Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Memphis Bass - Rob Halford: The Metal God

No, I didn't get rid of this one. Just wanted to share the fact that Rob Halford of Judas Priest signed my bass a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I know, I'm pretty cool. I was never even really all that into Priest but if Rob Halford walks into your office and your bass is sitting there with you at your desk, you very politely ask him to sign it. He signed: "Rob Halford the Metal God." Yes he is. And he was super nice by the way. I work for Tony Hawk and we have a radio studio in our office for Tony's Sirius XM radio show. Sometimes the one and only Jason Ellis does his show from the studio and has guests drop in. Sometimes it's Rob Halford and sometimes it's a karate kicking naked Penthouse Pet of the Year. Either way, you can't lose.

I did some recording with it yesterday and I'm pretty sure it sounds better now.

Oh yeah, and Pete Dee from The Adicts was in the office the other day too. I talked guitars with him until they made him leave, but he promised to write up a good story and send my way. Be sure to check out the Pete Dee signature model from Schecter...it's pretty cool. Tele style with two humbuckers and a Bigsby. Nice.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Harmony H22 Hollowbody Bass

Face it, sometimes you just get lucky. Of course, you're not going to get lucky if you don't put yourself in position to find the luck. One day I happened to walk into a thrift store that I had been in a million times before with very little luck and there sat this Harmony H22 hollowbody bass guitar over in the corner. Sunburst with a big, weird shaped pickguard and those beautiful F-holes. It looked to be in pretty good shape from a distance and had a crappy chipboard case next to it. I don't think I had ever owned a bass up until this point, but I knew I wasn't going to pass up this one. I checked out the price tag and it was a more than fair $75. I knew it was mine.

If you are like me, and god help you if you are, sometimes $75 is a piece of cake and sometimes it's the most money in the world. Lately it's been a hefty sum anytime after the 10th of the month. So, luckily when I came across this gem I was doing just fine and was able to fork over the dough. I rarely take much cash with me when I'm out junkin', so there is always that horrible feeling that I need to find an ATM machine and find it fast and hope that the lady at the counter will hold whatever it is that I need the cash for. In this case the lady was nice enough to hold it for me for 30 minutes, "but no more." I scrambled out the door as casually as possible so as not to raise any suspicions. Came back, forked over the bills and smiled my way out the door.

I really didn't know much about this bass and was really just beginning to get into cool vintage instruments. I wish I had come across it now instead because I think if I had, I might still own it. As it turns out, I believe I only kept it for a short period of time and eventually took it to a nice little vintage shop and sold it for about $350-400. Can't remember for sure. I was just looking on eBay a second ago and noticed that one sold within the last two weeks for well over $700.

So, not only did I miss out on continuing to own a sweet bass, I missed out on the financial appreciation as well. I usually do.

I got this info (and some photos) from vintageguitars.org.uk: "The H22 featured a laminated top, back, bolt-on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and is only really let down by its cheap looking plastic knobs, and too-small guitar style tuning pegs. The electronics feature a passive DeArmond pickup, volume and tone controls, and a 'bass enhancer' switch that really makes this instrument rumble. The Harmony company was based in Chicago where the H22 was manufactured. The company was disbanded in 1975, having produced thousands of instruments for itself and other companies."

The H22/1 featured double cutaways and looks just about as cool. I found some photos of this model and a few other Harmony basses here. I have to say, even though it's not that big of a difference between the single cut and the double cut, I really like the single cutaway better for some reason. Maybe the double just looks more standard or Gibson-esque.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Squier not Squire

This is just a pet peeve and I need to get it off my chest. All day long, every single day, here in the San Diego area on Craigslist people list guitars and basses for sale by Squire. I'm sure they do it in your area too. People! It's right there on the headstock. It's spelled S-Q-U-I-E-R.

I feel better now. As you were.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creston Guitars (very cool)

This is not a paid promo or anything...I just came across a link to these guitar this morning and wanted to share. I don't usually blatantly promote stuff on here, but these are darn cool. The photo I included shows a few hand-painted guitars, but most of them do not include this style of artwork. Many are made from or include materials supplied by the person commissioning the guitar...old pieces of wood from a barn, or pieces of metal from a childhood home. Jay Farrar of Son Volt had Creston build him a guitar using pieces of an old rock, some wood and an old carriage bolt from the childhood home of Woodie Guthrie.

Anyway, check them out...very cool instruments. CLICK HERE

Oh, and credit where credit is due...I found the link about these at Draplin Design, a great graphic design site and blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1978 Fender Antigua Hardtail Stratocaster

Submitted by Michael Rose • Madison, NC

1984; I'm in college at Western Carolina University (Cullowhee NC, about an hour west of Asheville). I had been playing guitar since I was 13, but didn't get an electric until my third year of college. A Memphis Les Paul copy ... after a year of that, I was ready to get something better. I was a college student with limited funds. But I did work each summer, and during the Fall semester I had scored a job as a short-order cook three mornings a week at a restaurant right on campus.

In the spring semester I got a small tax refund check and was ready for a guitar upgrade. I planned to drive into Asheville on a weekend and hit all the music shops and pawn shops in one Saturday. If that panned out, I would go to Atlanta the next weekend and hit Rhythym City.

It was then that I learned about a student in my dorm who was in a bit of a predicament (we'll call him Mr. X). Mr. X missed a lot of classes and always seemed to be hanging out in his room...laying on his bed in his underwear...eating a large bag of Doritos, watching TV...and a record might be playing at the same time. Mr. X drank a lot too...not just on weekends. Mr. X had a baby pet squirrel that fell out of a tree. He kept it in his room for about a week but rolled over on it in his sleep and it died. Mr. X was a little overweight...and Mr. X was in trouble. BIG trouble. Mean people were looking for him...people he had purchased substances from...so there was a large debt he couldn't pay, we're talking about a lot of money.

