Thursday, March 09, 2006


GAS (Guitar acquisition Syndrome)

Oh No! I have a syndrome!

Most of the people that I know, who have learned guitar, soon develop this horrific problem. Like an engineer always wants more data, players want more guitars.

"I want one guitar with that 'Gibson' sound, one with that 'Fender' sound, one that looks like whatever, one this color, one that color, rosewood fretboard, maple fretboard, electric, acoustic, acoustic-electric." The list can be endless. And one quick search on eBay will amaze you with the sheer numbers of types and brands of guitars and basses available out there.

Some background. I started engineering school when I was 29 and finished at 33 and moved here to Florida. When I graduated (Louisiana Tech, 1996), instead of getting a class ring, I bought an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, cherry sunburst, and a small amp to learn on/with. I figured if I could learn calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra, I could learn to play the guitar. So, now that I've been at it for nine years on and off (health problems and indifference) I'm really trying to pick up the pace and REALLY learn to play and to improve. End of background.

Guitars are machines of a sort, and any decently made guitar will function properly and produce sound, so what's the big deal, huh? Why want so many guitars? Why, John?

All I can say is, if you love the things like I do, when you hold some, they are like magic in your hands. You play better. More relaxed. Therefore sound better, too. So what? It's like this: I'm still on the search for the ultimate guitar experience. Ok, pinhead, iffen you spent some of that time you spent in guitar shops and on eBay actually practicing you might be a much better guitarist. Got me there podnuh.

A few years ago I wanted to buy a nice acoustic guitar so I could play it in church. The acoustic I had at the time was an old Yamaha with a beautiful sound, but it was so old that the neck needed to be re-set and because of this, had Mount Everest action. (The strings were way above the fretboard and REALLY hard to press down to make chords.)

One day, we were in Orlando at the old MARS music (now a Sam Ash) and I went into the acoustic room and headed straight for the Gibsons. They were gorgeous. But rather disappointing to play. No magic. AHA! Martins! Alas, no magic there either. What! Martins are the Best... Yeah, I hear you. But still, to me, no magic. Picked up the cheapest Taylor they had and that baby had me from G, C, F. Magic. Long story short: I have a 1997 Taylor 514-CW. Still magic every time I play it.

And, eventually found magic on the electric side with a Gibson Les Paul Studio that I bought from a friend.

Turns out, that I play better when the guitar has a fat neck profile. The Taylor's neck is slimmer than I'd like but the sound is too perfect to give up. If I came into a big inheritance or something, I'd have me a custom fat neck Taylor made.

But my search, all the buys and sells in looking for what is the right guitar(s) for me, has left me with the feevah! I love getting a new guitar. But aren't they expensive? Yeah, they can be. BUT. Being an engineer helps. I am good at learning all the many details of the makeup of any guitar and determining if a particular one may be right for me. Plus, over time, I have come up with my mental list of my dream guitars.

For example, one of my dream guitars is a powder blue Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck and fretboard, like made in the 50's. Only problem is, the only one that Fender has made or still makes is a $650 purchase. Ouch. For a bolt on neck solid body guitar? Fugetaboutit.

But, being a dweeb has it's advantages. Years of scouring the internet while the family watches TV has paid off with finding my favorite guitar store. It's called
Rondo Music. And they are a fine old music store that has been around since WAY before Al Gore invented the internet. I suggest, if you happen to want a decent guitar for a great price, go checkem out.

What? All of that hooey for an ad? Not really, you see, the reason I was thinking about guitars and totally killed my lunch hour writing this was because I finally found my powder blue Strat (SX is the brand) style guitar at Rondo music. And, according to the UPS tracking web site, my new guitar ($119 with shipping) should be waiting for me when I get home.

Good things come to those who wait. All these years, and I finally find one of my dream guitars and it only costs $99. But wait a minute there my good fellow! How good could a guitar that cheap possibly be? Good enough that this is my third SX guitar, and my daughter has one too, a lefty. Four SX guitars in one house. Yep, and with shipping, the total price for all 4 was under $500.

Hopefully, my new geetar will look just like this exciting photo from the Rondo Music site...

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