Author Archives: keepsmealive
James rulez. We all know this.
About a week ago, James messaged me to say that Jesse Dangerously had everything on his Bandcamp super-cheap. To get in on it, I had to create a Bandcamp account and, when I tried to do so, it kept failing before giving me the Captcha to prove I’m human (I am, I swear it!). The site wouldn’t let me create an account. Eventually, I gave up. It was OK, there wasn’t much physical product I needed in stock, by then, anyway. But the digital discography was appealing. Ah well.
Yesterday, I got an email from Bandcamp. You Have Received A Gift From James. He’d sent me a link to the entire Jesse Dangerously discography in MP3.
Seriously, folks, James rulez.
THANK YOU JAMES! I am in Jesse Dangerously heaven!
Here is the list, in order I got them. 23 releases in all!
The Rap Hundreds, Season 3
Want, For Wanting, Of Wanting EP (Danger Grove)
The Rap Hundreds, Season 2
Want, For Nothing (Danger Grove)
The Rap Hundreds, Season 1
Remixes (Danger Grove)
Pumpkin Spice Illuminatte
fml lol smdh
There! Are! Four! Lights!
My Dinner With Andre
Ghostbusters Lo-Fi Edit Piece
A More Blessed Perfection
Slept Through A Landslide (Tired Angels remix)
Bring Your Girlfriend To Rap Day
Humble & Brilliant
Verba Volant (9th Anniversary)
How To Express Your Dissenting Political Views Through Origami
The ImF Ride b/w Even Exist (As In, We
Eastern Canadian World Tour 2002
This is all beyond awesome.
I have recently been told that, according to science, this is the best AC/DC album. It is hard to argue with science.
For some reason I have the CD and 2 copies on LP. Does it matter? Haha no. Crank ’em all!
We’re headed into AC/DC territory in my collection. Special thanks to both Scott (our HMO) and Mike, (and my own minimal efforts to fill in the blanks), I have (almost) all of the studio albums here. And a bunch of other stuff, too! It all rocks, so I’ll speak truth every album: AC/DC RULES.
Haha #69. Nice.
An 80s classic, a big album from my formative years. So many good songs here. I have it on CD and LP. Somehow I am sad that my childhood cassette is long gone.
I was going to post a single song from this fun punker disc here, but Youtube only has one video for this album, and it’s the whole damn thing! Awesome! Crank it!
You probably know them best from their song Woo Hoo and appearance in Kill Bill. They are that, and sooo much more! These Japanese ladies know how to bring the rock in such delightful ways, I love this compilation!
A cover of a Joy Division song? On a limited, numbered CD from one of my favourite Canadian bands?
Oh hell yes.
An excellent follow-up to Dear, Dear. Love this sound.
I remember where I was when this album came out, working a summer job in a stifling auto parts factory, saving up for university. A buddy was headed to the city and I asked him to grab this for me (he got one for himself, too). It really helped me survive that summer!
Probably my favourite top-to-bottom 54-40 record, but that’s tough to say (they’ve done so much greatness).
Part VII: New Amplifier Developments
I was digging around looking at the Fender Hot Rod Deluxes (because of course I was), and I was marvelling at their beauty and tube-driven power. In my YouTube sidebar, I saw a video about amps I’d not yet heard of, the Fender Tone Master series, with Deluxe Reverb, and Twin.
Now, we all know about the classic Deluxe Reverb and Twin amps, right? Behemoths in the Fender amp line-ups now for, what, 50 years? 60? Anyway. Long time champions in the guitar world, massively popular. If you need something for stage and recording, these rock. They’re also found in backlines all over the world. And so on.
Now, Fender has released this Tone Master series, which uses all of their digital processing power to completely, dedicatedly emulate the Deluxe Reverb and Twin amps. Nothing extra, like on my Boss Katana 50 (which I love), which has all sorts of extra amp emulations and gadgets on it. No, just recreate the old originals as faithfully as possible. By all reports, they’ve nailed it.
Looking more closely…
[DR = original Deluxe Reverb / DR TM = Deluxe Reverb Tone Master, and Twin TM = Twin Tone Master]. Prices CAD as of today’s Long & McQuade.
With the original DR and Twin amps, there are a few issues (or non-issues, depending on your point of view), so I’ve put up comparisons by category. See what you think:
– Weight: (DR: 42lbs / DR TM: 23 lbs) (Twin: 60-75 lbs, per model / Twin TM: 33 lbs)
– Fragility/Repair: Tube amps all need work eventually. The Tone Masters are solid state, nothing to be finnicky. Plug and play.
– Cost: (DR: $1500-$3500 / DR TM: $1119.99) (Twin: $1800-$4200 / Twin TM: $1399.99)
– Originals make a huge sound, not really meant as home/practice amps. The Tone Masters make the same huge noise, but have built-in attenuators with multiple attenuation levels, so you can have low volume without sacrificing tone. Yes, you could have an attenuator pedal on the original, but that’s just more cost and hassle.
– Originals have that satisfying big amp buzz/hum, which makes playing cleanly at low levels at home difficult. The Tone Master digital system should remove alot of that buzz/hum, though probably not all. I’d have to try it to see for sure, but I know my Katana does alright.
