Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Must Do Something Creative

 

I spend a few weekends a month gigging out. It’s really fun, and I get to play my electric guitars loud…which I love. Every now and then though I get the itch to do something creative for myself. It’s a demand from my wiring, really. If left un-quenched, it can turn into an almost neurosis-level rattle that makes me insane. It’s like having a ball baring rolling back and forth inside the dashboard of your car with every turn you make. Eventually the want and need to solve the problem heats to the fire of a nuclear blast. In the past, this has usually translated into me writing/recording music.

So, this very thing happened a few months back and I decided I wanted to learn one of my favorite songs. Then I decide to make a video of me singing and playing it. This really isn’t something I do regularly, if at all, much less share it on the blog…but hey what can I say? I’m getting older and care a hell of a lot less what people think…but as a musician I still crave peoples attention…life is messy, right? Here’s me, exercising creative demons and covering one of my favorite songs, “All Night Long” by Peter Murphy.

 

The Road To Minimalism II

Since the last post we have been busy, each weekend, hauling loads of stuff to Goodwill. It’s pretty incredible how much we have accumulated.

For me, I think my minimalist tendencies started a few years back, when I looked around me and realized I had something like 20 guitars. Simply keeping all these guitars around in a little 800 square foot house in south St. Louis was a challenge in itself. What happened was I began to realize, even playing multiple gigs a week, I couldn’t possibly utilize all of them. I got to a point where I stopped going to vintage guitar shops to look around, realizing I had way more than I ever needed, or deserved really. I then began getting rid of them.

Now, does this mean I’m cured? Not by a longshot. Take, for example, my pastime of building guitars (I really just part them together). The pic below is of 2 such guitars I’ve made since we got to Phoenix. One is my beloved pine Barncaster, the other is a highly functional and very playable Strat. It was a blast putting them together, a fun and intricate process. The problem is….I have managed to replace buying more guitars than I need with building more guitars than I need.

img_3843

Pine Barncaster, Superstrat. Sorry for the shitty pic

So now the idea is to get down to just a couple guitars. I already have a 95 Les Paul that my father gave me for graduating university. That one stays with me forever….so the question now is what else to keep? Is 2 or 3 guitars overkill for someone that wants to be less burdened by their belongings? Does my gigging regularly justify it? Hell I have no idea. Still adjusting to this whole thing.

fullsizerender

My 1995 Gibson Les Paul, equipped with 2 high-output Seymour Duncan pickups

The other thing I have focused on lately is selling all the little guitar parts that I have accumulated over the years working on guitars. None of it is worth a ton, but when I added it up, $10-$20 a pop, I had at least a few hundred bucks just laying around. I sell all this (along with the guitars) on my Reverb store. I’ve already sold a ton of stuff this way in the last few weeks, and I have a lot more to get listed!

Shop My Store on Reverb

Another major we are moving toward minimalism is getting a stall at the Thieves Market in Tempe, on December 3. This will be a great way to get rid of a great deal of the vintage stuff we have laying around. Expect a full report here soon. Alright, JT signing off. Stay sleazy.

Thieves Market.png

 

The Desert Trip

14581328_10210176702041405_7544144942639961261_n

Richard, Becky, CT and JT

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this concert was a once in a lifetime experience. I was obsessed with every one of these acts at some point of my life. I was 22 when I could not stop listening to Exile on Main Street. I was in my late 20’s when After the Gold Rush and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere made perfect sense in my life. I WAS LIKE FREAKING 10 when I stole my brother’s Dark Side of The Moon tape (sorry Shane(sucker)).

That’s why it may be surprising that when the opportunity came up to see this concert, CT was more ready than I was. Shit at work was stressing me out, we just dropped a ton of money on an AC unit….all that crap. Anyway, she convinced me.

