Sunday, June 21, 2009

Squier Classic Vibe Guitars

I am a bit behind on talking about the Classic Vibe series by Squier. They came out well over a year ago, however, my local Guitar Center had never even heard of them the last time I was there! Luckily, Best Buy has started selling guitars, and usually have in stock the guitars that Guitar Center does not. That was the case when I went to the local Best Buy (not that I really like the store much, but I needed some software), and low and behold, they had one of these sitting there waiting to be played.

The Stratocaster, in the 1950s style, looked identical to my old 1957 Stratocaster reissue that I owned many years ago. I was just stunned at how good of a guitar this was. The finish and fretwork was perfect, the sound was great as it was, although many would change out the pickups anyway, but as it was, it had the Stratocaster tone we all love. It has a very lightweight alder body, which looked to be two pieces, probably three in a beautiful two-tone sunburst.

At $349, you will not be disappointed with this. They did not have a Telecaster, but I am sure that it is great, too. The folks at the Telecaster Disccussion Page love this guitar.

If I needed another Stratocaster or Telecaster, I would get one of these over the Mexican-made Standards. The MIM's are great guitars, too, but this one would be closer to the vintage style. They are soooo better than those Road-worn models that I was ranting about a few weeks ago. Get one of these, maybe modify it to suit your needs, then take it out and play the heck out of it. Add your own sweat and tears to it rather than have it faked. I want one of these, but I do not NEED one!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fender Roadworn Guitars

Fender introduced a cheaper version of their relic, custom-shop guitars recently. I have played six of them at a few stores this past week.

These guitars are made in Mexico, and are mass-produced relics, with the wear and tear being the same on all guitars. How original. Take a brand new guitar, worth about $500, artificially tear it up and sell if for $950. Then have all the gear heads on the guitar forums go nuts over them, and have no problems what so ever buying them at these prices and feel great that they got a good deal. That is great if you like it and it makes you play better. More power to you.

I did not like any of these guitars. Here is an idea - try and play your guitar and put the wear and tear in on it yourself. These guitars were not very good at all. They did not sound or feel any different than the cheaper Mexican-made Strats and Teles. There was nothing special about them at all, other than the fact that you have spent way too much money for a guitar that looks just like the some other musicians guitar.

Some players prefer the worn-feel of a guitar. I get that. Totally. I have played pre-CBS Fenders and can attest to the fact that an old, worn in neck is heavenly. These did not feel that way at all to me.

The guitars did not sound any different than my American-made strats, or my Made in Mexico Telecaster, which is one of the best I have played.

Hey - if you like these guitars, good for you. You have found a guitar that meets your needs, so play the heck out of it. I just think it is all a bunch of Fender-hype.

I am crabby today and have probably had too much Corona.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Levon Helm in Concert

Levon Helm stopped by St. Paul to play at the historic Fitzgerald Theater, which is famous for hosing The Prairie Home Companion. Levon, almost 70 years old, played drums like he was still a young man, playing 2 and half hours with no breaks. After most songs, he gave a thumbs up to members of the band and played with a huge grin on his face. His enthusiasm spread to the band and to the audience.

Levon, along with his band featuring Jim Weider, Larry Campbell, Amy Helm, Teresa Williams, and other whose names escape me at the moment, played a mix of Americana bluegrass, gospel, country, along with a few songs he made famous with The Band.

His band is top notch, and were enjoying every minute on the stage, including a rousing Mardis Gras song, which had the brass section marchin around the stage.

The audience was made up of mostly baby boomers, who are of the age where they probably saw The Band in concert. The crowd was very vocal, and in this small, intimate setting, led to Levon interacting quite a bit, including signing an autograph for a woman as they were getting ready for the next song. Levon shook many a hand of the folks sitting in the front, and gave at least three sets of his drum sticks to people who had made there way to stand by his drumset. Class act all the way.

The music was fantastic, as was expected of musicians of this caliber. Levon is a true legend, who deserves every bit of the respect that is given him. I am so glad he stopped by here, as we thought we would never get to see him in concert.

I have to add that Larry Campbell can play anything with strings, and Jim Weider had the perfect Telecaster tone, although he played mostly an acoustic for the show. Check out Larry's website. He has played on many a CD and has toured with Bob Dylan and many others.