Mr. X was going to go away, but he needed some money.

So, Mr. X was selling everything in his room that wasn't bolted down. Including a '78 Antigua Stratocaster I had played several times when visiting. I knew nothing about guitar values, rarity, and the "Vintage" market (this was pre-Internet, after all). All I knew was that it was a Fender. Stratocaster. Maple neck. Hardtail, so it always stayed in tune. And, he had the original case.

Mr. X knew I played and told me the guitar was for sale. He said he was hoping to get $500 for it. I told him it was several years old and had a couple of scratches. He came down to $450. I could tell by his state of mind (and the state of his room) that he was desperate. I offered him $175 cash! He got upset, but didn't rise from the bed. He said it was way too low. I told him about my tax refund check and, that if he didn't sell me the guitar at that price, I was going to Asheville Saturday morning to buy one. And that was that. My best deal, ever.

I "grew up" on that guitar - it was inspiring to play a professional, American-made instrument. In a couple of years, boredom set in ... the folly of youth. As stated earlier, I didn't know anything about guitar values. I put a Strat-sized humbucker in the bridge position. Later, the neck started fretting out. Instead of getting a fret job done and keeping the original neck, I replaced the entire neck ... and the guitar shop kept the original neck. And then I traded the guitar in to the same shop for something of lesser value which I shall not name. A year later, I was in the same shop and saw my guitar on the wall. A Fender Stratocaster decal had been carefully placed on the headstock of the replacement neck. At least I knew that was creepy, and told all my friends to steer clear of that shop.

Because of the Internet, it's a lot easier to learn about guitar values today ... but it's a lot harder to find deals like I did. Whenever original Antigua Strats do pop up on ebay, Gbase, or Craigslist, they typically go for between $1800 and $3000.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Music Man 112 RD One Hundred (another one)

Yes, I have had this exact model amp once before and even written about it here on the old blog. The only difference I can tell about this new one I got last night and the old one is the background color on the logo nameplate. Otherwise they appear to be exactly the same except this one does have it's original EV speaker, which, after looking at it, may explain why this amp weighs in at slightly over 1200 lbs. Okay, obviously I'm exaggerating, but not by much. It's a small 1-12" combo amp and it weighs over 70 lbs. Luckily it has casters.

Okay, but so more to the point of why I'm already writing about this amp if I just got it last night. No, I haven't sold it yet (UPDATE: SOLD), though that was the original plan. And I never rule out the possibility of almost any of my instruments taking a walk. But the story of how I got this was too funny to pass up, so here you go...

I was doing my hourly check of the music section of Craigslist here in the San Diego area and up pops an ad with the title Music Man Amp - $150. I figured either something was wrong with it or it was a misprint. I clicked on the ad and sure enough, there was a photo of the amp (blurry) and one short sentence saying it was for sale and it was in Lakeside, which is WAY far from me. But for $150 I'm willing to drive a bit. There was a phone number, so I quickly dialed the number before anyone else jumped on it. A somewhat young girl answered the phone and I asked if I was speaking to Jennifer. She said yes. I said I was calling about the amp for sale and was it still available. She said yes. I asked if it worked properly and she said yes. She really offered up no other info and sounded sort of clueless. At this point, especially since she sounded young, I asked if this was her amp. She said no, it had been her dad's and he had recently died and they were selling some of his stuff. Oh. Shit. Now I just felt bad. My instincts as a decent person were to stop and tell her to shut down her ad and relist the amp for $350-400 and make some more money off the amp. But in that split second I decided that, instead of just buying it and turning around and reselling the next day for a profit, I could really use a good amp and I would buy it for the cheap price and hang on to it. I kind of felt weird about profiting from her family's misfortune.

So, I asked for an address, assured her I would be coming to buy it that evening and to be sure to hang on to it for me. Check. All systems go. I got off work around 5:00 and had to go pick up my kids. I live in the San Diego area and, as you may know, it doesn't rain much around here. But, when it does, all chaos breaks loose. You'd think it snowed 25 inches...cars are sliding around and slamming into each other on the freeway, no one slows down to allow for the slicker roads due to the oil and water buildup, and traffic turns into an even bigger nightmare than it usually is. I headed out on this adventure figuring it would take me about an hour or so to get there. Lots of weird backroads and two-lane highways and other weirdness as I went to a part of the county I'd never been to. Lakeside is sort of known as a bit of a redneck area...yes we have rednecks here in California...maybe bigger rednecks than half of the south.

I don't know if these people I was about to encounter were rednecks or survivalists or meth dealers or what, but they didn't resemble my neighbors much.

Keep in mind, I have a 7-year old and a 5-year old in the back seat. I FINALLY find the address and pull up this long driveway up to a house on a slight hill. The garage door is open and I notice a few people milling around in the garage, very curious who the hell is pulling up in their driveway. As I open my car door and tell the kids to get out, two guys saunter out of the garage holding rifles. At this point I notice many other rifles leaned up against the wall and the work bench and the lawn mower. So I quickly holler out, "Hi, I'm Jaimie." The guy on the left says, "So." Uh, well. Hmmm. Don't shoot. The guy is sizing me up. Thank god just about this time some lady comes walking quickly out of the house and tells everyone to chill out, it's just the guy who is here to buy the amp. They put down their guns. Oddly my kids never noticed the guns because about three tiny chihuahuas came running out of the garage and my kids are deathly afraid of dogs. Any dogs. Even ones that resemble rats.

