Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge

Unwrapping the AudioTechnica AT3600L Phono Cartridge

The Audio-Technica AT3600L phono cartridge is often referred to as a sleeper cartridge, and for good reason. This cartridge and its replacement stylus, known as the ATN3600L, is a hidden gem in the world of turntable cartridges. With Audio-Technica’s dual moving-magnet design and a polished conical stylus, this inexpensive cartridge packs a bunch of hidden surprises.

Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just beginning to delve into the world of turntables, the Audio-Technica AT3600L phono cartridge is a wonder worth exploring.

The Wisdom behind AudioTechnica’s AT3600L

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is a choice that should not be overlooked when it comes to turntable name brands. With its impressive audio quality and durability, this cartridge proves to be cost-effective without compromising on performance. The cartridge specifications boast a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a balance of 1.5dB @ 1kHz, offering a clear and balanced sound. The diamond-stylus construction ensures optimal needle-to-groove contact, resulting in a remarkable bang for your buck. With minimal complaints and positive reviews from customers, the Audio-Technica AT3600L is a wonder in the world of turntable cartridges.

When it comes to the Audio Technica AT3600L Phono Cartridge, one word comes to mind: versatility. This cartridge is a jack-of-all-trades, suitable for a wide variety of turntable name brands. The AT3600L delivers audio with exceptional clarity and separation, providing a rich and immersive listening experience. Its low tracking force of 2.5 grams ensures gentle handling of your vinyl while maintaining the integrity of the music. With its high-quality construction and reputation for durability, the Audio Technica AT3600L is a top choice for both casual listeners and audio enthusiasts alike.

AudioTechnica AT3600L: More Than Just a Cartridge

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is much more than just a cartridge. With its high-quality construction, durability, and cost-effectiveness, it is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enhance their sound system. The cartridge specifications, such as the mV – frequency response, balance, and separation, ensure a superior audio experience. The stylus, which can be easily upgraded with aftermarket stylus replacements, further enhances the overall performance. With its optimal stylus force and type, the Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge delivers exceptional bass, treble, and overall clarity, making it a popular choice for low-budget turntables. The only drawback may be its capacitance, which can be improved with the right phono preamp.

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge, also known as the AT3600L, is a reliable and versatile cartridge that offers exceptional performance. Its compatibility with various turntable systems makes it a popular choice among audiophiles. The construction of its stylus, shank, and weight, along with its dimensions, ensures optimal sound reproduction. LP Gear offers a wide range of stylus replacements for this cartridge, allowing users to customize their listening experience. With its precise stylus force and compliance, the Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge delivers outstanding performance across the entire frequency band. Whether it’s for casual listening or professional use, the AT3600L is a cost-effective choice for those seeking high-quality sound.

Diving Deep: The Components of the Technica AT3600L

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is a bottom-budget cartridge that has caught the attention of many audio enthusiasts. Despite its affordable price, the AT3600L offers impressive sound quality and performance. The cartridge features a carbon cantilever and a bonded elliptical stylus that ensures crispness and clarity in the playback. It is a great choice for those who are just starting out with vinyl records or for those who are looking for an upgrade from their starter cartridge. The AT3600L is compatible with a wide range of turntable arms and can easily be paired with different types of pre-amps and speakers. It has gained a loyal fan base, with many users praising its balanced sound and the fact that it exceeds expectations for a cartridge in its price range. The AT3600L is often compared to other cartridges, such as the Audio-Technica AT91R and the Rega Carbon, and it holds its own against its competitors.

Audio forums are filled with positive reviews and recommendations for the AT3600L, making it a popular choice among vinyl enthusiasts.

Significance of the Stylus Needle in the Technica AT3600L

The stylus needle is a crucial component of the Audio-Technica AT3600L, a sleeper phono cartridge that offers impressive performance for its price. Proper set-up and edition of the stylus is essential to ensure optimal sound quality. The stylus interacts directly with the vinyl and translates the grooves into electrical signals, which are then amplified by the turntable’s cartridge and sent to the amplifier. As a result, the fidelity and acoustics of the sound are greatly influenced by the quality and condition of the stylus. A well-maintained stylus can enhance the listening experience, capturing every nuance and detail with clarity and precision. However, an old or worn-out stylus can contribute to distortion, sibilance, and a loss of high-frequency information. Hence, regular inspection and replacement of the stylus is highly recommended to maintain the best possible audio performance.

The Audio-Technica AT3600L’s stylus, known as the ATN91, shares a close resemblance to its little sister cartridge, the AT95E. Many audio enthusiasts consider the ATN91 and ATN3600L styli (interchangeable in the 3600L) to be a great value for its performance, providing a similar level of audio quality as the AT95E at a more budget-friendly price. This makes it a tempting choice for those who want to upgrade their existing set-up without breaking the bank.

The ATN91 stylus has a tracking force range of 1.5 to 2.5 grams, compared to the AT3600L’s tracking force range of 2.5 to 3.5 grams. Its polished .6 mil conical tip provides very good tracking compared to the competition, even in comparison to some elliptical styli. With its little sibling inspiration and solid performance, the ATN91 stylus offers a great balance of price and quality for vinyl enthusiasts on a budget.

