A fine vintage
Jason Wooten, the owner of Speaker Connection (on Walnut Street), who’s known affectionately as “The Woot,” is the go-to guy for anything dealing with electronics and vintage music equipment. The Woot said he’s repaired thousands of speakers over the years, in addition to repairing and renting out music gear. His shop is a wall-to-wall wonderland of vintage speakers, radios, reel-to-reels and mixing boards, and some of the equipment has interesting stories to tell. It even smells like old equipment (on par with the sweet, sweet, old-book smell at the library). Earlier this week, The Woot took a few minutes to chat as he was about to call it a day.
Is there anything in here that you know has been touched by a rock god?
Just the old bass pot from Karp’s bass. I had to fix the bass guitar for Karp [beloved Olympia, Wash.-based metal band from the mid-'90s], so I just wrote their band name on the broken part and threw it in the drawer.
What’s the oldest piece of equipment you have?
Probably the late ‘30s, early ‘40s. Oh, lots of stuff—old radios, antique broadcasting stuff, chassis from a 1930s radio.
How’d you go about acquiring all of this stuff?
Mostly from auctions; usually out of town. But I haven’t really come across a whole lot of stuff lately with the advent of eBay. Most of it [vintage electronics] ends up there.
When did you start collecting?
I don’t know. I’ve just always been interested in electronics. But I bought the business in ‘94, so it’s been … wonderful. [laughs] Aaaand what else? So I’ve got the old Neil Young tape machine back in here, too. I actually got to go to Neil’s ranch and tour around, check out all his facilities.
Did you meet him?
No, I didn’t. I was with one of his engineers; he has a couple of engineers on staff. I did get to see his tape library, though, which was essentially a two-car garage that was entirely filled with analog tapes, thousands of them, just like rows and rows of stuff all the way back to… supposedly he’s got tapes from his high school band. I peeked around one corner, and there were original Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reels.
Were you tempted to …
Slip one in the backpack? Naahh. It was pretty cool to see, though. So I bought this machine from him, but it was missing a couple parts, so we had to go search all the little different places where he plays at the ranch. We never found them, so I’ve got it, but it doesn’t work. It’s another project, I guess.