Guitar shopping in Tokyo

I got into Tokyo on New Years Day to find that most places were closed. There was a couple of the Ishibashi outlets open though, including Ikebukuro (an area of the city). That’s where I ended up getting the MIM Tele Custom two days later.

It was cold in Tokes, but not ridiculously so.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3554 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3554″ /></a><br /><em>cutting to the chase, this is the one I eventually bought</em>

Didn’t actually see much of Ikebukuro because the Ishibashi joint was close to the train station.

My currency translating skillz went awry when looking at this US made ’72 — in fact I didn’t see the US made bit. I was think it was roughly $400, probably because it was beat up and the pick up looked a little rusty. Add another zero to 348. It played nice.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3464 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3464″ /></a>

The next day I got over to another area, Nochonmizu, that has about ten larger, chok-full shops of new and vintage gear. I wasn’t epecting many of them to be open but most were.

This is the TL-52 SPL. That is, it’s a Japanese Fender, made to look like the 1952 model Telecaster, and the SPL means special. It’s special. And I was indeed considering it because it has that combination of a single coil and a humbucker, but the humbucker didn’t sound very good, plus the varnished woodgrain reminded me too much of YOUR MUM’S kitchen table.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3479 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3479″ /></a>

This is the one I was really hankering for a few months ago. But then the hanker gave out. It’s also a Fender Japan — a MG69 RLY. Mustang 1969 style in ‘rebole’ yellow.  O RLY?

Gorgeous colour, but it sounded too samey with the Jaguar I already have here. I may still definitely give one of these a try sometime though.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3485 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3485″ /></a>

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3487 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_3487″ /></a>

Here is a bunch of pedals. At least in the 2nd hand dept, and for Japanese company-made pedals, the prices were pretty good at times, but if were not actually in the country, and were adding on shipping, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3524 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_3524″ /></a>

Bunch of original Mustangs OMG :drool:

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3538 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3538″ /></a>

<a href=”” title=”IMG_3539 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_3539″ /></a>

This is a 1988 strat. It’d faded to a really nice pale yellow bananary full-moon colour. Check out the evidence of fading on the back, due to now-removed stickers. The fretboard was scalloped. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I don’t know why anyone would scallop anything other than potatoes.

Anyway, all up it was a really fun experience. The folks in the shops were always completely polite and okay with letting me have a try of pretty much any guitar that I wanted. Within reason I guess… there were a couple of Bass IVs in one shop, with the price on them at about US$4000 each, and as much as I was curious about the sound of them, I didn’t ask for a try. There’s slim chance I’ll ever own a bassIV.

But it was a cool thing to say, Hay, can I try this? and then be asked, would you prefer it through a Fender or Marshall?  Also, Japanese people’s English is *pretty good*. I found myself slipping into the terrible sounding pidgeon English that I mostly speak in here, only to find that it wasn’t necessary there. Maybe partly the reason is that there’s a lot more Australian and English people in Japan, so the locals are exposed to more variety of accents.

At some times the shops were quite busy and I would’ve had to wait around to try out something, but sometimes very quiet, which was when the sales staff were basically encouraging me to try their stuff, with no hard-sell tactics at the end. It was great– that style really works on me. It’s like, my brain thinks, well, if you’re not going to try and talk me into buying this $1000 dollar guitar, then it must be pretty damn good, in which case, I think I’ll just go ahead an buy it.

One thing that warmed the cockles of my guitar-purcahsin’ heart was seeing young teeny-bopper kids looking at stuff and buying stuff. In the Ikebukuro store I was watching this kid, must’ve been 14 at the most, nerdily looking at 2nd hand small clone and small clone nanos as if they were from another planet. I felt like saying to him, Get the standard one, it sounds better. In Nochanomizu there was a young teen girl with her mum buying a guitar starter pack too. It was great because I never see that here. The predominant demographic at Nagwon is old ajashis – and they own the shops.

So from the perspective of guitars and gear, I was reminded of how wealthy Japan is. Playing a musical instrument, guitar or other, is primarily a hobby — like fishing or pokemon – and in Japan people have the bux to spend on their hobby. Compared to here, where currently things are not looking good – I’m betting a few of those old dudes in the nagwon building go out of bidness soon.

In Nochan the biggest crowding I saw was at one of the shops that was having a sheet music book sale. It made me think, if there’s all these young dudes and dudettes in Jp with guitars, why don’t more rock groups come out of the country. I’m guessing, 1) the language difference is a big factor. There’s not much commercial viability in Japanese sung songs in English-speaking countries. Also 2) There’s a good dollop of the same mindset in Japan as there is here re creativity — that is – they’re more into following the rules, learning the sheet music, than wading into the murky depths or unexplored creative styles.

Even here, whenever I get to Nagwon there’s always someone shredding it up, trying out a HM-2 or something, but it was odd that as busy as all those shops were in Tokyo, I didn’t here anyone hot-dogging it with the guitars on sale.

Tokyo Burger Expose

I know it’s not a particularly trendy thing to do, but I eat at McDonalds. I do it every so often which in real terms means once every week and a half or so.  To my best recollection I haven’t eaten it in Australia within the last decade. There’s just no need there; too much other better food.

Here in SK, it’s cheap, salty and everywhere. Sometimes I think my body makes me go there just for the salt.

On new year’s day while guitar shopping in Tokyo I decided to lunch at McD’s because I couldn’t see much around that was open. It was a few bucks more expensive there but worth it — over quality and size was better. Folks in Japan really love their hamburger patties. There was some kind of spice in there that was interesting.

Here, we have McDonald’s delivery which would be a good idea except that once the products lose more than a few degrees of heat, they turn back into toxic waste. But I had to try having it home-delivered at least once. Like all delivery places in this country, the shop has a delivery zone, beyond which the will not deliver. As it turned out, the local franchise wouldn’t deliver to my joint, but they’d come close; the corner of the main intersection, which is about three minutes walk from here.

That’s not home-delivery damnit! There was nothing else for it–I sent the g/f to go stand on the corner, waiting for the man. But as alluded to before, by the time the stuff got back to the house, it was dead cold and not especially appealing. A lesson is learned.