Thoughts On Acoustic Guitars (Part II)

This entry was posted by on Friday, 9 April, 2010 at

I started thinking about my own repertoire, and while none of my songs are particularly great, or even what one might call “good”, it occurred to me that all of my truly bottom-of-the-barrel material was written on an acoustic guitar. Later, it occurred to me that maybe the whole problem is simply that I have never had a really nice acoustic guitar. I do love my $160 Ibanez, but I think that it is largely in the same way that I love my $10 bicycle. It is not a particularly great guitar, merely a great value. If I had payed twice as much, I would probably not be nearly as happy with it. Also, the $160 is rather misleading, as I have replaced the nut, saddle, pickguard, bridge pins, and even some of the frets – pretty much everything that can be replaced other than the tuning machines. And when I say “I replaced”, I literally mean that *I* personally pulled the old part off and (in most cases) hand made a new one myself. So it is probably worth more than YOUR theoretical $160 Ibanez would be, (depending on your estimation of my skills in this regard) and obviously highly sentimental, but still, not a fantastic guitar. I have a couple of other acoustics as well, but they have issues of their own which have prevented either of them from coming out of their cases in some years.

There is a scene in the movie It Might Get Loud where U2’s The Edge is show-and-telling about the first guitar that he ever bought (which in his case was electric). One thing he said was that when he first picked it up, he knew that “there are some songs in this.” I have definitely never felt that way about any acoustic guitar that I have ever played. Although something similar happened when I bought my main electric guitar. I had done a lot of research and pretty much settled on a certain model from a well known manufacturer. I went to the guitar megastore, not even with the intention of buying that day (because that is not how I generally do things), but merely to try a few different ones out to make sure that it was what I really wanted, then go home and think about it. While there, I noticed an unusual looking guitar on clearance, and I thought to myself, “That sure is funny looking… I wonder what it sounds like?” I ended up leaving the store with it.

I was tagging along with a friend to the guitar store again last week and I realized that that was what I was looking for, a guitar that I would pick up an immediately know, “This is the one.” Which did not happen that day, and I have been to a couple of others stores since. I did find an interesting* Martin that I thought would make a nice addition to my collection, but I am not looking for merely another “addition.” I think that by now I have been playing long enough that I owe it to myself to get a quality American-made guitar, preferably from a store that cares enough about its customers to actually make sure their guitars are set up properly rather than just trying to move product. Ultimately, I am not actually in the market for a new guitar at all at this point, as I have several other large purchases further up the “to buy” list that I am also avoiding. But a boy can dream of expensive toys.

If there was a point to all of this, I can not remember what it was.

*I would like to go into more detail about exactly why I thought it was so interesting, but considering that I already cut this post in two due to length, I will refrain.

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