Tag Archives: ES-335

guitars

After two weeks without posting there is so much to write about I hardly know how to start. I’m going to talk about my visit to Norman’s Rare Guitars in Tarzana last week.

Sepi and I went to Southern California to visit family and friends. That’s another story. I happened to see a little video thing by a guy named Mark at Norman’s a few weeks ago and thought it would time to see if my 1989 Telecaster Custom shop had any value. Here’s a picture of me playing it at Vince’s in 2011.

That’s Franco playing my Washburn bass in the background. Here’s his story.

I was prepared for a big guitar store, but Sepi was gobsmacked. She took about a hundred pictures. Here’s a view of part of the store.

It didn’t take long for the expert at Norman’s (Mark) to tell me the Tele was worth about what I paid for it. Of course I would have to give a significant discount if he were to buy it for the store. I’ll hang onto it . . .

Well, naturally, as long as I was here I was going to look around. The first thing I spotted was an Epiphone Century just like Peter’s except in better condition.

Then I looked for an example of the late ’60’s ES-335 I used to own. Yep, they had one.

Now I’m thinking of other guitars I used to own. My high school friend Bruce Johnson sold me a Gibson Melody Maker that I used for a while. No pictures of this exist and even my memory is a little cloudy but I’m pretty sure it looked like this.

None of these guitars spoke to me now. I was thinking of leaving and took one more turn around the shop. There were some archtops I hadn’t noticed before. One was a Gibson ES-150 from the early 1950’s.

Looked, played, and sounded very nice. Sepi suggested that if I liked it more that the Tele, I could work a trade.

Aieee! I hadn’t thought of that. I called Mark over and he said I needed to talk to Norman who was busy at the moment. More agonizing while Sepi encouraged me. I already had a very similar guitar although not a vintage Gibson. What a dilemma!

In the end I decided to let it go. I think I can sell the Tele myself for a lot more. I don’t want to be a guitar collector, just a guitar player. Time to go practice!

catching up

OK, it’s time to catch up on the last few weeks. Every time I think I’ve got some time free, something seems to happen. This week it was the headaches. Last week it was a couple of unexpected days at work.

Whatever. Let’s look back,

SoundBox was really awesome. The young German conductor of the SFS Youth Orchestra, Christian Reif, was the curator. Rather than trying to describe it, I recommend you all just read this review. It is of course a glowing review, but what I especially like about it is how it describes the atmosphere at a SoundBox concert pretty well. A couple of people that I spoke to afterwards who had seen many SoundBoxes were quite moved by this set.

From the technical standpoint, the only difficulty we had was amplifying the instruments in the Black Angels string quartet. I didn’t find out until after the fact that the full title includes the words ‘for Electric String Quartet.’ I had only been given a note that the (acoustic) instruments were to Be mic’d, which we did for the first rehearsal. Everyone seemed to like it expect the players in the quartet who now told us the sound should be distorted and loud ‘like Jimi Hendrix.’

So we talked it over and they agreed that they would bring in their distortion pedals the next day and we would wire them through the overhead speakers.

What they actually brought in was a motley collection of amps, none of which had dedicated distortion circuits. All we could do was overdrive the inputs and hope it worked. After much fiddling – so to speak! – we got something that they professed to be happy with. It wasn’t nearly the overwhelming loudness of Hendrix. Oh well.

A week later was my date with Loose Gravel at the Valencia Club in Penryn. At the last minute, I had traded with Tom singing Dizzy Miss Lizzy for Blue Suede Shoes. That one I had sung back in the April days so I thought it would be straightforward. It turned out to be a problem, though, partly because the vocal starts without any introduction. I ended up in the wrong key. It was only the second song of the afternoon and people were looking at me and the band as if wondering what they were in for.

It got better, though. A few songs later I got to chew on Big Boss Man, which I had actually sung a few times in the intervening years. That went very well.

The second set was the Chuck Berry tribute and I sang Wee Wee Hours and Memphis acceptably. In honor of Chuck I had brought my red ES-335 which I don’t play much. I had bought it from Vince a couple of years ago because he offered me a great deal on it. Afterwards we talked about it. He offered to take it back but ‘didn’t have any money.’ Ha ha, very finny Vince! I don’t dislike it that much.

It’s a beautiful guitar. Here’s a picture of it in front of Allen Frank’s Super Reverb at his Drytown Club right after I bought it.

The next day – Monday night actually – the Skyline band played a ‘Mid-Term Exam’ at the Last Stop Sports Bar in Daly City. They are nice people there, but fitting a big band into the performance space they have is just not happening. We guitars were stuffed in the back next to the drums with all the wind players in front of us and playing in the other direction. It wasn’t too bad until I got to African Skies when I was supposed to be playing a unison line with the tenor sax. I couldn’t hear him at all! The trading twos at the end was a little better because it was just us and Zack was counting and pointing to each of us on our turn.

Here’s a picture of the ES-330 I use for jazz band:

It looks similar but it is really quite different. I won’t bore you with the details unless you ask.

The last SoundBox is upon us. Next week will be the last program for at least 7 months. Whether we get to start it up again in December is up to the Symphony board. It was funded for three years and those three years are done. No one wants to see it go but we all realize it is quite expensive to put it on. Some of the ‘features’ like the lighting and video will be migrated to the main Davies hall but the custom sound system I run won’t be one of them. Stay tuned . . .