Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Guitars

I saved for my first guitar for a long time. I was 13 and had to rely on random jobs like lawn mowing. Then I had to find a guitar for sale by an individual because the ones in the stores were way too much.

My aunt Nancy, who is only a few years older, told me a friend of hers might sell her guitar to me so the next time we visited my maternal grandparents I took what money I had saved.

The friend, Paula Winogle, met my aunt Nancy and me on the cul-de-sac where they both lived. I really liked the tone of the guitar. “How much do you want for it?” I asked, and she said, “$15.”

All I had was $14 but I told her I could owe her one dollar and pay her in a week or so.

She said, “Don’t worry about it.”

The guitar is a Regal, a no-name but very sturdy and with excellent action despite a tailpiece bridge that is mounted askew.

I got a lesson book soon after and tried to learn on my own but then my mother heard that a college student was giving lessons at the local music shop, in a basement room entered from the back of the store. It was $5 a lesson, once a week, and we really couldn’t afford it but my mother found the money for a few weeks. This was over summer.

One day on the way home I was attacked by a large collie. I was backed against a car until finally a toddler, naked but for a diaper, came out of a house and shouted, “Tarkas, no,” saving me. I did not take another lesson.

A few years later Aunt Nancy fled from an abusive husband, all the way from Japan to Pennsylvania where we lived, and she brought a Yamaha guitar -- which she gave me. My first and only real guitar all these years, a dreadnought style basic Yamaha with poor action due to a bent neck.

My only other guitar is a Stella Harmony half size, found at an estate sale. It's so old it's discolored but it plays fine. Should use it more, it's so portable, but I don't usually bother. I usually pick up the Yamaha, now that I've had the neck straightened and the machine heads fixed, and play along with iTunes, ad libbing fills and working out key changes so I can play with melodies and chord structures.

Is it any wonder I don’t play like anyone else I’ve ever seen or heard?

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