Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Guitar Man

First of all I apologise to those of you who are non-musicians, as some of this post involves musical instruments: well, ok - all of it.

But it's more of a history of my involvement with guitars than just about music - so I hope you will bear with me.

I first realised that I wanted to learn guitar when I was about 11 years old, but a couple of things stopped me. Firstly junior school (ages 7-10) had left me with a deep seated fear of putting myself forward and speaking to teachers (maybe i'll tell you about it one day), secondly nobody wants to be seen as a swot and young boys just don't volunteer for extra tuition and finally because in a whole two years of music we saw one Xylophone once.

The rest of the time was spent with our teacher staring at us over a cup of coffee, calling us "people" and asking us to be quiet.

So it was only when I left school that I started lessons aged 17. I guess this was because I was working with some people who were in a band at the time. Sadly their works have been lost to the ages of time and I may now be the only person who owns a recording of their songs (although I did find the singer on Facebook and gave her a copy about a year ago)

I no longer own any of my first guitars: I started off with a classical guitar, but soon found the neck too wide. For my 18th birthday (which was mumble-jumble-wumble years ago) I was given a silver Marlin "slammer" electric guitar. I part-exchanged this about 10 years ago for my current electric on the grounds that the body was very heavy and the pickup was never great, but sometimes I do regret giving it away.

Guitar #1: Dobo semi-acoustic

I bought this from my guitar teacher around 1990ish. The school where I was doing evening classes seemed to change teacher every term, so our lessons were a bit inconsistent to say the least. The teacher, Steve, used to change the titles of the songs he was teaching slightly to try and avoid copyright issues: so we learnt "Dancing In The Park" and that kind of thing.

Again the pick-up is sadly broken on this guitar - the man at the shop assures me it would cost too much to repair, but I still practice with this at home.

Guitar #2: Fender Stratocaster

Technically: not my guitar. In fact it's very much my brother's guitar. He took a few lessons about the same time I was learning, but never really followed through and can only play a couple of chords. When I finally get my house repaired I'd like to give this a home, clean it up, replace the strings and play it - the "whammy bar" (don't ask me what it's really called) is a bonus that none of my others have - so it would come in useful as a back-up

Guitar #3 - Peavey Bass

Around 1997 I got involved with amateur theatre for a while - something that eventually led to me meeting my partner (and I may tell that story one day too). To be honest it was a lot of work for not much fun - but the show I enjoyed the most was Return To The Forbidden Planet - a musical based on a combination of The Tempest and the movie Forbidden Planet.

I had the small, but vital, role of Third Bloke From The Left and my responsibilities were playing guitar and bass, looking startled and singing occasional backing vocals. I bought the Bass specifically for the show.

To be honest the only time I play it at the moment is when I'm recording - but when I do I like to pretend I'm Peter Hook (Bass player from New Order) and hang it as low as I can without hitting the floor

Guitar #4 - Current Electric

This is my current electric guitar (I'm sorry, I forgot to make a note of the make), which I bought around 2000 with some money left to me by my Nan (mother's side). Currently in storage at my mum's house until the house is in better condition I'm very fond of this one and it has a great tone.

Guitar #5 - Semi-Acoustic
This is on permanent loan from my partner's-sister's-partner. I initially turned it down on loan as I already had several guitars, but came to regret the decision. When it became clear that the person who had the guitar simply wasn't using it I claimed it back, re-strung it and have been regularly playing since.

Hopefully, assuming I get myself sorted, some lyrics will follow later in the week :)


the watercats said...

You got to get that strat!!... that's a beaut! All lovely guitars, your electric is a quirky fella, couldn't see the make.. but purdy colour! As for the semi acoustic, you can get sound hole pick ups for about 60 euros over here (they're a bit crap though and you need a pre-amp to boost them). You can also get a bridge pick up set up, for a hundred or so. Can't see the pick up would cost that much to fix.. Shame you're not over here, the Ronald would sort it for you....
Guitars are great ain't they!-D

pohanginapete said...

Oh man! I must now know enough musicians to set up an international festival...(as well as friends here and in Italy, one of my cousins in England's a musician too). Be great if you and the watercats could meet up. From the perspective of someone living in Aotearoa/NZ, you must be next-door neighbours.

They look like the sort of guitars that want to be played — the sort that makes me wish I knew more than three chords. At least, I used to know three, a long time ago :^(

india said...

music stories are always worth reading...and hey, i only started playing sax after i hit 40

the sax i play now came to me by a circuitous route
that story's here


Don't Feed The Pixies said...

watercats - if i ever come to Ireland i will certainly bring a working guitar and embarrass myself by playing extremely badly with you - i'm just a basic chords man really. PS: The electric guitar is a Cort - remembered late last night :)

Pete - I guess from the scale of your country vs mine we are practically next door neighbours, but in reality its a couple of hundred miles and a pesky sea.

Three chords gets most of us through :)

India - thanks. I will check out that post today

Friko said...

Truly a man of many talents. And modest too.
Keep on playing and writing and doing whatever you enjoy. Do tell us about it, too.

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell. I've only had 2 guitars, an old acoustic my father gave me and an electric I bought. Trying to teach myself heavy metal, but didn't stay with it for long because I wasn't really sure about any evidence of progress and a true way to practice. I'll get back on it soon though.

You should too.

the watercats said...

Basic chords!!... Wanna join a band!? :-D

the watercats said...

Sure tis only a short trip cross d'waaater!... :-D

Argent said...

I love guitars too. Can I add my three chords' worth and some rubbish songs to this international super-band?

Argent said...

PS Forgot to say how much I enjoyed the post.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Friko - my problem is i only play for fun, and would lose interest if i had to practice for 8 hours a day: so i'll never be Eric Clapton

Hell, i'd settle for someone half as good!

Samurai - you wait till i win the lottery: I'll be straight into the guitar shop and "ooh - one of each please" - well, not quite: but a Les Paul is definately on my "must have". you should keep going - you don't have to be Jimmy Page to enjoy playing.

Watercats - i think i speak for myself and possibly argent as well when i say: yes please!

Sadly i am very poor right now - but would love to come and jam some time. PS: just as an aside i once had the opportunity to buy a guitar that had once been played by Gary (Thin Lizzie) Moore, but turned it down - a) because the pickup was ruined and b) it would have physically hurt me to give the owner my hard earned cash!

Argent - guitars are lovely. Mine would be the first thing, after my girlfriend and cats, that i would save from a fire.

Lydia said...

What a collection! That's really exciting, Pixies.
I have a guitar from an ill-fated lesson or two and Mike plays it all the time. He has two in storage, an electric and a classical.

Makes me want to seriously take those violin lessons I've been dreaming of.

And, yes, when are you going to tell us about meeting your partner?....