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Encore Performances: Harmony slips through my hands.

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From my old blog, August 2010.

I gave her many a year, but it’s finally over between Harmony and I.

Sometime in the mid-’90s, I bought the Harmony H303A guitar amplifier pictured above from a music store in western New York.

I knew it was only big enough to use as a practice or recording amp … and in my heart of hearts, I knew I wasn’t going to be recording any guitar tracks anytime in the foreseeable future.

But it was cheap.
And it had that ’50s/’60s vibe going for it, which attracts guitar players like catnip, and was conspicuously missing in my gear collection.
And every once in a while when I cranked it up, it stopped sounding like the cardboard it was made out of and began to put out something vaguely resembling “vintage tube tone,” which is as difficult to define as hardcore pornography and just as hotly pursued.

Harmony was a casualty of my move to Pennsylvania in 2002.
I never turned to her any more.
The unkindest cut came when my sons discovered her in my closet during their youthful explorations and took out her trio of tubes.
I subsequently found one broken glass grenade on the floor of my closet; the other two remain AWOL.

I’m finally making a long-overdue decision that I have too much stuff in my house.
Some of it will be sold; some will go for free to the first good home; and some will clog whatever landfill my township ships its shit to.

In keeping with that spirit, tubeless Harmony earlier tonight became the first thing I’ve ever posted on Craiglist.
For $10.

I didn’t do any research; didn’t see what H303As are selling for on eBay; just picked a number out of the air.
I’ve already received four e-mails of interest.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I have massively underpriced it — that someone will stick new tubes in it and turn it around for $100.
But I couldn’t bring myself to charge more.

In part, that’s because I haven’t turned it on in eight years. I don’t know that some other part of it hasn’t decayed into unusability.
It was a little crackly back in the day, and I do suspect the eventual buyer will need to sink some money into it.
I’d hate to sell it for $50 and feel like I made someone a false promise.

More importantly, this satisfies my long-held, latent desire to play Santa Claus anonymously.
(Ask me sometime about the time I bought a wedding present at random for a couple I didn’t know.)

We’ve all heard stories about the guitar player who got his favorite studio amp for $20 at a garage sale; or the pro photographer whose favorite camera for personal, knocking-’round-the-city snapping is a $30 pawnshop job.
I may be on the verge of giving someone else a story like that.
And it feels good.
Maybe better in my soul than an extra $40 would feel in my wallet.

There’s an artistic element to this, too. There might well be some guitar tracks stored up in Harmony after all.
I know I’m not the person to bring them out; but if someone else can, it stands to reason they should have the chance.
A tool should be used or discarded.

It may be that the eventual buyer will fix Harmony up, keep her for 20 years and smile every time he looks in her direction.
And I’m hard put to argue that that’s not the best of all possible outcomes.


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