Honestly, I could see me with a Tone Master DR and happy for the rest of my life. Tube is great, tube was always the dream, but my experiences with the Boss Katana 50 (oh ye g-ds how I love that amp) have shown me that digital need not suck. Amps just keep improving. And if all the reviews online are right, and you really can’t even tell the difference because the Fender engineers have nailed it completely with these TMs, I’d go for the new-fangled and be done!
Happy Canada Day, everyone! Here’s a great Canadian band who, in a moment of perfect timing, was due up today in the series anyway. I love it when a plan comes together.
This is a compilation that is a must-have for those days when early 54-40 is just what I need (it happens often).
Awesome live record, these guys were one of a kind.
This is also the first LP (of many, many, many) to be covered in this series.
I’m gonna guess that, by now, you know I’m a pretty huge fan of this stuff.
I’ve never heard Judah Bauer do anything less than brilliant.
This track is on the Japanese-only EP called Let Every Town Furnish Its Own Women split EP with Bob Log III, but Youtube doesn’t seem to offer tracks from that release, so here it is on the Twenty Miles: R.L. Boyce Othar Turner Fife & Drum Spam album. Sweaty good.
Found on my copy of the Japanese-only EP called Let Every Town Furnish Its Own Women split EP with 20 Miles, but Youtube doesn’t seem to offer tracks from that release, so here it is on the Bob Log III album called Log Bomb. Groovy.
This is a 2-fer of tracks from the Sinful Tunes & Spirituals split EP with 20 Miles.
Get You Some!
This track is on the Sinful Tunes & Spirituals split EP with Doo Rag, but Youtube doesn’t seem to offer the track from that release, so here it is on the I’m A Lucky Guy album. Same song, kick ass.
Juicy bluesy greatness.
I’ve been having iTunes hassles for ages. Recently, I tried starting a new library, ripping at a higher bitrate, going through all the CDs that are here in alphabetical order, one at a time. Nice way to revisit everything. I got so far into it before iTunes continued to mess up, so I’m looking for an alternative for Mac that can rip CDs. There’ll be a whole post/rant coming, but for now, I’ll just share some of what I got through.
I love 10,000 Maniacs. So much goodness on this 2CD compilation, I’ve just can’t be without it.
NB: How have I reached 50 of these already.
#50 Teenage Fanclub – Commercial Alternative
From the 1993 album Thirteen, this is a period-perfect pop rock song. Something about the vocals sounds tired, which is probably on purpose. This whole album is great, a classic!
#49 Paul Rodgers (w. Neal Schon) – Born Under A Bad Sign
Well goddamn. Found on the brilliant 2002 collaboration album Muddy Water Blues, this is sweaty bluesy glory, with everything you’d want and more. That voice! That guitar! YES!
Yup it’s a series!
Part VI: Need, Reasons To Not, Cost Comparisons
I had a look around at some vintage guitars. Reality: a decent condition 1974 Telecaster, for example, averages $5000 CAD (and up). A 1974 Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul would be a bit higher, say $6000 (and up). That is not chump change. I’d average a 1974 Fender amp around $1000, though many are higher, but we’ll stick to round numbers.
Now, $5000-$7000 is a lot of cheese, in these (or any) times, but also it’s lower than I might have guessed. Of course, I knew next to nothing about pricing vintage gear before beginning all of this.
Is any of this necessary? Absolutely not. There is no need here, this is pure want.
True, I love guitars. I could spend all day in shoppes playing them, getting to know them. For me it’s an exploration, learning what I like and what I don’t, just revelling in all the shapes and features. I spend time online looking at all the permutations and options, watching YouTube videos of demonstrations and conversations about them… It’s in my blood, despite my minimal actual skill level. I just love them.
So do I need it? Haha no. Want? Yes.
I l’ve already laid out some reasons in favour of doing it. But let’s look at the other side, in fairness.
Reasons To Not:
All of the reasons I gave for why I should do it, in Part I: , can easily be negated by logic and reality:
We have a home mortgage, two kids, two cars and all related expenses, so huge outlay like this project is impractical. I could use that money in so many other ways, like replacing my 12 year old car, or a new roof for the house, or… Even saving discretionary funds, over four years, when I got to the purchase I’d still waver and say ‘well, we do need to replace the deck before it falls down…’
I already own four guitars. The Walden part of my brain says it’s already way too much. Here, my lovely wife would most likely agree. She says ‘you can only play one at a time,’ and she’s right. Of course I say ‘yes, but each time I might want something different,’ to which she rolls her eyes. Eternal back and forth…
This was just a thought experiment, a brain fart that has turned into a pleasant, diversionary research project. Would I actually pull the trigger? Sometimes my constantly enthusiastic brain says hell yes, sometimes the tattered remnants of my rational brain says no.
I’d worry about wrecking it (what you own owns you). I know you can’t be precious but I know that I would. And that’s just me. There’s also two young kids in the house, and they’d never intentionally do anything, but accidents can (and do) happen. Mostly it’d be me, though, I’d be most likely to wreck it somehow.
I’m not a good player at all, so would I even do the instrument justice? Is merely loving it as a fetish item enough? Probably not.
Let’s make a leap with this one… By 2024, will we even have a society, or an economy, let alone shoppes to buy guitars? Will we be on the 8th wave of corona by then? Will the lizard people have become our overlords? At this point, I’ve been quarantined about 90 days, already. Should I, instead, be planning against anarchy or disease (or both)? Who knows! It’s weird to write that, and I’m not a prepper or a conspiracy theorist, but I am a realist who doesn’t trust that lazy urge in human nature to just put things fully back the way they were before it’s done. The way things sometimes seem to be headed, we can’t discount things fundamentally changing in some ways, in future. My bottom line is to think of the kids, first and foremost, long before myself. It’s their future that matters.
