There are two and ONLY two kinds of music: good music and bad music.
Now look here. I have ASKED for help and exactly none of you people have intervened in any way, shape or form. No one has hidden my wallet, no one has cut up my credit cards, no one has even sent me a strongly worded telegram. Hell, one of you (and I won’t mention any names, but her initials are Cocoa Black) even told me to get whatever I wanted.
So there’s this guy I ran across about a year ago, his name is John Backlund and he is an industrial designer with a taste for retro and the Jetsons. You can already tell I’m fucked, can’t you? John has designed a number of guitars which are figuratively “out-of-this-world”. They are very colorful, visually distinctive and look exactly like what George Jetson, his wife Jane, daughter Judy and his boy Elroy would play, assuming the Jetsons did a Partridge Family act and played gigs at Spacely Sprockets.
One of John’s designs really caught my attention; it was his “Marz 6” guitar. I knew it existed because it was in his family photo of the design prototypes he owns.
The Marz 6 is that golden beauty that is the 2nd from left upright guitar on the sofa. I contacted Mr Buckland and told him of my interest in his guitar and he responded very promptly, but not with any good news. He explained that the Marz 6 in the picture had been built for him by a Dutch luthier and it was the only existing Marz 6 in the galaxy. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement, but I thanked Mr Backlund for his time and told him I would be interested in purchasing one should he ever sell the design to a manufacturer. You know what’s coming next.
On December 20th, John announced that Eastwood Guitars would be manufacturing a few of his designs. The Marz 6 was not listed among them on the Eastwood site, but John had posted on a guitar forum that the Marz 6 was going to be produced. I sent Eastwood a query on the subject and applied some serious search-fu and lo, a true Christmas Miracle occurred. The Marz 6 has a separate pre-order page not linked to the rest of John’s guitars, Eastwood is accepting deposits for Marz 6’s in various colors and for a mere two hunnit dollah you can nail down the color of your choice with anticipated delivery in April of 2018. TAKE MY MONEY NOW!
I advised John I had mine on order and he thanked me and advised… well, his exacts words were “Thank you! You’ll be getting what will probably always be quite a rare guitar. Of course, I would like to be wrong about this, but I would be surprised if more than fifty to seventy-five Marz 6 guitars will ever be built.”
So dear reader(s), thanks for nothing in helping me to stop buying guitars. Not that anything short of shooting me in the noggin would have stopped me from getting this one. The badass is just WAY too strong to resist.
Me an’ brother Kyle are piling into a horseless carriage in the very near future and taking off up the road to see King Crimson one last time before the end of the 2017 US tour. Kyle caught the show in Atlanta and I saw them in Raleigh; this time we are DOING IT RIGHT by getting the VIP tickets. Meeting/Q&A with band members, bag o’ loot, front row seats… this is gonna be motherfucking epic x 9000.
I am going to be sporting this when I go:
Because I am a total geek and have no shame whatsoever.
In what will be of interest to a bare handful of individuals, I discovered that King Crimson will be in Raleigh on October 26th.
I am taking my little brother along so he can see Robert Fripp before the venerable gentleman retires.
Catfish will not be served.
On Monday, I got an email. I was being summoned. My attendance was requested. My presence was required. In the local dialect, I was being told to “gitcher ass in gear an’ get on down here, son”.
Given the subject of the email, I complied post-haste.
In the second week of July of this year, I found myself sitting down with Harry, the owner of Harry’s Guitar Shop (odd coincidence, them both being named “Harry”). I informed Harry that I wanted a Heritage H-155 M guitar, but not just any old run-of-the-mill H-155 M. No sir. I wanted a special H-155 M, built just for me, with ALL the bells, ALL the whistles, the kitchen sink, HBO, white side walls… you name it, I wanted it. So Harry, being a Heritage dealer, picked up the speaker phone of love and called Heritage Guitars up. One transfer later we were talking to the Lady With The Sharp Pencil and she started asking me questions.
Her questions centered around my specifications and the various up-charges they entailed. I authorized all of it. I encouraged her to find and kill the last unicorn and make the fret markers out of his horn. “Alas, all we offer is mother-of-pearl” she cried out. Anyway, they got the idea I wanted a real doozy of a custom built 155 and at that point I left Harry to discuss the numbers and delivery date with the nice lady. Harry contacted me the following day with a price and a date of September 15th for the guitar’s arrival.
