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May 2011 Letters

Readers share their gear regrets

What Were You Thinking?

Years ago, PG Editor in Chief Shawn Hammond brilliantly traded a brand-new Spector NS-4 plus $150 for this Jazz-bass copy that ended up having major neck issues. (Note the two poorly filled holes just below the neck plate.)
Dear PG,
I loved the “What Was I Thinking?” column. You definitely hit a nerve with me! I would say that similar personal experiences came flooding back to mind but, being a gear fiend, I am doing conscious battle with these regrets daily. Which brings me to my tale: At age 18, I finally scored the bass of my dreams: a 1979 Rickenbacker 4001 in Ged-glo (sorry, Jetglo, but you get the obvious [Geddy Lee of Rush] reference), and I was on cloud nine. I even ordered the Ric-O-Sound stereo kit by mail (this was 1982, mind you). I was running through Yes and Rush bass lines like a fiend.

Fast forward to 1988 and it’s time to learn 6-string guitar and be a virtuoso. What guitar? Well, a Kramer of course. So, I head to San Antonio, Texas, to do a trade. Yes—my pristine, as-new 4001 for a Kramer Focus. The guy at the now-out-of-business Richard’s Music Center saw me coming a mile away. “Gee, the neck needs adjusting . . . that really docks the value.” He must have read my mind or my dull expression, because I was mentored by an older brother whose friend once turned the truss rod too many times on a Silvertone guitar and broke it. Therefore, his mantra was “NEVER, EVER, EVER adjust a truss rod! You could break the neck!” So, with the only flaw being a somewhat flaccid neck due to lack of rod support, the Richard’s salesman fleeced me proper. He reluctantly accepted the 4001, plus—PLUS!—$150 for my new Kramer Focus. His last comment to me: “This damn Ric-O-Sound box you gave me—I’ll have to throw this away. NOBODY likes these things.” That’s my story. Hope you feel better, Shawn!

—Brian Murphy
Fort Worth, Texas

Oh, man! Your story pains me, Brian! I had a similar experience, only in reverse: I had a brand-new Spector NS-4 bass that was great but didn’t have the vintage look and sound I yearned for. The guy at a Bay Area shop got me to trade it in and pay $150 toward a Jazz-bass clone that sounded and looked good—but later I found out the neck couldn’t be adjusted to make up for the extreme back bow. At least we can laugh about this stuff now, huh? If not simply to hold back the tears! Thanks for sharing! —Shawn Hammond

All in the Family

Hey PG. There are four boys playing guitar in our house, ages 12, 14, 16, and 50. I get a kick out of the guitar hero pictures you run at the front of the magazine [Opening Notes]. I told my son Michael (12) if he practices hard in his band, State of Awe (older brothers Nick and Alex are handling guitars and vocals, and neighbor Aaron bangs the drums), he may end up in PG someday! This is where it all starts. I really appreciate that we have access to insightful and in-depth articles, the latest innovations, and infinite combinations of amps, boxes, and guitars.
Thank you, and rock on!

— Karl Maurer
via email

As the father of three boys—a 13-year-old beginning guitarist who loves Zeppelin and the Beatles, a 9-year-old who can’t stop dancing to MJ’s “Beat It,” and an 8-year-old who yearns to bash the skins as soon as me and the Mrs. decide the household can stand it—I totally identify with your sense of pride and joy, Karl! And knowing that
Premier Guitar helps increase the enjoyment of the guys in the Maurer home and perhaps even brings your family closer together in some small way gives me and the butt-kicking staff here a sense of pride and joy, too! Thanks so much for writing! —Shawn Hammond

• In our April 2011 review of the Tony Bruno Custom Amps Underground Custom, we should have listed the head’s price as $3299. Also, in that issue’s Signal Chain column [“The Evolution of the Twang Bar”], the “Peter Gunn Theme” was attributed to Duane Eddy despite the fact that it was penned by Henry Mancini. (Kudos to PG reader Lawrence Antinozzi for catching this.) We apologize for these errors.
• In the April 2011 edition of Inside Jazz, the second chord in Fig. 3 was marked incorrectly. It should be a D7.

Keep those comments coming!
Please send your suggestions, gripes, comments, and good words directly to You can also send snail mail to Premier Guitar, Three Research Center, Marion, IA 52302. Please remember to include your full name. Selected letters may be edited for clarity.