The lady invites me to come in and check out the amp. I decide to be cordial and I shake the hands of the guys in the garage. Just bein' friendly and all. Please don't ambush me when I go in. At this point I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing. It seems okay, but I also don't ever recall going to pick up any other guitar or amp and being confronted by gun-toting paranoid garage dwellers. I went inside, saw the amp, quickly surmised that it looked good and complete and I gave the nice lady her money. I picked up the 1200 lb. amp and headed to the door. I wasted no time getting it in the front seat, getting the kids buckled in, and hitting the road for the long drive home.

Once I got home, I plugged in the amp and gave it a quick test. It was sweet. These old Music Man amps are just awesome. This thing has enough power to blow out a small town. I got the kids to bed and couldn't turn the amp up past .5 or so. I plan to give it a better work out tonight. I am planning to keep it...at least for now. I'm sure at some point I will come to the conclusion, just the last time I had one of these amps, that it's just too much amp for me. But until then...guns, dogs and rock'n'roll.

UPDATE: Just thought I'd throw this in. I was just doing some research on this amp and found an old Music Man price sheet. Brand new this amp was $695.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fender Champion 600

Much to the chagrin of my good friend Rob, I have a new entry into the old blog. There was a short period of time recently that I owned absolutely zero guitar amplifiers. I live in a small place now and had sold my ridonkulously loud Rivera Hundred Duo Twelve. I'm not in a band that requires electric guitars. And lately I've been doing some recording in GarageBand with their all new guitar modeling that is really pretty amazing. Especially considering how cheap it is. So, I was out at my buddy Rob's house and he was thinking about parting with his little Fender Champion 600. He's got a sweet Vox AC30 and lots of room for loudness, so the Champion was really just more for fun for him. He sold it to me for $100 and I was happy to be back in the amp business, no matter how small.

So I had the Champion and was actually playing around with it quite a bit. Last weekend I went to the Swap Meet in Oceanside, CA and found a Korg Toneworks AX3000G modeling pedal thing for a mere $60. This thing is so much fun to play around with. But, again, not something I have a need for. Hence, the reason it is currently on eBay for a really good price. Maybe you might like to get it?

But all this amp playing made me really want to get something a tiny bit more substantial.

If you've read lots of the stories here on this blog you might remember that I'm a big fan of the Fender Blues Jr. amps...perfect combo of size, price, and sound. At least for me anyway. So, I decided to get myself back in the Blues Jr. business.

Just as I was deciding that's what I wanted to do, a guy ran an ad on Craigslist wanting to buy a Fender Champion 600. I emailed him and we struck a deal. I put the amp in a backpack and hopped on my Vespa and even delivered it to him. Voila! Now I have the seed money for a Blues Jr. Maybe once the Korg pedal sells I'll be able to come up with a few extra bucks and get one very soon. I do have to say though, I really like the lacquered tweed models I see pop up on eBay sometimes. However, they are a couple of hundred bucks more than the standard black. And now Fender seems to be putting out some special colored tolex models that match guitars. I've seen a surf green tolex and a red version. Interesting. I guess we'll have to see.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thrift Store Find: Yamaha FG-160

This weekend I needed
to put some miles on my car...I just had some work done to pass my smog test and the computer was reset, causing me to need to put about 100 miles on it before going in for the retest. So I headed out to a a smaller town about 25 miles away and wandered into a thrift store. First thing I noticed was an acoustic guitar behind the counter. It was pretty beat up, scraped up, had a tuner and some bridge pins missing, about 10 inches of binding gone, only 3 strings and enough dirt and grime on it to hide what was once a decent guitar.

It was marked at $49.95, but then I noticed that everything was on sale for 50% off. I decided to take a chance. I needed a less expensive guitar to take camping with me and thought maybe, if I could just clean it up a bit and put some new strings on it, it might work.

I took the old strings off...they must have been original to the guitar because they practically disintegrated in my hand when I took them off. There was a dustball inside the guitar about the size of a golf ball. I started to just clean it off, but then I just kept going and ended up buffing and waxing the whole thing. As beat up and dented and scraped as it was, you could tell it just wanted to try to look nice again. Like an old stray dog after it's first bath in years. It still had the scrapes and dings, but underneath it all was a really nice guitar. I found an old tuner I had and screwed it in and found a couple of old bridge pins I had saved from some other old guitar.

I put a new set of Martin SP strings on it and tuned it up and guess what? It sounded fantastic.

Definitely the best $24.95 I have ever spent on music gear.

It's a Yamaha FG-160, made it Taiwan. I hopped online and started doing some research and determined it was made in 1983 [edit update: actually made in 1973] and the internet is full of people who just go on and on about how much they love their old Yamaha FG-160. I'm telling you, this thing sounds darn good. It will definitely be the best sounding campfire guitar around. I haven't had time to take any photos yet, but the one I have put here with this story was found on some Japanese website. I will post some of mine when I get the chance.

UPDATE March 2015: I have been playing this guitar regularly since I found it in 2009. I own other very nice and much more expensive guitars and this one just stands out. When I'm recording, this is the guitar I use...just sounds fantastic on recordings. Last night I found another FG-160 on Craigslist for a cheap price and I jumped on it. Going to buy it tonight from a guy who has owned it for over 30 years. Can't wait to see if it sounds as good as this first one. Do I need another guitar? No! Can I pass this one up? Well...no. Just can't do it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This isn't really one that got away, but just wanted to share a cool new percussion box. It's the Mojo Stomp Box. It's one part folk art and one part old time percussion. It's as simple as you get...you keep rhythm with your foot while you are playing guitar (or banjo or uke or whatever you've got). It's got that old jangle sounds from the bottle caps loosely nailed all over the box. There's even a bottle cap opener on the front that doubles as a handle. These are hand made and no two are alike. Pretty cool. Might make a good Christmas gift for that guitarist who has everything.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vintage Takamine

Story submitted by Tim M.
(Tim, how about a photo?)

