Stars, Guitars and Gear Trash Talk

Now two weekends post Super Bowl. F1 is quietly gearing up, though there is nothin overly interesting until March 26-28, and it is now somehow in the authoritarian hellhole of Bahrain, where F1 should not even be, instead of Australia. So there is not much in the Trash Talk world right not. But it seems a talk thread might be useful for decompression.

There is one thing of note, the wonderful Naomi Osaka has just won her fourth slam at the Australian. Next to Serena and Venus, Osaka already has more Slams than any other woman currently playing. Doubt she will really catch up Serena (23), much less Margaret Smith Court (24), but a hell of a start on her career, and she can really play. Some real competition in that rarified air though, with Fraulein Forehand Steffi Graff at 22, Helen Wills Moody at 19, and Martina and Chrissy both at 18. Osaka is a real breath of fresh air.

A while back, somebody mentioned guitars in the middle of one of Rayne’s threads and I, wrongfully, responded and helped hijack her post’s comment section. My bad. So, since we do do music here too, and in lieu of nothing else, a real post for such discussion.

So, without further adieu, here is what is in the comfy confines of Casa de Bmaz. The main axe is a black Fender Strat. It plugs into a Crate Twin Twelve mostly tube amp. No, the Crate was not my choice, it literally got thrown in for $100 or something by the guy I bought the pristine (seriously, the thing had the original price tag on it and came in a hard Gator case) Stratocaster. That was impossible to turn down, but since I don’t play much, has been sufficient to keep me from procuring the Marshall half stack I have always wanted. So, yay and ugh at the same time.

Also have an acoustic, it is an Olympia, which is made by Fender. It could use some new strings about now, but it is really pretty nice. It is a hand me down from when Mrs. Bmaz decided she wanted to learn to play guitar and bought it. I told her bar chords were necessary, and hard, especially on an acoustic. That foray didn’t last too long, and while not what I would have bought on my own, it is now mine, and, again, it is not bad at all. Don’t play it much either.

But wait, there are more instruments here!. We also have a handmade beautiful harp. No, not the huge variety, but the thing is really sweet. Another Mrs. Bmaz acquisition. Thing is, Lady Bmaz is, by a light year, the only real musician here. She has played piano since was a small child, and was at one point a real bonafide prodigy. She can not play for a year and still whip off concert level stuff.

Which brings up what got me going on this music equipment thing. A piano. A friend is aging and cleaning up some stuff and has just given us a Steinway baby grand. Have not even gotten it yet, and it will cost a small fortune to get professionally moved. We already had a Kawai baby, but this is too good to pass up.

Am sure Rosalind will drop in, and so must mention the ukulele here. Think it may have come across on the Lusitania or something, and at some point got a fraternity tattoo on by an in-law. It was rescued from said in-law’s basement when they were moving on out. Think Rosalind looked at it, if not tried to play it. That is more than I have ever done.

Music today is Bite The Bullet by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, from American Stars and Bars, and it is spectacular. So, what gear you have, and why? Chat it up.

169 replies
  1. madwand says:

    Yeah and Naomi had to dispatch Serena before getting to Brady who played well in the beginning but was obviously outclassed by Osaka in the final.

  2. Bobby Gladd says:

    I mostly play my killer jumbo Takamine acoustic 12-string these days. Sounds better than Taylors costing 3x more. Love it.

    Now that I have lots of time to play, though, my worsening Parkinson’s gives me increasing fretboard fits (same w/ the computer keyboards, ugh).

    I also have a beautiful blue sunburst Gibson SG Supreme, a Fender acoustic 12 string, a Peavey T-20 bass, and a nylon string acoustic. Have an assortment of Roland amps anymore.

    • bmaz says:

      Takamines are great. Taylors, Martins and a couple of others are fantastic. But, as you say, the relative cost sink is a problem.

    • Zinsky says:

      I also have a jumbo Takamine 12-string jumbo that I adore! I have been playing 50+ years, and also play mandolin, harmonica, recorder and a little piano (mainly chords). I currently own about 12 guitars in addition to the Takamine, most notably a candy-apple red 1969 Les Paul and a couple of Martin 6-string acoustics. I also have a couple Yamaha acoustics, an Epiphone resonator and a late-model Gretsch hollow-body Brian Setzer (orange, of course). I have played in a few bands over the years but now I am retired and mainly do coffeehouses or open mike nights. Every summer we have an outdoor music party in our large backyard, complete with stage, and invite amateurs and pros alike to perform under the beautiful Minnesota starry sky. Heaven.

    • rdpayne says:

      I have a Takamine acoustic electric I bought at a steep discount in1975. Had to use medium gauge strings to keep it from buzzing. I also have a 1960 something Guild F20 I got in 1971. In about 1976 I had both worked over by Greg Macias, an expert luthier in NorCal. The results were fantastic, but both need work again. Amazing number of opportunities to play here in KRV, glad when I can vaccinated, and play and sing with friends.

  3. bmaz says:

    I’d like to note that there were pictures I tried to upload, but my website here would not allow me to. Smarter people than me are working on it!

      • rosalind says:

        amen! my second SMB tour Steve would come off stage and head down to the dressing room w/his guitar, then unstrap and hand it off to me to take back up to the guitar tech who was convinced i was gonna trip and destroy it. every night there he was with a freaked out look as he rushed to retrieve the precious cargo from my undeserving hands.

  4. Lawrence Hall says:

    I own the obligatory black Strat, Gibson Les Paul Gold Top ’69 re-issue, Gibson ES 137, Gibson J 185 (beautiful jumbo acoustic w/ maple back and sides), Parker Nitefly Deluxe, and more cheapies. Cranked through Rivera Clubster Royale w/ 1-12″, Fender Hot Rod Deville w/ 2-12″, Fender Quad Reverb w/ 4-12″, and small Vox practice amp. I used to play professionally but now I’m retired and spend all my time writing, producing, and recording. Peace out!

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, obligatory Black Strat is right. Back when I used to actually play just a little, that was the one (thanks Mr. Clapton) I always wanted, but never had. Now that I don’t play much at all, I have one, and it is mostly nice decoration.

      • Nat says:

        I never comment, but must on this topic. My obligatory black Strat is a late 90s MIM that was cheap and a mess. When I cleaned it up I discovered it is a factory multi-paint, black over metallic hot pink. So, now I cannot pass up any black Fender without checking for the tell-tale signs of something interesting under the top few coats of paint. I have found 3 others- a MIK Bullet from the early 90s (a pinkish red), a CY Squier from ’99 (multiple layers of green, purple and white), and a ’92 Ibanez bass (several different shades of blue). Clearly someone had fun in the Squier paint booth that day in ’99.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Nat” or a variant if Nathan, Nathaniel, Natalie, or Natalia. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  5. Peterr says:

    Piano, recorder, flute, trombone, and a shekere at our place — but the main instrument around here is the voice. Both our extended families going back generations are filled with musicians: organists, choir directors, choir members, composers, music teachers, and folks who just love to sing. Church music, popular music, folk music, classical music, opera . . .

    [And that’s what’s hardest for me about this pandemic: no singing in church!]

    • ceebee says:

      With you in the vocal desert, peterr. Prefer shapenote occasions, which demand good singing quarters.
      Suggestion to post-host: Student paper of my long-past days had a SPARTS section. I approved of the mashup then, and still do.

    • Eureka says:

      Similarishy (keyboard, acoustic guitar, flute, recorder, saxophone — and let’s not forget the maracas), music (math) in the family (the drum kits, electrics/amps are in others’ homes, lol), but the voice is more important. And the voice is also broken. Just yesterday I was conducting a periodic review of that problem and how to fix it without terrifying the neighbors that a cat is being somewhere strangled. (Answer: not possible. Though they may be comforted upon realizing that cats do not intersperse scales in their vocal exercise.)

      Singing was my favorite part of church as a little, you’ve no doubt lots of kids who join your frustration.

      • Eureka says:

        Hyperbole aside, I’d wondered if anyone else picked up a glitchy spot in their range/at a register boundary from pandemic disuse but it doesn’t seem like many fussy vocalists have joined the chat.

  6. tjallen says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing Alonso, being an old man myself and losing skills daily. Also rooting for Daniel in the McLaren. I’m still a long-suffering Williams fan, but the car has been so bad for so long, I need someone to cheer for.

    • PeterS says:

      I’ll be interested to see how Michael’s son does, and will be rooting for Russell after what he did in the Mercedes.

  7. bmaz says:

    Agree with both of those. The hard times at Williams are depressing. The last they were even halfway competitive was at the end of Ruben’s career post Ferrari. And that was not that competitive. Still one of the best liveries around, just need the equipment to go with it. Ricciardo and Norris at McLaren is kind of exciting.

    • PeterS says:

      Talking of Alonso, you remember crashgate from Singapore 2008 when Piquet deliberately crashed, letting Alonso win. Then Piquet said he only did it because Briatore and Symonds told him to. Later Symonds said it was actually Piquet’s idea.

      Was that contradiction ever explained? My evidence-free theory is that Piquet just said it as a joke, “hey, perhaps I should crash to help Fernando”, and then the not entirely trustworthy Briatore took over.

      P.S. I’m not sure I’d trust Alonso either. But he’s a great driver, no doubt.

      • bmaz says:

        Ever sufficiently and positively explained? No. And, yes, it was a tad of a stain. But, keep in mind, that was Picquet Jr, not senior (Senior was one hell of a driver and world champion).