The real miracle is we got our best friends Becky and Richard to come with us. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say they are a couple of our favorite people to walk the planet. SO…they fly into Phoenix, we load in the trusty Tacoma and we hit the dusty trail for Desert Trip!!

img_6720

CT and the loaded Tacoma

We were car camping, which gave you a 10X30 spot for your car and tent/whatever else, which was really cool. We stayed right on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club, and simply walked in each evening to see the show. The only thing that wasn’t fun was the fact that it was pretty much 100 degrees every day. Each day was a bit of a struggle to stay cool. Also, this place every other day is a Polo club, so the ground is trampled into a fine dust, which gets into everything/everywhere. Everyone there was filthy within the first few hours! All part of the fun.

14492502_10210167334247216_5061449743236808912_n

Car camping…photo credit Becky

All the mess aside, we were with our friends, and had a crazy blast.

img_3755

Here’s us with the stage in the background. To give you an idea of size, we were at the front row of general admission. There were about 40,000 seats between us and the stage.

Here’s a great shot that Becky took during one of the shows. There were a ton of posts everywhere, the size of highway light posts. Each one had a speaker array pointing each direction, and lights on the top. The sound was really incredible.

14570391_10210166461505398_3902545404284068633_n

Here’s me and my boy Richard in a candid moment

img_6733

Videos!

Neil Young was a huge surprise. He had a great band, and sounded stunning. His energy was on par with anyone I have ever seen, and everyone in our party was thrilled with his performance.

Next up we have the Rolling Stones, with one of my favorites: “Mixed Emotions.”

And here’s The Who with “Behind Blue Eyes”

It was a great time, which I will never forget. Sometimes it makes the most sense in life to drop a ton of money, throw caution to the wind and just say to hell with everything else, I’m doing this crazy-ass thing and going to have fun! Remember to live your life everyone.

The Road to Minimalism

By now you may have seen CT’s mention on a previous post of the new air conditioner we just had to buy. It was a painful experience, but in the scheme of things it was something we had to do in order to “maintain” this home. Here’s a pic of the massive building-sized heat pumping robot terminator fandroid:

Over the past few months, CT and I have been thinking a lot about the things we have bought and surrounded ourselves with, and the lengths at which we have to work and stress the hell out just to “maintain” all of these things. In American society, it seems like our idea of standard of living can simply be boiled down to making sure you make enough money, virtually any way you can, in order to surround yourself with stuff you probably don’t really need. For a lot of us, that means working a soul-sucking and intrinsically meaningless job that causes us daily sadness and fear.

I’ve thought a ton about what it is that I need. I know I need CT. I know I need to eat everyday, and have some kind of indoor human habitat. I need to do work that has some kind of redeeming purpose, where I can be creative. I need to feel free and happy. That’s it.

Does a big screen TV fit into my needs? No. Do I have one? Yes. Do I need to own a huge house and fill it with furniture? No. These things can be super fun, but I don’t need them.

This being said, CT and I are going to begin our journey towards minimalism. We have chosen to not be held hostage by our things, and choose for the rest of our lives to be more of a journey. What does this mean? Well, that really remains to be seen. I think the answer to that might be different for all of us. Anyone else having the same feelings?

New Truck = New Area Rug

How’s that for a math equation!  The reality is, with our other car, a Nissan Versa hatchback, there was a limit to what we could jam in there.  We had two occasions at Home Depot where we wheeled our purchase out to the parking lot, popped the hatch and realized we needed to rent the Home Depot delivery truck.  This is partially due to the way the hatch of the Versa undulates (not a great design feature, I’d rather see a wide-mouth type design where essentially the whole back lifts up) and partially due to my boundless optimism for fitting things in the car.

So, when The Truck came on to the scene, I immediately started planning for the large items that were missing in my life.  And one of those was an area rug for the living room.  I found a mini-jackpot on the local Craigslist with a posting for a piece of carpet in need of binding/edge help for only $25.  Based on the picture, the colors looked interesting and the size looked large.  So I took that $25 dollar gamble and our living room got a new rug.


Shenanigan thanks us – he is always lounging on the new rug and thoroughly sniff tested each square inch when we brought it in.  Our other dog, Sophie, who we had to put to sleep earlier this year was the rug destroyer, peeing on each, any and every rug we had ever put in any of our homes.  We wondered if Shenanigan may want to assume the mantle but it’s been thankfully pee-free for the month or so we’ve had it around.


