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Posted in: Guitars by Ingo on February 10, 2014
When Mark Knopfler started with Dire Straits in 1977, he played two different Stratocasters. One of these had a laminated maple fingerboard and some other modifications, including one of the strap buttons at the back side of the guitar. Unfortunately photos that show the exact location of this button – is it near the neck plate or is the button held by one of the four neck screws – do not exist. With this blog post I will try to locate the button as close as possible with the help of the pictures and video we have.
I have two Strats with a strap button on the back. On one it is held buy one of the neck screws, on the other it is screwed to the body wood near the neck plate, see the following pictures.
Let’s now have a look at the first picture of Mark’s guitar now. It is from early 1978 and shows the guitar with the narrow brown leather strap Mark used back then.
We can see that the strap runs along the inner side of the cutaway. I then tried to place my two guitars into a similar view angle as in the picture with Mark’s guitar.
So by now we can be almost sure that the strap button on Mark’s guitar was not held with one of the neck screws (with the inner screws the result would even be worse as you could not see the strap at all then).
Theoretically the button can still be located near the neck plate as on mine guitar, or further down on the same line, e.g. just in the middle of the neck plate. To find out more, I will compare pictures with the wide Music Man strap next. The Music Man logo on the strap can partly be seen behind Mark’s guitar on several pictures. As I have an identical strap, I might place the strap similar and check where the hole at the end of the strap sits.
Here is a picture of Mark’s guitar again.
A similar angle view on my guitars:
Finally I move the Music Man strap around a bit to find even better alternatives.
It turns out that in fact the most accurte placement seems to be as it is on this guitar. The real position can only differ about some millimeters or 1 – 2 centimeters at the maximum (+/- ca. 0.5 “).
Why the strap at the back?
Mounting the strap button at the back of the guitar has in fact some advantages. Even with a wide strap like the Music Man strap, the strap lies flat to your body which feels (and looks) a bit different, maybe better. And we must not forget that the guitar that Mark Knopfler mainly played before getting his first Strat in 1977 was a 1959 Les Paul Special. On this the strap button is located at the neck heel (see picture) so this is what Mark was used to, and it makes sense that he asked the luthier who did the modifications on that guitar to mount it there as well.
If you want to place the strap button on the back of your guitar, you might nevertheless do it as I did with the other guitar. You only have to widen the hole in the strap button (I used a drill) and use the same screw to hold it. From my experience the neck will sit firmly enough with one screw not in completely. You can undo this mod any time.
If you decide to screw the button into the wood, you might use a piece of clear masking tape and drill through it. This should prevent from cracking the finish around the hole while drilling. Remove the tape after the job is done.
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Posted in: Vintage guitars by Ingo on January 31, 2014
I was involved in a few discussions about the possibility of buying guitars with Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) from the US – e.g. Fender Strats from the early 60ies – on the Strat-Talk Forum. After talking with two officials from Germany’s authorities / customs I got some new information which I want to present with this blog post.
|In Short – Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra)Brazilian rosewood is the wood of fingerboards on many vintage guitars like Fenders or Gibsons from the 50ies or 60ies. Due to its endangered status, it was CITES-listed on Nov. 6 1992 in Appendix I (the most protected, same status as ivory or some turtle shells), and illegal to trade. Guitar manufacturers replaced it with other sorts of rosewood, e.g. Indian or African rosewoods which are similar but not identical in look and sound.Although all these vintage guitars were built before the date Brazilian rosewood was protected, many restrictions apply to these as well, making it difficult (or even impossible) to sell or buy such guitars.|
Still possible: importing a vintage guitar for private purpose
Selling guitars with parts of Brazilian rosewood – both commercially and private – requires a special permission within the EU. Importing (or exporting) these into (or from) the EU commercially is in most cases not possible!
Brazilian rosewood on a ’62 Stratocaster
However, for private purpose it is still possible to get export and import permission for pre-convention instruments, in other words guitars built before 1992 . Buying a Strat from someone in the US is not commercial automatically. If you don’t buy the guitar to resell it (or to make money from it in any other way, e.g. to sell photos of it), it is for private purpose.
It does not matter here if you buy the guitar from a shop or a private person.
****Now the bad thing: you can never ever sell the guitar again, not to anyone, no exception.****
[Regarding the five digits prices for e.g. vintage Strats from the early 60ies, buying such a guitar becomes econmically difficult: it is still true that it will keep its value, or the value will even increase further, but you are not allowed to sell it!!?? ]
You are allowed to perform with the guitar in public (seems ridiculous, but this was not sure some months ago) . This is because in such a situation you don’t primarily display your guitar commercially but your music. However, if you plan to display the guitar on e.g. a guitar show, or print pictures of it e.g. in a book you are going to sell, it is considered commercial.
Importing the guitar commercially - e.g. to resell it – is usually not possible. The only two exceptions are :
- the guitar was made before 1947 ,
- or if the guitar has once been imported into the EU before 1992, and you are going to re-import it.