Understanding the Makeup: AT3600 Phono Cartridge

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is known for its presence and clarity. It offers a balanced and detailed sound with a touch of treble lift. The AT3600L has a medium-compliance compliance figure, allowing it to work well with a wide range of turntables. It is compatible with a variety of pre-amp capacitances, making it versatile for different setups. This cartridge excels in its ability to portray a sense of space and depth in the music, while also providing an ample amount of body and projection. With its tightness and texture, the AT3600L brings a sense of charm and material to the music, ensuring an engaging listening experience.

The Audio-Technica AT3600L Phono Cartridge is also appreciated for its dynamics and punch. Thanks to its medium-mass design, it is able to handle a wide range of tonearm masses and can accommodate different setups. Many people find the AT3600L to be a great mid-point cartridge, offering a balanced sound that suits various genres. It brings out the details in the music, while maintaining a sense of smoothness and cohesiveness. Whether you’re a seasoned vinyl enthusiast or new to the world of turntables, the AT3600L is a great choice that delivers impressive performance without breaking the bank. Its story as a sleeper cartridge speaks to its value and quality, making it a popular choice among audio enthusiasts.

The Role of Turntable Cartridges

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is a true gem in the world of turntable cartridges. With its lightweight design and easy handling, this cartridge offers a distinct advantage for both audiophiles and casual record enthusiasts. The AT3600L’s exceptional separation and setting capabilities result in a boom of impressive sound. Whether you’re listening to new pressings or older records, the AT3600L delivers a level of performance that is unmatched in its price range. One of the key concerns in the market is the foundation of cable capacitance, but the AT3600L performs well with capacitances up to and even a little above 250pf, addressing this issue with ease. The wow-factor and magic that the AT3600L brings to any turntable set-up is truly respected within the audio community. With its availability and affordable prices, this cartridge is a top choice for those looking to elevate their listening experience.

The Link between Turntable Belts and Turntable Cartridges

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is often overlooked in the world of turntable cartridges. While many audio forums and experts look to high-end and more expensive models, the AT3600L is a budget cartridge that delivers impressive sound balance even on a bottom-budget system. Made in China, this cartridge may not carry the same prestige as other brands, but it is gaining popularity among audiophiles looking for a cost-effective upgrade. With its carbon tonearm and aluminum cantilever, the AT3600L offers a path to better sound without breaking the bank.

In comparison to its competitors, the Audio-Technica AT3600L Phono Cartridge holds its own. The name may not carry the same weight as more established brands like Rega or Ortofon, but this cartridge packs a lot of punch for its price. Home to a lot of vintage turntables, the AT3600L is often found for sale from various retailers and sellers, often adorned with the iconic Audio Technica logo. Audiophiles looking to upgrade their sound system can find reports and reviews singing the praises of this sleeper cartridge. With its fun and unpredictable sound signature, the AT3600L offers a great option for those seeking an affordable yet impressive addition to their setup.

Comparing Cartridges: Technica AT3600L Vs. Others

When it comes to comparing cartridges, the Audio-Technica AT3600L stands out as a sleeper phono cartridge. Its personality and charm-factor can easily rival those of its more well-known siblings in the Audio-Technica family. With a capacitance setting of 125pf, it serves as an excellent starting point for turntable enthusiasts looking to upgrade their cartridge. In terms of value for money, the AT3600L is a great deal, especially when compared to alternatives like the Numark Groove Tool — and I’ve used both for quite a few years. Its reputation as the king of entry-level cartridges is well-deserved, as it offers a fantastic listening experience that is above what one would expect from its price range. The good separation and fade design of its cantilever and pickup make it a top choice for those seeking high-quality sound reproduction.

A close competitor to the AT3600L family is the Denon DL-110, which also boasts a remarkable design and pickup separation. While the Denon cartridge is a step up in terms of audio quality, the AT3600L still holds its ground as a valuable and affordable option. In terms of performance and sound, it is hard to find a better deal than the AT3600L. With its replaceable stylus and reliable construction, it offers a great way to enjoy your vinyl collection without breaking the bank. Whether you are a seasoned audiophile or new to the world of turntables, the Audio-Technica AT3600L should not be overlooked. Its reputation as a reliable and high-performing phono cartridge is well-deserved, and it continues to be a popular choice among vinyl enthusiasts.

Making the Most out of your Technica AT3600L

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge is known for its exceptional bass response and impressive performance. There’s something about the AT3600L that sets it apart from other cartridges in its price range. With its low inductance design and precise specifications, this cartridge has quickly become a favorite among vinyl enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned turntable gearhead or just starting out, the AT3600L is a winner in every way. Its engineering prowess and attention to detail make it a true giant killer in the world of turntable cartridges. So, if you’re looking to upgrade your setup, don’t question the AT3600L’s capabilities – it’s a guaranteed winner that will exceed your expectations.

Care and Maintenance for Your Technica AT3600L Cartridge

Proper care and maintenance are essential to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of the Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the best sound experience for the longest time possible.

