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Casio DG-20 Digital Guitar

Apologies for the long delay. We had a family health crisis that took up a lot of time the past few months. Everything's going well now and I'll try to update the blog more often. Let's begin! Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead played a cool Casio synthesizer guitar. That is not this instrument. This is the Casio DG-20. It's a genuine oddity from the early 1990s. Although it is pretty un-cool, they are starting to go up in price and I suspect they will be rather collectible on eBay of the future. Let me tell you about them and my experience with one. The DG-20 should be considered a guitar-like instrument, not a guitar. It resembles the guitar in form factor, but that's about all. You can play notes and chords on it like a guitar, but not in the same way. That said, it did offer some fun, unique possibilities for a guitarist, especially on a budget. Where to begin? Let's start with sounds. If you ever walked through a JC Penney or Sears store in the 1990s, you probab

1975 Gibson S-1 'Marauder'

Ahhh, the Seventies. This was the age of big, non-musical conglomerates doing hostile takeovers of major musical manufacturers. They tried to apply large economies-of-scale on guitar and piano building, with often limited success. Often, the case was that quality went down and weird ideas came to the forefront that otherwise would have languished in well-deserved obscurity. Despite this trend, there were some oddball successes, that were good instruments, even if they didn't appeal broadly to many musicians. One of these was the Gibson S-1, known as the Marauder. The S-1 was an attempt to broaden Gibson's tone palette and expand its range into that snappy Fender territory at a price point significantly less (for the time) than a Gibson Les Paul. At this time, you could by a Les Paul Standard for right around $495, plus another $95 for the hardshell case. (Nobody used gig bags--such a thing didn't exist. There were chipboard cases for cheapo guitars, but nobody would ever st

A 'Holy Grail' P-Bass

The Fender Precision Bass entered production in 1951. During those first few years, the bass underwent several design improvements that stabilized by the end of the decade. These included changes to the headstock, body cutouts for comfort and playability, and the split pickup design we know today.  EBay currently has this 1958 P-bass for auction. The description says it's 100 percent original except for a hand-carved bone nut. The bass features a maple neck and fingerboard with a soft "V" shape, not quite as sharp a "V" as the earlier years, but not quite the more modern "C" shape. The body is alder. Overall weight is just over 8.5 pounds. The electronics and finish are all original. This is a sixty year-old instrument that has been played and has the patina that shows it. It's not a museum piece. One of the telltale signs of a great instrument is that it has been played. Sometimes, not always, the most perfect specimens of vintage instruments are

Martin 1959 D18E Acoustic Guitar + Original Case Kurt Cobain Nirvana Unplugged

Every now and then, I'll look on EBay for stuff so far out of my price range, it's ridiculous. I always find cool stuff, though. This time, I searched for a price range between $50,000 - $100,000 and I found this. When I got out of the Air Force in the mid-1990s, I wanted to get as far away from any military kind of business as I could. I ended up managing a small music store that sold guitars, pianos, school band instruments, sheet music, and accessories. One of the sheet music items that we absolutely could not keep in stock was the book (with tabs) of Nirvana's "Unplugged" album. All my young guitar students wanted to learn the songs from it. Well, EBay has the exact model that Kurt Cobain played on that album and tour. It's not the actual guitar--the actual guitar sold on auction for something like six million dollars! But for a fraction of that cost (a mere $67,000) you can have one just like it.  The guitar is a 1959 Martin D-18 with two factory-installe

12-String Extravaganza

Apologies for the lack of updates! I am teacher by profession and since we went back to school, there has not been much time for blogging. I will make up for that with this 12-string extravaganza. As a guitarist, my main instrument has been the 12-string for decades. I own five of them and over the course of the 45-plus years I have played, I have owned a bunch more than that. Here are my favorites and brief synopsis on each one. If you're a 12-string shopper or just a 12-string lover, I hope you find this enjoyable. These models are presented in no particular order of preference, price, or quality. Guild F-512 The venerable Guild F-512 is probably the king of all the production 12-string guitars ever. If you can find a vintage one you'll enjoy the now-illegal-to-import Brazilian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, and an ebony fingerboard with deluxe inlays. Gold hardware adorns the classic headstock shape. The jumbo body is huge, wide, and deep, providing jangling, m

JB Player Artist Semi-Hollow Guitar

Back in the 1990s, JB Player came out with some innovative guitar concepts. Yes, you have probably seen their Stratocaster copies with the Floyd Rose tremolos as were the fashion of the time. Some of them had those awful "crackle" paint jobs that were also in style. Yuck. They made acoustic and electric guitars, some of which were pretty unique, usually in the $300-$600 price range. They were marketed by Musicorp in the United States.  OK, it's now education time about how music stores operate. If you were the owner or manager of a music instrument retail store, you'd have your hands full trying to stock all the items for every different kind of instrument you'd sell. I used to run a small store in the Nineties and, believe me, it is a challenge. You have to keep stocked up with pianos, guitars, basses, violins, mandolins, banjos, amps, pedals, strings, plus horns, woodwinds, drums, heads, cases, reeds, straps, picks, capos, stands, sheet music, instruction books,

1977 Gibson RD Artist

As we have discussed previously, in the 1970s, the big guitar manufacturers were pretty much taken over by large corporations. In the late 60s, CBS took over Fender. Gibson was acquired by a huge conglomerate named Norlin. (Along with Gibson, Norlin also took over Moog synthesizers). These corporations tried to apply large-scale manufacturing techniques and efficiencies to guitar construction. After all, as they figured, a guitar is just a piece of wood, like furniture. It should be easy to be able to increase production and profitability.  During the Norlin era of Gibson, quality control generally took a dive because of cost-cutting measures. These guitars are collectible today because they were made a half-century ago, but at the time, guitar players didn't particularly think these guitars were as good as those from the 1950s and 1960s. At the time, a Les Paul Custom would set you back about $600 plus another $95 for the case. That's almost unimaginable today, but at a time w