Tag Archives: musician

My Life in Guitars

People describe their lives using various benchmarks. I’ve decided that the best way to describe my life is in terms of the guitars I’ve owned and played. Now remember, I am of limited talent when it comes to playing, but unlimited enthusiasm and enjoyment when it comes to guitars.

Alas, I have no pictures of my first guitar. Back in grade school, I told my parents that I wanted to take guitar lessons, so they went to the music store around the corner. The teacher said that I was too small to play standard guitar, so I needed to learn Hawaiian guitar. My father found a used electric, and to keep it from sliding off my lap we cut up one of my grandfather’s old fedoras and glued the felt to the back. After a couple of years, I lost interest (a typical childhood reaction to any music lessons) and I’m sure that guitar ended up in the local classified ads.

A few years later, while still in grade school, I used the money I had earned by mowing lawns and shoveling show ($1.00 per job was the going rate back then) and ordered, by mail, a Sears Silvertone guitar. I tried, unsuccessfully, to teach myself. Apparently, Silvertones of that time period did not have a metal truss in the neck, so according to “the experts” the neck eventually warped until it folded the guitar in half. I neither recall that happening to mine nor whatever happened to it; I probably traded it for a radio.

During high school I learned clarinet, then played tenor saxophone in marching band and bassoon in concert band. However, at least I now had some music training ang theory to draw on.

When my first, last, and only book was published, I used the proceeds to buy a blonde Squier by Fender electric. I lived in Northern Ohio at the time, and most of my hobby material was in the basement. Apparently, the basement was cold enough that the finish cracked—not the guitar, merely the finish. During a move several years later, I decided that it belonged in the garage sale, not the move. Movers charge by weight for a reason; if you’re doing the move yourself, you can fully appreciate their position. Advil and liniment can represent a significant expense.

Eterna by Yamaha

Now, skipping ahead about five years, after moving to Louisiana, I used to get catalogs from a company called Damark that sold closeouts and overstocked items. I purchased an Eterna-by Yamaha six-string acoustic guitar from them. The price was right (I think) and it played okay, although nothing to write home about—although this is the first guitar that I do have a picture of. In the Louisiana spirit, I picked out a guitar strap with chili peppers on it.

I still play that guitar and use it as the guitar I take outside to plink on while I have food on the grill. It’s good enough to play, and humble enough to accompany me when I cook. Besides the chili pepper guitar strap, you may notice an electronic tuner on the headstock (I love those things!) and a Cool® guitar pick. I lack feeling in some of my fingers, and these picks have a sandpapery feel where the blue is, so I don’t lose my grip on them.

The Yamaha Eterna was the one and only guitar for nearly ten years, after which I began to run amuck.

Next blog—my first Peavey.

I Blame Ringo

Harmony guitar after a little TLC

Harmony guitar after a little TLC

This past weekend we had dinner one night at Abbey Road, in Virginia Beach (Great restaurant!). The next night we ate at the Rock Fish (Another Great restaurant!), which boasts a collection of guitars once used by the Beatles. Mind you, most are “rehearsal” guitars, but as every musician knows, there are more hours spent practicing and rehearsing than performing.

As I may have mentioned, the hermit crab I got at the beach (and a playmate added later) ended up with a much better home that I found at the local Goodwill. I believe that Goodwill and other such stores are an important part of the re-use, re-purpose, recycle movement, and there are always treasures to be found. The crab terrarium was one, but I also stumbled across a $25.00 guitar.

I have steel stringed acoustic and electric guitars, but this one was designed for nylon strings—something I’ve wanted for a while. In its day it was probably a good starter guitar, and in its day, they made them to last. Naturally, I bought it, brought it home, cleaned it up and restrung it. It will take several days, if not weeks, for the strings to stabilize (which is normal for such guitars) but I can’t wait to see how it plays.

Therefore, I blame Ringo. Why? Two reasons: 1) Of all the instruments on display, none were Ringo’s. 2) In my humble opinion, of the four of them he has always had the best sense of humor, pointing out that the Beatles were a band in which he played for a small portion of his career. Besides, I think he would probably enjoy the fact that I blame him for me buying a $25 guitar at Goodwill.

So there, Ringo, and if you’re so inclined, pass the blame along to your brother-in-law, Joe Walsh (although since he’s a fellow ham, if I get to “work” him on the air, I’ll forgive you both.)