Email Specials from November 2003

Fri 11/5/2004 ~ Distinctive playing styles


A few weeks ago we were having a contest about something and the answers were 1960's related. (I'm kinda 1960s related myself...) Someone wrote in and said, "I liked the contest, but how about some questions about the 80s?"

This came to mind yesterday, as I was watching "That 70s Show" on TiVo. (It's not as funny as it used to be, but still entertaining...) (I think the goofy kid, Astrid something, looked better with longer hair....) (It was probably Demi's idea to cut it...) Anyway, as soon as the show was over I turned to Channel 143 for VH1's "Rockin' in the 80s." The first thing I saw was U2 playing "Where The Streets Have No Name" on the rooftop of a building in Los Angeles. (A shameless rip-off of the Be Sharps performance on the roof of Moe's Tavern in Season 5 of The Simpsons.)

I've never really cared for U2, and it's not just Bruno's sunglasses. The simplistic, yet rapid strumming of the guitar player, The Ledge, just doesn't do anything for me. (In this tune, for example, he plays the same chord though almost the entire song.)

Now, I would like to be open minded and understand the attraction to Bongo and The Hedge and the other two guys, who may or may not have last names... So this morning I questioned a U2-fan, John-the-new-guy. He said, "Edge may not do any solos, but he has a distinctive style. When you hear him on the radio, you immediately recognize who it is! I love his playing."

I have to admit, he's got a point. And there aren't many guitar players you can say that about. (Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King are the next two who come to mind...)

So let's have a contest. Send in the name of a guitarist whose style is so distinctive that you immediately recognize him as soon as one of his songs comes on... We'll put all of the successful replies into a hat, and a randomly chosen entry will win a fabulous to-be-decided-later prize!


Speaking of players with distinctive styles, you'd certainly have to count Brian May. So this week's email special is the Vox Brian May Special VBM1 amp. In the studio Brian uses a small homemade amp to capture the sound of his live set-up, the wall of AC-30s. This new Vox 10 Watt amp was designed to sound just like his put-together gizmo. With its Recording Out, Headphone Out, Extra Speaker Out and Booster Out, it's great for practicing, recording, or driving another amp.


See You Soon,


PS: The next video, after U2, was The Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio." Johnny Ramone, of course, was also a super distinctive player. Oddly enough, this video showed the band watching themselves play on TV. And for some strange reason, in the middle of the video, the band-on-the-TV briefly switched to 1964 footage of The Undertakers playing in Liverpool, England! Last year I had the pleasure of meeting The Undertakers' singer/guitarist Geoff Nugent in Liverpool, and he's a great guy and even on our email list! And he's still rockin'!!

PPS: In the mail this week we received some literature about an upcoming classical guitar concert, next Thursday, at The First Unitarian Church on Morewood Avenue. It's the world premier of "Vestibule," a four movement classical guitar piece by Andrew Moses, performed by The Pedrick-Hutson Duo. If you're interested in going we have a couple of free tickets and free CDs. Let me know.
Thursday, November 11th (my birthday)
First Unitarian Church Of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue

PPPS: When asked about the similarity between U2's rooftop video and The Beatles rooftop concert Bono said, "We've ripped off The Beatles many times before."

PPPPS: Customer web site:
The Deliberate Strangers

Fri 11/12/2004 ~ Contest results


1) Re: Personal response

First of all, let me apologize for not personally responding to your "Distinctive Guitarist" entry from last week's contest. Every week readers write back about something in the email special. ("Hmmmm, so then a Telecaster Custom is NOT the same as a Custom Telecaster!" or "So THAT'S why the binding is falling off my Country Gentleman!" or "That happened to me once! I still have the scars!") I try to respond to everyone... and I take care not to lose any among the 367 spam emails we get every day. (Although at least now I have $20,000,000 in my bank account, and I don't have to stop at red lights, and I know what time it is, and I'm glad to see you!)

This week however, we got SO many responses to the email special that I haven't been able to keep up. This isn't the most personal way, but: Thank you for writing!


2) Re: Reason for writing = love of music = reason Pittsburgh Guitars exists

I enjoyed the many responses, particularly because they weren't based on any potential prize. (If I recall, it was "to-be-decided-later.") The reason so many people wrote in is the same reason I have this store in the first place: a basic, internal love of music. Like me, you are addicted to music. And you not only recognize that different players have different styles, you are so passionate about it that you wrote back to talk about it. I like that about you. Even if our tastes differ, we have music in our being, and that's good. As difficult as life gets in other areas, music will never let you down. Plus, I believe it keeps you young! And better looking!


3) Re: Responses

Although your choice of player was not a criterion for winning, here are some results. The most frequently mentioned player was Jimi Hendrix. But to show you the wide range of entries, only 10% of the emails listed him! Runner up was Carlos Santana, with 9% of the votes. There were far too many others to mention here, but a sampling is: Mark Knoefler, Tom Scholz, Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young, Roger McGuinn, Brian Setzer, Dick Dale, Les Paul, and more. Of course, there is no "right" answer. If you like a player well enough to really get into his style, you'll recognize him when you hear him play. (Even if it's "Buckethead.")