I suspect my astute readers have already surmised that the email I received on Monday was Harry informing me that a small miracle had happened and my Heritage was sitting in his office. Just to bait the hook (or maybe it was to twist the knife?) he sent me some photos of the guitar with the statement that the guitar looked much better in person than it did in the pictures.
Really? It looks “much better” than that?
Well, it does. There was another customer at Harry’s who saw it and made the remark “I am standing two feet away from this and it looks like the top is made of crushed velvet”.
But the story, it does not end here. Oh no. The story never ends.
In the jibber jabber that follows any substantial transaction, I asked Harry about a guitar I had seen listed as a “special deal” on his web site. The guitar in question is a Schecter Custom Shop PT in butterscotch. Another customer had ordered a custom built Schecter PT and specified a maple fret board. Someone at Schecter goofed and put on a rosewood fret board. The customer was notified that his guitar had arrived, he came in, looked at the guitar and said “This is not what I ordered”. The customer and Harry got on the phone with Schecter to instruct them on the fine points of telling maple from rosewood. Harry now has a genuine Schecter Custom Shop on his hands that no one wants. (The customer is well within his rights to reject the guitar, as he ordered a custom build from a custom shop. The builder really does not want that guitar back, because they have no idea when someone else will order that exact set of features.) So Harry puts it on his wall for what is basically dealer cost, in this case just about $1000 off the retail price.
I see the guitar, I hold the guitar, the guitar whispers to me “My intended has rejected me, through no fault of my own. Won’t you please take me home with you?”, and so I did.
And even now, the story is not at an end. It seems there is a Peavey T-30 on a UPS truck headed my way, even as I write these thrilling words.
Someone, anyone, PLEASE help me stop.
So I pick up the mail and there is the monthly mini-catalog from Musician’s Friend and I toss it aside and go on with my day, fiddle-dee-dee. So a couple of hours later I sit down and open the catalog up and am making the “hmmm” and ‘hrrrummm” noises and on page 7, lower right hand corner I look, and then I look again, and then I turn a light on and look yet again… yeah, it does say Limited Edition George Harrison Tribute Telecaster, and that damn picture is of his Rosewood guitar… and those fuckers cost stupid money and you can’t get them any more and Rosewood is now officially on the UN shitlist for import/export and also this sentence is just getting ridiculously long. But yeah, the description calls it out as a solid Rosewood Tele, limited to 1,000 guitars world wide, for $2,500.
Now I got to explain some shit to some of you folks. Firstly, the original Rosewood Telecaster was hand made for George Harrison by Roger Rossmeisl in 1968. Fender made close duplicates of them available the following year and discontinued them in 1972. Since then, Fender has made a few limited edition runs of them; depending on the exactitude of the copying of the original, the retail price has varied from “slightly above a normal Telecaster” to “many thousands of your dollars”.
As best I can figure, Fender USA made the aforementioned original copies from ’69 to ’72. Fender Japan made them available starting at some point in the 1980s until ’94. Fender USA then made limited edition runs in 2007 and 2016. And now, in what will probably be the last run ever, they are making 1,000 more. Now you are gonna ask me “HandsomeMork, why for and how come do you say this will be the last run?” This will be the last run because of CITES.
CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. As of Jan 2, 2017, it is easier to move heroin across borders than it is to move Rosewood. The primary driver in getting Rosewood on the shitlist is the Communist Chinese furniture market. Rosewood furniture is hugely popular in China and the Chinese have a long history of ignoring international agreements when it suits them. There were specific types of Rosewood that were already restricted from international trade (specifically the Rosewood used to make their furniture), but they lied and prevaricated and forged documents stating that THIS batch of Rosewood was the non-restricted type of Rosewood and nothing to see here, move along, move along. The Chinese did this on such a large scale that the boom has been lowered. ALL Rosewood is now restricted from crossing borders without permits, paperwork, inspection certifications, etc (all these words are synonyms for “fees”).
Rosewood has pretty much always been THE wood of choice for guitar fretboards. Fretboards are fairly thin strips of wood that are glued to the face of the guitar neck and have the frets and fret markers inlaid in them. So when the new CITES rules went into effect, the guitar industry was immediately faced with several issues, and suddenly the Rosewood that the manufacturers had ON HAND became quite a bit more valuable. As an example, Fender is raising the price of all Rosewood fretboard guitars by $50 across the board.
