Welcome to planet ZARG. You will soon understand why you are here when you read the following crap....

I have been asked many times to put together this page, so here it is. It is a collection of anecdotes, daft statements, experiences and phrases that I have picked up in my 45 years in the music business. Thay are ALL true. Much of this page comes from a well circulated 1980's MAJ document called "Ask". Some stories and opinions have been added later. If some of these stories relate to you, please feel free to sue.

Never been a great fan of stand up jokes, but bowelling to pressure, I have added a few. No smut, I'm Blitish... Read on...

Updated 19/01/7017

To expedite: To compound confusion with emotion
Co-ordinator: The prat with a desk between two other Co-Ordinators
Consultant: Some prick about 50 miles away
Under consideration: We are searching the files for it...
A Meeting: A mass mulling of master minds....
Reliable source: The dick head you just met and told you
Informed source: The twonk who told the dick head you just met
Unimpeachable source: The prat who first started the rumour
Note and Initial: Let's spread the responsibility
Let's discuss it: Come and see me - I've got FA else to do
Channels: The trail left by inter office memos
Will advise in due course: If we figure it out we'll let you know
The issue is closed: I'm pissed of with all of this nonsense



"It can't be much, I only had it serviced in 1983."

"It went bang when I turned it on."

"It went bang when I turned it off."

"It went bang when the drummer spilled beer in it and I replaced the HT fuse with the barrel of a jack plug" (A 50A fuse no less...)

"I've got a friend who's an electrician, and he knows what he's talking about because he works for British Gas."

"I bought this item off eBaY..."

"I bought this item off eBaY and it was sold as working..."

"I bought this item off eBay and it does not work."

"There can't be a lot wrong with it - the light comes on - there is just no sound and it smokes.."

"I have an AC30 - I bought it because it is class A"

" I have a class D amplifier. I bought it because it was very powerful and light in weight. But now it has gone wrong, and no one will fix it.." (D = Disposable, asshole)

"Can you check/adjust the bias on my Chinese AC30? - It does not work but the light comes on so I assume it is a minor biassing issue with the valves". Dream on twonk - from my point of view all we can say about this is that the light is working...But OOh.. New set of nice TAD valves about £90 + Vat. Lovely...

"Have you been playing Guitar all your life?" (Answer from Roy Sainsbury: No, not yet.. )

"My HH IC100 amplifier has gone wrong and does not work. Is this a common fault and is there a fix?"

"My friend who is an electronics EXPERT has already tried to mend this" (We don't usually charge for this type of repair, as the scrap value of the excess solder removed from the equipment far exceeds the engineers fee..


"There are only two sorts of people in this world Mike - there are Musicians and there are Peasants..." (The great late Steve Pacitto)

"There are only 10 sorts of people in this world Mike - those who can use calculators, and those that can't (Think about it and don't ask..)

"Michael, I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate" - (My Mom actually..)

"What a complete F*****g Cadbury." (Mike Cooper 1981)

"Exactly which part of NO don't you understand asshole?" (Aspen Pittman 1987)

"Like trying to teach an 18th century Nairobi tribesman how to build a nuclear reactor with a stick". (Beloved late engineer Alf Irwin trying to explain Ohms law to an ethnic who wanted to know why he could not connect his 32 (8 Ohm) Bass bins to his amplifier without incurring possible problems).

" Because my Mom told me to".. Potential employee asked why he has applied for the advertised job - (Jabdog Electronics).

"What a wonderful country you have here". (Better not say who said that..) GRRRRRR>>>



I recently played a solo guitar gig for the wedding of a pleasant couple in their 70's. I played outside at first in the sunshine whilst the guests enjoyed drinks and photographs. Having then moved into the indoor room I played the first set ensuring that their request for a "South Pacific" medley was included plus some well tried pleasers like "Albatross". Several people indicated that they were enjoying the music and after a short break off we went for the second set. On these occasions I often have guitar enthusiasts talk to me and I was pleased to see a man striding purposefully towards me. The conversation went like this:

Him: "What guitar is that?
Me: "This is a 1959 Gibson L4c archtop.It was a very good period for Gibson who made some fine instruments at this time.The pickup is a DeArmond model 1100.These were made from the 1950's to 1970's and are now becoming very rare. They are sought after for their warm tone quality and fetch high prices".

