Friday 4/6/2007 ~ Grand Opening
OK!! Things have been happenin'
regarding our May 18th and 19th combination Anniversary/ Grand
GHS and Martin have sent us some
fun give-away stuff. The Fender guy is working on an "Extra
10% Off All Fender Products" deal for that weekend. We'll
have our Free Vox Amp drawing for the folks who submitted recordings
of "I Saw Her Standing There." We're planning lots
of specials, contests, and drawings. And, of course, chocolate
Also, by that week we will have
our new Pittsburgh Guitars "Free Stuff When You Buy A Guitar"
items. Right now we have Pittsburgh Guitars Picks, Pittsburgh
Guitars Polish Cloths, Pittsburgh Guitars Bumperstickers and
Pittsburgh Guitars Key Chains... But coming soon: Pittsburgh
Guitars Ice Cream Scoops (Mmmmm...), Pittsburgh Guitars Rulers
(not the King Tut kind of ruler, but the "here, let me measure
this for ya" kind), plus Pittsburgh Guitars Ping Pong Balls!
(I don't have a reason for these... but I've always enjoyed ping
pong balls... they're small, they're smooth, and they bounce!
What's not to like?)
AND to top it off, we've just
struck a deal with The Rex Theater to have our next "Big
Beatle Show" on Saturday Night, May 19th!! This will be
"Big Beatle Show #3!" The last two were tons of fun
and we had non-stop performers for over four hours... (Actually,
I Think #2 ran a little over five hours!) Get in touch with Johnny
B (T.N.G.) here at the store to sign up. You can be a pro or
a first-time-on-stage-er! You can perform as a solo act, or bring
your whole band, or we'll back you up with the house band...
We will provide the amps (all Vox Super Beatles) and the drums.
It'll be You: Live! On the Big Stage! With rock & roll lights
and a smoke machine!
It's gonna be a fun weekend!
May 18th and 19th!
See you soon,
PS: "Born in Arizona, Moved
PPS: This Anniversary/Grand Opening
Weekend is really shapin' up.
It's hard to believe we only thought of it last week. If you
any other fun suggestions for the event, send `em in.
PPPS: If you're new to this list
and would like to know more about
the "I Saw Her Standing There" Contest, reply back
and I'll send you
the email from a few weeks ago that explains things!
PPPPS: Customer web site:
The Standard Band
Friday 4/13/2007 ~ Steve Martin,
King Tut, and the Gretsch Duo Jet
As I was getting in the van this
morning I wondered what I'd write about in today's email special...
I thought back to last week,
when I mentioned the new upcoming Pittsburgh Guitars Rulers (a
just-for-the-fun-of-it give-away item, when you buy a guitar).
Last week I said (although not in these exact words) "the
measuring kind of ruler, not the King Tut kind." (Well,
I might have used those exact words, but not in that exact order...)
I was curious (both last week
and this morning) how many folks understood the first PS: "Born
in Arizona, moved to Babylonia..."
Much to my surprise (and this
is a true story) (actually, all of the email special stories
are true stories, so I guess I shouldn't have mentioned that
it's a true story...) (but, in case you wondered...)... Anyhow,
much to my surprise, when I got in the van and turned on the
satellite radio, the first thing I heard was Steve Martin's recording
of "King Tut"!! (And it had just started, so I got
to enjoy the entire song!)
(Re: Last week's PS: "Born
in Arizona, moved to Babylonia..." are lines from the song.
Steve originally performed it as a comedy bit on Saturday Night
Live on April 22, 1978, and then included it on his "Wild
And Crazy Guy" LP. It was also released as a 45 and it went
to #17 on the Billboard charts.)
As I listened on my drive to
the store, the line "He's an Egyptian!" reminded me
of The Bangles' song "Walk Like An Egyptian." That,
of course, reminded me of Susanna Hoffs. And when you think of
Susanna Hoffs the second thing you think of is the Rickenbacker
she played. (The first thing, of course, is the way her eyes
went back and forth when she sang...)
