Musical Instruments Musicians

Musicians Gifts from Non-Musicians

Last year, Baxter and Jonathan of Casino Guitars put up a video debating what are good and bad gifts for someone to give a guitar player for Christmas. They were talking accessories, not buying the guitars themselves (who wouldn’t love having a relative or friend buying him/her a Fender Strat or Martin acoustic for a gift?).

Overall, they were comically correct. However, I did disagree with them on one item – the guitar pick maker. They called it the worst gift to give. While it isn’t the greatest musical item to give, it does serve a great purpose. First off, rather than throwing out those expired credit cards and fake ones that companies like Xfinity send through the mail, you can cut the waste in half by making four picks out of a normal-sized credit card. Then you can quickly sand the edges and you have some picks that cost you nothing. The maker will pay for itself after a month or two. Also, if you have some moocher asking you for a guitar pick, you can give him one of the credit-card ones and keep the good ones for yourself.

This leads to a thought that I have had for years. If there is a musician in the family, be it son, daughter, husband, wife or other, and you really care about them as well as know his/her love of music, be a bit more learned about his/her passion. My father (God rest his soul) used to buy me loads of cassettes and CDs from the dollar store because he knew that I loved music. However, there was a reason these albums were at the dollar store – it is crappy music.

Now I admit that if I’m at the dollar store and see a bin full of CDs, I will definitely check it out. I remember snagging a half dozen CDs by NRBQ (one of my favorite all-time bands) and giving them out to people. However, 99.9% of the time, it is music that I have absolutely no interest in.

Now I will only get into stringed instruments here. However, I am sure that keyboard players, woodwind and brass players, and percussionists have similar paths that are followed.

There are some things that stringed musicians always appreciate: strings. Just make sure that you are purchasing strings that the musician can and will use. Don’t buy electric guitar strings for an acoustic guitarist, tenor banjo strings for a five-string banjo player, or electric bass strings for an upright bassist. Even if it is not the exact brand that the musician prefers, he/she will appreciate that you considered the correct instrument.

Picks: These are a lot more personal than even strings. Everyone has seen the bargain ads on Wish and eBay of a box of 1,000 guitar picks for a reasonable price. However, the picks vary in thickness, and unless the musician is one who uses thick picks on guitar, thin picks on mandolin, etc., most of them will never be used. Instead, get to know the particular pick used, and buy a dozen of those instead. Banjo and dobro players are very particular about the finger and thumb picks that they use, so if considering a purchase, really get to know what brand is preferred.

Clip-on tuners: These are a Godsend, especially if you can have one in each instrument case. They are becoming affordable, as low as $10.00, and they are now being made to tune other instruments besides guitar (bass, ukulele, violin) as well as tune chromatically. Also, musicians never fail to lose or misplace them, so having an extra one around is great.

Instructional books/videos: This is a really shaky area for gift giving. If you have a musician who has been playing for a dozen years in a number of bands, you wouldn’t want to give them a copy of Let’s Learn to Play Guitar, Volume 1. However, if the young one has just gotten a guitar as a gift and doesn’t know where to start, that would be the perfect present. This line of accessories has lost a lot of marketability with the rise of YouTube and online lessons, but it is still viable. Here is another area where I am open to if it is a bargain. While I may not pay the full $29.95 for a video on playing heavy metal guitar, I would most likely pick it up if I saw it at a rummage sale or used book store for a dollar or two. My theory on that is, even though I am not into heavy metal guitar playing, I may learn a thing or two about technique that I could translate into my bluegrass guitar playing. Moreover, I can always pass it along to someone that is starting to learn electric guitar.

Guitar polishes and cloths: This is something that a lot of musicians do not consider but truly appreciate if gifted to them. Guitars, basses, mandolins, fiddles, and other stringed instruments get dirty from sweat and hand grime over months of use, and musicians tend to forget that part of maintenance. Besides the body needing cleaning, fretboard and fingerboard cleaners are appreciated. This is an area that one would want to talk to a guitar repairperson or at least do some online research.

