Pitch-Perfect Morality

I’ve experienced an epiphany of sorts. I am a moral non-cognitivist. Most would consider me to be a moral subjectivist or relativist. There’s a distinction, but to the public at large, it doesn’t much matter. In fact, we are all at the mercy of the cognitive deficits of the societies we find ourselves in, each culture having its own deficits. I find it difficult not to come across as an elitist in the space, especially as uninformed and otherwise misinformed most are in this space.

It’s one thing to have an academic disagreement. It’s quite another to have an academic argument with kindergartners—armchair spectators in highchairs and booster seats. Anyway, enough of the ad hominem. I’ve had my say and my fill.

All morality is constructed. Full stop. The basis is the survival and propagation of the society, though societies are dynamic organisms with different goals and purposes, so these foundations may differ. In some cases, they are strikingly similar.

All morality is constructed. Full stop.

It makes sense that most have an element of ‘thou shalt not kill’ with an exception for ‘unless they undermine the culture’. This also allows for ‘killing in order to defend the culture’, even if the people defended aren’t all in sync as to what they are defending.

So where does relative pitch come into play? you ask yourself.

Sound, hence musical tones, manifests as frequency (and amplitude, which I’ll ignore). It is common to establish an A pitch as 440 Hz (440 cycles per second), also known as A440 or A4. Whilst there have been and are other standard pitches, A440 is considered to be the standard concert tone for Western music and has been adopted in other regions. I won’t bore the listener with nuance around A332 and A442 centres, as it’s unimportant to the focus.

Whatever the centre, some people have perfect pitch and others have absolute pitch. Some people are tone deaf, and I suppose that to be a perfect metaphor for some people in society, but that’s also an analogy for another day.

A person with perfect pitch not only has the vocabulary of music stored in memory, but they can retrieve it on a whim. I’ve encountered several people with perfect pitch, and it seems inevitable to engage in parlour games. With piano at hand, it’s easy to play unseen chords and have the absolutist bark back F#min6/9 or some such. Even more amusing is the result of tossing a shoe at an object to hear what note the clang might correlate with. That stool was a B-flat.

I thought I was wrong once before, but I was mistaken.

Whilst a person with absolute pitch can pick notes out of the air, a person with relative pitch doesn’t have an anchor. In either case, a listener can tell you that the interval between an A4 and an E4 is a perfect fifth, the person with relative pitch can’t name the notes without guidance. Of course, once the listener is clued in that the first note is an A4, relative maths does the rest of the heavy lifting, so they, then be able to tell you that the note a perfect fifth above is an E4.

It’s important to know the vocabulary are rules as well. For example, many of us can recognise the interval at the start of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony—da-da-da-DA…! We can hear it in our heads as we consider it. But we don’t know that the first three shorter notes are G and that the longer final note is E♭.

Thanks for the music lesson, but you’re asking, ‘How does this connect to morality?’

Unlike music, morality has nothing analogous to absolute pitch. Moreover, different cultures have different reference pitches. And some cultures with the same reference pitch are playing in different keys. The challenge is that whether or not the dominant culture has absolute pitch, it still presumes it is the tonal centre. And if it’s tuned to A432, you’d better be too; otherwise, there will be dissonance.

Referencing the Venn diagram, one can see the primary culture, C0 occupying the most space and acting as a centre of gravity. There are subcultures, some with more and less in common with the primary culture.

C1 has much in common with C0, but the majority of ideals are not shared. It remains to be seen whether these differences are material. For example, the difference may be preferences about food or clothing, perhaps which holy days to recognise to whether to recognise any at all. In practice, these cultures could very well coexist with little conflict.

Similarly, C2, may be able to coexist with either of both with little friction. Of course, the difference may be significant. Perhaps, one difference is their view on abortion or female circumcision. Clearly, these are dancing to a different tune.

Perhaps, C3 is some indigenous society. C3 has nothing in common with C0 or C2, only sharing some ideals with C1. I don’t feel this would be possible in reality because I can’t imagine a culture having opposing perspectives, even if only on the position of not killing other ‘innocent’ humans without cause. The range of causes may differ, but the core value would still be shared.

My point is that the primary culture will assume that its position is absolute, even if just from having enough mass to force the matter. And this is the difference. It doesn’t matter whether their morality is absolute. If you don’t comply—especially in matters they consider to be morally important—, you will be punished. In the case of C3, C1 may tolerate whatever the two are in common, but if C3 attempts to interact with C0, this tolerance is unlikely.

