I was at a guitar show two weeks
ago in Somerset, New Jersey.
If you haven't been to a guitar
show, picture a convention center filled with a couple of hundred
guitar dealers from around the country, all displaying cool collections
of guitars and basses. Yep, it sounds like heaven! And it almost
is!! (The downside is that it's 99.7% men... and many of them
look like The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons...) (Speaking
of which, the new movie is great. It's like the TV show, only
As I was hanging out with a dealer
friend from Nashville, talking about important things like how
hard it is to find a case for a Gretsch Model 6072 Bass, or why
the formica pickguards always break on Dan Armstrong plexiglass
instruments... we heard a young kid playing guitar in the next
booth. He was probably around ten years old and not very good,
but I recognized the song: "Smoke On The Water"! He
then added a little more distortion and dove into the other tune
he knew, "Iron Man."
I had to smile. I did some quick
mental math. If this kid was ten, then he was born in 1997. If
his dad was twenty-five when the kid was born, then the dad was
born in 1972. Which is right around the time these records were
originally released. The kid may have learned these songs by
listening to 45s bought by his grandfather!
And the reason he was playing
"Smoke On The Water" and "Iron Man" is the
same reason that we've heard them played here in Pittsburgh Guitars
for the last 28 years: they are perfect examples of easy-to-play
beginner's rockin' guitar riffs. When you're first learning how
to play, many method books teach you simple songs, like "Mary
Had A Little Lamb." But it's a lot more fun, and more inspirational,
if you can play something that rocks... like Metallica's "Enter
There should be a name for guitar
riff-based songs like these.Something like: "Guitar Riffs
That Inspire Beginners" (GRTIB).
"Smoke On The Water"
and "Iron Man" are timeless and will always be two
of the top GRTIB. And over the years we've heard some other great
ones. In 1979, when I first opened the store, the popular GRTIB
were "Sweet Home Alabama," "Sunshine Of Your Love"
and of course "Stairway To Heaven." Then during the
mid-1980s "Crazy Train" was the GRTIB champ. A super-big
GRTIB in the late-80s was "Sweet Child O' Mine." The
1990s brought us "Come As You Are" and "Sandman."
These days we hear any of the above, plus an occasional "Plush,"
"Back In Black" or even "Day Tripper."
Oddly, unlike the electric songs,
the acoustic GRTIB have stayed the same since Pittsburgh Guitars'
opening day, the same two songs: "Blackbird" and "Over
The Hills And Far Away." (I'm not saying they are always
played well... but we do hear them nearly every day.)
And despite the scene in the
first "Wayne's World" movie when Wayne enters a guitar
store and sees a sign that says "No Stairway To Heaven,"
we have never been bothered by repeated performances of GRTIB.
These riffs are a vital part of a beginner's musical development.
They give the budding guitarist a chance to play something they
recognize... something that everyone recognizes. And this is
an important stepping stone to more complicated riffs... like
"Eruption" or the long version of "Crossroads."
It's interesting, though, that
the newest GRTIB I've mentioned here is fifteen years old. Haven't
there been any big-hit guitar-riff-based songs over the last
decade? And if not, why? Hmmmmm, let me ponder that...
See you soon,
PS: This reminds me of a song.
You may know Martin Mull as an actor, but he got his start as
a musician writing and performing funny songs. One of my favorites
is one he recorded in 1973 called "Licks Off Of Records":
"I've been playing guitar now for fourteen years I've got
music in me coming out my ears But you ought to know the fact
is, I'm this good because I practice No, my talent ain't big
as it appears. I hate to disillusion you, honey, it's just licks
off of records that I learned."
Send me an email if you'd like
a link to a recording of the song. In the last chorus he breaks
into "Sunshine Of Your Love," "Day Tripper"
PPS: Speaking of "Satisfaction,"
Scott says that was the first GRTIB that he learned. With me
it was a local record (I think it was only played in Allegheny
County) called "69" by The Arondies. It goes: EEE GGE
PPPS: And speaking of "Over
The Hills And Far Away," after a six month wait we finally
received a shipment of new Danelectro `59 Reissue guitars...
the black, double cutaway, "Jimmy Page" model. They
are selling fast, but we have a couple left...