About two weeks ago I was onstage about to start “my gig” when one of the tuning keys on my Takamine broke. There wasn’t anything I could do about it at that moment, so I grabbed a guitar from one of our other guitarists and used it for the performance. The next day I decided it was time for a new guitar. I’d had that old cheap Takamine for about ten years and had always known I wanted to buy a better guitar. I took this broken tuning key as a sign that today was the day! So I drove down to Guitar Center, dragging my Takamine along with me to buy a replacement tuning key, but mostly with a new guitar in mind.

After a couple hours in the holy of holies, I decided on a Breedlove acoustic/electric. Nothing particular special about the guitar, but it had a great pick up, solid build, and felt great in my hands. And rather than dishing out the money I’d need to pay for the Takamine repair, I decided to instead trade it in on the Breedlove. And thus the heartache began…

The minute I walked out of that store I regretted trading in my Takamine.

It was cheap, but I had played that thing all over the world; from the Eastern seaboard of the United States, to all over the UK and Ireland, to France and even Eastern Europe. The thing had become an old friend and was full of memories for me. And now I had sold it over $100 worth of new tuning keys.

I literally had trouble sleeping that night. In fact, I didn’t even pull my new guitar out of its case to play that night. And the next morning was more of the same. What had I done?!!! And so, twenty-four hours after trading it in at Guitar Center, I found myself driving back to Fairfax to see if they still had my guitar. They did. And I bought it back at full price. Hahaha!

Oh but it was worth it. I love my new guitar and it will likely be the one I play on stage from here on out. But my old friend is back home with me and, when I’m in the mood to have a guitar in my hands while I’m laying around the house, my Takamine is the one I reach for.

Good to have you back old friend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Haunted 1930s Kalamazoo Archtop

Taken from an
eBay auction by Statewide Antiques

If ever there was a guitar that has character and possibly a soul, this 1930s Gibson Kalamazoo is it ! Measures 39-1/2". Lower bout is 14-7/8". Depth is 4-3/8". This guitar shows the battle scars of an old time blues player. I think his spirit is still connected to this guitar, so if you're superstitious you shouldn't bid on this guitar for real as I will explain below.

There's a lifetime of heavy playing wear on the upper back of the neck. Pick wear and scratches on the entire upper bout. Fingerboard wear on the first 3 frets from someone who obviously loved to play. Despite the obvious open split on the back, this guitar with old strings plays surprisingly well! Action is low and neck is straight. First 3 frets need leveling or replacing.

There's something about this guitar that captivates and draws you in to play it. For the short 2 weeks I've had her, while playing, it's as if the spirit of the old bluesman starts playing through you. I'd keep her but the strange vibe attached to this guitar has given me 2nd thoughts if it should remain in my home. I've noticed a strange feeling when playing just this guitar. The best I can describe is imagine losing your identity, as if you start becoming someone else as you play.

This guitar is right out of a twilight zone novel. Many people would embrace a guitar with this ultimate mojo. The last straw that has forced me to sell was my wife being awakened hearing what she thought was me playing a guitar and humming around 3:00 AM. She went to roll out of bed to check why I was up so late only to roll over and find me by her side in bed. She wakes me up freaking out and told me to listen. I heard it and nervously went down stairs where I keep the guitar. As soon as I entered the room there was complete silence and the hairs on my arm were standing. For the record I don't hum when playing a guitar.

This indeed is a special guitar for someone who is OK owning a guitar with a possible paranormal connection. It really doesn't bother me but when it starts freaking out the wife, it's time to sell. Only reason I'm sharing this is so the right person ultimately buys this guitar. Preferably someone without kids. Perfect if your mother-in-law lives with you. The only history I know about this guitar is it was purchased from an elderly couple who relocated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Good luck !

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Black Cat Pedals - Shameless Plug

Awhile back I was contacted by the fine folks at For Musician's Only, who make and sell some of the best effects pedals out there. They had just acquired Black Cat and wanted to do a makeover on the graphics. I was more than happy to be involved and, long story short, they just announced the relaunch of the Black Cat brand, complete with the logo I designed for them.

The good thing is that, although the pedals came out looking great, they sound even better. Yes, they are boutique and a little pricier than your standard DOD or Boss, but good sound is worth the price.

Check 'em out by clicking this link.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A REAL Gibson Les Paul Flametop

I found this item for sale on eBay and asked the owner if I could share the story here at The Ones That Got Away. This is an amazing true story. Check it out, man.

Story by Charlie


I guess this is kind of an unbelievable story but it is all true. I left the house one day and my near mint 1985 Gibson Reissue Flametop was safely perched (or so I thought) on top of a another guitar case, in the corner top edge of my music room. When I returned home a few hours later I was not prepared for what I discovered. I walked into the room and the Gibson case was on the floor smelling of smoke. I looked up to see black soot marks at the top corner of the walls where the headstock end of the case had been sitting. When I turned back and inspected the case I was appalled at what I found.

First off, I noticed that there were three holes directly above where the bridge would have been sitting inside the case. I proceeded to open the case with the latches, even though much of it was disassembled. Upon opening the case I realized that the guitar had been struck by lightning . How could this have happened!!? I basically screamed. It seemed impossible.

