[Baby Bought A Pistol]

The song has a title and tentative verse lyrics. The subject was suggested by the latest rash of school/university shootings. But it’s not a serious protest song, or anything like that. A little sardonic is the most I’ll attribute to it. Lyrics were finished mostly during my five minute ride to work.

The rhythm track was added. Tried adding an organ stab to accompany it, but I didn’t like the sound. Made the executive decision to stick to just guitar.

Started doodling around with a lead guitar track; eventually hit the Record button to capture some improvisation, and, as these things are wont to happen, my high E string snapped. I’m going to attempt using one of my other axes, but if I can’t get what I was getting out of my Casino, I’ll have to man up and change strings. It’s about time, anyway, I suppose.

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Gee-Tar Six

So I found myself with a nice little collection: a Strat, an acoustic, a Les Paul, something I thought looked pretty cool, and a fake Tele.

There remained one style I needed to satisfy my GAS: a hollow-body electric. And if you know me, there was only one on my list. That, of course, would be an Epiphone Casino.

 

I visited my local Guitar Center and spent some time with a Casino, and fell in lust with the way it felt, and the way it played. I must have this piece! Unfortunately, the retail price of $599 was a little budget unfriendly. 

But I was desperate. I turned to a source I’d never used when guitar shopping before: eBay. Not that there’s anything wrong with eBay; I’ve purchased many items through auctions. The thing about guitars, though, is that I prefer to hold my prospective purchase, play around with it a little to check out the action, the weight, and all those little things that connect a guitar to its player. Having auditioned a Casino at GC, though, I knew I wanted one.

After  a few days, a listing for exactly what I wanted appeared: a nearly new Casino with case for a Buy It Now price of $445, plus shipping. The seller had 99.5% feedback, everything looked good, so I took the plunge. 

A week or so later, my package arrived, and I was ecstatic. The Casino was perfect, and to this day remains my favorite acquisition (don’t tell the others, though). 

2013-01-30 18.51.12

At this point in my life, although there are a couple of guitars I wouldn’t mind having (like a Steinberger, a Hofner bass, and especially a Vox Phantom), I’m out of GAS. And looking at my wallet, it’s going to be a while before I can refuel.

 

Gee-Tar Four

I told the story in my last post how I lost out on a great deal on a Fender Telecaster, and how I satisfied my GAS with an Epiphone Les Paul Custom.

 

GAS has a nasty habit of resurfacing, though, and it wasn’t an eon before I was ready to adopt again.  It made things a little easier that Cameron was still taking lessons at the anonymous music store in the west end of town; for an hour a week I could sit and chat with the clerks, and play around with some of the pieces they were selling.

 

One guitar I liked playing around with was a well-worn Vantage VS600 “Witch”, a Japanese model manufactured in the early 1980s.

 

 

It played pretty well, and I liked the looks of it, and they were only asking $250 for it. So it became the fourth member of my collection.

 

 

Gee-Tar Three

OK. where was I?

There is a well-known and much-discussed phenomenon among guitar players called “Guitar Acquisition Syndrome” (which can affect other musicians, but guitarists most often; hence the name). It has been (accurately)  described as “The uncontrollable need to purchase ‘just one more’ guitar to satisfy the inner desire that knows no boundaries.”

I became afflicted not too long after the purchase of my Epiphone acoustic. I had read rumors of GAS while visiting various forums, but didn’t pay too much attention. I had an electric and an acoustic; what else could I need?

For starters, I needed a Les Paul. Sure, I had a Strat, but the LP’s have a different sound, different tonal qualities. And since I had a Stratocaster, I had to complement it with a Telecaster. Again, completely different playing experience. For the same reason, a semi-hollow body went on my list. And a bass; might as well have a bass.

Cameron was taking guitar lessons at a local music shop (which shall remain nameless, but that’s another story). I used to go down with him, and spend the time chatting with the sales staff and playing around with the instruments they were selling.

One particular day we arrived for his lesson, and on the sales floor was a new piece: a 2008 Fender American Standard Telecaster, Natural with a maple fretboard. I’ve coveted this particular configuration since I first saw it. Guitar Center stocks a Mexican made version for $449; the Made-in-America flavor retails for $1275. This one was on consignment sale for…$600. Jim, the Guy Behind the Counter, told me that the owner had only played it for a few hours, and decided he didn’t care for it all that much, and was anxious to be rid of it.

I spent the half-hour during Cam’s lesson playing and examining the Tele closely. Also examining my finances closely. Could I go another $600 in debt? For a $1200 guitar, I could probably find a way.

