Other Guitars

Well That Didn’t Go The Way I Expected At All

1

There was a guitar show at the fairgrounds in Orange County yesterday. Right next to it was a gun show. I have some amps to sell, so I thought, great, I'll take them down there, sell them, take the money over to the gun show and buy some guns (just kidding). Not kidding about selling the amps, really did have 3 little amps to sell, and had them strapped to a hand truck to facilitate walking the aisles with them.

Got to the second aisle and saw someone selling a White Falcon that looked somehow familiar. Then I remembered a friend of mine had his Falcon stolen in July, and it had a decal on the front in the same place as this one. Went to his Facebook page to see if there was a picture of him with the guitar, and bingo! Same decal, in the same place. Took a couple pictures of the guitar and texted them to him, asking "Dude, is this your stolen Falcon?" "Yes!" was the response. So he put the wheels in motion to get his guitar back. Good deed done.

Continued walking the show. Lots of cool yet overpriced stuff, even some Gretsches, like a Gretsch Bikini doubleneck for $3,600, a couple '50s Roundups, and some other old Gretsch stuff, a whole lot of beat-up Martins in sad shape, and for some reason, a whopping 4, count 'em 4 Gibson Super 400s. I did see something I'd always wanted to see, a Washburn Dreadnought Acoustic with a B-Bender on it. A friend in Nashville has one, and he can make it sing. My first efforts on this one were less successful. The seller offered to trade one of my amps for it, but I wasn't sure it was something I needed, or even wanted strongly.

Then I stopped by the Eastman booth. They had a decent-sized booth with a good assortment of their archtop, semihollow, and flattop acoustic guitars. So of course I felt obliged to play them all. Coincidentally, I'd been looking at Eastmans a couple days prior in researching how a guitar with a 1.75" nut might be more comfortable for my left hand. But after trying a couple they had there like that, I concluded that 1-11/16" is actually better for me, go figure. And I have no shortage of hollowbodies that meet that requirement, so I had no reason to desire another one, especially a Chinese-made (albeit hand-made) archtop.

But then...Steve the sales guy showed me the Varnished series. Not poly, not even nitro, but varnish, applied via French Polishing like their violins, and "aged" (sometimes called "relic'd") so they look well used, though not beat-up. I think relic'd guitars are silly. I wouldn't buy one (though admittedly, I did own a Fano "medium-distressed" guitar for a time). But the t58/v (the "/v" means it's varnished) doesn't feel like a relic'd guitar. It feels like an old guitar. An old guitar that plays and sounds great. Carved solid top, TVJ Classic pickups in dogear mounts (so you could, in theory, swap 'em out for a pair of P-90s, if you wanted to), a US-made Bigsby, and Gotoh hardware. All it needs is a Tru Arc, though that Gotoh tuna-matic did fine. And it sounds absolutely killer, just kinda hard to put down. And I didn't need it, so no need to, er, then this voice that sounded like mine asked "Did you say you'd make me a killer deal on it?" It was probably just a line, and hey, it's business, so whatever, but he said he'd give me artist pricing and consider me for becoming an Eastman artist, or some such thing. And of course, I don't need another guitar. But that didn't stop me. So it followed me home (it was an insanely good price). And I didn't sell any of the amps. craigslist/Reverb/ebay, here I come.

2

So, did the friend get the Falcon back? Did the perp get busted? Inquiring minds want to know!

3

It's all in process so I'm staying vague to keep from interfering. I'll update when I know more.

5

Yeah. I had initial fears of its feeling like a PRS, but thankfully, it doesn't.

7

I've played that Frank, (I saw the first prototype too, with a B7 Bigsby that didn't work at all for that guitar), and two things struck me as odd about it : the tall neck set/bridge, creating the need for those pickups to sit way high on the body, and the solid top and very light construction of it. I'd think it would be a feedback monster, though I didn't get to play it nearly as loud as I usually play, so I'm just guessing there. Doesn't it want to feed back pretty badly at stage levels?

Can't blame you, Eastman build awful nice guitars for comparatively low bucks. If I could get their ES175 copy with dogear P90's, I'd buy one. (and they've actually done those for the Asian market)

9

The only amp I had to demo it on was a Fender Pro Jr., and while I got it pretty loud, it wasn't exactly a stage environment so I'll have to see how it behaves on stage. Hell, I haven't been home long enough to plug it in there and crank it yet. Hopefully tonight. The risk is pretty low because if It completely doesn't work out and I end up having to flip it, it shouldn't be hard to get at least close to what I paid for it.

