Fun with Flags

So I’ve kept a little Union Jack on top of my guitar amplifier at home for years and years. The reason is, I hoped that magically it would help me sound like The Who. Strangely it never worked.

Now it could have a new meaning, but only under one certain condition. I could sit it on top of my new Vox amp because Vox is a British company…. well, they are Japanese now, I think, but Vox amps, along with Marshall amps, are often referred to as British Sounding amps… because they were designed and (used to be) made in the UK.

Conversely, Fender amps are often referred to as American sounding amps because Fender is based in the US. They are also based in Mexico and Japan, and I believe the Bassbreaker series is actually made in Mexico.

Whatever, Vox is UK, Fender is US. If only I had a little American flag, I could put the proper flag on each amp.

Oh wait!

Home Recording Rig Changes

I spent my lunch break moving stuff around. The Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 is way too loud to play at home with other people in the house. At the last gig, back on Feb 1st, it was EPIC. At home it’s just too much. For the last 2 months it’s been used as a table to hold my Bassbreaker 15 which has been the only amp I’ve used since RPM ended on Feb 29.

I brought the 18/30 down cellar and stored it off the floor as we’ve had some moisture issues. It should be safe. At the moment, the 15 is sitting alone in my music nook in my bedroom.


However, changes will continue. The Vox AC15 is on a UPS Brownie and it is scheduled to be delivered by 9:00PM.

I don’t want to wait until 9:00. I want it now. NOW!


Ugh… patience, Robert. Patience.

Screw that, I WANT IT NOW!

I Think My Strat Might Be Rare-ish

I want to sell my Fender Stratocaster.  I never use it and I want it to find a good home.  I’m thinking of trading it in somewhere and getting a Vox amp.  It’s a nice guitar, but the more I learn about myself, the more I just don’t connect with Strats.  I’m a Gibson guy to the core.

When I first bought the guitar in 2014 I did a little tiny bit of research to find out when it was made.  I learned that serial numbers starting with Z date to after 2000, with the number immediately following the Z representing the year.  Mine starts with Z0.  That means it was made in 2000.  Nice.

The guitar is also stamped with Made in USA (I don’t think I would have bought it if it said Mexico or Japan… snob) and being an old person who doesn’t pay much attention to Fender model names, I assumed that made it a Fender American Standard Stratocaster.  That’s what they called the non-custom shop (does Fender call it custom shop? I think so) American strats the last time I paid attention.  At some point over the last six years I realized that name isn’t used anymore and it likely changed prior to my guitar’s manufacture.

So today at lunch I figured I’d play the detective game and see if I could figure out what my guitar’s model name actually is.  Google brought me to a Fender webpage where you can enter your serial number and it will register your guitar.  Well, I don’t want to register it since I don’t plan to keep it, but I looked anyway.

I entered my serial number and it gave me this:


Okay… well what the hell does that mean?  I Googled it and it only returned a few hits.  Most of them were not in English.  Two were from a thread on  Someone bought a franken-strat and was trying to piece together where the various components came from.  He listed his serial number and someone else apparently did the same registration that I did and came back with the same results.  He gave a breakdown of what the mnemonics stand for.

AM = American
NM = Maple neck
AMM = Aqua Marine Metallic finish.

Cool!  Now I finally know what to call the weird greenish color paint job.  He also included a link to a sale page from that included more information.  Apparently the model name American Standard was changed to American Series in 2000, and the Aqua Marine Metallic finish was introduced at the same time.  Interestingly, that finish went away in 2002.  The production run was actually June 2000 through January 2002, so only about a year and a half.  Elsewhere in the listing he also said it ran from June 2001 to January 2002 for six months… so… yeah, I’m going to believe the 2000 because Fender told me my guitar was made in 2000.

So what exactly does that mean?

If the reverb listing is to be believed, then I think I got a pretty good deal when I bought this.  I believe I paid $700, which was so low for an American strat that I assumed I would eventually find something horribly wrong with it.  The guitar pictured in the reverb listing is definitely a match for my guitar except that it doesn’t have the stock pickups.  Or, at least, it doesn’t have the same pickups I have.  The sale shows Lace Sensors which I equate to Clapton signature models from the late 80’s.  I don’t think I ever saw them stock in a guitar from the 2000’s, but like I said I don’t know Fenders well at all.  I think I got a good deal because the selling price was quite a bit higher than what I paid.