And when I thought of Rickenbackers,
I thought of next month's Big Beatle Show #3, May 19th at The
Rex Theater. (You should call soon, by the way, to sign up. John
already has 15 acts on the schedule!)
And when I thought of the Big
Beatle Show I remembered that recently someone found the guy
who sold George Harrison his first Gretsch! Here's the youtube link (The George story
is about a minute into the clip).
Most people associate George
Harrison with Gretsch Country Gentleman and Tennessean guitars,
but his first expensive guitar was a Gretsch Duo Jet. Here's a picture of John with a new Gretsch `57
Reissue Duo Jet.
Here's a picture
of John with other Duo Jets we have in stock.
George Harrison used his Duo
Jet on many early recordings, including "I Saw Her Standing
There." (Which reminds me that ALL of the entries to our
are great! Thanks!) (And there's still time to send in YOUR recording
and maybe win a Vox Amp! The winner will be announced May 19th.)
You know, looking at that first
picture of John just now reminds me that we have our Gretsch
Duo Jets hanging on the wall near our selection of banjos...
And you know who's a great banjo player? Steve Martin!
See you soon,
PS: Speaking of `Til Tuesday,
John is a big Aimee Mann fan. (Although I don't think she plays
the banjo...) (She may own a Duo Jet, though...)
PPS: Pictures from Big Beatle Show #2
PPPS: Customer web site:
the love x nowhere
Friday 4/20/2007 ~ Hit Songs
Inspired by Other Hit Songs
I heard an old Elvis song yesterday
and it reminded me of visiting a girl's apartment in New York
City in early 1977. At the time I was making regular trips to
Manhattan, selling guitars to the Beatlemania show on Broadway.
Naturally it would be impolite of me to say any more about the
girl or the apartment or the 1970s for that matter... but there
was this one time....
I had just dropped off some guitars
backstage at the Wintergarden Theater, and she said "Hey,
come over to my place and listen to this test pressing... I think
it's great!" (Back in those days music was recorded on large
black vinyl discs! In grooves!! Well, one long groove, actually...)
(It was a pretty decent medium for music. In fact today there
are many people who feel that a vinyl record, which is a direct
copy of the sound waves on the master tape, sounds better than
a CD, which is actually lots of samples. Of course, the downside
to vinyl is the cracks and pops and scratches... And turning
the record over... And you can't push a button and immediately
go to track 6... And if you ever had to help someone move...)
(One thing is absolutely true though, a CD cover doesn't come
close to the beauty and artistry of an LP cover. There's a used
CD store up the street from Pittsburgh Guitars and recently they
started selling used LPs. They only have about a hundred, but
I stopped in to look... and flipping through those albums was
a joy! It reminded me of the good old days of holding an album
and looking at the pictures.... and being able to actually read
the type on the back.... ah....)
Anyway, this girl had an all-white-label
test pressing of an album that hadn't been released yet. (I think
she was a friend of the producer, Todd Rundgren.) The record
was by a guy I'd never heard of called Meatloaf and the first
song she played for me was "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad."
The chorus: "I want you, I need you, but there ain't no
way I'm ever gonna love you. But don't be sad, two out of three
ain't bad." I appreciated the recording, it was powerful.
And the melody was semi-catchy. But I was most amused by the
Elvis connection. It was obviously inspired by Elvis's 1956 follow-up
to "Heartbreak Hotel": "I Want You, I Need You,
I Love You."
As you know, "Two Out Of
Three Ain't Bad" later became a hit single, and the album,
"Bat Out Of Hell" sold a gazillion copies. When I heard
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" on the satellite
radio yesterday I stopped to wonder what other hit songs were
inspired by another hit song.
The first one that came to mind
was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" which references
both Neil Young and his song "Southern Man." I'll bet
there are more...
Let's have a contest. Send in
the names of some hit songs that you feel were inspired by other
hits. We'll put all of the entries in a box made out of old LP
covers and randomly pull out a winner next week. The prize will
be a couple of brand new Pittsburgh Guitars T-shirts (with our
new address!) and a free song book (your choice) so that you,
in turn, can be inspired by a hit song.
