|July 2006...The "It's all about the Guitar" Vacation|
We had a big guitar month during July 2006. Our swing through Tennessee turned out to be a great time to test some guitar concepts, play some new gear, meet some new friends, and crank up some tunes. Below are some random thoughts on our trip in no particular order.
1. The Peavey Penta is awesome. We had the chance to check out a new Peavey Penta amplifier at KK's in Tullahoma, Tennessee. We've played through just about every boutique tube amp out there, and we know that there is a true quality to the amp that is difficult to articulate when you hit that first power chord. Generally speaking, that quality is either there or its not, and usually the reaction is either "love it" or "hate it", without much in between. Ken had just gotten a new Penta, and we were eager to try it out. We liked it because it is a big tube amp, and I'll spare you the details because you can read about that stuff at Peavey's web site. Anyway, we plugged the new GS guitar into this amp, and it was just incredible. The first "A" chord was great! We played this amp for about 20 minutes and we were really impressed with its tone and volume. While it is clearly not a "switching" amp -- it only has two channels -- it has a really great tone and a great bang for the buck. Check one of these out if you love tube amps. Highly recommended....thanks Mr. Peavey.
2. Jamming with a real band. We had the chance to jam with Mr. Ken Huddleston's band during a rehearsal at the Huddleston Compound. Jamming with a band is a great shakeout not only for your playing chops, but for that new guitar that has been sitting safely in its case since you brought it home from Guitar Center. We jumped at the chance to shake out two of our newer guitars: the GuitarAttack Black T-style and the new GuitarAttack GS.
First, the T-Style. You can check out the building process in the "Builder's Gallery", but the first big disappointment was the finish. As you can see, we really screwed up and topped the guitar off with Deft lacquer from Wal-Mart. While you'll see folks use this stuff primarily because of its low price and easy availability, it just does not hold up. When we pulled the guitar out of the gig-bag, the bag had left impressions in the finish all the way around the perimeter of the guitar. We could not believe how bad it looked. Again, the reason for this is because the Deft never got hard enough to withstand a trip in a gig-bag, and that is a problem for a guitar. Aside from that, the guitar sounded killer when played through a 50-watt Peavey Classic. We picked some "Working Man Blues", and we found the guitar to be incredibly bright...very Telecaster-ish, and really sounding great. We've decided to keep this guitar, and do a refinishing job on it when we get the time. This time there will be no Deft!
Second, we played the GuitarAttack GS, and we just fell in love with its sound. The alder body really projects some great midrange honk, and, when coupled with the old Dimarzios, we found it to be great for rock and metal sounds. The work we did on the neck really paid off, and the guitar just kicked. Our plan is to make a few more of these for testing, and we'll let you know how it goes. The only downside is the water-based finish. Our next one will be finished in either nitro or acrylic lacquer.
3. We like Bluegrass. The GuitarAttack Crew went to a great Independence Day Party in Gallatin, Tennessee. When we arrived we were treated to some first class barbeque, tons of desserts, and some killer bluegrass. Played by the family outfit "Blue Celtic Grass", we were reacquainted with what quality bluegrass is supposed to sound like. The entire Crew loved the set, and the guys were just really cool. Once the bluegrass set ended, the banjo picker, Glen Miles, and stand-up bassist David Knight cranked it up as part of the band The Spectacles. The Spectacles played a set of originals, and, while they aren't bluegrass, they are a rockin' outfit with great instrumental parts and harmonies. They are a really original band have been friends of the GuitarAttack Crew for a long, long time. By the way -- this was one of the better Independence Day parties we've been to in a long, long, time. The only complaint was that we needed more firecrackers!
5. Guitar Center is not a favorite of ours. Run away! Run away! I went to the one in (Name of town deleted) and got slimed by a teenaged salesman. I was going to buy a guitar -- a new Gibson 1960 VOS Les Paul -- but it just didn't work out. Here is the situation: A local rock goon was impressing his friends in the store with an SG and B-52 amp. He was playing every Back In Black lick he knew at maximum volume. It was so loud (no...I'm not too old for loud). I asked the salesman for some help, and he started giving me a hard time -- "Y'need some help tuning that guitar?" I replied "No, I don't." He then said, nearly screaming over the AC/DC tribute dude, "Look man...if its a problem with money, we can finance this guitar for you." I replied, "Huh?" I guess it never occurred to the sales dude that he should have asked Angus to turn down a little bit. I was really shocked and disappointed, and walked out without my new Les Paul. Oh well...that is the last thing I need; another Les Paul I don't play! Note to world: Poor customer service is going to bring the big box stores down.
6. I want to be an Ernie Ball endorser!
I'm not completely sure how it works, and I'm not asking for any money, but one of my ultimate goals is to be an Ernie Ball endorser. In other words, I would like GuitarAttack.com, or Kandahar Guitar Society, or J Williams on the back of Pink Slinkys. I know I have sold more Ernie Ball strings than a lot of the goons whose names appear on the back of those packs. Consequently, I may enlist some of you in an email campaign to get some respect from Ernie Ball. Just for the record, they are my favorite strings, I've played them for years, and I can't imagine anyone playing any other brand....and that is the truth. More to follow on this...