Firstly, it is important to pay attention to the location of your turntable and cartridge setup. The AT3600L cartridge should be mounted properly on the tonearm, ensuring that it is aligned correctly with the stylus needle. This ensures that the sound flows smoothly from the cartridge to the stylus, delivering crisp highs and defined lows.

When handling the cartridge, make sure to use gentle movements and avoid applying excessive force. The AT3600L features an ABS carbon fiber cantilever that helps reduce resonance and distortion, so handling it carefully is crucial. If you need to remove the cartridge, make sure to loosen the screws on the headshell or tonearm, and gently lift it off.

To clean the cartridge, use a soft brush or stylus cleaner to remove dust and debris. It is important to keep both the stylus needle and the cartridge clean to prevent any build-up that could affect the sound quality. Additionally, avoid exposing the cartridge to extreme temperatures or humidity, as this can warp the delicate components.

By taking proper care of your Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge, you can ensure that it performs at its best for many years to come. Remember to handle it with care, clean it regularly, and store it in a safe place when not in use. These simple steps will help you maximize the performance of your AT3600L and enjoy the rich sound stage it delivers.

Maximizing the Performance of Your Audio Technica AT3600L

The Audio-Technica AT3600L is a sleeper phono cartridge that packs a lot of punch. Its design includes a carbon fiber cantilever, which contributes to its overall performance. When it comes to the sound quality, this cartridge is a champ. It delivers clear and detailed audio with excellent channel separation, whether you’re listening to drums, sax, flutes, strings, or vocals. The AT3600L is the top choice for many audio enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Its specs and performance are hard to beat, making it one of the best cartridges in its class.

To maximize the performance of your Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, make sure to properly align the stylus needle. This will ensure that it tracks the grooves of your vinyl records accurately and minimizes any skipping or distortion. Additionally, regularly cleaning the stylus and keeping the cartridge free from dust and debris will help maintain optimal sound quality. Lastly, consider upgrading your turntable’s components if you haven’t already. A high-quality turntable, tonearm, and phono preamp can further enhance the performance of your AT3600L cartridge. By following these tips, you can truly experience the magic that the Audio-Technica AT3600L has to offer.

Exploring the World of Turntables

The Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge has become a hot topic in the world of turntables. Its coil design and audiokarma killer factor have garnered attention from enthusiasts looking for more than just a run-of-the-mill cartridge. With its paratrace diamond and impressive cartridge specifications, the AT3600L has a pedigree that rivals higher-end options. While it may not have the flashy packaging or marketing of other cartridges, its quality and performance are, in my opinion, somewhere along the lines of a “diamond in the rough.” Through my research and tests on YouTube, I discovered that this sleeper cartridge can certainly hold its own against more expensive options. LP Gear offers a range of upgrades for those looking to get even more giggles out of their vinyl spin. Of course, like any cartridge, the AT3600L has its limitations, but for the money, it’s a solid choice that won’t railroad your budget.

A Look at Stylus Phono in Modern Turntables

In the world of modern turntables, one cannot undermine the importance of a stylus phono cartridge. Among the many options available, the Audio-Technica AT3600L: A Sleeper Phono Cartridge stands out. Its construction, type, and force all play a significant role in the quality of sound produced. The voltage balance and effect are carefully balanced to ensure the best possible audio experience. With its Boston & Maine numbers, the search for a high-quality cartridge ends here. Forget the fish oil ingredients in your garden cooking herb, because the result of playing your favorite LPs with the Audio-Technica AT3600L is pure musical goodness and sweetness.

When it comes to the Audio-Technica AT3600L Phono Cartridge, much can be said about its versatility. Whether you are a seasoned audiophile or just starting to explore the wonders of vinyl, the Audio Technica AT3600L Phono Cartridge will surely leave you in awe of its performance.


The Audio-Technica AT3600L is a sleeper phono cartridge that has gained rave reviews from audio enthusiasts. This cartridge is more than just a standard component of a turntable; it is a crucial accessory that enhances the quality of the audio output. The AT3600L features a stylus needle that plays a significant role in the overall performance of the cartridge. Its makeup and design ensure that it produces high-quality sound, making it a favorite among audiophiles. When it comes to turntable cartridges, the AT3600L stands out from the rest due to its exceptional performance and affordable price. Its compatibility with various turntable parts and record players makes it a versatile choice for both home theatres and professional setups. If you’re in the market for a reliable and high-performing cartridge, don’t miss out on the Audio-Technica AT3600L.


What is the Audio-Technica AT3600L phono cartridge?

The Audio-Technica AT3600L is a dual moving-magnet phono cartridge for turntables, that is known for its impressive performance and affordability.

What makes the Audio-Technica AT3600L a “sleeper” cartridge?

The term “sleeper” refers to the fact that the AT3600L often exceeds expectations for its price point, making it a hidden gem among phono cartridges.

What are the components of the Audio-Technica AT3600L?

The AT3600L cartridge consists of a stylus needle, cantilever, dual magnets, coil, and a body that houses these components.

