Friday, September 4, 2009


Today I started shopping around my poor neglected Fender Stratocaster. I brought it to four music stores within easy walking distance of my house to show it to the employees and leave my card, in case they know anyone who might be interested.

It was quite amusing to walk into the stores with my plain black gig bag, get the attention of the blasé employee, and then watch their eyes light up when I took the guitar out. Nobody bought it (I didn't expect anyone to) but man did I get some people excited. Strat copies are quite common here, as they are everywhere, but the real things are relatively rare and fairly valuable as a result. This one is particularly intriguing to those who know Stratocasters because it has a number of features that were produced by the company for a limited time only. And it's in really good shape.

What was really amusing to me about the whole exercise is that had I tried the same thing in the U.S. I would have been completely demoralized, and probably fuming, by the time I left the second store. Not only would this guitar have been much more commonplace in the U.S., but music store employees seem to make it their mission in life to cultivate a snotty, arrogant attitude with the customers- perhaps this is a coping mechanism for dealing with musicians. Or maybe it's because they are musicians. There's a great story by a cartoonist named Mary Fleener about snooty music store employees- I couldn't tell you were to find it, but if you ever get the chance you should read it.

Okay, I'm gonna be fair now- not all music store employees are assholes. I've met some really nice, real, laid-back people working in music stores. But I won't go back into the store where I bought the guitar I am now trying to sell because I didn't like the way I got treated in there a couple times.

None of this seems to apply here, or maybe I lucked into finding a way to do an end run on the snobbery. And I have been very impressed by the wealth of knowledge these people have about guitars, and Strats specifically. I've learned more about my guitar since I brought it to Brazil than in the rest of the twenty years I've owned it. They take their music seriously here, and if you don't believe me, go into any restaurant in the Pelourinho and check out the house musician- I've never heard one that wasn't at least very good. Then again, I'm not sure how many of those restaurants are still open... Pelourinho's been in free-fall for the last couple years...

The only guy who was at all negative about the guitar was a luthier that I showed it to- he said I could only expect to get half of what I'm asking for it here in Bahia, which would make it worth about as much as I could get for it in the United States, which means it wouldn't have been worth the hassle to cart the stupid thing down here in the first place. But I think he's wrong, or he may have been testing the Gullible Gringo waters to see if I'd bite.

Or he may have been right. In which case I'll be disappointed.

At any rate, it's time for this fine guitar to find it's way to someone who's going to play it a lot more than I do.


Pedra said...

Hey Mark,
Glad to see you blogging again...I was missing your posts! I keep thinking about starting up a new blog, but I'm not quite sure of what to focus on a lot on the plate these days.

Good luck in selling your guitar. If all else fails, maybe you can get into the Victoria's Secret business ;)


Stephanie said...

Good Luck!

You are right about music store really is a pain some days.

markuza said...

Cheryl- I'm back in the saddle again ha haaa!

Stephanie - are you a musician as well?

Both of you- thanks! Next step is putting it in the paper. I'd hate to be reduced to selling Victoria's Secret- it would be terrible for my ultra-macho image ;)

markuza said...

Update: I sold the guitar.

Stephanie said...

So Im going back and reading your posts because I realize you reply through comments. Forgive me for not realizing this until now.

I am a musician (or so I like to think). I've played Clarinet for...I dont know, a lot of years now...14? I love it. Another love is percussion, particularly playing the marimba, vibrophone, any of those. They make beautiful music!

I am really missing my clarinet though. I didnt bring mine with me, I was worried about what the heat would do to it. But I actually think it will be fine here, so next time, I'll bring it back with me!

And also now I will sign up for emails on follow up comments :)

markuza said...

living in New England, the big danger for instruments was always the dry winters, at least for guitars. I would think they wouldn't have that problem here, what with the crazy humidity... but then again, the termites might get them!!! And I doubt you get the same humidity as we do where you live.