Category Archives: Guitars

JT’s Pigonse G40V Hot-Rod, Part 1!

I have a Pignose G40V I bought new a few years back and have since loved it’s simplicity and durability. Due to it’s portability, and the size of the venues Grand Beauty generally plays, this amp has seen a lot of action, mic’d through our PA. I won’t claim to know the official pedigree, but it supposedly was designed by someone who had something to do with the original Fender Bassman amplifiers. This sucker is tiny, with only a 10-inch speaker, and packs a massive 40-watt punch!

Pignose G40V
Pignose G40V

Being as cool as it is, I simply can’t leave it alone. Why? Well, it’s equipped with all Chinese parts. Don’t get me wrong- the Chinese are fine people- awesome food, impressive culture. Not necessarily the best folks to be mass-producing tone, though.

Vintage Jensen 10 inch speaker
Vintage Jensen 10 inch speaker

Step number 1 was finding an awesome speaker. CT and I happened on the Midwest Musicians Swap Meet in Saint Louis, where I found a great vintage Jensen 60′s 10-inch speaker in new housing. I also came across a couple of Soviet-era Sovtek 12AX7WB pre-amp tubes (to be seen in part 2).

Testing polarity with D-Cell battery
Testing polarity with D-Cell battery

Once I got the Jensen home, I had to figure out which terminal was positive, as neither one was marked. I used an old trick, where you electrical-tape both the positive and negative ends of a D-Cell (or 9-volt) battery with wire, and then connect to each wire to a terminal. When the speaker “sucks in” on connection, you have negative polarity. Reverse the wires, and you should see a “push out” of the speaker on connection. This will be your positive polarity, and you can now mark on the casing the + and – terminals, and connect it to your amplifier.

Jensen speaker mounted in the Pignose
Jensen speaker mounted in the Pignose

The mounting holes lined up great, and connections were secured. Success! Now my Pignose has a vintage Jensen speaker, rather than the cheap Chinese stock that it came with. Stay tuned for part 2, where I attempt to replace and bias the existing Chinese tubes with Soviet-era, mean-ass Sovteks!

Where did Paul go?

The new music station caused me to once again shuffle everything around in the Living Room but have no fear, folks, Paul is staying.

J:HOME Model (1)

(An updated furniture floor plan.  I don’t know what happened to those poche walls but it looks kind of cool.)

There are some pieces in the house that I really want to hold on to, others I keep around because they fit in for now or I’m still hunting down that amazingly-perfect-but-so-cheap-from-a-thrift find.  “Paul”, as I call my McCobb Planner Group secretary is a keeper.  He was holding up the ledges wall but has now moved over here to greet visitors at the front door.

ENTRY WALL BEFORE AND AFTER

This wall is looking a little bare but I’m slowly moving in artwork as the furniture continues to shuffle around.  What’s great about this setup is it gives us the “landing strip” they’re always pushing for over at Apartment Therapy.  The salon-style vinyl chair is a great place to drop my purse or my work bag and Paul gladly holds the day’s mail and the contents of JT’s pockets.

AFTER AT ENTRY #2.

(View from the front door above.  That’s my Martin Sigma that I still don’t know how to play yet.)  Ironically the salon style vinyl chair and the four wood chairs we have around the tulip table were the things I thought for sure would sell at the Green Shag sale last year but didn’t.  Then I had each posted on Craigslist  and now I’m pretty glad they’re still here.  Go figure.

In the (much larger) world outside our living room, Google decided to close down its Reader.  I liked Reader so much that I even blogged about it (almost two years ago!  yikes!)  So what is a blog-addicted girl to do?  I tried out Feedly and liked the iPhone app but it wouldn’t work on the required Internet Explorer browser we have at work.  No blog reading all day long?  Not happening.  So I switched over to Bloglovin.  (Kind of wish they had a better name, makes me think of McLovin from Superbad).  It has a much more image-oriented format, which I am enjoying so far.

BLOGLOVIN

(Yep, that’s a screenshot from my Bloglovin account and I am a major blog addict!!!)

In the blog world, I’m afraid we may have lost JT from this site forever.  He set up a great new site for his band, Grand Beauty, here.  We haven’t all the way decided on things but I think he may start posting his guitar raids and fixes on the band website.  We’ll see.

recording-2013-001

At any rate, you should check it out.  He’s uploaded a bunch of their recordings.  That’s my husband singing “Beast of Burden” and if it doesn’t make you want to take your clothes off and dance around, you may need to have your head examined.  Cheers – CT

PS – HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISTER!

