1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Angst of a Chicago Music Exchange visit...

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by fink, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. fink

    fink Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2003
    I visited Chicago last weekend, and I had a tele experience that left me ...
    Perplexed.

    I even talked myself out of posting this several times, because this post will be nothing but a call for commiseration over my vintage gear angst... But I must get it out.

    Anyway, when I go to Chicago, I always stop by this shop just to make myself feel blue about my own gear. This time was the worst ever. I walked over to the vintage Fender amp pile and asked the guy, "what do the Champs go for?"

    $4000.

    I said, "OK what's the cheapest old tele you got?"

    $3000 for a 70's model (black).

    I said, "OK let me give them a whirl."

    Now although this was the worst, cheapest, vintage gear I could find, it still sounded, and I played better, than ever before in my life. It is usually the case that you are awkward on gear that you are unaccustomed to, but in this case, I was at my best plus 10%. Everything sounds fantastic, people are peaking in at me in the 'jam closet' they put you in, and the twang and growl were just inspiring me to greater heights.

    Now the thing is, this 70's tele was nigh unplayable. I mean, everything fretted out about the 12th fret, and I mean totally fretted out, but this made no difference. I just stayed down low on the neck, and it sounded fantastic. I ask the guy, "Is it the guitar, or the amp that sounds so good?"

    He plugged me into some new amp. Not as good, but STILL my best ever (plus 5% this time). Despite the horrible shape of the frets and neck, this guitar just sounded good enough that I blasted right through, feeling so rewarded by the tones I was getting...

    And you realize the depression that sets in when you realize it's $7000 to walk out with the best sounding tones you ever got!

    ===============================================

    Flash forward to the hotel. I pull out my 2000 Nocaster Custom Shop and Champ 600 reissue. Ostensibly, a very, very similar rig by anyone's comparison. But the tones I get with this, my standard rig, that I am familiar with for years, are just like an underwater *thunk* compared to that lively '70s tele into whatever amp there is. NOW WHY SHOULD THIS BE?

    I am tempted to blame my guitar, which I have loved but sometimes struggled with over the years. Is it the pickups? The brass saddles? Or JUST THE OLD IS NOT IN IT? My guitar sounds good for what it is good at (mainly overdriven growl), but it just doesn't sound like *that*, you know?

    I submit this humbly in hopes that some of you will find it in your hearts to help me work through this and get back to a happy place with my gear.

    -Dan
     
  2. Chewy

    Chewy Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    246
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    NY, USA
    $4K for a CHAMP?

    I'll say that it can be a lot easier to let loose on crummier gear, you don't feel as intimidated by it and you don't feel like there's anything you have to live up to when you play it.

    ...those new champs have a very different preamp ciurcuit by the way, sort of a hardwired treble-mid-bass control a la Marshall or BF Fender, while the original champs were just wide open, which lends a lot of extra beefy-ness to the signal and works GREAT on tele's.
     
  3. Doug 54

    Doug 54 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,635
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    Ohio
    There is a good life
    Right across the green field
    And each generation
    Stares at it from afar
    But we keep no check
    On our appetites
    So the green fields turn to brown
    Like paper in fire

    OR

    You CAN always get what you want....but for how along??
    Chasing the dragon, in a sense

    .
     
  4. Chewy

    Chewy Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    246
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    NY, USA
    or maybe it was a case of "Dumbo and the magic feather."
     
  5. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    14,547
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    The Far-Flung Isles of Langerhans
    Keep in mind that CME is a grossly expensive store, and you could get the same goodies for much much less elsewhere. Their Rickenbacker prices in particular are pie in the sky. It's like they just don't want to sell anything.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  6. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    56,860
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    The mirrors they have there make you look skinnier, too :lol:
     
  7. Axe Slinger 7

    Axe Slinger 7 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    154
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Location:
    Peshtigo WI
    Those prices are well above the Blue Book that I use for appraisal so bear that in mind.

    Your amp is a nice little unit but look into some (relatively) inexpensive mods out there. Change the transformer and consider some of the circuit voodoo mods that you should be able to search out on the internet. It should open up the sound of the amp quite a bit and may be just what you are looking for.

    Also, just play the crap out of your guitar, wear the neck out a little and you will become more and more comfortable with it which actually does lead to better tone. Your feelings about a guitar can play a role in how you approach playing it, which will come out in how it sounds.
     
  8. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    31,491
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Bakersfield Ca.
    All guitars even ones of the same make year and model sound different.

    You could have tried another 70's Tele and it might be the worst sounding guitar you ever played.

    Maybe you should go to a shop with several Nocasters and compare yours against some other Nocasters see how it stacks up.

    If your Nocaster sounds worse to you than any of the ones you try maybe you got a dud it can happen on any guitar in any price range some are gems some are rust.
     
  9. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    2,358
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Substitute "one-night stand" for "70's Tele" and "wife" for "Nocaster", and you'll get an idea of the psychological forces at work here.
     
  10. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    54,563
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Location:
    New Orleans, LA + in the
    +1

    Something else we've forgotten to add to the equation.

    Mebbe the acoustics in that crazy expensive shop are custom suited to your ears. Consider the possibility that the same extra something that some guitarists/guitar techs/guitar shop owners possess in selecting the best vintage guitars and amps amongst all the rest, also translates into the ability to find a storefront that has spaces that "sound great" or can be reconfigured to sound great.

    Some (maybe a lot) of it is in the presentation. If that one night stand was wearing a sack, covered in cold cream and smelled like Lysol, she wouldn't be so alluring, either. :D
     
  11. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,841
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Location:
    London, England
    Like the others I think it's all in your head but if something all in your head gets translated into audible sound that pleases people (yourself included!) then I'm 100% supportive and all for it.
     
