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8/10/17: STRANGER THAN FICTION...Leo Fender Was the Last Guy You'd Expect

So it's Leo Fender's birthday, the much beloved late inventor of the Telecaster, Stratocaster, and many other music icons...


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--

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guitar case smell odor

 

7/11/17: SWEET SMELL...Remove Odor from a Guitar or Case
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guitar strap lock straplocks schaller dunlop

 

 

7/8/17: LOCKED & LOADED...Which Are the Best Strap Locks?
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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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