Email Specials from October 2007

Friday 10/5/07 ~ Baritone Guitars, Night of the Singing Dead, and a New Idea!


On Monday we started writing this year's Halloween show, Night Of The Singing Dead, #XV. (It's a musical comedy featuring dead celebrities. This is our fifteenth year... And rather than go with something that was previously successful, we write a new show each year... Yeah, I'm wondering about the logic of that myself... But, at least we get to feature the most recent late-greats! New in the show this year: Brad Delp from Boston and the formerly hardest-working-man-in-show business, James Brown.)

Since Yvonne DeCarlo passed away in 2007, I thought it might be nice to do a tribute to her role in The Munsters. For inspiration I dialed up youtube and listened to The Munsters theme song. As I was groovin' on the harpsichord intro, I realized for the first time that the guitarist playing the theme's melody is using a Baritone guitar. A Baritone is a six-string guitar with a slightly longer scale lengthand slightly heavier strings. There are several tuning options, but generally a Baritone guitar is tuned down a fourth: B to B. It has a guitar-like sound, but with a little more ooommph. Because of the lower tuning, full chords sound a bit muddy... but solos, especially solos using the lower strings, have an extra punch.

Danelectro was the first company to introduce a Baritone guitar, back in 1958. Here's a picture of John with a 1959 Danelectro Baritone.

And here's a picture of John with a recent-issue Danelectro Baritone.


At this point I'd like to go into a long-winded discussion about the Baritone guitar and hit tunes that feature its distinctive sound ("The Race Is On," "La Bamba," lots of songs by Duane Eddy)...

Or maybe random ramblings about Nat Daniels and his incredibly innovative Danelectro Company (first electric 12-string, the first electric Sitar, first adjustable-tilt neck)...

Or, on the third hand, perhaps list famous 1960s TV themes that feature our favorite instrument, the guitar ("Green Acres," "M*A*S*H," "Bonanza")...


BUT... all of those will have to wait for a future email... Because I want to tell you about our new idea!


There are three questions we get regularly here at the old guitar store: (1) Wasn't the counter on the other side? (2) Will you hang up my band's poster? and (3) When are you going to put all of the email specials in a book?

The answer to (1): You're actually in a new building.
The answer to (2): Unfortunately, our new building doesn't have a good spot to hang lots of posters.
And the answer to (3) used to be: Thanks! Someday I'll put them all in one place.


Well... a few weeks ago I finally figured out how to deal with questions (2) and (3). We're starting a new web site! I love our current site, ../links/, `cause it has lots of good information and pictures and our inventory. BUT, I thought, why don't we fire up another site as well... one that would house an archive of ALL Pittsburgh Guitars Email Special stories PLUS show current band gig posters that we used to display in the window. And as long as we're designing the site, we can also set up a Pittsburgh Guitars Customer Forum, where folks can write about their favorite guitars. AND, what the heck, let's have videos and pictures, too!!


So, next week we are going to debut a new, additional Pittsburgh Guitars site. It will be a constantly changing site... with new pictures, videos, and band posters every week.

Here's what you can do to help: Send in posters for your band's upcoming gigs (any gig from October 12th on). You can drop off paper versions at the store... or email us a file. If you have a video, send it (or a link to it). If you have a picture of you from 30 years ago with a cool vintage guitar, send that! And if you have a story about the time you left your guitar in the bar parking lot at 3 AM and you only thought about it when you were five miles away and you drove back and it was still there... well, try to remember the details, because we'll have a place for that, too!


Next week I'll have the address of the new site for you. EVERY Pittsburgh Guitars Email Special story from the dawn of time (which in this case is 1999, I think), PLUS band gig posters, PLUS pictures and videos, PLUS other stuff we haven't thought of yet... all in one place! It ought to be interesting...


See you soon,


PS: The guitar parts in the themes from The Munsters, Green Acres, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, M*A*S*H, Batman, and dozens of others, were all played by the same guy: Tommy Tedesco. Tommy was a super-successful studio musician who also played on hundreds of hit records by artists like The Mamas & Papas, The Beach Boys, The Association, The Righteous Brothers, The Monkees, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra.

PPS: Night Of The Singing Dead, Part 15!!!!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Rex Theater, 8 PM
Starring Larry Richert, Steve Hansen, Carol Lee Espy, Rob Rogers, Deanna Dean, Monty & Zeke, Susie Barbour, Jim Fanning, Greg Matecko, Maggie Stewart, and more!
Tickets on sale now at Pittsburgh Guitars, The Rex Theater, and Dave's Music Mine.
For more info....

PPPS: Customer of the week:
Fishnet Stalkers

(their web site is just one page, but I like the picture!)

Friday 10/12/07 ~ "Part II" Songs and Carl's Guitar Corner!