4) Re: Contest Prize

When I started typing this I still had no idea what the prize should be. But I got so sentimental about our mutual love of music and guitars, that I decided it should be a guitar. One of the new ones that we're most impressed with is the new Fender "Squier `51." It's a Strat-style body with a Tele-style control plate. It has one single coil and one humbuck, and the volume control is a push-pull knob, which splits the coil on the humbucker. It has a great playing neck and comes in a nice sunburst, a cool vintage blonde or a regular-everyday black. The list price is $249, and I can't say what we're selling it for, since we sell it cheaper than the big chain stores. (I don't know where the name came from... it certainly has nothing to do with 1951.) Anyway, after dealing with guitars for 25 years I can't believe Fender has made such a nice guitar for such a low price. So, we're giving the winner one of these!


5) Re: Contest Winner

I'll go pick one now .....................................................

OK, the winner of the "Name A Distinctive Guitarist" is:
George B. ("Egrog")
We'll try to get a picture for next week!


6) Re: This Week's Special

This week's special is a bit different, and there's only one:


For years and years I did a thousand gigs with my band, The Flashcats. We liked to have fun with life and music, so we often used props as part of the show. We figured that if we were having a good time that the audience would too. And that worked. Well, over ten years ago I bought fifteen 1X12 speaker cabinets from a guy who wanted to start his own amp company. I figured a 'wall-o-amps' would be a cool "prop." I rounded up fifteen speakers, some working, most not, and put them in the cabinets. We used them once and they looked really impressive. Then I put them in the garage.

Now, a decade later, I decided to throw them out. Unless YOU want them!

Here are the details:
- There are 15 cabinets, each one is 20" wide, 18" high, 12" deep
- Most of the speakers were dead when I put them in.
- Some speakers are even held in with liquid nails.
- Originally several (three or four) worked, and they are wired with speaker jacks on the back of the cabinet.
- I don't know if they still work now.
- These should just be viewed as props.
- The speakers are CTS, Sunn, Jensen or blank, but I honestly don't think there is anything of value.
- They are a little dirty from being in the garage for so many years.
- These should just be viewed as props, or an art piece.
- Here's a picture taken yesterday as I was cleaning out the garage.
- They are FREE to the first person who wants them!
(I'll bring them to the South Side.)
- If you want them you have to take them all, as is, and you have to pick them up on the South Side by Monday, November 15th.
-Did I mention that they're FREE to the first person who writes back and says he or she wants `em??


See you soon,


PS: The Flashcats still play once a year. This year's show is the Saturday after Thanksgiving:
The Flashcats
Saturday November 27th
The Rex

PPS: Customer Web Site:
Dr. Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys

(These guys were super friendly, and, man, could they play!!)

Fri 11/19/2004 ~ Entertainment Weekly and rap music


I first heard of Entertainment Weekly Magazine back in 1991 when I released a CD tribute to Sonny Bono called "Bonograph... Sonny Gets His Share." (As you probably know, I have a (relatively inactive) record label called Bogus Records... I did a lot with the label back in the last century, but lately the store has kept me too busy...)

Anyway, way back in `91 a very nice guy named David Browne from Entertainment Weekly called to interview me about the CD. Naturally, I bought a copy of the magazine to read about myself... and I liked it. The review and the magazine. So I've had a subscription ever since, and it's still a pretty cool magazine.

In this week's issue, in the music section, they have a multi-page article about the 25th anniversary of Rap. They list 25 pivotal moments in Rap history and the 25 best Rap albums of all time. Now, as I've mentioned so many times in the past, music is very important to me. Very, very important. But I couldn't even bring myself to finish this article. I know it's a big industry, and lots of money is being made, and now it has proven itself to have longevity... but I can't relate at all. Am I missing something? Is it an age thing? I know you can tap your foot to it. And I believe that you can use the bass response to power your car... But is it music?

My dad never did warm up to The Beatles; he's a Sinatra fan. I always thought that the big difference was that The Beatles were utilizing newer technology (electric guitars) to add a newer, more powerful edge to the music of the "old people." Well, the rappers are also using new technology (drum machines and samplers) to add an edge, so there is some kind of parallel there. But my impression (and bear in mind that I have NONE of the top 25 Rap albums of all time, so this is just an impression) is that the sampling has minimized the input of musicians, and the "rapping" has negated the need for singing ability. So what you're left with is angry poetry. Maybe it would make more sense if instead of "Rap Music" they called it "Angry Poetry." Maybe my inability to relate is due to a basic lack of interest in poetry, combined with a belief that it's never fun to be yelled at, even if someone is yelling at you within the context of a "song." Or maybe I just admire people who can sing. And play guitar. And speak decent English.

Still, I have to wonder. How could something be SO big, and yet appear, to me, to have little or no redeeming qualities? I'm mystified.

Meanwhile, if you want to do some rapping yourself, this week's email special is on Shure PG-48 microphones. Available in low impedance to plug into your PA, or high impedance to plug into your Kmart/Sears turntable to practice your scratchin'.


See you soon,


PS: Here's a picture of George B. picking up his free guitar from the "name
a distinctive guitarist" contest!

PPS: The Flashcats still play once a year. We're not going to have a chance to rehearse this year. It'll be interesting to see if we remember the songs...
This year's show is the Saturday after Thanksgiving:
The Flashcats
Saturday, November 27th
The Rex 9PM

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