Adirondack Guitar True Stories: How I Traded My Old Guitar I Never Used and an Amp and Got an Ass-Kicking Marshall Amp! by Jackson McShredstein

January 04, 2019 6 min read

Adirondack Guitar True Stories: How I Traded My Old Guitar I Never Used and an Amp and Got an Ass-Kicking Marshall Amp! by Jackson McShredstein

My Backstory

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12 and the entire time I’d always wanted a Marshall amp. My first guitar was a Harmony Les Paul copy my parents bought from a Montgomery Ward catalog for $112, which was a lot back in 1983. A year later, after completing the Metal Method mixed-media guitar course, I was playingOzzy songs and some awkwardly phrased Van Halen covers and could do the two-handed thing Eddie Van Halen did onEruption. My uncle had also taught me how to play some Hendrix and Boston tunes and told my mother that I was ready for a ‘real’ guitar. “That kid needs a Strat,” he told her, “and a 50 watt amp. A good amp.”

My Dad took me down to Drome Sound in Schenectady to look at guitars and amps, but when he saw the price tags on the Strats he nearly shit. “I’m sorry,” he told the sales guy (I think his name was Nick), “but I can’t do $900.00 for a guitar. Not for a 13 year old.” Nick explained that Pre-CBS Strats that were around $1000.00 were American made by Leo Fender and that the newerStrats, mass produced in Japan, went for around $700.00 at that time, which was still more than Dad wanted to spend.

That’s when Nick introduced us to the brand new (at that time)Squier Bullet. These guitars were also built in Japan and were designed to compete with the then-thriving lawsuit guitar industry. It had a 3/4 black Strat body with a white pickguard, 3 single coil pickups, a classic tremolo system, and a maple neck with a telecaster style headstock. It was beautiful and it was around $200, which my Dad could do. As for an amp, I had wanted a Marshall, but the least expensive Marshall I could find back in those days was over $500 and that was simply too much. So, for a glorious half of a day, I plugged my new Squier Bullet into every amp we could find under $200 until I came to the Peavey Bandit 65, which sounded perfect for what I wanted to do. The entire rig cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $450.


I Settle Down With an Ibanez and a Fender Amp

Of course, I kept with it, and upgraded my guitar and amp every couple of years. I mowed lawns, gave kids younger than me guitar lessons, did chores for my grandmother, and sold my first guitar and amp (the Harmony and Montgomery Ward amp) for $50 and soon I had enough to buy a $350 Charvel Strat, like the red one in the photo below that sold on Reverb recently. I played the Charvel for a couple of years until I saw the new Ibanez RG 550 (Roadster Guitar series) in The Only Guitar Shop in Lake George and went out of my mind.

I was 17 and needed the Ibanez RG550 guitar really bad, so I even got a summer job so I could buy the RG550 and traded my Charvel and paid another $400 dollars I'd saved up for it. The next summer I traded my Peavey Bandit for a Fender M-80 amp (you know, the one with the grey plush and red knobs) and I ended up playing this gear for the next 30 years.

All through this time,my Fender Squiersat in its box in my bedroom. It was the gateway drug for my entire guitar experience, and I wasn’t about to give it up. So, let’s fast forward 30 years, to 2018. In the nearly 30 years since I bought the Ibanez and the Fender practice amp, my guitar interests veered to other things, and the guitars and amp sat in the basement where I played them from time to time. I moved several times and the guitar shops I used to visit frequently went out of business. The entire guitar industry seemed to be waning and the only option seemed to be to make purchases online. For years, I would drop into music stores and feel like I was inconveniencing the guy behind the counter to ask to play a guitar. It wasn’t until 2018 that I discoveredAdirondack Guitar and started really getting into gear again.

Biting the Bullet, so to Speak

Several things happened in the ensuing years that really surprised me. First, the prices of solid state amps, the good ones, like Marshall, really came down sharply. You could get a Marshall, a 50 watt one, for less than $400, and a used one in really good shape, for less than $300. You could even get aMarshall hybrid (Valvestate) 100 watt for less than $300. This blew my mind. I had always wanted an amp with that classic Marshall roar and that thick, searing lead sound, but never felt I should put the money into buying one. But now, for less than 3 bills I could get the sound I always wanted without 100 effects pedals.

When I started visitingAdirondack Guitarregularly, I saw Marshalls going in and out so fast they didn’t even have enough time to post them to the website. I would drop by the store, play an insane Marshall amp and look for it online later and find it wasn’t there. A few days later I’d drop in and the Marshall would be gone. This went on for a couple of weeks until I realized that, if I wanted one of the Marshalls I would have to act fast.

Finally, I bit the bullet and grabbed my old Fender Squier and my old amp and decided to trade the two in for a Marshall. I thought I’d probably have to put in about $100-$150 dollars to get a $329 amp but it was well worth it. When I brought my 30 year old gear in, I was surprised by how terrible it looked to me. Had there been a fire? What had happened to it? It had sat in my basement getting dusty and discolored for almost 30 years and I thought that nobody would give me anything for it in trade. While I played a few amps, deciding which one I was going to buy, John looked up the value of the guitar and amp I brought in.


I had narrowed it down to 2 Marshalls, theValvestate 100 Watt which was $329 (now only $249), and the solid state MGFX 30 which was 30 watts for $229. After a few minutes, John came over like he had bad news. “I can only give you $200 for the guitar and I was thinking around $75 for the amp and about $30 for the pedal you brought in.” That was WAY more than I thought I would get. I showed him the amps I was interested in and he told me about another that had just come in, a Marshall MG50FX. It was a solid state Marshall with effects built in (chorus, flanger, phaser, octave and delay) and 4 separate gain settings (two types of reverb, clean, crunch, overdrive 1 and overdrive 2). It was also carbon fiber instead of wood, making it much lighter and easier to carry!

I played this amp for around 15 minutes and fell in love. The tone was incredible in every setting, the volume more than I would ever need, and the effects were really well done. Most built-in digital effects have a canned quality to them, but these were authentic sounding and surprisingly easy to control. I figured this amp must be around $399 and started thinking about what I would tell the wife -- the Boss -- when she saw that transaction come in. So I asked John what he wanted for this amp and he said, “$250?”

Suddenly it dawned on me. I was going to leave with that crazy awesome amp and still have money left over. And all I had to do was drop in with some old gear that was just laying around. It was that easy. I got the Marshall amp I always wanted, which I can’t wait to play every day, and all I had to do was stop into Adirondack Guitar for something like 15 minutes. It was really that easy.

This is a true story, though the name ‘Jackson McShredstein’ is fictitious. As you can tell from the links within the piece, the gear that was traded has been cleaned up, inspected, setup and is now ready for someone else who will love them. If you have gear sitting around the house that you never use and would like to sell or trade, send us photos through ourcontact page or bring it down to our Hudson Falls location at 3 Lafayette St., Hudson Falls, NY 12839 M-F 10am-5pm, Sa 10-3, Sun Closed, where one of our staff members can assess its value. Or you can call us during business hours at 518-746-9500. We pride ourselves on making the trading process really hassle-free and easy!

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