Archive for November 15th, 2013

 

Welcome to my new blog.

 

I plan to share my views observations and opinions with anyone and everyone that cares at all about  All things Guitar and Gear as well as a wide range of topicality, vintage radio, television, gadjets, technology, and even, yes, even meatball recipes, good spirits and barbeque, etc. This will be an open forum of ideas, observations, and of opinions with emphasis on guitars and music, but anything of interest will be considered for ranting.

 

Yeseree! The next best thing to strumming and singing is swilling as you are strumming and singing while some good eats are sizzling on the grill. I do hope that you like my offerings and get some useful knowledge from what you read as well as  few good belly laughs once in a while because that is what this blog will be all about. Hopefully as time progresses, although guitar and gear based, there will be something in here to please almost anybody. I am also looking forward to knowing you and hearing all about what you might have to say or comment on my posts; maybe make some new friends in the process.

 

I have purchased, owned, and sold a lot of guitars and amps over the years and have had more than a few effects boxes. Some have become my absolute favorites that I would love to keep forever, others I thought might become as important yet never became so, and some that were a downright blunder to acquire, like; “What was I thinking??!” and so on. I would love to share my experiences about these things and much else. I also am kind of passionate about vintage tube radios and of course as this started when I was a kid, it was a precursor to my love of all things “valve” as they call a tube across the pond.

 

On more than one occasion I have been asked why I collect such junk. One time a lady friend of mine was observing me packing up an old Zenith radio, a portable 1939 5G500 that had fallen into disrepair. I was pretty excited about making friends with my buddy Bob Richard; www.oldtymeradio.net  ( more about Bob later ) who specializes in museum quality restorations of vintage Zenith and Philco tube radios as well as other brands. She looked at me like I had ten heads and asked; “Why don’t you just throw it out?, following that with; “It’s an big old musty box. Why not simply get a Walkman or an MP3 or something with ear buds?” I took a deep breath and didn’t even think I might make a dent in her experience circle as to why these radios and other vintage tube electronic are so cool. I just simply responded; “ I really like old things that work…. Reminds me of myself”, and let it be done with that.

 

What is one’s person trash is another person’s treasure. The fact is, they don’t build these things anymore and they came from a time when things were built to last and not simply buy it, use it until it breaks, throw it away and then get the newest version of whatever  to repeat the cycle. And the fact to me that these old tube radios can be refurbished to play another seventy years is stunning to me. After countless thousands of modern ear bud mp3 players are part of landfill, these old radios can be still playing on,… well, that is if the FCC doesn’t turn them into door stops by arbitrarily ending AM broadcast the way that they killed my beloved analog tube and transistorized television’s usefulness when they went to digital a couple of years ago. That too, will be a subject of a future rant.

 

The fact remains that this old technology endures because it was the result of great passionate engineering and quality execution of a durable sturdy product. There was no planned obsolescence in those days. Things were built to last, and if they malfunctioned which they did from time to time, they were built with serviceability in mind. Nowadays things are built to use and throw away. Often you see “no user serviceable parts” on a product and that designation is a disclaimer designed to tell you that this is to be tossed when it breaks, it is not worth it to repair, and, “Hey you! Keep yeh filthy hands out of this because you might get hurt!”.

 

And so when was the last time you saw a radio or television repair shop? The last one I went to was called Ray TV on Long island. He and a few others were the last of a dying breed repairing televisions that were not only something to enjoy your favorite analog broadcast on, but were also actually often a nice piece of furniture in the living room. These robust console televisions needed no stand! They stood on their own often crowned with a set of rabbit ears. At one time I dated a girl whose Dad owned one of these shops. More than once I had my ’66 Fender Vibrolux Reverb in his shop to be “healed”. Yes, they fixed guitar amplifiers in these shops as well as many other electronics items! Figure this, radios have audio amplifiers, televisions have audio amplifiers, and so for that matter it is no great leap that a guitar amplifier could be repaired here also. Often it was simply a tube. In those days, the only thing I knew about the tubes was that they powered my sound, without them the amp would not work, and the only reason to replace one was when like on televisions and radios, it burned out.

