The Dallas Guitar Show. I usually try to go to it most years, and actually make it every 2 or 3 years. I hadn't been in 3 years (maybe 4 now that I think about it), so I took the day off from work and headed over this year.
I always try to go on Friday, and be there when the doors open, just to miss a lot of what can be the insane Saturday and Sunday crowds. I got there about 15 minutes after they got the doors opened, but still early enough that I had to stand in line to get in the door.
They really need to do something different about the way they handle tickets. All tickets bought online have to be picked up at will call. That's actually been the bottle neck the last couple of times I went. The ticket is cheaper (they say) if you buy your ticket online, but then you have to stand in line to get your wrist band to actually get in the show. I, also, would've waited and paid cash at the door had I known that they were giving a cash-at-the-door discount that made the tickets even cheaper than getting them online. And gotten in about 15 minutes quicker because there was no one in that line.
I didn't get any pictures this year, but there was a lot of amazing and fun stuff there. There were guitars that were brand spanking new and barely on the market yet. There were super expensive vintage guitars (and some that were being called vintage that were just plain old). There were guitars for every budget. There were parts of all kinds and all prices. There were pedals and straps and slides and pickups and every imaginable accessory you can imagine at some location in that big room. Here are some of the more interesting things (I thought) that I saw while wandering through.
A Les Paul truss rod cover that had a price tag of $500 on it. The price tag also gave the year it was supposed to be from (early 60s as I recall), but it was a truss rod cover for crying out loud. I can head up to my local GC and get one for $10 I'm sure. If the guitar I buy isn't period correct when I buy it, I'm not looking to make it original (because it never will be). 5 bills for a truss rod cover. I totally don't get that one.
Lots of acoustics this year. They were predominately Martins, Gibsons, and Taylors. A handful of Santa Cruz. I think there were even fewer Epiphones. Outside of the a couple of Taylor 8 and 9 series, a couple of Martin D-42s, a couple of Gibsons (not quite as familiar with their price point), and the Santa Cruz, there were no high end acoustics that I saw. In the past, I've seen some McPhersons and even an Olson one year. They may've been bringing those in on Saturday, but they weren't there on Friday.
A couple of vintage acoustics that I saw. Both Martins. Both pre-war, but both D-18s. One was a player (although still out of my price range), and the other had a mid-5-figure price tag on it and was in really nice condition.
I don't remember seeing any really expensive electrics while I was wandering around. I saw a mid-5-figure Les Paul at one booth, and it had several signs on and around it that basically said look but don't touch. There were several early 60s Strats and Teles around the room. There were some really cool looking guitars too.
I noticed a lot more of those old, at one time cheaper guitars. It would have taken both hands and probably at least one foot to count the number of Kay guitars that probably wouldn't have even made the show a few years ago, and, if they did, they would've been priced at $100 or below. They were sitting around with prices closer to $500 - $750. Maybe the seller was wanting to be sure they had negotiation room. Maybe they figured some sucker was going to walk by and grab it. Either way, these old, generally entry-level guitars, in my head, are the beanie babies of this generation. Folks slap a "vintage" tag on it and charge a ridiculous price for them. Give them a few more years and the buyers will realize that they waaaaaaay overpaid for them. They weren't real good instruments when they were new. Thirty or forty years of sitting under a bed didn't make them any better. It just made them older.
That was probably my biggest eye-opening moment of the show. Realizing that this all-things-vintage craze has just gotten out of hand. There was a lot of just plain old gear there with a "vintage" tag on it that had been marked up by 500%. Another example (like the truss rod cover). I passed a parts table. They had a box of screws sitting there (I forget what to) with a price of $2 a piece. I can see almost see that. Guitar show, guitar show prices. You need a specific screw to fit a specific application, pay a couple of bucks and get the exact one you need rather than going to Home Depot and getting $5 on a handful of screws only to get home and none of them quite fit what you need. Anyways, sitting right next to that box was another box with about 20 screws in it that were all rusted, but they had a price of $12 a piece on them. Looked like the same screws to me...just rusted. At a 600% markup.
Wandering around, I saw Greg Koch sitting at one of the booths playing quietly on an electric that wasn't even plugged in. I saw Seymour Duncan at his booth (at least I'm pretty certain it was him). I think I saw the Truetone (formerly Visual Sound) guy at his booth. I was actually hoping to see TV Jones at his booth, but, if he was at the show, he wasn't at his booth either time I wandered past.
I didn't stay for any of the festival part. It had been raining up until the doors opened, and, since a couple of the stages were outside, they were just ramping up a couple of hours after the doors opened. Eric Johnson was playing Saturday night, and I didn't get back for that. Just spent a few hours wandering the aisles on Friday afternoon before heading back to the right side of the Metroplex (the west side for those of you wondering).
I ended up picking up another strap from Lakota Leathers. They always have a table full of 2nds for cheap, so I always have to pick one up. They make the best straps in the business. I found an NOS VIsual Sound (now Truetone) Open Road overdrive that I picked up. That's the only non-Tubescreamer OD that I tend to like and use. Then I saw some cool leather gig bags that weren't insanely expensive back in the back. I spoke with the guy that I think owns the business, and ended up getting myself a Probag leather gig bag. Got it home and it'll fit my Strats, Tele, LP, or 339. So it looks like it's going to be a pretty versatile bag.