Other accessories: Case humidifiers, rosin and shoulder rests (for fiddlers), string winders, musicians tools (like the Roadie Rench), velcro cable ties (found at dollar and discount stores), and even maybe a metronome are bound to be used eventually. If it means sitting down for a few minutes to ask the musician what he/she needs as far as “the little things” and putting it down on a list, the next time there is a gift-giving situation, there will be smiles and not embarrassment.

Chew on it and comment. And pray for the people of Canada.

Bluegrass Music Musical Instruments

Tidbits #4: ArtistWorks, SPBGMA, Landon Bailey, and Me!

I’m not into football like I was before the whole “take a knee” thing. I won’t be watching the Super Bowl. I do think that it is funny that after over a decade of QB-ing for the Detroit Lions and nothing to show for it, Matt Stafford’s first year with a different team has led him to the big game. He played amazing with the Lions, but with a lackluster supporting cast, he could never get any respect from the NFL or press, but if LA wins, He has a chance to be a hall of famer.

But enough of that! Let’s talk music, specifically bluegrass! Have you checked out the ArtistWorks YouTube channel lately? It has always had some great instructional videos on its channel, but the last month has been fantastic! Great lessons from Chris Eldridge of The Punch Brothers, banjo legend Tony Trischka, and mandolin magician Sierra Hull. However, the best two videos they have posted recently are fiddle duets with Darol Anger and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes. This is old-time fiddling on overdrive. ArtistWorks has always been a great resource for beginner to intermediate musicians wanting to learn more. If you have never checked this channel or ArtistWorks’ website, do it soon!

I regret not being able to go to the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) last month in Nashville. I will do whatever I can to go next year. In the meantime, attendee Stephen Hudson captured a lot of jamming going on with his video camera. What is always great with bluegrass jams is that pros sit in with amateurs and it ends up a good time. The amateurs feel blessed to get a chance to jam with a hero, and the pros get to be regular guys/girls, while also seeing what is out there amongst the fans. I have said it before – bluegrass artists are the only artists that I am aware of that regularly rub elbows with their fans, getting to know a lot of them personally (there are a lot of bluegrass musicians playing big stages that I call good friends), and will stay until the last autograph is signed. Now, check out one of Stephen’s videos.

There are a lot of people on YouTube that review guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals. I’ve subscribed to some of them, and one in particular that amuses me is Landon Bailey. His delivery is a combination of Bill Murray, Steven Wright, and Don Imus. You can never guess what his next video will cover, except that it will have something to do with music. Like his 15-minute video of a wind-up metronome clicking at 100 beats per minute. Check him out, you will love his wry sense of humor.

Finally, I put a video on my channel that is a lesson on beginner bluegrass bass with an electric bass guitar. It is rough to say the least, as it was my first attempt at editing, and since I use an older digital camcorder, the video can be grainy when there is not full light. Take a look, and please give me some feedback.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music Musical Instruments

My 2022 Resolution

My new year’s resolution for 2022? Pay more attention to the music, especially bluegrass music.

I’m getting rid of my house and moving back to my mom’s house to take care of her. I’ve been practically living at mom’s for the past five years, and my house is in shambles. Having to take care of an 89-year-old woman on my own, along with my day job, has been stressful to say the least. When I was laid off, it was fine, but I can hardly stay awake now that I’m working.

With that said, I have been spending an hour or so every day at my house getting rid of junk. It has now come down to getting rid of furniture, music equipment I know that I’ll never use again, and other big items. Time doing that has taken time away from practicing the fiddle and guitar, as well as concentrating on songwriting. I haven’t picked up the fiddle since well before Christmas, and I have only picked up the guitar once in the past three weeks.

So I need to get back to the music. I don’t want to lose that piece of personal enjoyment to the struggles of my life. I definitely need some inspiration as far as songwriting goes, and that has been very lacking. My one songwriting group Songwriters Anonymous has been holding Zoom meeting for nearly two years now, and I have not had the opportunity or even motivation to check one virtual meeting out.

