Random thoughts for halfway through 2006

True...you haven't seen one of these in a while.  Interesting things continue to happen around GuitarAttack World Headquarters and we want to comment on them.

Thought #1:  Gibson and their special lacquer!

For years I've been following Mr. Bill Lester's Guitar ReRanch refinishing board on line.  It has been through several permutations, but has always been very informative and helpful when it comes to figuring out how to refinish a guitar or just repair its finish.  Over the years there has been incredible interest from the board followers concerning "relic-ing" guitars.  You know about relicing -- it is about taking a perfectly good guitar and making it look like it has been dragged kicking and screaming through every juke joint in Mississippi and Alabama.  And, of course, the nitro lacquer finish has to be "checked".  By checked we mean weather checked, which is the phenomenon that occurs when the wood under the lacquer expands and contracts, making the lacquer crack or check in long lines.

We've seen several techniques used.  Among our favorite is using component cooler in a can and spraying it on well cured lacquer.  The ReRanch relic guys always suggested letting the lacquer cure for months prior to trying this.  One memorable thread on the board requested info on how Mr. Tom Murphy of Gibson's Custom Shop reliced those killer Les Pauls.  Many of the respondents suggested that Gibson had some special curing facility in Nashville to make the lacquer ready to check.  I wrote back and suggested that we were all making a faulty assumption; that is, that Gibson used the same lacquer that everybody else does.  What got me on this track was a visit to my luthier friend Jim Grainger.  Jim bought a barrel of lacquer that had a defective plasticizer.  He said that the lacquer was so brittle that it would check just by walking out of the warm shop into the winter cold!

Well, the truth came out in the Spring 2006 issue of the Musician's Friend catalog with the introduction of Gibson's Vintage original Spec (VOS) guitars!  Here it is:

  Finishing Touches

A unique finishing process involving 100% nitrocellulose lacquer specially formulated for Gibson creates and aged patina that is amazingly authentic.  Gibson Custom's premier luthier Edwin Wilson explained that the lacquer has less plasticizers than modern lacquers and goes on much thinner, thus more closely emulating the lacquer used in the '50s.  This lacquer, combined with special application and hand-rubbing methods results in a finish with a warm, mellow glow that's inviting to the eye and the touch.  The vintage effect is further enhanced by the use of period-correct grain filler and stain.








This is not the same lacquer that Gibson used at Kalamazoo in the 1950's.  I think the real lesson learned is that these guitars probably will look like crap in 20 years.

Thought #2:  The Global War on Terror and "United Flight 93"

When I heard about the movie "Flight 93", I was interested in how the movie would portray the plane's passengers.  However, I was really interested in how they would portray the hijackers.  Would they be victims, too?  Would they be hapless tools of the Man?  It is easy to think through this because all the news commentators on the morning shows could talk about is that it is "too soon" and "too real" to watch this movie.  Hey folks -- there is a long-haul war going on, and it may interrupt your schedule and make you uncomfortable.  I think "too real" and "too soon" are code words for "it makes me face reality."

Thought #3:  Are there any guitar shops out there?

We've been doing a lot of traveling lately, and one of our rituals is to grab the YellowPages when we get to the hotel.  We immediately look for that guitar shop that is off of the beaten track.  I don't know if it is just where we've been, or this is a common trend, but the small guitar shops are really starting to disappear.  We were in Montgomery, Alabama a couple of weeks back, and we found that GuitarCenter had rolled into town (by the Olive Garden, of course).  We expect some of the smaller shops to be gone very soon.

Economies of scale or unfair business practices...we want to know your opinion. 

Thought #4:  Jeff Beck and the "Quest for Tone"

A friend of GuitarAttack sent a link to an online video of Jeff Beck.  The video is a "Blow by Blow" era TV performance in which Jeff and the band tear through a couple of great tunes.  What makes it really cool is that Mr. Beck explains his gear, which, at the time, consisted of his "oxblood" Les Paul and a small Ampeg combo amp.  Yes kids -- it sounds killer.  Click here to see the video.  One has to wonder if Mr. Beck is using some kind of special something to make the guitar sound that way.  Is he using finger weights?  What kind of preamp is that?  What would it sound like with George L's cables? 

As we have always said, "The quickest route to great tone is practice."

Thought #5:  Opry Mills Revisited

We went to Opry Mills in Nashville recently, and we just keep shaking our heads.  First of all, we really, really, really miss the Opryland Park and, based on what I've read in the Nashville papers, a lot of people in Nashville miss it, too.  Opry Mills is a monument to short term planning, short term gain, and small time thinkers...and the need to shed the "hick" image.  It is also the home of the Gibson Showcase, the place where they supposedly make their mandolins and banjos.  I just think the whole thing is sad.  Finally, I would like to hear from anyone who can explain why a M-6 mandolin lists for over $6,000 US.

Thought #6:  I am objective - I just have my mind made up already!

We saw a news report from Florida that dealt with a car that ran on water.  Yes, you read it correctly....water.  Click here to see the website of the company.  I thought this was a pretty cool idea, being that gasoline is hovering around $3.00 per gallon.  I started looking around the internet, and found site after site claiming that this process is nothing more than quack science and parlor trickery.  I particularly enjoyed the theoretical explanations as to why this process couldn't work, and it had to be a sham.

I believe that skepticism is critical in order to maintain objectivity and a focus on the scientific method, but I believe that the current political climate on college campuses and our larger society is silencing not only dissenting voices, but anyone who is the least bit out of the mainstream thinking...on anything!  This is just a general observation...more to follow.

Enough said...Have a great summer, and keep checking back!

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