Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Planet X

Here's something different - one of our regulars, Dennis Redd playing his composition "Planet X."  Here Dennis is picking on "Bessie," our repair tech Donnie's 1964 ES-335, and playing through a Univox tape echo into a Peavey Classic 50.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


A guy came in a few weeks ago to show off a couple of really cool mandolins.  This one is made by Beltona, a New Zealand-based company that specializes in resonator instruments built with non-traditional body materials - carbon fibre, resin, etc.  The combination of a metal cone and non-wood body makes for some extremely loud acoustic instruments, though the tone is never harsh or shill. 

They also make some very cool guitars and ukuleles, but the Koru mandolin is maybe their snazziest looking in terms of design.  Very high-quality stuff; you can check out their website and hear audio samples, though the most amazing thing is, again, the remarkable projection and power - this little guy had as almost as much volume as a small tube amp!

Here's another stunning mandolin - a Gibson A-style from gee, maybe the 1910s?   Very good condition, too, considering it's age.  Sometimes pictures speak louder than words, so I'll just let everybody soak up the gorgeous detail pics of the top, inlays, etc...

There you go.  In a few more years, Gibson would reach a peak with the F-5 mandolins of the 20s, probably the mandolin pickers' equivalent of a '59 Les Paul.  Still, even the more modest A-styles have a simple elegance that you'd be hard-pressed to beat.

And, finally, here's the shop's very own vintage mandolin.  It was sold to us as an old Kay, although somebody last week suggested that the flame back was more indicative of a Harmony from the 50s.  It's obviously showing more wear than that old Gibson, but when you rake a pick across the strings this thing jumps to life with a bright and still-vibrant tone and very smooth playability.

So there you go - a trio of mandolins, from the mighty Gibson down to our humble "no name" A-style.  Of course, you can pick this one up and take it home with you for far less than you'd pay for a Gibson!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dan E. Lectro

Whipping up another batch of promotional material, and I decided to turn that funky old Danelectro DS-50 amp we've got into an awesome robot buddy.  This will make for a really fun new flyer.  I call our new mascot here "Dan E. Lectro," and I've even set up a Facebook page for him.  Now if only we could teach him how to make coffee in the mornings...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Peavey T-40 Bass

Here's a Peavey T-40 bass from the late 70s, an almost criminally underrated instrument.  Maybe it's due to the fact that there haven't been many iconic players associated with Peavey when compared to Fender or Gibson, because these early Peavey instruments are very cool and deserve a bigger following.  This bass is American made, after all, and  though it's hefty size and weight aren't for every player, they let you know that this thing means business.  If you can haul it around on your shoulder, you can wield some serious thump stuff.

"Whosoever proves worthy..."
 The distinctive "Toaster Top" pickups pack a nice wallop, similar to many of the humbucker-equipped Gibson basses.  The other toggle switch flips the phase, just like the T-40's guitar cousin, the T-60.  The funky, out-of-phase tones available are admittedly more useful on a guitar, though more iconoclastic sound freaks might find the them hip for upper-register soloing or chilly post-punk chord riffs.

The amp back there is a Spectra, a bass amp apparently designed by the people at Dean Markley.  It's solid-state, but it has a very musical EQ and limiter built in.  Again, a lot of the non-tube stuff from the 70s may not be as sexy as a blackface Fender or an Ampeg SVT, but if you dig around a bit you can find some real gems for relatively cheap.  Swing by and see if we've got any cool pieces that are right for you!   

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gibson SG Jr and Tweed Fender Champ

A few people were in today just sharing - here's a 1964 Gibson SG Jr.  The guy said it was given to him by his grandfather.  It has some age on it - if you tilt the neck just so you can see a little greenish patina along the frets.  Still, it played pretty good, with a nice, comfortably worn neck.

Sadly, though, the Bigsby vibrato had been dismantled somewhere along the line.  I guess most players just don't dig a vibrato on an SG, though I've personally always thought an SG and a Bigsby go together like peaches and cream.  That single P-90 still sounds fat and sweet, though.   

Here's a 1954 Fender Champ!  Behold the mighty, mighty tweed.  A little roughed up, but miraculously intact.

 Just think, when this amp was being built, Elvis was just a poor cracker truck driver trying to break into recording and performing, Johnny Cash was an appliance salesman in Memphis, and hell, Chuck Berry had only been to prison once!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Danelectro Basses

Here we have a dynamic duo of reissued Danelectro basses.  The black Longhorn is one of the earlier Korean-made reissues from the late 90s/early 2000s, and the other bass is one the Silvertone amp-in-case-inspired '63 models that Danelectro started putting out a few years ago.  Now, these are not every bassists' cup of tea, to be sure.  The lipstick tube pickups are about as far from active electronics as you can get!  But if you can appreciate what they have to offer, they do have a unique twangy sound that works great for surf rock and roots music.

The Longhorn, in particular, is a very cool bass.  The original Danelectro bass was one of the first electric basses on the market (after Fender), available in 4-string and 6-string models.  Back in the 50s they became part of the Nashville sound as the "tic-tac bass" - producing a bright, clicky tone that doubled and added more attack to the sound of an acoustic upright.   Nowadays, a good modern amp can give you a lot more thump from these basses, and the longhorn has become a "period correct" choice for retro roots players who don't play (or don't want to lug around) an upright.  The '63 is a "shoulda been," I think.  I don't think there ever was a bass version of the double-horn amp-in-case guitars back in the 60s, but I've been wrong before.  Unlike the Longhorn, the '63 is a full-scale bass, but it still has plenty of the unique Dano charm.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Silvertone Guitar & Matching Amp

Another awesome guitar/amp combo!  Here's a black sparkle Silvertone 1423 with a matching amp.  Silvertone, for the uninitiated, was (and still is) the brand name used by Sears for their musical instruments and amplifiers, though these particular models were actually built for Sears by Harmony, and thus feature a pair of the highly coveted DeArmond pickups instead of the lipstick tubes more common to Silvertones.  These guitars were made from '58-'62, and you sometimes see them referred to as "Jupiters" or "Stratotones," after the model names that Harmony used.

The amp is a 1481, an 8-watt beast that was Silvertone's answer to the Fender Champ.  Unfortunately, this little guy has come to us "sound free" and will need to stop by our repair shop before it's ready to kick out the jams.  The fact that it still has the original Sears/Silvertone vacuum tubes from the early 50s/late 60s might explain why it's not working, but with old amps like this there are many problems that can develop after decades of use (or disuse, as the case may be).  Fortunately for us, though, we have our crack team of tube amp gurus around to suss out things like that!

Construction-wise, the 1423 is basically a flat-top hollowbody without any sound holes, sporting a single-cutaway shape that was no doubt inspired by those (then) newfangled Les Pauls.  There are a few nifty innovations, though - the plethora of knobs and such presages the crazy Japanese wiring setups of the late 60s, but are still very functional.  That oversize flipper switch on the horn lets you control the blend of the two pickups, giving you a wide variety of tonal options.

As you can see, this particular guitar is missing the truss rod cover, but otherwise is in fantastic shape.  Great sounds, a smooth-playing neck, and sporting a set of heavy gauge strings with a wound G - just the way that the good lord (and the guitar builders of the day) intended.  What more could you ask for?