Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Episode 6: Gretsch 6117 at Heyday Music in Asheville NC

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All right, welcome to The Local Pickup! I'm Jason Broadwater, and we don't have

Chris Gervais with us today, except he is here! He's behind the camera! Say "hey" Chris!

Yay! And we are in the coolest store anywhere around. This is a vintage guitar

store, amp store, repairs, it's called Heyday Guitars, and Charles,

let's start out, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got

into vintage guitars and opening the store.

Oh, okay. So I went to school at

App State in Boone for recording. So this used to be called-- myself and the

other owner were employees at a place here in town called Sherwood's Music, so that

was my internship for college. So I got out, instead of doing, like, the studio

thing -- because I wanted to still enjoy recording -- it's like the chef and the cooking

at home thing, right? So I was like, "All right, I have a lot

of old gear. I can intern at this place, be the retail manager, learn how to fix

my stuff, there we go. So then, you know, four years go by, and I was the

basically the manager. There was me and Brian and then Matt Sherwood, who was

the owner, so it's kind of just like the three of us. And there was a couple,

like, part-time employees to help me out, but we did that for four years, about, and

then the owners of the building wanted to, you know, put a hotel there and all

that kind of stuff, so they kind of-- It was time for the lease to come up and Sherwood

wanted out and we were like, "Hm, yeah, let's keep going." So we changed the name,

moved it down, basically purchased all the assets,

created a new business. We have all these assets and all the dealer accounts

and all that stuff.

Is that when you moved here?

Yeah. So that would have been... 2015 we took it over, 2016 we

moved in here. Basically, like, finished out the 2015 lease and then moved it

down here. So this summer will be... four years?

Congratulations. That's great.

But really in my mind it's been eight!

Right, yeah, right!

Well it's a great spot. I mean, Lexington right here, North Lexington in downtown Asheville--

It makes a big difference.

Yeah, I bet.

And the Moog factory is just right down the road, so you get a lot of people that walk in with their their Moog bags, and I mean

we're friends with all of those people. And we were sending-- what's cool

is we were always sending people down kind of this block anyways, because with

Static Age is next door and Voltage Records is a little bit down the way, we've

got-- Like, our friends own the bars around here.

So it's a community.

Yeah, this is kind of like a local block in downtown still.

That's great, because a lot of it's not that way anymore.

Right. If you, you know, you go one

or two blocks north or south of us and it's like-- it's very... it's a different

crowd that it is appealing towards.

And much higher rents I would imagine.

Much higher rents, yeah. For a while I was paying more in rent for my house than

the store rent, which is really, really

hard to come to terms with.

Very cool, man. So you've seen all kinds of

wonderful, amazing instruments, one of which we're holding today. So what is this?

This is a 1965 Gretsch. The model's a 6117 Double Anniversary.

And so this is one that there was a batch of labels in 1957, I believe, that

went missing in the factory, and so then in '65 they had found them, and so there's

a subset of '65s that have a label from--

The label would have, like the serial number.

Yeah, so if you look at that serial number, it's a 1957, but it's

absolutely not a 1957 because it's definitely a 1965.

Yeah they had them left over, they found them, and it was like...

If you go to the serial number databases, you'll see where it's--

there's this little group where, all of a sudden, it's like--

And this is a full hollow-body.

Full hollow, you've got the Hilotron pickups.

So what's up with Gretsch's pickups? It seems like you always have a unique pickup thing going on.

They're definitely, like, they look like humbuckers, but to me they're

sort of how P-90s are where it's a single -- or like lipstick Danelectro

pickups are -- where it is a single coil, but there's definitely... the way that it's

built, it sounds different than a traditional, like, Strat or Tele pickup would.

Right, it absolutely does, yeah.

And then there's variations between a couple

different models. Filtertrons, Hilotrons, TV Jones pickups, I know I'm forgetting another one.

These are all on Gretsch's?

They're all, yeah, different ones

you'll see on Gretsch's, like some have-- they're, like, all-metal

and with the two lines, and then some with these. So they all sound a little

different, but essentially it's like a jazz box, this one is.

So I've heard

the term "Gretsch-bucker," is that, like, a humbucker made by Gretsch? Okay.

That could be, that could be the Filtertron. I know someone out there

will be like, "No, it's the other one! How could you not know?!"

Yeah, believe me, we put ourselves out there. We're "guitar enthusiasts," yeah.

There's definitely different ones. There's definitely crunchier ones. If

you're trying to go on stage and rock with this, you totally could, but, like,

something crunchier's gonna get you a little further.

So this has a jazzier kind of quality.

To me it's, yeah, it's definitely that more mellow-- with the, like, two

volumes and master tone and fixed tone switch, it's one of those, like, get your

blend, set it and forget it, or switch between your neck and

your bridge for solo tone or rhythm tone.

Well it plays so great, the action on it's fantastic.

This one is in one of the better,

you know, it's not perfect, but a lot of the time, like, the binding's still intact.

That's the big thing with Gretsch's.

The binding comes off, yeah.

