Thursday, January 29, 2009

M.J. Franks OM-D acoustic


As I'm writing this one, the guitar hasn't actually gotten away. This one is for sale right now (anyone interested?) and I hope it sells quickly. I've written stories about losing a guitar to needing money for the IRS, putting money together for another guitar, just plain needing rent money, and plenty of other scenarios. But this one is one that I wish I wasn't selling for a variety of reasons. The first is that it's probably the best sounding guitar I've ever played. Not just the best I've owned, but the best I've played...and I've played a lot of nice guitars. I got lucky with this one.

I acquired this guitar from Mike Franks, builder of some of the finest guitars on the planet, in exchange for building his website. This OM-D size guitar is the seventh guitar Mike ever made, and I have to say he hit a home run. I didn't get to play it in advance...we just worked out the deal and once I finished the site he sent me the guitar. How lucky am I? It's hand made with "master grade" adirondack spruce top and braces and "master grade" indian rosewood back and sides. It's got the fancier snowflake inlays on the bridge and custom inlays on the fret markers. It's got a Fishman Matrix endpin pickup built in and it's just the best sounding guitar. And the neck has a slight vee shape to it. Feels great.

Have I sold you on it yet?

But the fact of the matter is that I'm getting divorced. And with the times being what they are and finances tight, to be able to move out and onward it's going to take a lot more financially than I can afford. Something has to give. So, I had to take a hard look at what that's going to take and the simple, sad solution is to sell a guitar. Even my future ex-wife knew that this was not an easy thing to conclude, but we both knew it was what had to be done.

Now, how do you take a look at a few really nice guitars that you've worked hard to accumulate over the years and decide which one has to go? It's like picking the least favorite of your children. Eventually I just decided that the one that is being played the least goes, and although this is the best sounding guitar, it has been spending the most time in its case for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I've been doing a lot of acoustic gigging lately and I'm never completely comfortable taking this one to a gig. So I practice with the ones that I'm going to be gigging with and the OM-D patiently waits its turn. It's also one with enough value to help my situation.

Once I decided that it was the one to go, I opened its case and took it out for a last sit-down. As I played it, I couldn't believe that I was having to give it up. And for what? First and last month's rent on a shitty apartment? Money that will be burned through for no good reason, rather than owning an actual investment that might be with you for a lifetime. It just makes no sense. Yet, it's the reality of the situation. I wish I didn't have to sell it because it's a nice guitar. But more so I wish I didn't have to sell it because, if my relationship was different, I wouldn't be writing this story at all. The sale of a guitar would be far from an issue. It's not really a guitar story...it's a life story. And being that guitars are part of my life, this is just the crappy frosting on the cake.

If you are interested in the guitar, go to mjfranksguitar.com and go to the Gallery section. The photos of the OM-D model on the site are my actual guitar. It's a beauty. Then email me for the details. I'll post on here when it's gone.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Telecaster Acoustic Thinline MIJ


Don't be confused...this is not one of those cheap-ass Telecoustic guitars that Fender makes (no offense Telecoustic owners). This is a very cool Thinline Tele with a piezo pickup in the acoustic style bridge and a single coil in the neck position. I actually have owned two of these; a sunburst model and before that, a black model. They both played very nicely and had a great, electric style feel to them, but giving a fairly convincing acoustic sound.

I have always loved Thinlines, and always been a Tele guy, so the first time I saw one of these I was intrigued.

I have always played acoustic gigs over the years and I thought that maybe this would come in handy. But where I really thought it would be good was in a band situation, providing both an acoustic and electric sound out of the same guitar. I only got to try it that way a few times and it worked out pretty good. Not an amazing acoustic sound played through an electric amp, but it works in a gig situation.

I have also been a big fan of the Japanese Fenders from the '90s. They just feel good and sound great. These are no exception and, if you have the need of a guitar that does what this one does, I'd say I could give it a pretty good recommendation. The hard part is finding one. They made them in steel string and nylon string versions, though the nylon string version doesn't include the single coil pickup for obvious reasons. I was reminded of the ones I had because I just happened to see one on eBay today.

Usually I try to include in my stories why I sold the guitar I had or how it was that it got away, but in the case of these two, I just don't remember. I'm sure it was just trading to get something else. In my case, probably a different Tele.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

New RSS Feed Added

Hey, just wanted to let you know that I've added a direct RSS feed over there in the left column (go ahead, take a look) for a site called AudioFanzine. They are constantly posting the latest stories about gear and instruments and all that good stuff that you like to read about. There are tons of new stories since the NAMM show is currently happening. I'm headed there myself this weekend and hopefully I'll be able to pass the word along to some well known guitarists to send me their stories. Anyway, if you like this blog, do me a favor and click those Audio Fanzine links when you see a story you like. THANKS!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Love Craig's List. I Hate Craig's List.


Here in the San Diego area where I live, Craig's List is a thriving, jam packed place to advertise and buy musical gear. I know that in some cities it's big and in other places it barely exists. In fact I have checked out the Musical Equipment section in some decent size cities and I'm shocked that there might be only a couple of listings a day. Well, maybe that's for the best.

There is a love/hate relationship for most people I come across that frequent Craig's List. In fact, if you look up the word "flake" in the dictionary, I'm sure there will be a picture of a guy selling a Squire (sic) Stratocaster on Craig's List. It's almost unbelievable at times and, just when you think you've run across a good, upstanding, reliable person...sometimes even sharing your own horror stories of dealing with the flakes...they turn out to be one too.

Why am I wasting blog space with this subject? I don't even know. Maybe just for my own sanity. I am sure that many of the idiots who pull the same dumb crap on CL might read this and say to themselves, "Man, I know what he's talking about!" So, it's not going to help really. Here are my last two experiences...trust me, I'll feel better if I just type it out.

Over three weeks ago I answered an ad for an MXR Carbon Copy analog delay pedal for $100. I've wanted one of these ever since my buddy Rob got one and we ran it through its paces. Really nice pedal and a great deal even at full price. However, I just didn't want to spend full price for one and hoped one would eventually show up online for cheap. I emailed the person selling it and inquired about the pedal. I also mentioned that I live in the extreme northern part of San Diego County and wasn't able to drive to the extreme southern part of San Diego County...so, I was just curious what part of town he was in. From one end to the other takes over an hour, so it can really eliminate which ads you answer. This guy didn't mention where he lived. He wrote back and said he lived pretty far away, but his bass player lived near me. He said they would be rehearsing the next day and he would give the bass player the pedal and we could hook up. Naturally they didn't end up rehearsing, so we postponed the hook-up until later in the week. Of course this didn't work out either and it goes like this, emailing every couple of days, for over 3 weeks. Finally I email the guy and say that I'll drive wherever, but can we just meet. He writes back and says, "No problem, just give me a call!" Well, there is a problem...I can't call you if you don't give me your phone number dumbass. I give him my number and many days later I still haven't heard from him. Deal over. I spent the money on a nice steak dinner with my daughter.

So, after my frustration with that deal had subsided, I decided to list a Squier (I actually spell it correctly...it's written ON the instrument...how can you get it wrong?) P-Bass for sale for $100. It's a cool bass and worked out well for recording, but I just recently acquired a really cool Squier Vista Series Musicmaster Bass in a lovely shade of shell pink with matching headstock.

So, since no one should really own more than one Squier, the black P-Bass has to go. I list it and get an email pretty quickly from a guy who wants it. We couldn't hook up in the afternoon, so we agreed to talk again in the evening, at which point I was headed to dinner (to spend the Carbon Copy money on a nice steak at Ruth's Chris). I called him and offered to drive the bass to him, which was not a short drive. But he had been accomodating of my schedule earlier and I thought I'd be nice and make the effort. I called him and he said he was too tired to do the deal that night but would be happy to drive to my place the next evening. Now I don't know how much energy it takes to open your door and take money out of your pocket, but I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe he has Epstein-Barr or something.

I called him the next evening to make arrangements and he said, "Oh, sorry, I bought my neighbor's bass instead." Sigh. I pointed out that he could have at least emailed me early in the day to let me know so that I could contact other people that inquired about the bass and tried to sell it that evening. His response? "Oh...uh...yeah. Sorry."

So what's the point? Here's the point people: at least have the human decency to be courteous to others. If you make an appointment to go see an instrument, and then you decide not to go, at least call or email to let the person know you're not coming. They may have rearranged their whole day to accomodate you. If you change your mind about buying something, tell the person so they can sell it to someone else. If you are going to have the nerve to flake on someone, at least be a big enough person to let them know. And when it comes to describing your items, be honest and don't waste people's time. Give LOTS of information in your item description. I can't tell you how many times I have seen an item listed with this description: "Guitar for sale. $650. Serious inquiries only." Are you kidding? Is it an acoustic or electric? Six or 12-string? What brand is it? Does it even work? Does it have a case?

Is it shell pink?
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Roland Double Beat AD-50 Fuzz Wah Pedal


Many years ago, long before eBay and Craig's List, I was walking around downtown San Diego just basically being a tourist in my own town. I live about 25 miles north of San Diego proper in a little beach community, and unless I'm headed to a Padres game or I have a gig, I just don't head downtown all that much. So, when I happened upon a pretty cool pawn shop on 5th Avenue I had to wander in and take a look around. It was one of those pawn shops that tries to be sort of old-timey, with a wooden indian by the front door and a giant antique scale and other antique decor. They had a few guitars, but nothing too nice. Then, up on a glass shelf, I spied what looked like the remnants of some old science experiment. Or was it a weird wah pedal?

I asked the lady if I could take a look and she carefully pulled down a double handfull of pedal, wires, capacitors and a battery and put it on the counter. I'd never seen a pedal like this before, but it turned out to be a pretty beat up Roland Double Beat Fuzz & Wah pedal, missing it's bottom plate. Although it looked like a mess, it did appear to all be there...just missing the plate.

I asked how much and she said $50. I said how about $20, since I only had about $20 to my name. However, I knew I needed this pedal for some reason and, even if it was my last few bucks, I was going to offer it up. To my surprise she said okay, and the pedal was mine. Now I had to carry it around for awhile with all the wires and guts hanging out.

I'm sure I looked like an amateur bomber walking the streets.

I got the pedal home and found a piece of thin wood which I cut out to fit the bottom. I screwed it all together and it actually looked acceptable. Barely. But the cool thing is that it worked. I played around with it and got some funky fuzz tones out of it. It has a knob that lets you choose between three fuzz waves. Then you can kick in the wah and either do fuzz wah or plain old funk wah with no fuzz. The pots could have used a cleaning, but otherwise it was pretty decent.

Like I said, this was before eBay and the like, so there was no way to really get this in the hands of someone who knew it's value and would be willing to pay top dollar for it. I took it down to my local music store one day and used it as a partial trade for something...no clue what. But I do remember the guy being pretty happy to get this rare pedal. I never went back to see what he was actually selling it for. Sometimes that's for the best...get what you can, be happy with it, and don't look back.
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One of the photos "borrowed" from DiscoFreq, a GREAT pedal archive
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fender Blues Junior


This is the second Blues Junior I have owned and sold and I would be lying if I said I thought I'd never own another one. These are just great little amps and in a lot of ways I probably should have kept this one. But the truth of the matter is that I play acoustic gigs and I'm not in a band and what the hell do I need an amp for anyway? I have finally owned up to the fact that I'm probably never going to be in a rockin', giggin' band again, so a Blues Junior is really the perfect amp to own if you just want to be defiant about it and own one anyway. And they are fantastic for recording.

I bought this one off Craig's List for $225 and I sold it for $300, so I did make a profit and you can't argue with profit. You won't find this blog asking for any government bailouts. And when it comes time to unload the amp I bought that replaced the Blues Junior, I'll be making a hefty profit too. In fact, that's the real reason I kept it. A few columns ago I wrote about my dealings with King's Pawn Shop in beautiful Econdido, CA (note the sarcasm when describing Escondido). Although I'd had mixed reviews of the store in the past, the owner contacted me and in and effort to make things up to me, gave me a "deal I couldn't refuse" on a Rivera amp. The problem is that this amp is so awesome that it's really too much amp for me, sitting around my house, with no band and no electric gig. But I want it.
Don't we always want more gear than we need?

So, when I acquired the Rivera Hundred Duo Twelve (that's 100 watts through two 12" Celestions), it was such a great deal that I kept it and sold the amp that made the most sense. The only thing that did make sense about selling it was that I sure as hell didn't need TWO amps sitting around doing very little. So I guess the Rivera is an investment. The guys in my acoustic group all sent me emails saying to be sure to let them check it out before I sell it...of course being cynical about how long I would hold onto it. But my goal is to keep it as long as I can make myself. However, if you've read this blog, you know that's not an easy task for me.

Eventually I'm going to want something else and I'm going to sell the Rivera for about a $500 profit and get another Blues Junior for cheap off Craig's List and the balance of the amp world will be back in order.
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