Why I buy local…

We live in a digital age. The internet has taken over a lot of industries: travel agents, print journalism, map making, book stores, porn magazines and… music stores. The music industry has been minimized and taken over by IT companies. The internet is giving the brick-and-mortar music store hard times. It is sad to see how the local music store is struggling with the domination of the big online box movers like Thomann or Musicstore. Sure, there is nothing wrong with ordering a Gibson Les Paul from the comfort of your chair but somehow it makes me sad. Am I old fashioned? Maybe. 

Six guitar amps I ordered from several European online stores went straight back or to my amp tech. They all had issues like broken valves, torn up speakers or produced “weird” noises.  Yes, there is a 30 days or more return policy but it is never hassle free. I have to box it up again, drive to the tech or the courier service or spend an evening on burning my fingers with the soldering iron. That is why I still prefer the mom-and-pop music store. 

As a kid, I was licking windows of music stores. Take the bus to the city and getting hypnotized by the goodies at the music shop. Saving and washing dishes in a restaurant to buy that Japanese Strat copy. The offers and choices of guitars were limited but the craving and the desire to buy the instrument were considered a life goal. Now I own 100+ guitars, basses and amps mostly acquired from brick-and-mortar music stores. The online purchase of an instrument does not give me the same buyers satisfaction as an online order. 

A musical instrument store is like a museum, a coffee shop and good place to stop. You can try out an instrument or order your guitar(amp) if it is not in stock. In general the prices are the same (or better) than the online store and I get some serious service on top: free set up to my desire and a quality check. I never came home from a store with a broken amp! Nowadays it is hard to see these stores have to make a living of the repairs from stuff people buy on the internet. 

One of my favorite stores is JnR Music Center in Hasselt (B). It is run by musician and luthier John Joris. They carry a large selection of vintage and new acoustic guitars.  If you cannot find your guitar of choice, he can build you one. Over 40 years of craftmanship in guitar building and repairs. John worked for Lou Reed, Toots Thielemans, Sting and Paul Simon. 

I rather buy from an expert and not from a warehouse owner or drop shipper. Unless you like to buy the smell when opening a guitar case for the first time … buy from your local music store!

Cheers! 

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Guitar woods humidor

People ask me why this site is called guitars and cigars? Most of my posts are about guitars and occasionally pictured with a cigar. Well, the things I spend my time on are smoking cigars and playing guitars. As a matter of fact both are complementary. What better way to pinch out a pentatonic blues lick while enjoying a leathery, earthy maduro cigar? The love of cigars restricted me to home playing or open-air gigs. The anti-tobacco police are everywhere, public smoking is politically incorrect and “Snowflakes” are offended as soon as they see a lighter. This is the reason why I don’t post about cigars any more. Facebook has banned me for “promoting tobacco” which is against their policy. Duh! I never encouraged someone to start smoking nor did I ever promoted it. I never smoked a cigarette in my life. All I do is just share the joy of tasting a good cigar, the art of degustation, just like you can enjoy a glass of wine or a single malt whiskey. Unfortunately I cannot write about cigars, …only guitars. I fought the law and the law won!

A few weeks ago I came across an object that is closely related to cigars and guitars. It was an oddball special humidor made out of tone-woods. A guitar is kept in a protective case and your precious longfiller cigars are to be stored in a Humidor. Filip Redant is a Belgian woodworker, instrument builder and restaurateur of antiques who made a humidor of these rare (and expensive) woods you usually find in vintage instruments. Probably this guy has used some leftovers from earlier restauration projects of antique furniture and instruments like pipe organs. 

The humidor contains a dozen types of wood. Rare species you can find in vintage guitars that will cost you an arm and a leg to buy them.  Most known is the Brazilian Rosewood you can find for example on the early sixties Fender fretboards. Brazilian rosewood has been banned in Europe since 1976. The front of the drawer is made out of white ebony. I have seen white ebony only once on the fretboard of a PRS Private stock guitar. Other rare woods are snakewood and Cuba mahogany. Inlays are hand-cut mother of pearl and horn. Other fancy stuff: Venetian velvet as an interior cover for the drawer and antique brass hinges and locks. It is only a humidor if it can keep your cigars within the correct humidity of 69-72%. To safeguard your stogies it sports a modern Habueno humidifier.  With the Habueno you can control temperature and humidity remotely and receive notifications in real time on your smartphone. It is something like a vintage guitar played through a Kemper Profiler amp. A humidor with an ebony tuning peg.

I have no idea about the price of this rare wood “mash-up” humidor. I guess it would take you an entire CITES administration team to import/export it.  Anyway ,a good example of pairing cigars and guitars. Fine craftmanship! Keep the fire burning and Rock-on! 

