Posts

Gravity Gold Picks

GravityGold

I play Dunlop Ultex 2.0mm picks. I buy them in bulk and they cost roughly 60 cents a pick.

I came across Gravity Guitar Picks, a small shop in California, that will soon offer a premium product called the Gold Series. The Gold Series pick is made from a high grade thermoplastic and it will be available in three thicknesses: 1.0mm, 1.5mm and 2.5mm.

Unfortunately not in a 2.0mm configuration.

Each pick is $29 USD. That is quite a dramatic jump in price from the Dunlop Ultex picks. As I have never played a premium pick before, I’m not sure what to think about the cost. Would such a pick produce noticeably better tone? Would it last longer?

I found the background for the business to be inspiring and I hope both the product and the business finds a successful niche:

Gravity Picks started in early 2011 from a dream to operate a sustainable business in the music industry.

Gravity Guitar Picks began with a $4,000 investment which was my entire life savings. Working hard to grow this business each and every day is something we want to do and have done for the past 4+ years. I am excited and optimistic about what the future will bring.

The Gravity Guitar Picks facility is located in the USA about 60 miles east of San Francisco.

2015 is going to be a special year as the Gold Series will finally be unveiled.

Just Arrived, 1956 NOS Strat

56NosStrat

Yes. This announcement was waiting in my email. The Fender Custom Shop folks letting me know that a new ’56 NOS Strat Master Built by John Cruz had just arrived in Toronto. Just in time for my birthday.

Let’s look at this guitar.

56NosStratFrnBak

Stunning. Just stunning. Shoreline gold with a Tobacco burst finish. An incredible figured neck. Gold hardware.

Cosmos Music has it for only $12,500.

Ouch.

Oh well. It was the wrong year anyway. I need a 1958, not a 1956.

1958 Stratocaster

1958CustomShopStrat

I turn 58 in a few days. Still living the dream.

Last year was a 57/57 year. Born in 1957 and 57 years old. Surely it was time for a 1957 Fender Stratocaster? Sadly that did not happen. I mean, yes, I turned 57 but no. No 1957 Stratocaster.

Perhaps this is the year. I turn 58 and I could get a 1958 Relic Stratocaster from the Fender Custom Shop. Like the one pictured above. A relic Strat for an old relic like me.

This is what Fender had to say about the guitar:

Perfected into its current form by 1958, the Stratocaster in that year was poised for greatness and had already found its way into the hands of several legendary artists. As a musically wild new decade loomed on the not-so-distant horizon, the already ahead-of-its-time Stratocaster was ready for anything as the 1950s wound to a rocking ‘n’ rolling close.

I called the team at the custom shop and they told me that sorry, we stopped building those guitars in 2011. But there might be one for sale in Sweden.

And sure enough, there it was. An original 1958 Fender Stratocaster. I guess the custom shop folks need to do a bit more work on the relic side of their reissues. This original certainly looks like a relic. The custom shop guitar? Not so much.

1958Stratocaster

But, sold.

How much though?

Well, if you have to ask you can find out here.

Still not satisfied? There was another one here.

And, if you don’t want to click through the links, a 1958 Stratocaster can sell for about $60,000. Unless it has been played by someone really famous. Then it could be much higher. Or, if it has been signed by someone famous. And then the age of the guitar really doesn’t matter.

The more signatures, though, the better.

This 2004 Fender Standard Stratocaster fetched a staggering $2.8 million as part of an auction to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster.

FenderMillions

It was signed by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Brian May, Liam Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Bryan Adams, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Paul McCartney, Sting and Noel Gallagher.

I believe it still holds the record as the most expensive guitar ever sold.

By comparison, $60,000 for a 1958 Stratocaster seems pretty cheap.

I’m not getting my hopes up though. I thought I had made it pretty clear last year about a 1957 Stratocaster for my birthday. But this is what I got instead:

UkeGtr

Colourful.

Not a Strat.

Drat.

Les Paul Black Beauty Sold

LesPaulBlackBeautySells

As mentioned in previous posts here and here, there was quite a range of opinion on how much this guitar would sell at auction. And looking at the news feeds above, even the media can’t seem to decide. Somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000USD. Much less than the forecast of $2 million.

Jim Irsay bought the guitar. Irsay is the owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts. He has a guitar curator, Christopher McKinney, to manage his collection of roughly 175 guitars. That collection also includes Jerry Garcia’s Tiger. Irsay paid $957,000 for that guitar.

Jim Irsay’s net worth is about $1.75 billion. He also holds guitars that were previously owned by George Harrison and Elvis Presley.

Build Your Own Boutique Stratocaster

StratRelic

The Fender Custom shop released this 1954 Heavy Relic Stratocaster in 2014. The instrument had an MSRP of about $4,700USD. It celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster. George Gruhn sold the first production Stratocaster guitar made in 1954 for $250,000USD last year. I guess a guitar can be a worthwhile investment. If you pick the right one.