See you soon,
PS: We have lots of Beatle song
books, so this'll give you a chance to learn some songs for May
19th's Big Beatle Show #3 at the Rex Theater. Call John and sign
up. We have lots and lots of folks on the list so far.
PPS: Vox heard about our "Send
in your recording of 'I Saw her Standing There' Contest"
and with their help we've upped the prize from a Vox AD30VT (list
Price $320.00) to a Vox AD50VT (List Price $520.00)!! The winner
will be chosen on May 19th during our big "Pittsburgh Guitars
28th Anniversary / Grand Opening Of The New Building" Weekend.
PPPS: Customer web site:
Great Big Sea
PPPPS: Just as I was about to
hit "send" on this the UPS man walked in with the newest
amp from Vox, the AC-50CP2. It's an all-tube, switchable channel,
50-watt combo. We're gonna plug it in right now!
Friday 4/27/2007 ~ Gibson Archtop
Earlier this week I watched "The
New Adventures Of Old Christine," a very funny CBS show
starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss from Seinfield. It's a success
thanks to a strong supporting cast... (unlike, say, "Joey,"
the failed sitcom starring Matt LaBlanc from "Friends.")
A star (or lead singer) is certainly important... but a show
(or band) needs talented backup players to maximize its potential.
This show is an example of strong backup making the lead singer
look even better.
Beside the acting, I particularly
enjoyed this week's episode because one scene took place at a
wedding and a band was on-screen. I like to see guitars when
I don't expect them. And I was happy to see the guitarist using
a Gibson ES-345. It struck me that Gibson really made the most
of that body design!
It all goes back to 1958... or
maybe 1954... That young upstart Leo Fender was coming on strong,
first with the Telecaster in 1950 and then in 1954 with his new
improved model, the Stratocaster. The old Gibson company was
holding their own in the solid-body field with the Les Paul,
which they upgraded almost every year in the 1950s. But they
needed to show that they, too, could be hip. And there was one
thing Gibson could do that Fender couldn't possibly compete with:
they had the know-how (and equipment!) to make an archtop hollow-body
guitar. In 1957 Gibson's R&D team, lead by Ted McCarty, came
up with a great idea: use their archtop guitar skills to manufacture
a thin, semi-hollow guitar. The guitar would have the majesty
of Gibson's archtop heritage, plus, with a thinner body and a
solid block running through the center, it could be turned up
loud without the feedback issues of a completely hollow instrument.
The best of both worlds! Also adding to the hip factor, the new
model had a unique symmetrical double cutaway body.
Introduced in 1958, new guitar
was designated the ES-335. Here's a picture of John with a 1964 ES-335.
Gibson loved the design (and
spent a lot of money on the molds) so they immediately introduced
variations on the theme. The first option was a "Custom"
version. Just as with the Les Paul, the Custom featured gold
hardware, block inlays, an ebony fingerboard and a fancier, bound
headstock. Oddly, rather than call it an ES-335 Custom, they
named it an ES-355. The 355 also featured a vibrato unit and
a unique six-position rotary switch called a "Varitone"
which, thanks to a series of capacitors, gave different tonal
variations. (The Varitone has a big circular metal piece numbered
1 thru 6 under the switch. You can recognize it from across the
Gibson also figured that they
could use the 335 body for a bass, and they did. It was called
an EB-2. (Gibson previously manufactured a solid-body violin-shaped
bass, made from 1953 through 1958, which was called the "Electric
Bass." Now we retroactively call the solid one the EB-1,
so it has its place in history before the EB-2.) Here's
a picture of John with a 1966 EB-2.
In 1959 Gibson decided they could make yet another model using
the 335 body. The new version, which was less expensive, skipped
the center block and it featured P-90 single-coil pickups instead
of the ES-335's humbucks. This completely hollow model was designated
the ES-330. Here's John with two 330s.
THEN they decided "Hey, let's make something in-between
the 335 and the 355!" In 1959 they introduced the ES-345.
