Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reps, relics and rehearsals

I recounted my black tales in the shop on Saturday to an audience of Paul the guv'nor, James the Saturday boy and various shop regulars- Paul, ever the realist, commented 'I think you might be reading too much into all of this'. Maybe... but it's been busy in the shop of late, with plenty of pre-Christmas browsing and many an enquiry along the lines of 'my son/daughter would like to play the guitar...' with this in mind it's been 'rep frenzy' this week, with Tom from Stentor, Adam from Line6 and Tom from EMD among those venturing into the shop to show us their wares and to attempt to coax Paul into spending some money on them. Pallets of large cardboard boxes have started to arrive so clearly some if not all of them were successful... Stuart the guitar repairman made one his many 'picking-up-and-dropping-off' visits on Tuesday, when he was accompanied by noted Guitar Techniques writer Jon Bishop. When he's not transcribing near-impossible guitar parts for the magazine (he's currently working on 'Texas Flood' by Stevie Ray Vaughan- see what I mean?) Jon is guitarist for Shakin' Stevens, a fact Stuart finds almost incalculably amusing. I'd not met Jon before 'though I'd talked to him on the phone several times as he was once at Stu's when I'd phoned there and I recognised his voice in the background from the commentaries he supplies on the CD's that accompany the GT mag- Stu put him on the phone! He seemed a really nice bloke (as I said to Stu, 'taller than he looks in the pictures') and liked our shop which is always a good sign!

After all the talk of Stratocasters last Thursday I've been contemplating getting myself another one as my 1963 example (ex-Paul Fox if you remember) is now getting a bit too valuable to take out gigging. With this in mind I've been asking/looking around to try to find out if there's a current model that's similar in feel to my guitar- the general consensus seems to be a Custom Shop 'Time Machine' model- a bit of a shame since they're rather expensive. They're incredibly accurate recreations of the older Fender instruments and come in three types- 'New Old Stock, 'Closet Classic' and 'Relic'. The N.O.S. are as new, as if the guitar had been undiscovered since it was first made; the Closet Classics are as if the instrument has been played for a while then put out of harm's way ever since, and the Relics have been 'distressed (i.e. beaten up!) to look how a guitar that's been played regularly for 40-odd years should look. (Allegedly the idea for these instruments came from a comment from Keith Richards who liked the guitars but said they looked too new!) There's plenty of them around- they're a current model, have a look at the Custom Shop section of for more details- and everyone who I've spoken to is full of praise for them; Pete from The Cane Toads has a Sunburst '60 Relic which he's very kindly lent me to try; it's pretty close to my one so I think I'll see what turns up over the next few months... that said after we'd finished at the theatre earlier today Stu and myself went across to The Noel Coward Theatre where Adam Goldsmith is currently playing guitar in 'Avenue Q'; he's got an Eric Clapton Stratocaster which he'd asked Stu to check over as it's not playing as he'd like. Stu pronounced it in need of refretting but it felt pretty good to me especially the neck profile so maybe I should have a look at those as well?

Monday night saw a rehearsal with The Ali Mac Band- Richard 'Hud' Hudson (ex-Strawbs among others) on drums, Bill from The Glitter Band on bass and Ali McKenzie (from '60's mod icons The Birds) on vocals joined by your humble narrator depping on guitar. We're playing a short (35 minutes) set at The South Bank this Saturday supporting The Pretty Things, The Downliners Sect and The Eel Pie Allstars which should be an evening to remember, not least because the Allstars should feature the mighty Mick Green who's one of my all-time guitar heroes. I met Ali at closing time at the shop and we made our way over to Chertsey where we're rehearsing at a studio on a farm owned by Dave, a friend of the band. I decided to take my old Strat with me to see if it's good as I remember it; even played through a not-very-good Yamaha combo it sounded great and felt fabulous to play, so much so that I think I'll use it for the gig. I'll just have to be careful... and talking of rehearsals it was another excellent session at Ruff Rockers last night with Dave and Mike (Andy couldn't make it due to family commitments) where we continued our r'n'b adventures with songs by the likes of The Temptations and Nine Below Zero being added to our repertoire. Mike bought down yet another Stratocaster for me to try, a mid-'90's Mexican standard to which he's added Schaller locking machineheads and Kinman pick-ups. It played and sounded great- we tried a couple of half-remembered ZZ Top songs for some reason- which has really confused me as it's current equivalent costs less than a quarter of the Time Machine models and it certainly wasn't a quarter of the guitar. Maybe I could get several of these instead?!? Ah- so many Stratocasters, so little time...

1 comment:

quadruple-b said...

Hi Leigh,

It's Gavin and Kay, remember us? Sorry we haven't been to Ickenham lately, but big G is still madly in love with his yellow guitar.

Two requests. First, we have brought out a new jazz song inspired by the Bond films entitled Shaken and Stirred. The picture is of our singer Lonette. Can I prevail upon you to go to our music site


and listen to it and let us know what you think? If you can go into the blog mentioned and leave a comment, even better.

Second, you mention Jon Bishop, guitarist with Shakin' Stevens. Do you happen to have a contact email for him? The reason I ask is that some years ago G and I wrote an old-style rocknroll/boogie song which we were told was ideal for SS. We tried to get it to him but his manager seemed to block things. But if we could get it to Jon, he might forward it to Shaky. Yeah?

Anyway, take care and we'll be visiting soonest.

Kay Shelley