Alvarez Prototype Semi-hollow Electric Guitar

Saint Louis has it share of rock & roll instrument history, thanks in no small part to Saint Louis Music, who over the years have brought us brands like Ampeg, Crate and Alvarez.

alvarez advert

Alvarez is an odd brand in particular. They are almost always solidly built, and cheap as hell. But, they suck to look at. Boring design. Pisses me right off. There is simply no excuse for boring, bland design when you’re dealing with something that you present live or record with. Probably why they aren’t respected as well as they could be.

SIDE ANGLE

Which brings us to this find I made last year- caught my eye on Craigslist. It was super cheap and looked amazing. The gentleman selling it works for STL Music, and informed me that it’s a prototype. One of only 2 or 3 made (same design but different colors) they were built by Alvarez to send out to their biggest dealers, in an effort to test the market. Sadly, Alvarez ditched more classic, cool designs like this, in favor the now laughable super-strat, heavy metal designs that fizzled away once the hair bands started hitting the methadone clinics.

CLOSE FRONT

But wow, is this thing cool. The build is crisp, and the finish is beautiful. Honestly, one of the most incredible sounding and feeling guitars I have encountered. Doesn’t hurt that it has two Seymour Duncan designed humbuckers- one of which is the coveted Seth Lover model (bridge position).

To me, this treasure, this haunting, screaming muse is a sad, rare ghost of what could have been at Alvarez. Most working musicians cannot afford the high end Gibson/Guild/Gretsch hollow-body designs. This could have worked so incredibly well for so many folks I have met and listened to, who are world class musicians, but commonly are forced to save for years in order to posses a guitar that is worthy of their abilities.

Looking for the right home. See it on Ebay here.

P.S.- next long-term is a 60′s Fender Champ Lap Steel. Going to take a while, as I have to find the bridge/pickup assembly. Got it off a old country boy out in Troy, MO. I get a lot of instruments from these older guys out in the country, who bought them new way back in the day, but don’t have the market locally to sell them. They have a nephew post to Craigslist for them, and I can usually jump on them before most even see the post. Fun for me, though. I speak their language. I’m 100% hillbilly, going back about 200 years.

P1240278

Music Room Meet Office

Maybe a good holiday gift for the Living Analog household would be those little “moving men” furniture sliders because we have been doing an awful lot of moving furniture around in this house.  It’s all a part of the “waste not, want not” philosophy and it works wonders.  If your house/room/life is needing a jolt, just rearrange!  It really is amazing how moving the furniture around can let you rediscover a room in your house – and usually for free!

So without further adieu, the music room.  It’s looked like this for a while now:

BEFORE 3

Lots of guitar and amp space, lots of seating – two chairs, the storage cabinet/bench, a stool and an ottoman.

BEFORE 1

Bookshelves that are getting out of hand and need to be cleaned/organized/staged/styled/whatever it is that amazing internet bloggers/stylers do to their bookshelves.

BEFORE 2

With a lot of the changes taking place in the bedroom and living room, the laptop was looking for a place to land.  Also, starting next year, JT will have the option to work from home one week a month and so we needed a proper office. Furniture rearranging commence.

Here’s the layout we settled on.  Everything that was in the room stayed except for the Eames rocker which moved to the bedroom.  The table desk I had bought a while back at a hotel liquidation store for $10.  It was originally a nice hotel warm oak color so I had painted it black to go in the last iteration of the office/music room and it held JT’s recorder.  Then it went downstairs and I had painted it white thinking I would use it for my dressing table.  That didn’t happen so it because our new desk!

AFTER VIEW LOOKING AT DESKAFTER WITH DOGS

Already we are using this room so much more (online holiday shopping and the like.)  And with the desk at a right angle to the wall, you can be a part of what is happening in the room while you’re on the computer.

Here’s a view from behind the desk:

AFTER FROM ABOVE

The pictures are making it look small but it feels comfortable in real life.  Don’t get me wrong, this room is about the size of a postage stamp but there is plenty of circulation room and all the cabinet doors and drawers can open just fine.  The five-foot-long storage drawer we were using as a bench also works well as a guitar display surface for guitar stands and casually leaned pictures so while we lost a little seating by not using it as a bench, all the functions of the room are still there.  Most of JT’s guitars are packed up for the winter right now and live in the little closet behind the American flag so we may have to look at our layout again when those come out in the spring.

