SG Update

Posted in Gibson, Gresch, guitar, Ibanez, Les Paul with tags , , , on Friday, May 29, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

I stopped in at Cream City Music and asked for a rough estimate on what my Gibson SG special  might be worth.
Since I didn’t have it with me, he couldn’t do a thorough examination of it to give an accurate estimate, but he did do the ball park figure thing.

For a 2000/01 in mint condition, he said you could expect to get $600-700 for it.

Mine is in mint condition except for a small paint chip on one of the horns — the left one, which is the one facing you when you play it.


I’ve been trying to get an estimate for repair, but most of the guitar stores only do minor repairs and they don’t have painting facilities. I did contact Gibson and they sent an email with instructions on how to pack it and ship it to them. Then they’d look at it and provide an estimate.

In other words, I’d pay for shipping, then if I didn’t like Gibson’s estimate, I’d still have to pay $80 for the privilege of having them look at it, and I assume, the cost of return shipping.

The estimate of $6-700 was right around what I was hoping, but then he said that’s what they’d expect to get when they sell it.

Oh. And what could I expect to get selling it to you? “Around $350.” Trade-in? A few percentage points more.

Much less than I was hoping for a trade-in for a Gretsch.

So for the time being, I’m keeping my Gibson, and looking for a guitar store or luthier that does paint repair. Then if I still want to sell it, I’ll have to do it myself, possibly on eBay or in the classified. Or, if I feel like dealing with creepy, scary people: Craigslist.

In the meantime, I’ll be refurbishing my Les Paul. Stay tuned.

Oh, and it looks like I’ll be keeping my Peavey Backstage Plus. The guy at Cream City Music said they’re a dime a dozen. I guess everyone owned one once and they’re all trying to sell them.


Capzasin: Arthritis Pain Relief?

Posted in arthritis, aspercreme, Ben Gay, capzasin, Icy Hot, pain relief with tags , , , , on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

My big toe has been bothering me for a few years. I don’t know if it’s arthritis, or what, but in the second knuckle, pain builds up until I hobble when I walk. The pain slowly subsides as I move, but comes back at rest.

I’m not a big pain pill person, in fact, I rarely take them and then, only for the rare headache or other infrequent pain. So I’m not popping pills to relieve this pain, but I have tried a few topical ointments, like Icy Hot, Ben Gay, and Aspercreme. None of them do a damned thing.

I was in Walgreen’s the other day and just for the heck of it, I looked for some sort of arthritis relief. There was this one in a red box called Capzasin, “Arthritis Pain Relief.” OK, why not? So I bought it, went home, and applied it to my toe.

Capzasin, if you can’t surmise from the name, is made from capsaicin, the substance from chili peppers that makes them HOT!

Only after I applied it did I read the directions, which aren’t available until you buy it, take it home, then rip open the cardboard box. Because unlike other medications where they put the cautions on a plastic sheet that  you can peruse at the store, this one is only available at home, when it’s too late.

Some of the precautions:

  • If you are a first time user and think your skin might be sensitive to CAPZAISIN, test it on a small area first.

Oh. That probably would have been nice to know before I applied it.

  • Wear gloves to apply or, if medicine {this part was wiped out by opening the box}act with hands, wash with soap and water {more missing bits}ing to avoid spreading to the eyes or other sensitive areas of the body. Try using dishwashing liquid or cooking oil at room temperature [emphasis mine] if regular soap and water does not completely wash the product from your hands.

See? Now that would have really been nice to know before I bought it. You need cooking oil to remove this shit! And it was nice of them to tell us the cooking oil should be at room temperature, I would have taken it right from the chicken I had frying on the stove.

Anyway, according to their inside info, “What does capsaicin do? When applied to the affected area, capsaicin penetrates deep and specifically targets pain transmitting neurons by progressively deteriorating their ability to signal pain to the brain, effectively relieving minor aches and pains of muscles, joints associated with arthritis, simple backache, strains, sprains and bruises.”