Why is the stylus needle significant in the Audio-Technica AT3600L?

The stylus needle is the part of the cartridge that comes into contact with the record’s grooves, and its quality greatly impacts the sound reproduction.

How does the AT3600L compare to other cartridges?

The article covers a comparison between the AT3600L and other cartridges, highlighting its unique features and advantages over competitors.

How can I make the most out of my Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge?

The article provides tips and recommendations for maximizing the performance of your AT3600L, including proper alignment, tracking force adjustment, and cartridge care.

How do turntable belts relate to turntable cartridges?

The article discusses the connection between turntable belts and cartridges, explaining how they work together to produce high-quality audio.

How do I care for and maintain my Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge?

The article offers advice on proper care and maintenance techniques for the AT3600L, including cleaning the stylus and ensuring correct storage.

Can I use the Audio-Technica AT3600L with any turntable?

Yes, the AT3600L is a versatile cartridge that can be used with a wide range of turntables, making it a popular choice among vinyl enthusiasts.

What’s New from Us?

Hey everyone,

For those loyal followers who have stuck with us all the way over the past several years, thank you for your readership.

As priorities have been shifting in life, we are making increased efforts to build awareness about our digital marketing agency. You will see us putting out a lot of content related to things like SEO and online reputation management, so if you’re interested in growing your own site’s authority and visibility, you’re in for a real treat.

Loyal readers who expect the regular content…. don’t worry, we’ve got more travel logs and rants to come.

Of course, if you need something for your site, give us a buzz. We’ll be happy to help!



Ron Carter – Anything Goes (1975) [Ryan’s Record Reviews]

Welcome to the very first edition of Ryan’s Record Reviews! To kick things off, here’s something I just decided to do off the cuff as a result of a late-night listening session…

Ron Carter Anything Goes

Ron Carter – Anything Goes (1975)

Sure – when it comes to haphazardly whipping together a strange pastiche of bossa nova and disco without any written notes or plans… anything goes.

This album will be going up for sale on Discogs soon! Check back for a link.

(Please note: the cover image shown above is a photograph of the copy I own, and the one that I’ll be posting for sale.)

BEST SONG: “Baretta’s Theme”


  • Side 1: Anything Goes; De Samba; Baretta’s Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)
  • Side 2: Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love); Quarto Azul; Big Fro

Ron Carter’s ‘contractual obligation’ album, radically different to what me and my dad are used to from one of jazz’s most versatile bass players… and not in a good way.

This seems like a case of Creed Taylor and company telling the boys “hey cats, ol’ Mr. Van Gelder’s awfully busy right now so he’s only got an hour for you guys to run into the studio and just lay down whatever $!!! comes out of your head. NO! I didn’t mean Ornette Coleman $!?%, I meant… something the masses’ll like… clean and fancy. Simple as that. I’m sure you can whip something up quick. Anything goes. How does that sound?”

And that, my friends, is exactly how this album (and its title) came to be.

OK… maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch to say that’s what was coming out of Creed Taylor’s mouth those nights when the album was being recorded, but it pretty much sums up what you get here: an ersatz blend of sanitized disco-funk with Stan Getz-esque bossa nova beats in the most hilariously cheesy way conceivable.

I can’t begin to comprehend what kind of f***ing drugs everybody involved was on when this was being recorded.

While Anything Goes is by no means terrible, it’s way too kitschy and gimmicky for a musician of Carter’s status, and a very far way from essential listening – while upbeat and competently performed the compositions are uniformly bland and don’t stand out from one another (well….maybe except “Barreta’s Theme”).

And as much as some may cringe at the thought of “The Girl from Ipanema”, even the relative tameness of Stan Getz’ 1960’s bossa nova albums is more exciting than this appropriation – which is little more than a pale imitation.

So, what is it but a mere curio, a historical lesson in the things that could go wrong when Creed Taylor wants his artists to whip up and rush-release some lazy crap as quickly as possible with as little regard as possible for true jazz aficionados?

Bottom line: find yourself a copy of Pastels and never look back.

Oh, and by the way, about the cover art… don’t look at him.

Paul McCartney’s looking away from us on the Sgt. Pepper artwork NOT because he’s ‘dead’, but because as musically agile as he is, he can’t stand to listen to Ron Carter.

Then again, Quincy Jones can’t stand to listen to the Beatles either, so what the heck. The whole music world is an upside-down mess… and if you look at the cover of McCartney’s Tug of War, then soon you will realize it looks like he can’t listen to anything else! That’s what I see in his facial expression.

BUT: next… coming up – Black Eyed Blues, a *beautiful album* by Esther Philips. Recorded and produced by the same crew at CTI/Kudu, no less.

And recorded, also, with involvement from the likes of Ron Carter himself and Bob James. What more could you ask for?

ALBUM RATING:  (3.5 / 7 stars)

SOUND QUALITY RATING:  (4.5 / 7 stars)


  • Pastels (CD only)

PERTINENT RELEASE INFORMATION (extraneous data about the edition/pressing of the album being reviewed):

  • Label / Catalogue Number: Kudu / KU-25
  • Country of Manufacture: Canada
  • Unique Feature(s): N/A
  • Pressed By… Quality Records Limited, Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • Lacquer Cut By… Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
  • Discogs Release Page:

Welcome to Ryan’s Record Reviews!

