We hates the buzz, Precious.
The question is thus: is this actually fixable? I mean, I know damn well I could slap a replacement neck in there from Warmoth or Stew-Mac or whatever, but that really isn't the same thing, is it? And this one plays so well largely because it's been played for 30-odd years. A new one would be teh sux0r.
This brings to mind an interesting point. If there's one thing I can't stand, even a tiny bit, it's the incredibly earnest bar band. Bar bands are, by their very nature, amateur, and the people that play in them are never very relaxed because they don't get on stage enough to treat it like the workmanlike entertainment job that it is. Thus, it's an uncomfortable experience for both performers and audience. Now, if a bar band was named "We Fucking Suck" or something, ("slaughtering the classic rock hits since 1995!") I'd have a whole different opinion of the matter, and could actually revel in the parts they got right.
Note to aspiring bar-band performers: take a page from the Really Terrible Orchestra's songbook, and plainly wallow in the inherent humor of your position. It'll make things much more pleasant, and you might even actually get somewhere with it. After all, look at Ween.
And I just wanna say "Big Up!" to our Melanesian Massive. Who is that one person from New Caledonia?
Now, setting aside for the moment that this article has been quickly adopted by the BoingBoing set (a member of which, as you all know, I most certainly am not), and it does trend a little Disney, the concept is absolutely sound. Between when I was dropped from TVT and when I finally gave up on SMG, I made most of my living in exactly the manner described in that article, and can state from personal experience that it rings true. Mr. Kelly has, in fact, hit the nail on the head for the most part.
There are caveats to his plan, which he fails to mention. BoingBoingers and their ilk will fall all over themselves setting up tip jars and having a group hug, but getting those thousand people to pony up whenever you poop out a track is no easy task. The SMG fan base, which numbered in the several hundred thousands at one time, has rendered down after a decade of abuse on my part to about 800 people I can count on to put up with most anything I do, and another 3000 or so that will turn up eventually. Of those 800 people, I know at least 200 by sight, and am on a first name basis with almost all of them once I'm reminded of who they are. Elle knows them all and then some; she's better with names and faces than I am. She can even remember specific things about many, like what size shirt they wear, where they live, what they said to her the last time they saw her, and things like that.
I'm left with the nagging suspicion that I squandered a lot of "true fans" as Mr. Kelly states it, by either my musical schizophrenia or my short temper, and of course there's a certain amount of regret there. This brings me to the caveats in a roundabout way:
1: Master your craft. You can't suck to begin with. The article semi-implies that you have a right to these thousand people. In actual fact, you need to move heaven and earth to not suck.
2: Hold your tongue. I swear to christ I've gotten to the point (particularly on my last tour) where I was gonna gouge out the eyes of the next person that came up to me and said "dude, the first time I heard you was..." I mean, seriously. That kind of shit can put a motherfucker over the edge. Being humble in person when you're really not is a true art form that has to be practiced. You have to continually remind yourself that you're being paid to entertain, and being a complete prick isn't very entertaining. That is a lesson learned the hard way. (Truthfully, it may not seem like it, but I'm quite affable in person. Ask anyone. Except this one dude in Albany who got on my bad side. Or Lubbock. Or...)
3: Consistency counts. Your fans don't actually want you to experiment, I've found out. Or, at least, they think they don't. I acquired a reputation for abrupt left turns, musically, within the rather confining genre that was Industrial in the 90s. This annoyed many people. I lost roughly 90% of my fan base by deciding for about six months that I'd really rather be in War than Sister Machine Gun. If you're gonna subvert the Long Tail, you can't really pull that shit. If I stuck to ripping off Roli Mossimann productions I'd still have a vibrant career. I would have probably hung myself, too, but there's art in that as well, and that sort of thing never hurts your back catalog.
Long story short, TANSTAAFL as always. The "1000 True Fans" model is absolutely viable, but comes with baggage. Take it from someone that has lived it for two decades. It's hard out here for a pimp.