During the next few days I debated the merits of buying the Tele. I wanted it. Badly. My American Express account was empty…but they don’t take Amex. They also don’t accept Guitar Center credit, dammit! I almost went to the shop a couple of times, but some vague feeling kept me away.  I told Cameron, “If it’s still there Friday, then I’m meant to have it. If it’s gone, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

Friday comes, and I’m sitting at work, doing my job, when a salesman comes in the office. The guy’s name is Frank (he’s been in a few times, and we’ve had conversation. He’s a Giants fan, I favor the Browns), and I’m afraid I don’t recall the company he works for. The person he’s come to see is not in the office at that particular time, but he’ll be back soon, so Frank waits.

We start making small talk, he notices the Beatles calendar hanging on my wall. “You like ‘em, huh?”

“Oh, yeah, been a fan since ‘64.”

“Me, too. That’s what got me starting to play.”

“You play? What do you play?”

“Guitar. Why? You play?”

“Yeah, and same thing. They started it.”

“Yeah, what do you play?”

“A little blues, some 60’s rock.”

“That’s what I play, too. I just picked up a new one a couple of days ago.”

“Did you? I’m hoping to pick one up tonight.”

“Really? I got a Telecaster…”

“Really? That’s what I’m getting. An ash-body. I’ve wanted one since…”

“That’s what I got! And you won’t believe the price!”

A sick realization hit me.

“Oh. Where’d you get it?”

“Up at ******** Music. My son takes lessons Tuesday night. I picked it up on Wednesday.”

Of course. Well, like I told my son, I wasn’t meant to have that particular guitar.

So I decided to go out to Guitar Center Saturday morning and plunk down the $449 for the MIM.  I walked in the front door, and what was the very first thing I saw? Something else that was on my Wish List, a beautiful Epiphone Les Paul Custom, Alpine White with gold hardware. Generally retails for $800, but this one was used and marked down to…yes, $600.

 

 

I figured I wasn’t meant to get the Tele, because I was meant to get the LP. I can always get a MIM Tele for $449 (and it’ll be decent quality), but who knows when I’ll find another LP Custom in the color scheme I want for 25% off? So I snatched it up.

 

 

Epilogue: The following Friday I took Cameron in for his lesson, and fell into conversation, as usual, with Jim (who had been gone the previous week).

“Oh,”, he said, “ I have to tell you a funny story. Remember that Tele you were looking at a couple of weeks ago?”

“Yeah, I really wanted that.”

“Yeah? Well, my brother ended up buying it…”

“Wait…what? Frank is your brother?”

“Yeah. Oh, are you the guy from the construction office?”

“Yeah!”

We didn’t start singing “it’s a small world”, but maybe we should have.

 

Gee-Tar Two

After settling in with my Strat for a bit, I decided I needed a nice acoustic to keep it company.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Yamaha I owned was hard to play, so I started shopping around. I tested a number of Ovation, Takamine and Ibenez models. Each had their pros, but I had a tough time choosing one with the right combination of playabilty, looks, and price point. I wanted a certain sound; I wasn’t sure what, but I’d know when I heard it.

After several trips to a few local music shops, I had just about decided on an Ovation Celebrity CC44.

But after receiving a Guitar Center mailing, that changed. Gibson was re-issuing John Lennon’s go-to acoustic under the Epiphone brand, the EJ-160E John Lennon Acoustic-Electric.

Of course, being a huge Beatles (particularly Lennon) fan. I had to check this out. I rushed down to GC, but they hadn’t received any yet, and they only had a few ordered. The sales person I spoke to took my number, and promised to call me when they arrived. I went back weekly and checked, in case the guy forgot about me. Surprisingly, I did receive a call when their stock arrived. I went in and spent a half-hour or so playing around with it, and loved it. Felt good, sounded good, looked good, and it was in my budget. I played around with a few other guitars I had looked at to be sure the Epiphone was what I wanted, but there was no question about it. I took it home.

You’d think that, armed with a nice electric and a nice acoustic-electric, I’d be satisfied. Particularly since I’m just a hobbyist, not a working musician.

You’d be wrong.

There is a phenomenon known as GAS that we’ll discuss next time.

In the meantime, Keep On Rockin’!

Meant To Be, Or Meant Not To Be. What Was The Question?

I’ve played guitar for the majority of my years, nothing fancy, just enough to keep me amused.

Christmastime of ‘07, my son, who had become enamored of Guitar Hero, received a Behringer starter guitar and amp set. He loved it and (thankfully) started spending more time with that than the game.

