Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Just like the Small Faces


Who hasn’t, at one point in his life, stood in front of a mirror and wished he were a rock star? And what about a Mod legend?

In a previous post, I revealed that I added a “check” off my Mod wish list when I started learning to play bass. My mate Daniel was kind enough to lend me his very well preserved Hoftner club bass guitar until I found my own. Daniel is not only a skilled teacher and musician but also happens to be a guitar maker. He designs electric guitars for the world-renowned manufacturer Godin. So who better to have as an adviser when looking to buy a guitar?

A couple of months after we started jamming together, he sent me a link to the Heritage Auctions website. The site based in Texas is the equivalent of eBay but specializes in high-end collectibles. He had come across a 1966 Harmony H22 bass that was going up for auction.

Even if he wasn’t the one looking to buy the instrument, he seemed more excited than I was. “Pat! This is THE dream bass! You have to get this one!” he told me. “It’s the exact model that Ronnie Lane used when he started with the Small Faces.” That’s all I needed to hear.

 
In the sixties, Harmony guitars were known as being affordable, reliable instruments but also very well made. That might explain why a lot of soul players and garage bands adopted the brand. Since they were the workingman bass, to find one that hasn’t been used and abused, is getting harder to do. Daniel hadn’t seen one in this shape on eBay in over a year.

I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by. Long story short, I’m now the proud owner of my very first guitar.


It’s one thing to look like a million bucks having one strapped to your body but it has to sound good too. For that authentic, rich 60s sound, this bass is hard to beat. Don’t take my word for it, just check out Muff Winwood from the Spencer Davis Group wailing on it in their cult classic hit Gimme Some Lovin’.

 
Daniel was also kind enough to do a complete tune up on it. When he took it apart, he found the manufacturing date on it: April 28 1966.


Hidden behind the pick guard was also a store sticker indicating where the ax came from.


It’s fun to imagine that some small band from Pontiac, Michigan might have used it to pound some killer garage tunes or that some obscure Soul was composed on it.. But when you inspect the guitar closer, you can tell it hasn’t been played much and probably sat in a closet for the last 40+ years. Daniel told me sad stories about how a lot of these untouched American guitars came from young soldiers that bought them just before leaving for Vietnam and never made it back home.

Here’s Daniel giving me my homework for the week. He’s showing me the basic bass line for Don Gardner’s My Baby Wants to Boogaloo, one of my favorites. 

video
 
Now that I look the part, it’s time to go practice. I know that owning a cool guitar doesn’t make you a musician but at least now I have a fighting chance. Who knows if this bass will ever make it to a stage but it won’t be because it never saw the outside of a carrying case.


4 comments:

  1. you look amazing!!! congrats. can daniel find me a white elka panther organ? :) compose some girl group songs, please.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Ha! I have my lesson with him tonight. I'll see what I can do. ;)

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  2. Hi ! Cool story
    I'm a owner of a harmony h 27; (the other one Ronnie Lane was using) and bought it for the same Small Faces reasons. Those are the best basses in the world ! I suppose it's the case, but be sure to use flatwounds strings on it (pyramid gold even). I came accross your blog checking out if there was some h22's to sell out there....

    I use my bass in this band : http://www.facebook.com/slowjoemusic

    and I do compose girl group songs ;)
    http://www.petrolchips.com/

    bye

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  3. Thanks for the info sir! I like your group too! I appreciate the fact that you came out with a 45.

    Salutations du Québec!

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