I should just be happy with what I already have, honour the guitars that are here (they are good!). Love what you have! This is what my lovely wife says all the time, and she’s right. And, as I pointed out in Part I:, I do love the guitars I have. They’re great! That should be enough. Right?
Maybe (in my lack of knowledge) I’ll learn that vintage guitars and amps are tempermental and a pain in the ass to own and maintain, like owning a Harley motorcycle. I’d always be tinkering and mucking around before playing. Am I really up for that? I mean, I just want to play. I’m not a repair guy at all, so if it’s too much work I’d back away from the idea quicker, or regret the outlay for pain in the ass equipment.
Maybe just a nice amp, lower end price-wise, for better sound and that tube excitement, with the guitars I have here… Like a Blues Junior or an AC15… maybe I could still have something nice like that, with excellent sound, without it costing the price of a used car… A reasonable compromise…
And so on.
Of course, what started all of this was the desire for a guitar made in 1974, my birth year. For curiosity’s sake, I have done a wee bit of digging into pricing, comparing vintage to new stuff. You’ll see this list and say “a wee bit?” but yeah, this really is just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who’s ever researched guitars can confirm, it’s endless. Combinations of items could happen too, of course (e.g. reasonable guitar and amp). Prices for vintage are from eBay (1974 models), and Long & McQuade for new. I might discover, once I can get into shoppes in the city, that vintage prices are lower (or higher). These are just a few examples, found recently, to establish base ranges, for instruments and equipment that caught my eye as I was digging around on the web…
All new prices are current as of June, 2020. This is nothing to say about used equipment, which is out there, too, but not covered here.
1974 Fender Telecaster $5000+
1974 Fender Stratocaster $6000+
1974 Gibson Les Paul $6000+
Custom Shop / High End:
1952 Telecaster Relic, aged Nocaster Blonde $4810
1968 Stratocaster Relic, faded 3-colour sunburst $5000
Gibson Les Paul $5500+
Martin acoustic high end $5269 – $12,149
Taylor acoustic high end $5499 – $11,999
Gibson acoustic high end $5299 – $14,699
Fender American original 50s Telecaster $2599
Fender 70th Annversary Broadcaster $2799
Fender American original 50s Stratocaster $2729
Fender American Performer (humbucker neck pickup) $1599
Gibson Les Paul 50s Standard $3299
Gibson 2019 BB King Lucille $6399
Gibson ES-335 figured semi-hollow $4599
Gibson Hummingbird acoustic $2399 – $6199
Fender PM-1 all mahogany acoustic $879
Fender PM-3 Standard acoustic $999
Gibson G-45 Studio acoustic $1299
Martin 00X1AE Grand Concert acoustic/electric $809
Taylor 114ce Grand Auditorium acoustic/electric $1199
Epiphone BB King Lucille $1099
Epiphone ES-335 Dot semi-hollow $629 (Pro $649) (Deluxe $699)
Epiphone Casino $899
Epiphone Les Paul Modern $799-$979 (solid-faded)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard gold top $699
PRS SE Custom 22 & 24 $1019+
Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic/electric $519
Epiphone 1964 Texan acoustic $649
Epiphone Dove Pro $519 acoustic
1974 Fender amplifier $1000+
’65 Twin Reverb $2029
’65 Deluxe Reverb amplifier $1539
’65 Princeton Reverb reissue $1399
Bassbreaker 18/30 combo $1099
Vox AC30 2×12 $1799
Blues Junior IV 15w $839
Bassbreaker 15w $899
Vox AC15 (C1 $949) (C2 $1150)
Kemper Profiler Head ($2375), w. Remote ($2994), Cabinet 1×12 200w $810
Amplitube 4 (computer) $195, w. Mesa Pro Duo $325
Yamaha THR10 20w ($379) 30w ($569)
Boss Katana 100 (1×12 $499, 2×12 $679)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are so many options, combinations of the above, and so many more out there besides.
So what to do, if I’d mark my 50th?
Maybe vintage guitar and amp, go for broke? Or maybe just the vintage guitar, run it through my kick-ass Katana 50… Or maybe just a vintage amp with my kick-ass Classic Vibes I already own and love… Or maybe a decent mid-price guitar for the Katana 50… Or maybe a decent (my first) tube amplifier and jam the guitars that are here… Or maybe reasonable guitar and tube amp…
Or maybe nothing, just be happy with what I already have and honour those, recognize this as the thought experiment that it is and let any new guitar equipment come to me as it will, when money and the right thing coincide, without forcing it with an arbitrary year/date.
Of course, I want them all. Every single damn one. I know I’d love them all. But if I had to choose? I’m honestly wondering if I shouldn’t just save money for four years, see where we’re at, socially and personally, and then see what my gut says.
Good thing I have four years to think about this!
What are your thoughts, now you see numbers, and the other side of the coin? All of my reasons for wanting to do it (Part I: ) are, I feel, pretty sound. All of the reasons to not, as listed above, are also sound.
Let me know what you think!