PHOTOBOMB

And I’ll leave you with this Shenanigan photobomb.  What an idiot.

1961 Silvertone 1458 Guitar and Amp

Picked up this odd package from a guy who had bought it new back in 1961. Everything in the original ad was there- the guitar, amp and case. Amp still sounds amazing, even with the strange RCA-to-1/8” input system.

The guitar is straight as an arrow, and required minimal adjustments. I did end up replacing both tuning arrays with period-correct replacements.

The electronics on the guitar, however were (as always) perfectly destroyed. You will rarely find original potentiometers or paper-in-oil capacitors in working order.

This package is another beautiful testament to the durability and wonderful design of these early Sears-brand guitars and amps, made in the USA in the late 50′s to early 60′s. A period when even a cheap, catalog-bought instrument was made with the utmost attention to quality.

See my Ebay posting here

Auction Action

Sunday was the big auction at Vandeventer Vintage.  The small-ish shop filled up with other dealers, antique mallers and assorted “vintage vultures” (as Dabito at Old Brand New calls them/us).  The action got started right at 1pm and for me a few unsuccessful attempts at bidding –first for an awesome Lucite book stand (you all know I love me some Lucite!) and then for a pair of Paul Klee paintings.  I could have gone a little higher but I was waiting for Lot #100 — a pair of Hans  Wegner (esque) rope/jute folding chairs.  These had some wear to them so they came with two sheepskins (real and vintage) and you all know how I LOVE sheepskins. .

So . . . here’s the living room on Sunday night after a major rearrangement:

And again in the morning light:

And as seen by a lazy sprawled out dog . . .

(There’s another lazy dog on the sofa hiding behind the sofa arm. They can’t be bothered to get out of the way for the sake of photos.)

I was also lucky/determined enough/coughed up enough cash to win Lot #56 – an arc lamp:

It’s been a nice addition to the living room.  I’m typing under it right now . . .

The base actually disguises a real-honest-to-goodness brick to act as a counterbalance to the light fixture proper.

I’m not 100% sold on it though because it’s a little brassier then I usually bring home . . .  Mr. Modtomic not only has a nice video of the auctioneer from Sunday running through his patter (favorite line: “You got to find ‘em first!”, repeated 100 times) and also has some awesome CHROME arc lamps he scored this weekend.  Jealous. (Check it out here and here).

But I’m definitely keeping the pair of chairs . . . (do you know how hard it can be to find things in pairs?)

Then the weekend wrapped up with a bang when JT found two guitars on Craigslist calling his name.  Quote from the guy he bought them from “When I buy things, I like to buy them in pairs”.  Me too, random Craigslist dude, me too.

Maybe JT will be back with a guitar post.  It’s been awhile, I bet you miss him.  The guitars are identical except their finish — this one is my favorite of the pair:

I can’t choose between Hans and Wenger though.  They’re both my favorites!

A little weekend update . . .

Kitchen update soon, promise.  First here’s a little update . . .

Sophie got a Thunder Shirt . . .

And learned how to pose for camera.

Shenanigan became a chameleon as I tried to photograph our little tree/plant that I’ve named “Jazz Hands”.  (He may have been a little upset with me by his annual vet visit followed by a nail clipping that morning).

Earth Day recycling of all the random things that have a plug at Rex (Recycling Extravaganza).  Although it was a little un-earth friendly because they made us all queue up and drive through to the different drop off stations . . . . I’m not complaining because we had been stockpiling some broken appliances for a while (two humidifiers, a hair dryer and straightening iron) along with so many outdated technology components.

And after playing back-to-back gigs Friday and Saturday night, JT snagged a new guitar off Craigslist . . .

That’s a hard-working lumberjack.  (Please help me convince him to get the paisley pick-up covers.  It would make that guitar pretty B.A.)

Not bad for two days off work.  There’s more, like some projects around the house (kitchen!) but those are coming soon — I PROMISE!

Little things can make a big difference!

We’re kind of bogged down in the middle of a bunch of projects right now and I haven’t wanted to post blog updates of every minute detail.  It’s the after shots that are so much fun, not the little incremental during shots. 