There are two edges that aren’t bound – you can see one of them in the right side of the image above.  The other unbound edge we hid under the sofa.  I don’t think I will invest any additional dollars to add back any binding – I gave the visible edge a nice haircut when we installed it and it has survived a few vacuumings so I think we’re good to go.  This isn’t exactly a priceless Persian or hand-knotted dhurrie – the reality is we have one old and really furry dog who tracks in copious amounts of sand from our godforsaken backyard and so this rug will be great for our high-abuse family.  I have been kind of itching to re-touch our paintings to edit out the green and tie in to the rug a little more… we shall see what in the living room survives the next re-do.

Cheers – CT

Life with Art

The universe seems to be sending a message lately … one that I’m not sure we’re all receiving.  Losing Prince so soon after the also untimely passing of David Bowie is a cruel reminder that no matter our level of cultural impact or creative endeavor, we all pass on from this life at sometime, either sooner or later.  At the same time, I find myself all too easily sucked into the world happening inside my phone rather than present in this physical place.  And so, in light of the omnipresent reality that life is indeed fleeting, and that I shouldn’t worry what others may think of my attempt at modern art, here is our latest foray.

Plus, we needed something for these big blank walls.

Pardon the dog fort in the corner, Shenanigan had managed to get every one of his blankets and pillows and “things” all piled up in one princess and the pea sort of pile.

So JT and I made these big canvases from scratch – we bought and cut the lumber, screwed together a frame, stretched canvas over it (cut from a dropcloth from Home Depot), gessoed it until it resembled a store-bought artist canvas and then watched some YouTube tutorials (especially the Peter Dranitsin tutorials like this one) and set up a paint workshop in the garage.

JT and I picked out the paint colors together and then set to work.  He did one of the canvases and I did the other – can you guess which of us did which one?  (We’ve been keeping it a secret.)  Without meaning it, they came out with some elements that remind me of South Mountain in our backyard.

IMG_6169

You might remember from one of my last posts that we originally intended to hang the art on the wall that has the new giant TV on it.  And we had the Danish daybeds downstairs.  But in true Living Analog form, we shook it all up, moved the daybeds to the music room and ordered a new sofa from Gus Modern.  And once the new sofa arrived, our 32″ TV looked so sad, so we brought in the 55″ monster.

The new sofa, the Margot, has been great.  It came with a set of both brass and black legs so we can change those out later if we want.  In our original ideas for the first floor layout, we thought we would wall off the wet bar and turn it into a pantry.  The TV would then have hung on that new infill.  However one day a new kitchen remodel idea came to me and it involves mostly demolishing this thing and so we went ahead and hung the TV to account for the new floor plan and future (very future) kitchen reno. I’ll share more in a blog post about the great floor plan switcheroo.

Here’s another view of the room.  I’m still debating on what else to hang/do to the TV wall and also I eventually want to switch out the record storage.  We need to find a bench for the dining room table too but it’s a weird dimension (it has to be 42″ long to sit inside the table legs) so we might end up making that as well.

IMG_6299

So, to conclude a strange and rambling post, remember to stop and smell the roses.  Or paint yourself some art.  Or switch around your whole living room plan when a better idea comes your way.  Life’s too short to get hung up on the comparisons and worries.  At least that is what I am telling myself.  Cheers – CT

1975 Fender Precision Bass with Jazz Bass Neck

Sometimes getting clear dates on vintage guitars and basses is a mess. It’s an easy enough question; “what year was this made?” It’s not unreasonable to think doing a little research for about 20 minutes on the internet will answer it for you, but in a lot of cases (especially this one) the ride towards the truth is damn bumpy.

I came across this on craigslist, which was advertised as a 1976 Fender Precision Bass with Jazz Bass neck. Lot’s of parts had been replaced years ago, but with the first look I knew I could sell it. Sometimes mojo and sheer coolness make up for a ton of non-original parts. I’ll pocket that one for a future blog perhaps.

