Reminiscing about purchasing my first guitar and subsequent important additions to the family, coachinguitar asks if its possible to be monogamous in a world of tantalizing tones and sleek bodies.
I started out playing on a strat, I know not what, having been taken to the store to choose my first guitar under the guise of a birthday gift, which in reality was more likely down to my father hoping I’d finish what he started and learn to play. I selected a white body something with numerous switches and pickups, whammy bar, etc, as this obviously meant it could do more right? I’ll never forget the dragon design, its red body snaked around the top horn and in its hand a blue orb shot fire onto the pickups, to a ten year old still obsessed with role playing games, it looked awesome. It was a mule! Action so deadly it removed fingertips, its shrill tone cut through my box amp with no balance and the occasional electric shock. It was a slow start, occasional explorations of The Edge’s riffs on U2’s Rattle and Hum aside it mostly gathered dust. A few years later Metallica’s black album had me scrambling for the guitar, where was it, in the cupboard, under the bed? By now the beast had become even less player friendly. To my dismay advancing to a superior model would require a demonstration of commitment on my behalf, so I barred until I was ready to break determined to master the Hammett/Hetfield onslaught. With some progress made and the possibility of reliving a youth precariously through me my dad consented to taking me to another, more verified guitar shop. A prior binge on the likes of the tone greats such as Clapton, SRV and Hendrix once again had the Stratocaster fixed firmly in my mind and i left there with a gorgeous USA start plus in metallic grey, lace sensors, locking machine head tuners, Schaller lock straps; this was serious kit! Which arrived at just the right time in my life, learning to play guitar second time round was animated, an obsession, all day everyday I’d listen to Cantrell from AIC and his wah like gliss, McCready from Pearl Jam whose melodic solos would sing endlessly, Nick McCabe’s swirling sound effects, Marr’s layering of parts to create otherworldly textures. The Start Plus was so versatile it allowed me to get as close as I could whilst studying my favourite players and then she stuck with me as I adventured out into the unknown and began writing riffs, progressions, solos and songs of my own. As much as this guitar loved to go Blue I was hitting my peak at the nasty end of teenagedom and angst was rife, I was playing in a spikier style, listening habits leaning towards Nirvana, Senseless Things, NIN, Kerbdog and suddenly she wasn’t being handled with due care anymore. Hurtled into drum kits, thrown to the floor and landed upon, stickered, beaten and abused, I genuinely believed that my instrument deserved all of my love and hate in equal measure if it was to truly be a vessel for me to communicate my emotional state with. It soon became a modded monster owing to the essential repairs needed just to be able to continue playing shows, less than basic engineering meets gaffa tape chic. Over the coming years I was on expedition, looking for what would be ‘my’ guitar, many came and went in quick succession; Schecter, Les Paul, Epiphone, Jackson, Ibanez were all extensively sampled but nothing took. The Stratocaster had really staked its claim on me, and so it was, one fateful day, reading the new issue of Guitar magazine, I saw her, a Custom Shop Ancho Poblano with hand wound pups and a baseball bat for a neck. A quick visit to Regent Sounds to be disappointed with a not in stock response, but, the delivery was expected and sure enough the following day my phone rang and I returned to be greeted with the most elegant balance of form and function I’d ever seen.
Plugged in she sustained for infinity, voiced chords like a choir and was surprisingly fast despite the chunk of the neck, which itself allowed for more wrangle as opposed to the sleek plus. Content I had found my match I did what was necessary to make her mine, the staff remarked that this was the fastest turn around of a Custom Shop in the UK ever, none of them had even had the chance to play it, and they never would!
Subsequent band practices saw my playing reach new heights, the right tool inspiring me on, spending more time on exercises and practicing repertoire, a new guitar or any bit of kit for that matter stimulates creativity to no end. We’ve gigged extensively, this wood was not meant to stay in her box, and the Ancho is now my primary electric. A companion for life, or so I thought, until last week when I investigated the new Guitar Guitar store in Camden, they’ve really gone in with high end models in all major brands and some boutiquey bits n pieces to boot. I must admit, my eyes strayed, the overwhelming sense of guilt and betrayal has become too much, but I have to be honest, I want her so. Guitar Monogamy, is this possible?
Who was your first, your last, your everything?
What’s caught your eye recently?
How large a collection is necessary to meet the guitar players needs?
Do you feel guilt, shame, and obsession?
Share with us here and we’ll try not to judge, promise.