Who’s blog is this? I mean…. really?

29 03 2017

For a while now, a few of us have taken turns writing posts and trying to share what we’ve learned with our other brothers and sisters.

Dark DaysLately, it’s turned into a remembrance page where we spend a lot of time feeling older than our old Strats and Teles while our friends go up into the clouds to rock heaven. Lately, I feel like the Grim Reaper…

So, if for no other reason than to defy death… I’m taking over the reins again.  I get a lot of mail about “y identity” as we set this up to be anonymous in the beginning, to protect our families and our privacy. I thought it’d be fun to stamp the blog with my picture to get the fires started.  But, the hell with it. It’ll put a face to the rantings… and more than a few cool guitars… and you’ll recognize me when you see me under the gels…

Alex

You might want to check in from time to time to see what we’re working on as we write new material.  One of the best places to start might be at my “Soundcloud” account.





At the corner of Clarksville and Blues…

29 11 2014

As you can imagine, life sometimes throws you curves. We’re out slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress, mostly the ones that have found their way backstage, but… 🙂

We’ve talked about some pals of ours, The Secret Strat Project guys, before. We recently learned that they are busy building  more incredible guitars to send overseas  to soldiers. Their custom guitars are quickly becoming legendary. They’re literally recreating some of History’s “lost guitars” and putting their own spin on them.

In a time where custom shops are building “custom handbuilt guitars” on tightly controlled schedules in assembly line conditions, it’s “a lesson in old school” for these guys. They literally breathe life back into Swamp Ash and Maple, Alder and Rosewood. We’ve played some of the guitars they’ve crafted. The Stratocasters and Telecasters coming out of The Secret Strat Project rival Masterbuilt axes coming out of the most well-known custom shops in America.

Capt America2-webThe recipients are very lucky guitarists, indeed.

When I spoke with them last, they told me about their new project, “The Crossroads Guitars”.

The guys at TSSP are going to build (12) Blues guitars in the “Crossroads” flavor. They’re going to build Resonators, Strats, Telecasters and even a hollowbody or three.

As I listened, I understood exactly why they were doing it. Anyone who is caught firmly in the grasp of the Blues would. As I thought about their new project, I wondered how many young guitarists know the “Crossroads” tale, so I thought I’d acquaint you with it. It’s  a tale told many times that described how a very famous guitarist named Robert Johnson, found his way to fame as one of the most beloved Blues guitarists of all time.

It was in the dark of a moonless night, deep in the bowels of the South…

Robert JohnsonIn the Mississippi River delta where Robert Johnson was born, the locals said that if an aspiring bluesman waited by the side of a deserted crossroads in the dark of a moonless night… the Devil himself might come and tune his guitar, sealing a pact for the bluesman’s soul and guaranteeing a lifetime of easy money, women, and fame.

As many watched the rise of Robert Johnson, they claimed Johnson must have waited by the crossroads and gotten his guitar fine-tuned for the price of a silver coin and his soul.

Robert Johnson was a Mississippi blues singer and songwriter, who according to legend, sold his soul to Satan “at the crossroads” in exchange for his remarkable talent on the guitar.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Robert Johnson started playing blues guitar in the late 1920s. His wife and child died in childbirth around 1930 and the event tore him apart emotionally. In his grief, he withdrew and is said to have devoted himself to the guitar. Part of the “evidence” supporting the Crossroads tale comes from reports that he dropped out of sight for a while in the early 1930s and returned a much-improved guitarist.

It is said that at the stroke of midnight, he walked down to the windswept crossroads at the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Reciting an ancient incantation, he called upon the Devil to make his deal. In exchange for Johnson’s immortal soul and a coin, the devil tuned his guitar, thereby giving him the abilities which he so desired. From then on, the young bluesman played his instrument with an unearthly style, his fingers dancing over the strings. His voice moaned and wailed, expressing the deepest sorrows of a condemned sinner.

In 1936-37 he recorded at least 29 songs in Texas (San Antonio and Dallas) and then returned to Mississippi to play and sing in clubs and bars. His mysterious death at the age of 27 added to the legend: He died in 1938, falling ill after playing a party and dying four days later.

Some people said that Robert’s deal with the devil came due and as evidence gave the fact that they had seen him on all fours, howling at the moon the night he died……

Undisputed facts about Johnson’s life are few and far between. More often than not, his legend has obscured the few grains of truth that can be discerned. According to the myth, the young bluesman desperately longed for fame and fortune.

Whatever the reason, Johnson died at the young age of twenty-seven, and left a legacy of Delta Blues music that has influenced guitar players like Muddy Waters, and his songs have been covered by several rock stars, including Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones. In 1986 Robert Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His songs include “Crossroad Blues,” “Me and the Devil Blues” and “Terraplane Blues.”

 





They’re selling them by the pound, I kid you not!

2 04 2014

Eric Clapton Brownie Tribute Axe - 15000 bucks limited edition to 100 unitsI spent some time recently in an airport listening to a bunch of idiots talking about guitars.

Now, as a musician, you just kinda hear “familiar words in the distance” and then you home in on the conversation.

The  debate (over beers in the VIP lounge) was as to whether or not a Fender Eric Clapton Brownie Tribute Stratocaster was worth selling a Custom Harley to acquire.

Apparently one of the participants of the conversation stumbled onto a guy who’d bought one and the guy was looking to flip it for a big profit.

I never understood paying thousands of dollars for a COPY of a classic guitar. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Speaking strictly about guitars and not artist/rock gawds… I understand the “bond” we get from seeing that same iconic axe over and over again singing to our souls, but…

… let’s be real, huh?

First, it’s a very expensive COPY. Different body wood (different trees, grown in different conditions), different neck (same “difference” thing) wood, different electronics reassembled and all trying to work together to be “similar”.

Any luthier worth a crap will tell you that you really NEVER know what a custom guitar is going to sound like until you assemble and string it. I guarantee you that  ALL of those expensive copies sound a little bit different and very few of them, if any at all, actually sound like “Brownie”.

I’d rather find that same guitar (a real one) or something real close and then tweak it a bit, rather than spend thousands on a fake with 40 hours of “aging” thrown in ala dremel.

You want a “relic’d” guitar? Buy a new one and then PLAY it. Go earn your scars, like the rest of us. Having a beat to hell guitar, fresh out of a Custom Shop case doesn’t make you a guitarist… it makes you a collector of a copy of an incredible piece of Rock History. I doubt very seriously that out of the  hundred of these axes that were built, more than ten are actually being played.

And let’s not forget that you’re going to be substantially poorer – tens of thousands of dollars poorer after you pay for your “Brownie”.

But even more than that, should you decide to play that beautiful copy… how in the world do you make a guitar like that your own?

While it’s quite playable, these aren’t guitars  that you PLAY. These are guitars aimed at collectors who will hang them on the wall under very expensive lighting.

You want to get into that tone range? Save your money and then get one of Fender’s Master Builders to build you “the axe of a lifetime”. You’ll get killer tone and you’ll save thousands of dollars.

I have a modded ’57RI MIJ Sunburst Strat that I travel with that looks and sounds pretty damned close to the tones that we all love about Eric’s “Brownie”.  The difference?

About $13,500.00 US.

And unless you can inject yourself with Clapton’s soul and cut off his fingers and graft them onto your hands, you’re NEVER going to sound like him.

“Excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”

Gimme a break.

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