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.