Frankly the whole scene was cool. I had him set up my cheap-ass-fake Gibson SG with pewter skull knobs sporting ruby eyes. It's Van Halen-ish red strips slashing across one the faces of the mocking grey skulls, laughing like a ghostly Ronnie James from Dio, beyond the grave! The black lacquer otherworldly back ground that made this cheap guitar something special somehow has stayed shiny all theses years (see above photo). Ebay...baby...That’s how I got my first few electric guitars (Mr. Ugly was the first) and the addiction began..
Guitars remind me of ballet shoes. When you first sign up for ballet you get these slippers… I was very disappointed…I wanted to stand on my toes and spin around at high speeds and fly across the air to extremely dramatic classical music not shuffle ball change in some funky ol’ soft flats. Whelp, that’s also how I felt about guitars. Acoustic felt slow and heavy…intense and folksy. I wanted to rock! Play stinging power chords, like Def Leperd or Foreigner…it was Urgent, that I rock some Billy Squire swagger with my own original riffs.
My third guitar...epiphany...I needed a pawn shop guitar like the greats! At least that was what I thought for some reason. A semi hollow body with rich tone and jazzy capability but also bluesy. It needed a past…the one I chose had issues…perfect! It was christened Big Red. It's slightly sordid history came home with me, but not before a lot of jaw flapping and possibly pointless rumination with my buddy Larry. “Was it was the right axe for the job?” Was Uncle Larry's ultimate question, I told him I wanted something meaty and soulful. In my hands, at that point, it probably sounded like an out of tune ukulele to the neighbors BUT the fact remains to this day it is beautiful instrument. Big Red is also pretty special because for a minute Epiphone owned Gibson so it’s got a little of both worlds all in one, Gibson is expensive and Epiphone is a little less pricy but combined it sounded damn good to me once I got going.
The guy at Old Town School of Music’s “A Different Strummer” guitar shop had a bad back. He was very hunched over and had many physical issues that did not limit him from being an amazing guitarist. In fact he was astounding and he talked me into getting the most grown up guitar in my collection, the American made Telecaster.It's beautiful blond wood and sturdy build, he explained, would be the only guitar I would ever need. I got a nice discount because I was a student at Old Town. Sadly, I’ve never been able to really bond with it, maybe its too classy for me. I almost do better of my British Flag/Union Jack ebay special from Lyon's Def Leppard Collection. Both guitars have low action, but this slightly magical cheap-o has a really skinny but crooked neck, that’s why I got it at such a sweet bargain basement price on ebay, it plays just fine for the likes of me. I have no regrets and it looked great on my wall for 10 years at the hair salon ( don’t judge me…I was trying to bond with my vastly more expensive investment from A Different Strummer). They’re all home safe and sound.
Now I’m no Rick Nielsen (lead guitarist of Cheap Trick and massive axe collector) but one of my favorite guitars turned out to be my beginner acoustic Fender and my Classical Cordoba. Oh, the irony...acoustic really is amazing! They make your soul vibrate and are so forgiving to my limited playing skills…reallllllly limited skills. I’m about as good at speaking french as I am at playing guitar, that ain't sayin' much. So you may ask, why do you have so many guitars? Well…I like to write songs and each instrument whisperers inspiration via their personal tone, and resonance. My Uncle Rick gave me a 12 String Ovation that is like a harp from the heavens, the sound is off the charts. I feel nervous to play it but when I do…a song will come popping out, like the goose that laid the golden egg alas, my tunes are only my personal gold, they bring me pleasure more than anyone else.
Lastly is the story of my beat up 12 string Fender that impressed Scott Besaw my first teacher at Old Town School of Music…he is the reason I am playing guitar. “You don’t need a voice lesson Cally, you need to learn to accompany yourself.” Were his golden words that got me..."hooked on guitar". Steve Dawson my most pivotal instructor said the same thing and I know it’s true but I’m just not dexterous enough to confidently play night after night.
Back to Scott…he looked deeply at the Fender 12 string ebay had gifted me for a hot "hundy". Turning it over and over wondering aloud, if it was the same guitar his dad had played when his father had accompanied John Denver on the road back in the seventies. If you closed your eyes it's old and musty smell…seemed to tell a secret story of a hundred songs that it had played before it met me. The wood was warped but yet it seemed to have a wisdom to it’s spongy strings. I can’t bring myself to change those suckers because for some reason they sound good to me. They sound like a storied past, walking backstage to a gig, late at night in the middle of nowhere…not knowing where your next stop will be on the tour.
Now all these musical refugees have found a loving home for this wayward troubadour and maybe some late night you'll walk into a little dive bar and hear me singing my songs with one of these old 6 string friends.