PPPPS: Customer web site:
8/10/2007 ~ The Gibson SG
Two weeks ago I went to The Palumbo
Center to see our favorite ex-guitar teacher, Korel. He plays
guitar and keyboards in The Goo Goo Dolls. It was a rockin' fun
show! It's always great to see Korel on the big stage. And it's
always nice to see guitars from our store on tour around the
(To show you how impressed we
are with Korel, here's a quick story: A few years ago I had a
chance to put a Beatle band together for one show. I said to
Korel, "Hey, you're left handed, maybe you could play Paul?"
Without hesitating he said, "Sure, what songs?" I said,
"Well, my favorite, of course, is 'I Saw Here Standing There'
but you've never played the song before; it has a fast, complex
line; you'd have to play bass AND sing lead; and the show is
in two days!" He said, "Great! Let's do it!" Most
people in the world would have shied away from such a last-minute
difficult musical performance, but Korel is so talented that
he welcomed the challenge. And, of course, he did the song perfectly.)
Korel uses several guitars during
a Goo Goo Dolls show, but the coolest one did not come from Pittsburgh
Guitars... I believe it came directly from the manufacturer:
a left handed white Gibson SG Custom. Man, did it look good on
The SG holds an interesting spot
in Gibson's history. It all goes back to 1961...
It's hard to believe, but in
1960 the Gibson Les Paul Standard (now lovingly referred to as
the "Sunburst" and THE most valuable electric guitar
in history) was not selling well. Gibson decided that drastic
changes were necessary... and they drastically changed the guitar.
Instead of a thick, mahogany slab body with a carved maple cap,
the new Les Paul was a simple, thin piece of mahogany, with beveled
edges. From a manufacturing standpoint this new body was much
easier and cheaper to make. Time and money was saved by not using
the maple cap. There were no more complaints from customers about
the red in the sunburst maple top fading. (The new bodies were
a solid red-stained mahogany. Mahogany is darker than maple so
any fading would not be as noticeable.) And although the pickups
were the same, the pickup selector switch was moved to the same
cavity as the volume and tone controls, which was another manufacturing
The general public liked the
The number of old style Les Paul Sunburst Standards sold in 1960:
The number of new style Les Paul Standards sold in 1961: 1662
The new model was thinner, lighter
weight, and like Fender's successful Stratocaster, a double-cutaway.
But there were some critics... and the most outspoken complaints
came from Les Paul himself. He didn't like the look and feel
of the new design, and he missed the tone of the maple/mahogany
combination in the old model. He asked Gibson to remove his name
from the new guitar. Gibson agreed and promptly renamed it the
"SG." (As for the "promptly" part, they wanted
to use up all of the "Les Paul Model" truss rod covers
they had just made... so the guitars were labeled "Les Paul"
through mid-1963... Now, years later, all of these new-body-shape
guitars are known as SGs, with the 1961-1963 models distinguished
as "SG-Les Pauls.")
Just like the old-style Les Pauls,
there were four versions of the new SG-Les Pauls:
The Standard: Two humbucking pickups
The Special: Two P-90 single-coil pickups
The Junior: One P-90 pickup
The Custom: Three humbucking pickups and fancier, with a bound
One big difference here was that,
in old-style-land, the bodies for the Specials and Juniors differed
from the Standard and Custom. Inpost-1960-cost-saving-land, all
of the bodies were identical.
The SG maintained those four
basic models until 1971 when Gibson started messing around and
adding new variations of SGs. Today Gibson makes twelve different
versions of the SG.
Now you're probably saying to
yourself, "Well, I hope you don't plan on describing every
SG model from 1971 through yesterday! `Cause if you do, don't
expect me to memorize the differences between a 1972 SG-200 and
a 1975 SG-II !!"
