Adventures in ADHD – Impulsivity

One characteristic people suffering with ADHD have is impulsivity. We are impulsive! We do things first, then think about it. We don’t consider the consequences of our actions beforehand. In other words, we leap before we look.

We don’t need no stinking beer. We have ADHD!

Long before the phrase, “Dude, hold my beer” came into the vernacular, those of us with ADHD said, “Watch this.” We don’t need alcohol to deaden our self-preservation center. We were born this way.

My childhood was rife with examples of impulsivity, of “Watch this.”

Friend: Bet you can’t jump off the garage roof.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen anyone do a lawn belly flop before.

Friend: Bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! Good thing that big branch stopped you.

Friend: Look at this minibike I made. Wanna try it?

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I forgot to mention it has a high center of gravity and you can’t turn at high speeds.

Friend: Go kick that cat off of our baseball field.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen a cat that mad, clinging to a person’s leg before. That’s a lot of blood.

Friend: Our dogs are fighting! We’ve got to stop them. Go grab yours.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! That’s a pretty deep hole in your wrist.

Anyway, I could go on.

And on.

And on.

But you get the point, impulsivity sucks.

It is also expensive. I become suddenly interested in something, a hobby, or what have you. I read everything there is about it. Join tons of forums so I can talk about my interest with others. And I spend money.

Then I lose interest. And again, impulsivity kicks in and I purge my life of that interest because, of course, “I’ll never be interested in this again.”

My most famous and regretable “I’ll never” was when I threw out all my Silver and Bronze Age comic books when we were moving. I had Captain America #100 through 150. I had Conan the Barbarian #1 through 35. And others. All in the trash. “I’m in my 40s. I don’t need these. I’m not interested in comics any more.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah. You guessed it. Over the last decade or so I’ve been buying them back on eBay.

A more recent example, but not nearly as costly, was an interest in drawing. I went out and bought some drawing books and several types of drawing pencils. I worked for several months learning how to draw. I could draw a realistic human eye like nobody’s business. I’d like to show some samples, but I purged all my drawings from that period. (Somewhere I have a blog post featuring drawings from high school, if you care to look. Found it.)

Then I lost interest (or found a shiney new interest). After a few years of not drawing, I finally got rid of the books several months ago. I mean, it had been years, right? “I’ll never want to learn how to draw again.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah… Who’d have guessed? I mean, really? I went searching my bookshelves for the drawing books, then realized, oh, yeah. I got rid of them.

Today, I wisely went to the library to check out a couple beginner books on drawing. At least I’m not spending money.

Yes, impulsivity is the reason I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, about an interest, but I lose in it before I can master it.

By the way, if you play guitar, I’m thinking of selling my 2008 Gretsch Duo Jet in silver flake. I mean, I haven’t touched it in two years, right? “I’ll never play guitar again.”

Future Me: *screams*

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Hi Ho Silver!

I’m about to drive all the Gibson fanboys crazy.

Remember back when I wrote Eenie Meenie Minie Mo, Which Guitar is Going to Go? and I had decided to trade in my 2000 Gibson SG Special for a Gretsch? But then in SG Update I decided not to sell the Gibson? Well, guess what?

A few weeks back I traded in my 1980s Peavey Backstage Plus and was able to get a brand spanking new Peavey Vyper VIP2. It was relatively painless. And it got me to thinking about the SG again.

On Saturday (4 days ago)  my wife and I went to the Half Price Books across town. Next door to this is a Music Go Round, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll just go in and look. No harm in that.

They had a wide assortment of guitars, mostly cheaper things like Epiphone, Squire, Luna, First Act, Oscar Schmidt, Cort, but also some Fender, Ibanez, LTD, Schecter, PRS, and a 2008 Gibson SG Faded Cherry. I pulled that one down and started playing it. It was in pretty good condition and actually felt better than my SG.

The next day, Sunday, I came back and brought my SG with me to get an estimate. While they priced it, I played with a few other guitars, a Carvin DC150, an Ibanez AFD75 Artcore, an Ibanez AFJ95VSB, a PRS SE.

And then I saw it: it had a silver speckle finish and a welcome glow. I plugged it in and it purred like a kitten, while the tremolo bar gave the purr a nice wavering warble.

About this time, the salesman came up and said they could offer $349 cash for my SG or $360 in trade, which was close to the ballpark figure the guy at Cream City Music had quoted me.

I said, OK, I was interested in the SG Faded, but I noticed it had some fret buzz on the E and D strings when you fretted from about the 3 fret up to the 7th. He took it and played with it, then said, yes, there was some buzz, but nothing unusual. I admit I’m no expert on guitars, but I don’t think fret buzz is acceptable and it means I’d have to take it in for a tune-up. So I asked if I could get some money off of it (I was thinking at least the $50 it would cost me to get it tuned), and the manager had come over by this time and said, maybe a few bucks.

I said, no thank you, I’ll have to think about it. So I left. Over the last few days I kept thinking about that guitar. My dreams were filled with its gorgeous curves and luscious finish. I had to have it. So I went back tonight. I walked in and told them I had made my decision and wanted to trade in my SG. “For the Faded SG?” No, not the Faded SG, the silver sparkle one. The Gretsch G5246T Double Jet with the Bigsby tremolo.

So say goodbye to my SG:

2008 Gibson SG Special

2008 Gibson SG Special

And say hello to Silver:

2015-08-04 19.50.30

2007 Gretsch G5246T Double Jet


Yes, I named it after the Lone Ranger’s horse.

Now I don’t want to argue whether or not some of you experts think this was or was not an upgrade, because for me, it was. I was never truly happy with that SG and I’m very happy with Silver.

And it would seem that in the process I’ve become a Gretsch fanboy.

Hi ho, Silver! Away!

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Build it yourself

All right, first I have an assignment for you. Go to the following URL on eBay and look at the item, then if you like, look at the rest of the seller’s inventory, then come back here so we can discuss it.

thestratosphere

Interesting? I found it searching for used Les Paul guitars. That isn’t the only company that sells “project” guitar bodies and necks, but their the first one I ran across.

Seeing those bodies at a fraction of the cost of an actual Gibson, Fender, or Gretsch left me with several questions.

First of all, if you buy a 2015 Gibson Les Paul Studio body, does it come with a Gibson factory warranty?

I’m thinking not. It would be like buying a stripped down Vette body and filling it with your own components. I doubt that Chevy would stand behind the product, and in this case, I wouldn’t think Gibson would either.

Another question, where do these stripped down guitars come from? Does this company buy say, a $1000 guitar, strip out all the components, them sell everything individually? How do they make any money on that? The example guitar, you could probably buy all the parts for anywhere from $25 all the way up to ten tines that. Even then, you’ve only spend say $750 for a $1000 guitar. How is this company profiting?

Unless these are blemished or used or even demo guitars that they got at significant discount on, but even then, I can’t imagine them being able to pick up a 2015 Gibson Les Paul Studio for what it would take for them to turn a profit at $459 for a body and neck.

Another question is, if you do purchase one of these project guitars, once you have it all assembled and functioning, can you make a profit selling it? Would you be able to sell it at whatever the going rate for a used Gibson is? Would an appraiser be able to spot it as a fake? Or is it considered customized?

I’m only curious because I’ll essentially be replacing everything on my lawsuit era Ibanez Les Paul except for the tuners, the volume and tone pots and much of the original wiring, and if I find that an enjoyable experience, I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at one of these projects where I’d have to put in all the hardware.

Maybe it could be the start of a new avocation for me: Shadow Ferret Guitar Customization.

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SG Update

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.

image

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.

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

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.

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Guitar fever

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….

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New Axe

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.

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