#48 Buttless Chaps – Complications May Arise
From their 2008 masterpiece, Cartography, this is just great straight-up country-ish rock from these Canadian gentlemen. Always loved this stuff.
#47 Kula Shaker – Drop In The Sea
This acoustic beauty came to me from 2002’s Kollected: The Best Of.
I don’t know why, but I kept expecting silly lyrics, like this was some sort of goofy Monty Python song… maybe it was his accent, I don’t know. Of course, now I’ve ruined it for you. Sit back and enjoy!
#46 GZA – Labels
Taken from my super-sweet The Chess Box set of 1995’s Liquid Swords, this one is on the Instrumentals disc. It’s everything you’d expect. The instrumentals are great, a real window into the tracks, though I do find my ear still misses his voice over top. I’ve already raved about Liquid Swords somewhere in these pages. Let’s go!
#45 John Hiatt – Come Back Home
I do love listening to John Hiatt, from all stages of his career. As he’s aged, his voice has just gotten more interesting. This song, from his 2014 album Terms Of My Surrender, is just gorgeous.
#44 Slackers – Lazy Woman
From their 2003 album Close My Eyes, this is easy laid-back reggae beauty. Just what I needed!
I’ve always loved this photo. Just Louis playing for his wife, in front of the Sphinx, 1961.
It’s a series!
Part V: Pedals
I know all of this is pretty far down the rabbit hole, and I’m not even sure anyone really cares about any of this, at this point, I’m just trying to take everything in and come to the best decision. We all know it’ll probably be guitar first, anything else as a bonus, but these mental exercises and musings about equipment are fun, for me, at least!
If amplifier is the route, I cannot forget pedals. True, my first love is a clear, crisp clean sound with lots of headroom and plenty of sweet, sweet reverb. But for those times when you want to get down and dirty, or change the tone in a myriad of other ways, pedals through an old tube/valve amp are where it’s at.
I have never owned a tube/valve amp, and I have never owned a pedal. All of my guitar effects are through my solid state amplifiers (the old Fender G-DEC, and my more recent Boss Katana 50). These amps contain emulations of a pile of pedals, all from the box (no mess on the floor!), so I’ve never had to own a pedal. I don’t even own a tuner pedal (just a cheapo headstock clip-on).
Here are some great examples of pedals from 1974:
Did you notice I missed adding an Arbiter Fuzz Face, a la Hendrix? That’s just because a vintage one of those is probably waaaaaay out of my ballpark. A modern one would do, though!
Do you have any thoughts about guitar pedals? Of course you do! Let me know!
#43 Slipknot – Before I Forget
I just love everything about this song. It’s originally found on their 2009 album Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) though, because I somehow was late to it, I first heard it on their 9.0 Live double album. When it popped up in this current mix, via the MTV2 Headbanger’s Ball: The Revenge compilation (CD1), I cranked it and jumped around and had a blast. “…hold your breath… LISTEN!”
Welcome Back to the ongoing babbling of a guitar nut. This turned into a series, which was unexpected.
Part I: History of my guitars/equipment, and my stated goal to own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024).
Part II: HMO reminded me about acoustic guitars, so they got added into the mix (and damn right)!
Part III: Further down the rabbit hole, I also look at Custom Shop, Re-issue and Anniversary guitars.
Which brings us to…
Part IV: The Amplifiers
Throughout this ongoing process, by natural extension and especially when considering electric guitars, my thoughts turned to amplifiers. I thought, hey, I love my current guitars too, what if I found a vintage amplifier and let the sound of it be my 50th birthday present? Isn’t it the amplifier (and probably pedals), largely, that contributes to tone? At least, equal to the guitar? What if I plugged my $200 guitar into a vintage amp and got a great sound? Says the guy (me) who’s never even played an older guitar (always bought new), and who’s never owned a tube/valve amp (always bought solid state). Therefore, I’m probably talking out of my ass. As usual.
Anyway, I think it’s a worthwhile exploration to have a look at amplifiers, even though some of them could be silly expensive. Still, could an amp, moreso than a guitar, be the route to guitar glory?
Funny, when I think vintage amp, I first think Fender. It’s that tone, isn’t it…
Other great amp makers of the year…
I couldn’t find 1974 Reissue or Anniversary amplifiers, at least not in my cursory search, so if they do exist out there somewhere, I’d consider that too.
There are modern solutions out there, like the Kemper Profiler amp, with everything programmed onboard. There’s also computer software via DAW, like Amplitube, which would provide (probably) any amp/pedal sound you wanted, probably from all of history, comparatively cheaply. From my Mac, which is already hooked through my component stereo and my kick-ass Toronto-made PSB speakers, who’d even need an amp?
What do you think, dear Readers? Is a guitar still the route? Or is it an amplifier? Or is owning older amps a pain in the ass, not worth it?
Getting both guitar and amp together is probably a stretch, unless real deals were to be had.
I’m just trying to cover all the bases (er, not basses…)!
#42 Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
Sometimes, I’m convinced that my iTunes randomizer loves me. Here’s proof:
Yep, this has officially become a series, without my intending it to do so. Fun! Thanks for Reading!
Part I: I laid out my guitar/equipment history, and expressed my desire to own an electric guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024).
Part II: HMO correctly reminded me, in my neglect, that acoustic guitars also kick ass. So, I added them to my consideration for the project.
Part III: Further Down The Rabbit Hole
This is just a musing, really, but as this has gone on, part of me wondered about other guitars… I know the idea is to own a guitar from the same year of my birth.
