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July, 2009:

Oh No!!! Van crashes into guitar repair shop

Doc Pittillo described the Saturday morning crash that has left him physically unharmed but financially devastated as something akin to a psychedelic experience.

van crashes into guitar repair shop“I turned around and actually saw the van come through the window of the store,” Pittillo said. “It was slow motion.”

Pittillo, owner of The Guitar Doctor, 18171 Euclid St., said he was plucking a guitar in front of his shop about a minute before a minivan slammed into its front window.

“If I were standing there, my guess is I would have been killed or really badly mangled,” Pittillo said. “There are usually a lot of people in the front of the shop. Man, if that would have happened with the customers there? Somebody would have been killed…there’s no doubt in my mind. It would have been really ugly”.

Only Pittillo and one of his workers, both who were near the back, were at the store at the time.Fire officials said they received a call about 11 a.m. about a vehicle that had crashed into the store at Euclid and Newhope streets. Other details about the crash, such as the driver’s name, remain unknown because Fountain Valley Police Department officials did not return multiple calls for comment.

Witnesses said that a gold-colored minivan crashed into the shop. The driver, his wife and teen-age daughter were also in the vehicle, they added. All seemed uninjured.While Pittillo said he is grateful to be unhurt, he said he lost at about $80,000 worth of valuables inside the store, including many vintage guitars.

One in particular was a candy apple-red 1965 Fender Stratocaster, worth at least $40,000, he said. “And I have no recourse,” Pittillo said.While he had insurance on the actual building, Pittillo said the contents inside were not insured because he couldn’t afford it.

“It’s not the value so much but that this instrument I played on the road for years,”

Pittillo said about the ‘65 Fender.

By Cindy Carcamo, Orange County Register

How Guitar Strings Are Made

Interesting video this, for anyone who was ever curious about how the process of string making took place.

This video shows D’addario string manufacture.

Enjoy!

Start ’em Young!

Not a guitar collecting item, but this deserves some further promotion;

“Folsom Prison Blues” performed by Wesley, 5 years old, at the 2009 Spring Coffee Shop Jam, at The Columbia City Theater in Seattle, WA.

Amazing what 5 year old kids spend their time doing these days, eh?

Bay Area Guitar Show Sees Fewer Buyers

Rob Szupak is a semi-retired contractor itching to become a fully retired contractor. For the past three years, the 62-year-old Fairfax resident has been restoring vintage lap steel guitars and tube amplifiers and reselling them, hoping to earn enough of a living to make that his primary source of income.

Szupak’s entry into the guitar market just happened to coincide with the biggest economic downturn in decades, a recession that has sent guitar prices plummeting as much as 50 percent in some cases. Szupak is one of the 40 vendors displaying their wares at the Bay Area World Guitar Show, taking place this last weekend at the Marin Civic Center Exhibit Hall.

“It’s one of those things like sailboats, when the economy goes down, people just aren’t spending money on guitars and amps like they used to,” said Szupak, whose company is called Slide Zone. “I’ve been watching my favorite instruments in the world becoming less valuable over the years.”

Vendors throughout the exhibit hall floor said they’d reduced their prices across their inventory. Show organizer Larry Briggs said that although price cuts have hurt vendors, consumer interest remained high, even if fewer attendees were leaving with a purchased guitar in hand. He said he expected more than 1,500 attendees, on par with the same two-day event in Marin a year ago.

“It’s all coincided with people seeing the value of their home drop and their 401Ks going out the window,” said Briggs, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma who puts on eight guitars shows a year in the U.S., including two in Marin. “People that were making money were spending it on guitars. Now that their nest egg has been taken away in many cases, they’re not. But the opportunities to buy are certainly better now.”

“People just aren’t spending money these days,” said Gary Garcia, a Sacramento builder of handmade guitars, including one he made two years ago for former Prime Minister Tony Blair at the request of Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave it to Blair as a reirement present. “They’re more likely to hold onto what they already have, so there’s a lot more repair business now.”

While the bursting of the real estate bubble certainly impacted the guitar market, many vendors said some guitars had a bubble of their own. High-end electric guitars, particularly vintage models from the 1950s and 1960s, exploded in price earlier this decade, and have subsequently taken the biggest hit. Bob Danielson of Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon said the boom was sparked in part by a front page Wall Street Journal article 10 years ago that highlighted the value of vintage guitars as an investment.

