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January 5, 2010


It's here. The New Year. The new decade!

I, for one, am glad that 2009 is over. I know it's complete tosh to expect great changes simply because a couple have digits have incremented on a calendar, but I'm clinging to the hope that the insanity of 2009 won't be repeated in 2010. To say the least, it was a terrible year for health, wealth and happiness.

I'm not going to dwell on 2009, though, except to say that amongst other [cough] surprises at Christmas, I was treated to a £100 cash injection from my family. In my head, I'd already budgeted £100 to spend over the holidays on guitar stuff. On the self-service-Santa list were a pedal for use during rehearsals and a digital recording 'solution' for taping rehearsals. I knew £100 wasn't going to get me very far. £200? Well, that might just about stretch!

So, not long after the turkey had cooled, I headed into the west-end to check out what was on offer on and around Denmark Street.

Straight off the bat my plans hit a snag. Turnkey was closed. Not just 'closed for the Holidays' but 'closed: full stop'... Coming soon: Chipotle Burritos. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it's sad when a music shop closes, but on the other, well, I miss Chipotle and as far as I know, this'll be the first of it's kind in the UK. I miss Mission Burritos even more, but, well, my waistline doesn't!

I should go to hell for saying that I'd eat there. That's like supporting Starbucks or similar business/cancers.

Aaanyway. Turnkey was a bust. After that I zig-zagged across Denmark Street, perusing wares. On the pedal front I tried the Boss Blues Driver 2 (RRP £85) and the Marshall Guv'nor (RRP £45). I liked them both but the BD-2 really grabbed me by the cahones and held on. Despite playing it through a shitty guitar/amp combo it rocked all over the shop. As I was jamming away I was actually asked whether I worked in the store. I guess that means I'm good enough to be a failed or wannabe guitar hero!

Yes, I decided to get one. No, I didn't pay the RRP. Two minutes on the ol' iPhone and I found that it was available for less elsewhere.

Next stop the 'digital recording solution'. When our bass player turned up on Day 1 with a digi-recorder in hand I was skeptical. In hindsight I realised that I was so excited by the music we were creating that I wanted to be in control of what I got to listen back to myself. My conundrum was whether to get a mic for the iPhone and use that or to go down the route of yet another piece of kit to stuff in my trusty gig-bag. In the end I talked myself into the stand-alone solution on the basis that if our drummer wasn't able to turn up for any reason, I'd need the phone to 'sit in', which would mean I couldn't use it to record. Also, whilst it's great that a phone can do all this stuff, sometimes it's best to use the right tool for the right job, as it were.

I'd pretty much settled on the Tascam DR07, but was open to other suggestions. None of the shop-assistants had any. Pound for pound they all seemed to think that the Tascam was the way to go. RRP? Well, the shops were selling them for around £170-£190.

No... Online they're more like £135.

So, £75 for the pedal and £135 for the digi-recorder. £200 pound budget... pretty close.

Of course, I ended up slapping some blue Tortex picks on the back end of the order, too. In store price? £5 for 6. Online? £3. Still not a bargain, but that's inflation for you, I guess.

I've not tried the pedal or the recorder out in anger yet. I need to dig a patch cable out and play something worth recording to test the Tascam. Hey, I guess I could tape, like, a set of pedal samples or something...

PS I'm totally aware that by not actually buying from the stores on Denmark Street I'm probably contributing to their downfall and hence the rise of The Chain!


Axe said...

Happy New Year buddy! You scum sucking web shopping guitar shop closing SOB. Just wait until you want to buy a proper guitar and not some cheap Chimese jobbie off the web and then you discover that there are no guitar shops left open for you to buy from!

Kenski said...

S'alright... I'll just hop a flight to the States and buy a US jobbie then grey import it :-)

I don't know what the solution is to halting the decline of 'real shops', though Denmark Street (as a whole) has gone online itself, so maybe it's just that 'real' shops need to have an online presence.

It's a changing world... not always for the better, eh?

Istvanski said...

Turnkey closed ages ago and so did Sound Control (large premises in basement of Tottenham Court Road's Virgin Megastore).
For years, Denmark Street staff were a bunch of patronising shitbags to their " customers" so perhaps this recession has been a form of divine retribution. However, the staff in Wunjo guitars are most pleasant and hopefully they'll be the ones leading by example for all the other outlets.
Rant over.
Happy New Year.

Furtheron said...

Happy new year Ken.

One good thing about Turnkey being shut is that I didn't take the job there they offered me just after I came out of rehab, well it's a mixed blessing. They were part of the same group as the store in the basement of the old Zavvi store (shit that's gone as well!) and all folded about a year back sadly right at the hight of the credit crunch.

I'll listen to the demo when not on the company restricted web...

Like you I use online a lot now, stringdirect are just brilliant in terms of speed and price I think. I still do try to use local shops like mid air music in Chatham so that they don't die but I always feel a bit shamefaced to be saying "What's the best price on that SM58?" ... "Oh just I can get it at £95 on line" They reply about overheads of a shop etc, which might be fair but it is still the pound in my pocket isn't it?