Inspiration from Hoke·E·Geez (My new ‘New York Pro’ Strat copy)


So, I bought a guitar this past Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for a guitar.  This guitar was looking for me.

Hoke·E·Geez | INDOOR FLEA MARKET · CRAFTS

...and SO MUCH MORE.

Some of my extended family had rented out the lodge at our church camp for the weekend.  My cousin & I were out killing time and exploring while the ladies stayed in for their main objective; scrapbooking.  When in the area with time on my hands, a trip to Hoke·E·Geez is an absolute must.  It’s located right on Route 30 in Bedford PA by the Sheetz(Sheetz is a good bright red & yellow landmark, right?)

In what was once (perhaps obviously for people my age and older) an Ames department store, rests the one of the craziest/coolest places I have ever been.  My first trip there was in search of antiques… I collect old Coca~Cola & other glass bottles.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Hoke·E·Geez is full of …Everything. 

Stuffed Squirrel on display (& for sale!) at Hoke·E·Geez (Bedford, PA)

"Help! I'm not dead! Some redneck just stapled my nuts to this driftwood!"

It’s got crafts, antiques (from old pop bottles to the machines), furniture, a weird leather biker-jacket section, a hardware section like someone emptied a Harbor Freight in 1978 and dumped it there, of records, new stuff made to look old (think the store in Cracker Barrel), toys, tools, books, records, a section chock full of cassette tapes (mostly hair metal), musical instruments of all varieties, a stuffed squirrel that my cousin photographed with his phone, nunchucks, swords, toilets, knives, flooring, gun parts, cabinetry, pistol crossbows, stuff you’d see in a thrift store or at a garage sale, a Weinermobile pedal car, … and other scattered oddities/treasures.

Yeah, I said musical instruments.  Of course, I flock nearly immediately to the old guitars.  Hoke-E-Geez also serves as an aged acoustic graveyard.  They have several dried out yet beautiful acoustics ravaged by time & strings that pull the neck past the point of no return. They would be great as decorations, or for this…

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

In fact, if I ever find one for the right price, it might make a cool antique bottle shelf… with some glass shelves & a light or 2.

Back to the story at hand though…  There we are strolling through the wonderland that is Hoke·E·Geez, like a bee doing its “tell the others where the honey is” dance. We were exclaiming “Woah!”, “Look at that!”, or “What is that?” with each erratic hop to the next section.

Toy Accordion (or Button Box?)

I can already play "Iron Man" and "Happy Birthday" (very poorly).

The first beauty I spied was this toy accordion for $12 and change.  It seems ridiculous and awesome.  Maybe I’ve seen The Bloody Seamen one too many times lately.  Looking online, it seems to be a fair price… and not difficult to master. I’m not sure of the name brand.  I have no idea if it’s a Hohner, Schylling, Barcelona, First Act, or something else.  I have found a bunch online that look similar.  This doesn’t match the colors of any others exactly, and of course it has no brand/name/logo in it.  Also, it appears that I have been shorted a book.  Also, is this really an accordion, or is it just a button box?  What’s the difference?  Are the butterfly-like designs up top too girly?

The next thing of interest that I saw was this beautiful New York Pro Strat knockoff…

New York Pro - Natural Finish Strat Copy
“Psst… you, yeah you… buy me. Yeah. I know I’m not a goofy guitar, but you need me. Look at my woodgrain. It’s not fancy or elegant, it’s just ‘there’. Buy me. I probably have really crappy electronics and hardware. Buy me. I bet no one has ever heard of ‘New York Pro’ or knows where we’re made. Buy me!
New York Pro - Strat Copy

New York Pro - Strat Copy

Well, the photo to the left is the photo that I sent to my wife along with the price, asking (only half kidding) if I should buy it.  There was some other black no-name Strat copy behind it.  The body on that black POS wasn’t nearly as solid, hefty,  or well-cut.

