Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

18Mar/06Off

Have I Been Helped? Yes, I’ve Nearly Been Helped To Fucking Death, Thanks.

Unfortunately we had to make a pit stop at Guitar Center after band practice tonight. If you've ever been in one them before you generally know what I'm talking about: the utter annoyance of a myriad of I-download-tabs-from-the-internet-then-head-immediately-to-the -guitar-store -to-demonstrate- my-incredible-skills guitar players who string together the most god awful effects imaginable and pair it with a solid state amp with the midrange turned all the way off and the sales people. Jesus, it's like running a gauntlet of Jehovah's Witnesses or something. What makes things even worse for me is that I play a pretty strange setup that sales people at all guitar stores would like to talk me out of.

I'm especially strange about strings. I play pretty much the heaviest gauge of jazz strings possible and avoid any of the bright sounding brands. Trying to explain this to the person behind the counter involves either making up elaborate lies to explain my weird yet specific tastes or basically insulting them while directly contradicting everything they were told at sell you expensive shit you don't really need university. I made the mistake of mentioning that I wanted to scale back a gauge or two tonight. The guy behind the counter immediately wanted to sell me the most expensive set of overly packaged strings they had in stock:

Me: So, these are a little on the light side for me. Are these strings bright?
Sales guy: Yeah, they're super bright.
Me: OK. So, do you have a little than heavy kind of jazz string that has a wound G string and is not at all bright sounding?
Sales guy: Where on earth have you bought strings that were wound all the way to the G?
Me: Here. (I point to the strings I normally buy).
Sales guy: Oh, those are really low quality strings.
Me: Because they're not bright sounding?
Sales guy: Yeah, they're really dull even when they're new.
Me: OK. Do you have those in the next smallest gauge?
Sales guy: Are you sure because I really recommend the ones I showed you.
Me: Yeah but they're super tinny/bright sounding and only come in white guy blues gauge. So, if you have a few sets of those low quality strings I'll take them.
Sales guy: Oh, ok.

I'm also sort of in the market for an equalizer pedal. I don't really need it to do anything other than halve my volume for certain parts of songs. The rest of the lack of comprehension will be revealed in Act Two where I start to feel like I am taking place in some hidden camera television show Abbot and Costello routine:

Sales guy: So, are you looking for some distortion?
Me: Not really. I'm looking for an inexpensive eq pedal to use as an A-B switch.
Sales guy: Well, we sell those.
Me: My amp only runs one channel at a time.
Sales guy: Have you thought about getting another amp?
Me: (stifling what would turn into hysterical laughter) Uh, no. I have a Sovtek and they're pretty rare and expensive these days.
Sales guy: Oh, you mean you have Sovtek tubes in your amp...
Me: No. Sovtek made guitar heads for years. Hand wired ones that never seem to break.
Sales guy #3: (after overhearing some of the previous exchange) Wait, I'll look and see if we stock Sovtek A-B switches.
Me: No, you don't. They don't exist. That's why I need a cheap eq. I don't care about the how many bands there are etc. I want to halve my volume consistently with a foot switch.
Sales guy #3: You want a volume pedal (starts gesturing towards the display of outrageously expensive volume pedals) like over here.
Me: No. I want an A-B switch but since my head doesn't switch channels I need something like an eq but I don't want to spend a hundred dollars on it.
Sales guy #3: Oh, I guess we don't really have anything that fits that description.
Me: I figured.

I want to start my own guitar store called something like "We Think You Know What You're Doing" and it will cater exclusively to people who have played their instrument for longer than six months and aren't easily distracted by shiny things and/or the term 'extreme.'

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. don’t know if it’s still there, but there was a shop in berkeley, CA called Subway run by this hippie slumlord named Fat Dog. he had an amazing lineup of restored Danelectro guitars. he also had cheap Japanese knockoffs of Fenders to sell to young punk rockers eager for a nice loud rig that they could buy with their marijuana money.

    there was this other place pretty much like this on 36th in Fremont [a sort of boho/yuppie neighborhood of North Seattle] only more geared toward amps than guitars. they sold me a Lil’ Smokey, which is a simple amplifier unit built into a cigarette box, for about $20.

    most towns have these kinds of shops somewhere, if you look – they’re usually in alleys. don’t go to Guetard Center. it’ll depress your spirit.

  2. True enough. If I were in the market for a major component like a guitar or a head I would definitely hit the smaller places in town (and there are more than a few mom and pop guitar places in Denver) but for strings it’s pretty impossible. I’ve actually tried to talk a couple of places that are both smaller and closer than guitar center into stocking the ridiculous strings I use but they seem to take more of a boutique approach to what they carry. In the age of the IntarWeb I’m more inclined to dealing with other cranky and idiosyncratic guitar folks at a safe distance where arguments don’t break out.

    Actually my favorite place in the Bay Area to buy stuff was always Black Market in SF but the problem with that place is that while they definitely had the superior equipment it was like shopping at a yard sale run by comic book collectors. Comic book collectors who would lie to you if they didn’t feel you were savvy enough and/or female. I guess that’s the other part that I’d add to my guitar co-op: respect.

  3. This reminds me that I never shipped you those heavy, flatwound jazz strings I’ve got at least 3-4 sets of. They might not be as heavy as you desire, but you might really dig the tone.


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