Bad to the Bone

Rumour is we are going to be renamed again – Axe Grinder. This could be viewed as a not so subtle attempt to subvert search engines and boost gay readership. Sadly no, just a suggestion by Greg, one of my more talented customers. There’s certainly always something to grind. Mind you the pink pound is more than welcome, in fact any colour would do, but a forty something bloke, no wife or kids, would be the prefect profile with a few indulgent quid to spend and if they hung around long enough do a bit of dusting. Always neat and tidy in my experience.

Grind on……..

I nearly chopped my bloody finger off the other day. Cleaver, woosh, chop, right down to the bone. Only my most important fretting finger, well one of the two I use anyway. Just peachy.

There’s me half way through preparing stir fried crab, ginger, spring onions, bit of garlic, then bosh, claret all up the wall.

That’s bloody Gok Wan for you – “Buy a Chinese cleaver” says Gok, “You’ll never need anything else in the kitchen” – except a plastic hand. Fucking idiot. Wonder if I can sue him?

The geometry’s all wrong. I would liken myself to a highly experienced chopper-upper, usually a Sabatier man, but this cleaver lark has a different center of gravity, different balance point and sharp as a light sabre. Didn’t feel a thing. Still can’t for that matter.

So dinner hits the bin, crab scuttles under the fridge and the washable emulsion on the wall quite clearly is not. I do a swift assessment, marvel at what colour we are inside and drive one handed to the Walk-In Centre.

Peculiar thing that – driving to the Walk-in Centre. Doesn’t seem quite right. It’s for the sick and injured. Shouldn’t it be the Stumble – in Centre? Stagger-to-the-Door, Last Breath Blues. It kind of bothered me. Massive car park too. Something not quite right there.

Dreadful place. Brings out my dark side. I’m lucky, it’s not quite the witching hour. The drunks crash about but don’t bother anyone.

It’s been a red hot day. The place is full of baked red fuck wits. Skin stretched tight, some of the victims innocent little kids with idiotic parents in tow.

“Hello nurse” says little Johnny, “I’m badly sun burnt but can you cure me of this twat?” – looking at Dad.

Time passes, I drip on the floor. To be fair I was seen quickly on entering the establishment, to determine that I would not bleed to death on the premises and then given a useful cardboard bowl and told to wait.

Poor woman in front of me only has one leg, so I was somewhat consoled that no more fancy fretwork was certainly little to worry about. After all there are plenty of two fingered heroes. I don’t think that’s why she was in there. I reckon that would be bang out of order, making you wait when you’ve just chopped your leg clean off.

She watches me drip, then advises to hold my hand above my heart. I explain that I’ve left it in a Lidl bag in the back of the car. I don’t trust these places. Whip out the wrong organ in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful. Sold to the highest bidder.

Two hours pass, flow doesn’t ebb, bowl is soggy. Last man standing, I’m finally seen by two very cheery nurses. Bit of light banter – nurses, not me.

“Hmm down to the bone, circumvential, nerve damage” “What were you cooking? ” Like it made a difference.

Or was it “circumfrential”? Not sure but they stopped short of “proper mess”

“We’ll have to stitch that” – No shit ! I was right all along, should have been a doctor, bloody good job I’d gone there and not Big City Tyres.

They glued the second not-so-bad finger. Good stuff super glue, invented during the Vietnam War to stick every one back together. Must have used tanker loads. How come it doesn’t stick inside the tube and refuse to come out? War. What is it good for? Superglue, there you go.

Anyway to be fair, once ushered in to the little side room I was swabbed, prodded, jacked up and stitched up very quickly and then sent on my way. The nurses were excellent. They even turned the lights off and locked up behind me. Seriously don’t hurt yourself after 9.00 pm as you can’t Walk-In anywhere, they shut up shop – it’s the proper hell of A&E for you.

I completely blame Gok but he is a likeable chap. Swift transition from fashion guru to camp TV chef.

Which reminds me, moving swiftly on to China. Hive of industry, an environmental disaster in the making and tons of dodgy knock off gear hitting our shores by the ship load every day. You name it they make it. Fantastic at producing anything you want. I reckon it’s ‘cos they all have little hands.

I know a bloke that ships in container loads of fake goods. Hugo Boss, Ugg, Barbour, Calvin Klein, Paul Smith, Yves St Laurent. It is all covered. The detail and packaging is amazing. You can order samples, tweak designs if you wish. The business is huge. This is aimed at the UK wholesale market, not just selling out of a car boot. Some stuff gets seized by the Powers-That-Be and half of that comes right round again straight out the back door and in to the market place. Different world, sold cheap to a knowing army of consumers who want the brand label but not the quality or High Street price.

My mate Shoebox needed a new bearing for his yacht. The old one was cracked. Not a problem I’m ever likely to suffer from.

So he sent the bearing to China, asked them to make another. So they did. Came back perfect, with an exact same perfect copy of the crack. Fucking amazing engineering skills. He was absolutely furious. Lost in translation I told him.

China – where they make all those sparkly fake Gibson Les Pauls.

I’ve seen quite a few lately. Several big name signature models – look good from a distance and probably worth £300 all day long. One poor bloke had been suckered in to thinking he had two investment grade pieces, but most people know exactly what they are getting in to from the start.

I’ve have customers who buy, then want a re-fret, new pickups, rewiring. God knows why. The more ethical ask for them to be de-badged. Happy to take your money on this but I won’t make them look like a genuine Gibson. Even I have some scruples somewhere in an old tin.

Thing is I don’t reckon it’s the Chinese at fault per se. They just make stuff that people want. So who is ordering them? The West.

Maybe American companies? Certainly UK punters buy them. Could Gibson benefit? Flooding the market with cheap flotsam that has no resale value?

Cast serious doubt and a shadow on the used market? Don’t buy a used Gibson they could say, as you just do not know if it ‘s the real deal. Apparently the second hand market is Gibson’s biggest competitor – a few ugly rumours could work wonders for new retail Gibson sales.

Strange thing is the Chinese factories could easily correct the obvious tell-tale indicators at little or no extra cost, but they don’t. Why not? Maybe they’ve never been asked. They can make anything just spot-on if specified.

Epiphone style bridges with screw driver height adjustment slots – a great idea but never adopted by Gibson. 3 screw truss rod covers, allen key truss rod adjustment, black painted cavities, plastic wiring, photo veneer tops, unbound fret ends, poor quality neck binding, the list goes on.

Recent workshop experience suggests Gibson may now be adopting some of these Chinese policies and standards – shoddy neck binding, cheap cast bridges with poor quality plating, inferior fret wire. Push fit electrical connections and pcb mounted components, presumably fabricated elsewhere and shipped in. The writing is on the wall.

Don’t imitate – innovate. Play your own stuff, make it up, write it. Buy an honest guitar, whatever your budget – maybe an old quality Les Paul Standard, we’ve got some.

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