Him: "Well it's TOO LOUD"


Four Nuns in a car, travelling down the M5, are hit by an oncoming truck and are mercifully killed instantly. They float up to heaven... Arriving at the the pearly gates they are confronted by St.Peter. He asked the first nun if she had ever done anything wrong ."I once looked at a mans penis" came the reply.. "That won't do" he said, "Go to that font of holy water over there and wash your eyes - then you may enter into heaven". This she did and toddled off to heaven. Second nun comes forward and is asked the same question. "I once touched a mans penis" came the reply. That won't do" he said, "Go to that font of holy water over there and wash your hands - then you may enter into heaven". This she did and toddled off to heaven. Third nun steps forward but is elbowed out of the way by the fourth nun, who jumps the queue. St. Peter spots this and asks her, "Why did you push in front of your friend?". Fourth nun replies: "I'm not washing my mouth out in that water after she's had her fanny in it"


A well worn sailor with arm hook and eye patch was sitting in the quayside inn when he was spotted by a local fellow who took pity on him. He approached the sailor and sympathetically asked how he had lost his arm. "Ar, twas in that last battle - cannonball took off my right arm and now I have this hook". They shared a beer and he was asked how he lost his eye. "Ar, I was ying on deck taking a bit o sun, and a seagull came over and shat in my eye". Our fellow thought about this for a moment, and said, "But surely that didn't cause you to lose your eye?". Not exactly, said the sailor, but it was my first day with the hook...


Yeh yeh yeh I know these are people who hang around with musicians... But here is a good one:

A very good drummer I knew decided that he did not want to be a drummer anymore - taking all the sh*t - he wanted to be a GUITAR player on the front line of the band. He withdrew, sold his kit, and locked himself into a room for THREE years. Where he took lessons and pushed himself very hard learning to play guitar..

Three years later, he emerged - a virtuoso guitar player. Ok he said to himself, "I'm going to show the world I am NO LONGER a drummer". With the money he had saved, he went into town and ordered a full double 100Watt Marshall Stack, Lexicon FX board, and a 1959 Vintage Les Paul guitar. The guy behind the counter said, "You're a F*ing drummer aren't you?". Our drummer went pale.. FOUND OUT already.. How could he possibly know I was a drummer? He asked the question. Guy behind the counter said;

"Because this is a FISH and CHIP shop you Knobhead....!"


A fellow went to heaven and arrived at the Pearly gates. St.Peter asked him - "How much money did you make in your last year on earth". £120,000" came the reply. What did you do? asked Peter. "Accountant" came the reply. "Very good, you may enter the gates into heaven".... Second fellow arrives and is asked the same question. "£50,000" he replied, "I was a Carpenter". "Very good, you may enter the gates into heaven". Third fellow, asked the same question, replies, "£45,000 CASH". St. Peter thought for a moment then replied:

Err.. what instrument did you play? (Ring any bells?)


I frequently get telephone calls where the caller speaks in a very very fast pseudo American accent. Usually to do with service or parts for HH echo units or other odd stuff.. When I eventually determine what he wants the situation changes somewhat... He asks for my address after trying to find a pen..

"Unit 1, Dawley Trading Estate", Kingswinford, West Midlands, DY6 7HU

Unite? NO, Unit. Can U spell that. U-N-I-T. Ah OK man. ONE. Is that a number or a word? Doesn't matter. Ah OK man. Dawley Trading estate. Pardon? Is that Dorley D-O-R? NO it is D-A-W-L-E-Y. Ah OK man, what was the next part? TRADING ESTATE How do you spell that? T-R-A-D-I-N-G -E-S-T-A-T-E Ah OK man.( I dread the next bit). Kingswinford. Say that again. Kingswinford. K?what. (I'm getting fed up now) KINGSWINFORD - I'll spell it out: Kilo/India/November/Golf/Sierra/Wanker(Sorry Whisky)/India/November/Foxtrot/Omega/Romeo/Delta. Silence. Then: Are you in India? No, I spelled it out using the phonetic alphabet. Phonic? So can you repair Phonic disco mixers? No, I do not, sorry. What do you repair then? Dohh.. This can go on for HOURS.