Hello everyone! “Ryan” Alexander here (better known as OldMusicOnVinyl1), proudly introducing the long-overdue music reviews section of the DayTrippin website, in the making since 2014.

You may or may not be aware that I have been doing interesting, insightful and sometimes amusing reviews of music albums since 2014. As a strong, long-time music enthusiast and passionate writer, I am greatly pleased to say all of the music reviews I will post in the future will go on this centralized, multi-purpose blog

At this point, I will also be migrating most of the 50+ reviews I wrote and published over the years from a remote, New Zealand-based online venue for independent music reviewing – over time, my opinions and tastes have changed, so I may not necessarily hold the same opinion on a certain album as I did, say, 3 years ago.

Moreover, while I HATE to come across as an extreme perfectionist, I’m very picky about details, and some of the old reviews I posted may show a facet of my writing style that, to me, now feels decidedly unsatisfying (or otherwise flippant or hastily written by my current standards), so I may rewrite or alter a few to better suit what I think are the needs and readability level of our current audience.

Just to make something clear: if you have not been as deeply immersed in the music reviewing world as I have, then you may not be aware of what different text colours mean when I reprint track listings. So here’s a brief legend for the uninitiated:

  • RED TRACKS are highlights (stand-out cuts)
  • BLUE TRACKS are lowlights (the duds)
  • COLOURLESS TRACKS are everything in between

Of course, when I talk about what tracks are considered highlights, lowlights and so forth, they are rated relatively by the standard of the album’s artistic merit, i.e. the overall album rating.

Fellow vinyl enthusiasts take note: as it is becoming an increasingly pressing concern in today’s marketplace to receive new vinyl releases that are of disappointing quality, it is my duty to inform record buyers like you about which pressings sound better than others, so that you don’t waste your time and money making the same mistakes I’ve done by purchasing releases that turn out to be of poor quality (either due to other reviewers’ standards being different from mine, or due to there being little, if any, testimonials period).

As much as Ryan’s Record Reviews is a place to give unadulterated critiques on different albums spanning a century’s worth of music history, it is also a place to highlight albums that are superior in the areas of sonics and manufacturing (in my subjective opinion, of course!), covering all the bases of YOUR purchasing decisions, so that you can spend your money more wisely on high-quality releases. In addition, I will also post vinyl sound quality and pressing reviews at (How It Sounds on Vinyl), a dedicated, thorough database where you can find out the sound/pressing quality of a certain release in one click.

Of course, even when I don’t feel the need to talk about the sound quality at depth, I assign a star rating to an album’s sound quality in addition to just the album critique rating, so that audiophiles have a better idea of what to expect when they choose to check something out (particularly if it’s the exact pressing that I have on hand to listen to the album, and the pressings I own of each of the albums reviewed will be assigned their respective links to the Discogs database, to which I am a deep contributor).

And that’s it! Join me on my journey as I discover and revisit albums old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, and provide valuable opinions to the music world for years to come.

–“Ryan” Alexander, February 15, 2018

Let’s Go to the Ex (including “Ballad of a Well-Known Guitar”)…..and New York

Hello, dear fellows on the Internet! It’s time for our first real post here after having had this site active for over three years. We never really got around to doing anything with it, mainly because a few months after our dear wife and mom Francine (may God bless her) established it in 2012, she was diagnosed with cancer, and our attention had to be diverted towards helping to take care of her during her year-long fight with her illness, which she stayed very strong through but unfortunately lost back in May 2013.

Let’s Go to the Ex! (oh baby)

Anyways, on to the first real reason why we are writing. On Sunday, the 17th of August, 2014, my dad and I paid a visit to the 2014 CNE fair in the heart of Toronto, and it was pretty much as fun as when we went last year. A few weeks prior, we bought Ride All Day passes, which we used to get in the Ex this weekend; after we exchanged them for ride wristbands to enjoy the brilliant Sky Ride, we unfortunately didn’t get to using them to our advantage as we had wanted to, mainly because we were primarily shopping at indoor vendors in the Arts, Crafts & Hobbies and International pavilions, but at least we brought home a variety of interesting items from around the world.

For instance, my dad bought numerous leather items, wooly blankets and natural hand-crafted wooden watches by Mistura Timepieces and Patina – both watches were stylistically customized on-site to his own preferences.

As for what I wanted at the CNE, I took a look at the selection of records that mini-guitar replica seller Worldbeat Crafts had on sale – nice variety, almost like that you’d find in a good record store, but maaan, a lot of them were just outright overpriced… astonishingly, the cheapest ones they sold were for $20, so I didn’t end up taking anything home from them.