Perhaps, C3 clubs baby seals, eats dogs, or some other such hot-button activity. In their native territory, this may go unnoticed, but if they relocate to the territory of the primary culture, this will not likely go unchallenged.

If you are someone like me who feels that all morality is fabricated out of thin air—even the morality I happen to agree with in principle and in practice—, there is still friction just to suggest that their morality is a constructed social fiction. It seems that many if not most people want to believe in the notion of ‘inalienable rights’ and God-given morality or some sense of cosmic moral order. People like Jordan Peterson believe this as do his followers. This creates contention with others, like myself, who fundamentally disagree and who ask for just a modicum of evidence of their claim. You will comply or you will be chided and marginalised.

Of course, I could be wrong. I thought I was wrong once before, but I was mistaken.

Amyl and the Sniffers

Philosophy is not my only interest. Music has always been a part of my life, and I was a professional musician in the 1980s in Los Angeles, when LA was the veritable centre of the musical universe as hair bands ruled the airwaves.

I was into progressive jazz fusion at the time, but my primary income came from being a recording engineer and producer. I worked on commercials, film tracks, albums, and demsos—lots of demos. Because of the 1984 Olympics, commercials were a big thing.

Besides the hair metal thing, LA had a solid punk showing. It wasn’t quite like London or New York, but it gave us bands like Black Flag, Redd Cross, Minutemen, and Circle Jerks, with whom I had the pleasure of working. Keith Morris had come from Black Flag (replaced by the inimitable Henry Rollins) and Greg Hetson came from Redd Cross (and would go onto Bad Religion).

Unfortunately, I worked on the Wonderful album after their musical hiatus. During the six weeks of recording, I was hired and fired three times with a friend Jim McMahon finishing the record and taking the album credit. I can’t confirm or deny whether chemical substances may have been involved.

I had started with Karat Faye, with whom I had then recently worked on Mötley Crüe’s Theatre of Pain album. Circle Jerks were seeking a sound more in line with the other headbangers, but that sound was not for them, they couldn’t really write for that genre, and they didn’t really have the chops. They should have just leaned into their roots.

Anyhoo

What’s this got to do with Amyl and the Sniffers? These Aussi cats rock old-school punk without skipping a beat. Straight beats, nice bass riffs, and a guitarist with the playing competence of Greg Hetson, which is just what this band needs. Stay true to your roots.

Amy’s voice and delivery are perfect for the genre, and the lyrical content is personal. This clip is excerpted from a nice KEXP interview, which is also available on YouTube. Follows is the setlist:

  • Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)
  • Hertz
  • Guided By Angels
  • Security
  • Knifey
  • Capital
  • I Don’t Need A Cunt (Like You To Love Me)
  • Maggot

I am not going to review these tunes, but all of them are top-notch and punk-fun. If you are into old-school punk, I can almost guarantee you’ll dig it.

If you know Amyl and the Sniffers or want to share your thoughts after a listen, I’d love to read your comments below.

Hierarchies and Meritocracy

Jordan Peterson and Russell Brand chat for about 12 minutes on sex differences and personality, but that’s not where I want to focus commentary. What I will say is that Peterson continually conflates sex and gender, and I find that disconcerting for a research psychologist.

I’ve queued this video near the end, where Peterson delineates his conception of how the political right and left (as defined by him and the US media-industrial complex).

I feel he does a good job of defining the right, and he may have even captured whatever he means by left—radical left even—, but he doesn’t capture my concerns, hence I write.

To recap his positions,

Premises

  • We need to pursue things of value
  • Hierarchies are inevitable
  • [One has] to value things in order to move forward in life
  • [One has] to value things in order to have something valuable to produce
  • [One has] to value some things more than others or [they] don’t have anything like beauty or strength or…competence or…whatever…
  • If [one] value[s] [some domain] then [one is] going to value some [things in that domain] more than others because some are better
  • If [one] play[s] out the value in a social landscape, a hierarchy [will result]
  • A small number of people are going to be more successful than the majority
  • A very large number of people aren’t going to be successful at all

Conservative (Right)

  • Hierarchies are justifiable and necessary

Left

  • Hierarchies … stack [people] up at the bottom
  • [Hierarchies] tilt towards tyranny across time

Critique

I feel I’ve captured his position from the video transcript, but feel free to watch the clip to determine if I’ve mischaracterised his position. I have reordered some of his points for readability and for a more ordered response on my part.

