What to do when your axes become your axis of anxiety.
I'm a working-class musician—recently upgraded from the starving musician trenches, where I toiled for more than a decade. I drive a '94 Mercury Grand Marquis with all four of its formerly powered windows taped shut. Every time I fill up the tank, the car's value increases by 25 percent.
At any given moment, this barely rolling shit-barge has 10k worth of gear in its ample trunk. Despite my limited income, I have the guitar arsenal of a rich guy, including some sexy, players-grade vintage axes. Unlike cork-sniffing collectors who buy at blue book to display behind glass, I wait for bargains and play them every chance I get.
My entire life—after I've paid for rent, food, and baby's shoes—I've saved my limited dough re mi for gear. In the '80s there were bargains aplenty, before the interwebs and Antiques Roadshow made everyone with a 20-year-old Squier think they had a rare treasure. Now, my old bargain guitars are worth much more than I could afford at today's prices. It's a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless, which leads to two recurring nightmares:
Nightmare #1: In America, there are an estimated 358,300 home structure fires per year. At 4 a.m. every night on tour, this stat awakens me in a sweaty panic as I imagine my home's threadbare wiring turning my guitars into kindling.
Nightmare #2: Lucky thugs bust into my crib and grab 'n' go.
Last month, a thief stole my White Falcon from my girl's place. Miraculously, Alabama police recovered the bird from a pawnshop just a few blocks from the heist. Not an isolated incident. David Oleson, a great guitarist and friend, tackled a guy walking out of his basement at 1 a.m. with Dave's Les Paul in hand. Dave employed Jesse “the Body" Ventura's half chicken wing and held the perp down until the cops arrived. Dave pressed charges, then learned in court that the thief had 158 priors. Stats claim that roughly 12 percent of burglaries end in an arrest, but only 50 percent of burglaries are reported. Statistically speaking, this thief committed thousands of robberies before Dave body-slammed him to justice.
Regrettably, my homeowner's insurance will not cover my guitars, because I use them for work. Separate instrument insurance is shockingly expensive. I can't afford to pay $200 per year to insure a guitar I bought for 2k but now blue books for 18k. Also, what's the point? Insurance gives you money, but there's no replacing the irreplaceable. I feel strangely obligated to protect my guitars for the future. When my infant daughter grows up, she may never use a phone book, taste fresh tuna, or drive a car, but I swear by Lemmy's mole that she will know the pleasures of a 1954 Les Paul goldtop.
So, I went with a two-pronged protection approach.
Prong #1: Home Monitoring. For decades, my old man has paid $50 per month for an amazingly ineffective home security system. When tripped, the system alerts a remote person “monitoring" all accounts worldwide. That person then calls my father (or my siblings, if he doesn't answer) to say his house may have intruders and asks if he or she should call the cops. The entire process gives the bad guys plenty of time for a crash 'n' dash. If the cops are called a few times for a false alarm, my father is penalized with a fee.
The cheaper option: I bought a new monitor system for my front door for $270 and one for the back door for $195. Controlled by my phone anywhere there's service, I can turn the alarm on and get a live feed from inside my house at any time. The system lets me know the inside temperature and alerts me to fires or bad weather. If somebody opens a door or window or trips the motion detector, two alarms scream while the all-seeing fisheye lenses film. A mic lets me hear what's going on and I can even talk to the perp from a speaker in the unit. I imagine some goon with my Tele in his hand staring blankly into the camera while I say, “Hey asshole, put the guitar down and run. The cops are on the way. I sent them a video of you breaking in." No monthly fee, effective, cheap = easy peasy George and Weezy.
Prong #2: Big-Ass Safe. Tennessee is full of Second Amendment enthusiasts (gun nuts) who will happily drop 1k to 5k for a massive gun safe as impenetrable as a Bond villain's lair and capable of withstanding two hours at 1,400 degrees. Craigslist is loaded with them. The safe I bought costs roughly the price of two years of instrument insurance and will accommodate six or seven guitars or, I'm told, 40 rifles. Good luck thugs.
Buddha said suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases. As much as I'd like to be the Zen/hippie cowboy, I am Scrooge McDuck when it comes to guitars. Maybe that's because the right guitar isn't just a possession. It's a relationship. Kind of like when a puppy walks over, licks your hand, and you end up spending the next 10 years together. So yeah, I'm making every effort to keep my favorite guitars.
Someday, my daughter and her little friends might ask, “What's in the safe?" I'll tell them, “Treasure—treasure that will give you magical powers."
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.