Rosewood will still be available (especially Indian Rosewood, which has been a well maintained renewable resource for years), but there will be government paper work every step of the way (fees, fees, fees and more fees) so the cost of Rosewood is basically fixing to go way up. How much up? That is the $64 question. No one knows how much at this point, but there is no doubt it is going up.
So now we get back around to this Rosewood Telecaster. With the cost of Rosewood going up and the supply now subject to numerous government agencies across different countries, this looks to be the last run of these beautiful instruments that will carry the Fender name. To be sure, custom builders that have sufficient Rosewood on hand will be able to build you a one off, but the price tag will be positively brutal. Also, it won’t say “Fender” on it.
So to bring this back around to the beginning, I looked that the advertised price, muttered “wait just a minute” and walked to my office. A quick look at Ebay, Reverb and a couple of other sites confirmed what I thought: the last Fender reissue of these things are selling for 5 to 6K. So the “guitar math” on this one is pretty simple; go ahead and order this and when it gets here just put it in the back of the closet and wait a year. Profit.
If you want one, act right now. They will officially be released on August 22 and I suspect by then it will be too late.
I am aflutter.
After kicking the can up the road (down the road?) for nearly a year, I am headed to The Big City tomorrow to get something that I have lusted over for some time.
Once upon a time I was asked what my dream guitar was. I had to give two answers, because electrics and acoustics really are different animals. Tomorrow I am going to see if I can “do the deal” to get the acoustic guitar of guitars, the holiest of the holy, that which I fell in love with the moment I saw my first one. To be sure, there are more expensive guitars available – much more expensive. To be sure, there are fans of other brands that will spit on my shadow and curse me for a brainless git. I’m okay with that. I too have been known to have what some would call “firm” opinions on certain matters. I understand. I know people who have stated they would rather have a bad Gibson than a perfect (insert name of any other brand here). I suspect that statement contains a certain amount of hyperbole, but brand loyalty is something I understand and respect.
One size does not fit all. It never has and it never will.
I think the single finest sounding acoustic I have ever listened to was a Gibson Hummingbird made in the early 1960s that was in the hands of a guy who lived in a dorm room a few doors down from me. He is now the department chairman of the school of music at that university. Of course, this was in the day of long hair and non-prescriptive pharmacopeia, so my memory is highly suspect (see what I did there?). Over one summer break he took another guy that lived in that same dorm off to “his” guitar shop, and the following fall semester Slick (I have no idea what his real name is/was, he was universally addressed as “Slick”) had a Martin D28 in his possession. It complimented the Hummingbird beautifully. It was somewhere during this time frame when I got an invite to go see Jesse Colin Young at WFU and there was this guy named Leo Kottke as the opening act, and if you have seen Leo in person, then you know what I mean. To see Leo play is to witness something that is probably not entirely of this earth. I am pretty sure Leo hails from some plant where the sole form of communication is guitar.
One thing I picked up on pretty quickly was that the hands holding the guitar* are by far and away the most important element in the sound of the guitar. Just a couple of weeks ago, I watched a man pick up a $200 Yamaha and make that fucker ring out like… words fail me. I wish you could have been there. The point of this is that while he normally plays instruments that cost 20 times or more than that Yamaha, he did not appear to be limited in any way, shape or form in producing the most wondrous music. In point of fact, if you are looking to buy a guitar for yourself or another to learn on, give some very serious consideration to Yamaha (that goes for the electrics also, the Pacifica series guitars are bargains). The beginner will not have to fight with a poorly constructed turd and if they decide that guitaring is not for them, they can recover some of their money out of it.
Anyway, I am headed south to see if I can bring a Taylor 514ce limited edition back home. It’s got a flame mahogany back and some fancy fret inlays and some outrageously smooth Gotoh tuners (21:1 ratio, baby)and that unspeakably sexy Florentine cutaway. In that dream guitar photo, it’s the one on the right. Pics shall be forthcoming if it is here tomorrow evening.
*Look at this video of Billy Gibbons and some friends playing “La Grange“. At 4:22 in the video, Mike Henderson, who is playing a fucking $150 Squier Telecaster (Fender’s in-house knock off brand of their own stuff) just absolutely puts on a jaw-dropping clinic on How. Its. Done. It ain’t the equipment, it’s who is holding the equipment.
EDIT: Mission accomplished. pics: http://mullarea.com/guitars/Taylor/