Wizard of Odd

The Firstman Liverpool Deluxe looks extreme, but would you believe it once appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show?

I've had this month's story on my shelf for quite some time, because I could really weave so many interesting threads and connections to this guitar. How does one honor a tremendous man with huge contributions to music when limited to a single page? But I'm feeling like it's time to tell at least part of the story behind one of the most interesting people I've ever met through my love of guitars.

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The Supro Lexington sports one volume dial and two tone knobs, plus a complex series of "tone-shading" switches.

The circuit design on this Supro Lexington is among Valco's strange but adventurous experiments.

The old Valco company holds a real fascination for me. Back in the day, the U.S. had major guitar companies like Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker. And then there was the slightly odder, slightly weirder Valco, which set out to compete with the higher-profile brands, but always approached the endeavor with a really strange game plan.

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The Decca DMI 502's combination of screaming hot pickups and a super-thin top make this guitar a perfect candidate for your next feedback-heavy noise band.

Decca Records' short-lived experiment as a guitar company produced this hard-to-play feedback machine.

I'm getting old. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "We're all growing old!" But man, I've been feeling it lately thanks to technology and the speed at which it progresses. I was thinking about this the other day after a puzzling talk with my daughter. She was wondering why I had certain songs available on my phone and she didn't. I explained how some songs I'd bought online and some I ripped from CDs. "What do you mean ripped?" she asked. Like, pulling tunes from CDs and putting them onto a computer isn't ancient technology, right? But there I was, contemplating the simpler times of record stores with rows of vinyl and stacks of CDs. That's when I figured I was really getting old, because of my pining for those days and my general aggressive distaste for the new way of doing things.

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