        I’d bet on team orders. Jr. did not hatch that up on his own, nor was ever in a place to do so.

  8. 90’s Country says:

    1. A 1946 Martin D-18 that my best friend Greg Wutschke bought on Balboa Island circa 1971. It had been reconstructed and refinished after the headstock snapped off from the neck. Of course they didn’t tell him about that. Greg was murdered in Berkeley in 1973 and his mom gave me his guitar a few years later. It sits in my bedroom in a case with a bumper sticker that used to say “I didn’t vote for the President,” a reference to Nixon’s 1972 re-election. The Martin has had songs written on it and about it and is as much a part of my life as I am, if that makes sense. I don’t know where either of us will go when I die.
    2. A 1966 or so Gibson Country Western acoustic that I bought used and beaten into submission by someone who’d installed a pickup and appeared to have played it in bars. It had a fancy pick guard with sharp points on it that kept coming unglued and pricking my little finger. So I took off the pick guard and now there’s a hole where it used to be. The guitar sounds great and looks great in a Willie Nelson sort of way, and it’s the one I reach for when I reach for one.
    3, I’ll lump two together: a 1998 Martin D-15 all mahogany and a 2005 Gibson K-45. I bought both of these new and have mixed feelings about each.
    4. A Jerry Jones electric baritone that I bought at Corner Music circa 2000. It’s like a Danelectro. Jerry Jones had a repair shop in Nashville when I first got here and he did some work on the D-18. In the 90’s he married the attorney who’d negotiated a great co-publishing contract for me with Starstruck Music, which was owned by Reba McEntire and her husband. I liked Jerry and my attorney, not to mention Reba, and I liked the guitar so I bought it.
    5. A mini-Taylor that I loaned to a neighbor’s daughter who wanted to learn how to play. This was maybe six or seven years ago. The neighbor called one day wracked with guilt because there’d been an accident, her daughter had dropped the guitar and it had a gash in it. I told her not to worry about it. We were out of town for a good while and when we got back the neighbor returned it in its cool little Taylor guitar bag. I put it back where it’d been without opening up the bag and checking out the damage. It’s still there and I still haven’t looked.
    There’s been lots of others through the year, like the jumbo Takamine I bought used at Corner and wrote a bunch of country hits on, that I leave in Colorado, and the Taylor jumbo cutaway that I wrote I Hope You Dance on. I’d buy a guitar and use it till I figured out why I didn’t like it then sell it and get another. Those days are past, now I just have what I have.

    • Peterr says:

      Good on you for lending out the mini-Taylor to a kid, even with the potential for what ended up happening. I hope the daughter wasn’t so mortified that she gave up music!

      Passing on the love of making music is an incredible way to bless the world. I ran into an old music teacher of mine a couple of years ago at a conference I was co-leading, and had a chance to say a very public “thanks” to someone who blessed and shaped my musical life 40 years ago.

    • Zinsky says:

      I feel like I just read a very poignant autobiography, instead of a comment on an on-line blog. Thank you for sharing the moving imagery and life stories that you associate with your impressive arsenal of guitars!

  9. Geoguy says:

    This is for the F1 followers. (I don’t know anything about the sport, just remember the article.) The Economist magazine put their statistical voodoo on it and concluded that Juan Manuel Fangio was the best driver to date. It’s in the Oct. 17, 2020 edition.

    • bmaz says:

      Can’t view the entire article. But, FWIW, Fangio himself stated he thought Jimmy Clark was the best driver. That was before Senna actually got into top equipment, and I bet Fangio would have included Senna too, but will never know.

      To my eye, I would go with Clark and Senna as the best ever. To take nothing away from Fangio, who was one of the nicest all time greats in sports, much less racing, ever.

      • Bill Dunlap says:

        Jim Clark was the only driver in a top level competition that I could see was faster than the rest. It was at Monza in the mid-60s. He had a puncture and was making up lost ground. I was on the inside of one of Monza’s sweeping right-handers and Clark was drifting (back when F1 cars could do that) through the turn every lap. A young (maybe rookie) Jackie Stewart was trying to keep up and kissed the Armco barrier with his left rear and had to retire.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh man, that was when Monza still had the high banking. The stories from that track are legendary. But, yes, Clark just seemed faster, though I never got a chance to see him live. Am envious.

      • John Mc says:

        I happened to be a spectator at the F2 race in Hockenheim when Clark crashed in ’68. Sad, sad day for racing. Agree he might have been the best ever.

  10. pdaly says:

    In high school, I was a woodwind player (flute) in a high-powered youth orchestra affiliated with The New England Conservatory of Music. We performed classical music including Mahler’s 4th Symphony at local venues as well as far-flung places such as the Krakow Philharmonic concert hall in Poland and The Große Musikvereinssaal in Vienna, Austria.

    But in adulthood I’m surrounded exclusively* by stringed instruments: 
a classical guitar, a violin, a 34-stringed Celtic lever harp that was too heavy for my mother to maneuver, and an upright Steinway. I enjoy plucking out tunes even if I haven’t achieved the same facility on these instruments acquired later in life.

    *the piano is both a percussion and stringed instrument, but I try not to bang on the keys :-)

      • pdaly says:

        Good to see the name GBYSO again!

        Did you go on the tour to Israel?
        You may have heard they shortened the name from Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra to BYSO in 2007.

        I was in the GBYSO’s repertory orchestra a bit later, in the 1980s. I cannot recall the name of my conductor. My junior year in high school I was over committed: MYWE at NEC on Fridays, Youth Chamber Orchestra (now YPO) at NEC on Saturdays, and GBYSO at B.U. on Sundays, but it was a great musical education.

        • mass interest says:

          I was with GBYSO in the late sixties, and no touring. Just performed at Symphony Hall.

          Like you, overextended in HS (happily, in my case). Saturday AMs at BU for GBYSO rehearsals, then over to NEC for lessons, classes, and schmoozing for the rest of the day. Sunday AM gigs (church musician), Sunday PM chamber orchestra rehearsals. And everything musical and theatre-related I could fit in during the week after school.

          Those were the days, were they not?

          • posaune says:

            Wonderful to read about the BYSO here.
            Not from Boston, but did play at Interlochen.
            We’re a brass family: Conn88H trombone, Holton French Horn, Yamaha B-flat trumpet, Bach C trumpet. Yes, we play Salvation Army trios at Christmas. They have great part books for any combination!

  11. Ron says:

    “Next to Serena and Venus, Osaka already has more Slams than any other woman currently playing.”

    Not quite. Kim Clijsters (4 slams) is currently an active player again.

    • bmaz says:

      She did not play in The Australian, and has no announced schedule for the rest of the year, much less majors, so no.

      • Ron says:

        A matter of definition. She is active in the sense that she came out of retirement last year and has not re-retired. She is listed by the WTA as active, albeit with a ranking of 1041. No big deal, of course. I just mentioned it because I awoke this morning, looked up the result of the overnight match (overnight for me, in PST), looked at my twitter feed for commentary, and Jon Wertheim just happened to ask the question of which active women have won 4 or more majors, later answering with your list plus Clijsters. I wondered myself if this could be true, though if Wertheim says so, who am I to question him?

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah that was not to take anything away from Clijsters, she was seriously good. Taking a look, she also won a couple of doubles slams too. Had forgotten about that. The thing I really remember was her coming back after she looked long gone and retired. Then won a couple more majors, and at the US Open no less. I was shocked to hear from you that she was playing again. Frankly, given her athleticism, she could probably beat many current players, even if doubt she can pull off another major. Would kind of like to see her play again though.

  12. P J Evans says:

    I grew up in a house with a piano, so I can play at amateur level (that is, more than “Chopsticks”). I miss having a playable instrument, but they don’t seem to believe that people under 5ft6 should play keyboards (I want spinet-size keys, dammit!)

    I have some sheet music that’s chorded for ukulele – it’s novelty songs (“Soft-Boiled Ballads – a Collection of Heartwrecking Songs” from the early 30s).

    • Eureka says:

      It was profoundly sad when my grandmother’s (‘the family’) piano had to go. I do have a keyboard but life lately has taken me away from music, even though I’d reprioritized it not so long ago. So I’d say I miss the mood to simply play around with a playable instrument. (Been on my mind a bit lately, timely post.)

  13. rosalind says:

    Yamaha P-115 Piano, weighted keys. Soo much fun to play.

    Ukes! 3 acoustics then my baby – a custom tenor electric uke shaped like a little fender guitar. *sigh* achieved feedback w/my little 50 watt amp.

    I’m isolating alone during Covid and one weird phenomenon is I’ve had no urge to play any of my instruments. The thing that brings me comfort and joy I have been actively repelled by. I actually sat down at my piano for the first time in almost a year just a few days ago. Very stiff fingers. The next day tried again, and the muscle memory began to come back. For those who play, I cannot recommend the Bruce Springsteen 1973-1980 Keyboard Songbook more highly. Note for note transcriptions, and when it comes to Roy Bittan that is a hella lotta notes. The repeated octaves is like putting your hand on a torture rack. But oh what fun to pound out those songs.

    I will get back to my ukes. Soon.

    • mass interest says:

      My lockdown waterloo has been the Brahms A Major Intermezzo (Op. 118, #2). Because of a right-hand contracture, have tackled re-fingering – trying to overcome technique is nasty!