  12. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    9,373
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ada, MI

    Dang, buddy, it's rare to get such a combination of brevity, insight, and dead-on psychoanalysis. I salute you!
     
  13. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    31,491
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Bakersfield Ca.
    Sea Devil nailed it for sure.

    I also wonder how good the 70's tele and champ amp would have sounded if they were the same instrument and amp but priced at $500 for the guitar and $200 for the amp.
     
  14. Randypttt

    Randypttt Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    2,600
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    Location:
    Near Cleveland Oh
    Man complaining his finger hurts, "Dang, it hurts every time I pull on it."
    Other man, "Don't do that."
     
  15. lewis

    lewis Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,182
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    I've bought enough "old" gear to realize that I don't have enough talent to be a better musician when I play through it. It's cool that you are better but I believe that the honeymoon would soon be over after you spend thousands of $$$$ for a vintage Tele and amp.
    It all comes back to getting what you hear in your head translated to the tips of your fingers.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
     
  16. SatelliteOrders

    SatelliteOrders Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,112
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Lafayette, IN
    You know, I still want to take a day and travel north for a Chicago guitar-store crawl, with CME on the list
     
  17. Radspin

    Radspin Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,618
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I was in Chicago for two days last week and went to Make N' Music and Chicago Music Exchange one day. Two superb stores--Make N' has the best selection of new boutique stuff I have ever seen in one place, and CME is like the Smithsonian of vintage guitars--just unbelievable. Both places were run by nice guys who let me try a bunch of stuff even though I told them I wasn't there to buy.

    Although--I have a friend who is looking for a nice '60s Precision, and I tried about half a dozen from '64 through '66 at the CME. Well Fink, maybe I'm throwing fuel on the fire here, but I also tried a bunch of newer and vintage reissue Precisions, anywhere from a few to maybe 20 years old.

    Well--in this case, no comparison. The newer basses simply weren't in the same league as the older ones. Not even close. The older ones felt "alive," warm, resonant, while the newer ones felt more "plasticky" and unresponsive. I know the older ones had nicely worn-in nitro-finished necks, and the newer ones were glossier polyester, but STILL...the new ones were good; the older ones were anywhere from excellent to amazing.

    On the other hand, I have two Grosh ElectraJet Standards that blow away the '65 Strat I USED to own.

    A good guitar is a good guitar, no matter what the year...

    And Boris, good point about room acoustics. The acoustic guitar room at the Chicago Music Exchange is one of the best sounding rooms I've ever heard, with a beautiful natural reverb. It had a profound (good) effect on the sound of all the guitars I played in it.
     
  18. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,460
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I dunno- I have a Baja and a '76. My '76 needs a lot of attention right now- the frets are almost gone, the dorky 6-saddle bridge (the "modern/vintage" conversion one that comes with- or used to, at least- a 52AVRI) is kinda janky...it needs help to be all it could and should be right now, and it's just waiting for me to finally have the scratch to pay for the work. My Baja's good- and I've put a little bit into making it better- but, even though in many respects it's a much more playable guitar in comparison (decent frets, etc), it's just not as "alive" as the old girl.

    I'd really like to think it's all in my head, and I love the Baja, and have played plenty of great new and newer instruments, but few have matched that old boat anchor of a '76...

    That said, I played a buddy's '65 a few months back, light as a feather, even older (and ostensibly that much cooler), and guess what? My back-pain-inducing '76, even in it's sad shape at the moment, was 1000 times better.

    I'm not really sure what my point here is, just that some guitars- even when they need help, and even if there doesn't seem to be any logical reason why- just sound better, I guess, and when you find that special "something" and it makes you play your best and then some, yeah...it feels pretty good. Whether it's a Squier CV or a $5000 CS model or a real '53...
     
  19. fink

    fink Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2003
    Thanks guys.

    I think you are all dead-on accurate. And I am not even hearing any disagreement among you. It seems you must have all had similar moments.

    Bottom line is that old stuff really is night and day from new stuff.

    Sadly the price point is moving these instruments farther away from players' hands and more into collector's vaults.

    -Dan
     
  20. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,777
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm going to mess with your mind and tell you that you may have actually found a particular guitar and amp that worked best for the way you play and hear things. :lol:

    If I were to walk into a store and be told that a Champ cost $4000 there would be no way that that amp could live up to my expectations, and the way that my mind works I would be waiting for it to actually sound worse than expected based on the crazy price alone. I would also expect to be able to find another similar Champ at the normal market price that sounded as good, and I wouldn't necessarily expect "some new amp" (your words) to sound as good without knowing it was a comparable new model.

    $3000 for a '70s Tele at least sounds a lot closer to the vintage market price at a store like CME, and I had a similar experience with my 1973 Custom. It was more than I would have ever expected to pay for a guitar, but something about it just felt and sounded right in my hands. I picked it up fully expecting it to be a dog, and it wasn't. I had no preconceived notion that it should sound or feel better because it was vintage and expensive, and was prepared to laugh at the price based on all the knocking of '70s Fenders. There really is no reason that a guitar from any era can't be a total knockout and perfect fit for a particular person, and I don't believe for a minute that every $30,000 black or white guard is better than everything else. There absolutely had to be dogs back then and I'm sure that there are people raving about some of these that would knock them in a minute if they were a post-CBS era Tele,

    It sounds like that guitar for you may fit the same way that my Custom was for me. When I pick up my favorite G&L Asat Classic my first thoughts are that the set-up is better (I set them both up) and that I like the neck a little better, but I always end up back to my Custom after a few days without really being able to nail down a reason why. I guess I'm lucky to have found two guitars that I like so much.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.