“All of a sudden all of these novices who weren’t players or collectors started buying vintage guitars – that drove the market to insanity,” Danielson said. “You had people calling into dealers saying, ‘what’s my guitar worth today?’ They were treating it like the stock market. That really made it crazy, but it’s getting back to normal.”

For instance, a 1957 Les Paul Gibson that may have commanded $200,000 a year ago would likely fetch $150,000 today, according to Vintage Guitar magazine’s annual price guide.

The other end of the market is vastly improved, Danielson said. Entry-level guitars are cheaper and better quality than ever, and the demand remains high. To respond to that trend, Rich King, whose store, Guitar Maniacs, is based in Tacoma, Washington, took many of his guitars worth $30,000 or greater and sold them, using that revenue to buy more guitars in the $200 to $2,000 price range. “It’s all about how low will people go,” he said.

King said the Marin show is typically “softer” than other shows. While he sold 32 guitars at a show in Dallas in April, he hadn’t sold one by late afternoon Saturday. Szupak was in equally unfortunate company. He said he remains hopeful that business will pick up. “But I’m hanging onto that optimism with my fingernails right now,” he said.

Jim Welte

Collectable Guitars pt 32 – Washburn A-20V Stage Series


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Washburn A10-A20V Stage series of guitars were produced between 1979 and 1985.

Washburn A-20V Stage GuitarShaped like a truncated Gibson Explorer with a chunky slanted headstock, the high quality Stage series found homes with a fair number of rock guitarists in the early 1980’s. They were produced in Japan in the highly regarded Matsumoku factory, which also built guitars for Ibanez, Westone, and a host of other manufacturers.

The lower model A10 has a bolt on neck, while the higher priced A15 had a set neck, leading up to the top of the range A20s which had through necks.

Washburn also made a bass version, the B20 which sells for around the same prices as the guitars.

  • Features included dual humbuckers with independent tone and volume
  • Push/pull coil splits
  • A three-piece 22 fret v-shaped maple neck,
  • Ash body wings with flamed two-piece maple top
  • Ebony fretboard with brass washer-shaped inlays
  • Strat-style tremelo with string-thru-body
  • Sealed tuners
  • Brass nut
  • Full binding

Washburn released them again as a re-issue in 1995. Prices are fairly low for such a well made guitar, but I guess the shape is an acquired taste, not suitable for everyone.

I have recently seen a couple of A10s for sale on GBase for $5-700, so I have to assume that the A20 will be a little higher, probably $800-1000, which I think makes them pretty decent value.

Collectable Guitars pt 31 – Tokai Talbo


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481This guitar was originally made from 1982 to 1984 in Japan by Tokai, who at this point were looking to expand away from the copies they specialised in.

Tokai Talbo GuitarIt was very unusual in that the body was not made of wood, as you might expect, but aluminium instead. As such the name was actually an acronym for Tokai ALuminium BOdy. The benefits of using aluminium were sustainability- no trees get chopped down to make enough aluminium for a Talbo body, and a different sound.

Made of cast aluminum alloy AC-4B, which is commonly used in racing car engines, the Talbo’s design is simple and elegant, combining new and traditional elements. Basically, it’s like two superimposed teardrops with the tips pointing right and left to yield a bi-level, sculptured double cutaway. Its headstock decal reads “The New Legend Of The Guitar History.”

The aluminium body was mostly solid, but with a large hollow chamber for the controls and for weight reduction. It had Blazing Fire pickups, usually a bridge humbucker and two single coils although two humbucker versions are not uncommon. The neck is made of maple and is bolted to the body.

The Talbo Blazing Fire is a quality guitar, comfortable, easy to play, with a great sound. If there’s a limitation, it’s that the three-way select limits the tonal potential, although this is mitigated somewhat with the two volumes. Perhaps the most famous appearance of the Tokai Talbo in the 1980s was in the hands of the band Devo.

Tokai Talbos were promoted briefly in American and European markets for perhaps a couple years, but after 1984 seemed to disappear from the radar. They didn’t disappear  though. The Talbo appears to have continued in production in Japan since its ’82 debut. And what’s more, it continued to evolve. What had been called the Blazing Fire became simply the Talbo, in its present state offered with twin humbuckers. In 1999, Tokai introduced the Talbo Woody, an all-wood version made of two hollowed-out pieces of maple.

A more interesting variant was the Talbo Junior that debuted in 2000. It takes the teardrop-shaped sound chamber and encapsulates it in cast aluminum, then hollows the top of the body and cutaway horns, making them just a frame. Then, to spice things up, it adds a built-in amplifier under the strings. That same year, the Talbo’s body was extended and turned into the Talbo Bass. And finally, Tokai brought back the Blazing Fire moniker on a fantastic blue-tinted transparent plexiglass version, still with the 3-D Talbo shape, but with no aluminum. These are produced in Korea.