No, I'm not. (Although it is
interesting!!!) No. My goal here is to give you just enough information
to quickly recognize some common model designations... So, somewhere,
sometime, when you're sitting around with your friends or family
or significant other, watching TV, and a band comes on, you can
casually throw out a comment that will astound the other folks
with your knowledge of such intricacies, and give them the impression
that you are such a well-rounded intellectual that, among other
things, you just happen to know different guitar models. No,
it's not that you're some sort of guitar-geek, you know lots
of stuff about lots of stuff, and you're wise enough that along
the way you just happened to pick up some knowledge and you just
wanted to mention it when you saw the band on TV... Yep, no big
deal, just one of those things you know...
Sooooooo.... Here's a picture of an SG.
Now that you have the body style
in your head, all you need to see is
the headstock and the pickups.
**** If it has white binding
around the headstock, it's an SG Custom. You're done. (An SG
Custom will generally have three pickups and gold hardware...
but you can recognize it right away from the headstock binding.)
a picture of an SG Custom.
**** If it doesn't have a bound
headstock, check the number of pickups. Only one? It's an SG
a picture of an SG Junior.
**** If it has two pickups, the
choices will be two single coil P-90s (the SG Special) or two
double coil humbucks (the SG Standard). The P-90s will have black
plastic covers with a single row of pole pieces. They're pretty
easy to recognize. If the humbucks have the chrome covers on,
they're also easy to recognize, especially of you see the reflection
of the stage lights in the chrome. If the humbucks do not have
their covers, then it might be a little harder to tell them from
P-90s. Look a little closer to see if there are two rows of pole
pieces, indicating a double coil humbucking pickup with no cover.
If it has two P-90s, it's an SG Special. If it has two humbucks,
it's an SG Standard.
Here are some pictures of SG Specials (note the P-90 Pickups):
Here's an SG Standard (note the chrome pickup covers).
Here's an SG Standard
with the pickup covers removed
(note the double coil humbucking pickups)
Now, of course, since there have
been (and still are) so many variations of the SG, it might be
that you're looking at some odd version, like an" SG VooDoo"
or an "SG Goddess." But the four models above are the
classics. You can't go wrong with them. You'll most likely have
it called correctly. Especially if it's a vintage guitar.
So, if the Goo Goo Dolls are
coming to your town (They'll be in Japan this weekend, England
next week, and Chicago, St. Paul, and Cleveland the following
week) and you see Korel playing his white SG, just mentally note
the bound headstock, and casually turn to the person next to
you and say, "Nice SG Custom, isn't it?" Yeah... Sweeeet.
See you soon,
PS: Speaking of Pete Townshend,
we only have one SG in the Pittsburgh Guitars collection. And
it's only part of an SG. It's an SG Special that Townshend smashed
at The Civic Arena on August 10, 1971. Here's a picture. You can see one P-90 laying
under the pickguard. The other P-90 has lost it's black plastic
cover, exposing the large single coil.
PPS: As you can see by the many
pictures above, the size of the SG pickguard changed over the
years. The model/pickup configuration stayed the same.
PPPS: You may also notice that
the different SG models have different fingerboard inlays. The
Custom has blocks. The Standard has trapezoids. The Special and
Junior have dots. I didn't wanna mention that earlier `cause
this was already so long... But I should have mentioned it, because
how often to you get to use the word "trapezoid?"
PPPPS: By the way, if "a"
and "b" are the lengths of the two parallel sides of
a trapezoid, and "h" is the distance between them,
then the area of the trapezoid is: (1/2 * h)(a +b)
PPPPPS: From today's email you
might deduce that in 1961 the original style Les Paul was discontinued.
You would be correct! There were no single cutaway, carved-top
Les Pauls made between 1961 and 1968. The model was re-introduced
in 1968 and has been in constant production since.
