Gear Hound

Shake Rag's John Gasperik puts the "garage" in garage band

"Buy it for $50, sell it for $250." Now that's economics anyone can agree on, with the possible exception being the person paying $250 for a $50 guitar.

Gasperik, his hair now much shorter but still longish like a Beatles- or Ramones- or Pete Rose-style haircut, is a good guy to know if you're a collector or musician with an affinity for restored equipment or if you're looking to trade for something unique and interesting. He looks out for his customers. He'll keep an eye open for particular makes and models for his more valued clients. One such high-volume buyer from Houston is in the market for old Japanese knock-offs, so Gasperik searches and scours accordingly.

"I taught myself and learned, ya know, trial and error along the way, what the valuable guitars are, how to look for bootleggers, ya know, wrong parts on guitars," though, he admits, "I'm still learning. There's so much to learn about this stuff."

Most of the work Gasperik does on the instruments is cosmetic. Shake Rag's inventory features more than a few Frankenstein pieces, assembled from parts of other guitars. If anything needs rewiring or extensive electrical work, he sends it out. "I'll make it worse," he confides, "before I make it better."

As with any such purchase, whether it's buying a "pre-owned" car or a loaf of day-old bread, the buyer should beware. You can come across some real sweet finds at Shake Rag, but there's also the occasional surprise.

"He sold us an amp with a car stereo speaker in it," warns the drummer of a certain local band, under condition of anonymity, "but at a pretty good price."

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