It wasn't as fancy as the 355 (no binding on the headstock),
but it did have the vibrato (usually a Bigsby) and the Varitone
switch. (Which made it easy to recognize on the TV show this
week. I thought: (1) "Ah, a 335!" (2) "Wait, it
has a Varitone switch! It's a 355" and then (3) "No,
it has an un-bound headstock... It's a 345!!!" )
So, in the space of a few years
Gibson used its new body design on the ES-335, the ES-345, the
ES-355, the ES-330 and the EB-2. (Oh, and I didn't mention it,
but you could also get a one-pickup ES-330...) In 1966 Gibson
introduced a two pickup version of the EB-2 bass, the EB-2D.
Later, in the 1970s, Gibson added to the collection with the
ES-320 and ES-325 (different pickups) and the ES-340 and ES-347
(different wiring). That's a lotta guitars with the same body!
But, you're probably wondering, could there be more? Yes!!
You probably remember from a
previous email that in 1957 Gibson bought the Epiphone name.
During the 1960s, Gibson manufactured Epiphone guitars in the
same Kalamazoo factory as the Gibson guitars. Some Epiphone models
were unique to the brand, but several were almost identical to
Gibson models. Except for cosmetic details, the Epiphone Casino
was the same guitar as the ES-330. Likewise, the Epiphone Rivoli
Bass used the same body and electronics as the Gibson EB-2. Here's John with a Casino and a 330; and a Rivoli
and an EB-2.
Yep, Gibson has done well with
that design. They have made 335s continuously since 1958 and
versions of the guitar have been used by lots of folks, including
B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton. And the guy in the wedding
band on "The New Adventures Of Old Christine."
See you soon,
PS: And, of course, The Beatles
used Epiphone Casinos. John, George and Paul each owned one.
Paul still uses his.
PPS: I don't own an ES-345 or
ES-355. With the added weight of the Bigsby and the Varitone
they've always felt too bottom heavy. Compared to an ES-335 or
ES-300 I don't care for the way they balance. I do, however, have a Les Paul with a Varitone...
It was formerly owned by Dave Hanner from Gravel and The Corbin/Hanner
Band. He added the Varitone himself in the mid-1970s. (He also
moved the volume and tone controls and used black electric tape
to cover the original holes!).
PPPS: Thanks to all of the folks
who entered last week's "Hit songs that inspired other hit
songs" contest. The randomly chosen winner is Kenny W. He
sent in several examples, including "American Pie"
by Don McClean, which references many other songs, and "Creeque
Alley" by the Mamas & Papas, which references their
own song, "California Dreamin'."
PPPPS: I was also impressed with
Roy G.s email. I'm sure he won't mind if I quote him here:
"Nothing beats the back
and forth 'attack & answering' via songs that Lennon and
McCartney had going during the early 1970's... I suppose it starts
with McCartney's "Get Back" which Lennon always thought
was a swipe at Yoko ("Get back to where you once belonged"
and "Jojo (Yoko) was a man who thought he was a woman...");
Lennon always said that Paul shot a look at Yoko whenever he
sang the words "Get Back"...
Then you have Lennon's angry diatribe in response "How Do
You Sleep?" from "Imagine," with the biting lyrics
"the best you did was 'Yesterday'...but now you're just
'Another Day'..." George Harrison also played slide guitar
on the track; he was still angry at McCartney over the lawsuits
involving manager Allen Klein, etc...
McCartney, ever tired of the angry songs back and forth, answered
"How Do You Sleep?" with "Some People Never Know"
from Wings' 1st album... with lyrics like "Some people can
sleep at night, believing that love is a lie... I'm only a person
like you, love, so who in the world can be right or the righter,
I know I was wrong, make me right..."
(Editor's note: I always felt
that McCartney's "Too Many People" was also part of
this back-and-forth Lennon-McCartney criticizing-the-other-guy
series of songs. - Carl) (Hey, now that I think about it, rap
guys do this all the time don't they? See, and you thought the
Beatles didn't inspire rap!)
PPPPPS: Customer web site: