STILL KICKIN BLOG

guitar case smell odor

 

7/20/17: THERE IN ONE PIECE...How to Pack a Guitar
Even if you don't sell guitars for a living, there's a good chance at some point you'll need to ship a guitar--and you'll want it to arrive at its destination in the same condition it left. I've been shipping guitars almost daily for more than 10 years and have learned a few things along the way. The tips below mostly apply to a solid body electric. Acoustics are a little different.

First off, use quality packing materials. At the very least, it's really worth getting some good quality bubble wrap, packing tape, and a good sturdy shipping box. For the bubble wrap, get the thick type with large bubbles--not the tiny bubble variety. A box specifically made for shipping guitars is a must. Ask your local guitar shop to put one aside for you, or go to Reverb.com. You can buy a 3-pack of boxes for around $35. If you want to go all out, you can get some packing peanuts and/or packing paper, but it can be done without those.

You'll want to loosen the strings on the instrument. Just a couple turns should be enough. This will avoid any extra stress on the neck during temperature changes. Some people like to put a layer of paper between the strings and frets. This avoids damage to the frets. If it's a high end instrument, or brand new, this may be worth it. If you're shipping with a hard case, make sure the guitar can't move around inside it. So close the latches and gently move the case back and forth. Hear the guitar moving? Then you should use balled up newspaper or something to make a little cocoon inside the case. This may include placing paper under the body to snug it up against the top of the case. Also watch for how the neck and head are supported inside the case. Some Gibson cases try to give support to the neck but can end up being a hazard during shipping. Pack whatever you need to around the head and neck so they have support.

Spend a few minutes watching some videos online. Reverb has a good video on packing/shipping a guitar. It's only about a minute long, but it shows you visually some of the things I'm describing. Or go to youtube.

If you're shipping without a hard case, you'll want to create a "case" out of thick bubble wrap. This means tightly wrapping the body of the guitar with at least 2 or 3 wraps of bubble. Then do the same to neck and head. At the end, the guitar should be completely covered in bubble wrap. It may be worth removing the strap pin on the butt end of the guitar. Very common for that to get crushed into the body when a box is dropped on its end.

Once the guitar is in its hard case or bubble case, make a pad for the bottom of the case. You can use thick packing paper and wrap or wad it up till it is at least an inch thick and very dense. Some people just put that at the bottom of the box. I prefer to take that thick wad of paper (this can also be an inch or more of styrofoam or other material) and tape it to the bottom of the case. That means several long pieces of good packing tape used to keep it in place. I feel it avoids this "end cap" from moving around during shipping and possibly leaving the bottom of the guitar vulnerable. Beyond neck/headstock problems, the bottom of the guitar where the strap pin is located is one of the most damaged areas. Shippers typically drop boxes on the end with the most weight, thus banging that part of the guitar. That's why this end cap piece is very important!

Put the guitar in your sturdy thick cardboard box. Now, pack whatever you have around the case. This creates another cocoon inside the box for the guitar. I like to use peanuts first because they are small enough to fill up the narrow space usually left on either side of the guitar in the box. If you don't have peanuts find a way to squeeze some packing paper or newspaper along the sides. Paper may not simply fall into the 1 or 2 inch gap left on either side of the guitar. If not, open up the bottom of the box and force it in from that side--whatever it takes to get some material between your case and the edge of the box.

Typically I'll fill with peanuts up to the start of the neck area. At that point you can use paper or even more bubble wrap to fill up all that space on either side of the neck. Finally, hopefully you have an inch or two of clearance at the top of the case. Create another "cap" of wadded paper or styrofoam to protect from drops to this end of the box. Now tape up the box. Throw a few "Fragile" stickers on the outside, or lacking that, write it in magic marker.

Here's a tip: make sure your shipping label is well-anchored to the box. If using a FedEx or USPS label holder, tape down an edge of it too. Sometimes they fall off during shipping. These are just some of my shipping tips. Read all you can and watch videos. Good luck!


guitar case smell odor

 

7/11/17: SWEET SMELL...Remove Odor from a Guitar or Case
Most of us at some point have bought a used guitar only to find the guitar and/or case smells horrible. Sometimes it's smoke, sometimes mold/mildew. There are a million ideas on how to remove these smells. Some of the suggestions here I've tried, some I've found on forums, so do your own research! First, the natural ones: leave the case outside in the sun for a few days. Leave a fan blowing directly at it to circulate air over it. Keep in mind some smells will take TIME to go away. It may be a long process.

Still in the natural realm, you can try:
Baking soda (sprinkle in and vacuum or leave in shallow tray)
Cedar or pine chips
Coffee (whole beans or ground)
White rice (sprinkled or in a sachet bag)
Dried oregano
Vanilla extract
Potato (baking type cut lengthwise)

That last one I just thought was kinda funny, but a guy in a forum swore it worked. Ok, still somewhat on the natural side: activated charcoal, the kind used in aquariums (don't use charcoal briquettes). Put it in some kind of porous bag. Lemon oil--sprinkle on a rag and leave in case or guitar sound hole. Some guys say to clean with distilled white vinegar. (Then air out to get rid of the vinegar smell.)

Still want more ideas? I saved these for last because these are chemical "masking" agents. Febreze--to me this smells bad itself, but some may like it. Supposedly there is an unscented version available. (There is science that says Fabreze doesn't just mask but chemically breaks down odors, but I'm skeptical.) If you have the dreaded mildew smell, some say a few sprays of Lysol are worth a try. Many swear by dryer sheets. I've found they work more for maintenance if you like their smell. I've read some good reviews on Zep Air & Fabric Odor Eliminator--cheap at Home Depot and supposedly smells better than Febreze. Some use carpet cleaners, especially with baking soda, but they introduce their own perfume smell.

Finally, people say ozone generators work, but they can be pricey, and they produce their own exhaust that can be harmful and must be aired out. Also, NEVER use perfume/cologne--worst smell ever in a case! Only some of the above methods work inside a guitar body. For instance small bags of coffee or cedar chips can be put into the soundhole, but vinegar or carpet cleaner are obviously not gonna work there. If you sprinkle baking soda or carpet cleaner directly in a case, you may want to turn the case over a couple times and/or play hand drum on it, to mix it around. Then be prepared to do a lot of vacuuming later. Good luck!


guitar strap lock straplocks schaller dunlop

 

 

7/8/17: LOCKED & LOADED...Which Are the Best Strap Locks?
If you gig with your guitar or rehearse, or even just use a strap at any time, it's worth investing in a set of strap locks. There's nothing worse than seeing your baby fall to the ground in front of your eyes...Nooooo! Everyone knows about Schaller and Dunlop strap locks. They are the two big locking systems out there--been around for years. I've used both at different times. Schallers can be great, but personally I've had them fail before. Sometimes because the strap pins get worn down over time and eventually they don't lock like they should. Other Schallers have literally exploded on me due to the spring they have. Other problems include the lock not staying tight on the strap. These babies will work, but they require maintenance.

I've used Dunlops less. When I did they seem like a good system. The strap peg is a little more obtrusive than the Schaller. The only knock I have on them is if they ever come apart on you, putting them back together requires skills akin to a mechanical engineer. Several washers and a C clamp washer that can seem impossible to re-attach. You just don't want to deal with this. But inevitably you'll need to take them apart for maintenance at some point, so be prepared.

Some new competitors have cropped up, such as Ernie Ball Super Locks and Hennessey strap locks. I've tried the Ernie's and they feel solid. As for price, at the time of this writing, Schaller and Dunlop locks set you back $14-$15. Ernie Ball is $18, while Hennesseys are an attractive $9.

Now that we've covered the standard metal locks, I'm going to suggest some less standard systems. Please see my Guitar Strap Lock Hack story on our Cool page (also appears above). Basically this involves buying a couple Grolsch beers and getting two rubber washers out of the deal, which you can slip over standard strap pins to keep your strap secure. To my mind, this is one of the best ways to go. While not a true "locking" system, they're cheap, easy to use, and you get a couple beers out of the deal!

While not really strap locks, another option are guitar straps that have locks built in. The two best may be the DiMarzio ClipLock and PlanetWaves locking strap, costing $24 and $13, respectively. I've used both and like both. The DiMarzio system is rock solid. Only downside is it requires you leaving a short nylon locking mechanism at each strap pin. They can get in the way inside a case and possibly scratch the guitar, but they are easy to clip and unclip, and you can add additional locking pieces to several guitars ($9/pair) so that one strap can lock with all your axes. The PlanetWaves strap is easy to use and once locked is rock solid. I've seen them rub some marks into the finish on some guitars over time though. Pick your poison--my favorites are the non-standard ones here at the end--but use something or pay the price. PS: My favorite desperation strap lock? Run to the nearest fridge and grab that C-shaped plastic "lock" off a loaf of bread. Work it over your strap pin and it'll work the same way the Grolsch washer does--admittedly without the same security. But hey, wadda ya want for free?!


6/21/17: SHOP AROUND...Which Big Music Retailer Do You Use?
So there's a new piece of gear you want, where are you gonna get the best price? We all know the big names: Guitar Center, SamAsh, Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, Zzounds, etc. You may know this, or you may not, but shopping around really works. Play these guys against each other. Many of them have room to play with pricing you see on their websites. If you see one site is running a promotion to get 8% off using a promo code, you can bet if you call a competitor they will meet or BEAT that price. Not only that--they may beat a "hypothetical" price you can convince them you can get. For instance, I have a Guitar Center Gear Card. It's a horrible credit card run by Synchrony BUT it does give you 5% off anything you buy at Guitar Center. Also, I use eBates.com (yes, I'm a discount junkie) to get an additional 3% back at GC.

Even if you don't have a GC Gear Card, the guys at Sweetwater don't know that. Call them up and say, "Look, I wanted to buy [insert piece of gear here] and was gonna buy it on the GC website, but I really like Sweetwater and would rather give you guys the business. Sweetwater rep is instantly on alert--probably ready to give you his best price to grab the sale away from GC. Explain that you have a GC Gear Card, which gives you 5%, plus GC is running an 8% off sale (I'd advise not fibbing about a sale, as they probably know sales competitors have going), and tell them you usually buy through eBates, which gives an additional 3% off. So you're wondering if Sweetwater can match that total of 16% off you're getting at GC. Very good chance they will meet it or come close. Sometimes there won't be a sale to reference, so you won't get that much, but there are credit card discounts and eBates type discounts you can mention that should at least get them to move a bit on the price.

You don't even necessarily need to play the "I got a better price elsewhere" card. Think about just picking up the phone instead of ordering online. Especially if you're gonna be spending a couple hundred bucks or more. I called Musicians Friend one time and the rep was ready to move on the price literally before I even asked. Just say something like, "I want to buy a couple things from you guys today, but honestly I'm short on funds. What's the best price you can give me on XYZ?" You might get nothing...or you might get 5 or 10% off. Get creative. Look on eBay--search the web. If you find a good price from a legitimate retailer, tell the rep the price your found and say "you can loook it up at this link." Maybe they'll match it (and then use your cash-back credit card to get a few more bucks off). Again, I've seen that these guys are allowed to move on prices. The online gear market is VERY competitive, so the phone reps are trained to be willing to bend to get a sale. This is just my experience, and your mileage my vary, but give it a try. What have you got to lose?


ibanez iceman

 

12/15/16: COLD AS ICE...Ibanez Iceman
Take a ramble through the Wiki page on the Ibanez Iceman and you'll learn the guitar was born in the mid-70s out of a joint idea from the heads of several Japanese guitar manufacturers to come up with their own signature guitar shape. America had the Fender Strat and Gibson Les Paul, and Ibanez, Greco and FujiGen had been copying their designs--and getting very good at it (so good that lawsuits were filed). In fact, Japan was putting out models whose quality was at least on par with their USA counterparts. Only problem was they were mostly mimicking the iconic designs from America.

The original Iceman was produced from 1975 to 1983. It featured a unique body style and the line eventually included several models. Today the PS-10 Paul Stanley model is seen as the most valuable. In 1977 Ibanez approached Stanley while KISS was on tour in Japan and offered to make him a signature model. He liked the Iceman (then still called the Artist 2663) body style and added some of his own changes. Right now we have a 1979 Iceman IC100 for sale. It's got the signature shape, as well as a fully bound body and neck, two "Flying Fingers" Ibanez pickups and Ibanez speed knobs. Comes with original hard case. Real sweet axe. Paul Stanley would approve. (this guitar has sold)


ibanez iceman

 

12/10/16: LIGHT IS RIGHT...Fender '69 Telecaster Thinline
The Fender re-issue '69 Telecaster Thinline is a nice take on the iconic Tele. Perhaps most important, it packs a lot of the usual Tele style and twang into a lighter package. Too many great Tele's become 10-pound burdens that kill your back and shoulder, but these babies won't weigh you down. This Daphne Blue one I'm selling is a very comfortable 6 pounds, 14 ounces. The Thinline originally came about in the late 60's as Fender was looking to lighten the Tele and available ash woods were too heavy. German luthier Roger Rossmeisl, known for his work with Rickenbacker, came to Fender to help make acoustics and instead made his mark with the Thinline, which debuted in 1968.

Beyond the lighter weight, the semi-hollow design and F-hole also serve to warm up the tone a bit. Players rave over the 7.25" radius necks on the Mexican made versions like this one. If you like that vintage-style chunky Tele neck, you'll love these. Rumor has it the electronics in the Mexi-made ones trump the Japan models too. This little Daphne Blue number has been upgraded with a Seymour Duncan bridge pickup that adds some extra oomph, and sealed Grovers for tuning stability. Not just that, but the daphne finish is one of the limited "car colors" only produced for one year in 2002. Coming with a molded Fender hard case it'll rock your world without giving you a back ache. (this guitar has sold)


gibson 60s tribute les paul sunburst relic

 

8/12//16: RELIC 101...Or How I Learned to Like Relicing
i never thought I'd get into relicing guitars. I actually fell into doing it because I sell used guitars. Prior to that I held to the belief of many guitarists: "Relicing is just as bad as buying pre-ripped Levi's!"

Then one day I realized sometimes you don't start with a "perfectly good guitar" and relic it. Sometimes you get a guitar that looks like crap. At that point you have three choices: throw it in the nearest dumpster and toss in a match; sell it for next to nothing; or...beat it up even more, hopefully in the process making it look kinda cool.

That's what got me to try the relicing. And lo and behold, my first "relic" after me reading a few online posts and scrabbling through the garage for some sandpaper, really just went from "crap" to "crap warmed over and sanded with 220-grit." But here's the real surprise--someone liked it enough to buy it!

What I found was relicing a guitar can be a lot of fun. And lots...and lots... of work. Sand any piece of wood by hand for a couple hours. You will sleep well that night. Insomnia--solved. Also, relicing is a never-ending learning process. With each project, you learn something new. And make new mistakes. Something to fire your brain--good for hazy ones like mine. It's basically a ton of work and a pain in the ass--BUT can be rewarding in the end.

Most of my projects happen because I have a guitar that's beat up, and ugly. So I try to give it a little love and send it on its way--hopefully looking a little more slick, and hopefully to make someone happy. It's backbreaking work, but it's a labor of love. Something nice about thinking maybe a guitar you worked on will be play for years. Someone will spill beer on it, write songs on it...yea, that stuff. I'm not fooling myself. I'm no luthier. I'm a hack. But I'm a hack that gets better with each new relic project (see pic above).

Relicing is very personal. What looks good to one guy looks like stale cat piss to another. And don't even get started on the whole question of whether thou shalt relic in the first place. Half the guys on guitar forums love to chime in with this crumb of wit: "Wannna know how to relic a guitar? Play it for 15 years. Don't clean it. Rinse, repeat." These guys are upset that anyone dare lay menacing hands on that "poor, beautiful, itty bitty guitar." I say if someone wants to beat up his or her guitar, I think it's up to them.

The debate rages, but relicing looks like it's here to stay. Gibson and Fender have dudes making a science of it...cause, guess what? People are paying big money for beautifully beat up guitars. It's funny now that I do some guitar relicing. I've started wondering whether everything wouldn't look better reliced. Like maybe if I beat up my car just the right way, it'd be worth a bundle. Or maybe I could relic ...my cat?


gibson 60s tribute les paul sunburst relic

 

6/1/16: I LOVE ROCK & ROLL...Gibson Joan Jett Melody Maker
As a used guitar seller I've found I end up looking for guitars I like myself more than anything else. Gibson's Joan Jett Melody Maker definitely qualifies. Since I came across one a couple years ago, it's become my main axe. Why? I love the pickup; it's very lightweight; the ebony fretboard is great; and the thin worn finish is actually pretty sweet. Gibson introduced the Melody Maker back in the day as a cheap student guitar. But they caught on with serious players, including one Ms Joan Jett. Gibson couldn't 100% re-create her guitar with this re-issue. Jett's guitar was modified with a Red Rhodes Velvet Hammer pickup, which aren't around anymore, so they substituted the Gibson Burstbucker 3. It's based on early PAF humbuckers with a modern twist of slightly overwound coils for more punch.

Also, they couldn't re-create the mish-mosh of stickers she plastered all over hers, but I guess we can forgive that. At least they got the major stuff right. Such as the very thin, light and resonant double cutaway mahogany body and the simple rock and roll one pickup setup with volume/tone and kill switch. (I guess Joan liked the kill switch for all the breaks in her songs calling for audience clapping, singing, etc.) I've heard lots of people saying they switched out the pickup. Me? I love it. It's very high output and very warm. For me it beats out the 500T pickup in my Gibson SG-X by a hair because I like the little added warmth. Both provide a wall of distortion and decent clarity.

If you're like me, you might not know much about ebony fretboards. Once you get your hands on one, you'll probably like it. I do. People say they tend to have little issues with temperature changes, such as expanding and contracting, but it feels great. The neck has a rounded profile, probably more suitable to rhythm players and power chords than lead shredding. These come outfitted with mini Grovers that do a decent job, but I thought it was worth throwing on some Planet Waves locking tuners, as well as a bridge with roller saddles. Other than that, not much I'd change, except perhaps changing the kill switch to a pickup splitter, but that can wait.

Many of the factory reliced guitars look like crap, but Gibson did a tasteful job on this one and the light coat of nitro finish means these will continue to relic quickly the more you play them. It also means there aren't 10 layers of finish impeding the guitar's resonance (or that's what the smart guys say anyway). After the initial release of the worn white version, Gibson released a "Blackheart" model with a black non-reliced satin finish. It does not have the same mojo as the white, and the black/white zebra pickup looks lame. The red dots and 12th fret hearts look ok….but nah, just get a white one. These come with a nice Gibson hard case. Expect to pay around a grand used, as they're out of production and a lot of people like them. Take it from me, you don't need to be a Joan Jett fan to love this guitar.


kurt cobain kurdt jaguar fender

 

12/10/16: SERVE THE SERVANTS ... Kurt Cobain Jaguar

In 2011 Fender introduced a Jaguar based on the guitar Kurt played during the Nevermind era, a highly modified 1965 Jag that Kurt acquired in 1991 through the LA Recycler (or so the story goes). Fender's commemorative model seeks to accurately reproduce Kurt's '65 with a gaggle of interesting mods. First off, it has two DiMarzio humbucking pickups--a PAF neck pickup and a Super Distortion bridge. Its alder body sports a nitrocellulose finish reliced to approximate the beating that Kurt inflicted on his. (Factory relicing has a bad rep, but Fender did a pretty good job this time around.)

Moving on, it's got a bound neck with a Strat size headstock and non-peroid correct Spaghetti Fender logo. Gotoh tuners, double bound neck, an Adjusto-Matic bridge, and volume/volume/tone knob configuration round out the features. These now command $1000+ on the used market. If you haven't had one of these in your hands, search one out. They feel great. For me, there's a certain amount of guilt associated with buying a guitar created by Fender to cash in on Kurt's fame.

Let face it, if Kurt were around to see it, he'd probably give Fender the middle finger, and then tell us all to go find our own cool guitar on Craigs List instead of buying a copy of his. On the other hand, Kurt's gone and if nothing else, Fender seems to have gone about this replica in a more respectful fashion than with the Jag-Stang (they didn't make the Jag-Stang quite how Kurt envisioned it--read: they wanted to save money). And who knows? Maybe Kurt would be happy that young (or old) punks are playing a guitar modeled on his. I don't think he hated success half as much as he let on--he just didn't know how to live with it.

Some of the websites used to research for this post are :
http://www.kurtsequipment.com/
http://kurtsguitarsnow.blogspot.com/
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/electric_guitars/fender/kurt_cobain_jaguar/index.html


gibson joan jett melody maker les paul

 

8/15/16: BASIC & BOMBASTIC ... Fender Tom Delonge Stratocaster
Simple is better. Less is more. Those are the ideas behind the Fender Tom Delonge Stratocaster. As lead singer and guitarist for the pop/punk band, Blink 182, Delonge didn't need a huge range of guitar tones. He pretty much needed two: huge and ridiculously distorted and a mellower clean sound for a verse here and there. His signature guitar is your basic Strat body and incorporates a Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker pickup in the bridge. One knob for volume control. That's it. Nothing else to see here.

Yea, it sounds pretty boring, so why has the guitar been such a huge favorite with so many players? Well, for starters, it's a rare hardtail strat so it's been very poplular with players who like Strats, but don't want a tremolo. It's routed for 3 pickups (HSS configuration) so modders like it as a project guitar because you can add pickups without needing to do any routing. Next, the single pickup it has, the Invader, is a good one. It is one of your best bets if you want a face-melting, ear-destroying distortion sound. The Invader is a high-output machine with a ton of thickness and bottom end. Forget about the standard jangly sound most people associate with Strats. It's just not what this baby was made to do. It's all about turning the amp to 10 (or 11) and slogging through power chord after power chord. The Invader has some definition, but that's not where it excels. When you need to clean it up a bit, you can back down the volume on the guitar, but even then it won't give you your greatest clean sound. It's a great pickup for a rhythm guitarist, especially if he or she is the only guitar player in the band.

Plugged into a Marshall or old Fender tube amp, it's guaranteed to take up lots of space in the mix. Undoubtedly that's exactly what Delonge was looking for, and the Invader delivers. Due to the single pickup and single volume control, in some ways the guitar is a "one trick pony." I guess the reason it's been such a popular guitar is it does that one trick so well. And of course there's no shortage of guitar players who want a heavy sound and don't really need much else.

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