I found out that when I was gone, a severe thunderstorm had come through. Outside of the house was a huge pine tree and, upon going outside and inspecting the tree, there was clearly a visible line coming down the tree until it came to an area directly across from the trim of the house. The lightning had struck the huge pine tree and traveled down the trunk until it reached the nails holding the trim to house. Then it jumped across through the nails, went through the drywall, and struck the top edge of the case.

It then went into the case and down the neck of the guitar, vaporizing the strings, (remnants of which can still be seen on the fretboard and frets) also apparently traveling down the truss rod inside the neck. Then it blew out the last few frets on the fretboard above the end of the truss rod before apparently melting the insides of the pickups. It then proceeded to explode some of the bridge saddles outward through the case. Apparently they are responsible for holes I initially saw in the case, which I had no idea how they got there.

I also found where the lightning had grounded into the carpet and cement floor of the room and blasted out a half moon size pocket in the cement about the size of the silver dollar. I have posted pictures of various aspects of the outside house damage and pine tree. The lightning strike also killed the tree.

As I said, before the incident, the guitar was in near mint condition. It remains as I found it, the day of the incident. I have not tried to clean it up in any way. As a one-of-a-kind collectible, I would be very surprised if there is another one of these anywhere one in the world. As a project, it will take some work but I believe it can be repaired with the proper parts and skill. I am including the frets and parts of the fretboard that blew out, as much as I could find. There is only one remaining bridge saddle.

Years ago, two of the original pots were removed, though the original knobs and pointers are still with the guitar. The tailpiece is gone, but the original bridge is still with the guitar. One of the features of this model is the "Thicker '59 Style Neck." In 1991 this model was renamed "The '59 Les Paul Fame Top."
link to the auction

Monday, June 29, 2009

Something New

Well, since I sold the Swamp Thang I haven't unloaded anything else and no one seems to be sending in their own stories (hint, hint people!). So I thought I'd share "before" photos of a guitar I have on the way. Yes, I've been selling some stuff off because of tight times, but I paid for this one way back in about October '08 and it's finally almost done. It's a resonator guitar hand built by Mike Franks at M.J. Franks Guitars.

Mike was nice enough to send me photos of the guitar just before it went out the door to get the finish done.

So, I thought maybe I'd share some photos and then, when it's all done, post the final beauties. I have a good feeling about this one...it's going to have a Fishman resonator pickup in it for playing live and I'm not worried about the rest...Mike makes 'em right. It's going to have a dark, dark stain on the back and sides and vintage sunburst top. Oh, and it's all solid mahogany. Just glad I paid for this back then so I could still get my hands on it. Mike suggested picking up the new Fishman Jerry Douglas Aura Imaging pedal at some point to go with it, so if Mike says so, I guess I'll have to start saving up again. Enjoy the photos and I'll post more when it's done.

In the meantime, please, send me your stories. I'd love to keep this thing rollin' and I know everyone who reads this has a story of their own.

UPDATE: Here are a couple of photos I just got halfway through the finish. It's getting a stunning antique sunburst finish and I'm getting antsy. Shouldn't be too long now.

UPDATE FINAL: Here are a couple of photos of the final instrument. It's a beauty and it sounds unbelievable.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Just Threw Up a Little in My Mouth

I just did something I SWORE I wouldn't do. I just listed my Swamp Thang pedal on eBay. Dammit. Jump on it quick if you want just about the best sounding tremolo pedal there is...short of buying an old blonde Fender Tremolux. I will be buying another one some day...I think that will be the running joke on this site...how many Swamp Thang pedals will Jaimie buy in one lifetime?


UPDATE: Sold! But I'll get another some day. Man oh man. Can't believe it's gone.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gretsch Way Out West Cowboy Guitar

Hey, long time no post. Sorry, but I have moved and divorced and lots of stuff and just have not had time to post anything. As always, I'd love to have more of your stories. Send 'em my way...I know you've got them.

Anyway, in the midst of all the change, one thing that has happened is I've sold a fair amount of gear lately. Not much in the way of guitars, but plenty of other stuff...digital recorder, monitors, etc. Friends of mine have actually been using Garage Band to record with, and I was really hesitant to admit that it sounded darn good. I wanted to justify my stand alone Korg digital recorder that I have come to know and love...a Korg D16XD. However, when times are tough you start to decide what is expendable. After visiting a recording session at my friends' house and seeing how well Garage Band was working, I decided to give it a go. I'll let you know how it goes.

Now, on to the guitar that got away.

I think I posted something previously about attending a Gretsch Guitars night at Buffalo Brothers guitars in Carlsbad, CA. Fred Gretsch IV was there in person and spoke eloquently about his rebirth of the family business. Although I once owned a Gretsch Sparkle Jet from just about the time Fred took over the company, it is now long gone (Hey, there's another story I can write) and the only Gretsch I owned was one of the really cool Gretsch Cowboy guitars from a year or two ago.

I took it with me in hopes of getting Fred's signature on it...which I did. He was semi-gracious enough to sign the back of the headstock for me. These guitars are super cool and bring back memories of some of the old stencil westerns from the '40s and '50s. However, what I liked best about them was that they were definitely updated in theme. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek tributes to the old guitars. The one I got was the "Way Out West" model, which featured artwork of aliens coming down and capturing cows straight off the plains to take back with them to, I'm assuming, probe and prod...or maybe they just wanted a good hamburger.

The boxes that came with the guitars were equally as well done, paying tribute to old line cut advertising complete with retro-style graphics. There were four different models and I'm sure many collectors bought one of each...they were seriously affordable. I believe I paid $150 for mine brand new, tax included out the door. Thanks Bob!

