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It was glistening, and that’s not word I use lightly (or often, or at all if I can help it – don’t ask). Freshly patched, sanded, shellacked, restrung, tuned, oh it was an incredible surprise. Like asking the quiet boy to a movie and finding out he’s a great…. So anyways, my guitar was gorgeous, but what about the sound?
Steve, delightfully Bilbo-esque and wonderfully passionate about his craft, came in behind me. He lifted my guitar, ever so gently, off the workbench and cradled it in playing position. “Do you know what this is,” he asked. I shook my head. “It’s a solid body Fender from the 70s, made in Japan. It’s a beautiful guitar. You just can’t go out and buy one of these. Where did you get it?” I told him my story – the much abbreviated version : )
“Listen to this…” he said.
He strummed his pick across the strings and the small room was instantly filled with richness and warmth. Wow. The lush sound resonated all the way into my bones. It had character, was mellow but strong, and a real layered depth. I wondered how many hands had played it around how many campfires, how many bus trips it had taken over how many miles. I felt a thrill. Now it was mine.
“Now listen to this one…” He picked a shiny black Johnny Cash special off the wall. It’s sound was weak, too high, and empty. Like a four year old trying to sing the national anthem – just cute. “And this one sells for $4000.” He went back to mine and played us a blues song. The guitar came alive. The room reverberated with music and feeling. I couldn’t stop saying “Thank You”.
When I left the store, $190 dollars later ($40-my b*t, mr. tambourine man!), it was with a digital tuner, a blues song book, and an extraordinary guitar. Best birthday present I ever bought myself! “Before you can play the guitar” has been such a journey, that now the “after” part should be a breeze. That pawn shop ipod stopped working weeks ago, but I don’t care. It’s time for the real music to start.