However, the further I get into thinking about this, the more I realize I just want to own every guitar in the world. My lovely wife always sighs, rolls her eyes a bit, and reminds me that I can only play one at a time. And I remind her that, while that is true, one never knows which one I’d want to play on any given day, so having options at hand makes perfect, logical sense. And so we remain at an impasse…
But since I’m talking about expensive guitars, this is fun mental exercise…
A) Custom Shop Guitars:
There can be great beauty in these, and if I found the right one that spoke to me, I could be happy for life. They could be the same money, or more, as a 1974 vintage, so this wouldn’t be an add-on to a vintage 1974 guitar, it’d have to be The One.
On this point, I must mention that I am on the fence about relic-ed guitars, as many Custom Shops are. Half of me thinks it’s silly, and wouldn’t I want to make my own marks and dings and wear on the instrument over time, come by the feel of it honestly? The other half of me thinks it’s cool, especially for the fretboard and neck, already pre-worn to be comfortable as hell from the start, like your favourite jeans that just fit right every damn time. This is another thing which, if I went this route, would have to be decided by playing the instrument, how it feels in the moment.
B) Reissues and Anniversary Editions
Perhaps the best compromise solution would be to get a new guitar that has all the specs and features of that 1974 vintage guitar? You’d have the sound and layout, but still be able to break it in yourself. I’d imagine that, in 2024, there will be 1974 50th anniversary reissues made and released. This route could be a cool way to have the best of both worlds…
C) Brand new 2024 guitar:
Why not consider buying a brand new guitar in that year (2024), and forge ahead from there? It’d be from my 50th year and, since I plan to live until I’m at least 90, I’ll have 40 years to break it in and play it and love it completely before it gets left to the kids…
As you can see, the more I think about this project, the more I complicate things. But it’s good to air these things out. Of course, the only real way for me to know will be to get into the shoppes and get guitars into my hands, see how they feel and play, and listen to see if they speak to me as the one for me. That will probably take a while.
Pictured below are some other ideas, examples of guitars that could scratch the itch. Look at all of this MAJESTY! Click on the pics to embiggen!
A) Custom Shop Guitars
Note: NOS means New Old Stock, meant to emulate finding new stock of old guitars in the back of a warehouse somewhere, untouched. Closet Classic means it is meant to emulate a guitar that has been well-kept in a closet at home, not played for years. Heavy Relic, well, that just means they’ve beat the hell out of it in order to try to emulate the feel of a guitar that’s been through the wars on tour for decades.
B) Reissues and Anniversary Editions
Of course, there haven’t been any 50th Anniversarys of the 1974 yet, but in looking through Google images, I did not find too many 1974 Reissues or other Anniversary editions. Perhaps that wasn’t a popular year. I didn’t find any Fender, but it’s possible they exist. I did notice that 1974 was the 20th Anniversary for the Les Paul (1954), but they were released that year of 1974, so they’d fall under vintage (for me), not reissue. There were some 1974 reissues of the Les Paul, though, in later years!
C) New 2024 Guitar
Of course, I can’t include pictures of 2024 guitars here, as they are not built yet, but it’s fun to dream. I’m sure, if society still exists (roughly as we now know it) by then, there will be many awesome guitars from which to choose!
Thanks for Reading!
#41: Guided By Voices & Airport 5 – Selective Service
Plunky acoustic intro, almost like someone still learning how to play, then it’s Pollard doing slam poetry over top. Clearly it was recorded in his living room on the boombox, but that’s par for the course in this discography. This one came to me today on the 2007 Crickets: Best Of The Fading Captain Series 1999-2007 compilation, though it was originally on the 2001 Guided By Voices & Airport 5 Selective Service album.
Recently, in what I believed to be a one-off post, I went through my entire history of guitars and related equipment. If you read all of that, thank you for your patience!
Also in that post, I stated my goal to own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974) in my 50th year (2024). That’s just over four years away, which gives me time to save. Vintage guitars ain’t cheap. Vintage Aarons ain’t, either (that’s what she said)! Ahem.
I pointed out the three types of electric guitar under my consideration for the project: The Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, and the Gibson Les Paul.
More has come to light, and with further thought I realize I was remiss to exclude other things, so this has become a series. Therefore, here is Part II…
’Twas Scott, our Heavymetaloverlord, who mentioned he’d prefer a vintage acoustic guitar, given the same goal as me, that he’d get more out of that instrument than an electric. To be honest, I had considered acoustics, briefly, but somewhere along the way in my deliberations of the goal, I’d dismissed them. I shouldn’t have.
Scott is right. A good acoustic guitar can be gold. My own Art & Lutherie, while low-end cheap, also gives a huge and beautiful sound, and just hits every correct button for me. I can only imagine that an acoustic of my own vintage might sound and play exponentially better (depending on the individual instrument). It would also have the same stories to tell, life lived, etc.
During our conversation, I mentioned that I somehow (mistakenly) think of acoustic guitars as starter/first guitars, and as songwriting guitars, but not as every-day players. There are so many things wrong with that line of thinking, and I’ve been blind to it all in my mission to chase electrics. Both are awesome, I was remiss in neglecting acoustics. I mean, the right tool for your mission, that’s the key.