IMG_3345

The Story:
I was told that the original owner ordered this bass from Fender with an ash P-Bass body and a Jazz Bass neck. The previous owner took the bass to a reputable, Fender-licensed shop to have a new identical label placed on the headstock. Before Fender would release the label, the guitar had to be verified to be original, which it was, based on the details and serial numbers present.

I come across intriguing stories like this all the time. I know that back in the day you could call up the factory and order guitars however you wanted them. The major Detroit car makers did the same thing at the same time.

My thing is (I guess it’s a thing? What’s a thing, really?) I can’t really believe these things until I investigate myself. In a lot of cases these dudes don’t want you popping the neck and pickguard off to look at dating codes, so when negotiating a price you have to take that into consideration. I got a great deal on this one so I sprung for it.

The Facts:

Here’s where I turn into Professor Propeller-Head and you’ll have to pay attention to the details.

Around 1976, Fender started what we consider today to be the modern serial number system. It’s pasted on the headstock and the first two characters tell you the year (S7 = 1977, E1 = 1981). This is generally accepted to be the year the guitar was made, and you have little to worry about unless the neck doesn’t match up with the body or other shit like that.

So the guy whom I bought it from claimed it was a 1976. Great. That means the serial number is on the headstock….but wait…he didn’t like how “old” it looked so he did a pro refin job on the headstock, and had the label replaced with one identical. Nothing against this guy- he was nice…but why oh why do people to this?

So here is a pic of the “identical label” that was replaced. Notice anything? The label is actually a label from the early 70’s era (up through 1975).

Early 70's Era Label

Early 70’s Era Label

This led me to think that what I had here was not in fact a 76, but likely a 75 or earlier. Time to pop the neck off, and look at the date code on the heel:

IMG_3321

The code on the neck heel reads (from what I can tell) 02011713

Generally this means:
02 – Jazz Bass
01 – Rosewood Fingerboard
17 – Week code
1 – 1971
3 – Wednesday

1971. What the hell?

Here’s where you start banging your head against the wall.

It’s known that sometimes with these Fender neck heel date codes the last two numbers were transposed, so there’s a good possibility that the “3” actually represents 1973. It’s also possible that the numbers are faded enough that I’m reading them wrong. Take a look at the picture.

The neck plate serial number reads 508162, placing the date around 1973, 1974. I’m not a huge fan on relying on a removable part to determine the date of the guitar body, but in this case the date matches up to the era of the neck.

IMG_3339

Going a little further, the neck pocket, while not having any date codes to read, does have period-correct quality assurance markings. The name “FRANK” is the name of a dude that worked in the Fender factory and shows up on other period-matching guitars and basses.

IMG_3322

This is a huge hassle, and you might wonder, as I have, why Fender didn’t take better care in providing trackable dates?

Look- the answer is that these guitars were made in a mass-production factory environment. The folks putting them together grabbed parts from boxes, and it wasn’t uncommon to have a year-old neck slapped onto a new body. They worked with what was around. They also didn’t know that there would be nerds like you and me desperately working to curate and determine specific years of manufacture. They simply weren’t in the business of making that clear and traceable.

The bottom line is I could determine with some certainty that this was a body and neck from the same era. For Reverb posting purposes I called it a 1975, but the the fact is I don’t have a clue exactly what year it was assembled and sold.

IMG_3332

Why go through all of this? Well for one I can’t assess the value and place an accurate and fair price until I play this “who-the-hell-are-you” game. The biggest reason though is this is EXACTLY what sellers like me are responsible for. You have to commit to due diligence and make sure people know the full story. The folks I sell to aren’t collectors or high rollers- they’re dudes and ladies like me who don’t make a ton of money, but want and frankly deserve to play cool vintage guitars.

Just call me Ray Zalinsky: I sell guitars to the American working man because that’s who I am and that’s who I care about.

I sold this via my Reverb store to a fellow in Georgia, seemed to really like it. He asked for a copy of the research, and I was happy to comply.