One of my students was around the other night and pointed out that even when I was playing his guitar (a beautiful Strat), I still sounded like me. It’s true – no matter what guitar or amp I plug into, I always sound like me. After 38 years of playing, it would be impossible for me not to. For a long time this bugged me. I guess because I was so used to “my sound”, I started to think it was pretty ordinary, and over the years I’ve made the odd attempt to change it. I can’t anymore.
Possibly no other single event inspired the creation of more garage bands than the first Ed Sullivan show featuring the Beatles. And likewise, probably no single company furnished more of the guitars and amps for young musicians than the Sears & Roebuck Company. While most of us would rather have started out with the Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Hofner, Vox and Ludwig gear we saw the Fab Four using, due to price and availability, it was the Sears catalog that supplied our first six-string.
Most guitar aficionados know the story of Les Paul’s “log”. Remember, back in the ’40s, Les figured all he needed for the perfect electric guitar was a neck attached to a chunk of wood with some pickups on it. He built his log and it worked. But his audiences were disturbed by its look, so he cut up an Epiphone archtop and attached the sides to his log, satisfying his fans. Whether or not a guitar teacher in Green Bay, WI, named Dave Helland knew about Les’ log, he too arrived at a similar conclusion. “Heck”, thought Dave, “You could put a neck on a 2-by-4 and have a guitar.” And when one day he met up with the folks from the Holman-Woodell guitar factory in Neodesha, KS, that’s just what he did. The La Baye 2×4 Six, Four and Twelve were born. La Baye because, if you know your geography, his hometown sits on a – well, look at a map!
The Eastwood Hi-Flyer Johnny Ramone version is a beautiful reproduction of the Univox Hi-Flyer from the early 1970’s, but with a stop tail. The carved Basswood body is mounted to a set maple neck for an incredibly solid design that can take as much abuse as you can throw at it. Two powerful P90 pickups kick out an incredible bite for the buck. Available in Black, White and White left-hand.
Back in 1984 Ovation put out a high-end guitar to compete with Gibson’s Les Paul. The Ultra GP Series. At the time, it was priced at about $400, the same price as a Les Paul. Guess what, they didn’t sell. Not because of the design – it was an incredible guitar – but tough to complete with Gibson head to head with a guitar from a company that is famous for acoustics. Consequently, only 400-500 were made. Recently the GP has become a sought-after vintage and prices have soared over $2,000 each. Last year I got tired of trying to find an original and decided it was time for Eastwood to get the re-issue machine cranked up again.
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