March 9, 2012

What Something is Worth

Category: Music — Cranky @

Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch of rack-based musical gear. I have compressors, equalizers, guitar effects processors, microphone preamps, patchbays… all for just little old me. I’ve had my fun with it, but the truth is that I haven’t turned any of this gear on in years. Time marches on, and my computer now does the work of all that gear in a tiny fraction of the space, and there’s no chance in the near term that I’m going to need to lug all that stuff on a stage.

I tried advertising it for sale as one big discounted block, but what I got back was musicians wanting to buy single pieces. Being musicians, they’re broke, and I would have to drive somewhere to sell each one at a deep discount. That’s a really big pain in the rear, to be sure. So I thought about it again.

What is the gear worth? If I was to part it out, it’s between $800 and $1000. That’s substantially less than what I paid, but, as I said, time marches on, and nothing loses value like electronics. But what is it worth… really? Well, that’s relative, isn’t it? I’ve had my fun, and the gear is essentially worth less than nothing to me – it’s taking up space I could use. But in the hands of somebody else, that equipment might be invaluable. Computer software is nice and compact, but there’s no better way to learn how to operate a compressor than by twisting the knobs and hearing what it does.

So, in an inspired moment, I googled “youth outreach music” in my area, and presto! I found a music studio in the city that works with at-risk youth, teaching music and recording, as well as art, spoken word, dance, drama, and fashion. I called them yesterday, and today I’m dropping off the entire stack of equipment at their office.

One man’s boat anchor is another man’s instrument of expression. You can’t always measure something’s worth in dollars. May that gear find passionate users.


May 15, 2010

Something a Bit Different

Category: Music — Cranky @

I’ve been working on different musical styles lately, and my writing has taken a bit of a classical turn. By no means am I claiming to be a classical composer – I’m just tinkering. I do believe that if you make the same kind of music all your life you might as well have stopped after a couple of years.

So this is a piece that’s been knocking around in my brain for a while. I call it “Gentle Rush” because it doesn’t have any sharp edges or harshness, but it does move along at a brisk little pace. It clocks in under two minutes and three pages of notation – three generous pages, since I also included the tab-style finger notation us guitarists cheat with.

Without further ado, and recorded in a single imperfect take with no metronome, musical warts and all:

Gentle Rush

…and for those who care… the sheet music.


July 7, 2008

Bringing My Baby Back From The Dead

Category: Music — Cranky @

When I was 10 years old, my parents began to send me to guitar lessons. This was in 1980, and we lived in a trailer. We had very little money, and my father went hunting each fall. He would get some combination of moose, deer, and elk – whatever he had tags for that year – and that would be much of our meat until the next fall. The lessons were a tremendous expense, and I can’t thank them enough. Music became one of the great passions of my life.

Behind the scenes my parents had a major fight when my father insisted on spending a huge amount of money on the guitar. I had no idea it cost $1000. It was a black and white National electric 6-string, and it looked very much like a Stratocaster.

15 years later, the body was in terrible condition… scarred, chipped, and clearly owned by a teenager for most of its life, but still my workhorse. I bought my second guitar around this time. Then in about 1998 I thought I’d do something about the body, so I sanded it down and painted it. Gold. Don’t ask. It didn’t work out very well.

That piece of my past has been sitting in a case for most of the last decade. I’d made a mess of it. The reassembly process had left it unplayable, which is hardly a surprise. I didn’t even know that the title of “luthier” existed. In the meantime I found out how much my parents had sacrificed for it. Were it not for that knowledge I would have thrown it away, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So a couple of weeks ago I contacted the best guitar tech I know. His time is always dramatically overbooked (this could take up to a year) but I trust him completely. I gave him my baby with instructions to restore it completely, and damn the cost. He estimated that cost for me, and it’s a lot – but I would have paid the $1000 again to bring it back from the dead.

I can’t wait to get my baby back. We are going to become reacquainted.