For decades, Austin TX has been known for its uncanny ability to be the hippest spot for most types of music. It’s almost like there’s a vortex that sucks musical talent into the city limits.

I was tasked with navigating my way through this cool town on a quest for that ubiquitous musical essential: a reasonably priced, clean-sounding, basic guitar amp. And what a musical obstacle course it would be!

My cover was simple. What does an older lady with wrinkles need to know about the guitar amp that she wants to buy her 17-year-old granddaughter? You’ve met that nice young lady with the black fingernail polish, right? She’s been playing guitar in the school big band, and she’s now begging her parents for her own gear. The amp is grandma’s gift.

I was interested to see how I was treated. At the time, Austin was awash in possibilities for music equipment, as my trip coincided with South by Southwest (SXSW), a major music and art festival. Music stores were stocked up for newly inspired buyers.


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