Well, let me tell you what it actually does. For me, there is the deep joint pain from the arthritis. Then I applied the Capzasin and at first, nothing happened. But then as minutes passed, I could feel the capsaicin burn. Did it relieve the other pain? NO! Instead, now I had deep joint pain in conjunction with topical surface pain!

But, to make matters worse, and this was actually hinted at on the outside of the box, “a transient burning sensation may occur upon application, but generally disappears in several days.” Several days is right, but transient burning sensation was being mild. Have you ever had athlete’s foot? That burning, cracking between the toes? Yeah, this wasn’t like that. It was much worse. Now, not only did I have the joint pain and the topical burning, but the pain spread gradually until it was between all my toes, like I had spilled hot oil (not room temperature) on my foot and was suffering from third degree burns.

Again, from the inside of the box: “Are there any side effects? Due to the nature of capsaicin, a mild, tolerable burning and/or itching sensation may be experienced when the product is applied which may last up to 48 hours.”

Yes, it did last up to 48 hours. And I’ll attest to the fact that soap and water does not wash it away. In fact, it made it burn more! My foot felt on fire for those 48 hours and no, it wasn’t mild or tolerable.

In fact, I threw the bottle out. Something that dangerous doesn’t need to be in our house. Especially since one of the warnings is: “Flammable keep away from fire or flame.” Remember when the word was actually “inflammable,” but Americans always confused inflammable with not-flammable and things blew up all the time?

So, I give this product 0 stars. Did it relieve my pain? No. Did it cause pain? Hell yes. Avoid this product. I can’t see any benefit from its use, unless you enjoy inflicting pain on yourself.

Your mileage may vary.


Eenie Meenie Minie Mo, Which Guitar is Going to Go?

Posted in Gibson, Gresch, Ibanez, Les Paul, SG with tags , , , , , , , on Friday, May 22, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

In our last episode, Timmy had fallen down the old abandoned well and Lassie had gone for help, but had stopped at the guitar store first to strum on a few axes.

Which brings us to my dilemma: which guitar should I sell in order to get a Gretsch semi-acoustic?

The choice is between these two:

1977 Ibanez Les Paul and 2000 Gibson SG Special

1977 Ibanez Les Paul and 2000 Gibson SG Special

Do I keep my first guitar, the 77 Ibanez and sell the 2000 Gibson? Or do I get rid of the faux Les Paul and keep the SG?

Decisions decisions.

Here is a close-up of the Ibanez:

Ibanez is ready for its closeup

Ibanez is ready for its closeup

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it had been poorly stored and suffered from moisture damage. You can see some of the rust on the screws and a small amount of corrosion on the bridge. This is after I took a small wire brush attached to my Dremel and tried to grind away some of the rust. While doing that, some of the chrome on the bridge flaked off. The bridge and tail are much shinier now than they were when I first pulled the guitar out of the case, but there is still a good amount of corrosion.

You’ll probably also notice that the humbucker pickups are exposed. They originally had those traditional chrome metal covers like the vintage PAF (patent applied for) humbuckers had. But years ago I pried off those metal coverings. I’m sure that wasn’t good for them. I think I recall that there was a buzz or vibration from one of them and I thought it was caused by the metal cover. Turns out it was the pickup itself. I found a matchbook wedged on the right side, which I put there to supposedly stop that buzz.

So those are my choices. Ibanez or Gibson. Gibson or Ibanez. Which one stays and which one goes? What would you do? What do you think I would do?

Well, as I implied in my last post, I’ve already made my decision.

And the winner is *drum roll*

The Ibanez! Yes, I’m keeping the Ibanez. Why? Sentimental value. It was my first guitar, after all. The body still looks nice, with only minor cosmetic blemishes. All the issues are with the hardware. So not only will I keep it, it’ll become my project guitar. I’ve already ordered new parts from various sources.

