Five weeks on US66

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slowlearner
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Five weeks on US66

Post by slowlearner » 03 Sep 2018, 11:50

My wife and I are just back from 5 weeks driving from LA to Chicago on US Route 66.

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First up I have to say we have a great time. I found almost every American to be courteous, respectful, friendly and well mannered. The extent of this continues to surprise me. I nearly walked into what we might call in Australia a 'feral' in Walmart and the guy excused himself and apologized profusely. Pretty much the opposite of what I'd expect in here in Kmart. Similarly, everywhere except Chicago, I found US traffic easy to drive in, especially LA. Mexican food in the US is exceptionally good and cheap.

The object of the trip was to see real 'small town' America, so we didn't bother with Disney Land or any of that rubbish. We did go to the Grand Canyon and a few other similar places, but generally we just drove about 150 miles a day and stopped to look at interesting things. I'll post up some things I reckon you guys might be interested in.

Fullerton Museum
We had planned to go the Fender Custom Shop tour, but traffic stopped us despite leaving an hour and a half early to try and get to the factory. This is the only tour Fender does now and it's ONLY on Thursday mornings at 10am. Shame on them, but whatever. IMHO the Fullerton Museum trumped anything I could have seen at the FCS anyway. The museum isn't very big, but it's full of a HEAP of early K&L, MM and G&L stuff. Amongst it was Leo's workbench and a lot of jigs and designs.

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As a guitar/bass builder I was blown away by a lot of this stuff. You simply couldn't find anything like this from Fender MIC days because it changed and changed again constantly.

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One thing I didn't know what Leo lost an eye in his teens, along with being quiet deaf for most of his life. So he lived with these magnifying glasses on most of the time.

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Another thing the museum talked about was the level of stress FMIC put him under. He suffered from a staf infection for over 10 years and that was part of the reason he sold Fender off the CBS. The stress of it was destroying his health. MM was started as soon as his non-competition clause ran out after selling FMIC. This next thing was the crown jewel as far as I was concerned...

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Yes... look at that PU!

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And I had to look at the neck joint!

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Interesting stuff, eh? BTW, a certain Sterling wasn't yet buttering his own toast when this was built. :lol:

Another interesting bass I saw there was this...

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Needless to say, standing in this place with so much innovation and history gave me tingles. I could have stood there for hours just pouring over different bits of pieces. Have pity on my poor wife. One thing the exibits stressed was the way Leo continued to change and modify designs right up to the last few weeks of his life. G&L was really the best he had to offer and he wasn't afraid of throwing caution to the wind to end up with the best instrument he could offer to players. I really wish Fender as we know it now had the same attitude.

More pics soon...
Bassline "I'm not arguing.... I'm just explaining why I'm right."
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BazzBass
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by BazzBass » 03 Sep 2018, 12:28

that was a very nice read :)

That first photo would make a great CD Cover :)
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by bigswifty » 03 Sep 2018, 12:40

Very interesting, thanks!
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drbass
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by drbass » 03 Sep 2018, 13:16

Ha - reverse P in the MM position - I LOVE it.

Very cool, Pete, keep them coming.

Regards,
Michael
- Merlin “Kermit” 6 multi, Merlin Gaia 6 fretless, Merlin Rockmachine 5, Merlin NT5, Manta 5, Manta 5 YOLO, ("Red Baron" 5), Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
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Rocksolid
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by Rocksolid » 03 Sep 2018, 14:04

Awesome trip it sounds like! Thoroughly enjoyed my time driving in the US with the family, nothing to that extent though! Thanks for the pics and the history lesson!
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maxgroover
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by maxgroover » 03 Sep 2018, 14:10

Nice one Pete. Look forward to more updates.

Could you bring yourself to take some photos of the Fenders in the museum?... :peep:
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slowlearner
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by slowlearner » 03 Sep 2018, 14:21

The only fenders in the museum were run of the mill production models. So yeah, I didn't bother. All the interesting stuff was K&L, MM or G&L.
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blizzard
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by blizzard » 03 Sep 2018, 19:06

I love that Stingray prototype. There is a video of someone playing it on YouTube I found a few months ago.