To be fair, I feel his delivery is confused and the message becomes ambiguous, so I may end up addressing the ‘wrong’ portion of his ambiguous statement.

We need to pursue things of value

This is sloganeering. The question is how are we defining value? Is it a shared definition? How is this value measured? How are we attributing contribution to value? And do we really need to pursue these things?

Hierarchies are inevitable

Hierarchies may be inevitable, but they are also constructed. They are not natural. They are a taxonomical function of human language. Being constructed, they can be managed. Peterson will suggest meritocracy as an organising principle, so we’ll return to that presently.

[One has] to value things in order to move forward in life

This is a particular worldview predicated on the teleological notion of progress. I’ve discussed elsewhere that all movement is not progress, and perceived progress is not necessarily progress on a global scale.

Moreover, what one values may not conform with what another values. In practice, what one values can be to the detriment of another, so how is this arbitrated or mediated?

[One has] to value things in order to have something valuable to produce

I think he is trying to put this into an economic lens, but I don’t know where he was going with this line. Perhaps it was meant to emphasise the previous point. I’ll just leave it here.

[One has] to value some things more than others or [they] don’t have anything like beauty or strength or…competence or…whatever…

This one is particularly interesting. Ostensibly, I believe he is making the claim that we force rank individual preferences, then he provides examples of items he values: beauty, strength, competence, and whatever. Telling here is that he chooses aesthetic and unmeasurable items that are not comparable across group members and are not even stable for a particular individual. I won’t fall down the rabbit hole of preference theory, but this is a known limitation of that theory.

If [one] value[s] [some domain] then [one is] going to value some [things in that domain] more than others because some are better

We’ve already touched on most of this concept. The key term here is ‘better‘. Better is typically subjective. Even in sports, where output and stats are fairly well dimensionalised, one might have to evaluate the contributions of a single athlete versus another with lower ‘output’ but who serves as a catalyst for others. In my mental model, I am thinking of a person who has higher arbitrary stats than another on all levels versus another with (necessarily) lower stats but who elevates the performance (hence) stats of teammates. This person would likely be undervalued (hence under-compensated) relative to the ‘star’ performer.

In other domains, such as art, academics, or even accounting and all measurement bets are off.

If [one] play[s] out the value in a social landscape, a hierarchy [will result]

Agreed, but the outcome will be based on rules—written and unwritten.

A small number of people are going to be more successful than the majority

Agreed.

A very large number of people aren’t going to be successful at all

Agreed

Conclusion

The notion of meritocracy is fraught with errors, most notably that merit can be meaningfully assessed in all but the most simple and controlled circumstances. But societies and cultures are neither simple nor controlled. They are complex organisms. And as Daniel Kahneman notes, most merit can likely be chalked up to luck, so it’s all bullshit at the start.

In the end, Peterson and people like him believe that the world works in a way that it doesn’t. They believe that thinking makes it so and that you can get an is from an ought. Almost no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. It reminds me of the time Alan Greenspan finally admitted to the US Congress that his long-held adopted worldview was patently wrong.

Video: CSPAN: Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman and Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan Testimony

WAXMAN: “You found a flaw…”

GREENSPAN: “In the reality—more in the model—that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.”

WAXMAN: “In other words, you found that your your view of the world—your ideology—was not right. It was not what it had it…”

GREENSPAN: “Precisely. No, I… That’s precisely the reason I was shocked because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

To paraphrase musically

Video: Social Distortion, I Was Wrong

Finding Husserl

When I was seriously exploring music, I started from the artists I enjoyed and searched their roots and influences and cascaded back. In the 1970s, this was to look at the roots of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards. I’d be brought back to James Burton or Elmore James; I’d find Robert Johnson, BB King, Muddy Waters and Hubert Sumlin (Howlin’ Wolf); and I’d find John Lee Hooker, and Chuck Berry. And then, I’d dg further to find Son House, T-Bone Walker, and Big Bill Broonzy. Although I grew to appreciate these originals, I still preferred the reinvigorated versions of my youth.