But how much would it cost to build your own boutique Strat?

We would need a neck and a body. MusiKraft is a logical candidate. It is Fender licensed and it offers high quality components that you can customize to your own needs.

I would order a 10” radius neck with heavily rolled edges and a bone nut at a cost of $395. And a one piece swamp ash body for $475.

Since I want the same kind of relic treatment as the 1954 Strat, I would have them send the body over to MJT Custom Aged Guitar Finishes with a shipping charge of $40. I would have to spend about $500 to relic the neck and body.

I would need to get some distressed hardware and Callaham Vintage Parts would be able to help me out for about $300. And about $20 for shipping.

I still need some pickups and for those I would head over to Sliders. A nice set of Classic 57s would do. Roughly $350. Plus shipping.

A bit of wiring and assembly, and a really nice G&G guitar case, and I should be able to finish things off for another $250.

So, let’s see. We would likely close in on $2,500 for an overall cost of the parts.

Whether it would play as well as a Custom Shop Stratocaster is another question. They do nothing but build amazing instruments. I, on the other hand, have only ever assembled one guitar from parts.

And I don’t play that one.

Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster

WalkingDead

My son is a big fan of the Walking Dead. And a big fan of zombies generally. So this post is for him.

At the 2015 NAMM, the Fender Custom Shop highlighted some of their more unique instruments:

ZombieStrat1

The second guitar from the left is a bit hard to make out so perhaps a closer view is in order:

ZombieStrat2

Ah yes. A Zombie Stratocaster. Handbuilt by John Cruz. He is the individual pictured just to the right of the guitar.

John Cruz started working at Fender in 1987 and went over to the custom shop in 1993. He has been a master builder since 2003. I’ve played a few of his guitars and they are awesome.

This is what John had to say about the Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster:

“It”™s my tribute to The Walking Dead series, which I”™m a big fan of,” said Cruz. “Even though it”™s not really the characters, it”™s a tribute to that genre. I wanted to show a different side of me, that I could do some artistic type of stuff, as well. And something that caters to different musical forms.”

Joaquin Lopez did the painting and Ron Thorn did the inlays. In this video, John talks about the instrument:

Les Paul Black Beauty

BonamassaGuitars

Joe Bonamassa is an avid guitar collector. He owns hundreds of guitars.

His favorite guitar is a ”™59 Les Paul Sunburst, a “Holy Grail” that he actually takes on the road with him.

“I tour nine months a year,” Bonamassa told Gibson.com, in a 2011 interview. “What am I going to do, come home and noodle with it on the couch? Go, ”˜Wow look at this, I”™ve got a ”™59 Les Paul that never gets used, maybe on a recording here and there.”™ I”™d rather get a nice case for it–which I did–hire an ex-secret service agent as my security guard–which I did [laughs]–and take it on the road.” In an interview with AmericanBluesScene.com, Bonamassa praised the ”˜59”™ Les Paul”™s extraordinary tone. “I have over 300 guitars, but out of all of them, that one is definitely my favorite.”

He was also asked about the Les Paul Black Beauty which is going to auction tomorrow evening. Speculation is that the guitar might fetch upwards of $2 million. Here is what Joe had to say about the guitar:

As for Bonamassa, he says he wouldn”™t pay $10,000 for it. That”™s after paying $410,000 for one of his Les Paul guitars. Those are all Standard sunbursts from 1958 to 1960.

“What it is is a carved up old Les Paul Custom that Les modified and gave to Tom,” says Bonamassa. “I think Tom has the best of intentions with the guitar but Tom, because of his closeness to Les, may have an unrealistic value in his mind.”

One more sleep before we find out for sure.

EVH Wolfgang Custom Relic

EVHWolfGang

The EVH Wolfgang Custom Relic has a 1.5″ thick mahogany core with a half-inch arched maple top. The guitar also features Wolfganf Zebra humbuckers, TonePros and more. The full feature list is here.

Fender now builds out the line of EVH guitars and amps. The EVH Wolfgang Custom relic is the most expensive instrument with an MSRP of $7,999.99USD.

And why am I even looking at EVH guitars?

Well, not for me. I love my custom shop Strat. The reason is that I caught Eddie’s recent interview at the Smithsonian. He is a couple of years older than me — which means he is getting quite old — but he still plays incredibly well. And he features the amps and guitars that carry his initials.

The interview provides some insight into what drove him to push the boundaries of the electric guitar especially in three areas: tapping, tone and volume swells.

There is no doubt that he was one of the most influential players of the 20th century. And it is great to see him pick up his instrument and play all of those lines at 60 years of age. Check the video at around 25 minutes if you want to see and hear him play.