Fri 2/4/2005 ~ Small companies,
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
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%
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
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
PS: Customer Web Site:
Fri 2/18/2005 ~ Guitars on the
Did you watch the Grammy Awards
You were probably thinking the
same thing I was... Was J-Lo singing in the same key as Marc
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
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"
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
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