Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A New Guitar, A Story...

I have some quirky electric guitars. Probably anybody that's seen me torturing 1 to 3 strings on stick of wood is not going to be surprised. I do have a couple of Stratocasters, regular electric guitars that you might see a guy playing on TV One's an old one and then there's a new one that's a far east import. Both have been Ry Cooderized in various ways to be my slide guitars. I have a full hollow body, a DeArmond that can scratch a western/blues/rockabilly itch. There is the Eastwood baritone that plays like a guitar, is almost a bass but whatever chord you play sounds a major 5th higher and brings heavy surf/flying saucer/spy twang. It's probably the most powerful guitar I have but everyone wonders what itch I'm scratching with it. Ok, Ill answer that here, the loud as piss itch. The new guitar I have is a reissue Danelectro 1956 U2 that I won in a charity auction at the Stonewall Rockers/M. D. Anderson Cancer benefit a couple of weekends ago. I think it's going to fit real well with these others. 

You have probably heard Dano products on records for years. The produced amps for Sears and Monkey Wards beginning in 1947.  In 1954 they started to make electric guitars, some in their name and some for the catalog companies.  Their goal was well make affordable instruments. The original U2 was made of a poplar frame with a Masonite top and back. the now famous "lipstick" pickups were made from WW2 surplus lipstick tubes. Why GIs need lipstick tubes and why they had any left over is another blog post. Here's a photo. 

This is an autographed guitar. I am afraid I am going to rub some names out because I am going to play this little guitar so take a good look here. You can make out Harlem Slim, then a name no one can read, Wes Jeans a Hendrix kind of dude from Marshall, Tx. who dated his 1999 so that's probably the year of the guitar manufacture, Mike May, who has played in Lufkin but I can't seem to find on the internet and then there is Don McManus and his sons Ricky and Doug who I think are Memphis pickers but I can't find anything about them either.  

I have seen Wes play. He started pretty young to a lot of fanfare and is still on the road. I remember when I saw him it was a lot of Hendrix and Albert King tunes with real sensitive dynamics. He was also a member of an internet music forum I had joined but he was not so sensitive there and his outspokenness and attitude got him banned from participation. He's older now, maybe better.  

I have a funny story on Harlem Slim who seems to have been last mentioned on the internet about 2010. In the early 2000s I had had my resonator a few years, was playing pretty good and somehow Slim, who was based in Houston picked my email address off the internet somewhere and I got on his mailing list for his gigs and stuff. We might have even trade a personal email or two. He was doing pretty good, some kind of  rep for Gibson and National guitars. He invited me and everyone else on the list to a National Guitar workshop at Fuller's Vintage guitar in Houston. Turned out most of the people that came were middle age white guys like myself but they were taking lessons from Slim. They sat around hacking at Robert Johnson songs on brand new resonators  in the halting way folks that have not been down on their all fours barking like a dog after drinking poison whisky tend to do. 

I played my usual stuff and while I did not purchase an expensive National guitar (there would be no story here about quirky guitars all these years later) but I did pay Slim by purchasing a slide and a cd and the music store through the purchase of strings, picks and other small items I needed. Here comes the funny part of the story.  I never heard from Slim again. From my posture playing this guitar his name, though not on purpose, just mechanics will be the first one to be rubbed off.  

Here's a clip with a looped drum track and a homemade electric washboard box drum. 


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