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Music Production: Instruments
09/10/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo rehab part 2

The Kalamazoo is back from the refret and other refinements--and it's way fun to play. Now I just have to rewire it again: I've never been a 2-volume/2-tone fan. It's probably going to get a master volume and pickup blend control, with a conventional (but maybe beefed-up) tone control, but I'm undecided on what to do with the remaining potentiometer. Suggestions can be sent to the usual address.

04/25/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo rehab

I'm about halfway through the guitar rehab. It turns out that some of my fears were unfounded: while, yes, it does need a refret, it so turns out that the truss rod is not rusted, and the adjustment nut is turnng acceptably. I've rewired it to reduce noise and shock hazard, and I put an adjustable bridge/tailpiece combo on it. I've shimmed up the neck, too. It's getting close to the guitar that it could be. I now think that yes, the body is some kind of wood-derived composite, but it is sturdy. And it sounds pretty good through the Alamo amp. Direct into the board (with appropriate input trimming) it sounds fantastic--extremely bright and Telecaster-like. I'm wondering if the aluminum pickguard (which sits over a sizeable body cavity) has something to do with this. The vibrato, if I string it to take advantage of it, is pretty stiff--more of a surf trill than anything divey. Right now I've got it strung through the stop tailpiece, though. And I put on new machine heads, as well. Getting somewhere.... I've noticed a few of these come up on ebay every now and again; go to the Musical Instruments section and do a search on Kalamazoo. 

03/07/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo guitar

Okay, I'll stop complaining for the moment about the instrument search, but I still reserve the right to complain about the Western Pennsylvania area. I picked up another guitar--on ebay--a Kalamazoo Type-S. This was apparenty Gibson's attempt to compete with the Fender Mustang. It didn't work, obviously, but it's a nice little guitar. It's got that thinner Mustang-style body, a little less gratuitous tail material, and a scale length that's--surprise!--slightly longer than my Univoxes. I'll mention that before it arrived I did some research and learned that there was a Kalamazoo beginner's guitar with a Masonite body and a good neck. At first I thought mine would be one of these, but this is no Masonite body. It's a solid slab of wood.

I need to find a bridge for it (closing in), new machine heads (bought the wrong ones this weekend--too wide), knobs (jury's out here), and...what I hadn't counted on, a refret. Oops. I didn't ask about this one, so let this be a lesson to you if you're buying a used guitar over the net, or in any long-distance deal. In any event, the price ended up being fairly low. On the plus side, the neck seems good (we'll see how it holds tension--although the truss rod adjustment nut seems frozen to the rod...yikes!), the seller refinished it a pretty good candy apple red, and he replaced the pickguard with a homemade aluminum job that's pretty sharp. Given my taste in used guitars (Univox Mosrite copy in the '80s for $120; Univox 335 copy in the 80's for $60), consider yourself warned about the Kalamazoo Type-S. I've seen a complete one selling on the net for $250 (significantly more than I paid), so it's conceivably within reach.

11/30/1998 Instruments: Farfisa

I had an interesting experience over the holiday weekend--I was walking to the Post Office to send in a shareware registration, and checked out a house sale in the neighborhood, where I found a Farfisa Compact organ...for $20. It does need some restoration--about 60% of the keys don't sound in one or two of the three registers; the vibrato doesn't work; the E and Eb keys are out of tune, and I need to replace the power cord and the output cord. The name "Compact" is a bit optimistic, and the handle on the case is a cruel hoax. But it does function, and it's a Farfisa. (Just about anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I'm thrilled with this find.) Moral of the story: register your shareware.

11/07/1998 Instruments: cheap guitars

So what's up with this city? A friend and I went out today, doing a grand tour of music stores and pawn shops that in the past had some pretty good deals, but today we came up empty. All the cheap low-end vegematic gear we could comfortably justify (and the occasional unrecognized gem) is gone, replaced by $300-$500 average, industry-standard, middle-of-the-road blandness. The beauty of bottom-feeding in the guitar market was that all the trend followers were pursuing Les Pauls and Strats, driving those prices way up, but leaving just about everything else affordable. Why were Jazzmasters, for example, the guitar of choice for people like Tom Verlaine and Sonic Youth? Because in the late '70s and early '80s they were the cheapest good guitar around...but no longer. Even Mustangs and Duosonics have been sucked into the vintage vortex. Hell, today I saw a Bronco--a Bronco!--with a "$600--serious inquiries only" sign. I think they must have misspelled "delusional."