I'm including a pic of the gig bag. I totally dig its look. I haven't had it long enough to see if it'll stand the test of time, but, so far. it looks like it probably will. I think I had the 339 in it at the time of the pic.
Over the 30 odd years or so that I've been playing, I've taken a few lessons. I'm betting, though, that I could count all the official lessons I've had on one hand. Maybe one hand and one foot. I'm sure there were actually more lessons than that, but not by much.
I've always said that music seems to come to me pretty easily. Growing up in the family I did, I was always exposed to music. It was all around me. My parents both sang. They also both played a little piano. My sister played the piano. She was quite good.
I dabbled at the piano. A couple of times. Got through John Thompson's first couple of big red books. The first time was in grade school. As I recall, I ended up quitting because my family packed up and moved back to Texas. The second time I was in high school. My dad was the one that noticed that I was playing mostly by ear and not really watching what was on the page. He saw this when he began to realize that I never practiced. I'd just get to the lesson, have the teacher play the piece for me ("can you play it for me once more time?"), and then I'd mimic what she had played. In those first couple of books, it wasn't really complicated, so it wasn't really hard to do.
So my dad gave me an ultimatum. Start practicing, and start practicing what was written in the book and not what I was hearing (even if what I was hearing was what was in the book). So I ended up quitting. Then I saw a band come through our church, and noticed that the guitar player seemed like they were having a blast playing, so I decided I wanted to play the guitar. So I convinced my folks to get me a guitar.
There was a lady in our church that played, so my parents talked to her about giving me some lessons. I took handful of lessons from her. She taught me the basics of finger-picking along with a couple of picking patterns. After just a few lessons, she announced to me that she had taught me everything that she knew. I'm still not convinced that was right, but that was all from her.
A few months later, my parents had me start some lessons from a bi-vocational pastor in the area. He pulled out the old Mel Bay book one. I don't remember why the lessons with him ended, but they did. Again, just a handful of them. Before they ended, he taught me to read music on a guitar. Well, at least he taught me to the key of C from middle C to high C. So 8 notes. Actually, it may've been from the A below middle C to high C because I liked the sound of an A minor chord. So 10 notes.
I used what he taught me from that and some of what I remembered from those piano lessons, and taught myself to read music on a guitar. This was before the days of tab. Or at least before I knew about tab, and definitely before you could jump online and download 15 different versions of incorrect tab for whatever song happens to suit your fancy.
Several years after that, I took a fancy to some classical guitar, and hired a teacher to teach me that style. He was actually really good, and he was one of the premier flamenco players in the city where I was living at the time. I had a job where I traveled a LOT back then, so it was take a lesson here, and then the next one would be a month or 6 weeks later. I think I got 5 lessons from him. He chose to use the Frederick Noad Book 1. I don't remember how far he and I got, but, from the little he and I got through, I worked my way through most of that book.
I moved back to Texas shortly after that, and tried to continue to pursue the classical style. Found a teacher, and hired her. We lasted I think 3 lessons. She had me working on Bach's Bourree I think (if it wasn't that one, it was another Bach piece) from that Noad book. That last lesson, I was playing through it for her, stopped, told her I was about to play part of it wrong, but I knew I was playing it wrong, but I liked the way it sounded better than what was in the book.
That launched us into a 30 minute argument of what Bach's intent was. Her arguing repeatedly that what Bach intended was written in the book, and me arguing back that neither one of us were alive back when Bach was, so we couldn't know his intent because who's to say that someone didn't accidentally copy his manuscript incorrectly and the error just be perpetuated.
In all honesty, all she had to do was to tell me that I needed to play as it was written in the book because she was the teacher and I was the student. Instead, she spent the entire lesson time arguing with me over Bach's intent. We were not a good match. I did not go back.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and I found Griff Hamlin's Blues Guitar Unleashed. After all those years, that drove me forward more and more quickly. I've considered Griff my teacher for the last several years even though I've only met him a couple of times, and the lessons are either DVD or online.
However, recently, I decided to start having face to face lessons with a local guy I found online. So far, I'm not unhappy with the lessons. I've been surprised to see that, so far, he hasn't really taught me anything that I don't already have at least a vague familiarity with because of Griff (even if I can't play it).
And that brings me to why I decided to start taking actual lessons. I had become more than a little stagnant in my playing with no direction. I'm not going to say that I didn't have any motivation to play, I just didn't have any motivation to put in the time to work to get better and learn new things.
So far, hiring the teacher has accomplished exactly what I wanted it to. Knowing that I'm going to be dropping the cash every other week at the lesson has kept me in the music room actually doing some woodshedding. One of my other goals was to use the time to actually learn some songs. (I can't remember the last time that I actually sat and learned a song.) He hasn't started into any songs at this point (other than to say "listen to this song to hear this technique used"), but he said in the next lesson or so we would. I've already got a couple in mind for that.
Accountability. Motivation. Direction. Those are the reasons I chose to hire a teacher. With my current job, it's only a matter of time before I have to drop out for a while because I'll be working. But I think I'll stick with him for a while.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. If Coca Cola was alcohol, he'd be a raging alcoholic. He dislikes going to the grocery store. And he still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 2 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.