So what of the original Talbo? Well, prices probably are about £700-£1000 for the guitars and basses, while the new Woody models are probably significantly less.

Canadian Guitarist Gets Revenge For Airline Damaged Guitar


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481

You have probably seen this story by now, but I thought I’d report on it anyway;

A broken guitar is turning out to be a major break for Canadian musician Dave Carroll.

Carroll has become an Internet sensation after posting a revenge song on YouTube about United Airlines’ baggage handlers breaking his guitar during a flight in the United States.

His video for the song “United Breaks Guitars” was posted on the popular file-sharing site Monday night and had received more than 600,000 hits by Thursday evening.

Dave CarrollHe’s also received thousands of emails and a flood of friend requests on Facebook.

“I was thinking I’d definitely get some action on (YouTube) because the song has been resonating so well with audiences as I’ve been performing it, but I didn’t know it would take off like this,” Carroll said Thursday.

“It’s been a whirlwind and the craziest two days of my life.”

On the same day as Michael Jackson’s memorial service Tuesday, Carroll’s video was one of the most watched on YouTube.

Carroll, 41, said it’s ironic that his video has gotten far more attention than anything he’s ever done in 15 years as a musician.

“Every musician wants to get their stuff out there. I just didn’t necessarily expect it to happen in this way.”

Carroll, a guitarist for the pop-rock group Sons of Maxwell, might have to scrap plans to take it easy this summer as he fields calls for appearances.

Since the clip appeared on The Chronicle Herald’s website Tuesday afternoon, Carroll’s schedule has been packed with interviews. On Wednesday night, the story was featured on the Situation Room on CNN and has appeared in newspapers across Canada and the U.S. Even Oprah’s people called Thursday afternoon.

Along with emailed stories from people who empathize with his broken guitar and damaged luggage, Carroll has received a stream of requests for gigs from as far away as Las Vegas.

The catchy song recounts Carroll’s year-long struggle to get compensation for what he calls “a vicious act of malice” at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last year.

Carroll was flying between Halifax and Nebraska when he switched planes in Chicago. The passenger next to him noticed baggage handlers tossing guitar cases outside the plane.

At first Carroll thought his Taylor guitar was destroyed. Even after paying $1,400 in repairs, it still doesn’t play the way it used to but he keeps it for sentimental reasons. He played it on all eight of his band’s albums.

The songwriter spent the past year trying to get compensation from United Airlines. When the airline refused to take responsibility, the songwriter made the humorous music video and posted it online.

Some fans have praised Carroll in emails for dealing with the problem in what they say is a distinctly Canadian way.

“They appreciate the high road that I’ve taken with the light-hearted approach to it and they say they’re proud to be Canadian because of it,” said Carroll.

Taylor Guitars in California got in touch to say they’d be happy to see if they could repair the damaged guitar. They also promised a big discount on his next purchase.

United Airlines also called to say it wants to discuss the situation. Officials for the airline reportedly said they liked the video and want to use it as a textbook case on how to handle customer complaints in the future.

The video was shot in 12 hours with friends dressing up as flight attendants and musicians. Volunteer firemen played the baggage handlers who are shown playing catch with the guitar case and tossing it like a hammer throw.

Carroll initially told United he would write three songs about his broken guitar. He plans to debut the second song in the next few weeks but hasn’t written the third one yet.

He said it remains to be seen whether his story will be “a love story or a tragedy.”

By ELIZABETH McMILLAN The Canadian Press


John Lennon’s Hofner Senator sells for £205,250!


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481A 1958 Hofner Senator guitar owned by John Lennon sold for £205,250 at Christies London auction yesterday.

Guitars owned by John Lennon very rarely appear on the market and George Harrison’s verification of this guitars’ provenance in his letter to Lily Evans is invaluable.

Harrison’s own keen interest in guitars meant that he had a clear recollection of the models he and his fellow Beatles owned and used over the years. In the course of Christie’s research, Lennon’s friend and colleague Pete Shotton told us that although he himself didn’t remember who played what guitar [Shotton himself was not a guitarist but played the washboard in the Quarry Men] George had an extremely good memory for detail and would not put his name to a statement unless it was correct.