      Like you, I’ve found my desire to play lost in the woods somewhere. But, have been forcing myself because I figure there will be a world beyond Covid.

      • rosalind says:

        ack! 5 watt. and am reminded now of when i first plugged in to the music store amp in the music room with my teacher – picked up a spanish language radio station. had fun doing a mash up with the mexican tunes.

        and now i have “50 thousand watts out of Mexico” on my brain, here is Dave Alvin w/ David Hidalgo and Falco Jimenez doing “Border Radio”:

  14. dimmsdale says:

    Oh goody, a gear thread! I’ve been whacking away at music all my life, semi-professionally (and occasionally pro). I got slowed down this year by a thumb CMC operation that has left me reconstructing what (little) technique I had, both on winds and strings–very frustrating that in every practice session the pain seems to intrude differently.

    Too many woodwinds to list, but I’ve been fortunate to acquire outstanding examples of just about everything in the flute-clarinet-sax spectrum. Strings-wise, a bought-new ’75 Strat in the natural finish that has aged to a deep honey color, a ’74 P-bass, a student-line Ramirez classical (bought in Spain), a ’75 Gurian rosewood size 3 (Paul Simon recorded with one for years), and a 2020 Gibson SG. The P-bass goes thru a Polytone Mini-brute 3 (the hip “club” setup in the 80s if you couldn’t find an Ampeg B-15), I have a crappy Yamaha solid-state practice amp, and a Dwarf mini-amp that makes more static than sound any more.

    I’ve had most of these guys for so long that I can almost chart parts of my life depending on which instrument I’m looking at, so it’s like being surrounded by old friends (or in some cases old ghosts when I think about influential deceased musicians that possessed me to buy this or that). The Gurian is a special prize because a) it’s pretty pristine for a ’75-vintage and b) he used to have a shop here in town; I also have a 1/3-finished Gurian-pattern classical that I started building in 1971 in a class he taught at the Y–hope to finish it one of these days, and still have all the tools and wood scraps it took to build it (my heirs and assigns are going to have a fine old time cleaning out THIS apartment, that’s for sure).

    As for F1, I kind of lost interest the more insect-like the cars became, undoubtedly a character defect of some kind on my part, but there ya go. Actually owning a car in the city is the epitome of nuts, but I’ve been looking at every Caterham/Lotus 7 video I can find, and that would be my ride, if life had turned out a little different.

    I will just add quickly that COVID has put the kibosh on playing-out seriously or even hanging out with friends and running thru woodwind quartets/trios etc.–never got into a guitar-playing circle, but post-COVID I hope to. What are you guys doing for playing opportunities, either before COVID or during?

    Thanks for the thread, Bmaz, and hope the Steinway is everything you wish for!

    • MB says:

      During covid, have discovered low-latency internet jamming websites, in particular JamKazam (but there are others), that is about 80-85% as good as playing in person, which is not bad! I have a Lamberson flute (made in Oskaloosa, Iowa) which is an outstanding instrument, not that well known among flute brands, and not manufactured anymore…

      • dimmsdale says:

        I keep hearing about JamKazam, but I’m hoping by the time I get around to downloading it EITHER all my friends will be vaxxed up and we can resume in-person OR some tech whiz genius will have found a way to solve latency issues. I am enjoying the spate of home-made chamber sessions people are making on YouTube, where everyone plays to a guide track, records themselves on audio and video, and some plucky video person edits them all together. I’m a particular fan of Nicolas Baldeyrou (French clarinetist) who’s doing some brilliant (and well played) group videos like that.

        Lambersons are supposed to be great instruments–and a friend of mine plays a Spencer Eudy c-flute, so I’m sure you get the same kinds of responses he does: “You play a WHAT?? Can you spell that for me?”

        • MB says:

          There’s no “solving” of latency issues, only the achievement of “best-case” optimization. If the connection between musicians has less than 20 ms of latency between them, that’s ideal, but rarely found. Most of my JamKazam connections are between 20ms-30ms, which is playable, but it drives drummers a little crazy because they have to push the beat to keep the tempo from slowing down. That’s just the nature of audio information traveling around the internet.

          There’s open-source software out there called Jacktrip that’s actually better than JamKazam, but it requires one musician to be the “jam administrator”, which involves setting up a server that the other musicians connect to. Luckily a drummer I know is a retired IT guy so it was in his wheelhouse to do all that. The sound quality is better than JamKazam, but latency issues still rear their head sometimes even in this setup.

          Never heard of Spencer Eudy, but I found an obituary for him and it mentions his flutes:

          • punaise says:

            Early in the covid era I had the good fortune to participate (drums) in some virtual music cover song projects with some more talented folks. Garage Band level technology. Lots of frustration with timing, finally learned to embrace the click track.

  15. ptayb says:

    My oldest is Gibson archtop I picked up in TX in the 70s (trapese tailpiece, gibson mother-of-pearl inlay on the headstock, V neck profile). It was old then and beat up but has the most beautiful even tone of any guitar I’ve ever had.
    Mostly playing a Collings Eastside Jazz LC with a Charlie Christian pickup or a Fender Tele Thinline through a Carr Sportsman or 66 Fender Princeton. I found the Princeton in pawn shop – no reverb but with a great tremolo.The only thing wrong with it was a broken power plug.

    My goal is to be a really good player before I die. A very long life is predicted.

    • vertalio says:

      Hey, me too: a 1931 Gibson L-5 arch top. Nice wide neck, for the fat-fingered, and such sweet action. Small body, so not very loud, but a joy to play. Then I bought a Seagull which is nice, because it has a slightly wider fretboard too (Martins too narrow for me) and a built-in pickup. A ’60’s Silvertone for slide and the beach. And a Japanese knockoff Gibson-y Mando, which is a ton of fun. As a Ry Cooder acolyte, had to at least own one mandolin. Oh: and a pawnshop banjo from Virginny.

      • Atomic Shadow says:

        Thanks for taking a look. Yeah, That lizard came from Sante Fe, New Mexico a few years back. In the Before Times. A local artist there works in the style of Australian Aboriginal art. For some reason I was feeling it, and brought it home.

        The studio has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. I am a drummer by training, but began making experimental electronic music some years ago. My work is inspired by the early pioneers of electronic music.

  16. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Funny thing happened to me while slogging forward as a solitary amateur music maker, in 2014 a local art appraiser pulled an artwork of mine off my step mother’s wall, turned to me, and, said, “This is interesting, but it is unsigned. What can you tell me about it?” The digital artwork was made by me, a hobbyist dabbler—as it was also with music—so she surprised me later when she suggested I keep in touch about my artwork.

    Several years later she auctioned off a large iterated photograph Welcome to the Mardi Gras for ‘too much’ money. At this point I decided a year after retiring from my gig in organizational development to become a working artist at the age of 60. At the time I had no idea at all about what this means or would come to mean. I also made the decision to stop playing pedal and lap steel guitar, and a bunch of other stuff. Making music and reading have always been my main time sinks. Although everything ‘string and key’ is now silent, I haven’t done the big load out. Every now and then I’ll tune up the krar, a pentatonic string instrument from Ethiopia, or grab an (electric) thumb piano, and mindlessly hypnotize myself. Several year ago I bought an Epiphone Les Paul Jr. copy for an irresistable $50 at a garage sale, put new strings on it, and, silenced it.

    The big circle of my obscure life traces the arc of music and sound, and, not for nothing does my art “compose conductions.”

  17. P J Evans says:

    My brother has two acoustics (6 and 12-string) and a piano (upright; it’s a smallish house). He sent our mother’s piano to someone who wanted it (it’s not a fine piano: post-war, aluminum soundboard, needs an experienced tuner to keep it happy, but came with a matching bench with a small storage space for music). I think he has most of the music she had, but won’t swear to it. (I have my own collection of paper: piano, guitar, clarinet.)

  18. nightcrawler54 says:

    Longtime lurker, first-time poster. I generally come to this site to listen, not talk, but guitars are something I know a little about. I have a few, including a 1961 Les Paul SG, a 1964 ES 330, and a 1965 Silvertone (Sears private label of a 2-pickup Danelectro – great for slide). I still play them all, though a bit less over the past year due to the covid challenges we all face. Thanks for the post, bmaz.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi, and welcome Nightcrawler! Please come to talk more often. That you still have a Silvertone is great. Now that is a collector’s item. Which model?

      On a related note, the only remaining full Sears store here closed a couple of years ago. It is weird not having any Sears.

      • nightcrawler54 says:

        I admit, I had to look it up. According to someone posting one on eBay (with the original amp-in-case, which I don’t have), it’s model #1457. I bought it in the late 1980s for $100, which was a pretty good deal at the time. Those Danelectro lipstick pickups have a really distinct sound, like a dirty Telecaster. Again, great for slide.

  19. rosalind says:

    and congrats bmaz, on your new bouncing baby grand. you and the missus are one of the rare souls welcoming a baby grand into your home. when we had to clear out the family home, the biggest dilemma was finding a home for my grandmother’s baby grand. nobody but nobody would touch it. couldn’t give it away. retirement homes didn’t want it. too big for modern day living.

    finally, we learned of a neighbor who was a piano teacher. she came over, fell in love, and packed it up and away. we love that students are getting to learn on grandma’s piano.

    • pdaly says:

      I wish I had room for a grand, too!