So what’s my mission? I do love electrics. And I do love acoustics. Oh no, do I need to buy two? Haha well yes, obviously, but my bank account says no. But, thanks to Scott, I’ve simply widened my search parameters. I am simply adding genuine acoustics to my deliberations of which one to get. All of the same reasonings for it apply: there’d be a tone in the wood that cannot be replicated (easily) by a new guitar. It’d provide me with constant enjoyment and love the rest of my days, and be an heirloom for the kids. It also wouldn’t require amplification, and could be enjoyed anywhere. So, my mission? 1974 GUITAR.
Below are some examples of beautiful 1974 acoustics. Sharp-eyed Readers will notice that there are no Taylor guitars included. I read that Taylor was founded in 1974, so I’d need to even research if models were available that year, or if they began sales in 1975… I have so much to learn!
#39: Phil Collins – One More Night
Originally from 1985’s monster No Jacket Required album, iTunes actually played me the copy on my 1998 Hits complation.
Fun fact: I own this album on CD, LP and CS, as well as again in the CD boxed set of all his albums.
Anyway, this is another one of those songs for which you don’t need me to say anything. Click below and slow jam yourself into Collins bliss.
The standard junkie-got-clean story, it’s a wild time through Jeff Beck Group to Faces to Stones. It’s full of loss, pain, joy, discovery, substance abuse, incredibly famous friends, financial highs (and lows), great music, and fine art. He’s lived one helluva charmed life.
So many times he comes off like a naif, though he tries to sell it as charming with a nudge and a wink. I think he’s just damn lucky he had people around him to catch him.
Still, and this is my bias showing, his music is pretty much unimpeachable, and his art is truly good. I know there’s more to the story after where this book ends (around A Bigger Bang), but as a one-off look at his life in general, it’s simultaneously interesting and maddening.
#38: Eminem – Fall
From the 2018 Kamikaze album, Eminem is once again concerned with what other people think and say about him. It’s one thing I get tired of with him – he’s so far and away above all those other rappers (and they know it), so why the fuck does he even give a shit? They’re remoras on the shark, he ought to just do his thing and ignore the haters and competition. In fact, he could quit rapping right now, and he’d still be legendary and they’d look weaker and more petty the harder they tried to ride the coattails of the GOAT. Anyway, this isn’t one of his best tracks, in the overall picture, but he still makes the most of the beat.
#38: Max Webster – On The Road
Brilliant acoustic-driven track, soaring and inimitable. I love this song. I don’t know how to describe it but, like the Hip and Sloan, Max just sounds like Canada to me. Is that weird? I don’t care haha!
Originally on 1977’s amazing High Class In Borrowed Shoes album, this came to my ears via my reasonably-priced copy of The Party boxed set.
#37: Memphis Slim – Rock Me Woman
Found on my copy of 2011’s Legend Of The Blues Vol.1, this is… look, do I even need to tell you about this? Of course not. You know Slim! Sit back and enjoy…
#36: Melissa Etheridge – The Shadow Of A Black Crow
Bluesy and dark, this track from the 2012 4th Street Feeling album is awesome. Melissa’s voice is truly one of a kind, and when she talks about the scratch marks on her soul, I believe her! This copy of the record was a cool deluxe edition, a cardboard package much larger than a standard digipak, with a large cardboard guitar pick.
Apologies up front for a loooong post. I’ve been chipping away at this for a while. Grab a coffee and a snack, put up your feet, stay a while. I may be on a mission…
As my birthday approaches (next month), I’ve had a goal in the back of my head. It’s a dream, and it may not even happen. But if it does, it will be after a ton of consideration, and would set me up ’til the day I die. And it doesn’t even need to happen. See…
Goal/Dream: Own a guitar from the year of my birth (1974).
Goal Date: 2024, my 50th birthday year
I will explain. But first, a history…
I started playing guitar around 1994. I am self-taught and, moreso now, internet-taught, and even after all these years I’m truly not very good. Not playing-for-other-people good. But, as a music fan, it’s a fun and engaging hobby.
As for guitars, as you can see, even up until today I’ve always trolled the bottom (cheaper) end of guitar ownership:
The Ontario Years I (1994-1999)
1994-ish: Yamaha ??? (acoustic)
My first guitar. I don’t remember the exact model.
It was roughly $300 in about 1994, so not an expensive machine, but definitely a nice one for a beginner.
I got it from the Carpenter Shop in Waterloo, ON.
1997-ish: Epiphone Les Paul Special II (all black) and a Peavy (model ???) amplifier
This was a starter kit from Murch Music (now Long & McQuade) in Cambridge, ON, which came with the guitar, amp, strap, bag, etc. My best guess is about 1997. I loved that guitar, it stayed in tune and had that heavy, fat tone. The all-black just looked kick-ass. The Peavey amp, well, I don’t remember the model, so the picture above is probably all wrong. It was smaller, probably 15w or 20w, solid state amp, a cheapo but it did have an OK sound. I remember one time after I joined a band (for which I played the drums), the guitarist used the amp once on stage and, mic’ed up, it did OK. Not terrible, not great.
The Montreal Years (1999-2001)
I did not buy any new guitar equipment during the two years we lived in Montreal. Weird, really, as there were some really good shoppes there and I never stopped playing…
The Saskatoon Years (2001-2005)
2001-ish: Pignose practice amp
Bought at the Long & McQuade in Saskatoon. It was fun, cheap, although you can’t put distortion through it. I still have it today, but the volume knob on it is now befucked a bit, so I don’t use it anymore. Repair/labour would likely cost close to the same as replacing it, and I don’t know how much I’d even use it, at this point, if I did.