Another reason is, I’ve never been truly happy with the Gibson. I mean, it’s a good guitar, but honestly, it never blew me away. In fact, I could never really tell the difference between the Ibanez and the Gibson in regards to tone (maybe the Gibson had an edge in beefyness and certainly it’s pickups didn’t buzz), or sustain, or playability. The only thing the Gibson had going for it was that it was, in fact, a Gibson.

In other words, the Ibanez has my heart and the Gibson never won me over, unlike my new baby, the Gretsch, which I fell in love with almost immediately. It not only feels as if it was made for me, it sounds beautiful.

Gretsch G5013CE Rancher Jr

Gretsch G5013CE Rancher Jr

Some of you probably think I’m crazy to get rid of the better, American name-brand guitar over what is essentially a Japanese knock-off, and maybe I am, but I can’t help the way I feel about the Ibanez and my lack of feeling for the Gibson. And essentially, they are the same guitar: solid body with double-humbuckers.

Additionally, when I sell, or trade-in, the Gibson, I’ll be taking the Peavey Backstage Plus amp with it (pictured in the first graphic). Talk about disappointment, that amp has never ever given me the tone I was looking for. Oh, sure, its loud, 35 watts loud, but I just have always hated how it made my guitars sound. I want something that provides crunch, a decent metal tone, like Black Sabbath or AC/DC, or even some Al DiMeola. Instead, it’s given me Wes Montgomery. Not that there’s anything wrong with his playing or his music, but his tone was always too clean, there was no snarl, no growl, no rumbling like I was attempting to control thunder.

Seriously, the little handheld, battery operated, Smokey mini amp I have gives me more crunch than that Peavey did. But I’m not down on Peavey, they’re a good amp manufacturer. I just have always hated my Backstage Plus, which is why the next amp I’m considering is the Peavey Vypyr VIP 1. I’ll be stepping down in power, 35 watts down to 20 watts, but I’ll be picking up 36 guitar amp models to choose from. So then if I want to play clean like Wes Montgomery, I can, but if I want to play loud brutal riffs like Tony Iommi, I can do that, too. Plus, one other thing it does: it is also an acoustic guitar amp. I’ll be able to use it with my acoustic guitar, as well as with my electric.

So there you have it. I’m trading in the Gibson and the Peavey for a Gretsch. Sometime. In the future. When that will be however, I don’t know. Could be tomorrow. Could be months from now. But whenever it is, you can rest assured there will be a blog post about it.

Oh, and here is a picture of my wife’s Journey signed Texarkana:

2015-05-21 21.06.34

Guitar signed by the band Journey

And now you’ve met the entire guitar family as it stands today.


Guitar fever

Posted in Cream City Music, Fender, Gibson, Gresch, guitar, Les Paul, Rancher Jr with tags , , , , , , on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

Recently, as you might recall if you really do follow this blog, I purchased a new acoustic guitar: a Gretsch G5013CE Rancher Jr. in a beautiful piano black gloss.

I absolutely love it and in just a few days its become my favorite. It has a rich, mellow tone and has easy playability, two things my previous acoustic, some 1980s Fender dreadnaught never had. Plus, its not full-sized monster like that Fender was, its easy to hold and play without feeling like you’re reaching around a refrigerator.

And yet, its not as narrow or flimsy feeling as some of the other acoustic-electrics I looked at like the Deans, Ibanezes, and Washburns. Its still good-sized enough to fill a room with its warm, rich bass sounds.

Anyway, now I have guitar fever. Again. I want more. I think it started a few weeks back when a store going out of business had this beautiful purple  strat-styled electric in their window for just $200. It was a Carvin, and although it had no model number, I did a little research and figured it might be worth around $900 new. Unfortunately, when I went back the next day it was sold. But that’s how fate works, that door closed which opened the door to my Gretsch.

At the moment, I have three guitars (four if you count the no-name Texarkana acoustic, which is actually my wife’s, purchased because it was signed by the members of her favorite band, Journey). Aside from the Gretsch, I still have my first guitar. Well, actually, no. My first guitar was a horrible 3/4 size nylon string classical that my dad picked up but never learned to play. It sat around at our house until I claimed it. It was so cheap, the strings started pulling the neck away from the body. So I Elmer glued it, but it never recovered. The strings were almost an inch from the fretboard near the bottom. It finally received an ignominious burial in the trash.

