Category Archives: Gear Scores

Seems Legit

For as much time and energy that I put into Craigslist buying and selling, I have very few horror stories.  In fact, I have very few “difficult exchange” stories. Maybe 3 in what must be well over a hundred purchases/sales, now.

But there are quirky exchanges like the below. I didn’t say the mixer was available for trade, Skyler. It was $250. Whatever. Sounds like Skyler lives a life a lot more full of adventure than mine.

seems legit



Mysterious 4-track cassette

The Mystery Tape I Found

Mysterious 4-track cassette

Better call Scooby and the gang.

So, on a whim I bought a cool old Yamaha 4-track cassette machine via Seattle Goodwill’s Ebay page. Thought it would be fun to record something on some really simple hardware, plus I’m just a gear hoarder plain and simple.

I purchased a Yamaha MT100 II picked it up from the Seattle Goodwill, and took it home. In order to test it, I grabbed a handful of cassettes from the bottom of a box of junk that I have probably moved 5 times.

A completely unlabeled cassette was among them, so I popped it into the Yamaha and hit play, expecting to hear something other than what I wound up hearing.

What I expected to hear takes a little explaining. Cassettes, generally speaking, have 4 tracks. Channels 1 and 2 are for the Left and Right signals on the tape’s A-side, and Channels 3 and 4 are for the Left and Right channels on the tape’s B-side.

For the bedroom recordist on a budget, cassette multitracks like the MT-100 series used

all 4 of these tracks on a single side, so one could track instrument and vocal parts over-dub style. With some creative mixing, one could bounce submixes down and get some fairly complex recordings with a little effort

The Widow was Lost and Lonely

So, when one puts a regular ol’ cassette tape into a machine designed to work with 4-tracks of information on a single side, what happens? You get 1 side of the tape playing forward, and the other side of the tape playing backwards, all at once. This usually just sounds like a mess that is maybe interesting for about two minutes.


Upon rewinding and playing the unlabeled tape, I was staggered to find that this dusty, chipped cassette from the bottom of a banana box already had a 4-track recording on it, not Van Halen taped off the radio from 1990 or something like that.  There’s two acoustic guitar tracks and two vocal tracks. I recorded the song to my computer, panned the guitars wide, and posted the song to my SoundCloud account for your listening “pleasure.”

The mysterious ballad is a yarling tumbleweed of a yarn, detailing a widow’s bitter revenge against the man who shot and killed her lover. Here ’tis:

I have absolutely NO idea who this person is, or when they recorded this, or how the tape even came into my possession. Total mystery. If you have a bunch of tapes laying around, than you probably get the idea that the odds of reaching into a pile of unmarked, used junky tapes and pulling up a 4-track cassette recording—in order to test out a new 4-track cassette recorder—seems a little slim. Chances are this could be somebody I know, but I can’t place the voice.


The widow was lost and lonely
travelin’ through the badlands all alone

All alone

She had a bag of gold and silver
lookin for a gun for hire

She hopped the train to Dallas, Texas, and hired her the fastest in the west

They road down, trackin’ down the killer,
the man who shot her love between his eyes

Down in Misissippi
they cornered him with no place to run

The widow cocks her pistol
and shoved that barrel straight down his throat

The outlaw stabbed him slowly
she pulled the trigger six times
unloaded her gun

She took off all her clothes
made love to him
last payment made in full

Opium and whiskey laid by the fire
as the moonlight filled the sky

I find that if you bend the phrasing of that last line it makes a nice little haiku:

Opium, whiskey
Laid by the fire as the
Moonlight filled the sky



Behind the Scenes: Seattle Goodwill’s Musical Instrument Department

These cases are NOT empty.

I have, on two occasions, won an eBay auction hosted by the Seattle Goodwill, and driven in  to pick up my item to save some cash on shipping. The first time, when I won a PG-300 synth controller, I left my camera/phone in the car. The second time, I wasn’t so stupid. I took the below shots when I went in to grab a Yamaha 4-track cassette player I won. (It works great, BTW.)

My heart aches.

Now, most of this stuff commands prices that are worth the time for Goodwill to put in an online auction, so you won’t see this stuff on the floor if you walk-in. It’s in the back, behind the job training center.

For a gear collector, stumbling around back here is a mind-blowing mixed bag. All of the stuff in these photos is in a running eBay auction, so one quickly jumps from feeling like a kid in a candy store to a kid in a candy store who just had his jaw wired shut and can’t eat anything—least of all, candy.

Note killer ghetto blaster far right. How many D-cells fit in that bad boy?

One then comes face-to-face with the frustrating realization that all this awesome/junky stuff was given away for free (ok, maybe for a tax credit) by people who aren’t likely into music and have no idea what it’s worth.

And I get it. “Did you know your uncle Louis used to play the electric piano before he died? It seems like a waste, but we gave all that old stuff to the Salvation Army. Nobody wants a dusty old keyboard. I mean, it was from the seventies… He had like five of them, and they all went on the truck.”

…and thus, a Roland Jupiter 8 winds up on these shelves. I’ve seen it.

Bose, Marantz, Klipsch, Pioneer, more…

Sure, there’s a lot of crappy Peavey practice amps back there, and wore-out behringer mixers, and a dozen Radio Shack and off-brand 2-channel DJ Mixers… but there’s also some cool quadraphonic hi-fi stuff, some Mackie mixers, studio monitors, you name it. And boo-koo cheap guitars.

There are enough instruments at Seattle Goodwill to warrant category labels on the shelves.

All the dudes who work back there are super nice, too. I asked if they get first dibs and the response was a blue “no, never,” delivered with a gaze at the floor and a wistful shake-of-the-head.

Here’s Seattle Goodwill’s eBay page for Musical Instruments for you to cry at.