My cousin pointed it out I believe, & remarked on the natural finish.  I was stuck drooling over the $95 price tag since the neck was straight, there were no cracks, and it was nice solid body.  This was about the time we got into a conversation with a local cat who was into weird guitars and punk rock… and actually in a punk rock band up that way.  I can’t remember the name of the band.  I need to pop stuff like that into my phone.  The guy stopped & asked if I really had an accordion in the box marked “Accordion”.  I showed it to him & he’s the one that remarked that it was a button box & not an accordion.  After talking forever about weird guitars, rocking out, and goofy venues… we moved on.  He mentioned that there were other guitars “over there” pointing to a little music store-like area within the hallowed walls of Hoke·E·Geez.

This is where we happened upon some beast, made by a local cat that goes by Merle Kegg or Merle R. Kegg.  One of his custom-built axes had the letters “M R K” on the headstock.  The first one I spotted was a doubleneck… one 6 string guitar & one mandolin neck.  Yeah.  You read that right.

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

I apologize for the horrible quality cell phone photos, but I’m sure you get the point.  I find it an odd placement for the pickups… but then again some people like that neck pickup sound.  I generally stick as close to the bridge as possible.  The custom cases are pretty cool.  Then I came upon this one…

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

It caught my eye, and I believe the price was only $64 or $65… but I didn’t even take it out of the case once I got a closer look.  If there was a Regretsy-like site for homemade guitars, this may top them all.  I mean, I love the shape… and I respect the intent and the labor that went into this beast, but… wow.  The placement of the bridge directly up the neck’s ass is crazy.  The pickguard looks like flooring or wall tile.  I’m hoping this cat is Amish or 97 years old or has 7 fingers total or something.  I hate to be so harsh, but when I think a guitar is ugly, we have a problem on our hands.  There was no attempt to smooth out the edges or anything… the paint is applied like it’s the side of an outdoor shed… not a guitar.  Wow.  I’d like to see more of his work, maybe these were the odd ones out.  If you know anything more about his work, please post in the comments!  There were some other cool guitars (not made by Merle), ukuleles, mandolins & other stuff in that section.

I still hadn’t received a reply from the wife.  I got the accordion, my cousin picked up a few things, and off we went.

When we got back to camp, I asked my wife if she had seen the text with the photo.  She hadn’t.  She checked it out & liked it.  She asked that if I got it I could place it on the stand in the living room instead of my Batman Logo guitar.  She liked the wood (which I have since come to learn is mahogany).  We talked it over and she suggested that I go get it.  I told her it would need new guts, but she was still behind the idea.  After lunch, my cousin went to a nearby farm to hunt coyotes, and I went back to Hoke·E·Geez to hunt that guitar.

I came back with my prize:

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

I also managed to stop by the Bedford Banjo Shop.  It was small but very cool and reasonably priced in there.  They had banjos, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, & more.  They were also very friendly and quite busy.  I tried to stop by another store nearby, but they were closed as it was after 2:00pm.

I have plans for this guitar… GFS Lil Killer rail pickups, some wooden knobs, a leopard-print pickguard, black hardware (& bridge & tuners), and I guess a leopard-print strap.  As soon as I put away some money, I hope to get all this stuff & have it all set up nice & pretty.  My go-to guitar guy has been Aaron at Lawrence Music lately.  He helped set up the Batman Logo guitar… and dropped in my Seymour Duncans.

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

You didn’t think I’d leave it alone did you?  It needs something in order to fit in with my other guitars.

I’m still at a loss with any concrete information about the New York Pro brand.  I’m not sure if it’s pumped out of a Chinese factory that puts many different brands on the same guitars?  They do have an odd cut in the top of the headstock that seems to be on every NY Pro guitar I’ve seen online.  I’ve seen them as kit guitars, for $99, for $149.99 and for $279.95.  Maybe they’re made by Galaxy Guitars and the same as their Starfire line?  It looks like they might call it the “Galaxy New York Pro Star Gazer”.  They may be distributed by Lou Capece.  I may have to write to them for more information.