PPPPPPS: Speaking of Korel and
The Goo Goo Dolls, they were on TV last night, on a Sundance
Channel special, "Live From Abbey Road."
PPPPPPPS: Customer web site:
Friday 8/17/2007 ~ Feedback
Imagine a young kid trying an
amp. Sitting right in front of it, he's randomly turning the
controls. Not familiar with the amp, he unknowingly pushes the
channel switching button.... and eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
It happens around here all the
time... First, we comfort the nearby parent, and then we explain
the chain reaction of the sound coming out of the speaker, going
into the pickups, and then back through the speaker, etc, etc,
Well, just like Ted Nugent, we
at the Pittsburgh-Guitars-Email-Special-Department enjoy feedback.
Today I thought I'd feed back to the last few weeks of feedback....
On 7/6/07 I wrote about songs that modulate
(e.g. feature a key change, generally up a half step near the
end). I said that I regularly hear this in country music, but
I wondered if it was used in contemporary rock.
* Bill wrote to say that it's
commonplace in pop rock, including songs by Kelly Clarkson, Jessica
Simpson, and Avril Lavigne. I must admit that I'm a bit out of
the loop with modern pop rock. I didn't even know that Jessica
Simpson did records. I thought she was a movie star and had skin
conditions. (Although I do like Avril Lavigne's new song "Hey,
Hey, You, You, Get Off Of My Boyfriend.") Anyway, it's nice
to know that these young artists are carrying on the great modulation
tradition. Thanks, Bill.
* On the same topic, Dave wrote
to say that his favorite modulation was the key change going
into the solo of "And I Love Her" by The Beatles. Singing
this in my head (which, believe me, is the best place for MY
singing) I can see what Dave means. Even though the solo is the
same chord structure as the verse, it sounds like a new part
of the song, almost like a bridge, because of the key change.
This has a distinctly different effect than the usual modulation
between two repeated vocal choruses.
* Bob writes that his band, Master
Mechanic, has a song that goes up a half step and gets faster,
and then down a half step and gets slower. I'm not familiar with
the song, but I do like Master Mechanic. They're a powerful rock
band and yet have some sort of purity about them. A purity of
purpose. And the purpose is Rock.
On 7/20/07 I wrote about 1980 SKB-made plastic
* Several folks wrote to say
that, yes, their hinges came off too. Yep.
* Tony wrote to ask if the 1874
Martin case was heavier than the guitar. Here's the picture again. Yes, it is. But
it's not bad; I've had Les Paul cases that were heavier. They
used reasonably light-weight wood, so it's manageable. And you
can't complain too much about it... it still works perfectly
after 133 years, which is more than you can say for most of us!
I wrote about GRTIB, "Guitar Riffs That Inspire Beginners."
I said that the instrumental "69" by The Arondies was
the first riff that I learned.
* Brian and Tom both wrote to
say that "69" was the first riff that they learned,
too. It is the perfect beginner song. One string; one finger;
three notes, one of which is the open string. What's not to love.
* Kenny wrote to say that when
he was learning to play piano, his inspirational riff was "Colour
My World" by Chicago. Oh, I remember THAT song. It was the
flip side of the 1970 Chicago hit "Make Me Smile" and
super popular at weddings. The original "Colour My World"
recording was just under 3 minutes long, but I've played it at
wedding receptions for at least 20 minutes! (Often involving
a basket full of dollar bills and everyone in the room dancing
with the bride.)
* Kenny also said that a good
bass GRTIB is another Chicago tune, "25 or 6 to 4."
He's right, I do recall hearing that played in the store. A harder
bass GRTIB that we've also heard many times... at least the first
seven notes of it... is the Barney Miller Theme.
* As I have mentioned before,
I'm a big Colbert Report fan. Last week, as a lead-in to one
of his segments, he came back from the commercial break holding
a ukulele and playing the all-time top GRTIB, "Smoke On
The Water." He said, "Just because it's a ukulele doesn't
mean you can't rock!"
