Email Specials from June 2005

Friday 6/3/2005 ~ A letter from Martin, vintage paperwork


We've been buying a lot of guitars lately. We've been selling a lot, too, so there is still balance in the Pittsburgh Guitars universe.

When we buy a guitar we try to make sure that folks take their personal stuff, but every so often something gets left behind in the case. Usually it's a strap... or a set list... or some sheet music with an original song a guy wrote about that lonely time in June, when he was off staring at the Moon, after leaving his girlfriend when she broke his Spoon... (I believe it was a magic trick gone horribly awry.)

Last week we bought an old acoustic from the grandson of the original owner. That evening we found a yellowed letter in the case. Apparently, in 1954, grandfather wrote to the Martin Guitar Company asking how to re-string his guitar. He didn't even own a Martin, but he figured they'd know... The reply was a pre-email, pre-computer, pre-word-processor, hand typed letter: "The string should be fastened in the bridge with the bridge pin, then threaded through the hole in the tuning key..." etc. And it was signed by the president of the company, C. F. Martin! (Although he didn't write the roman numerals, that was C.F. Martin III. The current president, C.F. the IV, wasn't born until mid 1955. C.F. III died in 1986.)

It's hard to imagine what an innocent time it was, when you would not only get a personalized reply to that kind of request, but it would be hand signed by the president of a major guitar company.  

Times sure have changed. It almost makes me nostalgic for those letter-writing days of yesteryear.

This morning, before I wrote this, I replied to 20 emails that came in overnight. (The total: 20 real emails, 261 spams) Now, I'll admit that it would have taken me hours to actually "write" to those people... and for that matter, I'm not actually "writing" THIS email... if I had to hand write to the thousand people on this list, THAT would take some time... so I guess things are much faster now. But do you think that years from now, all we'll have to look back on will be floppy discs with those few emails that we bothered to save?

(I don't really save any emails. I just leave them on the computer, and then every couple of years, when I get a new computer, all of the old emails just vanish into space.)

Last year I visited the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. (You should go if you have a chance, it's pretty cool.) They have a hundred display cases full of old memorabilia. And among the guitars and stage costumes are letters, lyrics, paychecks and other pieces of vintage paperwork. Fifty years from now, when they set up the "Rock in 2005" display, it won't include any paper. I can see it now: "This memory stick contains computer files written by Metallica."


For this week's email special I wanted to pick things that you write on...staff paper.

Buy some and write a song. Or just write an interesting letter... they have lines.


See You Soon,


PS: C. F. Martin 1796 - 1873
C. F. Martin Jr. 1825 - 1888
C. F. Martin III 1894 - 1986
C. F. Martin IV 1955 -

PPS: Customer web site:
Boss Diablo

Friday 6/17/2005 ~ Hammer & nails


I missed last week's Friday afternoon email special `cause I was hammerin'. (Not to be confused with my state of mind on Friday evening after being out with Steve and Linda...)

It all goes back to last Thursday. Or perhaps 1985...


If you've looked to your left as you entered Pittsburgh Guitars over the last ten months you might have noticed lots of old pictures. (I should take those down, since they're from our 25th Anniversary last year... but we constantly get new, out-of-town customers who enjoy them. Every day someone comes in and says, "Is that the Les Paul that Paul McCartney now owns?" or "Did you really close Carson Street for a big block party with The Spuds?" or "Were you really that young and thin?")

Anyway, besides how young and thin (and handsome) we were, it's interesting to see the physical development of the store. Since our move here in `85, we've continually added more and more stuff into this relatively-finite space. Our guitar hanging capabilities doubled ten years ago, during an all-night liquid-nails and lag-bolt session, when the fabulous Joey Murphy and I put up the slat wall. And since then we've added instruments in both nooks AND crannies.

Well, last Thursday John-the-new-guy and I were discussing the upcoming NAMM Show, and the new models that will be introduced. I remarked, "I don't know how we're gonna fit anything new in here, especially since we have the biggest and best selection of used guitars that we've had in years..." And J-t-n-g said, "Why don't we have a close-out sale of discontinued models? And if you move those two center islands over here, and put something bigger in the middle, we can display more guitars!" And I said, "Fetch me my hammer!" "Hand me those one-and-a-half by three-and-a-half 2X4s!" "Have you seen my saw?"

And forsooth, wood was sawn, nails were driven, rug was lain... and behold, a new center island was created. And it shall be called "Saleville."


So we now have even more guitars available for your perusing! And on the newly charted Saleville we now have a Close-out Section, featuring discontinued guitars, amps, and pedals, plus a few scratch-and-dent models.


See you soon,


PS: Several folks wrote about the PS in the last email special that listed different generations of C.F. Martins:
C. F. Martin 1796 - 1873
C. F. Martin Jr. 1825 - 1888
C. F. Martin III 1894 - 1986
C. F. Martin IV 1955 -

The question was: What's up with CF III being born six years after CF Jr died? Well, there was actually another company president in there: Frank Henry Martin (1866-1948).... son of Jr, dad of III. I didn't mention it last week `cause sometimes I worry about the emails being too long...

PPS: This isn't related to anything, but someone told me about it this week and I didn't believe it until I tried it. Imagine that you're shopping at your favorite store, Pittsburgh Guitars, and as you're carrying the three guitars that you just bought out to the car, you accidentally lock your keys in the car. However, you know that your wife/husband/roommate/other is shopping at Z Gallerie down at the South Side Works, and they have an extra key....

Did you know that if you call them on your cell phone, and have them aim their key at their cell phone while pushing the unlock button on the key... and you aim your cell phone at the car, the door will unlock? Strange, but true.

PPPS: Customer web site:
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players

PPPPPS: OK, since my last email (two hours ago) we received a nice letter from Paul.... He explained that my PPS, regarding opening a locked car door with a signal sent over a cell phone is, unfortunately, not scientifically possible... We tried it here at the store, and it appeared to work... the key "was" pushed in the basement, and the car was across the street, but the "key" must have still worked on it's own. The cell phone did not really factor in.

Sorry about the misinformation. Perhaps the sawdust on my brain from my recent in-store construction clouded my ability to conduct a proper experiment. Our semi-scientific test was apparently too semi and not enough scientific. But, hey, ask me a guitar question! I'll get that right!


Yours in technology,

Carl's Guitar Corner Archives

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