How to do import a vintage guitar from the US into the EU
If you buy a Strat on e.g. ebay, the first thing that is required is an export permission from the US. To get this is the seller’s job! The permission can be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website (application form here) , it costs USD 75, and processing time can be up to 60 days (or even longer) !!
The seller then needs to send a copy of the form (a scan via email will do, the original will travel with the guitar) to the buyer. With this export permission, the buyer can then get an import permission from his country’s authorities (in case of Germany, it is the Bundesamt fuer Naturschutz). The import permission will cost 20 Euros (price for Germany).
Prices and authorities might vary from country to country, but the same should be true for any EU country as these laws are EU-wide laws.
One thing that is very important: On the export permission from the US, field #15 must be stamped by the export customs office. For this reason, the seller must take the instrument to one of the export customs offices in the US to get it stamped there!
If this is missing – which seems to be often the case when just leaving this job to the post service – the guitar cannot be imported into the EU, in other words will not pass the border to the EU. The missing stamp cannot be received afterwards.
The guitar will then be confiscated and will remain in the possession of the government forever (but can e.g. be given as a permanent loan to a public music school etc.). The buyer’s money is lost then, no compensation.
I wrote a few blog posts about selling vintage guitars within the EU before, see the list with links to related blog posts below (in very short: it is possible to sell a guitar with Brazilian rosewood within the EU with a special paper that is available if the guitar is proved to be built before 1992 and was imported into the EU before this date. If it was imported after, you cannot sell it!)"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Easy stuff for beginners,MK guitar style and licks,Understanding music by Ingo on January 05, 2014
I often get emails from people who ask me for help with playing some particular Mark Knopfler stuff, for tutorial videos, or for personal video tutoring via e.g. Skype. In fact I have been thinking about this for some time but am not sure yet in which direction to go (DVDs, online tutoring,…), or how many fans are out there who might be interested in this.
If you are interested you can help me to get this clear and do this quick survey. If I see that there is much interest, I will put more effort in preparing this stuff and get something running soon.
Just tick the best answer (or several answers). There are some text fields where you can enter additional information in case none of the provided answers matches your needs, or to leave a comment or make suggestions.
You can leave out any of the individual questions if you feel to.
(Sorry, the layout of this survey is not ideal yet – need to find the associated CSS styles and edit these… - but it should be alright for now.)
"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Online Guitar Tutoring
I was browsing through the Sailing to Philadelphia tour book (2001) recently when I noticed an odd thing about the MK-1 in a Pensa ad there. The ad shows a picture of Mark’s famous MK1 guitar that was taken in 1992 during the On Every Street tour. As we all know the guitar was built by John Suhr who also designed most of its features. And we know that there was some dispute between Rudy Pensa and John Suhr regarding legal rights to build guitars like this after John Suhr left Rudy’s Music Stop in 1990. In short, Pensa claimed to have the right to build an exact replica exclusively (more on this in a planned future blog post).
You might have noticed that in the Guitar Stories documentary (on Sky Arts TV last year) about Mark’s guitars, the guitar was labelled as “Pensa MK1″ (instead of “Pensa Suhr MK1″), with no word about Suhr at all.
The ad from the tour book shows Mark’s guitar even with a “photoshopped” head, saying Pensa Custom instead of Pensa Suhr. Never noticed this before. At the bottom you will find an enlarged detail picture of the head as it looks in reality.
Let us know what you think about it. Remember, the comment function on my site does not require registration."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Effects,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on December 03, 2013
The Ernie Ball volume pedals often become scratchy after a long time of usage. While you can replace the current poti model with a brand new poti, it is almost impossible to get a replacements for the older poti types. However, the older potis can be opened and cleaned which – not always but often – cures the scratching. As I did this successfully a few days ago, I took some pictures to demonstrate the procedure.
The poti was the Canadian type used in the mid 90ies but the previous Allen Bradley / Clearostat poti used before can be treated in the same way.
First, I recommend to remove the two screws that hold the black metal block which holds the poti. The string can be released from the poti easily then (you might take pictures before so that later you know how it was assembled).
With these poti types, the wires are plugged to the poti and can be removed without any soldering (again, take notes where they were, or take a picture).
Now the poti should be clean. Note that disassembling the wiper from the carbon resistor is not possible with these poti models so you need to clean it like this. Mount the case again, bend down the tabs to close it. An instruction how to assemble the string again can be found in this video:
Note that you can clean a modded volume pedal in the same way, just make sure to assemple all wires and the string exactly as they were before!!
Another note on this topic: I meanwhile tend to believe that the different taper on Mark Knopfler’s volume poti is not due to a different poti model but to an electronic solution possibly built into his rack. A first prototype circuit works promising, and also avoids the noise of a scratchy poti electronically. Watch out for future updates, I hope to offer something here soon."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
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