do you have the vibrato arm?" And I yelled across
the basement to Scott who had just finished re-stringing and
setting up the guitar (because we care), "Hey, Scott, tell
me once again about being at Woodstock... And there's an arm
with that Ibanez isn't there?" And he said, "No,"
and "No." And I said, "Darn! Do we have one of
those?" and he said, "No, and that's gonna be hard
to find since no one makes those anymore. But I remember when
Hendrix came on at Woodstock... it was mid-afternoon... and...."
So all morning yesterday I was
mad at myself for not seeing that the guitar didn't have the
arm when I bought it. And the eBay auction is over on Sunday...
Meanwhile three days ago an old
guy (and not an old guy like Scott, but a really really old guy)
called and asked if I wanted to buy his 1928 Martin 0-28K. ("K"
for Koa wood.) Well, I already have a 1928 0-28K, but his was
an unusual standard neck model. (Most of Martin's Koa wood guitars
in the `20s were set up for slide Hawaiian play: a high nut,
and no frets.) He was looking for a little more than I wanted
to pay, considering that I was going to just keep it with my
Martins, but when I asked if he could do any better on the
price he said, "No, the wolf is at the door." So I
said, "OK, bring it in. The guitar, not the wolf."
And yesterday he did.
As I was paying him, and enjoying
the attractive curly Koa on the Martin, he said, "Thanks
so much. By the way, I have this box of parts, do you need any
I looked in to box... It was
mostly old machine heads. Then... I saw it... totally out of
place, mixed with the vintage nuts and screws.... a black Ibanez
vibrato arm! He said, "Oh that, just keep it."
Yep, it was a strange day.
To celebrate my new Martin (which,
by the way, turned out to be a 1929, not 1928) and my new, used,
black Ibanez arm with the wacky screw-on sleeve, this week's
email special is an extra discount on any new Martin in the store.
We have Western PA's largest selection of Martins and they're
fine fine instruments. And if you buy one now, in 74 years it'll
still be a fine instrument, just like this 0-28K.
See you soon,
PS: We have 10 pairs of tickets
to Kansas, Foreigner and Bad Company's Paul Rodgers on Tuesday
June 17th at the Station Square Amphitheatre (now called the
"Chevrolet Amphitheatre at Station Square") They're
free to the first 10 folks who stop in the store and ask for
PPS: This week's Customer web site:
I was in Nashville a few years
ago at the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants),
and I stopped to visit a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless)
who managed a famous vintage guitar store (which shall remain
nameless). As we sat in his office talking about the used guitar
biz he mentioned that one of his good customers was so happy
with his recent purchase that he presented my nameless friend
with a gift: a freshly manufactured jar of moonshine. Apparently
this customer was not only a guitar aficionado; he also ran a
still. (After all, it is Nashville...) (Wait... maybe I shouldn't
have mentioned the city, either...)
Being a purebred Pittsburgher,
I had never seen moonshine before. My first surprise was that
it was crystal clear. The second surprise was how much it smelled
like gasoline. My friend assured me that despite the nasal assault,
this was professional grade moonshine. Since Pittsburghers are
naturally curious about alcohol, I suggested that we try some.
I poured just a teeeeeeny bit in a cup and gulped it down.
It was smooth, but I must say
it had more of a kick than my usual luncheon Vodka & Tonics
down at Dee's. The next thing I remember we had had a couple
of shots each.... and actually... that's the last thing I remember
for the next few hours...
I do know that later that evening
I was in a bar talking to assorted manufacturer reps. (After
a hard day on the trade show floor talking about guitars, folks
tend to end up at a bar... talking about guitars.) By that point
I had transferred the moonshine from it's standard selling container,
a Mason jar, to an easier-to-disguise bottled-water bottle. I
remember offering some to the shall-remain-nameless sales rep
for the world's leading strap manufacturer... After discussing
the meaning of life for some indeterminate amount of time, we
agreed that I would buy more of their straps and he would give
me a good deal on them... if we ever got our eyesight back...
I was just thinking of this yesterday,
when one of our regular customers said, "Hey, why don't
you ever put guitar straps on the email special?" I said,
"Well, they're all different prices..." and Mark said,
"Just have the sale be a percentage off.." and I thought
to myself, "Hmmmm, I think I still have some of that moonshine
(I brought some back from the
show, put it back in a Mason jar, and it's been on a shelf at
my house for years. I wonder if it's safe to drink now?) (Compared
to then, I mean...)
OK, so the special involves a
little math. But the idea is that all straps are cheaper.