This reinspired me to pick up my own battered Yamaha FG-160 acoustic and begin playing again. Soon I was hankering for an electric, since I hadn’t had one in over 40 years (my first was an old Silvertone).

I made myself a Wish List of several models I wished to have, and armed with a Guitar Center credit card, began collecting.

The first piece I picked up was a Fender Standard HSS Strat, Arctic White with a maple fretboard. I eventually made it my own by replacing several of the white and chrome pieces with black. Looks pretty sharp. I’m sure I’ll post a picture some day.

Soon after I picked up a Yamaha RGX A2. It wasn’t high on my list, but at the time a new one was selling for $499, and Guitar Center had a used one for $199. The volume knob and battery door were missing, but a $37 investment made it as good as new again.

I decided I wanted to replace the FG-160 with an acoustic-electric, and being a lifelong Beatle fan, opted for the Epiphone EJ-160E, the John Lennon signature model (after all, it was the Beatles that got me interested in playing in the first place).

At this point, my GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome; if you play, you understand) was pretty well sated. Although there were still items on my Wish List, I was happy to play around with what I had.

Until February 27.

On that day, at about 5:27 pm Eastern Time, my son Cameron and I arrived at West End Music for his weekly guitar lesson. On the sales floor was a new piece: a 2008 Fender American Standard Telecaster, Natural with a maple fretboard. I’ve coveted this particular configuration since I first saw it. Guitar Center stocks a Mexican made version for $449; the Made-in-America flavor retails for $1275. This one was on consignment sale for…$600. Jim, the Guy Behind the Counter, told me that the owner had only played it for a few hours, and decided he didn’t care for it all that much, and was anxious to be rid of it.

I spent the half-hour during Cam’s lesson playing and examining the Tele closely. Also examining my finances closely. Could I go another $600 in debt? For a $1200 guitar, I could probably find a way.

During the next few days I debated the merits of buying the Tele. I wanted it. Badly. My American Express account was empty…but they don’t take Amex. They also don’t accept Guitar Center credit, dammit! I almost went to the shop a couple of times, but some vague feeling kept me away.  I told Cameron, “If it’s still there Friday, then I’m meant to have it. If it’s gone, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

Friday comes, and I’m sitting at work, doing my job, when a salesman comes in the office. The guy’s name is Frank (he’s been in a few times, and we’ve had conversation. He’s a Giants fan, I favor the Browns), and I’m afraid I don’t recall the company he works for. The person he’s come to see is not in the office at that particular time, but he’ll be back soon, so Frank waits.

We start making small talk, he notices the Beatles calendar hanging on my wall. “You like ‘em, huh?”

“Oh, yeah, been a fan since ‘64.”

“Me, too. That’s what got me starting to play.”

“You play? What do you play?”

“Guitar. Why? You play?”

“Yeah, and same thing. They started it.”

“Yeah, what do you play?”

“A little blues, some 60’s rock.”

“That’s what I play, too. I just picked up a new one a couple of days ago.”

“Did you? I’m hoping to pick one up tonight.”

“Really? I got a Telecaster…”

“Really? That’s what I’m getting. An ash-body. I’ve wanted one since…”

“That’s what I got! And you won’t believe the price!”

A sick realization hit me.

“Oh. Where’d you get it?”

“Up at West End Music. My son takes lessons Tuesday night. I picked it up on Wednesday.”

Of course. Well, like I told my son, I wasn’t meant to have that particular guitar.

So I decided to go out to Guitar Center Saturday morning and plunk down the $449 for the MIM.  I walked in the front door, and what was the very first thing I saw? Something else that was on my Wish List, a beautiful Epiphone Les Paul Custom, Alpine White with gold hardware. Generally retails for $800, but this one was used and marked down to…yes, $600.

I figured I wasn’t meant to get the Tele, because I was meant to get the LP. I can always get a MIM Tele for $449 (and it’ll be decent quality), but who knows when I’ll find another LP Custom in the color scheme I want for 25% off? So I snatched it up.

And as an Epilogue: This past Friday I took Cameron in for his lesson, and fell into conversation, as usual, with Jim (who had been gone the previous week).

“Oh,”, he said, “ I have to tell you a funny story. Remember that Tele you were looking at a couple of weeks ago?”

“Yeah, I really wanted that.”

“Yeah? Well, my brother ended up buying it…”

“Wait…what? Frank is your brother?”

“Yeah. Oh, are you the guy from the construction office?”

“Yeah!”

We didn’t start singing “it’s a small world”, but maybe we should have.