But my primary interest above all was that new/used musical instrument vendor I visited last year: Kensington Melody. Being a budding singer-songwriter with a desire to become an independent “DIY” artist – a la Todd Rundgren, who just so happens to be among my biggest musical inspirations – recording material entirely with analogue equipment, my dad surprised me by shelling out $450 to help me complete my basic guitar set (a Stagg Stratoclone, a Yamaha BB300 bass, and a Tanglewood TW12 twelve-string acoustic) with a prestigious high-quality instrument that was cleverly tucked away in the vendor’s inventory, separate from the more middle-of-the-road entry-level guitars by no-name brands on display at the forefront: a lovely American-made six-string acoustic hand-crafted in Nazareth, Pennsylvania by the venerable C.F. Martin & Co. complete with gig bag.

Erm, at least I thought the instrument was a Martin until I took it home and played it to notice some aberrations that didn’t reveal themselves when I tried it out in the noisy, crowd-dominated environment of the CNE. I noticed a bit of fret buzz, which was strange, because I imagine the previous owner must’ve taken good enough care of it to at least keep it set up properly. At that point, I did a slightly more in-depth visual inspection of the guitar, and some suspicious details started to become obvious – telltale signs which were soon to convince me that I had been ripped off of my dad’s hard-earned $450!

On the headstock, located right where the familiar Martin & Co. name was, there was a faint silhouette of another name in a script-like typesetting. This other name was only really visible if you held up the headstock to a light source, and even then the spelling was not very discernible, but it could be interpreted as either “Payche”, “Patache”, “Poyche”, “Poryche” or “Paracho”, spellings which didn’t yield any helpful information about similar guitars when Googled. Even so, it kind of convinced me that this was not actually a Martin, but rather a no-name brand guitar that was cosmetically “retooled” by (one or more of) its previous owner(s) (and who knows how many times it’s changed hands before) to look like a Martin so as to make it a quicker sell. Another important piece of evidence was the sticker underneath the sound hole, which looked to be a bit “homebrewed”/amateurishly done and had no model number. Research revealed that authentic Martins, whether they have a model number under the sound hole or not, have at least a serial and/or model number engraved on the neck base inside the guitar body – my guitar had none of these.

After some Internet research, my dad decided to take the instrument to work to have one of his fellow employees, who used to work at Long & McQuade, inspect it and confirm that it was indeed a forgery as I thought it was. Alas, even though he did comment that it had a nice sound for what it was, he proved my suspicions correct. And so we returned to the Kensington Melody booth at the CNE later in August to exchange the guitar for something that played well without the need for an additional set-up job. The lady there spoke by phone to the person we talked with when we first bought the guitar on the 17th – Jin Tao – and told us to come over to Kensington Melody’s full-blown store location to exchange the instrument.

It was the real store location on Baldwin St. where we had tons more fun – of course, the stock in the CNE booth had absolutely nothing on the variety of different instruments from around the world they had for sale in the real store, and the best part was the owner! He’s a very nice outgoing and knowledgeable Chinese man, a devoted collector of exotic instruments from all over the globe and various other types of paraphernalia, music-related and not – we spent a good deal of our time enjoying stories of his background, past life experience and wisdom (it’s worth mentioning that he was the co-author of a Romanian translation of the Tao Te Ching, which just goes to show how noteworthy he really is). The conversations went so far as to leading us to consider study Chinese ourselves on a weekly basis…given the three years that my dad spent on studying Mandarin at university level!

Anywho, after wading through 5 or 6 acoustics in the crowded environment before I found one which had good intonation and action right off the bat without the need for set-up, I left satisfied with a decent Hofner/Woods guitar in my hands, along with a separate mountable magnetic pickup, and a nice 0.46mm pick that makes basically any guitar I strum it with have a very good crisp tone.

Creepin' in on the sound hole of the Wood's.
Creepin’ in on the sound hole of the Wood’s.

Then, at the tail end of August, came the biggest endeavour we’ve enjoyed since our week-long retreat to the Niagara Region, and the first time we ever left our own Canada to see the other things the world has to offer…

New York! New York!

Since we both just got our passports very recently and we’ve been talking for a long time about visiting other places in the world, we felt a good opportunity to put our passports to use in the summer of 2014 would be to book a guided bus tour with Comfort Tour Canada through the confines of gigantic, breathtaking New York City – a trip sure to make downtown Toronto feel measly and diminutive to us in comparison for good.

August 29

The four-day/three-night tour began on August 29, when we boarded the bus in the early morning at its first pick-up stop in Ontario (Scarborough Town Centre). We were introduced to our tour guide Carole who would, throughout the whole journey, tell interesting and often amusing stories about her past experience working as a guide for trips by various other tourist companies – sometimes the stories were so amusing that audience members would occasionally request another story from her!

In any case, the trip would be as fun as we had hoped it would be, and the amount of information and knowledge we got from Carole about various places in the path we were headed – not just in America, but before the border – was amazing. Our first real stop was the Corning Museum of Glass, where we unfortunately had little time to spend, but it was a very insightful educational experience nonetheless, no matter how little of the museum we actually got to take a peek at. The live glassmaking show was especially cool.

