Friday 11/18/2011 ~ Changing With the Times
I spent last weekend in Valley Forge, PA, for the semi-annual Philadelphia Vintage Guitar Show. Naturally, it was fabulous to be around so many guitars! We had a booth with lots of cool stuff... and spent the weekend buying, selling, and trading with other folks who also had cool stuff.
But there were at least five times that we needed to reference the internet to look something up.
We had our phones, so the internet was there for us... but since none of our eyes are as good as they used to be, it was a bit of a strain to read the small screen on the iPhone. There is no denying it, it's time for an iPad. So yesterday I went shopping for one. And the smallest available is 16GB.
Now, in 2011, 16GB is a starter package... but it really made me flash back to yesteryear.
When I started Pittsburgh Guitars we actually kept track of sales on paper. (Looking back, that seems so impossible!) It was years before desktop computers became financially practical. I bought the first store computer in 1987, and it was so technologically prehistoric that it didn't even have a hard drive! We had to insert a floppy disc (one of those big ones, that actually was floppy) in the morning to load the programs, and then take it out and insert another one to update the inventory as we sold stuff. (You probably think I'm making this up, but it's true!) (And in 1987 even that level of computer cost $995!)
It's hard to believe how far we've come. Even the term "floppy disc" I used in that last paragraph is archaic.
But it's exciting to keep up with technology. I was thrilled when we finally got a store computer with a real hard drive. And I loved it when the internet came along. Thanks to our very early internet presence, Pittsburgh Guitars still comes up very high on many Google searches. (That wasn't the plan... I just wanted to see pictures of the store on the internet. But it turns out that being online in the super-early days worked out well!)
And that brings us to the Email Special.
I started writing these things in mid-1999. By late 2002 they evolved into the current long ramblings. (And, by the way, thank you for all of the kind messages you've sent over the years. I get carried away when I start to talk about guitars, so these often get a bit long. I appreciate the fact that you continue to read them!)
In the early days, the Email Special mailing list was small. At first I could copy the list into the "Bcc" heading. Then, it got so big that it overloaded the Bcc capability, and I had to start sending multiple versions, each with a section of the mailing list. Eventually we started using a "mail program." I don't know exactly what that means (Betsy handles it!)... but I know it involves a lot of hands-on maintenance.
As I look back on technological advances... from the non-hard drive computer; to bigger, smarter, faster computers; to the internet; and eventually the internet on our phone... it seems that the Email Special has been technologically stagnant. And technology has been fun! We shouldn't stop now!
John recently told me about a service called Constant Contact. He uses it with his band, The Elliotts, and he loves it. I'm still looking into it, but it appears to have some clear advantages. Unlike our current approach, Constant Contact makes it easier to subscribe and unsubscribe; I believe it will lend itself to more artwork and photos; and it offers a way for readers to leave comments. For example, last week I mentioned an old friend Duke Kramer. One of the Email Special readers quickly wrote to ask about the guitar called the "Kramer Duke!" Ha!!
(As an informational aside: There is no relation. Duke Kramer had nothing to do with the Kramer guitar company. Kramer guitars introduced the "Duke" in 1981 as an inexpensive version of the then-popular Steinberger head-less guitars. Here's a picture of a Kramer Duke. Here's a picture of Duke Kramer. As you can see, no relation.)
So, to keep up with life, we're looking into incorporating the Email Special to the Constant Contact format. Any thoughts?
See you soon,
PS: We'd like to thank Ray Davies for not only buying a guitar from us, but for also mentioning Pittsburgh Guitars so many times during his show at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead! John, Sam, Scott and I had a chance to hang with Ray backstage after the show, and it was great!
PPS: To understand the significance of Ray mentioning both me and the store in the middle of his show, you have to go back to the Pittsburgh Guitars history. I was a Kinks fan from the very beginning. When Ray's brother Dave appeared on the Shindig TV show playing a Gibson Flying V (with his arm through the V-part!) it inspired me to further study different types of guitars. Here's Dave Davies with his Flying V. When I started to go to see The Kinks in concert, Ray's use of a white Fender Telecaster inspired me to make my first ever guitar purchase, a white Fender Telecaster! Here's a really fuzzy picture I took at the Syria Mosque on September 1, 1972. In June 1973, even though I didn't play guitar, I bought a white Tele just like it for $175. That purchase eventually led to me buying and selling thousands of guitars!! And it all started with Ray! It's amazing how life works out!
PPPS: Hey, I hope life is working out well for you! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Don't eat too much! We'll be back in early December, maybe with a new look.
PPPPS: You're probably wondering if Pittsburgh Guitars will open at Midnight on Thanksgiving.... Well, no. But we will be here bright and early at 11AM on Friday! That way you can get all of that middle-of-the-night stuff out of the way before you start shopping for the important presents, the guitars!
PPPPPPPPS: Customer of the week: Paul Luc
Hey! Sorry, I forgot a link in the PPS!!!
Here's a picture of Dave Davies with his Flying V.
On June 26, 1965, Dave's main stage guitar, a single cutaway Guild Starfire, was lost on a flight to Los Angeles.
In a hurry to find a replacement, Dave found this 1958 Gibson Flying V still unsold in a music store in L.A. Gibson had introduced the Flying V in 1958, and it was such a market failure that only 98 were manufactured between 1958 and 1959. (Rumor has it that some store owners used the guitar to point to other models!) Dave's guitar had been hanging in the L.A. store for seven years.
The significance of Dave using this guitar on the Shindig TV Show is that it was the first time many Americans ever saw a Flying V. And Dave's unusual way of playing it through the "V" certainly added to its mystique!I'd like to think that Dave's use of the guitar prompted Gibson to reissue the model in the late 1960s!