I kept this collection of instruments and amps from about 1994 through to 2005 (from ON to QC to SK). I sold all of this gear (minus the Pignose) to a friend when we moved from Saskatoon back to Ontario in 2005. I didn’t want to carry them on the plane and, despite them being loyal instruments that played well, I felt it might be time for a change on the other end of the move. I kept the Pignose as it was small and easy to move and, worse, with the (faulty) thinking that it’d be all I needed when I got new guitars. Haha I know. Anyway.
The Ontario Years II (2005 – 2020 current)
2005: Epiphone Les Paul Special II (cherry burst).
I went back to Long & McQuades in Cambridge, where I’d gotten my first Epiphone, and I played a ton of guitars in my price range (low end).
I don’t know if it was just familiarity, or if it was that I truly didn’t like any of the others I played, but I ended up buying the same damn guitar I’d had before, in a different finish this time. There’s just something about how it stays in tune, how it feels, it just hits right, and it was definitely affordable.
I still have this beauty today.
2005: Art & Lutherie cedar-top acoustic (blue)
I had a good look at it just now, but it doesn’t even seem to have a model number.
Bought at (the now defunct) Jensen Music shoppe here in my town.
I love it’s huge sound, the feel, everything. In retrospect, I wish I had chosen an acoustic with an electric pick-up in it, but at the time this was the one for me and my budget.
I still have it, still love it.
For those wondering, Art & Lutherie is a division of Godin guitars. They make really nice stuff.
2010-ish: Fender G-DEC amplifier
I was working at the bank back then, and would spend lunch hours just breathing in the guitars at Fromager’s guitar shop. I truly loved a Fender Road-Worn Telecaster they had there, but could never afford it and then it sold. Opportunity lost.
Anyway, one day they had this Fender G-DEC (Guitar – Digital Entertainment Center) amp in on consignment. I fiddled with it on lunch breaks over quite a while. Eventually the shoppe worker said look, just give me your VISA number, take it home for the weekend. If you love it, I’ll charge the card. If you don’t, bring it back. So I took it home, and that night played three straight hours. I loved it. I bought it. It was so much fun, with all its effects, preset sounds and drum/bass loops for practice, and everything. Endless. Made a great upgrade over having just the Pignose.
I still have it here, and just played through it today.
2016: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster
If I were honest, my gold standard dream guitar was always the yellow/blonde Tele with the black pickguard. I mean, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, the list is endless. Good enough for them, good enough for me. Rock, blues, country, surf, rockabilly, you name it.
I’d heard about the Classic Vibe series, which sought to make an affordable copy of those classic era guitars, so it would (reasonably-closely) emulate a Tele bought in the 1950s (with cheaper parts, obviously). I couldn’t find a bad review of them, anywhere online, in fact, most were effusive in their praise. One reviewer called it “sex made of wood.” Hell yeah. So I bought one at my local Long & McQuade. They didn’t have the yellow, only the white, so I did get to play one before buying it, and they ordered in the correct colour for me.
Holy moly, it was a revelation. My first maple neck guitar, my first twangy Tele, and I was in love all over again. Just a different beast entirely than the Les Pauls (obviously). I love it dearly.
2018: Boss Katana 50w amplifier
The Fender G-DEC has done well for me for years, but as I will do, I got down the rabbit hole of Youtube and started watching amplifier reviews. I watched/heard a ton of different ones, without really intending to buy one as I didn’t truly need one. But all reviews pointed at this Katana series as the best damn thing in a long time. I saw how affordable it was, and… I thought the 7w practice amp (size of my Pignose) could be cool but it lacked too many features, though the $130 price wasn’t bad. The 100w (either 1×12 or 2×12) was just too damn big for just playing around the house. So, like Goldilocks, the middle one at 50w was just right for me.
I love everything about it. It sounds amazing, it has all the tones and effects I could ever need to play for hours at a time (without pedals), with more online should I ever choose to download them. It has a power attenuator in it, so I can have it at 50w, 25w, or even 0.5w when I need to be extra quiet, and all that with zero sound quality loss. Still odd to me, there’s no tuner built-in, which is a rookie mistake given Boss’ reputation with tuners, but whatever. This is an absolutely kick-ass amplifier.
2019: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster
As seems to happen to me, another thought began rattling in the back of my brain, that I’d never owned a Strat-body guitar. I knew their history, their place in the pantheon of rock and many other genres. I watched videos about them, the 5-way switch and the contoured body… the disease took hold again, and I dug around relentlessly, though still without real intention to buy one… until, once again based on raving reviews with no bad ones to be found, I finally picked up this beauty from my local Long & McQuade.
At the time I bought it, the series was ending, so there were only two left in their national database. This one came from Charlottetown (so I named it Charlotte). First try, they brought in the wrong guitar (the 60s Strat), but second try they got it right and away I went. I believe they have since revamped the series with slight changes, of course, just my timing. Ah well. No matter.
This guitar is a revelation, every time I plug it in. I love the maple neck, I love all the tonal controls right from the guitar, I love how it feels, the playability, the classic burst finish… it’s a thing of pure beauty.
And that’s me up to today.
