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? 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 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.