Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Banana pudding.

Spent this morning on the picket line. Good craic. Spent this afternoon looking for someone who'll ship this colour of cellulose paint to Northern Ireland to me. I've an old Fender Musicmaster bass, and I intend to replace the dreadful polyurethane paint job some hack gave it god knows when, with something more authentic. Something more like this. That's a good looking example. Mine's a stranger instrument: the serial number on the neck plate dates it to 1971-72, the number on the headstock dates it '78-79. The hardware and electronics are dreadful - this model was an infamous hodge-podge of parts knocking around the Fender factory, and under the cover lies a six-pole piece bloody guitar pickup that steadfastly refuses to report back the frequencies coming from the low E-string. Pointless, dumb, lethargic magnetic metaphor for the guitar industry of its era.

But (holy moley!), look at the prices even this awful relic of Fender's lowest point are going for these days! When I was a kid, the 1950s guitars of Fender and Gibson were seen as the holy grail; the early '60s ones were just about still obtainable if you had plenty of eff-oldin' money; the late '60s were seen as past the peak, the start of the long slide, but you could probably afford them; and the '70s stuff was regarded as shit to be avoided, until the point in the early-to-mid '80s when Japanese manufacturers like Tokai scared the U.S. giants from their slumber. My first electric was a Tokai Love Rock. Great guitar, still have it. Paid for it with money from my first job as a 16-year old student. When I came into a few grand (insurance compo, after a traffic accident) when I was at college, I bought a 1967 Fender Jazzmaster in Candy Apple Red. It was, uh, heavily worn: but these days people pay thousands to have a new guitar beat-into-crap by the custom shop and then call it a "relic finish". I sold it a few years ago and doubled my money. Nice. But even then, it was a post-CBS guitar. When I bought it, collectors would have regarded it as unworthy of their attention. I loved it, and only sold it to clear some debt. *Sniff* I bought the Musicmaster for fuck all squared. It's a piece of crap, but I wanted a short-scale bass at the time, and didn't really care what it was, as long as it was easier to play than the Precision copy I was then using. It weighed a friggin' ton.

So now, when it just might be worth my while to sell the Musicmaster and make a few squid, I find myself torn between doing a tasteful restoration job and flogging it on to some poor sucker; or just making it playable as a working instrument, sod any notion of authenticity (because in its "authentic" state, it's bloody awful) and keep it - stick a new pickup in it, maybe a new bridge too. In other words, redeem its ass and put it to work.

After all, three guys in a shed can't all play guitar - someone has to pull a Macca, fall on their sword, and play the damned bass. And I'm the only one who knows the major pentatonic scale.

Here's the Flaming Lips goofing around in their shed (via Sean). A much more Sci-Fi shed than ours. They're playing Belfast next month, but it's still touch-and-go whether I see them: they play the day after I return from Stevie's stag weekend, and I fully intend to be hung over/jet lagged/at death's door that day.

The Flaming Lips Rehearsing from Irreversibility on Vimeo.


Dan McDaid said...

I saw them live in Edinburgh a couple of years ago and they were knockout. They didn't do Waitin' For a Superman though, and I was sad about that.


Mark said...

Yeah, I'll keep an epidermic full of adrenaline in the glove compartment, though, just in case.

saudade said...

I'm just all twitterpated that you used the word fuck without an asterisk.

BTW, bass players are the sex.

Mark said...