And so it goes on until he has transcribed my address. By which time I am losing the will to draw breath, need to do something really important like making a cup of tea or going for a piss..

OPINION: These people are really are genuine TIME WASTERS in the original sense of those two words. Advice: Spend less time prattling on at 100mph, learn to WRITE and SPEAK at the same time (as well as chew gum) and you could become famous perhaps for 15 minutes at least (Extra Brownie point if you can chew gum as well..)


...My dear wife Jane, who answers the phone to most of you - and believe it or not has qualifications and degrees in many subjects including Electronic Engineering, points out to me in her delightful way: If I can answer the customers "technical" question without referring to you, I know I am almost certainly speaking to a total KNOBHEAD..

Here are a few good ones to start the thread:

1) "I ordered 4700uf 50Volt capacitors for my IC100. You have sent 4700uF 80Volt. Can you assure me that these will be OK in my amplifier and not cause any damage. I am worried that the voltage is higher". (Replied and reassured customer - both legs numb - stayed at work). Said he would have to research it on the Internet.. Oh Yes good idea, carry on, give my regards to the earths CORE and don't stop when you get to the middle, keep going and you will be in New Zealand in no time.

2) "It says on your diagram that the voltage at the transformer is 34 - 0 - 34, but I have nearly 50 volts on each of the main smoothing capacitors. Surely this cannot be right?". (Pain starts in both legs - square root of two minus diode drop means nothing to an Aspidistra).

3) We get an email from a person asking what fuse he should fit in the plug top of the euro lead he is using with his HH IC100 . I replied that as the mains fuse in the equipment is 2A, a 3A fuse in the plug would be fine. He then replied that he could only find a 5A fuse. Yes thats fine just a bigger bang if the mains lead fails.. I then had a FURTHER email from this twonk, asking me IF I WAS SURE that the 3A value I suggested was correct as the plug originally had a 13A fuse... No Hope...

4) Basic Engineering, Woodwork etc.. A local player of 40+ years of experience calls in an reports that the strap button on his Strat has become detatched and will no longer screw in to the body. Not wishing to be drawn into this, I advise him to knock a piece of dowel into the hole in the body, cut it off and then just screw the strap pin back in. "What is dowel?" GOD. I produce a used Kebab stick (Which I keep for this purpose and explain to him what to do..) He looks doubtful, then asks me how much is the Kebab stick and can he return it if it does not work. I resisted the temptation to charge £43 for the said stick, and told him it was free and would not be necessary to return it. Probably see him Monday morning.. £45 to do the job sounds good to me... (£43 for the Kebab stick and £2 to do the job... Dohhh)


When I do a repair and the customer comes to collect it, he invariably asks what was wrong with it. Having been there many times before, I usually report that there was a problem with the bonkatron discobobulator, and was probably caused by failure of the primary sneede. Amazing thing is that the customer usually says, "Ah - thats exactly what I thought too". Then WHY ask? ( I am usually out of stock of bonkatrons if they ask for spares - usually coming in next week, and we are not allowed to sell sneedes to the public because of the new Health and Satety rules).


"What a complete F*****g Cadbury." (Mike Cooper 1981)
"Exactly which part of NO don't you understand?" (Aspen Pittman 1987)
"Like trying to teach an 18th century Nairobi tribesman how to build a nuclear reactor with a stick". (Beloved late engineer Alf Irwin trying to explain Ohms law to an ethnic who wanted to know why he could not connect his 32 (8 Ohm) Bass bins to his amplifier without incurring possible problems).

" Because my Mom told me to".. Potential employee asked why he has applied for the advertised job - (Jabdog Electronics)

"What a wonderful country you have here". (Better not say who said that..) GRRRRRR>>>>


A close friend of mine installs what I call posh PA systems in churches and other civic buildings. He and his team are very good at what they do and are very conscentious about their work. Although not particularly religious, having installed commissioned and tested this major system in a church very close to his home he felt it would only be good PR if he went along to the inaugural Sunday service, when the PA was used for the first time...