 

I remember in those days how when the television went on the disabled list my dad would get a  brown paper grocery bag ( remember those? Haha! ) remove all the tubes, and we’d take a ride to the local drug store. Once inside, towards the rear of the store by the telephone booth (!) there it was,.. standing like a small upright video arcade game might if they were invented then. Yes indeed, behold! A tube tester! One by one my dad would put the tube in its appropriately sized receptacle, some having a wire with a clip that attached to the top of the tube, and we would watch this big VU meter. Most of the tubes checked good, some borderline weak, but at least one would only make that needle rise to the bad point or not at all. Bingo! Then right next to the tube tester or below it in a locked shelf was a rack full of new tubes and Dad would buy the replacements that would get the television quickly up and running again. Imagine that! Buying vacuum tubes in a the local drug store!!! Imagine a television set designed to last, that indeed lasted for years with proper maintenance and could be repaired and was expected to be repaired when trouble arose! Nowadays, blank picture? First a dumpster run and then off to WalMart! And so I digress.

 

A few times  a capacitor here and there would fry, but in all that time I owned the that Vibrolux Reverb, and yes I still kick myself for getting rid of it, I had relatively few problems. In fact the reason I finally sold it was because 100 watt amps like Marshall and Ampeg, and HiWatt to name a few were becoming all the rage and it seemed to me like my Vibrolux Reverb was not as loud as it used to be. Looking back, I know that this was absolutely the case. What I didn’t know was that it was because I was playing the amp for hours upon hours day after day for the years I owned it, that I might have very well brought the life, tone, and volume right back with a nice new set of TOOBS!!!! Duhhhh!!!Again, what did I know? I thought you only replace a tube when it blows like Dad with the television set and not very surprising either was that when I first started playing guitar I had the same opinion of changing guitar strings! And to think how bad my intonation was at that time and how, I just figured it was the “nature of the beast”, guitars being so inaccurate and so simply approximate.

 

While discussing all things tubes, I would also like to get into the discussion of tubes vs. solid state at some point as there is a lot to be said for both sides positive and negative. I know a lot of people who are very passionate at either end of the spectrum, much like politics which is something I really don’t plan to delve in. That is the beauty of electronics, art, and music. It doesn’t matter where you stand from left to right, you can still be opinionated and passionate yet still remain friends!

 

As is said earlier, despite being mainly guitar, gear and electronics oriented, I will welcome different topics in this blog because there is always something to learn that gives you that; “Hey! I never knew that, light bulb moment” and that is always very cool. I am passionate about guitars and amps, but I am also passionate about a good meatball recipe or concoction for grilled chicken and fish, a great beer or a nice single malt. You need strength to play a guitar and even more to lift a Fender Twin Reverb amp; darn boat anchor that amp!.

 

I also like to sing when I play guitar and nothing lubes the pipes like some nice brew, and so we can discuss that as well. I do my best rendition of “I’m Your Captain” after a couple three Miller Lites. Really smoothens out my voice boosting clarity over rasp. Yeah I like the heavier beers once in a while like Sam Adams etc. but not while I am playing as they quickly get you bloated and slow you down. Miller 64? Works for me when I am singing and playing despite my buddy Sal told me that when his wife bought 64’s by mistake instead of his beloved Miller High Life, he concluded that they must have drained the urinals at the Miller factory and fermented it when they make Miller 64. Okay, so it is a bit thin, but ice cold they go down nice, and after a few who cares anyway? They’re only there to lube the pipes and the brain while you are belting out some tunes!

 

And speaking of that, it appears to be approaching Miller time right about now so I guess I am going to wrap up my introduction to my new blog. I am really excited about sharing my rants, view and opines and reading yours as well.

Hope you enjoyed my intro and hope you visit again. I’ll also be waiting for your comments.

Peace!

  Dr. Chuck

 

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