Yesterday I called round to see my old friend Hedley Vick. He’s in the middle of setting up a guitar for another one of our friends and didn’t have the right sized Allen key for the bridge saddles, so I took round a bunch and we were quickly able to find the right one.
I got a chance to play this guitar for a few minutes, a Tanglewood Strat copy, and I was very impressed with it. Even though it still needs the action sorting it was a very playable piece of kit. With a replacement set of pickups it will be absolutely killer. It was bought on eBay for the paltry sum of £40 too. What great value for money.
[update 08/Nov/2010 at 21:55 – In fact I liked it so much I’ve just placed a bid for one on eBay. It’s a pretty low bid and unlikely to be successful, but, as the saying goes, you’ve got to buy a ticket if you want to win the raffle.]
While I was there I was also lucky enough to have a quick play on a brand new tobacco-burst Gibson ES-335. What a peach! I’ve always had a penchant for 335’s (my first 6 string was a Columbus ES-335 copy) but I’ve only ever tried out vintage 335’s – in the mistaken belief that they had some sort of magical mojo. How wrong can you be! This thing was just stunning. Far superior to any of the 60’s guitars I’d ever tried. Fantastically warm but still with a nice cutting edge and clarity, even on the neck pickup with the tone rolled back a touch. I was playing it through a Mesa Boogie Heartbreaker 2×12″ combo, which I suspect flattered it more than any of my kit, but still it was such a wonderful, versatile guitar. Definitely to be recommended, and don’t get seduced by the vintage guitar myth – If you’re interested in an ES-335 then give a new Gibson a test too – you may be surprised. Was it worth 45 times as much as the Tanglewood? For me, no, but I still want one.
To cap off what was supposed to be a short visit, Hedley then mentioned that he’d managed to find a cassette (remember them?) of a birthday party gig that he’d done, where Paul McCartney had jumped up to do a couple of songs. “Would you like to have a listen?”
Would I?!!!? This thing was recorded at the 50th birthday party for Paul’s brother Mike (of Scaffold fame) in 1994. The band that Hedley plays for (The Chip Shop Boys) were providing the entertainment for the evening and the segment I listened to was recorded at around 2:00am when all present were fairly well lubricated. Even so, the magic that poured from the speakers was captivating. Rough? Definitely, but with a real warmth and joy about it as they ripped through a couple of 50s rock standards (Mean Woman Blues, Lucille, etc). To a certain extent I’ve always thought of Macca as something of a cold fish, but I’m delighted to have my expectations confounded. Obviously he keeps a tight rein on his public persona, which is not surprising given the crap that he’s had to wade through in his life.
All in all, given that I was just popping round for a cup of tea and to drop off an Allen key, it was a grand way to spend a wet and windy Sunday afternoon.