We did what we thought would be a little project last Saturday that in true DIY form, turned into a big project (or at least time wise.)

The music room has been mostly done for a while but the door has always bothered me.  All the other doors in our house are solid core old wood doors with Art Deco knobs.  The music room door was a cheapo solid core door FAUX PAINTED (by the previous owners, obviously) to look like wood with a hideous brass knob.  It was time for it to get lost.  We had hunted around the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a new/old door with no luck.  Then we remembered there was one in the garage . . . . that used to be the back door on the house before the sun porch was added on . . . and it was a (almost) perfect fit!

It wasn’t really a perfect fit.  JT performed door surgery and cut off a lot of rotted stuff at the bottom, notched out space for the hinges, then had to shim and shim and shim (and then power sand) for this thing to fit.

But through sheer willpower and determination, he got it to fit.  And it was worth it.

It’s a relatively small change that makes such a big difference!  Now we can see into our magical little music room haven but keep the pesky peeing Sophie from visiting her new favorite spot on the rug.  Light can flow through the whole house.

The music room beckons you in to hang out and relax (and play a guitar if you are so inclined).

It’s not all the way done — JT has the knob soaking in a concoction of chemicals to get some paint off (the previous homeowners were very liberal in their application of white paint and we find it most of everywhere).  So the new/old knob still has to go back on.  We’re also going to install some blinds on the music room side of the door so if we have a house crasher/overnight guest they can sleep in privacy. 

Here’s the view from the other side:

(See Mr. Shenanigan peering in? — the bottom panes are just at nosy dog height).  The black chair is just visiting the music room temporarily. . . .  it has been preempted from its (new) normal spot by, of all things, the refrigerator.

Yup, kitchen tile is HAPPENING!  Wednesday night folks.  I’m so excited.  All these little (and big) projects makes this old house feel like our home.  

Have a great week everyone!  Since our kitchen is in disarray I will be eating lots of fast food, tiling my heart out and enjoying every second.

Oh the ways the internet can amuse

One of the nice things about using WordPress for this little ol’ blog is that it tells you all the search terms people use to find you. 

 Things like “dog manicure”

and  “help my husband has a guitar addiction!”

(Yes those are all guitars that have come or gone or still reside in our house within the last three months.)

The most popular are “lab corgi mix” (that’s Shenanigan – and really he is the most ridiculous dog)

For instance, while lounging on the sofa the other night, we look over to see little Shenanigan hanging out on and behind the new pillow I made (crochet!).  That long little nose always needs a pillow to hold it up. 

Or, a different day, he needed the crochet pillow for his front end and another pillow for his back end.  Sophie declined all pillows for the comfort of flat out snoozing on her side . . .

So.  Lots of dog pics.

You internet users has also searched for us via “music room floor plan” or “music room layout”:

Do you have a music room in your house?  I’d love to see it.  What about a lab/corgi?  I love those too (along with all other mutts and dogs in general).  Do you give your lab/corgi doggy manicures?  Or do you have a husband with an affinity for buying, keeping and selling guitars?  Let’s chat.  We might have a lot in common.

1966 Gibson LG-0

Threw the wife and dogs into the car one night after work for a trip to Gerald, MO to pick up this one. For those of you who are not aware, as I was not, Gerald is about 60 miles this side of Jefferson City. Long drive up some dark, curvy roads. Ended up having to meet the dude in the middle of town. Fine little town. Quiet.

The wood on this guitar was dry as a damn bone. Acoustic guitars, just like anything made from wood, require oil and the right balance of humidity. Acoustics especially, will almost always crack right down the middle. Not fatal- in fact I have a 68 Gibson B-25 N which I play out many times a month that has a repaired crack. Still a wonderful guitar, can barely tell the damage:

The LG-0 had no such cracks. Plenty of finish checking, and the top was Johnny Marred pretty good, but no cracks. Applying the oil was a bizarre experience. The wood literally drank the moisture, so much that it drastically changed the appearance. Look at the contrast with the pick guard removed:

For a period in the mid-late 60′s, Gibson experimented with plastic bridges. Most of them were trashed in favor of a wood bridge, however this one was still in great shape. Long story short, I had found an all-original, perfectly working model that just needed cleaning up. Worth the drive. Up for grabs on Ebay- see it here!