I have a gig on Wednesday that should be a good test for it, I may bring my ES-150 for a couple of tunes and have TWO old-and-worn-looking guitars on stage, one of which actually is old and worn. Or I may bring a Gretsch or a Reverend as a backup in case things do go horribly wrong. Contemplating putting the Tru Arc on it tonight, time permitting. Stay tuned.

10

When I needed an acoustic archtop for comping with a swing band, Eastman guitars rose to the top of the heap. The combination of reasonable cost, quality construction, and really LOUD archtops narrowed the field pretty quickly.

A friend favors old Epiphones for the same task, but he acknowledges that my Eastman is harder to overdrive than his current Epi.

Enjoy the new axe, and keep us posted on the outcome of the nasty business of the stolen Falcon.

11

Not sure if any guitar wouldn't feed back at the levels I tried last night, but it wasn't hard to make it howl in a small room with a cranked amp. I shot video of that but some string binding in the nut made that sound just awful, so I won't be sharing it. Well, I'll listen through it today and see if any excerpts...I just watched it out of curiosity and it wasn't as bad as I'd feared, I only had to chop out the last 15 seconds or so when the tuning went horribly wrong.

And of course, I couldn't find my Nut Sauce, so I had to gently widen the G string slot with a wound string, and replaced the D'Addario .011s that came on it with Elixir .010-.046s for a little more room, and once they stretsched (I've typed "Gretsch" so many times, my hand just naturally spelled "stretched" that way; I think I'll do that to all "-etch" words from now on, sketsch, kvetsch, etsch, etc.), the tuning became a lot more stable. Hope so, because that'll be important tomorrow night at the show.

Jonathan Stout used to use (maybe he still does but I think he sold it when he bought his vintage L-5 acoustic) an all-solid Eastman for rhythm, and it's nice.

OK, I managed to edit and upload the video during a conference call (that'll teach 'em to put me in charge), so here's the first quick-and-dirty demo of this guitar:

Looking forward to playing it again.

14

They are: A Quilter MicroPro 200 head: Link (this is a stock photo, haven't had time to take pictures of them yet). The first version, 200 watts (100 per channel), 2 channels (one clean, with combo 1/4"-XLR input, one "gain" channel that works like a normal guitar amp channel), reverb, tremolo, effects loop, boost, limiter. Will drive any speaker you want to plug into it (it doesn't care about impedances), or no speaker and use the XLR DI out. Used but not abused, comes with the bag and power cord, and one speaker cable. $400 shipped.

A Quilter MicroPro 200 - 8: Link . Same amp as above but a combo with an 8" speaker that can handle the power. It can get plenty loud. Comes with cover and power cord. $500 shipped.

Gretsch Electromatic 5222: Link . Cool little amp but I never use it, and a lot of people like these. But I won it in the swagfest at a NorCal Roundup some years ago and I was planning to re-donate it to this year's swagfest if they'll let me, since my wife won Powdog's little boutique amp last year, so my small-amp needs are more than covered, and I've been extremely fortunate in the pick drop festivities over the years so I'd like to give back. Wow, I just looked on ebay and reverb.com to see what these are going for, and there's only one actual amp (lots of mod kits), and they want close to $200 for it. So if you want it, let's call it $175 shipped and I'll take the money and buy something else to donate to the Roundup. And if not, I'll donate it to the swagfest and someone else can enjoy it.

15

VERY cool! Love the way the french polish looks - it kind of reminds me of a very old Gibson from the 1910s or early 1920s. I didn't know that Jonathon Stout used to play an Eastman. I always like his old school acoustic swing YouTube videos.

16

Cool Frank, very promising! I just thought it felt so light that one well aimed bass drummer hit from a loud drummer would stop it dead in its tracks, but apparently not, good for you.

When they start doing these with proper single coil pickups in a non-pumpkin finish, I'll be very interested indeed!

17

I hope your friend gets the Falcon back posthaste.

I'm pretty sure I"d lay down and die of happiness if I stumbled across a gun show right next to a guitar show. My two favorite hobbies...

18

Well, Orange County is the home of the Happiest Place on Earth, right?

Left a message with my friend to get a status on the recovery efforts, no response yet.