See you soon,
PS: On a different topic, you
have to give Fender credit for some interesting limited-run guitars.
Last month we got the new Rosewood Tele Reissue, and yesterday
we got the new Antigua Strat Reissue. The original Antigua Strats
and Teles were made in 1978, and they're a wacky, you-either-love-`em-or-hate-`em
green-ish/grey-ish `burst. Fender is making 200 Strats and 200
Teles. (We're getting 2 of each.) Stop in and check them out.
I'm a fan, of course. Here's
my collection of old ones.
PPS: This week's Customer web site:
Yesterday we were putting away
a 1966 Rickenbacker, and Betsy said "Look at how elaborate
the hinges are on this case!" And, sure enough, there was
an extra little piece of metal that would prevent the case from
flopping all the way open. It also acted as a safety hinge, if
the regular one would come apart. My first thought was, "Well,
they just made things better in the old days."
As I was pondering the ol' "they-don't-make-`em-like-they-used-to"
concept, I turned and noticed the fabulous looking metalic-gold
new Fender Squier Strat we're selling for $149...
It occurred to me that when I
opened this place 24 years ago, the cheapest (yet decent) "Strat"-type
of guitar was a Hondo II, and they were $250! If you adjust that
for inflation*, that's $1,316.67 in 2003 money!
*Calculations based on:
1979 Peppermint Pattie: $.15
2003 Peppermint Pattie: $.79
Start with the equation:
.15/.79 = 250/x
Cross multiply, which gives you:
(.79)(250) = .15x, or:
197.50 = .15x
Divide both sides by .15:
1316.67 = x
So, really, this new Squier Strat,
which sounds great, plays great, has a wonderful finish, AND
says "Fender" on it, is a tremendous bargain compared
to the "old days." For that matter, the very Rickenbacker
that we were looking at earlier in this email cost $600 in 1966.
That's like a Million Dollars in today's money!! (OK, I admit
I don't remember how much Peppermint Patties were in 1966...
but they weren't much...)
My point is that while some things
were made better in the old days, other things are more of a
bargain today. Computers can cut necks and bodies and do great
paint jobs for a fraction of the old cost. Bottom line: Old days
= Good, These days = Also Good.
We'd love to have a "That's-so-cheap-I-gotta-buy-one-of-those"
coupon on the Fender Squier Strats, but as you know, Fender won't
let us send out blanket price quotes in emails like this. We
can only give super low prices to individual requests. So, hit
"Reply" (you don't even have to write anything in the
email) and we'll send some low low sale prices on brand new Fender
Squier Strats. (You're probably thinking: HOW can they BE any
cheaper??? Well, you know my philosophy: Profit-Schmofit!!) (I
just won't pay Mark this week...)
See you soon,
PS: We have lots of other finish
options on the Squier Strats (besides the aforementioned Gold.)
PPS: Peppermint Patties were invented right here in
PPPS: This week's Customer web site:
We did another gig with my pretend
band, The Out-Of-Tuners, last night. The significance of this
(to me) is that I played guitar! We went to Scott's acoustic
open stage at Duke's Station in Bethel Park. It was only my second
ever public appearance playing guitar and it was fun! As I mentioned
before, The Out-Of-Tuners only know two songs, with a total on-stage
time of 4:17, so I didn't have to know too many chords, and didn't
have to play them too many times...
For my brush with rock super-stardom
I decided to use my 1971 Guild D-25, formerly owned by one of
my favorite songwriters, Dave Hanner. Dave used this guitar extensively
back in the 1970s with his band, Gravel. (They later changed
their name to The Corbin-Hanner Band and have lots of gold records.)
Dave played a thousand gigs with this guitar and over the years
he tried four or five different pickups, he added a home-made
control panel, a toggle switch, a 5-position Gibson VariTone
switch and a volume control. He also had a little problem with
the input since there's a hole on the side of the guitar... Here's
The cool thing is that this guitar
sounds great! I've met many people over the years who buy guitars
and then try not to play them. Now, I appreciate the "guitar-as-art"
concept, and it is true that in the high-end vintage market Mint
Condition guitars are the most valuable. But in my personal experience
interacting with old guitars, the ones that have been played
the most (and have the nicks and dents to prove it) are the best
sounding ones. Just like people, guitars need to experience life.
Take them out. Plug them in. Show them a good time. Don't leave
them under the bed!
Oh yeah, and don't knock them
over and break their necks. Buy a guitar stand.
See you soon,
week's Customer web site: