Email Specials from February 2010

Friday 2/5/2010 ~ More From NAMM


We'll get back to our discussion of the Meaning of Life next week. First I want to finish up with the NAMM report.

But I'll have to make it short, so I can save energy for all the snow shoveling this afternoon! Let's go outside and check... here's John. Nope, no snow yet!

(For those of you who don't live on the East Coast of the United States: there is a big ol' snow storm heading our way. Here in Pittsburgh they're predicting somewhere between six inches and six feet.) (Yeah, it's not an exact science...)

Before we move on to other companies... I'd like to see one more picture of John with the new Martin Elvis Presley D-28! Here's Jelvis!!




So how many times have you said, "I'd love to have a Vox AC-30, like everyone uses on TV... but that amp is too heavy for me... both in weight and price." Well, here's your chance to have that great Vox sound and great Vox look, in a lighter-weight package. Vox has just introduced the AC-30 Valve Reactor. It's the same cabinet as the AC-30 with two 12" celestion speakers, and it features a hybrid tube-solid state amplifier section. It's half the weight (just a guess) and half the price (OK, that's accurate) of the all-tube AC-30.

Here's John with the new AC-30VR Valve Reactor.

For comparison, here's John with a regular AC-30.

Vox has also introduced a Valve Reactor version of the 15-watt AC-15.

Both of these amps just arrived today, so we haven't done an A/B comparison with the all-tube versions yet... We'll do that tomorrow when we're snowed in here at the store.

I wonder if it's snowing yet... let's check.

Speaking of Vox, another new product for the new year is a mini-bass amp, the Pathfinder 10B. Here's John. I don't think it'll be loud enough for the Arena... but it should be fine for rehearsing on your tour bus.




Meanwhile, Paul Reed Smith is celebrating their 25th Anniversary, and they've introduced several new models to celebrate. Here's John with a few...

John with the new PRS Korina SE One.

John with the new PRS Torero, with a Floyd Rose vibrato.

John with the new Flame Maple SE Singlecut.

John with the new PRS 25th Anniversary SE Custom, featuring the classic PRS "birds" inlays.



The latest shipment of new Hofner guitars is on the way... Hopefully it will arrive this afternoon before the snow. Did I mention that there's a snowstorm coming?

Anything yet?



The Gretsch Electromatic Duo Jets aren't newly introduced guitars, but they have been out-of-stock for a while. We're happy to have them back in the store.

Here's John with a couple of Duo Jets.




See you soon,


PS: Our Fender "Made-in-the-USA Strat Comparison" results have been interesting. Last week I mentioned that Fender now has three similar Made-in-the-USA Strats: the Highway One, the American Special, and the American Standard. And all week folks have been trying all three guitars, to compare the look, feel and sound. We even have a preprinted 5-question comparison sheet- - Sample question: 4) Sound: On a scale of one to ten, where "1" is swig of Mad Dog 20/20 out of a paper bag and "10" is a glass of Crown Royal neat, how would you rate the brightness of the pickups (circle one): (brittle & harsh)1 2 3 4 5 (bright & smooth) If you'd like to add your two-cents, stop in and try the guitars. We'll have the survey results next week.

PPS: Since you'll be stuck in the house tomorrow (snow day)... take a moment to check your home humidifier and any humidifiers you have in your guitars. Only you can prevent excessive dryness.

PPPS: We still have a few Close-Out-Sale items left from last week's Email Special.
-Trace Elliott Super Tramp 2x12 100watt Guitar Amp - $295
-Ashdown ABM - 8X10 Bass Cabinet - Big! - $695
-Fender Bassman 60 60watt bass combo - $199
-Fender FM412SL 4x12 cabinet - $249
-Gretsch Electromatic Tube Amp - $119
-Guild Gad-JF30E Jumbo acoustic/electric w/hardshell case - $750

PPPPS: If you're like me, and you are just now getting your 2010 calendar organized, don't forget to mark Saturday, May 22, 2010, as the "Pittsburgh Guitars Big Beatle Show #7." We already have all of the bands lined up, and it's going to be a fun night. We'll have more news soon!

PPPPPS: Customer of the week: Willie Nile

Friday 2/12/2010 ~ What a Week!


Last Friday, John outside the store looking for snow.

This Friday, Carl three stories up, shoveling snow off of the roof.

What a week!


I think things will be back to normal soon. At least the main road is now clear! If you're in the neighborhood tomorrow, Saturday, stop in and mention this email, and we'll give you a free set of Pittsburgh Guitars SuperTone Electric Guitar Strings, or Pittsburgh Guitars SuperiorTone Acoustic Guitar Strings... just to celebrate surviving this snow-filled week.


See you soon,

Friday 2/19/2010 ~ What I Have Learned From TV


If you're like me, you're fascinated by guitar model designations. ("Hey, is that a D-28 in your pocket?... or is it an HD-28?... or HD-28V?")

This week we sold two new Rickenbacker "C Series" guitars (325C58 and 325C64) and one "V Series" (350V63)... and, naturally, the first question that comes to mind is: Why does Rickenbacker have four of the new "C Series" guitars in their price list, while one guitar still carries the older "V Series" designation? Good question! And I have the answer. Unfortunately, my wrists hurt so much from standing on a ladder yesterday, hammering ice out of our frozen gutters, to stop water from leaking into the building, that it has taken me fifteen minutes just to type this far. (Ow...ow...)

Let's talk about why a Martin 000C-16RGTE is called an 000C-16RGTE next week... after we make it through one more week of snow issues...


Meanwhile, since the roads have been bad nearly every evening (and the electricity is back on!), I've been watching a lot of movies on TV.

Here's what I've learned from TV:

1. When paying for a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a bill -- just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

2. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick's Day parade -- at any time of the year.

3. All beds have special L-shaped top sheets that reach up to armpit level on a woman but only waist level on the man lying beside her.

4. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one loaf of French bread.

5. It's easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

6. Many musical instruments can be played without moving your fingers.

7. The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.

8. Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.

9. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

10. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

11. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.

12. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

13. People on TV never finish their drinks.

14. During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

15. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

16. Kitchens don't have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.

17. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.

18. If a phone line is broken, communication can be restored by frantically beating the cradle and saying, "Hello? Hello?"

19. Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

20. Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper clippings -- especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.

21. When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

22. If a killer is lurking in your house, it's easy to find him. Just relax and run a bath -- even if it's the middle of the afternoon.

23. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

24. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

25. Dogs always know who's bad and will naturally bark at them.

26. Action heroes never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste.

27. Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel from left to right every few moments.

28. No matter how badly a spaceship is attacked, its internal gravity system is never damaged.

29. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

30. Having a job of any kind will make all fathers forget their son's eighth birthday.

31. It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

32. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts -- your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessor.

33. During a very emotional confrontation, instead of facing the person you are speaking to, it is customary to stand behind them and talk to their back.

34. Guns are like disposable razors -- if you run out of bullets, just throw the gun away. You can always find a new one.

35. Make-up can safely be worn to bed without smudging.

36. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

37. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their arch-enemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gases, lasers, and man eating sharks that will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.

38. The chief of police is always wrong.

39. When leaving your home or apartment it's never necessary to lock the door behind you.

40. If there is a deranged killer on the loose, this event will coincide with a thunderstorm that has brought down all the power and phone lines in the vicinity.


See you soon,


PS: To save ease my painful arms and wrists I just copied all of the above TV/movie things from the internet. I don't know who originally compiled the list... but it was on the internet, where everything is free to copy!

PPS: Sam organizing new guitar and amp arrivals!

PPPS: Customer of the week: Aviation Blondes

Friday 2/26/2010 ~ Catching Up on Things


The last three weeks have been difficult here in Pittsburgh... the snow and bad roads brought many things to a halt. But one bright spot of being house-bound is catching up on your reading and DVD watching.

Reading-wise, I was able to make a dent in my 30 lb., 682 page book, "Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years." This book has everything you'd ever want to know about Vox amps from 1957 through the late 1960s. And I mean everything. It honestly requires two hands just to pick it up. I may need another snow storm (or two) to finish it... but I've gotta admire an author who takes one topic to such depth. Here's John with the book.

Another thing I finally got around to doing is watching the movie "It Might Get Loud." It features Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, and it's described on the DVD box as "an unparalleled music summit." It's not. The implication from the movie's promotion is that it consists primarily of three rock superstars jamming together. It's not that either. Now, I don't want to imply that I didn't like it. I did. It's just not what it appears to be.

The setting of "It Might Get Loud" is a soundstage in London. Page, Edge, and White all arrive carrying guitars and sit on comfy sofas in a circle. And conversation ensues. But then the movie veers off to individual biographies of the three, filmed independently, in their home towns. The biographies are nicely done and each guitarist gives insight into their background, their musical inspirations and how they got started as guitar players. They all seem to be: (a) nice guys (well... it's hard to tell with Jack White... he's one intense dude...), (b) dedicated musicians (did I mention how intense Jack White is?), and (c) serious about their craft (Jack White). Occasionally the film cuts back to the soundstage conversation, and you get the impression that they are also relating their individual stories to each other there on the soundstage. But we, the viewing audience, primarily get to see separately filmed histories and interviews. Likewise, some jamming occurs on the soundstage, but the more interesting performances are in the individual segments.

