A year or 2 ago I started playing electric guitar again. I started out on a garage sale special loaned to me from a friend. And when I decided to go about buying a guitar I know I wanted to invest about $1500.00. I really believe that around at this price point and over the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Because of this I wanted to be careful with what I bought.
I went to my local music superstore for about 6 – 9 months and rented about 15 different guitars. Some of them I would play for a day and then return, others made it to a week or 2. The price range I tried was everywhere between $500 to $2500.
I highly recommend this route for learning about guitars especially if you are going to spend more than $1000.
And all were made in factories to be sold in music superstores like these. I began to suspect that either I was a picky person, or the production of guitars for the money people wanted was out of line.
The one I ended up liking most was a maple necked Stratocaster that was about $2500.00. I decided since I had learn to play on a Stratocaster and I liked that one I would go that direction, but I would source the parts myself and get it assembled by someone locally.
It ended up costing me about $1300 for parts and labor and I believe it’s on par with the one in the store for $2500.00. Of course I spent hundreds of hours doing research – but I feel really good that I was able to build something that I am really happy with.
I think if I have the cash again someday I will build another one and I believe I can get something even closer to what I am looking for. When you start learning about how big the world of guitars is and all the different nuances I realize the more I learn about them the less I know and the more there is too learn. Maybe that is why people buy guitars from local music superstores, because they don’t have time to figure it all out themselves or they are too lazy. I think if you are passionate about music then you will probably end up where I am.
I don’t think I will ever buy a guitar from a mainstream store or brand again. After playing many modern factory instruments and many vintage instruments – I believe that the production standards are extremely low to what they used to be 20 – 30 years ago. In my opinion The $2500.00 Stratocaster bought from the music superstore does not compare to a guitar made 30 years ago – not in material or craftsmanship. Almost to confirm this I ran across a man with alot of experience and knowledge in guitar and more specifically Stratocaster production.
When I went to a local music store in Vancouver BC called Dave’s Vintage Guitars and tried the Stratocaster’s he had laying about I was literally blown away at how good they sounded. I actually ended up hanging about his small store on railway street for a few hours talking with him and we had gotten into a discussion about vintage guitar production vs modern factory day guitar production.
I had actually gone done to meet him about buying a pickup off him a Seymour Duncan pickup. I pretty much begged him to sale me his personal Stratocaster, which he wouldn’t. But when I found out that the pickups that he had in these guitars were ones he hand made in his shop I had to have a pair.
Prior to that I had a set of Rio Grandes in my Strat. I was unhappy with them because the pickup to me colored the tone way too much (though I still think it is possible that they build some pickups but I haven’t tried all of them so to me the jury is still out on Rio Grandes but I know where I stand on there Half Breed models).
With Dave’s pickups I was deeply f**king impressed with how true the tone came through after putting them in my Strat and playing them for a month or 2 and hence this post.
I believe he does almost exact replicas of 1950’s. 1960’s and 1970’s single coil for Stratocaster. I bought the 1950’s ones but can’t wait to get another set from him in the future when I build my next guitar.
I highly recommend his pickups in any type of Stratocaster – You can check out his site at http://davesvintageguitars.ca or click this link: Guitar Pickups Vancouver.
I myself believe that the best products require no marketing and have always trusted word of mouth myself. Vintage Dave did not put me up to making this post, I made it because of all the research and guitars I have rented his pickups were the best for me. If you like the Stratocaster Sound, I can almost guarantee that you will be deeply f**king impressed with a set of his replica hand-wound pickups.
The best thing was I walked into his shop and I had no idea I was going to buy a full set of pickups that day. He didn’t use any pressure sales tactics which was refreshing – I didn’t even know that he handmade these pickups or sold them until I asked him after playing the guitars in his shop…
When we started talking he explained to me a similar opinion and one that I have been trending towards in my thoughts about musical instruments with modern day factories vs vintage. They sure don’t make them like the used to. The brand new Strats in the local mega super music store were not even in the same league as the reassembled vintage Strats he had in his shop. The factory made pickups don’t even come close to his handmade set (and those factory Rio Grande’s are boutique pickups that cost more than his). I suspect this is due to these companies paying more attention to bottom lines and marketing then to actual production.
I also think that probably somewhere down the line the materials guitars are built of went up in price. This is all just speculation and my opinion, and I openly admit I distrust large organizations of people rather than small business so feel free to offer any experiences/knowledge you have on these matters in the comments below.
A funny thing happened a few weeks ago, I went to look at an amp of some guy’s on Craigslist, and he was trying to find an electric guitar. He had been to the local music mega store and was like “I have tried literally 20 guitars and I hate them all maybe something’s wrong with me.” Having gone through the same thing I was like, “It’s not you it’s the store/production”.
If your like me; technical exercises and guitar method books probably bore you to death.
And until recently I turned that into a very negative thing, where I felt guilty or like I’d let myself down if I didn’t practice the way I said I should have.
A typical guitar teachers instructions to a beginning student might be something like:
“You should practice this chromatic scale every day for like 20 minutes, and then once you are done that then you move onto playing that same chromatic scale backwards for 20 minutes…”
Now I realize that this is a totally insane way to approach any kind of hobby; especially music. And I can see why some people don’t get past the beginner or intermediate stages; or when they do they play the guitar like it is a video game and they sound like the most boring guitarist on earth even though they are a technical virstou.
And, quite honestly if chromatic scales and exercises don’t bore you to death and you can spend 2 hours a day practicing technical exercises then, I am sorry to say, but there is something wrong with you – time to get off the Dexedrine.
The problem with learning guitar through formulas and ideas that are boring and repetitive is that eventually everything you play will sound boring, mediocore and repetitive.
So here is the best tip I think that I have figured out in my 16 years of playing guitar and it’s what I have always done anyways…
PLAY WHAT YOU WANT TO PLAY!
Here a catchy tune on the radio? Search for the guitar tab using a search engine. Were you playing around one day and accidentally stumbled into a little riff that you have grown fond of? Write it down for later so that you can practice and improvise with it more.
Now this was an idea I had thought of but recently I read an article where Johnny Marr was like yeah you should play whatever you have fun playing because that will make you play more!
Another occurence of this was from another musical hero of mine Doug Martsch, who I remember in an interview someone asked him how he was so technically good and he said he doesn’t ever think about technique he just sits with his guitar and plays what he wants too.
If I think about some of the best teachers I’ve had over the years, many will even just make up their lessons as they go along. They love what they do so much that there is no preperation for them. They just perform.
I wonder if any of you out there know of any other musicians or teachers that follow this same practice principle?
If you play bass or have friends that do please tell them about the new bass guitar tuner. I don’t play bass myself but everything is functional and it works.
If you come across any problems or there is some alternative tuning that should be added as default please let me know by posting a comment below. You can also download a free mini bass widget to put on your website, profile page or blog.
Here is a video profile I made about a cigarbox guitar maker here in St. Louis. Mark Vickroid makes wonderful homemade guitars out of old cigarboxes. Some of them even have an amp built in. I went to his house to see how he made them and talk to him about how he got started. He’s pretty funny — and if you check the sidebar links you will see a related video of him performing.
SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES, March 12 (Reuters) – Gibson Guitar Inc has told Activision Inc that its wildly popular “Guitar Hero” video games infringe one of Gibson’s patents, and Activision has asked a U.S. court to find the claim invalid.
Gibson said the games, in which players press buttons on a guitar-shaped controller in time with notes on a TV screen, violates a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.
Okay I will be honest; I have never actually played Guitar Hero. The whole idea seems so absurd to me, playing a little plastic guitar that is attached to a TV. I admit it would probably be fun, and if it were around I’d probably give it a go. And for the first 10 minutes or so I’d probably be mesmerized by it.
The reason I hate Guitar Hero though is that when I subscribe to Google Alerts with the keyword Guitar – I get like 10 links to Guitar Hero Articles sent to me everyday. Things like Ex-NFL player almost dies – concerned about Guitar Hero skills, This new device is all you need to be a true Air Guitar Hero or my personal favorite The Tragic Death of the Guitar Hero.
It’s really quite ridiculous – here I am sifting through these emails to find anything of value happening on the net Guitar wise and I end up watching someone play Guitar Hero on YouTube for 10 minutes. Seriously, quit posting this stuff on YouTube, you are wasting my life.
The video that I ended up accidently watching tonight is below.