21st April 2012
Photo with 2 notes
Shades & a bandanna always add attitude to guitar playing.
Part 2 of 4 finds Agnes running her scales:-)
21st April 2012
This week I decided to combine my 2 creations, Agnes (my syndicated comic strip) and reimagined guitars. Part 1 of 4, Agnes finds a guitar in the dumpster. Sometimes I do too:-)
12th December 2011
Photo with 4 notes
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8th November 2011
Link with 1 note
My search for storied guitars took an odd turn. Sometimes it’s the odd devices that get me jazzed. One guy even had a guitar with human teeth used for the knobs on the tuners. He was a professional boxing referee and collected the teeth for 20 years. Another guy once tried to sell me a hollow body Gibson that had a secret compartment fitted with poison darts and a blow gun. I don’t know why, but I don’t make this stuff up. One of my favorites is the one I have on my work bench right now. It needs a new volume pot. It’s a Strat look alike clad with aluminum from the Porsche James Dean died in. The guy I bought it from said a friend of a friend swiped a door from the car. (The car has never been accounted for, by the way.) He deskinned the door and used the sheet aluminum to shore up some bad cracks in the body of his guitar. He had documents. I believed him. Enough said.
1st November 2011
"Is this a three quarter size bass guitar?" I asked. "Yeah, got it from a dude in New Hampshire. He had a clown act he did at parties and such and a full size bass stuck out of his pants too far." I didn’t ask for elaboration. Didn’t need it. Didn’t want it. "Thirty bucks? Why so cheap?" Oh jeez, aren’t I the master of haggle? "It’s a piece of crap," he said. He was obviously the master of salesmanship. "Take twenty?" I waved the bill. "No, thirty, and that’s firm." "Twenty-three?" I pulled some crumpled ones out of my shirt pocket. "Done," he said. It was the extra 2 knobs and the little box wired to the side that caught my attention. I needed to compare it to a diagram I had at home, but it looked like a dual amber capacitor housing and, if it was, this was a very good thing. Sixteen of these were made by Robby Hubson in 1968 exclusively for the Winslow and Sharp guitar works. They never worked like they were supposed to and, even worse, no one knows now what they were supposed to do. Just as it sat, it could easily fetch a grand and, if it lit up when amped, the sky was the limit. I whistled happy happy tunes all the way home.
28th October 2011
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Buying guitars must hyperactivate your kidneys. I was making really good time home in the truck, but nature’s call had progressed from a gentle urgency to “if I don’t find a bathroom real soon, I’m going to blow bladder all over the dashboard.” I stopped at a UDF and scurried inside. After I had taken care of the situation, I grabbed 2 jerkies and a Stuarts Cream Soda. The girl behind the counter flashed a smile showing teeth that could only be called teeth in the most polite sense. “I see you buy guitars.” She motioned at my truck. “Yes.” I was trying not to look at her mole. She had a mole on her chin that looked like Abe Vigoda’s nose, only in HO scale. “I don’t have a guitar, but I have a case for one.” She gave me my change. “No market for cases. Sorry.” I smiled and hoped the charm I exuded didn’t pass for flirtation. “It’s monkey skin,” she said. “I keep it here. Mom says it’s creepy and she doesn’t want it in the house. My boss lets me keep it in the back by the dog food. She had me at ‘monkey skin’. “May I see it?” She disappeared through 2 banged up aluminum doors and reappeared before they even stopped swinging. She plopped it on the counter. Yikes! This was the most grotesque guitar case I’d ever seen. “My Uncle Donny skinned a big monkey that he found dead in his swimming pool. He made it into a gig bag for his electric guitar. See?” She pointed to a raised area. “I think that’s his nipple.” No knowing about the legality of owning such a thing, I passed. But I can give you the address if you’re interested.
25th October 2011
Link with 4 notes
I had never seen a guitar with one of these. Not in real life, anyway, only in old pictures … very old pictures. I wondered if it worked. “Peter Frampton owned it. He sold it to Jimmy Page,” the owner pleaded. “Jimmy Page sold it to Jimi Hendrix in 1986.” “I bet he hardly used it,” I said. “Only once and that was at that there big We Are The World concert,” he offered. This was fun. “Remember that?” “Oh, yes,” I said. “I couldn’t keep my foot from tapping.” I flipped the heavy beast over. ” I’ll give you 20 bucks,” I said. He looked shocked. “For a guitar that Slash himself owned? Are you nuts?” I knew who was nuts, but I wanted the pickups. I WANTED the Chambered Star and Dot lever. “Oh, did Slash buy it from Jimi?” I asked. “No, I think he bought it from Prince,” he said. “Fifty bucks,” I countered. “Last offer and I get to use your bathroom before I go. Take it or leave it.” I slung the guitar over my shoulder like a fat rifle. I gave him my best dare you to say no look. He stuck out his hand. We had a deal.