After that, we were destined for New Brunswick, NJ, where the luxurious Hyatt Regency hotel at which we were to stay was located. In the evening, we got to watch Tower Heist on the bus, and it sort of got us “psyched” for ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the different tourist attractions throughout NYC. Getting accustomed to the comfy environment at the hotel at night ended up being so intoxicating that we ended up doing the naughty act of staying awake there till midnight, something which would happen again – to a worse extent, going as late as 1 to 2 am – in the two times we returned to the hotel!

The Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, our designated hotel for the visit
The Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, our designated hotel for the visit

August 30

On the second day, we left the hotel for a guided tour through Manhattan headed by NYC-native expert guide Hardy. When we were on the way there, Carole treated the entire audience to a fun verbal brainteasing game to keep everybody occupied as they waited to get there. The answers to the problems presented ranged from the obvious (“7 D of the W” = seven days of the week and “1001 AN” = 1001 Arabian Nights), to the not-as-obvious (“4 Q in a G” = four quarts in a gallon and “29 D in F in a LY” = 29 days in February in a leap year), and all the way to the ridiculously mind-boggling (“1000 W a PP” = “one thousand words a painted picture”, a sort of “synonym” if you will for the idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words”). A little fun for a brain exercise.

In any case, you couldn’t imagine how amazed we were to be seeing some of the most famous and iconic tourist attractions in the entire world up close in person…..and learning tons of amazing factoids from Hardy about the various landmarks we passed, to boot. Of course, being the avid music fan that I am, my favourite stop that we got to walk through by foot was the man-made triumph that is Central Park – specifically the Strawberry Fields memorial near the Dakota (where John Lennon once lived, and, in one of the most shocking events in music history, was murdered).

"Postcard view" of the Dakota
“Postcard view” of the Dakota from Central Park

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We also stopped to take a look at the brilliant fountains of the 9/11 Memorial and took home a pair of wristbands from there.

Dad posing under a tree near the 9/11 Memorial site

Our first period of free time in NYC started at 3 PM, and unfortunately, we didn’t end up doing all of whatever we set out to do, but then again it was a first-time experience where we were trying to get ourselves oriented with everything. After buying plenty of shirts and other paraphernalia at an NYC tour souvenir shop, we walked to Urban Outfitters where I bought myself a nice new Rhino vinyl re-release of Black Sabbath’s debut album. Another point of interest was the Museum of Modern Art, but we sadly missed out on it because by the time we were there (just before 5:30 pm), they were already about to close, a fact that surprised us a bit.

We then went to the Uniqlo location just one block south of MoMA; we spent over an half-hour there peeking through pop-art clothes and left with some neato finds. My dad came across Uniqlo when they first set up their online presence – he thought it was really interesting that it took them several years before they entered the North American market.

SPRZ NY shirts from Uniqlo, one of them accidentally dyed with a touch of bleach. (Silly me.)
My SPRZ NY shirts from Uniqlo, one of them accidentally dyed with a touch of bleach. (Silly me.)

We're big Keith Haring fans. I love the vibrancy of this jacket's message and graphics.
We’re big Keith Haring fans. I love the vibrancy of this jacket’s message and graphics.

After that, our main attraction for the night was the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center. Getting to the top was a ridiculously convoluted and confusing process – we were constantly asking the staff where to go to do what – but man, it sure was one hell of a picture-taking night!

Top of the Rock pano
Top of the Rock pano

All of a sudden... BAM! A wild Ryan Alexander has appeared!
All of a sudden: BAM! A wild Ryan Alexander appeared!

I used the viewfinders twice; the second time, I got a small glimpse of the mighty Statue of Liberty… something to prepare me for the closer view I would get of it the following day. We ended up staying beyond the time at which we were supposed to return to the bus pick-up location (8 pm), so we returned to the hotel in NJ ourselves by train.

August 31

Our return trip to NYC in the morning was for the Liberty/Ellis Island ferry cruise. Talk about WOW! Walking around the very grandeur and might of the world-famous thin-copper Lady Liberty herself was quite the experience. I loved the audio guide too – it made me think amazingly deeply about Lady Liberty, her history and the ideals of freedom she represents.

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(Bizarre aside: the whole Liberty/Ellis Island cruise invoked some strange deja vu…..popping up in my mind throughout the trip was the weirdo non-sequitur intro to the Animaniacs short “Acquaintances”, in which the Warner kids arrive in Ellis Island as Russian immigrants, and Lady Liberty belittles them as “horrible puppy children!” and sends them flying to Manhattan.)

This day, our free time started at 1 pm. We did get a chance to walk through the MoMA, but it was sadly very brief because we, and especially I, wanted very much to use the remaining time we had left till 8 pm to our advantage.

Ryan wandering around in the MoMA, knowing that he is getting rather bizarrely caught in the midst of a pano shoot.
Ryan wandering around in the MoMA, knowing that he is getting rather bizarrely caught in the midst of a pano shoot. NOBODY else expected this!

That’s okay though, because we will certainly be visiting New York again during one of our future vacations, so we’ll try to get around to doing some of the things we missed out on during this four-day trip, including getting more accustomed to the layout of the MoMA.