The binding disintegrates. Similar to old Gibson pick guards, if this stayed

in the case the whole time, the binding gives off-- off-gassing, it

gives off a chemical, and it corrodes the electronics, yes.

So you'll see ones that are perfect with no checking and no marks and no play

wear, but the binding's gone, the pick guard's disintegrated, the hardware's

all rusted, all of that.

That's crazy.

So this one, because it was left out of the case and played, you've got

binding and it's, you know, like, yes it's going to come off, yes it's going to fall

off eventually, but this is, like, a really-- so when you see, like,

"Oh, well this one's all whatever." Yeah, the binding's gone, the pickups have been

changed, it doesn't have the pick guard. This is, like, original

case, case candy.

Does it stay in tune? I know the Bigsby, the old Bigsby--

Pretty well. Because it's got the roller bridge, it's not, like, binding in a V-shaped

saddle. So the idea is that it rolls.

That's why sometimes you'll see people -- not on this -- but put, like,

roller nuts on guitars with tremolo systems, just so it

doesn't bind. That's definitely a place where it's like, "I use

my Bigsby and it never goes back to where it is." It's not this

spring because it's going back, it's when it,

yeah, the string binds here at the top, and then it changes pitch on stuff.

And is this mounted?

That's floating.

That's floating, so if you took the strings off, this would fall off.

It's going everywhere, yes. So really you should do it one at a time,

but, if I was gonna do an actual setup, I would put tape.

Like on mine, I've got a guitar that I just put, like, little marks.

So when you take it off you know where to put it back on?

Yeah, if it ever moves-- or it's really

easy, like, sometimes when you put your hand on it and

rest. Like, a Les Paul bridge, that's going nowhere, some people will rest their

hand there. You rest your hand there and it'll slide.

So you've gotta be aware of that I'm sure.

Just be mindful. Be mindful of it.

But this isn't-- to me, again, it's not one of those, like, you could, but with

the full hollow and all that, it's like, you're not gonna go play this in front

of a half-stack super loud somewhere.

You'd be feeding back pretty bad.

Very quickly, yes.

Now, you talked about checking. So checking is when the lines form in the finish, or...?

In the old nitrocellulose finish, it's just the way it is.

So sometimes it'll go-- to me it always kind of goes with the grain, but

we've had some that are purely horizontal, and you'll see

here, like, it's not checking, and then here it is. There's, you know,

basically, I think it's from temperature changes, essentially.

They've become kind of-- people have gotten real into checking

as a positive thing, haven't they?

Yes, well and it kind of lets you know it's real.

Like, my EB-3 that's back there, you can see that, like, you can't fake that. Like

yes, custom shop stuff does great, and yes, you can relic things, and yeah, take it

and drag it behind your car, but you can take a-- there's ways, right?

They've got techniques, but there's, like, something about when it's age, you just know.

I believe that guitars have something in them, I don't know, you can call it a "soul,"

whatever it is, but I've got a '53 Epiphone archtop that's electric, and

I can play it for, like, an hour. I can just play it and play it, I write songs on it, I write

riffs, any time I pick it up.

And then I'll pick up one of my other nice guitars, and I'm like, "Eh."

It's totally nice, and it sounds great, but there's something, there's definitely something to that.

Sounds fantastic, man.

So yeah, you've got your pickups.

So this switches back and forth between pickups.

Yeah, so you can set, like, a quieter,

quieter volume and then...

Oh, and then switch, yeah.

Yeah, and then with your master, overall...

Okay. So you've got independent volume controls,

you've got a master volume, this is switching back and forth between these

two pickups, and this is, like, a tone.

It's like a tone-- sometimes, what

gets confusing to me is with all the different models, like, sometimes it's a

phase thing. Sometimes it's a tone thing. Sometimes it's only on one pickup.

sometimes it's... so.

You know what I've noticed on the Rickenbacker?

You just flip them a lot?

Right, exactly.

And just, like, run with it.

I noticed Rickenbacker has that one

extra knob that only affects the neck pickup, gives it a drive.

Well and then there's some that, on some of the 12-strings, it's like

an overall high cut, or sometimes it's a low cut.

Depends on the year and model, I guess?

Or did somebody mod it?

Like, I modded my Strat to be middle pickup and treble pickup

on the tone knob, whereas traditionally it's neck and middle on the tone, and you

have no control over the bridge pickup.

So if you have the magical superpower of

being able to take the electronics out of a guitar and alter them the way you

want, do you find yourself doing that all the time?

A little bit. It's definitely--

It's like, you should make something work for you in the way that you want it to.

I did a similar thing to my bass; I took the tone knob -- and it's

called a "no-load tone pot" -- to where if you take a normal tone pot and turn it all

the way up, even though it's all the way up, it's still going to have that amount

of resistance. Like, if it's a 250k tone pot, there's always going to be 250k

resistance in your signal.

Even though you're turning it.