So, fast forward to a month or so ago and I see an ad on Craigslist asking if anyone has one of these to sell. I was looking for a few extra bucks at the exact moment and decided to take the guy up on his offer. I sold it for $80, which is one of the few times I've lost money on a guitar. I have to admit I've done well in that department. But this is not a guitar that is going to be super valuable I don't think, so I didn't feel all that bad about it. A cool guitar that played surprisingly well, but not one to necessarily feel bad about losing. Anyway, it's in the home of someone who really wants it and that's a good thing. Collect 'em all, trade 'em with your friends!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Squier Classic Vibe Duo Sonic

Story submitted by Jackson D. Green

This thing did not have a long life in my hands, but for the time I had it, I loved every minute.

I purchased this guitar on Craigslist a few months after it came out for a relatively cheap 165 USD (especially because these currently sell new for 330). Now, I know a bargain when I see it, and I love the Fender Mustang, so I snapped it up in a heart beat. The seller was nice enough to ship the guitar to my house for no extra charge. A few days later, it had arrived. I can't even describe the feeling I got pulling it out of the box. It was just such an amazing moment, and I knew that this guitar was truly a special instrument.

I can't think of one thing I DIDN'T like about the guitar, other than the toggle switch which broke during an especially rigorous practice session and was easily replaced.

The aesthetics were great, the neck rivaled that of an MIJ Mustang, and the pickups rang rich and jangly, with plenty of warmth coming from the basswood body. Unfortunately, she never saw a gig.

I needed money to pay off some friends, so it was either get rid of the Duo Sonic, or get rid of the Fender Cyclone, the first Fender I ever owned, a birthday present from my parents, and an all around great guitar. The choice was made, the Duo Sonic had to go. I sold it on Craigslist a few weeks later (I was sick the day I actually sold it, go figure) for $200. I have since recovered economically, and recently purchased a red Squier Affinity Series Duo Sonic from the '90s, which I'm hoping will fill the void of the great guitar I let slip away.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Squier Musicmaster Bass Vista Series Reissue

Damn, this one didn't last long. I just got this bass a couple of months ago from Craig's List in Orange County. It was actually listed once before and by the time I got around to contacting the guy, the ad was gone and it was sold. Or so I thought. Evidently ANOTHER case of Craig's List Flake-itis caused this one to come back up for sale a week later. This time I jumped on it.

I drove up to Orange County from San Diego...the guy was nice enough to meet me halfway...and met in the parking lot of a Guitar Center. It's always fun to do a transaction for a cool instrument within steps of a giant supermarket of a guitar store. I actually had a guy who wanted to meet me at a guitar store and then do the deal inside the store so he could try out the guitar through one of their amps. I drew the line there...just not kosher.

Anyway, so the guy meets me and he turns out to be a very cool guy with some great punk rock roots. He also knew a few musicians I knew and we ended up chatting about instruments and the weirdness of Craig's List for way too long. The bass was in excellent condition and we both had decided that anyone who is afraid of a classic shell pink Fender because it might mean they are gay is an idiot. This thing looks really cool and classic...yeah I know...I just used the word classic in the previous sentence. But it's true. Do not be afraid people.

I had the bass for a couple of months and really liked it. It's a short scale instrument and it was strung with flatwound strings, which I'd never had before. As my boss would say, "Me likey." Not sure why my boss says that. Even though the bridge is a pretty basic piece of hardware that was originally designed to be a budget student instrument back in the day, it stayed in tune just fine. Again, loved the instrument, but unfortunately I'm still in financial survival mode from the recent split with the wife, so it came down to Fender bass or refridgerator. I like my butter solid and my mayo unspoiled, so I went with...refridgerator! I have to say it was a good call too. I have enjoyed many a fine cool beverage out of the fridge but I really only used the bass once for a quick recording.

I sold the bass to a touring musician from L.A. who came down and practically did surgery on the thing right at my desk at work during my lunch hour. Maybe you'll see it out on the road somewhere.

I had loaned my nephew a '70s Memphis P-bass copy a couple of years ago, and I happen to know that he no longer plays it. So, I made the call and my sis is shipping it back to me as we speak. So, I will soon have a home recording bass that, if I remember correctly, actually sounded pretty decent for what it was. It was one of the made in Japan models from Memphis and they are pretty decent for super cheap.

In fact, just today, I took a chance and bought a Memphis Les Paul Junior copy off eBay. It's sort of a cross between a Junior and a Special...it's got the style of the Junior but with two P-90 dog-eared pickups. Sunburst with a tortoise guard. I've been wanting a Jr. since I became a fan of Keith Urban (the man can PLAY the guitar), but can't afford a real one right now. So I kept my eye out for either a Memphis (which are HARD to find) and were made in Japan in the Fujigen factory in the '70s, or an older Univox. The Univox Junior copies (the model is called the Limited Edition...here's one on eBay) are supposed to be really nice too. I see them for sale somewhat regularly, but they are a little pricier. Still much cheaper than a real one. If you are looking for a budget Junior, be sure to scour eBay for a Univox or a Memphis. I'll let you know if the Memphis was worth the chance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Successful Guitar Center Dumpster Dive

I'll make this one short and then tomorrow I'll finally have a new story for you. If you've read a lot of the stories on this blog you might remember that every time I go to Guitar Center I can't help but drive around back and check out the dumpster. Now I don't check the dumpster everywhere I go...you won't find me scrounging for slightly rotten apples at the grocery store. However, almost every time I go to Guitar Center I find stuff in the dumpster of value. I've found and sold everything from electronic drum parts to mic stands to Hartke bass cabinets.

