Tag Archives: Music

My Life in Guitars (Part 2)

It was a few years, a marriage, a move or so, and a son and a daughter later before I got my next guitar.

We were living in Cheyenne, Wyoming—a wonderful place, although you do have to get used to the wind—the Wyoming Wind Festival runs from 1 January through 31 December—and they sell the tee shirts to prove it. In other words, when you first move there, the first priority is to figure out how to bungee cord the lid to the garbage can.

Cheyenne was small—about 53,000 people (in a state with 500,000, or 5 people per square mile) so it was a bit modest as far as shopping opportunities. For example, the first year we were there, the newspaper declared Sbarro’s Pizza as second place, in the “Best Restaurant for Lunch” category.

We’d regularly go to Fort Collins, Colorado for “real” shopping, but there were definitely places in Cheyenne worth visiting. One day my wife wanted to go to a craft store. I think I went in, and “finished” much earlier than she did, so I decided to go next door.

To a music store.

The music store had guitars on sale—the previous year’s Peavey Predator Plus. They had two, both green. Apparently was not fashionable (aka “cool”) and therefore, not a big seller. The guitars were marked down to half price or so. (Not actively shopping for guitars, I can’t say if it truly was a great price, or if they merely boosted the “original” price. Nevertheless, at the time, it seemed like a great deal.) I picked one up and I loved the feel; I mean, it was like, “Even I could play this!” I was hooked.

Peavey Predator with practical padded plain black guitar strap

 

The Predator series is supposedly inspired by Eddie van Halen, with a shorter neck to allow people with talent (like him) to move more quickly around the fretboard; it also allowed short under talented guys like me to feel cool, which is pretty awesome in itself. I mean, think about it. Playing a guitar, roughly the same color as my 1972 Ford Pinto could make me feel cool. How weird is that?

My wife walked in, realized that fate had spoken, and there was no use in even raising an eyebrow (she’s wonderful that way). So, with the guitar, a generic hard sided guitar case and a practice amplifier (Peavey, of course) we headed back home. When I told my parents how excited I was, they were so impressed, they offered to pay for the guitar. I decided I was neither too old, too wealhy, nor too proud to decline

Cool guitar. Wife supportive. Parents paying. So, who cares if it’s green?

I used to download chord charts and play rhythm along with Eagles CDs. Fortunately, none of the Eagles ever found out. Don Henley would have been most unhappy. Timothy B. Schmitt and maybe Don Felder might have even been willing to play along with me, so long as no one told Glenn Frye or Don Henley. However, if Glenn and Don found out, even though Joe Walsh and I have a lot in common (ham radio, northeast Ohio, etc.) I don’t think he would have dared to rush to my defense. Nevertheless, I had fun.

So, 15 or so years later, the green Peavey Predator Plus is still one of my favorites. The machine head has a locking system to keep the strings in tune. It’s got great pickups that can be switched in and out. That short neck does work well for me, and I have to admit, I’ve never thought—even once—of having it painted.

Incidentally, we returned to that same music store just before I deployed to buy a piano for the kids to start their music education. We still have the Peavey and the piano.

Good memories of Cheyenne.

Swearing Off

Over the years, I have sworn off various things. Actually, it was more of a worn off than sworn off. Television programs lost quality, although there was a vast increase in quantity thanks(?) to cable. Too many choices, not have enough time to actually follow a series, so now it’s the occasional Netflix.

I do watch the morning news for the weather forecast and traffic report. Unfortunately it seems to be 80 percent commercials, so I have to pay strict attention while shaving or else I miss it.

I used to love computers, which led to a fascination with the internet. Most of what is available online is best left alone. Let’s just say that it’s a bit worse than a naked stroll through a tick infested patch of poison ivy complete with brown recluse spiders and venomous snakes. I admit that I deny reality and look for decent content. Unfortunately, the best I find are things like YouTube videos showing me how to adjust the carburetor on my weed eater.

So, what does that leave? Reading, writing, experimenting, ham radio, guitar, drums, or puttering around the house.

All things considered, much better choices.

Priorities

My priorities never seem to be in the order I wish they were. I’m dying to get in some guitar and drum time, and after readjusting my ham radio station, I want to get on the air.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of a plumbing disaster, with the need to cut a hole in the wall. Naturally, the hole needed to be cut right next to my radio gear. I need to finish patching the hole—which is progressing nicely, thank you—which creates large amounts of dust. I have a number of painting tarps, but I don’t want that much weight on my gear, so I need to get a couple of cheap plastic ones. Once the hole is patched, sanded, primed, and painted, then I can……….put all of the shelves back and all of the office supplies, etc. back on the shelves. After dusting, vacuuming, and replacing all of the air purifier filters in the room (theoretically to keep regular and kitty litter dust under control), then I just may have time to play.

If I’m not too tired, maybe something inspired by one of my favorite groups (with apologies to the Beatles).

“I’m Fixing a Hole”

I’m fixing a hole where the plumbing was broke, Which keeps my hands from playing, My guitar.

I’m priming the crack that is now plastered up, Which keeps my hands from playing, My guitar.

Oh, it really doesn’t matter if I prime it right, Or if I paint it right, No one will know.

A great big shelf will hide it all,None of this work will show at all. No one will know.

I could continue, but I’ll spare you the insult.

Playing @

Talented. Deaf. Depressed. But what great hair!

Talented. Deaf. Depressed.
But what great hair!

I play @ several musical instruments. I actually learned (somewhat) to play clarinet, bassoon and tenor saxophone well enough to survive in high school and college, but those days are long gone. Today, I play @ guitar and drums.

Playing @ means playing for therapy, not to (finally) become musically competent. I enjoy playing @ because it’s music just for fun—no pressure. Although…….

I do have to admit that if I had the chance to play music with a couple of other guys in a garage band, I’d do it; but not too late. I have to get up at 4:30 AM to get in my walk, so anything after 7:00 PM is iffy.

The morning walk has replaced the morning jog; playing @ has replaced being a student of music; neither the reading glasses nor the regular glasses are at the right distance for seeing sheet music. My hearing sort of works, but I can’t discriminate the voice of the person speaking to me in a restaurant if there are others talking.

However, I play @ on several instruments and I love every minute of it.

So there.

Men and Women are Different

sign

Men and women are different. This has nothing to do with equality – it’s just a fact.

Women’s magazines stress the importance of men helping with the “hard k” sounding things – cleaning, cooking and kids. I have yet to see an article saying something like, “Bond with your husband by installing new wax seals for your toilets,” or “Love on a rooftop while replacing shingles.”

Women have a thing for bags and shoes. People have tried to explain this to me over the years. I nodded and smiled, but the vacant stare made it obvious that I just didn’t get it.

One told me that the popularity of shoes is due to the fact that the size remains the same.

Whatever.

I try to do my share of the “hard k” things on behalf of my family. When my wife and I first met, I was a single parent, so am fully qualified on laundry – including ironing and replacing buttons, and cook pretty well, if I do say so myself.

The other side of the equation is that guys like “hard g” sounding things – gadgets, grills, guns and guitars. Gadgets include tools, special purpose cooking utensils, and anything that uses fuel. I have a collection of guitars – acoustic, electric, six string, and twelve string. I have a Taylor that is my “church acoustic,” and yes, I have a “church electric, too. My everyday guitar sits next to my chair in the family room.

It’s a guy thing. At least I don’t need shoes to match each guitar.

Like I said, men and women are different.