In philosophy, I seem to have taken a somewhat similar path. In particular, it’s a journey back to Husserl. I was exposed to essence and being most probably through Sartre. this brought me to Heidegger that brought me to Husserl. To be fair there was a large gap between Sartre and Heidegger and a fairly long gap from then until Husserl. I’ve come upon Husserl’s name time and again but I deprioritised him, He seemed always to be the AND of Heidegger, sort of like how Garfunkel was the AND of Simon.

But I thought that Heidegger was the root—the source, as Son House might have been to the Blues. Given the connection of Husserl and Heidegger, I’m not sure that Dasein‘s genesis is clear cut. Moreover, I believe it’s a pedestrian German world, that fancy pants academes wish to evermore preserve in amber as a stand-in to being there, though Heidegger insisted that the meaning was more nuanced and in some way I could consider that it prefigured Derrida’s privileged pairs highlighted in his Deconstruction.

I’ve commenced reading Husserl’s’ Ideas, and my takeaway at this point is his eidetic facts.

Rememories

I follow David Bennett Piano on YouTube. Today, he posted a side trip he took from Manchester to Liverpool.

This post reflects on how memory operates and true and false memories. The video clip is about a minute long and shows Paul McCartney recounting how he decided to create the character of his eponymous song Eleanor Rigby.

In Paul’s recollection, he had been working with an actress Eleanor Bron on the Beatles film Help!

Eleanor Bron and George Harrison

He fancied the name Eleanor and was trying to think of a two-syllable word to follow when he spotted a sign that read Rigby & Evens, a wine and spirits shop in Bristol.

Rigby & Evens, Limited Sign

According to Paul, these were the components leading to the title character.

Eleanor Rigby Hand-written Lyrics by Pail McCartney

From the perspective of recency over primacy, Paul may be correct, but it could also be, as he admits, that he had seen the tombstone without it being consciously registered. He may have even been consciously aware but subsequently forgotten it. Perhaps this is why the name resonated with him, having been exposed previously. Memory is known to be reinforced through repetition. From the perspective of primacy over recency, he may have never settled on the name had he not seen the inscription on the gravestone.

Could it be that this was a coincidence and Paul never did see that grave marker, or is it more likely that he did? We’ll never know for sure, but it is an interesting turn of events.

Descent of Man

Joe Talbert, singer and songwriter for IDLES, shares some of his perspective with us. Cued is a bit on masculinity, particularly the toxic variety.

Interview with Joe Talbert of IDLES

For me, it’s a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but the IDLES bring some of the lost energy back into music. I’m old enough to remember the first Punk wave of the 1970s and the next waves as well as the ripples.

The Descent of Man clearly explains how masculinity as a construct is dangerous, problematic, and … bullshit

Joe Talbert

I’ve always been out of step with my music interests, ability, and availability. In the ’70s, I was raised on the Classic Rock of the day, from the Beatles and Stones in the ’60s, to Zeppelin and Sabbath in the ’70s before focusing more on the likes of Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, and then Allan Holdsworth. In the mid-’70s, came vapid and syrupy, saccharine pop and the nonsense that was Disco. Thankfully, this was disturbed by Punk on one hand and Eddie Van Halen on the other. Then there was New Wave and the Hair Bands.

When I wanted to play Rock in Japan, I had offers for Country. My mates in Los Angles were into retro when I was into Progressive and Jazz Fusion. I did get on a Blues kick for a while, but I didn’t really feel like I could pull it off—some affluent white kid and all. Besides Hair Bands in the ’80s, there was a Euro-synth wave, but I wanted something more complex and experimental. By the ’90s, I finished grad school and was career-oriented. I fell in love with Grunge and post-Grunge, but that was a personal endeavour. I did finally play that in the 2000s as covers sprinkled with originals, but it was a side-gig not designed as a career. That train had sailed. Nowadays, I still dabble, but I’m not all that motivated to compose much.

Anyway, IDLES is refreshing. I don’t critique it as music. It’s not particularly melodic or harmonic. It’s about the message and the energy. There’s a beat that drives, and there is instrumentation and vocals. It’s an experience.

IDLES – Car Crash (Live on KEXP)

But this isn’t about the music. It’s about the notion of normalcy. In this clip, Joe talks about his longing for normalcy. Maybe that’s just normal, but I’ve never subscribed to the notion of normalcy, so I’ve never longed for it. Truth be told, my preference is for people to realise that it’s all a control mechanism.