Even though it's all the

way open, just naturally. So what I put in mine is, when you turn it all the way

up, it's like it's not there. So you still have a tone knob that works, but when I turn

it all the way up, it's basically like I have wired the pickup straight to the

jack. So yes, absolutely, you can get in

there and tinker, but that's why you see, like, '70s Tele's or Strats or whatever

that have had a humbucker cut into them, and have-- the '70s were a

bad time for Fenders getting modded. '70s, '80s, and that stuff.

Yeah, we ended up with a '79 Strat that had, like, Mustang pickups in it, and

it had all kinds of crazy stuff.

And you don't know, like, why it did that. A lot of

times it could be something happened, so they did this. You don't get to

know the story, but, like, there are other times when you get something and go, "Oh, no."

I know, yeah.

But to that same effect, it's like, yes you can take your Fender Bassman

and turn it into a Marshall, right? Like, that's where the early Marshalls came

from. They took the early Bassmans -- yeah it's a Bassman -- they took the

Bassmans, Jim Marshall did a little tweak, gave it some more gain, there's your early Marshalls.

This is where Marshalls come from.

Really? That's interesting. Did he work for Fender?

No. He was a British dude that-- they were taking Bassmans and hot rodding them, essentially.

And he came up with what became Marshall.

Right, and that is the early--

So, there's a kind of JTM Marshall, they call them "Marshall Offsets,"

so where, like, within the head box -- whereas nowadays they're right in the center --

these are all shifted over to the side. And those are, like, the early--

There's a recording studio in town called Echo Mountain that has one of the early,

like, actual Marshall Offsets.

Does it sound fantastic or does it sound--

They sound great. It also just

kind of sounds like a Fender Bassman. So in that effect, it's like, yes so

you can do that, but don't buy something to try and turn it into a Marshall.

Right, right, right. Does it-- I guess it

decreases its collectible value when it's been altered? Is that--

Yes, and then that's a whole other thing, because, like, cosmetic condition and all of those

things, like, you can have a guitar that's super perfect and has no cosmetic issues and is like

a time capsule, but then people try to charge so much money for them that it's like

you're getting into, like, the collector side versus, this is in really good shape

and it's worth money like this, right?

Yeah, there's wear on it. Yeah it's not perfect. But it is one of the better

cosmetic examples, so this is going to be worth more than one with no pick guard, no

original case, no binding, pickups changed, new tuners, right? So it's like all of

those things. When I first started working at the other place, like, refrets

still hurt the value. It's like, well if there's no frets on it and you can't

play it...

Why not refret it?

Yeah, you've got to make it be playable, but

people finally realized, "Oh, you kind of have to."

Now there's the possibility that it was refretted poorly.

Absolutely. Or the same way when somebody, you know, services

an old tube amp, and you have to change the caps, and they do a bad job. Or like, you know,

refinishing kills the value.

Oh yeah, yeah. I always skip anything I see was refinished.

That's how I got that Danelectro bass. That's a refin, yeah.

Is that a '60s Danelectro bass?

Could be '50s. Could be '50s.

'58, '59, kinda?

Somewhere in there. I haven't, like, really dated the pots and stuff.

That's cool. So the way you date a guitar

is you take out the electronics and look at the pots?

Ideally. So with Fender,

once you get into the '70s, has a pretty good serialization where it,

depending on-- you know, I can tell you just by looking at it, unless-- if you know

that nothing else has been changed, I can tell you what year it is on the serial

number. Gibson gets a little tricky because they've reused serial numbers or it

doesn't always work. With Martin, you have, like, the last serial number for a year,

so you know that if it's, you know, under this but over that it was this year, right?

But, like, that '60s Gibson, or the SG Junior. You look at the serial number it could be this

or it could be this or it could be this, but then you date the pots, and they all--

Same with speakers. I can look at speakers or transformers or pots

and tell you who made it and what year they made it, because there's, like, a week

and a year code.

And then on guitars that have bolt-on necks, you can take off the neck and look, like Fender--

So on Fender stuff, then you can, because of that--

It could've separated the neck from the body.

Yep. So you can do-- you date the neck, you date the body, you date the electronics,

meaning the pots and the pickups.

And if anybody doesn't know, a pot is, you've got the knob--

The potentiometer.

--which goes to the potentiometer, which then goes to the pickup.

Yeah. Or, well, do it the other way, because of where the signal starts.

Oh, that's true. So it's coming from the string, it goes through--

String vibrates it, magnet picks it up, sends a signal to the volume pot. With a

tone pot you would take that signal, it would be affecting this the whole time,

and then it goes out to the jack or to the, you know, the switch.

Where the cord is, which goes to the amp, which makes it appear. There you go!

Every episode we pick a nonprofit, and we give to them using Givolio.com,

which is a web app that we developed. And on this episode, we were at Heyday Music

in Asheville, North Carolina, so I thought'd be cool to pick a nonprofit that's local to Asheville, and I went with

the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, or ASAP. We hear a lot about the

farm-to-table movement, and this nonprofit actually facilitates that whole industry

by connecting farmers to markets and supporters to actually make farm-to-table

happen and be a sustainable thing.

The Description of Episode 6: Gretsch 6117 at Heyday Music in Asheville NC