Bellas Hess "Package" Price Rock Band - The Plastic "Oh No" Band.

Until this little gem was flopped onto my desk, I'd never heard of Missouri-based Bellas Hess, but apparently they were a big deal in 70's mail order, right up there with Sears, Monkey Wards and J.C. Penny. These were retailers that did their best to sell you everything your life could need. The more esoteric the thing, the more questionable the quality. So, if you were looking through the appliance section of your Sears Catalog, checking out blenders. Those were decent blenders. Names you heard of. If you flipped to the musical instrument section... heh heh. You'd see Sears brand trombones, intended for indulging parents who were (incredibly) willing to permanently buy the cheapest instrument they could find, to satisfy their kids' curiosity about music. Kids are fickle. Why get a real instrument if it would only be left out in the yard and be forgotten in two weeks, to become home to a family of ground squirrels?

On page 11 of this 1969 Bellas Hess catalog, enter the store brand rock band. We mustn't judge it harshly. This could have been the gateway gear for Dave Grohl or something, in which case we owe Bellas Hess a debt of gratitude. That said, let's get to work. We've got some harsh judging to do.

Woooo! Yeah! Rock on, man! Fuck the establishment! At least until my dad makes me mow the lawn! These lucky little rockers are apparently rocking inside a really big microwave oven. Either that, or their first gig is fighting the establishment in a clean room at the CDC. Talk about your "INFECTIOUS" rhythms! HAHAHAHAHAhahahahah! You're right. That's a good one.

I think the guys might want to put some more thought into their band name. You don't want people to lowball you on all your gigs. So, "NO ONE CAN 'BEAT' THIS PRICE" might send a message of cheapness, despite the savagely clever play on the word "beat". It's also a little wordy. Maybe consider "Vincent's Price", or "No One". That'll be a great "Who's on first?" gag every time someone asks about your band...

"Who's playing over in the flesh eating bacteria lab tonight?"

"No One".

"Okay. I'll cut out early and send in the decon team to hose out the room as long as it'll be empty and there won't be any mail order poser band in there or anything. We can start the new Hanta virus cultures in there first thing in the morning."

"Wait. I mean 'No One' is the name of..... meh. Whatever."

I'm not a guitarist, but I've seen lots of them do their thing (I've even spilled my drink on a few), and I'm not familiar with this chord. It seems to be played with the palm of the hand and the fingers of the left hand hovering over the strings. Hmm. Must be some kind of weird open tuning.

One of the things I always look for in my cymbal hardware is approximate verticality in the area of being roughly perpendicular to the floor, or, failing that, for the stands to at least be parallel with each other, if not to a plumb line dropped to the center of the Earth. The crash and hi-hat stands look very approximate with relative respect to several things. perhaps in future explorations, we will find a new center of the Earth for these stands to be parallel with a plumb line to.

Come to think of it, at such an un-BEAT-able price, you could afford to flip over to the hardware section and maybe order up a plumb bob while you're buying your rock and roll band.

Incidentally, these pants are also available in the Bellas Hess catalog, but you'll need to look in the housewares section under "table cloths".

The snare drum, pictured here to the left of the actual drummer, is, in traditional rock convention, placed between the drummer's knees, and played with the left hand (if the musician is right handed). No, wait. That's not fair. He's not an actual drummer.
Hey! What gives? Girls can't rock too? Bellas Hess, you just stopped being my one-stop-shop for all my sterile labaratory-rocking needs. I bid you good day. I SAID GOOD DAY!

Click for big.


Franck3D said...

To be fair, the only chord you really can play on a two-pickup electric guitar running through a 5 watt amp while standing up and not using a guitar strap is "D'uh Flat".

Joe Max said...

Actually, from the late 40s to the mid 60s, Sears sold a line of guitars and amps produced by Danelectro of Chicago, a fairly reputable maker of instruments (though cheaper than Fenders or Gibsons) under the Silvertone brand name. (They also sold to Monkey Wards under the "Airline" name.) The guitars were identical except for a slightly different headstock and the "Silvertone" name plate. Today they are sought-after instruments and collector's items. Danelectro also made amps for Sears, also now collector's items. But somewhere along the mid-60s, Sears stopped getting their guitars from Danelectro, and got them from Teisco or Harmony factories in Japan, like the ones pictured above. THOSE were cheaply made crap.


PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Thanks for the grey market guitar history, Joe! I didn't make the scene until The Seventies, so all this "decent quality guitars from Sears" information is news to me! I know about drums, and I felt safe in assuming that where there's garbage drums, there's garbage guitars. This time, my tactic worked, but only just.

Thanks fro reading!


MrsBug said...

Hmm, my husband has a Danelectro. It was the first bass his parents bought him and many years later, he found it again in a pawn shop. I guess he knew it was actually because of reasons, don't ask me. :)

Steve Miller said...

Danelectro wasn't the only manufacturer to supply guitars for Sears. Other models were built by both Kay and Harmony. Kay and Harmony were budget priced labels, but at one time built solid, playable instruments. Guitars are still produced under both names, but not the the original and now defunct companies.

Danelectro was a funky guitar, "boldly" styled and using "inexpensive" materials -- the bodies were essentially Masonite over a pine frame, trimmed with vinyl binding. (Think price-point engineering.) The pickups are often called lipstick tubes... The guitar player most associated with Danelectro was the inimitable Link Wray, who could pull the most incredible sounds out of the things.

Montgomery Wards, following Sear's Silvertone heels, offered their own guitar line under the "Airline" moniker. Some of their models had fiberglass bodies and were made by National.

Now, as to the Tiesco guitars, junk they may be, but they have their proponents and I've heard some pretty damn fine surf music played on them... though I assume the guitars' original playing action has been highly refined in-field.

Tim Dierks said...

I note that the "20 piece" drum set has, according to the list, 12 pieces. Maybe the drum throne is actually made from 9 minithrones.

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