      Your comment reminded me of a family I knew when growing up. They were a musical family. The 4 children and both parents each played piano plus a second musical instrument. Fortunately, they lived in a large Victorian house with room for a concert grand in the living room, baby grand in the den, upright in one of the upstairs bedrooms and another in the basement, and a baby grand in the kitchen! They’d jump on the pianos at the same time to play duets, etc through the house.

        • bmaz says:

          We probably have to move the new one here before the old one departs, and not sure what to do with the old one. It does take a bit of room, and not cheap to move. are currently looking for a new home for it. May end up with them nose to nose like those 80’s dueling piano bars. Not for long though, because that is too much room occupied.

          • pdaly says:

            That’s s good problem to have, too many pianos!

            Bmaz, how do you deal with the low humidity levels in AZ?
            I visited Taliesin West in Scottsdale about 20 years ago, and, at the tour guide’s invitation, I played a bit on the grand piano in the semi-outdoor movie theater on the premises.

            Evidently Frank Lloyd Wright preferred Beethoven above all composers, so I attempted the slow movement of the Moonlight Sonata. However, my view of the keys was obstructed by the fall board stuck permanently at a 30 degree angle due to years of exposure to arid air. While there was enough space for the hands to access the piano keys I lost my way several measures in without visual feedback. Thus my Arizona musical debut was cut short!

        • pdaly says:

          Yes, they were like a modern day Von Trapp family.
          The daughter, who is my age, held her summer wedding reception outdoors at the family house.

          Trumpet was her second instrument (which she played as expertly as the piano), and I smile remembering her in her wedding dress standing on the diving board of their Olympic sized swimming pool performing a trumpet duet with her father, a lawyer and musical conductor of a local orchestra.

          • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

            What wonderful memories! I know a musical family, too. Their eldest plays the violin, viola and was given a violin by her teacher that had the most glorious tone. She once serenaded me with Gershwin-just walking around the house, playing Rhapsody in Blue.

        • Peterr says:

          Insane is too weak a word!

          I was stifling my laughter at the piano in the upstairs bedroom, but a baby grand in the kitchen put me over the edge.

  20. gulageten says:

    Epiphone Les paul and SG. SG records better but the Les is way easier to play. Although I am a non guitarist. I grew up with piano and then drums, which techniques translate poorly to guitar. Bass is a good compromise, especially when using a pick or playing to the somewhat “piano-like” resonance of my Rickenbacker

      • gulageten says:

        Haha. I never fully found my way back to drums after wandering off. Nowadays I mostly sing and drive the van.

      • punaise says:

        Opposite approach here: started and stayed in the narrow (non-music theory) lane of percussion. Any longings to branch into fully dimensioned music (piano, bass) crashed on the shoals of lack of commitment.

        • posaune says:

          I went to HS with Peter Erskine, an LA percussionist.
          His father was a psychiatrist and said that he started Peter on drums at age five so that he would stop hitting the other kids in kindergarten.

  21. rosalind says:

    and a shout out to my professional musician buds and their spouses who have never spent this much extended time together ever in their relationships. LOL. so far they all are hanging in there, but both sides are very very eager to get live shows rolling again.

  22. John Paul Jones says:

    Don’t play much any more either. And because of that my fingers, naturally, no longer have grooves or calluses; so there is that. Had an Ibanez acoustic many many years ago, but sold it in order to help fund the purchase of a guitar from some guys in Sandpoint, Idaho, Franklin Guitars. It’s got a sweet action and a nice sound that isn’t too bassy. The design, they told me, was based on a 1934 Martin D28, but really it’s pretty much a copy rather than “based on.” Drove to Idaho to pick it up because at the time my parents had retired to a little town about 90 minutes away from Sandpoint.

    Don’t know why I stopped playing and practising, but about twenty years ago I just did. The other day when I opened up the case was dismayed to find that a lot of stuff I thought would be burned into memory were at best only half there.

    Having been following, sort of, some interesting people on YouTube, Josh Turner and his friends and their group, The Other Favourites. I won’t link, but if you’re interested, search for Josh Turner Guitar “And Your Bird Can Sing” which is a cover version they do.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Forgot to add some other gear: a couple of Yamahas – Clavinova CLP-550, which is old old old, and another newer Clavinova, which is Ms Jones keyboard of choice. Still searching for my inner Glenn Gould (or Sviatoslav Richter, whichever arrives first), but can play a few Bach for Beginner pieces. Like another poster, aiming for a long life so my playing, guitar, piano, can come to fruition.

      Had an Ibanez mandolin for a while, but it disappeared a couple of moves back. Spotted an Ovation Breadwinner electric second-hand in a small town music store in 1980 and almost bought it, but couldn’t afford it ($350; more at the time than it is today), and have always regretted not getting it just because the design was so cool.

      • person1597 says:

        Received a 1978 Ovation 1612 in lieu of consulting fees. That and a pignose helped me fantasize about noodlishous reveries…but in spite of lowered action, they remain fantasies nonetheless.

        • person1597 says:

          Alternatively, I cooked up some killer light shows in the 70’s. You might not believe that microsoft usurped one of the best effects for the ubiquitous wait-spinner. But. I. Can. Prove. It. Favorite audience response…”Bring back the Beam!” Damn, it’s awesome when the audience gives it’s approval. Such pure glory is a trip! Fourty years later, the memories are still hauntingly haughty.

    • scribe says:

      A relative used to get project wood out the back door from the scrap bin at Martin; mahogany necks and rosewood fingerboards that somehow weren’t up to spec wound up providing trim material for his smaller projects around the house. Back when they used those materials. Now, some of that wood you can’t get for love or money….

      • dimmsdale says:

        Yeah, I still have some backs & sides sets I got from Gurian’s workshop on Grand St. in the early 70s–East Indian rosewood and Honduras mahogany, and because Michael bought wood for both Gibson and Guild, the stuff he kept for himself was primo. I figured I’d turn out a couple of Martin pattern steel strings after I got the classical finished. Figure I’ve got a few good years left, so it still could happen!

      • 90’s Countrry says:

        A country star (who died of Covid early on) worked at the Gibson plant in Nashville when they were still making acoustics here (the ‘80s) and would sneak out unfinished blems, selling to songwriters (who hired him to sing demos). A friend of mine bought one and took it to Jerry Jones, who turned it into a nice Gibson guitar— without a serial number.

  23. Molly Pitcher says:

    bmaz, thanks for the music/sports post. I have been waiting for this. February 9 Chick Corea died and I wanted to acknowledge his passing. It is hard to choose between all of the wonderful music he made, but this is definitely one of my favorites. I can imagine driving Highway 1 in California overlooking the Pacific behind the wheel of an exceptional sports car with the top down. Thank you Chick.

    This piece is called “Spain”

    • punaise says:

      One of the greats, for sure. I got to see him and Bela Fleck at SF Jazz a few years ago – a real treat.

  24. gmoke says:

    Chickering upright piano with a very nice bass, thank you
    Old “Classic” acoustic guitar I’ve had since I was a teenager
    Two student violins
    English concertina, a Jacky, if you know what that is, invented by the same person who invented the Wheatstone bridge in physics.
    A variety of flutes, penny whistles, and recorders, including one from India, and a Hungarain tilinkó overtone flute
    Harmonicas, both blues and chromatic
    Ukelele strung for playing left-handed (I play the guitar left-handed sometimes too, just turning it over as Libba Cotten did)
    Home-made kalimba
    and a couple of instruments I made as variations of the Malagasy valiha, a chordophone or harp with strings arrayed around a hollow tube

    Life’s too short but if it wasn’t I’d like a full set of Uilleann pipes and a bandoneon but I’ll probably settle for a lyra when I feel the urge.

    I’ve found that if I don’t play music most every day I get sick. Music is magic.

    • dimmsdale says:

      boy do I resonate with your last line! Although in my case, if I don’t practice some instrument or other once a day it feels like I forgot to take a shower, or change my underwear, or something. Post-surgery from my thumb CMC operation I couldn’t play ANYTHING, and it took literally a couple of months before I could even consider it, during which time I was a pretty surly customer. The hiatus really made me appreciate the “magic” part you mentioned, though, and the limited amounts I can play now are especially magical when I get something right.

  25. dude says:

    I have a Martin D-35S. Bought it in the early 1970’s. A college room mate taught me to play folk guitar in my freshman year. At one point I also had a Yamaha 12-string, but I lent it out and it got baked in the back of his station wagon on a road trip. Never played the same. Had another friend who owned a music store and he asked me to visit where the guitars he stocked were made when I took a trip to Japan. I did not speak respectable Japanese, but when I arrived in the nearest city to factory address, I explained to the cab driver where the guitars were made. I was looking for Yamaha, but the cab driver kept saying Suzuki guitar factory. We drove easily 15 miles outside the city and up into the steep mountains of rural Japan. Kept seeing more and more farm buildings, fewer and fewer signs of civilization. Finally came to a cluster of farm buildings that looked like tobacco barns in my home state. There were about a dozen people milling about. Long story short, the barns were full of all sorts of stringed instruments at various stages of construction and these people built them as subcontractors to supplement their farming. They also cast concrete retainer blocks that you see lining Japanese embankments by their mountain roads. Not exactly what I was expecting. Certainly not like the Martin factory in Nazareth. But the guitars were recognizably good instruments. I assume the mandolins were too.

    • posaune says:

      What a wonderful story! mr. posaune really enjoyed it!
      He wants me to ask you what year you took your trip?