As you’ve noticed, none of the guitars I’ve owned have been expensive, or “actual” guitars, as I might call them. Epiphone is a cheap subsidiary of Gibson. Squier is a cheap subsidiary of Fender. Art & Lutherie is a cheap subsidiary of Godin. The Yamaha was the low end of their range.
You know something, I’ve loved all these guitars. I don’t care what it says on the headstock, really, as long as they play well and treat me right. I don’t do guitar hassles, and none of these have ever been a hassle.
I think sometimes what it would be like to own an actual ’52 reissue Telecaster or an American Standard Stratocaster instead of the Classic Vibes, and I did play them in the shoppe. But from playability and feel, even knowing the better wood and parts used on the real Fender, I couldn’t justify the price jumps from my $550 up to their $2000. With small kids and a mortgage, money isn’t in endless supply, so yeah it would be nice to have the actual thing, but mine play super-well too, and they were made by Fender, just cheaper versions with a different name that still falls under their umbrella.
So, after all of that (and kudos to you for sticking around), why this goal, then? Why start to think that I should save up and, in four years’ time, get a guitar from the year of my birth? Do I really need it? Am I not happy with what I have? Who cares?
Well, yes I am happy with what I have. I could cheerfully play away with what’s here for the rest of my life, probably.
Some reasons I can think of to get a 1974 guitar, though:
I’d be 50 years old. It’d be about time I owned something grown-up for myself, instead of just trolling along the cheaper end of things.
I’ve made a lot of sacrifices over the years, opted for less or not at all when I could have taken more, so maybe just once I’m worth it.
There’s a cool resonance there, owning a guitar from my birth year, making me and the guitar a sort of brothers, in a way.
An older guitar, with all its quirks and dings and marks, would have a feel and sound that just can’t be duplicated by a new guitar. A 50 year old guitar would have lived a life, and have stories to tell.
This would be a piece I could hand down to the kids, whichever one has an interest. An heirloom of sorts, because of course I would hold onto it and care for it and play the hell out of it for the rest of however many years I have left on this planet.
We only live once. There is no someday. You have to do things now or you never will. So, it’s about damn time I did it, for myself, you know? Of course, I have four years to save for it, because I refuse to go into a hole to do it, but the reasoning is the same.
This gives me a goal to focus towards. In these trying times, supposing we all survive whatever will come next, and that society still exists in 2024, this allows me to put a little away here and there and then achieve something I will love and cherish forever. It’s good to have a goal.
The only question that remains: Which guitar?
I think it should definitely be an electric guitar. Acoustics are nice, but for me a vintage electric would just be better and I’d likely play it more.
Should it be a Telecaster? A Stratocaster? A Les Paul? I love all three. There are others too, of course, like a 335, or an SG, or a Jaguar, or a Jazzmaster, or… well, you get the idea. But I think it’d be from those main, iconic three. The following pictures are all of 1974 models:
Fender Stratocaster (1974)
These are awesome guitars, always looking good and I love everything about their functionality,
They are built for rock and blues, but they’re also a good all-rounder guitar.
Fender Telecaster (1974)
Probably still my favourite of the bunch, iconic and versatile, fundamentally unchanged since day one because they haven’t had to be, and just so punchy and bright. Simplicity at its finest.
Gibson Les Paul (1974) – big, meaty, hairy and strong, these are the hefty rock guitars of legend, yet can also play beautifully clean and true. I’d go for a vintage cherry or tobacco burst, or even the goldtop…
Right now, I would lean towards the blonde Telecaster. Not the Deluxe, just a basic straight-on 1974 blonde Telecaster with black pickguard. A trusty, loyal, true friend for life, capable of playing anything and weathering every storm. Of course, the Strat and the Les Paul would do really, really well in all seasons too.
The big dilemma is the final decision, as any of these would be worth several thousand dollars. It would have to be the right choice and that would be that! There will be no owning all three, at least, not without a lottery win.
What would you do? Which guitar would you choose? Drop a comment and discuss!
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a cookie. Hell, have two.
Thanks for Reading! Play on! \m/ \m/
#35: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Screw Face
This came to me from CD2 of the Songs Of Freedom boxed set. Not one of his Hits, as passing fans of only the Legend set would know him. But of course it’s Bob and therefore it’s awesome. Laidback and easy, it’s what I needed today. In fact, it’s what we all need in these troubled times. Stay safe, everyone. Thanks, iTunes!
Screwface know-a who fi frighten!
Like I told, they say, “Coward, man”.
Gonna keep some bones
And all violent man gonna weep and moan.
He that exalted him say, “Yeah!”
Shall be obeyed.
Don’t dread no pain.
Fear do we go now
To the rivers of ungodly waters, we’ll fear no foe
(Fear no foe, fear no foe).
Wherever I go,
Not even the pestilence
That crawl at I’n’I
Can’t do – wo-wo-wo – me no wrong (just can’t do me no wrong).
I tell you what red is!
I tell you what I know:
(Screwface know-a who fi frighten!)
Screwface know-a who fi frighten!
Screwface know-a who fi frighten! Wo, now!
(Screwface know-a who fi frighten!) Screwface will frighten
(Screwface know-a who fi frighten!) Long time gone, y’all!
(Screwface know-a who fi frighten!) Screwface will frighten
Wo, yeah! Now!
(Screwface know-a who fi frighten!)
/Intrumental ending/ /fadeout/