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Mike Randle


Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar!
May 27, 2007

Well, a lot has changed since I last wrote in the Diary. Would like to write a nice, weekly one but I get so busy it’s difficult to work out time. But Rusty and I have been talking with the “Daves” to start getting together weekly to play/work on music. If we all didn’t live so far apart (about 30 miles or 45 min to an Hour in L.A. time) it would be easier. But am trying to make some time. Life is going well and I’m playing guitar now more than ever. And working in a guitar shop, I get to see the best of the best. What especially excites me are the great sounding/great playing low-end guitars.

See, I group customers into categories.

First, you have Vintage Heads. They will only buy a guitar that costs at least $6000 either for investment reasons because they love those instruments and once had one or BOTH. They are quite knowledgeable. Catch them on the right day and they will drop $10,000 without blinking.

Then you have the Les Paul Heads. They ONLY buy, think, dream and speal Gibson Les Paul. The mere mention of the word “Fender” sends them into a fit. They mostly buy V.O.S. (Vintage Original Spec.) and Custom Shop guitars and will try a guitar out a 100 times and then sit in the corner and get painful cramps over whether or not to buy the guitar. Some of them really need hugs. When they do buy them (and I mean they spend between $3000 – $8000) they are over the moon. Worth Noting: Les Paul Heads have been known to sell a kidney in order to get that rare limited-run ’61 Custom Shop reissue Gold Top with the faded nickel hardware and Murph job.

Then you have the High End Gibson Acoustic Heads. This customer wants the most expensive, limited run J-200 with all the trimmings and wonder how come it’s $6,000. Then they ask if they can have it for $3000. After I laugh I tell them to play the guitar (we have a Gibson room where you can have privacy) and i’ll be back when they’re ready to be realistic, they usually come to their senses and we’ll work something out and they leave happy, guitar in hand.

Next up are the Vintage Amp Heads. It’s gotta be at least 50 years old, rate at 5 watts, have 6V6 tubes in it, beat to all hell and sound like Buddy Guy’s old Sears 6″ speaker amp from the 1950’s. The LAST thing they look at is the price tag. First they wanna know what kind of tubes it has and what year it is. Then they need to crank it to 10 (yes TEN!) to see what it sounds like when you overdrive the tubes. Then they start salivating about swapping the tubes out for EL34’s and stuff like that. Some of these folks are wound fairly tight and take it personally if you cannot answer at least 77 of the 79 questions they have about the amplifier. The Vintage Amp folks expect to spend AT LEAST $700 and will generally go as high as you price it. They will actually be offended if the amp is priced too low.

Now we get to the Boutique Amp Heads. These folks ONLY buy Class A amplifiers that generally do not rate at anything higher than 40 Watts. And if it can run at half power (or somewhere between 10 watts and 20 watts), all the better. These folks buy attenuators so when the club tells them to turn that loud as amp down they simply use the attentuator so ‘their tone isn’t affected, dude.” Boutique folks know if it ain’t at least $2400 it ain’t worth a sh*t. And it HAS TO BE point-to-point, hand-wired circuitry. They typically buy Bad Cat, Rivera, Reeves, Dr. Z, Divided By 13, Top Hat, 65amps, Tone King, Victoria, ect… If the amp does it for them, they will drop $4000 on an amp like nobody’s business. They never argue over money, just tone. And they generally spend 2 hours trying out 1 amp and get mobile calls during the whole time.

OK, Hannah and me have a flight to catch (Vegas!!!!!) but in my next Diary, i’ll finish this catagory list. Some of the terms are Guitar-Speak so fell free to Google anything and it’ll probably be funnier that way!

Everyone, wang Chung Tonight! Morrison, forget about Metal!

All the Best,

Mike Randle

baby lemonade

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