He arrived, sat down with his family, and the service started. He was immediately concerned that the new mega bucks PA didn't seem that powerful, but everything went off well and the service ended.

Walking back down the aisles as they left, he came upon the fellow in charge of the mixing desk at the rear of the church, who appeared panicky and sweaty... Asked why he did not give the microphones a bit more gain, the operative said: "Look, all the controls are on full, and I still can't get enough volume".

EVERY control on the desk was at maximum.. Every knob and fader - flat out..

After a 10 microsecond examination our installer pointed out to him that he would get much better results if he switched the mixing desk ON.....

Bless that twonk.


While working for a local music shop many years ago, an amplifier appeared before me with "faulty gather" written on the repair ticket. I didn't quite understand this, and referred to the young fellow who had taken it in. He replied that the customer said it had a "faulty gather." Hmm.. The amplifier did not work when tested, minor repair work was carried out, and a small bill of charges presented to the customer. When he came to collect it, I was curious and asked him about the said faulty gather. It seems that when asked about the problem, he had said: It faded out then went off altogether
Non working units have therefore ever since been booked in as "Faulty Gather" (Confuses the customer..)


The same young shop assistant appeared behind me while I was looking into the open chassis of some valve amplifier, perplexed by an obscure fault. He pointed at the two large blue capacitors and said " Are you sure the batteries are all right?" It was all I could do to stop myself inviting him to put his tongue on them to check them..


In the same shop around the same time, another of the young assistants came to me and said there was a customer in the shop who was asking for a tooter pedal, which he did not understand. I went his aid. The customer was making a terrible racket with a well out of tune guitar and obviously couldn't play for toffee, but explained loudly that he was seriously into METAL, Distortion pedals, and heavy saturation FX. He had been advised by a Birmingham shop that he would be better off getting a Tooter, but they did not have one. After futher consultation, it turned out that he had been advised to forget the pedals and get a TUTOR. Difficult to keep a straight face..


Many years ago, a fellow engineer had a very lengthy telephone conversation with a chap about an amplifier brought in with an intermittent fault. Trying to get a bit of logic into the situation, he asked when the fault had first occurred. The customer explained that it was on the day his sister in law had been to stay, and not being familiar with his household, had fell over the dogbasket and hurt her leg. An ambulance had to be called and she had to go to hospital. She still has a limp, but she is OK now. He added that it was a very good dogbasket until she fell over and broke it.. And those dogbaskets are expensive, he said.
Since then, we have referred to lengthy telephone calls as dogbasket jobs.


Even when we explain to a customer that it is impossible to fix his amplifier by tonight, due to not being able to get a part or for whatever other reason, the customer will remonstrate that he mustavit, as he has a gig.( I mentally note he wasn't arsed to bring it in three weeks ago, when it went tits UP).


This story goes back over 20 odd years ago to when my late father worked with me at MAJ Electronic. It is priceless..

I made a bit of mess in our Electronics department, and I asked our new trainee to go into the factory and fetch a broom. Having been confronted by my father, he came back a few minutes later (minus broom) and said, "Your Dad asks whether you want a day broom or a piecework broom". I told him either would be fine. He returned minutes later with a broom, and I asked him which type it was. "Your Dad says its a piecework broom". He then looked very confused and said to me: "What's the difference between a day broom and a piecework broom - they look the same to me". I told him gently that ONE SWEEPS FASTER THAN THE OTHER... The biggest laugh here is that he did not get the idea at all. Just the hanging lip, the untied trainers, mouth open. (God help the children).


The following tales are attributed to the late Jack McKechnie (ably assisted by ME - I was quick to spot any impending wind up in those days). Jack was a brilliant guitar player, and a partner in the Modern Music shop of Dudley in the late 1960's - 1970's. He had a quick and fast sense of humour, was a brilliant mechanician, but he did NOT suffer fools gladly.. I think this is possibly where I got the latter bit from...

You may or not know this, but Jack was an orphan, brought up in London, and during his touring days with the Hedley Ward Trio the band usually stayed with his friends when working in there. No name dropping but they were Tom Jennings, Dick Denny, and Jim Burns. Oh What.....