      • dude says:

        I would have to dig into a lot of stuff to obtain a certain date. I believe it was 1977 but it might have been on a subsequent trip to Japan around 1981 to 1983. My friend had to close his music store by the late 1980’s. He carried Takamine and Yamaha.

        The taxi driver had better English than I had Japanese. He explained these farmers had a schedule to keep: violins one day, guitars another day, mandolins another day. They received and milled the wood, applied lacquers and “hung them up to dry” in these sheds. They did the necks, fret boards and machine heads in other sheds. I recall all the buildings being open-air. It was a muggy day in October I think. If I am not mistaken, the driver indicated these would be shipped back to the city to for branding and packaging, maybe some high finish work. There were a few complete/finished instruments there, but they may have just been models to guide the production work. One error in my original description was wrong. I wanted to see the Yamaha factory and driver kept referring to it at the Suzuki violin factory, not guitar factory. I infer these workers may have contracted with more than one instrument brand to support themselves.

        I think there is only one design for the retaining wall blocks. There were forms in the ground and the workers would pour the concrete and wait until it cured. Maybe they just built guitars because they had time on their hands.

  26. foggycoast says:

    oh man….
    1967 Gibson ES-335
    1974 Strat black hard-tail
    1974 Gibson SG
    1978 Gibson The Paul
    1980 Rickenbacker 360 12-string
    2005 Paul Reed Smith SE Custom 22
    2005 Fender Telecaster
    2018 Wolf Les Paul
    Carvin GK1T
    1980 Guild F512 12-string acoustic
    2005 Collings D2H Acoustic
    2010 Collings MT A mandolin
    2018 Martin 00-18 Acoustic
    2000s Walden 650CE Acoustic
    1979 Kentucky 200 Mandolin
    1954 Gibson RB-250 Banjo
    1959 Kay Banjo
    Chinese Double Bass
    1980 Ibanez Roadstar II Bass
    Ibanez Mikro Bass (so fun)
    1974 Fender Deluxe Amp
    1990s Peavey Classic 30
    Ampex B100R Bass Amp
    Fishman Loudbox Mini
    Crate Limo 50

    so many i sold that i wish i had kept.

    • mm201 says:

      A friend of mine, who I had known since the 70s, had an ES-335 with the serial number being less than 100. Hopefully it ended up in some deserving hands when he passed

    • PeeJ says:

      Same here about the selling, but back then I couldn’t afford more than one guitar at a time.

      1965 Teisco EP-7 Electric Guitar
      1962 Fender Jaguar
      1967 Ovation Acoustic/Electric
      1963 Gibson SG w/Bigsby tremelo
      1988 Fender Strat Deluxe with gold lace sensors
      1980s Tokai Telecaster (found in pawn shop looking to see if anyone had pawned my Ovation that was stolen)

      All those are gone now and left with
      2007 Gibson Les Paul Classic Goldtop
      2006 Washburn D20
      2008 Deering Goodtime banjo
      1994 Dean Edge bass
      2014 Squier Affinity Telecaster

  27. mass interest says:

    Question for the knowledgeables here: I have an Ibanez acoustic 6-string purchased for $200 about 15 years ago, for my spouse who will forever regret his decision to sell his Gibson 12-string back in the early ’70s.

    He has never played the Ibanez, and I would like to sell it, but have been confused with online info about exactly what it is, what it might be worth, and how to go about selling it. I was told years ago that the only thing the guitar needed was new strings, which I bought and are keeping the instrument company in its wonderful, well-padded case.

    Any contributions would be greatly appreciated. And I’ll happily open the case to answer any questions.

  28. DrFunguy says:

    Every guitar tells a story and I ain’t got time to write a novel (nor would y’all be interested in the movie of my life).
    There’s the 1963 Gibson L-50 archtop my pal DrDirt (RIP) gave me one drunken night around the campfire; not a great instrument but lots of character and sounds good in open tuning.
    The 1976 curly maple classical that was the second build by a now well-established luthier; gorgeous but neglected. And The ’68 LP Goldtop I sold so I could buy it.
    The 1975 Guild 12-string bought at a yard sale, 1/2 down and 1/2 mailed to Oklahoma so my pal could visit his kids… a have a few bucks for the drive home.
    The 2005 Gibson Advanced Jumbo that sits (cased) in the living room that I still play a few times a week. The finest I’ve ever owned and among the best-sounding I’ve ever played.
    I have said enough.

  29. Edward says:

    Come for the EW highbrow and get some gear head trash talk. What’s Not to like? Got a nice black American Strat w/ Bixby whammy for when I want to pick out Clapton licks. But I’m still working thru a serious collection of gypsy jazz demigod Adrien Moignard material. Regardless of y our ax this is truly a Golden Age for learning music. Technology has made all music learning so available and easy it is hard to imagine I slow taped solos on cassette. And this is truer more so for the guitar.
    If you are reading this: “AMAZING SLOWDOWNER”: Amazing Amazing Amazing product to copy any file and slow down and pitch correct. INDISPENSABLE INDISPENSABLE INDISPENSABLE PRODUCT. OMG, wish I was 18 again- with this product.
    Have closet full of stuff of no great interest but bury me with my Les Paul by Heritage. These guitars are made at original Kalamazoo MI Gibson factory on the same machines by the same empees that made every great Gibson guitar since Orville. Due to US copy patent law anything wrong on a Les Paul (or any Gibson) c/n be changed. That’s why I say my ax is only “like a Les Paul only better”, because the people who built both made it so. Could gear head our, but just say- way better electronics and 1/3 less heavy. I was working on Les Paul solos- w/ an American Pevey Strat copy- for a Mary Ford Les Paul cover band in the morning and later that day walked into a used guitar store where this piece handing. I hit the riff I was working on earlier and knew instantly I was leaving with it. Many guitars- never bought one quite like that.
    I play big band trad jazzer and play in several Django Reinhardt/ Hot Club banks in No Cal. But bury me with the Heritage. I used it on the last gig I played- sadly just before the world ended w/ Covid, (humble brag here)- with an ‘acoustic’ band version of a certain SF 60’s hippie violin player inductee into RRHF. And file under “If not now, when”, for that gig I even dragged out the old 50lb Fender Twin Reverb- ’cause I am playing a Les Paul damn it!
    And ALL MY GUITARS KILL FASCIST. May all of y’alls do as well.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Edward” or “Ed.” Please also use the same name each visit so community members get to know you; this is your sixth name since 2018. If you tell me what you’d prefer to use here forward I will change the name on this comment to match. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  30. Chetnolian says:

    Since lockdown which continues quite fiercely here I have dug out my cello; 19th Century, Dutch, nice but small tone, very slightly undersized and with no real purfling (if anyone knows what that is) . As a result, when I was young I spent lots of time fixing cracks, because they rattled and spoilt the tone, but now it does not get carried round it seems to survive ok. I have ben playing assorted movements of the Bach solo suites, but very much only for me.

    In the last couple of years I have been into instrument buying , but now for my granddaughter who is into music. First, an acoustic/electric guitar, not of a special make but chosen after she had played about a dozen others. I agreed with her decision. This Christmas a ukelele. Don’t ask!

    A neighbour has four Martins, a fact he celebrates by calling his house “Four Martins”! Not being a guitar man I had no idea of their significance till I visited the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum (an absolute must for anyone visiting Arizona- have you been bmaz?). They have a re-creation of the Martin workshop, amongst many other musical wonders.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I hear Marton in Australia make a nice pre-wired acoustic guitar. I once lived down the road from Yang Xuefei, in two different cities, but our only connection was that I owned a few of her CDs. A good friend has a Kitselis and a Greenfield, and I enjoy hers vicariously. The woodwork reminds me of the dash on a beautifully restored English sports car. The sound is even better.

    • posaune says:

      How wonderful you are working on the Bach suites!
      Casals ritual was wake each morning, immediately play a Prelude and Fugue from Wohltemperirte Klavier. Something wonderful about playing Bach — it really cleanses the mind and soul.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, Mr. Chetnolian is a man of many talents!

        And Chet, yes I have been to the MIM several times. Twice to make sure the entirety of it was seen (it’s huge!) and two or three more for concerts, as they have a very nice small-medium concert hall as well. It is spectacular, one of the more interesting museums you will see (I sent Mr. and Mrs Jim White there, and they loved it). And for anybody interested and/or coming here, here is their info. Very highly suggested.

        Also Chet, what kind of acoustic electric did you settle on for her? As I think I stated clearly, I just do not play enough at this point to warrant spending money on the high end stuff, the Strat was my last foray into that. But I would like a nice cheap acoustic electric. Have looked at the Fender F-135, played a couple of times at Guitar Center, and really seemed pretty decent for less than $200.

  31. Kevin Bullough says:

    As a professional mover, with thousands of pianos under my belt, allow me to opine on two points: it is a specialized skill set and therefore should cost a lot, and in my experience you do get what you pay for. Also, on the Steinway A, their baby grand model, they can crack it over onto its side without having to take the lyre off first, which can save a little time.

    78 Strat, 78 Telecaster, Fender Twin amp, 90 Ovation Celebrity acoustic. Original late sixties Wah Wah. Still playing every day.