Walter, ah, so you've met our drummer . It does come in a darker finish, this was just the only one they had at the show, and I don't find it distasteful, but given a choice, I probably would have gone for the darker one. They do make a doublecut thinline in the Varnished series with Duncan dogear P-90s, but with a B7 instead of a non-tension-bar Bigsby. And these look like TVJ's dogear-to-'Tron adapters, so I may experiment with other pickups in due time (T-90s? T-Armonds? hmmm). And the top doesn't seem any more delicate than any other electric archtop I've played, can't say the same for some of the Loars I've tried.

Chickened out on bringing the 150 to this gig. I don't have the set list so I don't know exactly what we'll be playing, and with the Eastman's maiden voyage, I'd feel better having a backup in case something goes horribly wrong, so the sparkly Reverend PA-1RT will be sitting on the stand in case of emergency.

19

Played the first gig with the Eastman last night, and it was a huge success. Got off to a rocky start as traffic was abominable even by L.A. standards yesterday, so we got to the venue about an hour later than planned, and set up while the dance classes were going on, so no time for a sound check. Got the PA dialed in pretty easily, but no time to double-check the guitar rig before showtime. So of course, weird s*** happened. Stepped on the amp's Boost switch and the boost indicator lit up, but not only no boost, it acted like a kill switch. Never had that happen before. Just the straight tone with only the Atomic Brain on was low volume and overdriven. Again, why? No good reason. Brought the gain on the amp way down to try to clean it up, with limited success. Oh well, got through the set and looked at it during the break. Rotated the voicing rotary switch on the Boost and "pop!," the boost came back and the signal cleaned up. Second set rocked. If this were an old amp, I'd have said "Hmm, maintenance time." But it's the second-newest Quilter I have, so this is puzzling. And it's never happened before. Oh well. Not going to tear it open and squirt De-Ox-It in the switch, I suspect it won't happen again.

And although I put new strings on it Monday night, it stayed in tune really well. I'm so used to locking tuners, when I put the first (low E) string on, I only gave it the small amount of slack I give to locking tuners, so it ended up with about 7/8 of a wind on the tuning peg. I was worried it would slip out, but it held fine, even with all the bending and Bigsby whammage I did over the course of the evening. Great, bright TVJonesian tone and since I had a wireless unit, I walked out onto the dance floor a couple times and heard it fit in well with the band. I changed the strings in a hurry on Monday and forgot to tighten up the Bigsby handle, so grabbing for it when it slipped out of reach was a little clumsy, but easily fixed. And the slightly longer (1/4") scale made me fumble a little a few times (though it could've been the beer), but otherwise it was so comfortable and familiar to play, I forgot I was playing a different guitar for most of the night.

Oh, one goofy feature of this guitar: which knob is volume and which is tone? Spoiler alert: the easiest one to reach isn't the volume control. It's the tone knob. Don't know why that is, I think I'll ask the Eastman rep I met if that was intentional.

Even the drummer remarked on how good the Eastman sounded. After the show I heard him talking about it with a guest and he asked me "What year is that Eastman?" "Uh, 2017...maybe 2016." "You mean it's not old?" "It's brand new." Drummers.

Looking forward to the next outing.

21

Pretty guitar, Frank. You can't blame it for following you home.

Why are you offloading Quilters? Or, more obviously, why do you have so many of them?

22

A post from Proteus, this is an honor indeed. Why do I have so many of them? Because they were for sale.

Why am I selling a couple? Wellsir, I have 3 MicroPros: an original MP200-8, an MP200 Head, and a MicroPro Mach II 8 combo. This seems a little excessive. I've concluded that my favorite tone for use with the Lizards is the Mach II into the FrontLiner cab (in the picture above, the 8" speaker in the combo is unplugged because I just don't need it). My favorite tone for the country band is the same thing plus a subwoofer.

So I don't really need the two first-generation MictoPros, and I do need to pay for that Eastman when the credit card bill comes, so off to market they go. The scammers on craigslist have already offered me cashier's checks for them, so they're apparently in high demand in the underworld.

I'm also a big fan of the new Overdrive 200 head, which is tucked into the slot in the FrontLiner, it's just not plugged in.

23

I've been intrigued by the Quilters. Pat's an honorable (and "idiosyncratic," as they say) guy I'd like to support, from QSC onward to these innovative little beasties.

The light and portable bit does appeal to me, and I'm one of the regrettable reprobates who uses pedals instead of amp overdrive anyway - always liked overpowered tube amps more for their clean headroom than their push - so the Quilter concept works. He does have some competitors (well, lots!) in the tinylight amp field now.

But those arguments are less compelling when one's amps just sit most of the time rather than being gigged about, so I wonder why I'd change now. What I need is more gigs, so I can have that dilemma mean something.


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