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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, March 29, 2004  

Who Could Axe for More?

Beat this, suckas—I have a wife who actually likes buying me guitars.

I've been meaning to buy a new electric six-string for a while, since the Kramer may parents bought me for my seventeenth birthday is now older than I was when I got it and pretty well used-up. But since my main instrument is, you know, the bass, it hasn't really been a priority.

But then last weekend, in Wisconsin, we found ourselves in a music store because Chao needed to pick up a few sets of drumsticks for a gig the next day. I looked around at the selection of axes, but it left much to be desired. Most of the instruments carried a brand name that is less than famous, if not downright fictional.

"I wish you would buy a guitar," Trash said to me.

"I do too," I said. "Just not any of these."

"You know I like it when you wish for things," she persisted.

I was agreeable. "I wish this were a better music store."

We agreed to hit the Guitar Center here in town sometime in the next week. Which, on Saturday, we actually did.

There's a whole procedure when I go into a Guitar Center. Before I touch anything, I look at all the guitars. This is true whether I'm buying a twenty-five cent pick or a five-thousand-dollar heirloom instrument (not that I’ve ever done the latter, or particularly care to). I browse my way down the stands and wall racks, looking at the ones I can see myself owning, the ones that are worth more than I'll ever pay for any device that doesn't get inserted into my body by a thoracic surgeon, and the ones I wouldn't take home if the store paid me (coughWarlockcough).

Certain instruments are goofy just by virtue of their very existence (eight-string basses? How averse to moving up and down the fretboard to you have to be?), and then there are perfectly nice guitars that have been fouled up by some questionable aesthetic decision. I noodled around on a Gibson that would have been perfectly nice had it not been some kind of Lynyrd Skynyrd edition. The big decal on the back wouldn't have bothered me so much, but the letters LYNYRD SKYNYRD emblazoned on the fretboard in mother-of-pearl inlay were a dealbreaker. I'm not about to buy a guitar that will have me hollering "FREE BIRD!" at myself, okay?

I generally know what I'm looking for when guitar shopping. Something with a nice finish, because I'm shallow. A well-known brand, because I'm shallow and ignorant. And something that's easy to pick up and play, because I'm shallow, ignorant, and lazy.

My stature as a guitar connoisseur, in fact, isn’t that much greater than my wife’s, who told me more than once, “Buy this one. It’s pretty.”

“It’s left-handed,” I said, more often than not. I suppose I could restring it and play it upside down, but I’m already the opposite of Jimi Hendrix in enough other ways without drawing attention to that fact.

Really, all I wanted was a basic Fender Stratocaster™ fresh from Mexico. I didn’t want any fancy add-ons, or a locking tremolo system (which, to any readers who are non-guitarists, is also known as “the part of the guitar that makes you have to spend ninety per cent of your time with your guitar getting the damn thing in tune”) or anything like that.

She also tried to talk me into buying, by turns, an acoustic guitar, a twelve-string, a chrome-encased resonator, a banjo, a mandolin, a big honking Brian Setzer-looking Gretch hollow-body, a couple of acoustic-electrics, a pointy James Hetfield model, a couple of new electric basses, and a guitar amp. And this was on top of the Strat I’d already picked out. She was like a kid in a candy store by proxy or something. But she new enough to stay clear of the Warlocks, and when I said, "grab me that Flying V," she just looked at me.

Now, I like guitars a lot, but I also like money, so I managed to get out of there with just one guitar (and a couple of straps and strings and a book of exercises for bassists which will one day enable me crush coal into diamonds with my left hand). After we got home, the neighbors (the one who are also my bandmates) stopped by on unrelated business and I showed off my new acquisition. As it turned out, they’d just come across a resonator they planned to keep on hand as a backup and they wondered if I wouldn’t mind keeping it at our house for a while, partially because space for instruments is at something of a premium over there, but mostly because they figured I'd enjoy having a resonator to fiddle around with. I happily agreed; two guitars for the price of one! What did I do, anyway?

Meanwhile Famous Original Strat, the diabetic feline, seems a little jealous about sharing his house with a new namesake that I’m paying way too much attention to. I’ll have to me careful about his feelings, of course.

Starting in a couple of days.

Today’s best search phrase: “Your kidney stones are noisome to your health.” Oh, yeah? You think you know me? You don’t know anything about me, jerk! My kidney stones and I are very happy together. Why can’t you just leave us alone?

posted by M. Giant 6:34 PM 0 comments


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