If you have any comments/stories about Hoke·E·Geez, any information about the accordion/button box, any info on that other guitar store in Bedford, any information about the New York Pro brand, or any comments/suggestions about my plans for the guitar… I’d love to hear ’em!  Please share in the comments below!

So, how do I make money at this art thing?


I’m a lazy artist.  I always have been.  I generally make art for fun, and give it away.  I made a ton of cool stuff in art class in high school and even in my time at WCCC, now I only have a fraction of it.  I’ve never had an interest in making money from any of it, perhaps because I felt it wasn’t perfect or even “good enough” to sell.  Perhaps it was because I’d feel “dirty” making money from art.  I’m also lazy in that I have a lot of ideas that don’t make it to fruition.  (You should see the AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion “almost” song piles… and that Yup-punk band idea…)

I also went through a phase of drawing a bunch of comic book stuff… and it was always my understanding that Marvel didn’t want me selling my Wolverine art, and DC didn’t want me to sell my Batman art.  Somehow the Airbrush guy at the mall makes money on pretty much any popular character out there.  (Exactly who’s buying white T-shirts with airbrushed Mickey Mouse and Garfield on them at a mall kiosk in 2011 is a subject of another blog.)  Is that guy bootlegging?  Is he paying royalty fees?

With the advent of sites like Etsy (and more so Regretsy), I can see now that my art is certainly acceptable for sale.  I’d like to think it’s a few grades above what’s considered acceptable for sale.  The question remains on copyrights though… I see all kinds of people selling Superman, Batman and Spider-Man stuff with images clearly ripped from elsewhere.  Not that I want to sell comic book-art, but I never know what mood will strike me.  My flyer art is mainly bastardization of existing images… so I’m sure I can’t sell any of that kind of stuff.  Again, I think I’m veering toward the subject matter of an entirely different blog.  Back to the insanity at hand…

I’ve been drawing mazes for what seems like forever.  I started them when I was a kid & was in the hospital for a while.  I remember my pediatrician saying I ought to look into getting them published.  I obviously never have.  I have through twitter found another cat on the internet who draws mazes… he sells them online & at art shows and has used LuLu to publish some books.  Is that a good avenue to explore?

I have an idea for what I think would be an amusing photo book… but how does one go into execution of such an idea?  Do I even have time for something like this?

Would I use something like deviantART to set up shop?  How do I get prints made from original artwork?  Should I settle for a Cafe Press or Zazzle store?  Ha ha.  I’d like to put photography in the mix too, eventually.  Every once in a while I capture some stuff that would look great on someone’s wall.  How do I sell the stuff online without the seller site making most of the money, or without breaking the bank in setting up a site & paying any maintenance fees while not selling anything… therefore eventually losing money?

People have also told me that I ought to get paid to write.  I must confess, I would most likely be an editor’s nightmare.  I jump tenses like hopscotch, and my grammar & typing can be quite poor… even though I can differentiate between you’re and your and the apparently difficult they’re/there/their.  (Is it just me, or do they all sound totally different if you’re pronouncing them correctly?)  If you would like to pay me to write, I will certainly take your money.

I don’t think I do well with deadlines or commissions though.  I don’t work well with others’ ideas.  I’d like to make my own mazes, drawings, paintings, photos, etc. at my own pace.  Although, I aim to be productive with art, & maybe buy some more camera accessories, or a new amp, guitar, or some other new goofy instrument or piece of equipment.  (Because I apparently can’t make any money as a musician unless I join/form a human jukebox band – and let’s face it; I’m a poor guitarist.  Ha ha.)

As you can see, I’m all over the place.  I need focus/direction.  I guess I’m just looking for advice beyond the “you should publish a book” or “you should sell your photos” or the “you should write for someone” point.  I get that, and accept that… but how?  I’m looking for specifics here.  I’d like to hear “I use such & such & it’s fantastic, and works like…” and not “I think my cousin’s uncle’s mother’s neighbor uses blah blah blah, …I think.”  Are you an artist?  How do you sell your work?  Hit me with your wisdom!