The two things that are giving me pause are,

  1. The reverb listing uses the word “rare” in the description.  In fact, it’s the first word.
  2. The selling price on the listing is more than 50% higher than what I paid for mine.  Caveat there is that I don’t believe the guitar actually sold.  It just shows the listing ended.

Two months ago I was planning to take my guitar to a shop and trade it in, fully expecting that I would get at least mildly screwed on the trade value.  I was okay with that.

Now?  Am I still okay with that?

Crud.  Knowledge is power and all, but I feel like I was happier and more confident in my ignorance.  Now I know how trump supporters feel.





Strat… Delay

I brought my Fender Stratocaster up from the cellar this morning.  I cleaned everything out of the case (except for the whammy bar and a couple of strap locks that were there when I bought the guitar six years ago).  I plugged it into the little Bassbreaker and made sure everything worked.  The volume pot is a touch on the scratchy side, other than that it’s top notch.

Then I put it back in the case and leaned it against the wall and left it there.  I was going to take it to Guitar Center tonight after work to see how much they would give me for a trade in.  I paid $700.  Strangely, $700 is about the retail price for a Vox AC15 amplifier.  Weird how that works out, eh?  I know Guitar Center has a reputation for being stingy about trades and if they offer anything less than $700 I’ll take it somewhere else.  Maybe ebay.  Maybe reverb.  I’m not taking a loss on this baby.  No way.

I’m not doing any of that tonight though.  I’ll take a look at the world situation on Saturday and see how things look.  This is the very definition of non-essential.  It can wait.


15 Watts of Yes, Please!

Picked up my new stay-at-home amplifier today. A Fender Bassbreaker 15. First impression? Yes, Mr Amplifier, may I have some more?

Here is a quick video of me noodling around each of the three gain stages. Honestly, I will probably keep it clean (although it doesn’t get all that clean) and use pedals for the dirt and fuzz, but I sure like what the dirtier settings have to offer.

(also, one of these little noodles is probably going to show up in my RPM music at some point. It is February after all)


I seriously want a new Fender amplifier.  I’d need to get one with a wattage comparable to my Marshall.  A Deluxe Reverb would be cool but the output is way lower than what I have.  The Twin Reverb would be perfect.  It’s a 2×12 combo and a higher output.  Even better, it’s all tube!

I just don’t wanna shell out $1500.


I Over Did It

I got home from some errands at about 2:00ish today. I went downstairs and took out my Fender. I changed the strings, then noodled around a little. I then played through a bunch of songs that the band has been working on. I hit most of them twice. At 4:00 I stopped and cooked dinner. After dinner I went to band practice. At some point, a little after 7:00, I hit the wall. My left hand stopped working for a little while. I couldn’t get my ring and pinkie fingers to do what I wanted them to do. They just cramped up and told me to go screw. We took five and after that I was better, but the communication between the brain and each hand was off for the rest of the practice. I felt seriously uncoordinated.

That, my friends, is why musicians practice. It’s not just to learn their parts. It is also to build up stamina. There is a tipping point where your skill level disappears. Back in 2005 I could play four 45 minute sets over four hours and not break down. There was a time in the early 90’s where I could probably play for 10 hours or more without a break and not lose it. Today? I probably crash after 45-60 minutes if I’m lucky. I must practice more. I must.

So how did the Strat do tonight? The single coil pickups didn’t make nearly as much noise as I feared they would. They also didn’t feedback. My amp was on the floor. I think if I had it on a stand, a couple of feet higher, it would have been easier. All in all though, the sound of the new guitar was very… stratty. Thin and brittle, like Strats often are. When it comes right down to it, I think the ES-335 is still my #1 guitar. Next practice I’ll bring the Les Paul Custom and see how that feels. It does seem though, that I am still a Gibson man through and through.