I wrote about the Gibson SG Standard and its siblings, the SG
Junior, SG Special and SG Custom. I also mentioned that for a
little over two years Gibson tried to market these models as
the new "Les Paul."
* Susie wrote to say that her
Dad had a 1962 SG Special that said "Les Paul" on it
and he always referred to it as his "Les Paul." The
Email Special cleared up some of the confusion there.
* William wrote that I forgot
to mention the most recent high profile use of the SG: Jack Black
in "School Of Rock." He's right! "School Of Rock"
was not only a funny movie, but Jack's SG was almost a central
character. They both made the cover of Rolling Stone.
* The day after the SG email
found a picture of a much younger me with my band, playing at
the Southland Shopping Center.
My brother John, on the left, is playing an SG Standard. Howard
Whetzel, center, is playing an SG Special. They are both playing
through Fender Super Reverbs. Chuck Durica, our bass player,
used a Kent bass and owned a 1969 Fender Bassman amp. In the
photo he's using another band's set of Ampeg bass amps. And with
all of that amplification, the vocals are going through a 100
watt Kustom PA! Ah, those were the days! (You might notice a
boom mic in front of me. I'm probably saying, "Hey, get
this away from me, I can't sing! What, are you kidding me? Seriously...
turn this off!") (I still have those silver-sparkle Ludwig
drums. And those cymbals. And cymbal stands. I'm not sure about
the concrete block...)
See you soon,
PS: A couple of folks wrote back
about Martin Mull, and expressed surprise that he is such a good
guitar player. Somewhere I have a video. All of his music is
funny, so I guess it wasn't a stretch from comedic music to comedic
actor. But he clearly spent some time studying the guitar. You
know, when I think about Martin Mull I think of Fred Willard,
because they were both on a show called Fernwood 2Nite. And when
I think about Fred Willard I think of Michael McKean, Harry Shearer
and Christopher Guest, because Fred appears in their movies,
"Spinal Tap," "A Mighty Wind," and others.
And Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest are all
comedians who play guitar... Hmmmmm.... Interesting.
PPS: It's funny to see the old
picture of me. Just last week we were talking to Art, one of
our regular customers, and he told us about the time in 1974
when he hitch-hiked across the country. I told him we'd like
to see a picture of him from that era. We should start collecting
then-and-now pictures and put them on our web site...
PPPS: Customer web site:
Friday 8/24/2007 ~ Hofner Basses,
Old and New
One of the many fun things here
at Pittsburgh Guitars is the daily arrival of the UPS man. Plain
brown boxes arrive... and inside are shiny, new toys! OK, well...
not toys... they're guitars... and guitar accessories... but
they're as much fun as toys! It's like every day is Christmas!
Later today (or maybe Monday)
we're getting eight boxes of guitars that I'm particularly curious
about. I'm excited... but I'm also slightly apprehensive.
Let's quickly visit 1887, 1921,
1954, 1956, 1963, 2006 and two days ago...
In 1887, Karl Hofner founded
a violin manufacturing company in Germany. Except for that little
issue of World War I, things went well. By 1921 Karl's son Walter
was running the company and guitars were added to the Hofner
line. After a slight bump in the road in the form of World War
II, Walter expanded the guitar selection and in 1954 he added
electric pickups to many models. In 1956 he decided to go back
to his violin roots and produce Europe's first electric bass,
the violin-shaped Hofner 500/1. (For a time-line reference, in
the USA Leo Fender introduced the Precision Bass in 1952 and
Gibson introduced their "Electric Bass" in 1954.) (Coincidentally,
Gibson's bass was also violin shaped, although unlike Hofner's,
it wascompletely solid.)
Here's a picture
of John with one of the first Hofner basses ever made, a 1956
Hofner 500/1 Bass.
Walter Hofner constantly tinkered
with the specifications of the 500/1, changing it almost every
year. By the time The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, Paul McCartney was playing a 1963 model that
looked like this.