So my real first guitar is a 1977 Ibanez Les Paul (lawsuit era for those so inclined). I knew nothing about guitars at the time and at the very first guitar store I entered I bought pretty much the first guitar the salesman pushed on me in m price range, which wasn’t much because it had to be divided between the guitar and the amp. What did I know? It looked just like my favorite body style: Gibson’s Les Paul.

My second guitar was the Fender. Again, I knew little about acoustics and pretty much just bought what I thought was the best in that price range. I mean, c’mon! It was a Fender. How bad could it be? Bad enough that I dumped it just a few years later. I mean, who knew Fender made crap?

My third guitar is what I considered to be a real real guitar. I wanted an electric with a whammy bar, so I started researching those. Since I already owned an Ibanez, I had this strange sense of brand loyalty and started looking at their gear. In their favor, Ibanez did have some really nice looking guitars in 2001, not just their stratocaster-inspired models, but many other single and double cutout styles, and they were pretty well regarded as an electric guitar maker.

As with any research into consumer products, the more you know, the more you want the next step up because each incremental rise in price means an incremental rise in quality and/or features (although its not necessarily a one-to-one ratio of price to quality).

So what started out as a $200 guitar for my birthday, soon grew more expensive. And its easy to justify that. “OK, I’m at $200, but this guitar has a better stay-in-tune tremolo and its only $250. That isn’t that much more.”

Well, soon $200 became $300. $300 became $400. $400 became $500. Each added something more refined: better pickups, a set neck vs. a bolt-on, and so on. (This is exactly how I went from considering a $200 Applause Ovation AB24 to a $384 Gretsch Rancher Jr.) And before I knew it, I was thinking, “This Ibanez is $550. But for just $150 more, I can make the leap to a REAL guitar!” Yes, for $700, I could get a Gibson SG, the very style guitar god Tony Iommi  played! And yes, at this point logic was replaced by emotion, research replaced by naked desire.

But what really sealed the deal was the (now-defunct) Mars Music was offering online the Gibson SG Special for $550! The same as the Ibanez I was considering. American made! Heavy metal devil horns! I could already hear the rumbling growl of its crunching humbuckers!

So I pulled the trigger on that deal and soon I had its glossy plum body in my sweaty little hands. Oddly enough, without a tremolo, so I still need a guitar with one.

And my 1977 Ibanez Les Paul copy was relegated to storage in our basement.
Recently, I dug it out, opened the hardshell case and was shocked to find the damage caused by our damp basement. The wood and finish luckily survived unscathed, but the metal hardware wasn’t so fortunate: the tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece had corroded while all the screws and some of the frets had rusted!

So now I have a decision to make. Because I want another new guitar, one of these has to go. Do I keep the Gibson because… Gibson! or do I keep the Ibanez and attempt to refurbish it for the nostalgic reason that it was my first guitar?

That’s in addition to the decision of: Do I want another solid body electric or do I want a semi-hollow body electric? Whichever, it needs a trem.
I’m already set on the brand. Yes, with one guitar purchase, I’ve become a Gretsch devotee, which is funny because they’ve never registered on my conscious prior to my entering “Gretschworld” at Cream City Music this past Sunday.

After all, who played Gretsch in the rock scene? OK, George Harrison did, but most of the hard rock bands I listened to used Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, Kramer, ESP, Schecter, BC Rich, Dean, PRS, and Carvin, to name a few, but not Gretsch. Nobody played Gretsch except Brian Setzer. Now a lot of that might be because some time in 1967 Balwin Pianos bought out Gretsch then proceeded to churn out crap (Chet Atkins severed his longtime association because of the quality issues) and  run them into the ground and bankruptcy. It wasn’t until Fred Gretsch, a nephew of the former owners, bought back Gretsch from Balwin in 1989, that Gretsch began making quality instruments again and started to show a resurgence in popularity.