Jack had for some time used a first issue VOX AC15 (Circuit No.1) as his amplifier. When in 1959 he was shown one of the then new AC30's (based on EL34 valves) he immediately rejected it - "Yes, more powerful Tom, but it sounds awful compared to the AC15". The Shadows shared the same view, and the AC30 as we know it - using 4 x EL84 valves - was developed. First examples (for the Shadows) were actually two AC15's stitched together, and had TV fronts. I have actually SEEN and worked on several of these. Two output transformers, TV front etc. These can be seen on early Cliff and the Shads footage.. In Cream finish (Stands out well on Black and White TV).

SECOND - The Imported Guitar Blooper

Whilst staying with Tom Jennings around 1960, Jack was shown a solid electric guitar that they (VOX) were considering importing. Asked his opinion, Jack tried it, did not like it and said to Tom Jennings: "It doesn't play at all well Tom, it sounds really poor and thin - I'd pass on that deal if I were you, it will never sell". Hmm...

That guitar was a Fender Stratocaster..

Years later Jack had SO much crap about this I thought he might explode...

THIRD - Guitars, more seriously

While staying with Jim Burns in 1961, Jack was shown their new "Vista Sonic" solid guitar. Played great - better than any Fender - and the sound from those TriSonic pickups was spot on. Jack accepted one of these FOC for endorsing. Shortly later, he returned to the guitar to Jim, commenting that although the guitar was excellent he could not live with rotary selector/tone control that was a feature of the guitar.

"A simple slide selector switch like on the American guitars would be better".

Jim Burns then made for Jack a version of the Vista Sonic with slide switch. This version was later added to their catalogue as an alternative model, with reference to Jack, etc.

I still have those catalogues and that original guitar, Burns serial number 2628. Jack used it at every major English, European, and Far Eastern venue including the London Palladium. It is not for sale..

Absolutely brilliant instrument, but didn't sell as well as the Strat though did it....

A small aside: When I inherited this guitar from Jack about 18 years ago, I noticed that the case, although excellent and very old, did not QUITE fit the Burns. Odd & curious! Investigation revealed that the case was one that was supplied with a Stratocaster in 1961-2. As a working and travelling musician Jack was always very picky about cases - Strat case was better than the Burns case so that's what he had..


The American made Kustom amplifiers from the late seventies were finished in what can only be described as a pleated puffed vynide a la your setee - But they called it NORGER HIDE. The Kustoms were actually pretty good amps, made in America (GOD) but not by Leo, and they looked like inflated bus seats because of this finish..

So, Standing in the shop with Jacko one day, the Kustom rep breezed in (situation normal - rep full of shit). When he claimed that the amps were covered in "Genuine Norger hide" Jack immediately asked "Do you have much trouble catching the Norgers?". Rep was very confused by this, blabbed total B*X. I enquired if the Norgers were an endangered species... Still no sense.. We got fed up of this tosh in less than 5 microseconds, Jack puffed pipe, and we laughed all day. That was a classic.

Conclusion: What a toss pot that rep was. Knew nothing, no sensayuma. Unbelievable.


Early Shure 545 microphones were fitted with what were called Amphenol M4 connectors. The (cable) socket was an absolute pig to fit, and the (excellent) supplied Belden cable did not make the job any easier. An engineer, familiar with these items, could spend 20-25 minutes fitting one of these correctly. I saw SO MANY bodges..

A fellow came into the shop with one of these plugs and the lead, all in bits, and asked Jack to sort it out. He was pushy and wanted it done on the spot. Jack agreed to do this and said the charge would be five shillings (25p). The customer grumbled but agreed, and Jack set to work. Nearly half an hour later, work done, he placed the repaired lead on the counter and asked for the said five shillings. The customer then played up and remonstrated that just fitting a plug and charging five shillings was a rip off. Jack remained cool, puffed at his pipe, and then magically produced a pair of cutters from his pocket and snipped off the plug he had just fitted. He pushed the whole lot forward on the counter and said to the customer: "FIT IT YOURSELF THEN" - And walked back into his private office. Brilliant. (Customer later paid TEN shillings after having a go himself).

