Will Ray's eBay Strategies(4)

May 1, 2004

Auction Item: Montano Model 230
Winning Bid: $590

According to the seller, this guitar was made by the Teikokuhatumeisha company of Japan in the early ’60s, and sold by Ibanez as the “Montano Guitar Model No. 230.” It has a carved, solid-spruce top and solid flame maple sides and back. It sports a faded orange finish and a very pronounced “V” neck.

Because I had a recording session booked when the auction ended, I used eSnipe.com—a bidding service that lets you place a bid at the last minute without sitting at your computer. You just enter the auction number, your maximum bid, and how many seconds from the EOA (end of auction) you want your bid placed. The service fee is one percent of the final auction price if you win (minimum fee is a quarter; maximum is ten bucks). Thanks to eSnipe, I won the guitar for $590 with five seconds to spare, and I was more than happy to pay the $5.90 fee.

But when the guitar arrived, I was under-whelmed. The action was high, the neck felt like a baseball bat, and uneven frets produced excessive string buzz. I decided a refret job would fix most of the problems, so I e-mailed the seller and very delicately brought up that the buzzing was not addressed in the auction description. I suggested a rebate of $75 would make me a happier camper and help pay for a refret. The seller was very nice, and he agreed to the refund.

Then I had my tech, John Wescott, replace the frets, install a rear strap button, shim up the bridge P-90 pickup for more volume, and put some side markers on the neck. Now I have a hard time putting this guitar down! When it’s in my hands, some spirit inside the guitar enables me to play “above my head.” Most players call that magic. I just call it discovering a long lost friend. I now consider this guitar family.

—Will Ray, willr@hellecasters.com

The Gibson Digital Guitar

The mysteries surrounding Gibson’s Digital Guitar System have cast about for a few years now, and displaying a digital Les Paul at the Winter NAMM show—as well as ramping up the PR machinery about the technology—hasn’t clarified much for working guitarists. Here’s what we know so far: Touted as “the first truly digital guitar,” the Gibson Digital Guitar is, in fact, an analog instrument fitted with six-channel magnetic HEX pickups and onboard analog-to-digital converters. The pickups can operate in the conventional manner, but the DG sports Gibson’s proprietary MaGIC-enabled digital protocol, which transfers audio information via a standard Ethernet port and a CAT-5 cable. The idea is to eliminate the noise and signal loss associated with magnetic pickups, provide discreet audio channels for each string, and interface with digital recorders, modeling amps, and other digital audio equipment. And therein lies the rub: At present, there are no devices that can process the DG’s digital information. This means the truly immense creative possibilities inherent in the protocol (which can transfer up to 16 stereo channels in each direction) will remain bottled up for the time being. Early adopters will be limited to using the DG with Gibson’s BreakOut Box, which converts the digital information back into analog signals output via six 1/4" jacks. D’oh!

—Barry Cleveland


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