Gibson Baldwin Or you are better off with an Epiphone

So as I will soon post, I had been experimenting with trading up and the world of Craigslist.

I ended up for a short period of time with a Gibson Baldwin. Unfortunately, with a lot of modifications it was hard to sell. It had a new neck, and an after-market humbucker in the neck position.

Gibson has a line called Gibson Maestro, this used to be called Gibson Baldwin. In case you are wondering Baldwin is also a brand of piano that is owned by Gibson. They are very nice pianos and actually the one I learned on was a Baldwin. Gibson on its own is the iconic brand and a dead giveaway is that a Gibson Baldwin Les Paul costs about $80 while a real Gibson Les Paul costs closer to $2000. I actually liked the guitar with all its modifications as a beginner guitar. It was nicer that the Squier Strat I learned on. The only thing was that I wanted to upgrade and maybe a little too hastily. It had 2 humbuckers, and a black body, the Tune-o-matic bridge and treble/rhythm switch. The neck was a stratocaster style, but not a Fender brand. I want to say it looks more like a Yamaha Pacifica neck with the emblem scratched off. There was hardly any fret buzz and I think increasing the action would have stopped that. I am almost certain the guy who owned it before was a shredder because the Neck humbucker was replaced and I don’t know the brand but I have seen those pickups on guitars owned by Cannibal Corpse fans.

Here are a few photos

Body Shot of the Gibson Baldwin   

Body Shot of the Gibson Baldwin

 

Head Stock Shot - at the bottom you can see my kitten Ben. He is a fan of Judas Priest.

Head Stock Shot - at the bottom you can see my kitten Ben. He is a fan of Judas Priest.

 

Steinway

Model D Grand Piano from Steinway.com

Model D Grand Piano from Steinway.com

I know I usually like to talk about guitars, banjos and basses but there is a an instrument that is crucial to almost every genre of music, the piano. I used to play piano and it is my second biggest music regret of all time, first was giving up the violin. Anyway, Steinway and sons has been making the best pianos out of New York for over 150 years. What really impressed me was this documentary called Note by Note The Making of L 1037. I loved watching the process of making a grand piano. Which if you have ever seen a grand piano it is enormous. To make one of these pianos takes a long time like a year long. Also like the best guitars it is all hand crafted, but you need about 10 different people to make parts of the piano. There is one guy who just makes the soundboard and nothing else. One person can make a guitar but the amount of work that goes into one of these masterpieces. It’s no wonder why they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just like wood for guitars it has to be seasoned, dried and cured. It also need to be cured after it is built and tuned regularly for a month or so.

I would recommend this doc to anyone who likes pianos, woodworking or instrument building. I thought it was so cool. One more thing about it was that they interviewed a lot of famous pianists who rent out the Steinways for an evening performance or a tour. Just like every hand crafted guitar has a unique sound so does every Steinway and just like guitar manufactures are struggling with cheap imports, Steinway is too.

I was looking around on the site and it is impressive. They have all of their models and they just look beautiful. When I look at guitar and banjo specs I feel right at home, I know exactly what they are talking about. Here not so much. It is cool to see that they both use spruce and brass hardware is what is used on the top of the line models. I have talked about spruce but not Brass. I will in a later post but for now I’ll just say that brass is a prized metal for is sonority and popularity in instruments like saxophones and trumpets. Theses are also in the brass family of instruments. Also in banjos a brass tone ring is the sign a of a high quality instrument.

I saw it on Netflix so I believe you can still see it there. Otherwise you can buy it from PBS.

Here is the site

http://www.notebynotethemovie.com/

and if you have an interest in Steinway and Sons.

http://www.steinway.com/

Ian Stewart: The lesser known member of the Rolling Stones

Ian Stewart was a crucial part of the Rolling Stones and he was there since the beginning and he was the pianist. Think about how so many Stones songs would sound with out piano? Just empty. The piano was a big part of the Stones sound. Ian Stewart was an original member of the band along with Mick, Keith and  Brian. Even before Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts came in. However, he was pushed out of the official band because of publicity. He didn’t have the right face, Andrew Loog Oldham said Six in a band was too many and piano was not a cool enough instrument. Ian was also Scottish. In those days of the early 60’s, the goal was to make the band very marketable and also to sell merchandise. It is no different today.Ian remained in the band as pianist and road manager, he set up guitars and brought equipment in and out as well as being the full time pianist.

“It was obvious that Ian Stewart didn’t fit the picture. I’m not dissing him as though he wasn’t part of the whole thing, but there were a lot of numbers which he didn’t play on. It was plain that Ian didn’t want to be a pop singer.”

Mick Jagger, 1965

I don’t personally believe this quote, I think Mick used it and Ian also assumed this attitude for the sake of the band. He said that he liked the peace and quiet of the anonymity. I still think he would have liked a bit more recognition. On the other hand it is believed that The Stones would not have made it as far as they did with Ian as an official member of the band. Andrew Loog Oldham and Ian also had bad blood between them and certainly disliked each other So that may have also played a role.However, this position allowed Ian to work on many different projects. He collaborated with Eric Clapton, Ringo, Steve Winwood and Led Zeppelin. Speaking of Zeppelin how about another under appreciated member, John Paul-Jones.

Unfortunately, Ian died on Dec 12th 1985 from a heart attack at age 47. It was a great loss for the music community. In February the next year, The Stones played a tribute concert for him. Ian Stewart was very influential to the Stones and when they were inducted into the hall of fame. The current members insisted on having his name along with them. All in all, it is sad that he was marginalized in a band he helped form and shape but at least he got recognition.

“Ian Stewart. I’m still working for him. To me the Rolling Stones is his band. Without his knowledge and organization … we’d be nowhere.”
Keith Richards, Life

Some of the notable songs that Ian worked on
Brown Sugar
Dead Flowers
Honky Tonk Woman
Stupid Girl
It’s Only Rock and Roll (but I like it)

* Some of my favourite piano parts like Tumbling Dice and Sympathy for the Devil were played by Nicky Hopkins another great pianist but that will be for another post.

This will be my last post before the New Year and I won’t be doing anything until mid January. Also this is my 35th post, Word press tells me it means something special, but I can’t tell what it is.