wizard of odd

This flashy, hard-to-find guitar looks great, but how does it sound?

Recently, my son and I have discovered a passion for sports-card collecting. I remember being a young lad and riding my bike down to the corner store, where I chased my dream of completing the entire set of 1985 Topps football cards. This summer, we’ve been going through my old card collection, and he and I have been visiting local card shows and conventions. If you haven’t collected cards since the ’80s, you’re in for a surprise. There are a multitude of different card makers and different series within each yearly run, plus some hard-to-find variations. It’s mind-boggling. We’ve been really digging a particular Topps baseball set because it’s modeled after the 1952 card design—you know I love vintage—and every pack has a chance, albeit slim, of including a low-numbered Mickey Mantle card. This card is super rare, but every time we open a pack there is this thrill that just makes me smile.

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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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