One fun thing I’ve learned at CC over the years is that we’re not just internet usernames, we’re all real people.
I’ve learned a bit about a lot of you, and some of you I’ve had the privilege to meet in person. I attended the 2017 gathering in Detroit, and the 2015 meet up in Auburn. I know we’re all “car people” of one sort or another, but folks usually have multiple interests so my question today is what’s your other thing?
I know that our leader Paul is interested in house design and building, his excellent article here on his most recent build was one of the standouts in 2016. I know that JP Cavanaugh is interested in both early Jazz music and SPAM from his weekly blog here.
Yes, my other thing is playing the guitar. That’s me in the late 80’s with my first guitar, but the story goes a bit further back than that. Both my siblings took piano lessons, their teacher was a harsh old Russian lady who would smack their knuckles with a ruler if they messed up. I successfully lobbied against participation in this program, and that was the end of my musical career until High School.
There I made a good friend named Scott, and he played guitar very well. He still is one of these guys that music just flows out of, and inspired, I asked my parents for a guitar and lessons. They spent $235 on a Fender F-35 acoustic, and the compromise was that I got sent to classical lessons for a year. I didn’t totally enjoy that, but the finger picking technique came in very handy later on. By my final year of high school I quit lessons, but in the 35 years since I’ve played nearly every day and as Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler says, I’ve got a friend for life.
The curse of the guitar player is that as Einstein shows here the correct number of guitars to have is always X+1. Couple that with my emotional attachment to inanimate objects and you get, well, a lot of guitars. Some have left over the years, but most have stayed. Let’s see what we’ve got in the house at the moment:
Acoustic guitars left to right:
- 1982 Fender F-35 (Korea) – My first guitar, it has great sound for a laminate top
- 2012 Taylor 416ce ltd (USA) – Mrs DougD bought this for me after she got tired of hearing me complain that I needed a quality solid top guitar with integrated pickup system. When we started shopping a sales guy said “First thing you need to figure out is whether you’re a Martin guy or a Taylor guy.” I’m a Taylor guy.
- 1990-ish Harmony H106 (Korea) – Completely terrible campfire guitar that I got for free
- 2008 Godin Ami (Canada) – Small parlor guitar for my daughter to bring to summer camp
- 1997 Epiphone Dot (Korea) – I used to think that hollow body electrics were for old guys, apparently I became old around age 35 and needed one. My friend Scott was working in a music store and this came in on a trade. It’s a real workhorse, heavy as all get out and the notes sustain forever.
- 2006 Fender Telecaster (Mexico) – I bought this last year to possibly replace the Dot, but haven’t totally bonded with it. The single coil pickups give me a lot of trouble with 60hz hum, and if I hold it just right I can pick up a radio station.
- 2002 Yamaha RBX-170 (Taiwan) – I traded a Washburn 12-string for the Dot which was worth less so they threw in the bass to even the deal. Like most guitar players I can sort of play bass, it’s actually gotten a lot of use over the years. Being a Yamaha it is rather well made for an entry level instrument.
- 2016 Squier Affinity Precision Bass (Indonesia) – Squier is Fender’s offshore made line, Indonesian Affinity is 2nd rung from the bottom on the quality ladder. I’m not even sure that the neck is maple, maybe birch?
Yamaha neck in front with interesting grain, Squier neck behind with boring speckled grain. At any rate, the Squier is my son’s expendable instrument for heavy duty use (as explained below).
Although Mrs DougD doesn’t play, both my children do. Here’s my daughter learning to change strings on the terrible Harmony. And yes, we loosened the strings before cutting them.
My son is primarily a trumpet player, he is in every conceivable band at high school. However, as a camp counselor last summer he also played bass in the camp band. Last year he used the Yamaha, which did not take kindly to the duty cycle, and to the temperature and humidity swings experienced at camp. At the end of the summer it came home with a twisted neck and busted tuners. This year he will go armed with the Squier, and a good molded hardshell case for better protection.
In addition to amusing myself daily with guitars, I have a few non-paying gigs:
I am a rhythm guitarist in Praise Band at Church. Here I am at practice playing a pink Charval heavy metal guitar I cleaned up and sold for a co-worker last year. I get to work with some incredibly talented kids which is very fun for a moderately talented middle aged guy.
Every Christmas Eve the D family gets together at my parents’ house. My brother and I play, and we all sing Christmas Carols before opening some presents.
I’ll say now that I’m not the best player ever. Really I don’t need to be, my playing philosophy comes from Steven Van Zandt (of E-Street band fame) who said “My role is to play the clean rhythm guitar that all rock bands need. I’m not there to show people how good of a guitar player I am.”
I do try to improve, learning to play Alice’s Restaurant a few years ago was a major step forward for me (thank you again, classical guitar lessons).
It’s a fun thing, it enriches my life and hopefully the lives of others. I can do most of my own instrument repair and setup, and 8 guitars sure takes up less space and time than 8 old project cars would. Hopefully all of you have multiple fulfilling things in your life, so what’s your other thing?