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!


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!