This weekend, as we were driving past GC, my kids even got into the act and suggested I check it out. We pulled around back and, holy crap, sure enough...15 new or almost new guitar gig bags. I pulled out the large plastic bag they were in and tossed them all in the back of the Explorer and headed home. Once I got home I realized there were some nice bags in there, some still with tags on them. In one bag there was also a nice guitar tuner and a pack of nice Ernie Ball Slinky coated acoustic strings. They now reside on my '64 Epiphone Frontier. And the tuner works great.

I kept one of the nicer gig bags that was slightly smaller for my Gretsch cowboy guitar and then set aside the two Dean Flying V padded gig bags.

Who knew you could get form-fitting gig bags for Flying V's?

Anyway, I gave the rest to my oldest daughter who sometimes works at a band rehearsal studio and she's going to try to unload them for a little gas money. I put the two Flying V bags on eBay last night and they both sold in less than 24 hours for $20 each. I know, it's not going to make me rich, but that's basically $40 FREE MONEY to buy some new tunes on iTunes with or maybe pick up a cheap pedal on eBay. Maybe some strings. Again...FREE MONEY.

I don't know what's going on at Guitar Center, but please, keep it coming.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Home Boy: The Best Guitar Ever Made

Story submitted by Kotornut
from Jemsite (an Ibanez fansite)

There's this story my friends and I used to tell people. We'd tell them the story of "the best guitar ever made." I made it, and that's the funny part. But since almost no one has ever seen the guitar or played it, no one can effectively argue that the guitar wasn't the best guitar ever made. It was one of a kind and only a few of my friends and myself ever played it, so it can't really be compared to another guitar by any one else.

When I was fifteen years old I played high school basketball. During a game late in the season I went for a lay-up and when I came down I felt the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my knee. I had blown my ACL out. At first the doctor thought it was just a sprain but after twisting my knee a few more times and being off my feet again for another couple months the eventual MRI showed that I had no ACL. How does this relate to guitars? Easy. What did I do with myself when I suddenly had all that free time sitting around my house? I played guitar. But even better, my father and I built a guitar.

I had this strange guitar. It was an Epiphone Strat copy form the Eighties. It was white on white and it was a hunk of guitar junk. I had put two humbuckers in it but it still wasn't good. I liked the neck however (probably not these days but then, I was fifteen). It looked like a Jackson neck and felt pretty good. So I decided I wanted to make this guitar better, or make a better guitar completely. My dad ordered a mahogany body blank, a new hardtail bridge, some cream knobs and pickup rings and a graphite nut. He also got some tools for guitar woodworking. He let me decide what shape to make. I went through all the guitars I liked every day thinking what to make. I settled in on a Strat or soloist styled guitar. I had a great time helping my dad cut out the body and doing all the body contours. In the end I had this mahogany soloist shaped guitar with two Gibson humbuckers, a set neck, a Schaller 475 flat hardtail bridge, one volume and one tone and a three way switch. We glued the neck because we thought that was better than bolting it on it was due to my old guitar construction beliefs.

To be honest, it must have looked like a mutt, but to me at that time it was amazing. The guitar did have better tones than the Epiphone Strat copy and miles of sustain. It was oiled orange and smoothed with steel wool so left it natural looking. It was unlike what any of my friends had. I loved it.

We all called it "Home Boy." A Satch related joke if you get it.

I played that guitar every day for three or four years. It was the guitar I used in the turning point of my playing. I went from a beginner to an intermediate with it and I really did play so much my fingers bled. Eventually, I got some cash and I bought a G&L Legacy (another guitar that got away) and played it more than Home Boy but I never felt like Home Boy was a bad guitar. In fact, I let the singer in my band borrow it because he didn't have a good guitar. It helped our sound quite a bit, but that was also how the guitar got away.

The singer took the guitar to his church and used it to play with the church band too. I didn't mind, I told him he could use it. I thought, as anyone would, that he would keep it with him and take care of it. You shouldn't trust other people with things like this. He left it at the church and he never took it home. I never knew. He just left it in the case in the youth group room. Well, the church was a place that was always bustling, with in and out all day and one day the guitar was gone when he went to practice with the church band. He called me and with a terrified voice told me about the guitar. He was worried I would be really angry and so on. I told him it was "just a guitar," but inside I was pretty disappointed. I had built most of that guitar and designed it too. I didn't want to lose it. I couldn't have sold it for anything anyways. But most of all I trusted him with it and it turned out to be a mistake. I learned my lesson and I think he learned his, because he never had the same problem again. I think I did the right thing by letting him off the hook and maintaining our friendship, because as much I liked the guitar the loss of a friend, but I did think it was a pretty huge mistake.

I eventually got some money given to me by the church's insurance company. It was more than I had spent on the guitar, but I didn't really care because I had lost the "best guitar ever made." For me it was the memory of making the guitar and knowing it was all mine that was the important part. I even laugh when I think about someone trying to sell it, pawn it or whatever, because they won't get anything for it. There was no serial number, there were no maker logos. All of that I had sanded off. There's something to be said about a guitar that signals a time in your life and that is by your side when you go through some of life's experiences, and this guitar was the symbol of my youthful guitar days. The summer I was laid up with a bum knee was the summer I tripled my guitar skills through six hour-a-day practice sessions. I had nothing else to do but play Home Boy all day and night. That's what makes a guitar memorable and something you want to hold on. Not a price tag or a maker's emblem. It's the memories.

Currently, I have a guitar that, to me, is perfect; A 1991 Ibanez RG560 (It won't get away). But the allure of Home Boy is so strong I'm currently calculating the cost of buying Warmoth parts to make a Home Boy tribute.