So yes, I want a Gretsch, but which guitar do I sacrifice to get one?
The answer to that question will just have to wait until tomorrow because this post has already run longer than I intended.

So tune in tomorrow to see if Rocky and Bullwinkle survive, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

To be continued….


New Axe

Posted in Cream City Music, Gresch, guitar, Rancher Jr with tags , , , on Sunday, May 17, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

The last few weeks I’ve been doing research, reading reviews, watching YouTube videos, going to guitar stores, agonizing over choices, and pretty much having difficulty deciding what I wanted.

I wanted an acoustic. I haven’t had one since I sold my piece of shit Fender dreadnaught twenty-some years ago. I’d bought it sometime in the 1980s when I was first learning guitar. I had an electric at that point, a 1978 Ibanez lawsuit era Les Paul, that I got used in 1984. So really, I didn’t know much about acoustics and just picked something out I could afford.

Except after a short time, I realized it sucked. It had a metallic sound, not mellow, but harsh. And the action was painful. It was like trying to press my finger tips against razor blades. So I finally got rid of it. I don’t remember if I sold it, pawned it, or burned it.

That Fender had cost me around $200 back then, so I figured, if I wanted a little quality, I’d have to raise the ante a little. So I’ve been researching affordable acoustics. But I saw a few Ibanez and Dean acoustic-electrics that looked pretty sharp and they had some killer electronics. The Aphex electronics on the Dean made it sound flawless on one of the YouTube videos I heard. Then I thought: but if it takes the electronics to make it sound nice, then maybe it sounds like crap without it. I wasn’t always going to be plugged in and the reason for an acoustic is to play it unplugged anyway.

So I eliminated the electric aspect and just focused on acoustic aspect. But I still wanted a smaller guitar, not wanting a huge, unwieldy dreadnaught. I went to Guitar Center and played some Ibanez, which weren’t bad. I picked up a Fender Stratacoustic. It only reaffirmed my decision to not even consider a Fender. It was horrible.

Then I went to a local guitar shop, Cream City Music. I tried a Taylor Big Baby, as well as the Baby Taylor and Taylor GS Mini. They all sounded pretty good, with the Big Baby having a fuller sound. I tried the Martin LX1. It had a similar sound to the Baby Taylor. I tried a few by Washburn, by Art & Lutherie, by Takamine, and by Alvarez. There was a used Seagull SG Natural that had a great sound. And for fun I tried an old vintage Playtime by Harmony in a beautiful red sunburst.

After playing until my fingers had blistered, I eliminated the ones that were too harsh, not loud enough, not deep enough, and finally narrowed it down to the Taylor Big Baby and the used Seagull SG. I kept playing each. Strumming it in different positions trying to see which one I liked best.

Then I looked up and noticed another room. It had a sign that read, “Welcome to Gretchworld.” What the heck? I’ll go in and have a look. I strolled around, looking at all the electrics, all the guitars that screamed GRETCH! They were all very distinctive.

And then, I saw it. It was hanging on a floor stand, at the end of a row of other guitars. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I’d have walked right past it. It was all ebony with a red shell pick guard, a triangular sound hole, and these interesting thumbnail inlays on the rosewood fretboard. It was a Gretsch G5013CE Rancher Jr. and when I played it, I knew, this was the guitar I wanted. It even has Fishburn electronics, so I did end up getting an acoustic-electric.

So I pulled the trigger, so to speak, and Cream City Music gave me an excellent deal on it, a hard case, and stand.

I haz happy.

Now if only my fingertips didn’t hurt so bad, I could enjoy it.


Waiting for the treadmill

Posted in life with tags , , on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

A brief rant: We finally ordered our treadmill, the Schwinn 870, through Sports Authority. I could have saved $200 buying it through Amazon, but I didn’t see that they offered assembly. Sorry, but I’m not attempting to put a $1000 treadmill together. Also because we really find the people who work at the Brookfield Sports Authority store to be extremely friendly and helpful.

So we placed the order on 4/13. It was being shipped from the Seattle Schwinn plant via J.B. Hunt. Who I can’t recommend. The box didn’t arrive in our area until 4/23 and the earliest drop-off we could arrange was 4/27. The lady said it would come in their big semi. Are there any trees or power lines to worry about?

“No.” They will drop it off inside the nearest door.

“That’s my front door. They’ll drop it off in my living room?”  She said, or they can drop it off in the garage, if you have one. I asked the lady if they could take it straight into the basement.
Are there steps?

Yes, that’s why its called a “basement.”

No, they are only required to drop it off under the nearest overhang, but you can ask them.

So, yesterday, the massive semi arrives. One worker. With a defective dolly — it had tiny 4 or 5 inch wheels and the rubber was missing from one of them, exposing the metal rim.

I made a snap decision NOT to ask him to take it in the basement. That wheel would have gouged the shit out of our linoleum-covered steps leading downstairs.

So he dropped it off in the middle of the living room. It weighs 240 pounds. Is about 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and almost 2 feet thick.

I attempted to lift it by the straps and almost burst a nut. Hooboy. So I pushed it over to the side, out of the way as best you can get a giant cardboard box out of the way.

Now we wait until Saturday, because that’s the earliest we can get the Assemblers in.

I sure hope they can move it in the basement. I’ll be pretty pissed if, for whatever reason, they decide moving it isn’t their job and they build it in our living room.

I mean, honestly, how can we use it to hang laundry if it isn’t in the basement?


Adventures in ADHD – the lost phone

Posted in ADHD with tags , , on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 by Ed Wyrd

First thing: I seldom misplace things (my wife might disagree) despite my ADHD, like my car keys. Generally, I remember where I put things, but that’s a function of deliberately putting things in the same place so I don’t forget where they are. That’s a tactic I’ve learned because of my ADHD.

And I might add, misplacing something is different from losing it. Losing something means its gone for good or until I stumble across it in a box in the basement where I stuffed said item when we were blitzkrieg cleaning before company arrived.

That said, today at work I misplaced my phone. This, of course, sent me into a blind panic. OMG! Where’s my phone? It wasn’t in my holster. It wasn’t on my desk. It wasn’t on a cabinet. It wasn’t on the floor.

So I retraced all my steps since arriving at work. The restroom? No. The breakroom? No. OK, what if someone found it? Luckily, we’re on a floor inaccessible to the public or I’d really be in a panic that someone found it and kept it (which still briefly entered my mind, but knowing most of the people on my floor, I dismissed it).

Maybe someone turned it in to the Lost and Found, which we don’t actually have. They would have emailed the facilities manager, who in turn would send out a building-wide email.

Email! So I went and checked to see if someone had indeed found it.

No such luck.

So I’m standing in my cube, my mind racing a mile a minute (which, by the way, is only 60 mph. Not very fast, so why do people use that expression?), and well, that brings up the second thing I should mention.

Second thing: I’ve had my phone holster for as long as I’ve had my phone, but I only use it when I’m wearing a shirt with no front pocket. The last week, however, I’ve been wearing the holster because the fitness step tracker app registers my steps better while on my hip.

So, yes, you’re probably ahead of me at this point, nodding your head and thinking, “What an idiot.” OK, I deserve that.

Where was I? Oh, right, standing in my cube after having searched every inch of it for my phone, as well as the rest of the 5th floor, wondering what the hell do I do next and did I take out insurance for it from Verizon, when I happened to glance down and there it was…

In my shirt pocket…

Where I had absentmindedly placed it instead of the holster.

Am I red-faced or what?

Which brings me to the final thing.

Third, and last, thing: my smartphone is one of the larger ones and sticks out of my pocket by a good half inch.

I’m very glad I didn’t go up to anyone and asked, “Have you seen my phone?” And all the whole its there, visible, in my shirt pocket. They’d have probably thought it was an April Fool’s prank.



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