Guitar storage

How do you organise your pleasure room? Here at Château PGC it is getting rather crazy. As a collector I have to stash 90+ guitars and about 20+ (vintage) amps. The house is a labyrint with no escape. If you don’t know your way around you ‘ll be lost for days. I need a bigger house! Well instead of facing the financial abyss from new mortgage, I might have found a wallet friendly solution: Case Storage Racks!

The Guitarstorage double stack racks are a blessing for the guitar collector and gear head. These pieces of functional furniture can hold 25 guitars each. It is the ideal rack for your music room. You can store your guitars with or without cases. I don’t use the “bookshelves” so I can store as manny as possible. The racks are equipped with heavy duty wheels so cleaning dust behind the rack is done in a jiffy.

I ordered 2 of these at Musicstorage, …not cheap to ship large and heavy furniture from overseas but I gained half of my room surface to store more (new) gear. Up to now I have not found a European alternative for these storage devices but how hard can it be to have it made by a carpenter? … or DIY? (No DIY for me, I need my fingers to play the guitars.)

Downside of it: you can only use “guitar shaped” cases on the bottom stack. The typical rectangular Fender cases (or even an oversized acoustic or hollow body case) will only fit on the top shelf.

Overall, a nice storage for your precious guitars. I am happy with it. Let me know how you store your guitars? …or amps?

Gibson Automotive

For a few days now I have been driving a Gibson Super Goldtone 4×4. It is a great car, I love it! The engine has DTV6 cylinders with EL34 valves. Spring reverb suspension in the front and rear. Chrome grille to cover the Celestion V30’s. For the driver mode I can choose between two options: normal and overdrive. A luxury dashboard with black speed knobs and non-active noise cancelling technology (it is loud!).

GIbson Automotive
Gibson Automotive

It is just a joke. I’ve put a replacement badge of a Gibson Goldtone amp on the rear of my car. Have a great day y’all!

Gibson “Playing Authentic”

Man, I love Gibson guitars! I own and play 30+ original Gibsons, all modern or vintage instruments and I never had any complaint about quality, playability or whatsoever. Sure they don’t come cheap but I enjoy the tone, the look and the feel of a real Gibson guitar. I am a fan of the brand and I got a LP Custom headstock tattooed on my shoulder. Never felt to go into discussion with the numerous Gibson Bashers in cyberspace.

There is nothing wrong with a company trying to protect its intellectual property, they have every right to protect their legacy and take action towards counterfeiting and unfair competition. Counterfeit guitars flooding the market can even decrease the value of my authentic collection. 

Today I came across the Gibson “Play Authentic” video featuring Gibson’s Director of Brand Experience Mark Agnesi. (see the video below) The clip carried out a warning to rival brands that produce guitars with body shapes and designs similar to Gibson models. “You have been warned, we’re here to protect our iconic legacy!”  Pretty strong words and from a marketing point of view maybe not the best decision in re-branding the Gibson company.  The public reaction was pretty hefty and the video was pulled off of Youtube.  Sending out a cringe is not a good move when you are in an attempt to revive your company.  The video may be gone but the first trademark violation lawsuits are filed against Dean, Schecter and Luna Guitars. More to be followed soon. 

The Gibson and Fender models are being copied for almost fifty years now. We had the Japanese lawsuit guitars in the seventies. The headstock shape and the logo are both considered as a trademark but there are already a number of court cases that decided things like an SG, LP or Strat shape are not enforceable trademarks.  Why decide to claim your “authenticity” when your competitors have been doing “variations” for more than 5 decades? 

I don’t see the point in making money by filing lawsuits against competitors? Isn’t that old-style management from the HJ-era?  On the other hand Gibson itself used to copy other manufacturers designs. In the eighties Gibson issued the Gibson US-1, a Superstrat.  In 2009 the Gibson Guitar Company did a short run of the low-end Jimi Hendrix guitar, a Stratocaster with a slightly different headstock.  Slash, the Gibson brand ambassador himself used a luthier LP copy when playing Guns’n Roses! What about the issues with the German company that developed those dreaded Robotuners? And in my opinion the 2019 Gibson EB Bass looks more like an Ibanez or Yamaha…

Gibson US-1

Gibson should take action towards the Chinese counterfeit guitars, they steal their logo and trademark. But companies like Schecter make good quality instruments based on a traditional design. Gibson should be flattered by that!

Gibson Play Authentic Video

Vacation….

Not so many postings lately… we were on a vacation in Saint Tropez, France.

What do you do on a not so sunny day? Right, you take a Taylor GS Mini and fiddle around a bit. It is a great travel companion and a remarkably good instrument for the price! I love it!

Taylor GS Mini

Some things moved…

Important announcement!

As from May 2019, this site will be dedicated exclusively to guitars, gear and instruments. I shall bring regular updates and reviews of instruments available at PGC.

People looking for my comments, rants, meme’s and ironic bar talk on society and media can find them at www.zone7r.blog (only in Dutch)! Please stay tuned on guitarscigars.net for everything guitars, basses, gear and music.

Happy reading!

GP