As well all know, I enjoy pain. With that in mind, I went once again to Guitar Center.
What always interests me is the quantity of lefty guitars in stock at various stores. They had their usual Chinese/Korean selection, as well as a new Fender or two. Btw, the new Fenders suck ever more than the old new Fenders.
I knew there would be no surprises there, so I went off to check out used toys in the effects section. I’m very curious about the Roland rotary speaker simulator (and it has nothing to do with the blinky light display). Strangely enough, there was a demo unit on sale. Wondering how my luck had somehow not managed to propel me through the front door, I figured I’d go in search of a Helpful Salesd00d<tm> to assist me with a demo of the demo.
Before I could lasso anyone Helpful, I had to trudge across the store to procure a lefty Strat so I could try anything out. My wife, who loves me dearly but doesn’t necessarily believe everything I say, was along for the demo. She kept helpfully pointing out when a Helpful looked non-busy so I could beg for some assistance.
Over the next fifteen minutes, we both noticeded that the Helpfuls were incredibly busy being helpful, unfortunately to many people who were not us.
Don’t you know that the guy in front of me brough in some pedals, each of which needed to be tested out by a Helpful before anything could be allowed to proceed.
After continuing to be ignored, while holding a lefty Strat, making noises, and looking like I had lots of cash to burn, I inquired to my wife if they’d notice me better if I launched said Strat about five feet over their heads, hitting the ledge and knocking hundreds of pounds of building down on them.
Finally I managed to get noticed by a Helpful. This may have had something to do with putting my face between Helpful and Helpful’s task, but I won’t speculate any further. I told him I’d plug the damn thing in if he’d just tell me where to plug it in. There was no jack next to the effect in the demo rack.
He led me over to the rack and did his best imitation of Somebody Who Knows Something, plugging me into the jack above the box, then winging the explanation of how both boxes would work but I could bypass one of them. He had a bit of a difficult time trying to remember which box I was attempting to try out, which was mildly amusing.
Finally, left to my own devices (through their own device), I attempted to do a demo. One would think this would be the happy ending to my tale, but this is me we’re talking about, right? The Strat, being new, lacked something. It’s a little thing I like to call being in tune (followed by staying in tune). With a floating trem, each minor adjustment threw the remaining five strings out of tune. Light gauge strings didn’t help either.
When I had achieved some vague semblance of Tune, I attempted to turn it loose and hear whatever there was to be heard. The next thing I noticed was the demo unit’s volume was preset to a rather loud volume. I’m not proud of my playing (for good reason) and I won’t be another loud disturbance in a store full of loud disturbances, so I kept dialing the volume back to a level that was comfortable for me.
This was made incredibly difficult by Fender’s policy of wiring all lefty guitars backwards. Before you tell me to get my head examined (I already did, nyah nyah), the difference between zero and one on the volume knob was humongous. One was way too loud and zero was way too low, to say nothing of the tonal effect this had.
Meanwhile, I was told later, my wife was having an absolutely hilarious time watching the proceedings. No, she wasn’t laughing at my playing, thank you. She was most amused at the teenager who was staring at me, trying to figure out what was wrong with this picture. I’m used to it, so I don’t always notice it. I refer to it as the `look, maw, he jest got off the space ship’ look people get with they see someone playing left-handed. Sometimes I’m tempted to look around for the clowns and three ring circus that these twits are obviously seeing.
I’m most amused with this box. There are lots of knobs to twiddle and they all actually do something. Of particular note is the distortion control, which simulated overdriving a real Leslie.
Meanwhile, I’m having more trouble tuning the guitar. I realized this was a combination of the guitar and the teenager’s buddy, who had plugged another guitar into the other side of the rack and was testing the boxes to see which one made the loudest and most objectionable noises.
I gave him a moment of silence to assist him in his quest and then figured `screw it – I was here first’. Unfortunately the twit in question had distortion on his side – and lots of it. Distortion trumps subtlety, so I just sat there, pondering my options. I managed to loudly ask my wife if she had ever seen a teenager with a Stratocaster attached to his thorax, but distortion also trumps sarcasm, so I gave up and left.
There’s a lot of irony here. I went to GC, with money in pocket, found what I was interested in, eventually flagged down a Helpful, and attempted to try something out. These events are almost unprecedented in themselves. The biggest shocker here is that the GC Experience was ruined, not by a GC Helpful this time, but by somebody else.
Will wonders never cease?
At this rate, I’ll go in next time and there will be a unique Custom Shop lefty Fender there, just waiting for me.