Another Road Trip, Part One


This is the guitar I was after. Supposed to be close to mint but I could see that there was plenty of tarnish on the nickel but not much wear to the finish

I love going out into the great wide open to pick up guitars from sellers-especially the higher end stuff that I don’t want to have shipped. It’s always a crapshoot, it’s always interesting and it’s always a little scary. This time it was a fly/drive affair going from New York to Chicago and driving to Indiana-where I seem to find a lot of guitars, although I have no clue why. Getting to and from a major city the same day can be a little tricky. I don’t stay over because the expense of all of this travel gets paid for by the guy who buys the guitar and I don’t want to make it any more expensive than it needs to be. The guitar in question is an all original very nice 3 owner 1964 ES-335 in sunburst. I considered just driving but it’s 800  miles so each way so if I could get a cheap flight, I could do it. I found a flight to Chicago for $110 round trip on something called Spirit Airlines.  This was less than the gas for my old Volvo would have cost for 1600 miles of driving. Even if I borrowed my son’s Prius, it would have been a big investment in time and gas and a place to stay. Well, actually, the place to stay would have been easy-I have 4 brothers in Chicago. I had never flown Spirit Airlines and was a little apprehensive, given the low fare. It’s kind of like a Greyhound bus with wings and extra charges. Got a bag? $45. Want some water? $3. You get the idea. No frills, although I never considered a reclining seat a frill but apparently, on Spirit, it is. Anyway, I didn’t need frills and dragged myself out of bed at 0 dark :30 and headed to LaGuardia and got on the plane. Once at O’Hare, I would rent a car and head to a predetermined public location. That’s in case the guy decides to stick a gun in my ribs and rob me. This would be a problem for the would be criminal since I usually pay by check and I normally carry around $20. The public location is usually a Starbucks. This one was in Schererville, Indiana on route 41. I think every state has a route 41. I think it’s one big strip mall that runs from Washington State to Florida. This 41 was no different-I could be in Arkansas for all I could tell from route 41 .Ya know, it’s hard to tell what someone is like even after you’ve spoken on the phone and emailed back and forth and dozen times. It’s also hard to tell what’s wrong (or right) with a guitar from the photos most folks send. So, I bring a tiny screwdriver, magnifier, truss wrench, flashlight and dental mirror. These things will not help if someone sticks a gun in my ribs unless maybe I could aim the magnifier at the sun, temporarily blinding the robber and stabbing him with the screwdriver or hitting him over the head with the truss rod wrench.  There are thousand things-OK not a thousand but at least 50 things that can be wrong with a guitar that don’t always show up in the photos. Things like wrong pickups, changed pots, extra holes under the bridge or stoptail or Bigsby, bad fret jobs, cracks, repairs, rutted fingerboards even refins. So, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot, especially after spending many hours traveling and hundreds of dollars. “How will I know you?” the seller asked in an email. I said “You don’t have to. You’ll be the guy with the guitar.” But I said I’d wear my NY Yankee cap figuring nobody else in Schererville , Indiana would wear one. Anyway, I got to Chicago without issue and rented a roller skate sized car called a Ford Fiesta. I don’t know why they would call it a Fiesta since there isn’t room for much partying in there unless you want to party with the voice module that somehow turned itself on and asked me to speak a command. “Please speak a command”, it said. I was looking around trying to figure out where the voice came from. A genie? God? (and God was a woman!). Once I figured out it was part of the technology, I still had no idea what to say, so I said “off”. “Please speak a command”. “Go away!” Still nothing. “Leave me alone!!” “Please speak a command…”, she insisted. It sounded to me like she was getting impatient like the lady in the GPS who every time she says “recalculating” she seems more and more angry. I keep thinking she’s going to say “just pull over at this fucking gas station…” Finally, I said “cancel” and it worked. But the GPS repeated “recalculating” in her exasperated, angry voice. Finally I arrived at the local Starbucks, got a tall coffee, which, incredibly,  is a small in Starbuckspeak and waited for the seller to arrive.  Part 2 tomorrow.

3 Responses to “Another Road Trip, Part One”

  1. Gordon Walker says:

    Hi, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Wonderful in depth information, of course, but also well-written, funny and sometimes touching.Your tribute to your Mom was really moving. I know you get bombarded by spam, but you’ve also got real people out there who appreciate your work.

    BTW, I’m also pro-Varitone and pro-345, and your tip about stereo to 2 monocords into the 2 channels of a Fender blackface made a whopping improvement in the sound of my 345. ( I’d been using stereo to mono which is an ” evil tone sucker ” So, thanks ! – gw

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Glad to have converted another Varitone user to stereo.

  3. CJScales says:

    I also would like to chime in as a long-time lurker and a definite fan. Charlie my brotha, you are living my dream. Thanks for at least having the decency to post so many of the observations accrued therefrom!

    You may count yourself fortunate that I live many states away from you. If I were at all close to your neck of the woods I would be trying to drop by. Annoyingly often.

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