Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Old Guitar

My oldest guitar gets some TLC

    In 1980 I'd saved some cash for my first good stereo. Being twenty it was hard to put back the money, but I managed a few hundred dollars and I was on my way over to my buddy's house to order the equipment from a high end audio catalog he had when his brother, also in the car, suggested we whip in to the local guitar shop. He wanted to show us a funky double-neck acoustic guitar there he wanted to buy if he only had the cash. Which he didn't.
    The guitar was a beautiful mahogany/spruce piece with twelve strings over six, and I was smitten.  So much so that after a few minutes of looking it over, and to the disgust and amazement of my buddy's brother, I bought it. The stereo would have to wait. 
     It was the nicest, most expensive instrument I had bought up to that time and a huge step up in quality from the Yamaha acoustic I was playing at the time. And, as I discovered, the guitar itself had become a local celebrity within the guitar community during the time it hung on the wall at Bigham's Music. I made a lot of musical contacts merely by owning it. Given it's novelty and striking appearance I tended to get attention whenever I took it out of the case. Attention, sadly, that was way out of proportion to my talent.
      Taking it to parties or jam sessions took a large investment in energy since it's rectangular case is as large as that of an electric piano. The total package probably weighs 40 pounds or more.

      For a long time this was my primary guitar. The favorite, that is, until I bought a Martin D28S about in the early 90's. Then it was demoted and spent much more time in the case.
Still, it was always good to have twelve string on hand, and it was a great conversation piece.

Your humble blogger with the double neck and all of his hair in 1985

   As aging guitars will, this one developed some structural problems. A few years ago I noticed that the bridge was coming detached from the top (a common problem) and there appeared to be a wrinkle in the spruce top. So I immediately took the tension off the strings and put the guitar in the back of the closet until I could get around to the the time and expense of having it fixed.
       Well, I had some binding issues on my Martin and I took it up to Sparta, Tennessee last month for repair, and that led me to finally bite the bullet and get the double-neck repaired as well. So today I finally got to play it after years.
     I'd love to wax rhapsodic here about how incredible it sounds and plays, but I'd be lying. After playing the Martin, a very mellow guitar, for all these years I'm afraid that the old double-neck just doesn't stack up. I actually remember it sounding much better, and with some set up I'm betting I could improve it's tone, but it'll never be a great guitar.
     Still, it's an old friend. I bought it when I was 20, and I'll have owned this one for thirty years this November. So, I'll just say it's nice to have this venerable old guy back in action. Welcome home, Buddy.

Update! I'm experimenting with podcasting. Hear this blog post in audio:

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