Joe was influenced by therapy and The Descent of Man by the artist Grayson Perry. In this book, Perry, clearly giving a nod to Darwin’s earlier work, takes on toxic masculinity and attempts to reframe the very notion of masculinity. Like normalcy, I am not interested in gender roles either.

I worked as a statistician for a couple of years way back when, so it turns out that I have a perspective on normal. The problem with the notion of normal is that deviation for normal is seen as broken. Social sciences and pop-psychology have done this. Foucault wrote a lot on this phenomenon. I won’t address his work here.

Joe viewed himself as broken because he bought into the narrative. He feels better now. He feels he’s in a better place. Perhaps this was necessary for him. I can’t speak to that. It’s not a goal I aspire to. Perhaps I’m privileged. I can’t say. For now, I get to enjoy the respite Joe & Co afford us.

Fast Car

I enjoy listening to music reaction videos on YouTube. The other day, I came across Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. I’ve loved this song since it first came out. Musically, it’s a simple repetitive chord progression—finger-picked D, A, F#m, E. In a manner, repetition is a metaphor for the lyrical narrative. In this live performance version, the treatment is more simplified than the original album version—until the last bar.

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

The protagonist is in a place where any place is better, and she’s got a fast car she can use to get away. The situation she finds herself in is a family relationship where alcoholism is a problem; her father is an alcoholic. Her old man’s got a problem. He lives with the bottle, that’s the way it is. But she’s got a friend, and she’s got hope. She tells her friend, ‘maybe we make a deal. Maybe together we can get somewhere. They are starting from zero and have got nothing to lose. They can follow her ‘plan to get us out of here‘.

And so she left to create a new life, but in this new place, she recreated her prior experience with her friend proxying her father. Like her dad, she loved her friend, but she knew that the relationship wouldn’t work out.

And so she left to create a new life. Rather, she remains in place and asks her friend to make a decision, to take a fast car and keep on driving, to leave tonight or live and die this way.

Perhaps this new life would be better without the remnant from the previous life. Did she learn from her experience, or would she seek the same type of partner? Would she fall into the same pattern because it was her comfort zone? The song doesn’t tell us, but the underlying music hasn’t changed. It’s easy to imagine the next verse to be the same as the first—although one could argue that it does end on the G, not repeating the Em and D they run out the phrase. That’s for you to decide.

Returning to the song, there is the chorus. She’s retelling this story. She’s looking back—remembering. She had wanted to belong. She wanted to be something. In the end, we don’t know where she ended up. It seems to me that she’s in a place where she can reflect. Perhaps it’s the calm before the storm, or perhaps this challenge has been resolved, and the chain has been broken. Perhaps, that’s the effect of the added notes in the final bars.

A powerful song.

Feeling Music

Back in the day when I was a startving artist, as it were, and a bit of a studio rat, we didn’t always have budgets for top studio musicians, so we had to improvise… and by ‘improvise’, I mean get music students from USC or UCLA to play parts on instruments the bands weren’t proficient at. We could transcribe an arrangement and notate how we wanted it to be played. Notating feel is somewhat possible but not practical.

Typically, we’d secure trained Classical musicians, but the struggle was real to get them to ‘feel’ and not just read the notes on the page. For us, we just ‘felt’ it. We’d find a pocket, find a groove, not care that the tempo might drift or the spacing wasn’t quite in cadence, but getting these trained musicians to get past, ‘but that’s not what you wrote’ was hard. The playing was technically correct, but it was often wooden.

In the day—this is the early to mid ’80s—, synths were not quite ready for prime time when it came to simulating acoustic instruments, 8-bit samplers were shite and 16-bit samplers were out of our price range—and still not quite ready for prime time either. So that was the trade off.

Typically, the best case scenario was to play the parts on a synth for the players armed with sheet music, but that was never as good as when we had a feeling instrumentalist make an appearance.

Philosophie de la musique

Soundcloud: Bry Willis

So, OK. A bit of a bait and switch. This post is not about the philosophy of music, but music is a part of my life and has been since I was a kid. My philosophy is that I connect with music and it connects back.

This past month, I’ve been especially enjoying pieces centred on Sus2, typically in F.

To me Sus2 voicings have a Minor sadness yet are somehow more airy. My last 3 excerpts illustrate different takes.