I went to my first hockey game on Wednesday. I can see that the sport takes a lot of strength and energy... what with the skating and and hittin' people with sticks and hurrying to get over the blue line...or maybe NOT over the blue line... I got tired just watching those guys.

The music was great, though! Whenever a goalie would catch the puck, or there would be some other interruption in the action, they'd play 15 seconds of a song intro to keep the excitement level going. And they'd play it loud! It was cool. I heard "Fire" (Hendrix), "Beautiful People" (Marilyn Manson), "If The House Is A Rockin'" (Stevie Ray Vaughn) and lots of other songs with powerful intros.

The loudest tune, though, was played when the Penguins scored: "Rock And Roll, Part 2" by Gary Glitter. I doubt that many of the 17,006 people in the Arena knew the name of the song. (Most folks probably think it's just called "Hey!" since that's the complete lyric.) And likewise, I doubt that many of the crowd knew it was recorded in 1972 by Gary Glitter. (He was very big in England with over 20 hits, but this was his only record to get US airplay.)

And I bet it's possible that NO ONE in attendance ever heard the "A" side of the record, "Rock And Roll, Part 1." It's mostly the same music, but with lyrics...

"Can you still recall, in the jukebox hall, when the music played
And the world spun round to a brand new sound, in those far off days.
In their blue suede shoes, they would scream and shout,
As they sang the blues, let it all hang out.

Little Queenie bopped, at the high school hop, dancing to the beat.
With her U.S. male and her pony tail, she looked so sweet.
Times are changing fast, but we won't forget
Though the age has passed, we'll be rockin' yet.

Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll"


It was the "B" side of the record, with just the "Hey!" lyrics that hit the charts in 1972 in America. And then, a few years later, hit the sports stadiums...


On Wednesday, as I watched hockey players slam each other into the boards, I wondered if any other "Part 2" songs made the charts. I immediately thought of "Fingertips, Part 2" by Stevie Wonder... ("Little Stevie Wonder" at the time...) but I couldn't think of any others. I remember "Shout" by the Isley Brothers was a "Part 1" and "Part 2" record... but DJs generally played "Part 1."

(Note to readers much younger than I: This all goes back to the era of 45 RPM records, when you couldn't fit a long song on one side of the single.) (Note, Part 2: You see, the sound was created by a needle bouncing up and down in a vinyl groove on the surface of the record. There were technological and aural limits as to how close you could place the circular groove pattern.)


So, let's have a two part contest (ha!)... How many records can you name that had "Part 1" on one side of the 45 and "Part 2" on the other? And besides "Fingertips, Part 2" and "Rock And Roll, Part 2" were there any other "Part 2s" that made it to the Top 40?


The winner will get Part 1 and Part 2 of The Beatle Chord Song Books (100 songs per book!) AND special recognition on the brand new Pittsburgh Guitars auxiliary web site.

Yes! Today we are officially launching a new site!

Of course, we'll still have our wonderful regular store site, I love that site! The new one is just for the fun of it! will have (1) a complete listing of years and years of Email Special stories; (2) band posters of upcoming gigs, along with links to those bands' sites; (3) weekly photos and videos; (4) a Customer Forum, where you can write about guitars, or yourself, or your band, or anything; and (5) whatever else we can think of!!

If all goes well, you can go there now!!!!

See if it works!!!! Let me know what you think!!!

See you soon,


PS: This week's contest winner will also get two free tickets to the best Halloween show in town, Night Of The Singing Dead, Part 15! (The show is performed in two parts: one before intermission and one after!)

PPS: Night Of The Singing Dead, Part 15!!!!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Rex Theater, 8 PM
Starring Larry Richert, Steve Hansen, Carol Lee Espy, Rob Rogers, Deanna Dean, Monty & Zeke, Susie Barbour, Jim Fanning, Greg Matecko, Maggie Stewart, and more!
Tickets on sale now at Pittsburgh Guitars, The Rex Theater, and Dave's Music Mine.
For more info:
and Night Of The Singing Dead

Friday 10/19/2007 ~ The Lap Steel


So, this week we're working on the Halloween Show, "Night Of The Singing Dead, Part 15" and one of the new, recently deceased characters is Don Ho.

As we were rehearsing, I remembered seeing Don Ho in Hawaii a few years ago. He was wonderful! The first tune he did was his big hit "Tiny Bubbles." Then he said, "Everyone wants to hear that song, so I always do it first, in case I don't make it until the end of the show!" Of course he did it at the end of the show, too. But it was a cute idea. Let's face it, rock & rollers are getting pretty old. Soon they'll start falling over on stage. Maybe they SHOULD do the big hits first!