RE: the cutters, the spin off from this incident is that as their engineer I would be asked to counsel people on the telephone/in the shop about their problems/requirements etc. This was sometimes near impossible due to young Henry or Wayne making a terrible racket in the shop whilst trying a 100 watt valve amp/Les Paul etc. I would go out and ask him to stop for a few minutes while I was on the phone. Didn't happen, kept god twanging, so I went out with the cutters and snipped the guitar lead in three places. NOW WILL you be F* ing quiet. (Look of horror.)

THE 412 CABINET - (This really IS true)

The Modern Music shop had a great but simple policy on part exchanged goods. Everything that came in as a PX was checked, repaired, and sorted by an engineer. Item was then put in the shop and could then be sold with confidence with no dicking around in front of the customer. (Ebay sellers could learn a great deal from this..) So, a Laney 4 x 12 cabinet came in as owner was downsizing. I took it apart, replaced a damaged jack socket, checked/tested the four speakers - perfect - this cab was absolutely in mint condition..

Some time later a fellow came into the shop, enquired about the said cabinet, and bought it for £95 (don't times change..) paid for it and cleared off with it. He was on the phone about an hour later complaining that it DID NOT work. Apologies were made and he was asked to bring it back to the shop. I got it in the neck from Jack "Thought you had checked this Michael..". Cab returned to shop, I tested all very carefully, can't find anything wrong. Customer returns, situation explained, and clears off AGAIN. Phone rings an hour later, irate customer threatening court action and fire and death as the cabinet still does NOT WORK. Customer was then asked to return the cab AGAIN, but also to bring his other equipment with him so that the problem could be resolved. Grudgingly he agreed.

He returned some time later the same day... He dragged the cab into the shop, went out to his car and returned (with a beautiful Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar) and then produced a jack lead, plugged it from the guitar straight into the cab, strummed a chord, and shouted at Jack "There! I told you, It does't work".

I witnessed this.

I vanished into the workshop, had to sit down.. Jack kept his cool, puffed his pipe, and explained to the customer that an AMPLIFIER was necessary. You never told me that - said the customer.

You never asked, said Jack.. (I assumed you had a brain..) So we sold an amplifier that day AS WELL! Woo!


Around 1977, a musically brilliant but sometimes very doubting customer brought in his recently purchased beautiful Les Paul gold top guitar and a pair of aftermarket pickups, which he wanted fitted (Didn't buy them from US did he). He didn't seem easy that I was going to fit them, and explained to Jack that the guitar was as new and unmarked, all that crap, and he wanted the BEST job. (Thanks for that confidence YOU VERY NICE MAN). So, Next morning, my first job was to fit these pickups.....

Took half an hour. Job done, didn't sound any different, waste of money, guitar back in its case. Period.

During the day, I grew my pointed ears, Jack made a suggestion, and we agreed to have a little fun with this fellow. Jack's pipe puffed merrily and I was ready for it.. Oh Yes..

Customer came into the shop around 5 o'clock and asked if his guitar was ready. Jack called out to me in the workshop. I replied: "Nearly ready Jack, but I may have messed up here - Is the neck supposed to come off a Les Paul?". I hammered the bench repeatedly with a 2lb club hammer, whilst calling to Jack " Anyway I can't get this EFFing pickup out"of this F** g guitar", "Oh God look what I've done now" "Oh shit" "Got any Gold paint" etc etc. More hammering, more curses. (Jack later told me the customer took on a tinge of grey/green and began shaking a bit)..


Ten minutes later, I emerged with the guitar in its case. Here you are I said breezily, Job done, have a look, try it. He took the guitar out of the case, went all peculiar, inspected it with pebble glasses and portable electron microscope, and looked baffled. Not a mark. Then he calmed and a sudden warmth came to his voice. He paid the bill and after being sick, left the shop...

Jack puffed his pipe happily, jerked it from side to side, and I knew he was happy. I retired quickly to the workshop.

I probably did unrepairable damage to my ribs and my laughing tackle because of my involvement with the above stories.....

Nowadays I'd probably sue some unsuspecting customerfor £100000

(Nah Forget it - It was worth every penny..)