There was one pedal I'm still thinking of going back and getting, if I can talk the guy down, and there was a guitar at a pawnshop that, while it didn't call out to either of us, reaffirmed my faith that deals could be had. (It's a 60's or 70's-era Epiphone solidbody with a bizarre DIY wiring job. Decent tone, good player, good price, but it needs some work I don't feel like doing. But if you're interested, Email me and I'll clue you in.)

So if you're aware of a cheap and weird guitar (think, oh, Teisco, Microfrets, EDO, Univox [I know, I know, but c'mon; they're really only $75 guitars], or something you can't identify), and if you know of something cheap you can't identify, or a beat-up or funkified-beyond-any-vintage-valuation name brand guitar, Email me. Do it if you know of a store that's stocked with these things, too. I'm looking for a lap steel and funky effects boxes, too. I'll confess to being picky about action (that's the distance the strings are off the frets; for you drummers, less distance is better) and semi-picky about shape/paint job. But get in touch with me anyway.

10/13/1998 Instruments: Alamo

Got the tube amp I was looking for: an Alamo Montclair Reverb, which is pretty much a Fender Deluxe Reverb without the price tag. Alamo apparently made amps in San Antonio (of course) from the late '60s to the mid-'70s. It's a sweet amp--with tremelo. I can get a variety of good tones out of it, as well. I've heard that it distorts nicely when pushed, but I haven't been in a position to check that out lately. A 12AX7 and two 6V6s, for you tube snobs keeping track at home. I can think of a few maintenance things I'd like to check out on it, but I'm quite satisfied.

I should mention that I found it--of all places--on ebay. I watched it for a week and nobody bid, so I ended up getting it for the minimum the dealer was willing to let it go for (no, not $1). Apparently, a lot of sellers make their money when auction novices decide that a) they have to have the item, no matter what, or b) the point of an auction is to "win" an item, or both. I always thought the point of an auction was to get a bargain. I'd think one should set one's maximum at the point past which the item won't be a bargain anymore, and if someone else wants to pay more, let them.

I got a good deal on the amp, and I was talking to a friend about this weird phenomenon with all the good cheap musical equipment we bought back in the '80s. (These would be guitars and effects that were unfashionable then, but decent--the kind of equipment that you're glad is cheap, because it would be easy to pick up another if you found one.) It seems that over the past, oh, five years these have all been hiked way up in price. Univox guitars come to mind. Really good guitars for the pittance they were going for. Now they're somewhat harder to find, and very hard to find at their still-a-deal price (say, around $100). Of course, some of that scarcity could be explained by Kurt Cobain smashing so many of them. (The kid who had my Hi-Flyer before I bought it seems to have tried to set it on fire and smash it, until he remembered that he was just renting it and would have to pay for the whole thing. Why are these things such smash magnets?) I've seen ads on Usenet looking specifically for Hi-Flyers. These shouldn't be guitars one sets out to find; they should be guitars one finds unexpectedly, as a pleasant surprise.

10/13/1998 Instruments: lap steel

Still keeping my eyes open for that lap steel guitar, by the way. I'm leaning toward 8-string.

08/16/1998 Instruments: lap steel

Still looking for that lap steel guitar, as well as a funky old tube amp. And I'd be interested in a substantial guitar, like a 70s Travis Bean or an old Jazzmaster.


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Live at Black Forge, January 2, 2016
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Live, November 5, 2015
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Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
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Wave Space, Cleveland OH, September 16, 2011 4?:?34 PM?-?5?:?37 PM
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Music for Dance
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Tell Ya One Thing And Then Some
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