Email Specials from February 2005

Fri 2/4/2005 ~ Small companies, Gruven stands


Last night I was sitting here in my office at 9:13 PM paying bills... yes, I do have to get out more often... and as I was writing a check to Fender for $6,823.17, I thought, "Man, that's a big check..." And then I thought, "Fender is such a huge corporation, I'll bet the person (or machine) who opens this won't even blink..." (I know what you're thinking: What are the odds that they'd even have one of those can-open-letters-yet-has-the-capability-of-blinking machines anyway?)

Then I thought back to two hours earlier when I called National to order a Style 2 Tricone. First of all, a human answered the phone. I like that. And then, when she took my order, she said, "Hey, thanks! We appreciate the order!" And that was for ONE instrument.

We deal with all sorts of companies here at Pittsburgh Guitars: super-giants like Fender; mid-size like Martin (sure, they're a world famous company, but the president Chris Martin (C. F. Martin IV) still took the time to introduce me to his new baby last week. Her name is Claire Frances Martin, so she's a C.F. Martin, too.) (I wonder what line of work she'll be in when she grows up?); and we even deal with one-man companies, like Gruven Guitar Stands.

Gruven is owned and run by a nice, old-guy inventor from Oklahoma named Sam Grubbs. He started making guitar stands in his garage 25 years ago because he wanted a stand that was secure, easy to carry and didn't have any parts you could lose. Sam's stands take two seconds to set up, two seconds to take down, and there's nothing to leave behind at the gig. (If you go backstage at any club in town you'll find assorted parts of those tubular guitar stands that come apart in three pieces...) Sam's stands are very stable and at vintage guitar shows, when folks put $10,000 guitars up on rickety tables, they only use Gruven stands. I like Sam. He's a good guy. And I think he's still making the stands in his garage...

This week's email special: The Gruven Electric Guitar Stand.


See You Soon,


PS: In the guitar lessons department: John Purse is back!! John taught guitar here for several years, back in those fun-filled 1990s, and we're excited to once again have him available for your musical lesson needs. John's the kind of guy who will accidentally stay up all night playing guitar. He loves music as much as we love vintage guitars! Beginner or advanced, give us a call to schedule some lessons. You'll be glad you did.

PPS: This week I changed the display in the back of the store. As usual, it took hours, since I had to play the old ones before I put them away and play the new ones before I put them out. The current display is vintage Hofners. There are Hofner Violin Basses from 1956 thru 2000, and an assortment of six-string Hofner Club guitars. Stop down and check them out. It's an impressive historical display of instruments from that wacky German company.

PPPS: Just in today: Fender's new Custom Shop Rory Gallagher Strat. The finish is already 95% worn off!

PPPS: Customer Web Site:
The Blues Belt Band

Fri 2/11/2005 ~ Listening to music makes you feel better


Last night I decided to catch up on my reading. I couldn't decide between Tolstoy or Dostoevski, so I settled on Time Magazine.

A few weeks ago Time did an entire issue on Happiness. Their findings: Some people are naturally happier than others... as if they were born that way. The magazine didn't have a good explanation for it. Perhaps those folks just have more of the happy-gene. One thing is for sure, being happy is good for you. Happy people tend to be healthier. And live longer. And they're more fun to be around.

One thing that impressed me was a survey that Time conducted. The magazine asked people what activities they used to improve their mood... What did they do to cheer themselves up? The Number One answer: Talk to their friends and families. (A good choice, of course.) And the second most popular thing: Listen to music! Yep, ahead of Praying, Eating, Taking a Drive in the Country, Fooling Around, and lots of other things, was Listening To Music!

That's because you can always count on music to make you feel better. When times are bad, music lifts your spirits; and when times are good, music makes things even better.

Just so you can have music on you at all times, this week's email special is pocket-sized Paperback Song Books. These are 250 page song books that'll fit in your pocket. We have a variety of titles: Elvis, The Beatles, Country Hits, Jazz Standards, TV Themes, Songs of The `50s, Songs of The `60s, Songs of The`70s (well, I think we can see where this is going...), Pop Rock Songs, and more.

Never again will you be walking down the street and hear someone's mournful cry, "If I only knew the chords to the bridge of 'Suspicious Minds' all of my problems would be solved...." Now, you'll be able to whip out your Elvis paperback Song Book and proudly say: "Em, Bm, C, D, Em, Bm, C, D, G, C, G, D7 D7 D7 D7" And then... one more happy person!


See you soon!


PS: After Time I moved on to Entertainment Weekly. This issue featured stories about the upcoming Academy Awards, and one article recommended doing a musical to increase your odds of winning an Oscar. (I didn't care much for "Chicago" but I LOVED "Coal Miner's Daughter.") Let's face it, music just might be the second or third most important thing, ever!

PS: Customer Web Site:
Heather Kropf

Fri 2/18/2005 ~ Guitars on the Grammys


Did you watch the Grammy Awards last Sunday?

You were probably thinking the same thing I was... Was J-Lo singing in the same key as Marc Anthony?

And, on a more musical note: Isn't it interesting that as soon as Martin introduced their John Mayer Signature Martin acoustic guitar, John Mayer decided to go electric? So, there he was, on the Grammys, playing an old Strat, instead of his new Martin... (The old Strat looked soooo beat up that at first I thought it was a new Fender Custom Shop Rory Gallagher! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we just got the new Rory Gallagher guitar, and it's made to look like Rory's original, with only 10% of the finish left...) (The one John Mayer was using looked black... and it had 16% of the original finish... so it may have actually been an old, worn Strat...)

And then, a few songs later, Bonnie Raitt came on and instead of using her Fender Bonnie Raitt Signature Strat, she was using her old re-finished Strat... (You know, the one she's been using forever...)

I felt sympathetic for the folks working in Martin's and Fender's "Artist Relations" departments.

Hey, at least Dickie Betts was using a Gibson Dickie Betts Signature Les Paul!


In honor of Signature Series guitars, this week's email special is....the Fender Buddy Guy Signature Strat. (Yep, just like Buddy's, it's black with white polka dots!)

See you soon,


PS: I can't really fault these musicians for using well-worn, familiar instruments. Sometimes a guitar is like an old friend. You feel comfortable with them.. they're nice to be around... and they are fun to make music with.

PPS: Other cool guitars on the Grammy Awards: It was good to see U2's The Ledge using an old Rickenbacker 330/12FG. And it was great to see Green Day's double dose of Gibson P-90s. Billie Joe was using a mid-`50s Les Paul TV Model (one P-90), and the on-stage-but-not-really-in-the-band-auxiliary-guitarist guy had a 1959 Les Paul Special (two P-90s). And they sounded wonderful! My favorite moment? When Elvin Bishop showed up with his original, covered-with-stickers-and-who-knows-what-else Gibson ES-345. It's good to see that that guitar and Elvin are both still around, and that they have each other.

PPPS: Customer Web Site:
1964 The Tribute

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