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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good-Bye California

No, I'm not moving. Just doing a little shameless self-promotion. When I'm not doing a million other things, what I really love doing is writing songs, recording them on my Korg D16XD 16-track recorder through a fairly limited amount of gear, and then making CDs for the people I work with (and a few to sell at gigs). Hey, probably just like some of you.

As much as I love guitars, I'm not the most amazing guitarist for sure. I sometimes enlist the help of a few friends (like Dave and Rob and Mike and Oliver), but mostly I play all the parts myself and do all the singing. And there are times when you listen and think, "Maybe he should have called Dave for that one." That's okay. I decided long ago that my recordings are for me, warts and all, not anyone else...even though I like to share the music.

Since the last time I pieced together a CD's worth of material things have changed. And that's only over a few short years. Now you can order short runs of CDs from any number of places with full graphics and everything for a relatively small amount of money. You can do digital downloads from iTunes and Amazon and others. What I found the other night is a site called You can upload your artwork and all your music files and people can order your CD one (or more) at a don't have to order a bunch or spend any of your own money out of pocket. You set your price and make as much or as little profit as you want. I'm sure many of you know all of this already. Well, I'm pretty stoked because today I got my first copy of the CD to approve and it's amazing the quality of the product. I plan to order a few at a time to sell at gigs and send to my dad.

So, if for some wacky reason you'd like to purchase one of my new CDs, you can do so by clicking here. If you'd like to buy a digital download instead, go here to Amazon digital download store.

The new CD is called Good-Bye California, and a lot of it was written about living in California but contemplating a move to the east coast. There is a little heartache, sarcasm, hope, defeat, and ultimately the demise of a relationship. Fun stuff! My music would best fit the category of or folky country rock or whatever you want to call it. I just hope you enjoy it. And thanks for the opportunity to share it with YOU.

Monday, February 2, 2009

1963 Gibson ES-335

Story submitted by Tim Birchard

The year was 1985 and I was a junior in high school in a small town in Texas. A dear friend of mine told me she had a guitar her father had given her when she was a child, and asked if I'd be interested in seeing it. Being a 17-year-old metalhead, I told her 'of course!' She went back into her bedroom and moments later emerged carrying a Gibson case. An old Gibson case. My curiousity was piqued. I opened the case, and there before me was a flawless 1963 ES-335, cherry red finish, with block inlays and a suspended bridge. The serial number was "130971." My mouth dropped open when she asked if I wanted to play it.

I sat there for probably thirty minutes playing it and refusing to put it down, when she asked me if I wanted it. I just looked at her as if she were speaking Martian. Her father, who had given it to her, agreed that it made more sense for it to be with someone who really appreciated it, and since no one in their family played guitar, and since it was obvious that I appreciated it, they offered it to me as a gift.

I said yes.

I took it home and tried to play heavy metal on it. I dragged it across the country, risking damage and loss in the luggage compartments of airline flights. I soon developed a cocky and cavalier attitude, as if I somehow truly understood the value and beauty of this guitar. And worse yet, that I somehow deserved such a guitar.

Fast forward three or four years and I'd moved to Austin, TX with only one semester left at the University of Texas, studying audio production. There was only one problem—I didn't have the $400 in tuition I needed for my final semester. The woman I was dating told me she wasn't going to date a "loser" and that if I wanted to keep going out with her, I had to finish college. While I'm grateful for that motivation now, I cringe to remember what I saw as 'the only way out.'

I drove down South Lamar to Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music, put the case on the counter and told Ray I was interested in selling my guitar. He opened it up and his eyes seemed to light up for just a second, then he said, "Well, I could sell it on consignment, but I can't give you anything for it now."

I looked out his storefront windows across Lamar and said, "Well maybe Music Makers will be interested in buying" and I started to close the case. He said, "Whoa! Hold on a minute there," and came around the counter to stand next to me. "How much do you need?" I told him (cringe) "Four hundred dollars."

He took a minute to call his brother in Waco, talking with him in low tones, and then hung up. He counted out four one-hundred dollar bills and I was out of there, with tears in my eyes. I went straight to the Registrar's office and paid my tuition before I could be tempted to blow the cash.

And in the past 19 years I've gone back into that store at least three different times asking about serial number 130971… and strangely there's "just no record of that guitar."

For what it's worth, Ray has been generous enough to give both of my nieces brand new acoustic guitars because he's friends with my sister-in-law. Maybe it's karma, since he has no idea who I am, and has never remembered me (why should he?) whenever I've gone back into his store. Actually, now it's mostly his grandson I see behind the counter… who used to be just a little whipper-snapper ripping off hot riffs on his guitar when I used to go in.

I guess that kindness to my nieces should take some of the sting out of it… I don't know. But I do know this: if I ever find 130971 again, you can bet I'll pay whatever it takes to make her mine again.

(If you know the whereabouts of 130971, please contact me by email here)