Hawaii actually plays a significant role in the history of Rock & Roll. In the 1930s two things were happening in the music field: (1) Numerous electricians and general tinkerers, in an attempt to amplify the guitar's sound, began to experiment with attaching a variety of magnetic coils to them; and (b) a musical style becoming extremely popular in America was from the far-off island of Hawaii.

(I wasn't alive then... heck, not even Scott was alive then! But here's my guess: As more and more cities were established in the western United States and civilization spread to California, the former "Wild West" lost its romance and mystery. And during the 1930s, folks NEEDED romance and mystery, to at least emotionally escape from the economic collapse that was The Depression. Meanwhile, the few people who still had money and actually COULD escape on a vacation were bringing back stories from the beautiful U.S. Territory of Hawaii. (It didn't become a State until 1959.) Hawaiian music, with the images of swaying palm trees and peaceful beaches that it conjured up, was perfect for the time.)

Originally, Hawaiian music was performed on acoustic guitars, set up with high action for slide playing. As electronic pickups evolved, the aforementioned electricians and general tinkerers found that when using a pickup and an amp, the instrument only needed to be a plank of wood with strings. And thus, the Lap Steel was born!! By the 1940s, the lap steel had found its way into country music, and lots of folks were making them, including a lap steel music fan, Doc Kauffman.

In the mid-1940s Doc walked into a radio repair shop to have some work done on his electric lap steel. He struck up a friendship with the shop's owner, Leo Fender. (Leo opened the repair shop in 1939.) Leo and Doc decided to form a company to manufacture lap steels, and in late 1945 K&F Manufacturing was formed. By mid-1946 they were so busy cranking out the planks that Doc Kauffman was overwhelmed. The business was growing too fast for him; the hours were long, and the debt was high. Leo bought him out, dissolved K&F, and renamed the company Fender Electric Instruments.

For the next three years Leo made lap steels and amps to play them through. But along the way he had an idea that would lead to bigger things. Much bigger things. (He was the ultimate tinkerer!) In 1949 he introduced an instrument that would change the world! For a couple of months it was called The Broadcaster... but we now know and love it as The Fender Telecaster.


Years later, in an interview, someone asked Leo Fender how his life would have turned out if Doc Kauffman hadn't wandered into his shop. Leo said he probably would have ended up with a chain of radio repair stores. He was a humble guy. But let's face it, without Leo Fender and his foray into lap steels, which led to the solid body electric guitar, life and rock & roll would not be the same! Next time you see a picture of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eric Clapton using their Fender Stratocasters, or Vince Gill, Keith Richards or Bruce Springsteen playing their Telecasters... remember we owe it all to Hawaii!

Here's a picture of John with a 1952 Fender Lap Steel.

Here's a picture of John with a 1975 Fender Lap Steel.

And while we're at it, here's a picture of John with an early 1960s Hofner Lap Steel.
(John Lennon played a Hofner Lap Steel on the very last song The Beatles recorded, "For You Blue.")


See you soon,


PS: Thanks to everyone who responded to last week's email about songs with a "Part 1" and a "Part 2." I mentioned that "Fingertips, Part 2" and "Rock & Roll, Part 2" were the only songs I could think of that were "Part 2" hits. Although several folks wrote back mentioning 45s that contained a Part 1 and a Part 2, only one person, Max B., answered BOTH questions: (1) He named a Part 1 and Part 2 song: "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" by James Brown; and (2) a Part 2 song that was a hit, "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" by Pink Floyd.
It's not EXACTLY what I asked... "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" certainly meets the first criteria. But on question two, the flip side of "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" is NOT "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1." But "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" was a hit record, and called "Part II"... so it's still a great answer! Max B. gets copies of Part 1 and Part 2 of "The Beatles Chord Songbooks." Thanks to everyone who entered!

PPS: I hope you've enjoyed our new web site.
Our plan is to change the videos and pictures every week, but we like the Erin video so much, and people are still just finding the site, so we're going to leave her video up for another week. Check out the Customer Forum, too. I registered, which at first seemed complicated `cause the form asked a lot of questions, but it turns out that you don't have to answer them, so it was quick. (I have my crack web team working on that!!)

PPPS: Customer web site:
Ellis Paul

Friday 10/27/2007 ~ Night of the Singing Dead!



I still have some big props to build for the "Night Of The Singing Dead, Part 15" (Tomorrow night!! Saturday!!! October 27!!!! The Rex Theater!!!!! Doors open at 7!!!!!! Showtime at 8!!!!!!!!... ) So, I won't have time to write an email special today... which is a shame, because I saw some cool guitars this week... and last weekend I visited the Martin Guitar factory and I'm anxious to describe it to you... and there's some stuff to recap from the last couple of email specials... and... and...

I'll tell you all about it next week!

Thanks for your understanding.



Now, where did I put that eight foot piece of foamcore....

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