21st October 2011
The Russian guitar under the house trailer wasn’t Russian at all. It had a hammer and sickle stenciled on it and the guy claimed that a communist named Keith Richards had owned it back in the late 60s before he was a Rolling Stone. I told him, as far as I knew, Keith Richards was an avowed capitalist. “He is now,” he answered, “but this was his back when he was poor and stuff and a member of The People’s Army.” That’s when I knew the guy was delusional. He could see that I was leaving. “Then he sold it to a guy in the Yardbirds,” he tried next. “Eric Clapton!” He looked at me with one eyebrow raised. “No,” I said. “Jeff Beck?” He was pleading now. The thing was, I liked the pickups on it. I had never seen anything like them. Dark, narrow rectangles that looked like the tops of tiny ancient car batteries … and triangular magnets! Who ever saw triangular magnets? But the neck was warped like a rotini noodle and the body appeared to be a fine combo of linoleum over plywood. Junk. I flipped it over in my hands. My heart almost thudded to an elated halt.
11th October 2011
Link with 1 note
We haggled a price for the guitar. I stowed it carefully in the truck and said a cordial good-bye. I had just pulled out of the driveway. I didn’t hit a bump. I didn’t make a sudden steering move. The radio wasn’t on. But, from behind the seat, chimed a single, slinky, skanky sounding G minor … strummed just once. Then there was silence. It didn’t do it again; not on the way home and not in my workshop later. It didn’t even do it for the lead guitarist of a very famous band (that I’m not at liberty to name here) who bought it without even trying to beat me down on price. I wouldn’t have come down on price anyway. It’s crazy, but sometimes I still hear that chord in my head. Witch wood indeed.
Why do you suppose it was G Minor?
7th October 2011
"Waiting for wired money." That’s what the text from Vickie said. I turned to the guy selling the witch wood guitar. "Excuse me for a minute?" I asked. "Sure," he shrugged. I left Vickie in charge of the shop while I was on the road. Actually she was in charge of the shop even when I wasn’t on the road. She would not have bothered to text me if she wasn’t pretty sure it was going to happen. "Cool beans," I texted her. "You sound like such a gomer when you say that," came back. "Can you handle shipping or do you want me to take care of it?" I tapped out, "I’ll be home in a couple of days." She came back with "I’ll take care of it." "Cool beans," I texted. I’m sure if it was possible to text an eye roll, she would have, but the exchange ended. "Good!" I thought. "I have gas money to get home now." I turned to dirty ball cap guy and his haunted guitar.
The Pepperjackcaster will soon be on its way to France. Which guitar do you think will sell next?
4th October 2011
The guitar had a true device and that’s the prize I hunt. There are millions of electric guitars out there … old ones, new ones, some with a little history and some so dripping with past they are practically haunted. I leave those for the other hunters. I, my friend, am a seeker of the true device. Half note predicators … staminated tone phasers … any and all heterodox pickups. This guitar had mnemonic valve (a brass one). It’s a sort of prehistoric reverb. I had not seen one in years.
By the way, have you seen the crystal version of one of these? I would love to have a photo for my files. Leave a message.
30th September 2011
The guitar’s witch wood was worn like a church pew polished by a billion fidgeting butts. The body was ovoid, sort of like a Vox Mk VI. The pickups looked positively prehistoric, like a rectangle within a rectangle. They were riveted immobile. The neck was flat and wide. The head was simple and elegant. The grimy tuners were of a silvery cloudy finish, darkened to black on the edges. Neglected silver plate perhaps. “I’m going to flip it over,” I said. “I don’t touch it,” he replied, “but go ahead if you want.” Ever mindful that my fingers could curl up like bacon and that I may wet myself, I picked it up. Fingers felt fine, bladder was still manageable. The back was clad, as advertised, with well burnished galvanized bucket metal. It had been carefully hammered flat and secured with tiny brass screws. A nice bit of metal work done to a real crappy piece of metal. The edges had been slightly rolled to a seamless transition around the sides. I was excited. I had not seen anything like it since that time in Peru, but that’s a way other story.
Would anyone care to hear the Peru story?
28th September 2011
Link with 46 notes
The unwrapped guitar glowed with the burnished gloom of a thousand sad songs. “If you like this guitar, my Aunt Jane says she’s got a banjo that was made by monkeys.” I asked, “Can I pick it up?” I noticed he avoided touching it. I also ignored the banjo remark. “I don’t touch it,” he answered. “My Uncle Paul brought it back from Indonesia. That’s over by China and Cuba and what not.” “Did he buy it there?” I wanted to pick it up. “Can I pick it up?” He said, “I don’t pick it up.” “Why not?” I asked. He said, “I told you it’s made of witch wood, didn’t I? I don’t mess with stuff made of witch wood.” I resisted my natural sarcastic gifts. I did not ask how often things made of witch wood had shown up in his life. Obviously it was often enough to have taught him a lesson. “Wally Ostrander come over one time and played an old Surfari’s song on this very guitar. I think it was Pipeline. Anyhoo, his fingers twisted up like fried bacon and he pissed himself.” I stared at him. “Well, it’s a difficult song to play correctly.” He didn’t laugh. “I don’t touch it,” he said again. He was not amused.
Do any of you believe in haunted guitars? Witch wood? Do you think I should risk picking up the guitar?