Monday, November 15, 2010


Someday my kids will look at my blog and I'll have to be more circumspect, but for now I can report that yesterday I bought electric guitars for my son and myself for Christmas.

It all started with our guitar teacher. He decided a few weeks ago that we were ready to go electric. I was excited but a little nervous. I still feel like I'm a pretty lousy acoustic guitar player - was I really prepared for such a big step? Well, I had to trust Jim's expertise. Even if I'm not ready, it sure looks like fun!

Yesterday was the big day, and sure enough in came my teacher with a guitar and an amp. He hadn't brought one of the many guitars that he's had kicking around his home music studio for years. Instead, he'd actually bought a brand new guitar. It turns out that he'd seen this guitar while grocery shopping. Yeah - at a discount grocery store, the guitar kit was only $69.00. Wow! I guess he was so amazed that he just had to bring it home and see if it was any good. He ended up being fairly impressed with it - it's a real instrument, not a toy or a cheap imitation. It has three single-coil pickups with a 5-position selector, a strap, strings, a cleaning-cloth, an amp cable and a little amp-thingie that actually plugs right into the guitar. All for seventy bucks!

Jim's theory is that you shouldn't have to pay more than $500 for a decent guitar. By "decent," I'm assuming he means "suitable for the average player." Guys who make their living off being guitar gods can probably justify a higher expense, and Jim admitted that he certainly has guitars that cost a lot more than $500, but he says it's really the guitarist that makes the music, not the guitar. Ah, crap - I was counting on the guitar to bail me out! I suppose I'll have to practice harder.

Anyway, this cheap-o guitar is more than adequate for our needs. Hell, it's not like I'd know the difference anyway. If it lets me shred and riff a bit, I'm going to be happy as a clam, even if real guitarists would be howling with laughter. That's why I don't play around real guitarists if I can help it. I think it sounds cool as hell, especially when I mess with the amp to add some distortion and a little echo.

So now we had a problem. I looked around the web, and I didn't see any comparable guitars for anywhere close to that price. Most of them were in the range of $100 to $125, usually with just the guitar and sometimes a strap. Some of them had humbucker pickups, or a mix of humbuckers and single-coils, but since I don't know what the hell a humbucker is anyway (sounds like bah-humbug to me, and that's never good), I wasn't impressed. The problem is that these weren't going to be around at this price forever - by the time we had to give our borrowed guitar back to our teacher, we'd be pretty hard-pressed to find new ones. It seemed like it was probably a good time to take action.

I tried to find out whether my son wanted a guitar as a Christmas present, conveying to him that at $70 (plus an amp at some point), it would be the only significant present he'd be getting from us. "Oh," he says,"I'll just have to ask Santa for a bunch of other presents." Sigh. Look, he's not that little. I'm pretty sure last year he was the one telling his little brother that Santa's a lie. I think at some point he decided to buy back into the myth because he wanted the bigger present bonanza that comes of subscribing to the Santa Claus legend. I had to explain to him that he'd likely have to ask "Santa" for the guitar, because we couldn't afford to buy him one. Either way, it would be the only real Christmas present he'd receive. He hasn't gotten back to me on that, yet.

Whatever. I talked to my wife, and we agreed it would be best to go buy two of the guitars right now, knowing that eventually he'd want one and we sure wouldn't find one any cheaper. So I did - I got two brand-new electric guitars with all the trimmings for $140! Sadly, Craigslist has a dearth of people selling cheap used amps.

But anyway, I'm plugged in! I can't figure out how to make some of those super-cool sounds the real guitar-players make, but it's still really neat to be playing an electric. Our teacher believes that playing electric helps you to correct weaknesses with your acoustic, too, and I certainly have more than my share of weaknesses, so that's a big plus. But hell, even if there were no benefit at all, screw it! I'm playing the electric guitar! Woo!

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