At around 5 pm, we went to B&H Photo Video so that Arkadi could fulfill some of his tech desires: he bought a Nokia Lumia 1520, which he had been after for some time, a Boostcase for his iPhone 5S, and a new Sony Bluetooth display headset to replace one that had been causing a bit of grief for him mostly due to incompatibility with the so-called “most advanced OS in the world”, as marketing delusions will have you believe. (And it worked out fine with his iPhone….to some point, until that damn stupid iOS 8 update came out, which reduced the usability of the new headset by ANOTHER 50%! Wake up Tim Cook and smell the coffee! Lucky me, I’ve got an Android, so I get to use the old set.) Afterwards, we walked around a bit and I wanted to go to the LEGO store on Fifth Avenue, but by the time we were going to go there – after 7 pm – they were already closed.

But fear not, for NO journey to NYC is complete without a trip to the legendary Empire State Building, of course…

The glorious art-deco ESB lobby. Hmm... reminds me a bit of Hell Cab (the game), doesn't it?
The glorious art-deco ESB lobby. Hmm… reminds me a bit of Hell Cab (the game), doesn’t it?

Not only was the process of getting to the 86th-floor observation deck of the ESB a lot less convoluted than it was with the Top of the Rock deck, but the line-ups were not nearly as busy and dense as I ever thought they would be, and it also was a good opportunity for my dad to unbox his brand spanking new 1520 and put it to picture-taking use.

Wonderful Manhattan skyline view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, taken with the Lumia 1520's mighty camera.
WP_20140831_19_43_55_Pro Wonderful Manhattan skyline views from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, taken with the Lumia 1520’s mighty camera.

We again stayed there past 8 pm, so we decided to enjoy the nightlife in Manhattan for a little while. We walked to Macy’s only to discover that it was – of course, customary to Sunday traditions – CLOSED. Then came the walk to Times Square for some more delightful sightseeing and picture-taking.

Times Square Pano 1

There's a bandit out there chopping off the behinds of people's cars and shrinking them... Who could it be? The "Pano Bandit", of course!
There’s a mischievous bandit out there chopping off the behinds of people’s cars, shrinking them and just plain exploiting loopholes in the time-space continuum… Who could it be? The “Panorama Bandit”, of course! Or, for that matter, the crazy person who shot this photo – and who could it be other than my dad… playing with his phone(s) as usual? He’s got cellphones stickin’ out of his ears, he’s got cellphones comin’ straight out his butt, he’s got so many cellphones that there are some that most normal people would consider burdens from the Realm of the Imaginary Diseases! He’s so bad, he still uses a Nokia N95 8GB for its reception, and he still has the unmitigated audacity to keep a Nokia analogue brick phone from the 90’s in the basement! (Postscript: I would love to see Zappa as a president…)

Along the way, after we ate some delicious Mediterranean shish kebab from the street, we made our last real purchase in NYC before heading homeward with some nice (and funny!) photo booth picture prints from Walgreens.

Check it out: quick-witted world-famous cartoon personality Bugs Bunny's immortalizing me in this brilliant magazine cover!
Check it out: quick-witted world-famous cartoon personality Bugs Bunny’s immortalizing me in this brilliant magazine cover!

A bit of zaniness with the Slave, his trusty new Basquiat shirt, and the Master at his side.
A bit of zaniness with the Slave, his spiffy new Basquiat shirt, and (pictured right) the Master at his side.

After all that, at 10 pm, we took the train back to New Jersey and got some rest for the last day of our trip:

September 1

In the morning, our bus departed homeward and along the way we stopped at a little shopping plaza in Great Bend, PA so that everybody could have a little lunch break. We got ourselves some bottles of water from a grocery store and ate yet another one of those delicious gluten-free salads from Subway…they also talked about how crappy and cheesy the Family Dollar there was, and hearing that kinda intrigued me, but sadly we didn’t have enough time to explore there before we were to return to the bus. On the way to an outlet mall in New York, had a little fun watching We Bought a Zoo…..and shopping at the outlet mall was tiring and boring, because we were debating endlessly on whether to buy any clothing or not (and we didn’t, hey!) – because, y’know, a giant portion of the mall was occupied by clothing outlets and we didn’t think we’d really need to buy any clothing for the time being.

At 4 pm, we left for Canada and the border crossing went through in a surprisingly swift manner (we spent less than an hour there) given the normally-heavy Labour Day traffic. After re-entering Canada, they got that sort of Canuck spirit going again in the audience by showing us an episode of good ol’ Just for Laughs Gags (and one featuring the short with the ever-so-beloved Canada Post dog officer) to relieve us from the “denser” and overall different experience of American life for so long.

In the long run, we returned home happy and totally satisfied with tons of souvenirs on our hands.

Aaaaaaand, that’s about it. Phew, that was one heck of a writing job.

Well, glad we got to post something on here after talking about putting this blog to good use for probably over a year. Be sure to look forward to tons more exciting posts here – especially my in-depth music critiques (“Ryan’s Record Reviews”, of which I have posted numerous on Alltime Records during the past year).


-Ryan and Arkad! – also known as A&A