I remember one YouTuber named FiddleHed that I wrote about a few months back telling those people that one needs to pick up the fiddle every day, even if just for a minute to pluck the strings or drag the bow across, in order to keep being motivated. Yes, I need to get back to that.

I certainly realize that the COVID thing has really killed off a lot of motivation with me and others. I was practicing the fiddle enough to want to try and hit a jam session, b ut forget that. None to be found in the area. Online jam sessions do not have the same warmth, comradery, or feedback. I was planning on going to SPBGMA in Nashville at the end of the month, but between the house, caregiving, and my job, that was cancelled.

As for songwriting, I am hoping that some camp will happen in the spring or summer. I will definitely travel to get to one, as I have very little motivation around my area right now. I’ve been checking online for some possible camps or workshops, but none seem to be popping up.

Since I dropped Sirius/XM a few years back, I have been a bit out of the loop when it comes to what is new in the bluegrass field. I try to keep up by reading Bluegrass Today online, still subscribe to Bluegrass Unlimited, and I still listen to “Daybreak in Dixie” every Sunday morning on CJAM-FM in Windsor. However, I looked at the Top 50 songs for 2020 on a Bluegrass Today chart a few days ago, and I don’t think that I recognized 10 songs. I don’t see me going back to the Sirius/XM subscription, so I will have to spend some time surfing around on the internet to get my ear back on the ground.

I hope the COVID lockdown apathy will disappear soon for me. I really enjoyed the few times that I was able to see some live music last year. I do know that there are plans to make the Milan (Michigan) Bluegrass festival a five-day event this August. I may not make all five days, but I will certainly be there for two or three days.

Let’s hope that things get better. I need some motivation. In the meantime, here’s something I posted on YouTube a while back. Inspired by Tom T. Hall. We’ve learned some sad news about Tom’s death this past week, but I don’t love him any less.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Music Musical Instruments

Is the Six-String Banjo Really a Banjo?

What constitutes a “banjo”? Why I bring this up is that I am seeing a lot of pop and rock stars claiming that they are playing a banjo, when in reality they are strumming and plucking a six-string instrument tuned like a standard guitar, with the strings going over a banjo head and resonator.

Now, 20 years ago, these instruments were referred to as banjitars, and the band Old Crow Medicine Show would call it a “guitjo” on its liner notes. These instruments have been around for decades, but popularity was mostly underground. I remember the first time that I saw someone playing one was guitar wizard Joe Satriani on an early episode of MTV Unplugged.

Usually when someone says, “I play the banjo,” we assume they are talking about the five-string variety, with the high G string droning, and played either clawhammer or Scruggs style. We tend to forget about the four-string plectrum banjo (popular with Dixieland bands), the shorter-neck four-string tenor banjo (used by many Irish bands), and of course, the many variations of gourd banjos. The one thing that they have in common is that the body or resonator part of the instrument has a top of skin or thin plastic stretched over the resonator pot (much like a drum head), and the strings being plucked will strike the head via a bridge to create the sound (unlike a guitar that produces sound through the sound hole). I am not going to get too technical here.

One of the most famous performers of the four-string variety was multi-instrumentalist Eddie Peabody. During the 1920s through 1950s, Peabody performed on stage, film and television on the four- and five-string banjos. His playing style was more of stroking the strings either with his fingers or a pick. He was a great entertainer, but his brand of music faded out as popular music turned to crooners, then country, then rock and roll. Toward the end of his career, Rickenbacker Guitar Company made him electric guitars with banjo necks. So, did this constitute the he was playing an “electric guitar”? By the way, Peabody was a whiz on guitar and fiddle as well.

Getting back to the six-string variety, is it an actual banjo? If one were to look at the entire lineup of banjos, as well as consider the sound that it produced and how it was produced, then technically, it is a banjo. For the fingerpick-style guitarist, it can be a new sound to songs, especially those using s drop-D tuning. As far as chord playing, it sounds way too washy (in my opinion). Yes, the those players of the plectrum and tenor varieties use a pick, but they usually either play a form of cross-picking, or the strumming is quick and semi-muted, so it is more rhythmic. Add to that the design with the strings draped across the bridge lying on a drum skin, this does not allow for sustaining tones.

Now if you were to ask a long-time bluegrass banjoist, or even a bluegrass enthusiast, he/she would probably have a set idea of what the banjo is. Five strings, played Scruggs style, ‘nuff said.

As for my opinion, I like to call it a “six-string banjo” and not just a banjo. Let the pop stars think that they are being cool, but we all know that when you say “I play the banjo,” the five-string variety is the standard. Now let’s get a taste of my favorite banjo player, Don Reno.

Chew on it and comment.

Musical Instruments

The Pickle Lady and Electric Guitar Feedback

OK, so I was looking for something to blog about and surfing YouTube, when I came across this video:

I’m not sure why it came up as a recommendation. Yes, I love pickles, and yes, I listen to The Melvins. Actually, I don’t listen to them much, but they often play at a bar near my house when they tour, and you gotta love Buzz’s hair.

Her name is Sylvia Massey. She’s produced alt-rock bands like The Melvins and Tool. She even engineered the Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin-produced album Unchained. However, this woman is wacky. Timothy Leary on brine instead of LSD. She takes this weird experiment too seriously, and The Melvins join in because they will do anything crazy. I can just imagine what’s going on inside their heads listening to this woman talk about her experiment. It is 11 minutes that you MUST watch, but will be sorry that it’s 11 minutes that you won’t get back.

I’m keeping this one short. This video exhausted me, mentally.

Chew on it and comment. Monday is Memorial Day. Put a flag on a veteran’s grave and show some respect.

Musical Instruments

The 14th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Making Competition

Ever since I started to take a re-interest in lutherie last year during the pandemic, I have been watching a lot of musical instrument making videos. YouTube is filled with them. I have mentioned Rosa String Works on a previous blog, and have found some others that have piqued my curiosity.

This past week I was obsessed with a particular instrument making competition. The 14th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Making Competition was held in Poznan, Poland May 8-14, and I could not get enough of it! Since there is a big time zone difference between Poland and Detroit, I was not able to catch much of it live, but I was able to enjoy some of the live evening performances during my lunch break (which many co-workers were looking at me funny).

Hundreds of violins are entered, and judges spend the first few days meticulously examining the structure of each piece. Over the final days, the finalists are then played in solo, piano accompaniment, and full orchestra settings. The solo performers stand behind a translucent screen so the judges cannot see the actual violin, and each one is brought to the stage wrapped in a black cloth. It is THAT serious of a competition.

Lovers of classical music would appreciate the violin concertos performed during the week, but may be turned off by the amount of time spent hearing violins doing chromatic scales. On the other hand, luthiers and music physicists would be in paradise. Every nuance of both construction and sound is critically judged by music professors, artisans, and professional violin makers to find the most perfect creation. It is utterly fantastic to watch this happening! I can only compare it to a wine-tasting competition, but for the eyes and ears.

A bit of history. Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) was a Polish violinist and composer who was held in high esteem in Europe during his lifetime. A child musical prodigy, he studied and taught in France, Belgium, England, and Russia as well as in Poland. He is considered to be one of the greatest violinists to have ever lived. Poland has continually honored him throughout the years with stamps, coins, and the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Performance Competition, which began in 1935 in Warsaw and has been held every five years since 1952. The Violin Making Competition began in 1957 and is also held every five years.

Of note this year is the winner. Polish luthier Piotr Pielaszek came in both First and Second Place with two of his violins, nicknamed “Dali” and “Selva,” respectively. Listening to these and all of the other finalists being played in both a chamber and orchestra setting is absolutely breath-taking. To hear the subtle tone differences is like tasting different ice creams. It is an absolute pleasure to say the least.

I highly recommend checking out the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition website ( for more information on both competitions. Also be sure to check out the Wieniawski YouTube channel ( For some fantastic documentary and performance videos.

Chew on it and comment.

Musical Instruments

Non-Vintage Guitars at Vintage Prices?

What is with the skyrocketing prices of used non-vintage musical instruments lately?

Here’s some background: My first “real” bass guitar was a Peavey T-20 that I bought new for about $350 at Wonderland Music in Dearborn, Michigan back in 1983 (the store has long since closed, but it was so cool back in the pre-Guitar Center days). Anyway, I sold it a few years later, but I did some collecting over the years, and one of my goals was to own a set of all three T-series Peavey basses (T-20, T-40, and T-45). I was able to get a T-40, but it was stolen shortly after. I did get another T-20 about 10 years back in bad shape and am currently working to restore it to playable condition.

I was looking online for a T-40 and T-45, and was floored by the sticker shock. A fair- to good-condition T-40 is going for well over $800, and if you can even locate a T-45, it’s going for twice as much.

These T-series basses (along with the T-series guitars) were the first attempts at Peavey to put out durable instruments made in the USA at reasonable prices. The guitars were completely manufactured by machines, which was unheard of back in the early 1980s, but is now pretty common with mass-produced guitars. While Peavey amplifiers had numerous celebrity endorsements, the guitars and basses did not get much promotion. There were some innovative features on the guitars and basses, but they were generally poo-pooed for their bulky weight and necks that were much wider and harder to fret than instruments from Fender or Gibson.

So why would second-hand non-vintage guitars and basses from a company like Peavey cost so much? There are a number of probable reasons, but most likely, it is the greed in the sellers’ market. I’ve written about this before, but I will state it again. Shows like American Pickers, where Tom and Frank will pay $200 for some beat-up banjo or guitar with no brand name, makes people think that what they have in their closets is a buried treasure. That program, along with PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, often have appraisers talking about some gem of a find being worth thousands of dollars. Yeah, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop or a pre-war Martin D-28 is going to be worth a lot of money. However, these were unique when they were built, they were built with a lot of care at the time, and have structure and tone qualities that cannot be truly duplicated. Many have disappeared through time, so the ones that have survived are near priceless.

Another factor is visibility on some lower-end guitars. An old Airline guitar from the 1960s being played by Jack White, which before could be had for $10 at a garage sale, now command many hundreds of dollars. Thus, anyone with a old guitar sitting around (it doesn’t even matter what the name brand is or if there even is one) thinks that he/she owns a fortune with strings on it.

I recommended watching the Casino Guitars channel on YouTube before ( Baxter and Jonathan have touched on this phenomenon briefly. I remember a similar situation happening back in the 1990s, where cheapo guitars were going for big prices. I admit, I got caught up in the hysteria and started buying a lot of guitars. I lost a lot of money in reselling them when I needed cash. I don’t ever plan on going that route again, but I still am interested in securing the three original Peavey T-series basses.

But not at what is being asked these days! I can wait it out to see how the market is moving. I would be doing it more as a personal love, and not to do some profitable trading. I can understand rare Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, or Martin guitars being valued due to the quality of workmanship as well as celebrity exposure, but for something like a first-generation Peavey guitar, something that was built specifically to be a cost-effective (and less-quality) alternative to the major brands, I don’t think that they are worth to rising cost. Buyers, both private and dealers, will eventually be honest with the sellers to say that these lower-end guitars are not worth that much money. Also, I am sure that those thousands of T-series guitars and basses sitting around in closets and attics will eventually come out to the market from owners that have not used them in years and have no use for them. Again, I can wait.

Chew on it and comment.

Bluegrass Guitar Coronavirus Musical Instruments

Tidbits #3: Shure – Part 2, Mandolin Straps, Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar, etc.

A few more ramblin’ thoughts for this week.

For some reason, maybe due to my ordering of the fake Shure SM58 microphone a few weeks ago from, I received another microphone in the mail that didn’t cost me anything. This one is labeled a Beta 87a, but it definitely is not a Shure Beta 87a! It came in the same packaging as the SM58, with a faux leather zipper carrying bag, mic clip, cable tie and owner’s manual. Just by looking at the body of the mic, with the poor attempt at engraving the Shure label, one could tell that this was a fake. However, the big giveaway that it was not a true Shure Beta 87a was plugging it in. The 87a is supposed to be a condenser mic, which requires a phantom power of at least 24 volts to operate properly. This fake Shure mic had a dynamic element in it, so it worked without power, and sounded like a dynamic mic. Granted, I got this for free somehow, but true Shure Beta 87a mics list for about $250.00. has these advertised for under $30.00. Use common sense when ordering something like this. If you see a Beta 87a under $200.00 new, it is most likely a fake. Unfortunately, some jerks are getting away with selling the fake ones as real. Do yourself a favor if you want a true Shure mic – buy it from a reputable dealer.

Besides doing some lutherie work, I have also been making braided mandolin straps during the pandemic. I learned to braid from a friend a few years ago, and usually while I am resting up in the evening and watching TV, I like to be a bit industrious by making straps. I started making leather guitar straps a few years back when I was gifted a bunch of nice-sized leather hide pieces. Once that ran out, I started using the leftover scraps and some laces to make mandolin straps. I make them for both A and F models, most are black with a different color ends, but I am making a few pink, blue and green ones. If interested, contact me here and I’ll email you some prices.

This past week I started working on my bluegrass rhythm guitar playing. Man, am I out of shape, musically! Seriously, I forgot how much of a job it is to keep good timing, proper strumming, and make a G run that doesn’t sound lousy, all at the same time! Since I haven’t worked with any band for a number of years, I have used the guitar almost exclusively for songwriting and recording with myself playing all instruments. Now that I’m practicing along with some jam tracks, I recognize what I’ve forgotten and let drift away from my rhythm technique. Lester Flatt and Jimmy Martin knew how important a rhythm guitar was to a bluegrass band, and as phenomenal of a lead player that he was, Tony Rice always stressed the importance of rhythm, and his was like a metronome. Speaking of a metronome, that is what I will be working with for a while.

Well, it looks like the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) has cancelled this year’s Nashville Convention, which is usually scheduled for the last weekend of January. Yes, it is due to COVID-19, but they are setting the date for 2022 to be January 27-30. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

One positive note is that the 47th annual Kentucky State Fiddle Championship is scheduled to happen March 20 at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro. With what little has been available, I am SO tempted to make the trek! Go to for more information.

Chew on it and comment.

Music Industry Musical Instruments

Are You Sure That It’s a Shure?

I guess this has been a problem for a few years, but I only became aware of it recently. While checking out the website, I came across something that made me to a double-take. The site was selling Shure microphones for about 20% of their cost at a music store. The famous SM58 vocal mic retails for about $100 at Sweetwater or Guitar Center. The same can be said for the SM57, and the Beta 87a goes for around $250. If you shop Amazon, you may find it for a buck or two cheaper.

However, one search on the Wish site shows that you can snag a 57 or 58 for about $20, and a Beta 87a for around $30. Depending on when you go to the site, the prices can sometimes be cheaper!

I knew there had to be a catch, but I decided to purchase a 58 anyway to see what would happen. Of course, shipping and taxes added about $10 to the cost, and it took about three weeks for the package to arrive (it was shipped from China).

I have always felt that the Shure SM58 is the best all-around microphone available. Comparing price, durability, and response, it would be the obvious choice if I were to have only one microphone. When I opened up the package of my new 58, I could tell right away that it was a fake. Just by holding it, it was a lot lighter than the true Shure 58. Putting them both on a scale, the real 58 came in at about 0.6 lb., while the fake 58 weighed in at 0.4 lb. Taking off the windscreens, the real 58 capsule has a slight cushion to it in order to sustain some shock. The fake 58 had no cushion to the capsule.

Testing it out on a small PA system, I noticed that the fake 58 did not have the same warmth from the low end frequencies as the real 58. It just seems to have a bit of distortion from that end. Its response was more like the lower-cost SM48. It did have the same sound level as the true 58, just not as warm.

In short, it seemed to be about worth the money of the purchase. It was a lot cheaper than the true 58, but it definitely is not of the same high quality. I am sure that the SM57 and Beta 87a that are available on Wish are of the same quality. Here is a video that I found that provides more information on comparing the two:

My main concern with this marketing is that I am questioning why Shure has not proceeded with large-scale legal action against the manufacturers of fake microphones. We have seen such action taken by guitar manufacturers, with results leading to mislabeled guitars not being available in the US as well as legal action being taken against anyone bringing one into the country. However, a Google search on the Shure situation shows that there has only been one serious attempt at legal action, and that was in the UK about 10 years ago.

I would think that Shure would take a stronger action against the sale and distribution of these fake microphones for two big reasons:

  1. The lower cost of the fake microphones will lead to more sales, which will kill Shure’s sales.
  2. The lack of quality with the fake microphones will reflect poorly on Shure, as consumers would blame Shure for the problems, even though it had nothing to do with the manufacturing of that fake mic.

Perhaps I am out of the loop and am missing something. However, my advice to anyone interested in one of these fake Shure microphones, if you purchase one, do not expect the quality and customer service you can expect from the Shure company. You will be getting a second-class product with a first-class label on the body. If you want the best, you need to go directly into purchasing as true Shure microphone.

Chew on it and comment.

Coronavirus Musical Instruments Musicians

Creativity, and Ignorance

A few days ago, I was interviewing fiddler Tom Morley for an upcoming article. We got onto the topic of what he and other musicians that he knows are doing to keep the sanity during all of these pandemic lockdowns. He told me about a creative idea that his friend’s daughter thought of that consisted of purchasing a few small plastic greenhouses, pushing them together, and with one musician in each house, the band was able to perform together and hear each other while still keeping social distance.

The more that I watch the video, the more that I am amazed at the creativity some people have shown during these strange times. Yes, music can be performed alone, but the idea of two or more musicians creating music together is part of human nature’s bonding. The Coronavirus tries so hard to dishearten people by separating us, but we as humans are smarter than that.

As I still look for a job, I have been trying to keep my sanity by doing some lutherie work. Actually, more repairs are being done on guitar amplifiers than on actual instruments, but it is all good, right? One thing that I have noticed in my search for repairable beginner stringed instruments is that people think that the damaged guitars, basses, mandolins and such are really buried treasures. Sure, a 1959 Fender Stratocaster that has structural and wiring concerns can still fetch over $1,000 because of its pedigree, but there is no reason that an acoustic guitar with a brand name of Magnum, Lotus, Rogue, or no name whatsoever should demand a high price.

I scan Craigslist ads as well as check eBay and other sources, and I am puzzled when I see a 30-year-old Magnum acoustic guitar that has seen better days with a price tag of $100.00! Seriously, a guitar like this did not sell for much more than that when it was new, probably has loads of nicks and scratches, even a crack or two, and the neck is most likely bowing like a hill. One thing that shows like “American Pickers” and “Antiques Roadshow” have done is get people to think that all of the junk they have in their garage is worth something. If I am going to spend 60 or 70 dollars on an acoustic guitar, I would rather go through a company like Glarry, where the guitar is new and has some type of warranty or guarantee with the manufacturer/distributor.

Advice: If you have one of these old acoustic guitars that you bought for your kid decades ago and he never took an interest, and it sat in the closet for 20 or more years, and it does NOT have the name of Martin, Gibson, or Guild on the headstock, it is most likely not worth more than 10 bucks. Go ahead and get it appraised, but there is a slim chance that it is worth something. Instead, sell it at a garage sale for a few bucks, so that either some other kid may try to play it, someone like me might be able to salvage it as playable and give to someone, or let someone else hang it on the wall.

Chew on it and comment.