Email Specials from September 2004

Fri 9/3/2004


-I went out to dinner two days ago and tried a fish called Florida Pompano, that I'd never heard of before. `Cause I like to try new things.

-But yesterday as I was walking to the post office I looked at my reflection in the front window of a store I was passing and I realized that I've had the same haircut for the last 15 years. Maybe I don't like to try new things...

-Then last night I watched a German movie with subtitles called "Run, Lola, Run" because I really do like to try new things...

-But today at lunch I had a Bacardi & Coke, the same drink I've been drinking since Pam gave me my first one 8 years ago...

-But then, for something new, I had a Vodka & Tonic...

-But then, like whenever I drink too much, I had some Pepto Bismol...


I don't know if I like new things or not!

For example, I like DR acoustic guitar strings.

But will I like the new DR "Extra-Life" Coated Acoustic guitar strings?

I guess the only way to know is to try!


See You Soon,


PS: Most string manufacturers use the same processes. DR Strings use a unique method of compressing the string as it is being wound. The result is a string with more mass than the feel would indicate. They're a loud, full-sounding string.

PPS: Meanwhile, the coated concept was started by Elixir. They bought strings from GHS and coated them with a corrosion reducing material. If you like the way they sound out of the box then you'll like them for a long time, since the coating slows down the usual wear and tear. Because of Elixir's success lots of other companies are now selling coated strings, and everyone's goal is to use less and less coating to give the strings more life and brightness, while still preventing corrosion. The DR Coated Strings use a super thin .0003" coating of lacquer, which, as you know, means 3/10,000th of an inch, which is darn thin! I'm looking forward to trying them. `Cause I DO like new things!!

PPPS: This week's customer web site:
The Derailers

Fri 9/10/2004


Last night I watched the footage from the Pittsburgh Guitars 25th Anniversary Party at The Rex. We had 16 different acts, with three cameras running and it looks great.

A few thoughts crossed my mind....

1) I never realized before how good white binding looks on a guitar. Both Scott and Deanna were using Hofner basses, and the white binding up against their dark clothes and the dark sunburst of the guitars really emphasized the beauty of the instruments. In another instance, two guys were playing acoustic guitars, and the guitar with white binding distinctively stood out. I'm gonna have to re-think the importance of binding. Naturally, it has no effect on the sound or playability... but under the bright lights on-stage it outlines the work of art that is the guitar. Hmmmmm....

2) Along the same lines, the lead singer in Tangerine was using a Les Paul that was freshly polished and when the stage lights reflected in the shiny finish it looked wonderful!

3) We were using 90% Fender amps that night, and you just can't beat a Fender tube amp for reliability and clarity of sound. I love the look of Vox and Marshall amps, but if I was trapped on a desert island with only one amp (and, oddly enough, electricity) I'd pick a Fender... (and a guitar with white binding, in case there were any cameras...)

4) Of course, like everyone, I didn't like seeing myself on video. I used to be so young and thin. It reminded me of an exchange I saw on TV... I can't remember who the characters were, but Person #1 was defending how he or she looked on TV... and the conversation went:
Person #1: "Well, they say the camera adds ten pounds."
Person #2: "How many cameras did they have on you???"

5) It was cool to see that even the folks who had never been on stage before knew to run their guitar cable up behind their strap (to prevent accidentally pulling the cable out of the guitar mid-song). With people all over the stage you never know who's going to step on what, and that's such a simple, yet effective, preventative measure.

Speaking of cables, if you'd like an excellent, and colorful, cable, this week's special is the braided, multi-colored, cloth-covered Spectraflex cables.


See You Soon,


PS: : This week's customer web site:
Val Kilmer

PPS: We're staring to write this year's Halloween Show, Night Of The Singing Dead, Part XII.
If you'd like to be in the show, and you can sing, and do a good impression of a dead rock star please give me a call!

Fri 9/17/2004


When I was living in New York City in 1976 I loved to window shop on 48th Street. There were several small used guitar stores in a row, including my favorite, "We Buy Guitars." (I was impressed with both their selection, and the straight-forwardness of their name.)

"We Buy Guitars" had three rows of guitars hanging all the way around the store, and it was a joy just to go there and stare at them. (In those days, places like "We Buy" sold "used" guitars; this was before anyone thought of the term "vintage" guitar.)

One day, in the window, I saw my first ever Rickenbacker 325. Since it was from the mid-60s it had an f-hole, unlike John Lennon's solid-top 325. And, as per the era, it had been painted in psychedelic swirls. But it was almost Beatle-like. I borrowed every penny I could to raise the $250 they were asking for it. As I was handing over the cash, they said, "That'll be another $25 for the case." I was surprised! And annoyed! And semi-mad! And too poor to pay the extra $25. So I took it without the case.