Although today Hofner still makes
violins, violas, cellos, upright basses, and guitars, Paul McCartney's
choice to use a 500/1 has kept the company alive and thriving
these many decades. (And it helps that he is still using that
exact same 1963 bass on tour today!)
Thanks to Paul there is worldwide
demand for the Hofner 500/1 Bass. The only downsides are: (a)
the small Germany factory can only produce a very limited number
of instruments (first of all, everyone goes on vacation for the
entire month of August... and then, of course, there's Oktoberfest...)
and (b) hand-made instruments from Germany are expensive.
To meet the demand for more and
cheaper instruments, Hofner decided last year to join the current
manufacturing trend and have some instruments made in China.
In late 2006 they introduced the Chinese-made Hofner Icon Bass.
This bass has the same size specifications as the German-made
bass, but has clearly less-expensive pickups and hardware. And
it sells for about 20% of the price of the German bass. Here's a picture of John with both a new German
500/1 Bass and a new Icon Bass.
I know what you're thinking,
"They sure look similar!" Well, they do. But, if you
held them side-by-side (like John in the picture... only closer
to your eyes...) you'd see the difference. Despite the same name
on the headstock, the Icon is a junior-grade budget version of
Now, when Hofner first told me
about the Chinese connection I was concerned. Although we're
a small store on the South Side, we at Pittsburgh Guitars are
one of Hofner's biggest US dealers (and supporters). We've proudly
sold many, many German-made basses and I was worried that the
introduction of the Icons would confuse the public and have a
negative effect on the sales of the German basses. Fortunately,
due to the aforementioned differences, none of that has come
Which brings us to two days ago!
Hofner called to say that they are finally ready to ship their
NEWEST Chinese-made bass: The Hofner Contemporary Bass. And this
is the source of my trepidation. I saw the prototype of this
bass when I met with Hofner in California last January... and
it looked EXACTLY like the German 500/1 Bass! So much so, that
I think it may be a questionable move for the company. While
there is certainly something to be said for slow, personalized,
hands-on construction... a built-in vibe, perhaps... you also
have to admit that, thanks to giant computerized factories, modern
day Chinese-made instruments are quite nice. I fear that this
new Contemporary Bass, which will sell for a mere 37.5% of the
price of the German-made bass, may seriously diminish demand
for the original 500/1 model. A lot of companies are now producing
goods in China, but I wonder how many are making near identical
versions of their product both over there AND at home.
I've only seen the prototype
of the Contemporary Bass, so the only picture we have is this one.
One thing is sure, it will be
interesting to open those boxes! Will they look as nice as the
prototype? Will they play and sound as good as the German 500/1?
Will Klaus, Otto, Wilmer and Klaus soon be out of a job back
in the old country? And will you be able to buy a Contemporary
Bass now and still be using it onstage 44 years later the way
Paul McCartney has done with his 500/1?
We'll have the answer to at least
the first two questions soon...
See you soon,
PS: The new shipment of Hofner
basses will be the second big pile `o boxes we've received from
China this month. A few weeks ago the new Danelectro guitars
arrived and they've been selling like crazy! And they come in lots of colors!.
This model is the "Dano
Pro," the reissue of Danelectro's first guitar. We also
have a double-cutaway `59 Reissue, like the one played by Jimmy
Page in Fred Zeppelin.
PPS: Speaking of China, Vox now
has a big factory there... Just this week we received the brand
Anniversary Heritage Series Hand-Wired AC-15." It sounds
PPPS: Customer web site:
The Hush Sound
Thursday 8/30/2007 ~ The New
Hofner Contemporary Bass
I'm sending this on Thursday
because many of our Email Special readers get it at work, and
a lot of folks are taking tomorrow off... for a much-deserved
long holiday weekend.