Give a listen or not. Feel free to comment or not.

I’ll leave you with a piece I wrote for a former girlfriend, who died in June 2020. I could write am entire philosophy-psychology series on her, but for now, here is the purposfully meloncholy piece (with a notable nod to Smashing Pumpkins), the opening notes also serving as her ringtone.

Mimetic Desire

People influence one another and, when they’re together, they have a tendency to desire the same things, primarily not because those things are rare but because, contrary to what most philosophers think, imitation also bears on desire. Humans essentially try to base their being, their profound nature and essence, on the desire of their peers.

“Mimetic Desire: Shakespeare Rather than Plato.” When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer, by René Girard and Trevor Cribben Merrill

Although I have some reservations—or at least reserve some latitude—, I tend to agree with Girard. Desire is a social construct. Desire is separate to needs. Desires are wants. As accomodated in Economics, we don’t need what we want, but we want what we need. We desire what we need.

we don’t need what we want, but we want what we need

What Girard is essentially saying is that I want what I want because you want it. This is independent of value in an economic sense. Memetically, the value of an object increases relative to the perceiver simply because another person wants it. In my reckoning, I’d separate want from desire or at least elevate desire to a higher degree of wanting.

Girard termed this triangular relationship between subject (you), object (the thing), and the mediator (the influencer) mimetic, to mimic. I suppose some of this might be considered to be memetic, but I also suppose that memes serve to simplify rather than serve as a distinct transmission vector.

circa 2016

My question is—exacerbated during this pandemic—how does this operate in isolation? I consider myself. I am not an ascetic by most definitions, but I am somewhat of a minimalist. My only ‘vices’ are my computer and my guitars. I used to be a professional musician—though most of that was spent on the other side of the console—and I was a Gibson snob. From the perspective of emotional desire, I still am. There is a certain nostalgia, but I don’t play out anymore, and I’m not seriously recording, so I don’t need the same perceived quality of an old Gibson.

Guitarists know that different guitars give different sounds. I’ve owned as many as 10 guitars at a time, and each had its purpose. Some was feel. This guitar was for Blues, this was other for Grunge, and that was for Jazz…and that for Fusion and that for a retro sound. This one had a fast neck, and this one sustained for days. This one was tuned à la Keith Richards, sans a string, to an Open G, and the was set up for Drop C, and of course there was the Standard-tuned one for good measure

Jason & Me circa 2012

Did I need 10 guitars? No. Did I need 1? Not really—not unless I wanted to be a musician, desired to be a musician, so the degree of freedom was l, given this other desire. Having 1 guitar for a guitar player is not the same as a painter with only one colour of paint, but it almost feels like it. It’s certainly a convenience, and it allows players to express themselves artistically.

The question isn’t why I desired a guitar, but why I wanted to be a musician, and of all the instruments, why the guitar—and why did I prefer this genre over that. I’ll admit that my tastes are rather eclectic, but all that says is that I mimic eclecticism or eccentrism. My parents are not eclectic. Most of my friends are mainstream whitebread people—none I’d deem eclectic.

I’m rambling. Just because I don’t remember the source of my desire doesn’t mean there is no source. Perhaps it’s a composite source. I can’t say. Perhaps the outcome I’m naming, say eclecticism, is incorrect, so I am seeking the wrong source.

circa 2004

My point was that I don’t need a Gibson to be satisfied. First, I’ve already owed them, and I don’t have the same performative needs. But I still want to play, and I still want to exercise some artistic freedom, so I still have a few guitars.

To wrap this up, I’ll leave with an unpaid mimitec endorsement of Harley Benton guitars. The last guitar I purchased was this Harley Benton Black Paisley TE70. It’s very fit, and I picked it up for about €200, which included shipping and handling. They are German-built. When I was a kid, a guitar at this price range would have be borderline unplayable and won’t sound shite-like. These aren’t €1,000 instruments, but you’d be hard pressed to find a 5x value differential. They are build solid and have been given extra care not previously seen in down-market instruments. If I wanted to spend another €200, I could upgrade the pickups and for a bit more swap out the electronics to bigger potentiometers—but I won’t. I was planning to splurge and spend €50 on locking machine heads. Nope. Good enough. At €200 a pop, I could afford all sorts of configurations, but even that desire has waned—at least a bit, at least for a while.

circa 1984