I enjoyed this movie. And if you have any interest in any of these guys, I recommend it. I was fascinated by their inspirations and motivations. Jimmy Page was inspired by old blues and early rock & roll artists. His plan with Led Zeppelin was to take those songs and sounds to a new, heavier level. Jack White was also inspired by old blues songs, and his goal is to capture their starkness, rawness and passion. Unlike the other two, The Edge was inspired by early punk bands, who in turn were rebelling against "corporate rock" bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon. He admitted that when U2 was formed they couldn't really play their instruments. Edge (I guess it has to be "The Edge"...) built his musical skills around effects pedals, and developed a style that is more "sound collages" than lead-guitar-playing. Needless to say, from a soloing standpoint I'm sure he was the most uncomfortable at this music "summit." When they finally did get to playing together it was clear that Jimmy Page could play rings around the other two. Although Jack White hung in there. He's so passionate (and intense) about old blues, that he can pull off the "this-is-from-the-soul-and-I-don't-even-care-if-I'm-in-tune" attitude. I really ended up liking him from this movie. He's odd, but you can't doubt his sincerity.

The big thing to remember, though, regardless of who can play more notes (and even if Edge, The, needed forty-seven pedals to get his sound), is that all three of these guys are multi-millionaires. Jimmy Page may have had a bigger impact on the history of rock & roll, but they have all been quite successful in the music biz. They have that goin' for them, so they can pretty much play whatever they want. And at the end of the day, they don't have to pack up their own equipment. (Although Jack White may do that anyway.)


Of course, every great movie, be it "Gone With The Wind," "Citizen Kane," or even "It Might Be Loud" has a mistake or two. I'm just surprised that in this movie the mistake revolves around a guitar. You'd think that of all things they'd catch THAT! It's in a section of the movie that concerns each guy's first electric guitar. For example, in the The Edge segment, the screen fades to black, and then fades in on a beautiful Gibson Explorer. And the on-screen title says "The Edge's Explorer." The Edge then explains that he bought his Explorer on 48th Street in New York City, and he still has it, and loves it. Likewise, in the Jack White segment, the screen picture is a Kay archtop, and the title reads: "Jack's Kay." (He got it at a Thrift Shop.) But when they come to Jimmy Page's first guitar, the screen shot features close-ups of a sunburst Strat, and the title reads: "Jimmy's Stratocaster." BUT when they cut to early pictures of a young Jimmy Page, he is NOT playing a Strat... He is clearly holding a sunburst Grazioso Futurama!! How could they get that wrong?? What kind of world are we living in???

Sure, you might say, "Well, the inexpensive Czechoslovakian-made Futurama was the closest thing to a Strat that a kid could get in England in the late 1950s. Maybe the movie producers saw the old pictures of Page with a sunburst guitar that kinda looked like a Strat, and went with that..." Really?? Would you want a guy taking out your appendix because he kinda looked like a doctor??? I think not!

Here's John with a 1960 Grazioso Futurama and a new Stratocaster. "It Might Get Loud" is a movie about guitarists and guitars. I'm a bit disappointed that they couldn't tell the difference between those two instruments.

But the rest of it is pretty cool! I give it five out if six strings!


Hey, how long is this email anyway? Let's get back to work. Where's my snow shovel?


See you soon,


PS: Last week I mentioned guitar model designations used by manufacturers. One of the most consistent companies of all time is Martin. Since they first started making guitars 176 years ago, they've used their model names to designate both size and style. The system originally began with two numbers separated by a hyphen. The first number (on the left side of the hyphen) represented the size of the guitar, and the second number (on the right side) represented its level of ornamentation.

The sizes were 1, 2, 2 1/2 and 3, in reverse order, with "1" being their largest guitar, and the higher numbers getting progressively smaller. On the other side of the hyphen the level of fanciness was represented by numbers that got higher as they got fancier. For example: a Style 1-28 was a fancier (and more expensive) model than a Style 1-18. Likewise, a Style 2-28 was the same as a Style 1-28, except smaller.

Eventually Martin started to make larger guitars. Since they backed themselves into a corner by choosing "1" as their largest guitar, they had to go numerically downward to designate larger sizes. So the next larger guitar became a "0"... and the next larger a "00", etc. With this plan, a 00-28 was larger than a 0-28. (In this example, they are the same level of fanciness, since they both end in "28") A 000-28 was even larger. And a 0000-28, well, you get the idea. Eventually they made the largest guitar in the world and called it a "Dreadnought" (after a battleship). The dreadnought was even bigger than a 0000, and rather than continuing to add 0s, Martin designated its size by a "D." The 28-style version, for example, was designated by D-28.

Here's John with an 1891 1-21 (at the time, Martin's biggest guitar) and a new D-28.

Today Martin makes over two hundred different models, but the numbering concept is the same. In the 15 Series, for example, they make a 00-15, an 000-15, and a D-15. All three are the same, except for the size.

This is already too long, so I'll stop here... but in general, the Martin model numbers are pretty straightforward. A DC-15E is a "15 series" guitar (the level of fanciness), a dreadnought size (the "D"), with a cutaway body (the "C") and electric (the "E").

PPS: If you have plenty of time, an interest in old Vox amps, and strong arms, here's a link to "Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years."

PPPS: Customer of the week: Aaron Jentzen

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