I was going to skip the email
special completely this week, but we got a lot of responses to
last week's email, asking about the new Hofner basses. If you
recall, I rambled about the newly arriving Chinese-made basses
potentially looking just like the expensive German basses. And
I wondered what effect this would have on the 120-year-old Hofner
company (and the 90-year-old German factory workers). Well, I
didn't want you to spend the long weekend worrying, so here's
my quick analysis:
First a picture.
The new bass looks nearly identical
to the original German Bass.
There are only three noticeable
1) As I mentioned last week, during the 1950s and 1960s Hofner
changed the specifications of their basses nearly every year.
One change was the 1964 addition of binding to the neck. Although
the current German vintage-reissue bass is modeled after Paul
McCartney's 1963 bass, which does not have a bound neck, for
unknown reasons, the new Chinese bass DOES have a bound neck.
2) The new bass has cheaper black
knobs, rather than the fancier white German knobs. (Though the
black knobs can easily be changed to white ones.)
3) You can't tell until you pick
it up, but the new bass has an internal center block, which adds
sustain... and makes it heavier. I presume that Hofner is trying
to make the bass more useful in contemporary music. Hofner 500/1
basses traditionally have a "thud, thud," staccato
quality... and many people further emphasize this lack-of-sustain
by using flatwound strings. (After all, that's what Hofner basses
are known for!) The center block makes the new bass sound more
like other basses.
So, what does this all mean?
Will the new Chinese-made Hofner Bass have a negative effect
on the sales of the original German-made Hofner 500/1?? It's
too soon to tell. But my guess is "Yes!"
We've been selling the German
bass for many years. A totally non-scientific, not-rooted-in-any-fact,
breakdown of the customers for this instrument would be:
** 40% sold to Beatle-tribute bands.
** 50% sold to baby-boomers who always wanted one and now can
finally afford one.
** 10% sold to working musicians.
* I believe that 85% of the Beatle-tribute
bands will now buy the new bass. After all, from the stage no
one will notice. (Well, except for the binding on the neck...
if you have good eyes... and you're the kind of person who would
point that out to the person standing next to you, who will say,
"oh, yeah, I see that" and secretly wonder if you're
a bit too carried away with guitar details...)
* I think that 60% of the baby-boomer
customers will buy the new bass. It'll look just as good in the
basement Beatle display and it only costs 1/3 as much... so that's
2/3s less worry about the dog knocking it over. The other 40%
have some extra cash since the kids have grown up and moved out...
and they'll still buy the original.
* 50% of the working musicians
will buy the new bass, since it gives them the cool look of a
vintage Hofner, but has more of a punchy sound.
So... if we do some cipherin'...
(85% x 40%) + (60% x 50%) + (50% x 10%) = 69%. I think that the
German sales are going to drop 69%. And that can't be good for
the long term availability of the original version of this instrument.
Now, does this matter to you
and me as we're planning our cookouts for the weekend? In an
immediate sense, no. We should worry more about the potato salad.
(Don't leave it out too long!) But there are so few traditions
left in the guitar manufacturing world. Gibson has long since
moved from Kalamazoo. Fender makes guitars all over the world.
Gretsch guitars are made in Japan. The only US companies that
I can think of who haven't changed hands and factories are Martin
and Rickenbacker. I'll always have a warm spot in my heart for
those two companies... and for the little ol' German guys, using
tools from 1887, hand-carving Hofner basses. I know the world
must change. I just want to take a second to fondly remember
the way things were.
See you soon,
PS: In addition to the new basses,
Hofner also sent us some six strings. There's a fat body jazz
guitar; the Verythin, which is a 335-style guitar that's very
thin; and the Club 50. Here's a picture of John with some new Club 50
In the 1960s, Club 40s (single
pickup), Club 50s (two pickups) and Club 60s (a fancy Club 50)
were abundant in Europe, but very few ever made it to America.
They stopped making them 35 years ago. It's nice to see the Club
PPS: All of the new guitars are
PPPS: Customer web site:
Four Barrel Ghost