We'll see.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Feature: Swap Meet Finds

I don't go the the swap meet or thrift stores or pawn shops regularly, though from the number of stories on this blog with ties to those places you'd think I lived there. But, when I DO go I think I have a pretty good eye for spotting the interesting stuff. And not always guitars...I have a house full of pretty cool furniture and decor that has originated from second hand stores and the like. When I do find something I thought maybe I'd share my treasures...BEFORE they become stories on this old blog.

On Sunday I took the kids and headed to the Oceanside Swap Meet in Oceanside, CA. I have a knack for finding good stuff there and, after hitting almost every aisle with no luck, I came across a pretty cool Marshall Micro Bass stack. You know the ones...they stand about three and a half feet tall and look kind of cool...or kind of goofy...depending on your point of view. Usually you see the mini stacks made for guitar, but this one is a rare bass mini-stack, which I have now found out is known as model 3505 and were only made from '87 to '91. There is NOTHING on the internet about these other than one review at Harmony Central. The fine folks at Marshall tell me they don't have the original manual for it either. I'm on my own.

I asked the guy selling it if it worked correctly. He said, "It works perfectly except the speaker jack on the bottom cab has been pushed in and needs to be repaired." I figured that is an easy fix. Of course, once I got home and cleaned it up and plugged the top cab to the head...nothing. Actually I got a little tiny bit of scratchiness from the volume knob, but that's it. The silver lining is that I only paid $40 for the whole thing...the Celestion speakers that are in the cabs are worth no less than $75, so I'm not worried about getting my money back. But it would be cool if it worked. I guess I'll have to see if it's a cheap fix.

And that's today's installment of: Swap Meet Finds!

Update: Rather than pay to get the Marshall fixed I posted it on eBay "as is" and ended up selling it for $150. Not bad! Too bad it didn't work correctly from the beginning.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rivera Hundred Duo Twelve amp

If you read regularly you know that I just recently got this amp...and now it's gone. I really liked this Rivera Hundred Duo Twelve a lot, but getting divorced sucks and I've been having to sell a few things to get moved into a new place. It's not the end of the world, but when you have worked hard to get a few nice instruments and some cool gear, it's not fun losing it for the wrong reasons. But, as Mike Franks of M. J. Franks guitars reminded me, "they're just things and things are not that important." Thanks for putting it in perspective.

So, the short story behind this amp is that many years ago I was in a band called the Deadlites. We recorded an album at a studio in San Diego called Double Time, a place where Blink 182 and Rocket From the Crypt and a ton of other well known San Diego bands have recorded. They actually had the 24-track tape deck that Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and a lot of other bands that Butch Vig recorded used on some of the most famous records of all time. I guess none of that really made our album sound better, but it's a good story. In that studio they also had a Rivera Hundred Duo Twelve amp that we ended up using on a lot of the guitar parts, and I think I tracked my MandoGuitar through it as well. From that session on I wanted one of those amps.

A couple of years ago I wandered into a pawn shop and saw one sitting there, where it sat for over two years with no buyers. If you go back through this blog you can read the story of how I ended up with the amp right before Christmas for a ridiculous deal. So, I've had it sitting in my house, playing it now and then and thinking it's got to be one of the best, most versatile sounding amps I've ever played through. But I'm not in a gigging electric band and don't have an actual NEED for it. So, when the time came to come up with some cashola to move to a new place, the Rivera was on the chopping block. I see these sell for anywhere between $800-1100. So, I started my price out on the low end and put it on Craig's List (you know how I LOVE Craig's List) at $800. No takers. I needed to sell it quickly, so I dropped it to $750 in a couple of days, then down to $700. No interest whatsoever. I was kind of shocked actually that no one even seemed interested in giving me a lowball offer.

Actually, one clown did offer me $500 and he kept sending me the strangest emails. Some guy named Tonedowser. Very full of himself. Gotta love Craig's List. Anyway, I got an offer from a guy in Florida who really wanted the amp, but that would require shipping and payment through Paypal (there goes another few percentages of profit). He couldn't believe no one wanted it locally. Neither could I. Just as I got it all packed and ready to ship across country, I got an email from a local who was willing to pay the same $650, but pay cash and pick it up that day. He came and checked it out and was super excited to be getting the amp. It all worked out.

Although I came down on the price quite a bit, I still made out like a bandit based on how much I paid for the amp in the first place.

I suppose I will end up with something else sometime this year. Need to get a few extra bucks together. I still love the Fender Blues Juniors for what they are and someone else recommended a little Vox tube amp that is great for recording. Anyone else want to throw their two cents in? Cheap, smallish and good. That's the only criteria.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

1959 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul

Story submitted by Bob Fallin

It's 1968. I am 16 years old and my cousin calls me and tells me the old guy across the street is selling a Les Paul and did I want to come look at it. My mom drove me there and I played this wonderful guitar. I paid the guy the 200 bucks he was asking and went out the door. He came running out and gave me the strap I forgot.

I had the guitar for a year when a guy came up and offered me $1,000.00 for it. I figured I must have something, so I refused to sell. I kept that 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul and used it in night clubs and shows until 1985. I was afraid to take it to the clubs anymore and had bought a metal flight case to transport it. In 1985 I finally went to Guitar Exchange in Ellicott City, MD and got $5,000.00 for it. I bought a new 1985 PRS for $750.00 and some recording equipment.

Fast forward to 2008. The guitar I sold for $5,000.00 is now worth close to $300,000.00.

My wife never lets me forget it. I am not allowed to sell any of the other guitars I own, a 1956 Goldtop, a 1955 Gibson Country Western and some other fine instruments. I still have the PRS. It's a first year production and is now worth much more than when I bought it. I called Guitar Exchange a few years after selling it to him and tried to find out where it went.

No luck.