After that experience, I never bought another guitar there.

But I couldn't get the beauty of the wall-of-guitars out of my head, and a few years later I opened my own store here in sunny Pittsburgh. Like the NYC-folks, I picked an unambiguous name (in Pittsburgh + sell guitars = Pittsburgh Guitars) and I've always hung the guitars flat against the wall, for maximum viewing pleasure. Unlike them, if we buy a guitar with the case, we sell it with the case.


Oddly enough, two months ago I was at the Philadelphia guitar show, and a guy came in with 100 old guitar cases. I said, "What's up?" And he said, "My Dad used to own 'We Buy Guitars' and these are all of the empty cases I found in the basement." And right there, in the pile, was a silver, short scale Rick case that probably belonged to my 325. Unfortunately, after 25 years in a NYC basement, it, and every case he had, was moldy, and scummy, and smelly...


His cases were beyond help, but if your case hasn't spent a quarter of a century in the scary nether-regions of a Manhattan basement, there is still a chance to save it: with Meguiar's Case Restoration Kit! This kit contains a vinyl & tolex restoration cleaner and a monster toothbrush, and it'll make your case shine like new. And it's this week's special!


See You Soon,


PS: Those small 48th Street guitar shops are gone now. They've all been bought out by Sam Ash. (Sam Ash is a mega-store chain, like The Guitar Center.)

PPS: Twenty years ago I had that 325 refinished to black, like John's, but looking back now, I wish I would have kept the psychedelic paint job.

PPPS: Last week's email mentioned white binding and Linda, one of our non-guitar-playing readers, asked if that was some sort of tape. She said the emails need a Glossary to explain terminology. So:

Guitar case: A container for a guitar. Often shaped like a guitar. Sometimes rectangular. Generally has a handle, unless it's a case for a mid-1970s Gibson L6S, or one of the early brown Kramer cases. (Those handles always broke...) If it's a mid-1980s plastic Fender case the hinges are probably falling off. If it's a late 1970s Gibson plastic case the plastic latches should be broken by now.

Rickenbacker: A small West Coast manufacturer that is in business today because in 1960 John Lennon bought a used Rickenbacker Model 325 in Germany.

New York City: A large metropolis on the East Coast. It used to be like visiting a different planet. Now it's semi-clean and friendly. Driving in New York is still a thrilling experience!

PPPPS: This week's customer web site:

Fri 9/24/2004


Yesterday I was flipping though the 100 channels on my way-too-expensive Comcast cable system, and I stumbled onto one of the lesser-known VH1 channels, VH1Classic. The first few videos were 1980s metal "hair bands" with pointy guitars. But then, in a rapid change of pace: Black Oak Arkansas! You may not remember them. They had really long hair and high boots with lots of fringe (in a mountain-man sort of way). And they were a pseudo-Southern Rock band... except for the white spandex pants, which I don't believe were part of the official Southern Rock authorized wardrobe.

It occurred to me that they were the interesting combination of: 1) a one-hit wonder, and b) their one hit was a cover tune. (The song was "Jim Dandy", originally recorded in 1957 by LaVerne Baker.)

Of course, being a one-hit wonder is still better than being a no-hit wonder. But the downside to having a cover tune as your "hit" is the way the money is split in the music biz.

In theory, if you record a song, and lots of people buy the record, you get a pile of money. However, every penny that was spent recording that song (the producer, the engineer, the guy who brought in the sandwiches...) comes out of your pile of money. The $125,000 you spent on the video comes out of your pile of money. And the $60,000 a week that you spent on the road in your tour bus comes out of your pile of money. So you have to sell lots and lots and lots and lots of records to end up with anything. (Furthermore, if this was your second record, and your first one flopped, you may still owe your record company hundreds of thousands of dollars from the flop. That gets repaid first, before the new expenses are deducted.)

HOWEVER the guy who wrote the song has no expense deductions. He gets paid from the first record sold!

FURTHERMORE when the song is played on the radio, the ONLY person who gets paid is the songwriter!

If you turn on WDVE right now you'll probably hear "Won't Get Fooled Again." That'll be the 2,347,562nd time 'DVE played the song, and the 2,347,562nd time Pete Townshend made money. The amount of money the rest of The Who made from those airplays: $0.

No matter how big your hit is, the songwriter is the one who's really sitting pretty. Especially, 5 or 10 or 20 years later, when you're totally out of the picture, and the song is still on the radio.

So, when you have your big hit, try to make it one of your songs, rather than a cover.

Speaking of covers, this week's email special is guitar covers, or, as we like to call them, gig bags.


See you soon,


PS: A free Pittsburgh Guitars T-Shirt to the first five people who can name other One-(Cover)-Hit Wonder bands.

PPS: This week's customer web site:
Steve Kimock

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