Thurs 5/24/2007 ~ "You don't
know what you don't know."
There's an old saying, "You
don't know what you don't know." It applies to the difficulty
in predicting the future. For example, yesterday John the-new-guy
told me that he's excited about getting tickets for the upcoming
Crowded House reunion tour. I said, "Are they the guys who
did the vegemite song?" John said, "No, that's a different
Australian band. Crowded House had a hit with 'Don't Dream It's
Over.' Here, watch..." and in less than a minute we were
watching a video of Crowded House on youtube.com.
(Notes: (a) The vegemite guys
were Men At Work, (b) I would have remembered "Don't Dream
It's Over" if he called it the "Hey Now Hey Now"
song, and (c) my brother-in-law is from Australia and I've tasted
Now, could we have predicted,
even a couple of years ago, that in 2007 we would have instant,
free access to practically every video ever made? No. For that
matter, when I opened Pittsburgh Guitars in 1979 I could never
have imagined the "internet"... and that folks from
all over the world would be able to see our inventory in real
time, and make purchases via the magic of email! (Last week we
sold a guitar to a guy in Denmark... this week we sold a bass
to a guy in Australia.) (Wait a minute... Australia?)
But just as you don't know what
you don't know about the future, it's also hard, if not impossible,
to accurately imagine the past. That came up last Saturday.
Our Fender sales rep, Dave, came
to the store to help us celebrate our Anniversary. Over chocolate
chip cookies and mimosas Dave mentioned that his first instrument
was the bass guitar, and he had a couple of 1970s Precision basses.
I said, "Hey, would you like to see an old one?" and
I pulled out my 1952 PBass. Here's the bass.
Dave was in awe and held it close.
He said, "Do you realize that before this bass, electric
bass guitar did not exist. THIS is the start, the beginning of
Now, on the one hand, yeah, I
knew that this 1952 bass was from the first year that the PBass
was widely commercially available. I know and appreciate its
historical significance. But after Dave's comment, I tried to
really imagine a world before the electric bass... And that's
not easy. You can't un-know something. In 1951, or anytime before,
if you saw a band you saw a guy in the back with a huge instrument
that could barely be heard. Today bass players and guitarists
share the stage and the spotlight. And volume-wise, bass players
and drummers can lock into a powerful musical groove. Paul McCartney,
Gene Simmons, Sting... famous frontmen AND bass guitarists. Leo
Fender changed the rhythm section and the role of the bass player
forever. Suddenly, in 1952 bass players had an instrument that
was easy to play, easy to move, and could be turned up loud.
(...or at least as loud as you could get from a 1952 amp.) It's
hard to imagine now how unique that must have seemed.
Then I started to try to imagine
what it was like before other technological breakthroughs...
For example, our building here
at Pittsburgh Guitars was built in 1885. East Carson Street wasn't
paved yet. So the UPS man must have made his deliveries by horse-drawn
cart on a dirt road. (I guess everything was brown in those days...)
And the guitars would be delivered in wooden crates... And you
wouldn't have had a telephone, so the only way to order a set
of strings would be by mail... Sheeeeez.....
You know, you can try to describe
old times, and you can TRY to imagine what it was like... But
I don't think it's possible to REALLY know... We readily accept
new concepts, like the internet and the electric bass... but
once they are a part of your life, you can't go back... and relate
to what it was like BEFORE.
Yep, that's what crossed my mind
on Saturday. Then I went up to the Rex and had a great time at
the Big Beatle Show #3!
See you soon!
PS: Thanks to everyone who celebrated
our Anniversary with us!
PPS: Also, congratulations to
Hank, who brought in the oldest Pittsburgh Guitars receipt! I
opened the store in May 1979 and Hank has a receipt from September 1979!!!!
I'm VERY impressed!! !Hank wins a vintage Harmony Stella.
PPPS: And special congratulations
to our "I Saw Her Standing There" contest
winner, Matt L. Thanks to ALL of you who submitted songs.
Every one was great. I'm sorry I didn't have lots more Vox amps
to give away.
PPPPS: Hey! Did you happen to
see the gala finale of American Idol last night? It was a big
exciting show, so they wanted to open the event with a powerful
song, sung by the two finalists. And the Big song? "I Saw
Her Standing There"!! (The Idol producers are probably on
this mailing list somewhere!)
PPPPPS: The Beatle Show was a blast!!
PPPPPPS: Customer web site: