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(Yep…. that’s me….. or was, 4 years ago. Note that I’m 20 in this picture, but look like I’m 35. I think we all have to go through the long hair stage…. but I’m not sure we all have to go through the fu-manchu mustache and goatee stage. This is at Guitar Center Hollywood, in 2004, right as I was coming out of my ’80′s metal stage….. thank everything that is good in this world.)

So as of now, I’m questing for some new guitars. I’m trying to go about this logically (although ‘logic’ goes out the window, never to be seen again, every time I see some dark-stained, flame maple top with bird’s eye maple neck…. mmmm….. and I know I don’t need that……….. but, mmmmm), so I know right now I’ve got the sleeper vintage guitars that are ‘one-offs’ (’78 Gibson Firebrand Deluxe The Paul & ’81 Ibanez Strat Blazer series, with modded electronics). My plan is to buy newer boutique versions of each guitar, as well as the ’real thing’…… i.e. ’70′s Gibson Les Paul and ’70′s Fender Strat. (Obviously, early ’60′s versions might be more desirable, but I might have to invest in some sort of illegal activity in order to raise the funds and that is not an option…….. just yet…….. kidding, kidding, of course….. hmmmm…..) So that will be a completely new post with Strat shootouts and Les Paul shootouts (coming soon!). Only one of each will stay, because of lack of funds and the aforementioned hesitation at performing lucrative illegal operations. 

In looking for guitars, always, always check your local craigslist. You can really get some good deals off of there. Especially the LA one. You get a lot of 60-year-old guys with more guitars than divorces (which is saying a lot) and sometimes they just want to talk to somebody, I think, after being holed up in their musty, smoke-filled apartment for 50 years, practicing their chops for their next bar gig, hoping John Mayer will be there and need a touring musician, hear them, and then their worries will be over…….. they can then buy even more guitars and a bigger apartment to smoke in. (Or at least, that is what I would do, without the inhaling of fire part.) This is a gross generalization, of course, but if you ever have a free day, call up somebody from Hollywood who has listed a guitar on craigslist and go up there just to see the accumlation of gear in those apartments. Insane. Good times with insanely talented, old musicians in Hollywood. And I’ve done the whole Hollywood thing, and John Mayer never saw me (or maybe he did and most likely wasn’t impressed, hehe), but I just got out while I was still in my 20′s. :-) And for those of you thinking I must be famous or something, I can assure you I am definitely not…… you’d be surprised how many famous clubs you can book when your band pays the promoter! :-) Ya, if you’re prepared to be broke, you can play any stage you want with as little talent as you want. (And it was pretty little,in my case.)

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(Oh, my. These are not mine. But oh, how I wish.)

Anyway, I’m checking craigslist for vintage guitars and not finding too much in my price range in LA unfortunately, so I go to the Inland Empire craigslist (what a dumb name for where we live). And I see a ’73 Les Paul amongst some other guitars going for what appears to be fairly cheap. So I get all excited and call the number. And the other line picks up and answers:

“Good afternoon, Guitar Center.”

And I’m annoyed…..very much so. I go to craigslist so I don’t have to deal with over-gauged prices and haughty salesman and ‘I’m sorry there’s a factory bottom price on this guitar that was made in 1973′. And then they go and pretend to be a private party selling a guitar! Not once did the ad mention Guitar Center, or allude to the fact that there would be sales tax in the final price, or that it was a store. In fact, the ad was worded in such a way as to make it sound like a private party. Ugghhh. So I answer:

“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. I was looking for a PRIVATE PARTY selling a ’73 Gibson.”

GC: “Oh, hang on, let me transfer you to our vintage guy.”

(insert Guitar Center hold music….. i.e. ‘Crazy Train’….. here)

GC Vintage Guy: “Guitar Center Vintage Sales, how may I help you?”

Me: “Yes, I saw a ’73 Gibson Les Paul on craigslist and called this number.”

GC Vintage Guy: “Oh, ya, sorry bro. That’s long gone. But we have lots of other guitars….. guitars waaaay better than that one! Give me an hour to check, and I’ll call you right back.”

So I give him my number, in order to hear what waaaaay better guitars they are sporting than a ’73 Les Paul. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Guitar Center is great for strings, picks, or some used gear that they might not be quite up to snuff on what it is, or whatever. And they’re making strides, trying to get some T-Rex and Laguna stuff in there. That’s cool. But a ’73 Les Paul? They’re gonna tell me it was played by Jimmy Page after he bought it from Jimi Hendrix after Hendrix found it in King Tut’s tomb or something. And so then, of course, they can’t sell it for anything lower then 15K, and they’ll act offended when I offer like, 90% of that price, and then have one of their buddies come up and ask them to go to lunch, and then they’ll say something like they can’t because gave their last dollar to their 8 children to split at school between the bullies trying to take their money and the books their teacher needs them to buy. And so I’ll probably end up going down there anyway and offering 90% just because it’s amusing to watch them do this.

Ahhh. Good times at Guitar Center.