  32. 200Toros says:

    I was in a Guitar Center store buying strings or something, not looking for another guitar, and I heard someone playing something that cut through all the noise. I wandered around until I found him. Guy playing a G & L Legacy, which I never heard of and knew nothing about, other than it sounded fantastic, like a classic Fender. My main sales guy tells me, that guitar was brought in by a collector, I guarantee it was professionally set up, then played less than one hour, then stored. Take it, if you don’t like it bring it back. $700 used, swamp ash body, painted creamy white, with a mint pick-guard, gun-oil finish on the neck. I took it. and researched the brand. (I of course asked the guy playing it if he was going to buy it first, he was not.)

    The Legacy was the love child of Leo Fender, who had sold Fender Guitars in 1965 I think. He went on to start another company, G & L Guitars, and the Legacy was the evolution of the Stratocaster. He never stopped improving on it until his death. His wife told a story that one day he came to her before taking his daily afternoon nap, and said, “Honey, I don’t think I have anything more to give to this guitar. It’s perfect, there is nothing left to improve. He took his nap, and never woke up. That final design, from the guitar sitting on his workbench, is the G & L Legacy. It is a superb instrument, the ultimate evolution of the Strat.

    I also make my own cigar-box guitars, three-string, played with slide, because if you love the blues, you have to play cigar box guitar. The men who originated the Blues were not playing Fenders and Les Pauls, they were playing home-made instruments, and that’s what you want to do if you want to really get the feel of the Blues. Need to play a one-string diddley bow, for that matter! Friends are always amazed at how good the cigar box guitar sounds. If you can find a really good box, with a thin wood top, it sounds amazing, either acoustic, or amped up with some reverb and dirt, over-driven on a Fender Blues Jr vacuum-tube amp.

    • Peterr says:

      The Legacy was the love child of Leo Fender, who had sold Fender Guitars in 1965 I think. He went on to start another company, G & L Guitars, and the Legacy was the evolution of the Stratocaster. He never stopped improving on it until his death. His wife told a story that one day he came to her before taking his daily afternoon nap, and said, “Honey, I don’t think I have anything more to give to this guitar. It’s perfect, there is nothing left to improve. He took his nap, and never woke up.

      This is how I want to go.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Met a guy in Toronto in 1972. He made banjos, but for the resonator frame he used cast-iron frying pans with the bottom removed; the handle was socketed into the neck. I believe he also placed a steel rod across the main diameter to brace it. A kind of a strange tone to it.

  33. Eureka says:

    Enticed by all of those beautiful daytime promo photos, instead we’ll get hockey aside Lake Tahoe at nite. The Avalanche-Golden Knights game, halted today after a period due to sunny slush, will resume 9p local/MN Eastern. Tomorrow’s Flyers-Bruins will start 730p ET (and got moved from NBC to NBCSN, assume similar for tonight’s resumption).

    It was a nice idea!

  34. 200Toros says:

    And Tube Amps! What a fascination they are! As a total novice, I bought a Fender Blues Jr. simply because it sounded better than all the other amps I had tried. I asked the sales guy s why, he says – because it’s a tube amp. Whatever, meant nothing much to me. But after researching, it’s fascinating. Tube amps do NOT perfectly reproduce the sound of the guitar the way a solid-state electronic amp can. Tubes actually distort the sound, imperfectly, BUT, importantly, they do it in a way that is pleasing to the ear. Just sounds warmer, fuller, different. With the right tubes of course And then there is the topic of wiring. Friend of mine makes amps, and talks about the importance of wiring, hand-wiring, and how the wires cross, super important to eliminate interference and sour sounds. So he tweaked my Blues Jr. and Fender Champ with vintage tubes and custom wiring, sounds amazing…

  35. edward says:

    Hi All,
    We live in a Golden Ago of technology for learning and playing music regardless of what instrument you play or at what level your playing. And so I would offer anyone reading this post to consider using a product I will not live without. As a guitar player, transcriber and arranger the Amazing SlowDowner is incomparable. It slows down that Djanog Reinhardt lick or pitch shifts the yourtube file to your piano. IT IS AWSOME!!! Am in no way affiliated whatsoever except the brilliant Argentine guitar player Gonzolo Bagarra recommend to all his friends and that was all I needed. I uses it everyday I am working music and will never be without it.
    and ALL of my guitars kill Fascists, and I hope y’alls do too.

  36. Malaclypse says:

    Ex-wife gave me a SRV Fender Strat as a wedding gift in ’93. Don’t have the wife any longer but still have the guitar.

    Play it through a Roland JC 120. Both the amp and the guitar need a serious makeover.

    In the mid 90’s, I got a Taylor Koa K14c. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever played and probably the best I’ve ever heard. If the house catches fire, it will be the first thing I grab out the door.

  37. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    Fired up about F1 being just a few weeks away. I’ve gone to 2 races in Brazil (2007 and 2012–Michael Schumacher’s last race) and 3 US races (2012–one week before going to the Brazil race, 2015, and 2018–with my 12-yr-old daughter—Kimi won that race).

    I started playing bass as my official mid-life-crisis outlet, 14 years ago when I got a Fender Jazz fretless. for my 40th. A group of us, about 25 in number, rent a room in a warehouse, pay dues for the rent and keg(s), close the door and play and teach each other every Friday (until Covid). Anywhere from 3 to all 25 of us would show up. We have a Hammond with a Lesley, that’s when things got serious. In order of how well I play (from almost good down do it’ll do): Fire on the Mt, Shakedown Street, Althea, Friend of the Devil, Truckin’, Scarlet Begonias, Deep Elem, Working Class Hero, Shake Your Body Down to the Ground, Feelin’ Alright, Needing and Getting (Ok Go), White Freightliner, Is this Love, Soul Shakedown Party, Exodus, Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va, Well Alright, Long Haired Country Boy, Trudy, Doin’ Time, I Shall Be Released, Mighty High (by the Mighty Clouds of Joy), Fever, After Midnight, Maggie’s Farm,Wooden Ships,Life after Wartime, NIB, Monkey Man, Let it Bleed, I Shot the Sheriff, Layla, Money, Another Brick in the Wall, Driven to Tears, Stuck in the Middle with You, Alone (Blues Trav.), Hook, The Weight, All Along the Watchtower, Peace Frog, What You Won’t Do for Love (Bobby Caldwell), Tom Sawyer, Freewill, Red Barchetta, The Trees, Closer to the Heart, New World Man, Vital Signs. That’s enough to list for now. Really miss jamming.

      • Tommy D Cosmology says:

        Thanks! I’m trying to decide what to practice tonight, alone w headphones. Missouri is very slow at rolling out vaccines, especially to the cities. Can’t wait to jam again.

        • chum'sfriend says:

          Maybe this isn’t news, but you might be interested that Jorma Kaukonen has been doing live “Quarantine Concerts” from his Fur Peace Ranch every Saturday night 8 PM eastern, on YouTube. He’s up to #38 now. They’re a real treat.

    • dimmsdale says:

      See, now THAT’s the kind of scene I’d love, playing bass in a cover band. Been collecting transcriptions of bass lines since forever, and a hot Saturday night around my place is me sitting down with the bass, and my own mp3 playlist conforming to my set of transcriptions, and whanging away for an hour or so. I don’t do that well without music in front of me, so playing bass with a bunch of guys in a room sounds challenging but FUN!

  38. Spencer Dawkins says:

    There are way too many of you people with talent and skills.

    I gave my drum set to the other girl in drum line with my daughter when they were in high school (the other girl was working as a grease monkey saving up for a set), but I kept my crappy congas that had spend 15 years in my parents’ attic, and started collecting hand drums. Quoting Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, “collecting drums relaxes me”.

    I’ve got some nice Toca and LP congas, Junior Congas, and bongos, but also have about 10 or 15 hand drums that were all less than $200 each, from around the world (I’m still missing Chinese drums, and I’ll never have the talent to play tablas, but I’m pretty much complete otherwise).

    They’re way too much fun to play!

    • punaise says:

      My forever kit is a booming mahogany and chrome Premier set from the mid ‘70s. It languished in storage for years but is now being well used on loan to a buddy.

      As a barely adequate drummer in a « keep our day jobs » French-inflected group of little renown (right, vvv?) I now play a Tayo compact kit mostly for convenience and transportability. It’s sound is a bit lacking, but still fun.
      The cajón is a nice complement on some of the more nuanced tunes. Bongos are fun too.

      My Roland electronic kit was a decent stepping stone due to the ability to manage the sound levels, but the dynamics were ultimately lacking.

      I have access to a fine set of congas but have no clue what to do with them. Trying to replicate a drum kit doesn’t work. Probably should watch some YouTubes or take lessons.

      • vvv says:

        I like yer stuff, punaise! Listened to/watched ’em all!

        Me, I’m a kinda nut, been in about 15 bands over the 40 years I’ve played, only 1 cover band and quit that after a cuppla months. I write. I’m currently doing separate online collabs with a guy in England and a pro in Canada (we use dropbox, etc.), and my own stuff. I’ve done online stuff with a cuppla Scots, a guy in Brussels, a second guy in England and a guy in Cali, one in Ohio, and a few in the Peoples Republic of Tx. The Canadian and I have done over 100 recordings since the pandemic began. I’m kinda prolific – I have about 1,000 songs up on Bandcamp since ’09. Trying to help my band’s guitarist to get going on his Studio One DAW just today …

        In my 3 bedroom ranch I sleep in one, my daughter in the other, the third is for amps and other gear (I collect mid-level mics and my office also takes a third of that room), and my dining room has my racked guitars and CD’s.

        I recorded yesterday (I have a bedio), wrote, sang, played some bass (bass today, also, a Peavey T-40 into an Ampeg combo ) and some guitar – I’m working on M/S on the guitars, which yesterday were a Kramer alum neck and a Hamer American into a Blackstar HD50 Soloist, recently acquired used as my first High gain amp and it’s OK but inferior to my Marshall Silver Jubilee, Boogie .50 Cal and Ampeg VT60. I also have Musicman, Orange, a cuppla Fenders (HRDX is the best working man’s stage amp, IMO, if the Pro,Jr. is too quiet for ya – I’ve both). I have about 40 guitars, usual stuff Fender, Gibbie, G&L and Oriental stuff+ unusual like a fretless guitar, resonator, headless, Bass VI, 12-string electrics and acoustic, solids, semi and full hollow but no jazz boxes – yet. I have a low-end Martin, a few cheap acoustics. I also play bass through Ampeg and Musicman heads, various cabs, Ampeg and Fender small combos, and have mebbe 15 basses; Fender, Gibson, Steinberger, Peavey, etc. with A/E’s, headless (6 of those),and 8-string and 3 fretless basses (one is headless, one A/E and a Jaco), a U-bass, and a banjo and a mandolin. And for when guys like punaise come over, I have some OK bongos and percussion bits.

        Then there’s keyboards; I have a Yamaha S2, an Arturia Brute, a Yamaha Reface YC, a MicroKorg, a buncha Casios. I can learn a song on keys today and play it OK, but not tomorrow. I had a Rhodes suitcase for a while, amp and all, but it was too big and too loud, and I traded it for my daughter’s bedroom set.

        I do something musical about 4-5/7 days a week, have for years, whether married or single.

        I finished, mixed, re-mixed, did the artwork and published an on-line 5-song EP today (yesterday, now).

        Thanks for reading! ;-D

        • punaise says:

          You are seriously well equipped, my friend. I’m impressed how much music you fit into life (or is it the other way around? :~)

          • vvv says:

            Obsession is hell … for the other people in yer life. ;-D

            Awaiting delivery of a Greco classical guitar – my first – at the end of the week.

            I swear, if it wasn’t for music, I’d have made some real money.

  39. Hopeful says:

    Naomi Osaka, while being young in age, has a sportsmanship and humanity that few, if any, seasoned athletes share.

    She won the US Open, defeating Serena (greatest woman athlete ever); crying after winning, after watching her heroine self destruct, and then hearing the head tournament organizer say that the outcome was not what everyone wanted.

    Later, in another Grand Slam event when she beat an up-and-coming star (Coco?, can’t remember), she asked her to join her for the post match interviews, to give her the experience.

    Just two examples…….

    Her tennis is wonderful, her humanity is inspirational.

      • John Lehman says:

        Sister-in-law turned me on to it.
        Paiute (Native American) Drum and dancers from Reno Nevada represented.
        All a tribute to Steve Biko

        • punaise says:

          Cannot watch and listen without tears of joy.

          I know, right? It’s amazing how a searing anthem condemning apartheid and torture (“it was business as usual in police room 619”) can morph into that.

    • vvv says:

      Excellent! That just cost me a donation’s worth. Linked on that page, “Gimme Shelter”:

  40. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Well dang… people talking guitars…

    Sorry I missed the party…

    The guitar I played the most was my Guild D-40, dreadnaught…

    Very nice guitar… spruce top, 14 growth rings per inch…

    A really good guitar repair man once told me, a long time ago, that one way you tell how well a guitar is made is to run your finger around inside the sound hole and feel how smooth the struts are… on your better made guitars, the struts will be really finished nicely… smooth and sanded down, not a rough finish… the D-40 has really smooth struts… matter of fact, I think he was the person I bought the D-40 from… I paid $600 for it in 1976 and brought it west w/ me when I moved to CA…

    It has a big sound box… I always had a bit of trouble, shoulder and forearm problems (tendonitis) from playing it… but it sure has a nice sound… very bright and clear, and terrific sustain for an acoustic… and I used heavy strings on it, a .007 high E… I couldn’t bend notes worth a damn but those heavy strings rang forever…

    Like I said before, I actually wore the varnish off the back of the neck from playing it so much, and pits under the high strings on the finger board…

    • Lawnboy says:

      On that “note”, my first was a FG-360 , 1974. I bought for ~450.00 . I chose it after the shop owner put it in my hands after playing the Martin. As Bmaz said, price was a problem.

      I still have it, and it has aged beautifully with the wood turning a honey yellow. It was one of the last hand made in Japan. Youtube has some good information on this breed of 6 string. Great sound and plays like a dream. As they say “a joy to own and a wonder to behold”.

      I will date myself by saying that Steve Goodman /John Prine were my idols at the time. Both have passed but the music lives on.

    • vvv says:

      To be accurate, standard Light acoustic set is .012 on top. I used to play .012’s on electric when I was gigging regularly; SRV played .013’s.

      .009 is Extra Light on electric, .010 is Ultra Light on acoustic (names may vary by maker).

      I play .010’s on all my guitars; cheapest available, also.

      And I only change ’em when they break.

      I have a bass with strings from 1984 (only three strings now, it’s set up to play slide like Mark Sandman).

  41. RacerX says:

    This is the gear I’ve got right now: Gibson SG Classic, Gibson LP Jr Tribute DC (both tuned to dropped C); Epiphone LP Jr. w/ upgraded electronics and a P-94 pickup tuned to open E for slide, no-name Chinese Resonator tuned to open G, 70s Yamaha 12-string tuned to DADGAD, Recording King Type 0 tuned to standard, plastic Makala ukulele tuned DGBD, a few Hohner Special 20 harmonicas and an Irish whistle.

    Doom rig (currently set up in my 10′ x 12′ music room/office): 1968 SUNN 4×12 (original JBL speakers), Avatar 2×12 (Celestion Vintage 30 and Celestion G12H30), Mesa 50/50 stereo power amp (thank Crom for the low power setting) with a Tech 21 Oxford preamp (based on Orange amps), 4′ x 18″ pedalboard with assorted sound-warping gizmos.
    I also have a Blackstar HT5 head into a 1×12 cabinet (Celestion Greenback) and a Blackstar Fly portable amp w/ extension speaker.

    I recently turned 60, and my first and greatest love is heavy rock, esp. Doom metal. Played in local bands from high school to about 30 years old, then sold all my gear, including my beloved BC Rich Mockingbird, and focused on racing mountain bikes for over a decade. I got back into music in the early ’00s and was lucky enough to form/join bands that regularly opened for touring bands such as Sleep, Fu Manchu, Acid King, etc. in Albuquerque.

    I was between bands when the COVID hit, but forming or joining a band with plans to gig seems a long way off, so I just bought some home recording gear—audio interface, mic, headphones, patch cords—and am learning to use the Garageband software on my Mac. The amp, cabinet, and effects modeling software is a lot of fun! Haven’t tried any online jamming platforms, but I might at some point—the lack of musical and human interaction really sucks.

    It’s cool to read about all you folks’ gear and musical interests, too, and I’m impressed by how many of us here are still making and enjoying music. I’ll have to pass on the tennis, however. ; )

  42. bmaz says:

    Lol, I am now finally able to upload the accompanying images that I could not yesterday. The upload bug bugged me more than the lack of the images in the post. You all knew what I was talking about. Anyway, they are there now if you want a visual of all the nice instruments neither I, nor my wife, really play any more. There is nothing overly special in the least, but were intended when wrote the post.

  43. RMD says:

    Love to play keyboard, have two: a Yamaha Motif 8 and a Motif XF8. Run them through studio MR8s and headphones.
    I like to noodle a bit, find a voice/instrument that feels right, add a drum track, adjust the tempo, etc. and jam.
    I use the guitar voices a lot. A friend asked me when I learned to play guitar, she liked a few of my guitar pieces….was surprised/disappointed to learn that it was done on keyboard. I don’t play the guitar.
    Really opens things working with the range of voices available on these workstations. I post compositions on SoundCloud from time to time.
    Wonderful to read all the posts, thank for hosting this bmaz.

  44. elcajon64 says:

    Ha! Hope that wasn’t too bad a derail.

    My gear pile is mainly guitars but comes from being a drummer. I’ve been playing in punk and rock bands for almost 40 years now. My current band served as a local opener for touring acts who are still at it in their fifties (Exploited, U.S. Bombs, Agent Orange, ex-members of the Misfits, etc.) when live music was happening. Since the pandemic, we’ve spent more time in the studio and tried a couple distanced gigs.

    I play live and record with a Ludwig Centennial set in the Bonham sized toms but a 24″ bass drum (instead of 26″).

    I decided to pick up guitar at around 35yo in order to write songs and play rhythm/backing parts live occasionally. My current collection is nearly all repaired and modified stuff. The thinking was that if I didn’t stick with it, I wouldn’t take a bath when I unloaded the gear.
    1990 Gibson J45 in black – Bought as a project, lots of cracks in the body but an unusual and cool color. It was rebuilt and has a Taylor ribbon mic installed in the bridge. It sits in the living room for spontaneous noodling.
    Ibanez Iceman IC 400 – The only completely stock guitar I own. The 400 has the set neck and LP wiring (four knobs). Black, of course.
    2006 Gibson Flying V – Painted white and set up with chrome burstbuckers, but looks like a 1976 reissue. Sexay. I have another V project that might be finished in silver sparkle.
    1978 Fender Stratocaster – As much as a Strat can sound like a LP. Hardtail with two Seymour Duncan Super Distorion pickups; an ’81 in the neck spot and a new one at the bridge. It’s wired with a three-way switch a master volume and master tone controls.

    Gibson Les Pauls – I have 4 LP’s that are set up to play live and wired identically. As a drummer, I’ve always been prepared for equipment failures during gigs by bringing a spare snare drum or bass pedal. You wouldn’t replace a broken snare with a timbale, so I should have a backup LP. All have Gibson Burstbucker 1’s and 2’s in the neck/bridge slots and have standard, modern controls for volume and tone. All of them look their age but play like new. They are the 1969 Chevelles of guitars.
    1974 Tobacco Burst – A legit ’74. These were not a regular item for Gibson that year, and available as a special order only. Out of 400 total, 75 are this color. Mine was unfortunately modified sometime in the 1980’s to include a Kahler trem and extra switches. It has since been repaired.
    1975 Goldtop – Because Goldtop. This was a Deluxe that someone routed out for humbuckers. It’s one of several I’ve owned with this modification. It makes them very affordable.
    1977 Deluxe Pro in Ebony – Also routed for humbuckers. The Pro Deluxes came with ebony fretboards. It’s my main guitar live.
    1979 Standard in Ebony – The first one I wanted (my brother was the previous owner) and the last on I bought. It’s my backup for playing live.
    I play them through a Marshal JCM 900 half-stack with an angle (A) cabinet. The amp is the switchable 50/100 watt version and sounds great over driven. Most other players I encounter use a JCM 800 and find the 900 to be less creamy sounding. I like that it can cut through better. I also have a Marshal 2×12 cabinet for intimate, coffeehouse gigs. My backup amp is a tube/solid state 50 watt Marshal AVT.

    • bmaz says:

      Along with the ES-335, the Flying V was the other electric I always wanted, but probably never deserved. Two early heroes, Michael Schenker and J. Geils played them beautifully.

      • elcajon64 says:

        I like them. They’re easy to play standing or sitting. Mine started life as a faded version with a cracked neck. I think the husk was a couple hundred bucks. I’d be surprised if I have more than seven hundred into it and looks and plays great. The Alpine white with the WBW small pick guard and chrome-covered HB’s make it look like it dropped right out of 1976.

        I also had a couple (1+ a backup of course) Explorers with the same setup except they were ebony. I really miss those.

      • elcajon64 says:

        The Epiphone 339 is a great guitar that is a hollowbody like a 335 but the size of a Les Paul. The Custom version has an acoustic pickup in it as well. Really versatile.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, have looked at those longingly for a while. Specifically the cherry one. It is hard to tell in the store, but seem seriously good, and gorgeous, for not that much money. Darn near came home with one the last time was at GC. Then again, I would probably be dead now if I had and Mrs. Bmaz hawking my spare equipment on Craigslist.

          • vvv says:

            Ya might could find a Wildkat a little cheaper, same body, with a Bigsby and P90’s. I bought mine (transparent yellow-orange ) US$250 cash from a guy said it was donated to his music school, which story struck me as a little off a few days later …

          • elcajon64 says:

            A friend of mine who leads a church band has one (tobacco burst) and it’s great. It works perfectly for a wide variety of sounds. It has the split-coil HB’s and the acoustic pickup. He can go from an LP tone to a single coil (Strat), to acoustic without changing anything but the pickup selector.

            • bmaz says:

              The Epiphone one is really not that expensive, only about $400 new. I actually might consider trading in the Strat for one. That would be tough, but if I am barely playing anyway, might as well be something more versatile.

  45. rosalind says:

    aw, damn. Rest in Peace, Gene Taylor. You boogie woogie rockabilly blues playing piano man. the nights i danced away to you and the brothers Alvin in little clubs up and down the West Coast.

    initial reports are he passed away in his sleep at home in Austin, Texas. uncofirmed rumors he was without heat and water for days which may have been a factor.

    how i will remember him:

  46. Mulder says:

    Well, I can’t add a thing to the guitar or racing discussion. But, bmaz, cheers for picking a great song and album.

    Homegrown is a blazer. A side of the album is a blast. Neil, Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson singing back up the whole way.
    B side includes one of Neil’s most beautiful tunes IMHO, Star of Bethlehem with Emmylou Harris and Ben Keith backing him. And then there’s a little guitar anthem called Like a Hurricane. Turn it up to 11

    • bmaz says:

      Ooof, was kind of a gross omission not to mention Linda, Nicolette and Emmylou. It really was an all time great album.

  47. Epicurus says:

    Shame on me. I’m posting but music is life. Learned on an old upright in the corner of the living room.

    The power of music. Love a twosome called the Brooklyn Duo. On their internet performance of Pachelbel’s Canon in D lies a comment. “During the 30 year civil war in Sri Lanka in the 90’s we had no TV, no electricity and no food. But as kids, we used to collect old batteries and operate a small radio and would wait till they played this song at 9.55pm everynight before the local news. The war is now over and the country is peaceful; but nothing can takeaway the memories this song brings. While listening to this, I remember dead bodies and the cries of a million people. I never knew the name of the song, neither the name of the composer and neither did I know the song was 400 years old. Thanks to YouTube I found the song after 30 years. When the batteries run out of power, we leave it in the sun to charge, as we couldn’t afford to buy. Only if they heard this version, they would have stopped the war. Listening to this song was our only happiness during the war. Our tummies were empty, but our hearts were full.”

    There is book called “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain ” by Oliver Sacks. It asks the essential question “Why Music?” The answer may be in that quote. Recommend the book to everyone.

    • Eureka says:

      YES! I was recently enjoying the Brooklyn Duo, they’re great (they must be renting a house ~ perhaps on LI for their performances, I assume, as nowhere I know of in BK has that kind of outdoor space).

      Nice rendition of Young and Beautiful, too, among others.

  48. Michael Wired says:

    My second electric was a mid-70s black Stratocaster with a maple neck. I have no recollection of selling it, but it is long gone so I must have… My current Strats are a ’62 reissue from the late 80s and an Olympic White mid 2000s American 70s Strat. The neck has the big 70s headstock, but for some reason Fender put a not-period-correct 22nd fret on it.

  49. William Bennett says:

    Lowden O-22c

    Strat (1972)
    Tele (2014)
    PRS 513 (“10″-top)

    2 Blues Jrs (deluxe) with mods.
    Blues DeVille

    Notes: The 513 is slightly unusual in that it has a longer scale neck (25.25”) than standard PRS’s, meaning it can twang like a Fender when you want. Holds tuning better too. My only criticism is that the PRS whammy bar tech has always been somewhat wanting. The Strat has a lot of road wear–somebody had a studded wrist band I think–but has a great vintage sound. The dual Blues Jrs: bought one, loved it so much I had to buy a second and for big gigs I use them in tandem for stereo effects, esp. with Eventide Reverb–gorgeous hi-res sound. The DeVille is 4/10s, shimmers on clean and has big balls in overdrive. Super authentic Fender sound (same for the Jrs) which really comes across live. Lowden is far and away the nicest sounding acoustic I’ve ever owned. Hand made in Ireland, has incredible overtones and an almost “piano” sound that it’s famous for. Richard Thompson plays the same model, a guitar hero of mine.

  50. lauralowercaseL says:

    Both brothers are roadies. Both have worked for all manner of pop rock jazz metal and folk. Roadie brother the elder is a massive F1 and Indy fan and has been able to attend F1’s across the globe and chased his man Nigel Mansell through pit row for his signature on a swanky race lithograph that he treasures. I’m sadly without musical talent except as an audience and I love the lush rich sound of a Gretch. Carol King’s late guitarist Rudy Valentine found his in a pawn shop in the PNW and it could rend the hardest of hearts.
    Can’t agree more – music IS life.

  51. Cicero says:

    Gibson ES 335 Sunburst ‘96 (I think)
    Gibson SG Natural w/Bigsby bar 1971 needs new frets. I bought this when I was 14 and it was sold on a Randall 120w w/black widow 12”. This was heaven.
    Sold the Randall to a friend and bought a Mesa Subway Blues: this is the nicest sounding tube amp with incredible reverb. And yes, it can easily rattle the windows and make the wife irate.
    ‘Never good enough to play professionally but love to still pick it up and play blues, jazz, funky stuff

    F1: reading/watching the legend that was Fangio and hearing almost every living driver claim he was the best, I must concur. He drove in vehicles that required far more effort and stamina, knowledge and intuition than current cars and those in the recent past IMHO. No disrespect here to today’s drivers: Lewis I believe will win his 8th and is truly motivated and gifted. I really hope he does it. He clearly has too many haters. I need to watch Senna and Clark now after reading comments and learn their histories. In sum, I cannot wait for the 21 season. And agree they should not be driving in Bahrain.
    Drive to Survive 3 should be wild rehashing 20, too. Watching Romain nearly die and not was the most frightening thing anybody could have witnessed in sport. I hope they honor him and his career respectfully.

    Great post.

  52. P J Evans says:

    My mother played piano for her community-college dance band, and during the war, living in the L.A. area, went out to hear live bands. (At one time, she worked with Jo Stafford’s father, and she said Ferdy Grofe was good to listen to. Lots of big band albums in the house, so we grew up with music. (On radio, also – that was back when talk radio wasn’t even an idea. KSFO had Jim Lange in the afternoon, and it was music most of the day.)

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