John Lennon Hofner Senator guitarThere has been some written speculation in the past that this Hofner Senator may be the very one that former Quarry Man Ken Brown owned, however this seems unfeasible when the provenance of this guitar is analysed.

In the course of their research Christies spoke to Ken Brown himself about this rumour and he stated that he did not believe this to be the same guitar as the Hofner Sentator he owned. Also when it is considered that fellow Beatle George Harrison recalls Lennon owning one of these models, and that this guitar’s history shows that John gave his Hofner Senator and a white Vox guitar to trusted friend and road manager Mal Evans.

Evans did not appear on the Beatle scene until 1963 long after Ken Brown’s six-week interlude with the Quarry Men in 1959, and as far as we know their paths never crossed. All these factors appear to refute the Ken Brown association with this particular guitar entirely.

In the late ’50s and early ’60s American electric guitars were not readily available in the UK and if they could be found were very expensive, as a result budding guitarists had to rely on German-made and European electric guitars. Although Lennon came to be identified with the Rickenbacker 325 from late 1960-1961 onwards, what he himself described as his first ‘real guitar’ was a Hofner.

As soon as John Lennon and George Harrison began to earn some money by playing at the Casbah club in Liverpool with the Quarry Men, they both purchased Hofner Club 40 electric guitars, John’s first Hofner, and George’s second, his first being a Hofner President. John’s guitar was acquired via hire-purchase from Hessy’s Music Shop on August 28th, 1959 and he recalled in an interview that when ..George and I saw a Hofner Club 40 we thought it was the end. All the Quarry Men’s performances in 1959 at the Casbah Coffee club were without a drummer – if they were asked about this absence, they would respond: “The rhythm’s in the guitars”. The line-up of guitars at this time was John and George with their two Hofner Club 40s; Ken Brown with his Hofner Senator [for the 6 weeks he was with the Quarry Men] and Paul McCartney with his Zenith.

Hofners are closely associated with all the early Beatles, although in November 1959 George Harrison had moved on from his Hofner Club 40 to a Futurama, the closest thing he could get to a Fender Stratocaster. In January 1960 when Stuart Sutcliffe joined the group as bass player he purchased a large electric Hofner 333 bass guitar with money he had received from selling one of his canvases at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. With the addition of Sutcliffe the group’s name changed from the Quarry Men to The Beatles [as a tribute to Buddy Holly’s Crickets although initially spelt Beatals]. Photographs of the group during their landmark first tour of Hamburg show Lennon playing his Hofner Club 40. It was this gruelling tour which provided the group with the foundation for their success, as Mark Lewisohn wrote: Five hundred hours on stage in Hamburg…forged the style that would conquer the world. It seems highly probable that Lennon may have purchased this Hofner Senator whilst earning money in Germany either in 1960 or the following year. It was there in Hamburg in 1961 that Paul McCartney acquired what was to become his signature instrument, his first Hofner 500/1 violin bass.

The lack of photographic evidence of Lennon with this Hofner Senator suggests that he probably kept this guitar at home for writing purposes. It is significant that John Lennon had this guitar during those formative years in the early sixties, and that it was with him right at the beginning of his phenomenal career, when he was writing such early classics as: Please Please Me – The Beatles first No 1; Do You Want to Know A Secret, There’s A Place, I Feel Fine, Help!and Ticket To Ride to name but a few. Putting speculation aside for a moment, it is certainly true that John Lennon guitars with provenance are exceptionally rare and to see one from Lennon’s early career supported by documentation from fellow Beatle George Harrison is scarce indeed.

Serial No.4697, Senator model, natural finish, 22 fret fingerboard with five triple dot inlays, back of the neck applied with a square paper sticker the blue background with cream lettering spelling LOVE; Compensator tailpiece, bound f-holes, plastic facia with a Hofner logo, simulated tortoiseshell pickguard; and contour case containing a few pieces including a contemporary set of Martin Bronze strings, and a simulated tortoiseshell guitar pick; accompanied by: a facsimile copy of a typescript letter from George Harrison to Mal Evans’ widow Lily on October 26th, 1982 on Harrisongs Ltd. headed stationery, regarding this guitar which states that this: Hofner is one of the first guitars of John’s going back to the early days in Liverpool (1960-ish)… ; and a photograph of Lennon playing a Hofner Club 40 at the Top Ten Club, Hamburg, 1960 —8x10in.(20x26c.) (printed later).

Two Hofner Violin basses, both signed by Paul McCartney, were also sold in the same auction; a 1960’s one sold for £8750 and a 1970’s model for £10, 625.