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ozrider
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by ozrider » 04 Sep 2018, 02:41

thanks for sharing, so interesting

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slowlearner
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by slowlearner » 04 Sep 2018, 07:33

blizzard wrote:
03 Sep 2018, 19:06
I love that Stingray prototype. There is a video of someone playing it on YouTube I found a few months ago.

8| ok, so now I'm even more excited about having seen it!

P.s was I the only one feeling super anxious about him waving around for half the video?
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slowlearner
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by slowlearner » 05 Sep 2018, 11:01

The next most exciting music place I went on RT66 was Chess Records in Chicago.

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Chess is important for a few reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first labels to mass market black blues. The two brothers who owned the company were deliberate in seeking out some of the greatest blues artists we now know; Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy. They also published Aretha Franklin's first recordings.

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What's more significant than that was that these artists then went on to influence the British Invasion, ie. all the blues bands that most of us know so well; Cream, John Mayall, The Yardbirds, Led Zep and of course The Rolling Stones. The last of which went to Chess, walked up this terrible staircase and recorded (along with all the legends) in this studio and booth.

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These stairs leaned to the left and seemed on the verge of collapse. The railing hasn't been changed either since the 60s when Mick & Co dragged their gear upstairs with the help of Muddy Waters and others.

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Needless to say, I was pretty overwhelmed by all this. My wife told me she didn't know if I was cranky or happy, because the whole tour, I was speechless. Which brings me to the crowning glory for us bass players.

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Willie Dixon's upright bass. A Kay with awful action that Dixon said, "wasn't built for speed".

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Most of us have probably heard of Willie Dixon, but I'd rate him as being more important than Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney or Chris Squier. Because without Willie Dixon, blues as we know wouldn't exist. He was the pre-eminent song writer and bassist at Chess on all the great blues recordings from the 50s. Our heroes grew up on his playing and writing. He wrote, Hoochie Coochie Man, Little Red Rooster, Spoonful, just to name a few. He wrote over 400 songs during his life and never stopped recording and producing.

So yes, there was a HUGE amount of mojo in the place. Not surprising I felt so overwhelmed. They also had this cool old thing up on the wall.

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If you're ever in Chicago, you have to go and check the place out. I've really only given you a taste of the story of the place. The good news is, it's only about 6 months off going back into proper use as a studio.

We also drove past the set for "Ray's Music Exchange" from the Blues Brothers. The mural is still there.

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Aussie Mark
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by Aussie Mark » 05 Sep 2018, 11:15

Thanks for sharing, Pete. What was your ride?

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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by drbass » 05 Sep 2018, 11:18

"not built for speed" - I reckon you can fit one of my whole necks between the strings and the board on this one ;) .

Great write-up, Pete. Don't you just love it when you visit/tour a place that gives you goosebumps for all the right reasons!

Regards,
Michael
- Merlin “Kermit” 6 multi, Merlin Gaia 6 fretless, Merlin Rockmachine 5, Merlin NT5, Manta 5, Manta 5 YOLO, ("Red Baron" 5), Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3

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slowlearner
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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by slowlearner » 05 Sep 2018, 11:19

Aussie Mark wrote:
05 Sep 2018, 11:15
Thanks for sharing, Pete. What was your ride?
Hyundai Accent hatch. Not flashy, but good on fuel and cheap. :thumbup:
Bassline "I'm not arguing.... I'm just explaining why I'm right."
My Band - https://www.facebook.com/PBT-1914426202220972/

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Re: Five weeks on US66

Post by Aussie Mark » 05 Sep 2018, 12:53

slowlearner wrote:
05 Sep 2018, 11:19
Aussie Mark wrote:
05 Sep 2018, 11:15
Thanks for sharing, Pete. What was your ride?
Hyundai Accent hatch. Not flashy, but good on fuel and cheap. :thumbup:
I feel your pain. I rented a Corolla on the east coast a few years ago and most of the time felt like I was in the smallest vehicle on the road, especially on the 10 lane freeway between Baltimore and NYC

Rolling Stoned | The Volts | Doors Alive | Bonza | The Vinyl Beats

Basses: Nash, Fender, Duesenberg, Greco, Ibanez
Rig: Fender Bassman 500 and Neo 410

Endorsing artist: Fender; Cave Passive Pedals

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