A new guitar is as exciting as a new baby, or a new lover, but with none of the mess.
When I was 17 I walked past the window of the only Music Shop in Ipswich and fell in love with a pink paisley Fender Telecaster guitar. I begged and begged my dad to buy it for my 18th birthday. Friends were getting practical presents like cars, tractors, horses, holidays and bikes (this was pre-computers). Only today my 82yr old mum was telling me how my dad didn’t want me to have a guitar – he was finally swayed by a stranger he chatted to on a train who was extolling the benefits of music for youngsters. I wish I could thank that man, because if it wasn’t for him I might be doing embroidery in my evenings now instead of rock. When I got that guitar home, I mainly stroked it, I had no idea where to put my hands. I have a video of me “trying on” a bandmate’s guitar when I was about 16, and I slung it over one shoulder like a handbag, no clue. When I went off to Uni, my family emigrated but the pink curvy Telecaster came with me and we remain very very close. I often sleep with my guitars.
Last week I got very excited about a particular 2nd hand Jaguar Bass I was going to buy, I told all my local muso friends about it. When I was about to collect it, the seller contacted me and told me I’d been gazumped. It was fishy. I was gutted, I’d been after this ‘discontinued” rarity for 2yrs. The next day I saw a really silly transparent yellow guitar for sale , and I was feeling “on-the-rebound”, so I went out today and bought it. Some things are meant to be.
A trip into deepest darkest Kent had me winding up what felt like a mountainside to a small estate of houses. A nice man greeted me, he had a huge tropical fish tank, a swimming pool and a wealth of beautiful guitars, he let me touch some of them. It was like a muso’s equivalent of the Playboy Mansion. The transparent guitar was still dusty from his attic. I knew it was going to be heavy, the Lucite material it is made of is nothing like the acrylic of today. He joked that you could probably kill someone with one blow of it, which felt like a good USP. It’s not a practical or particularly comfortable guitar, but nor is say, a pair of posh stilettos costing the same price. I usually haggle and drive a hard bargain (a market trader once likened me to Maggie Thatcher) but the seller was so nice I handed over my cash and put Mr. Lemony Snickets in the boot. (Probably a bit weird if I start naming my guitars). Also, guitars don’t give you bunions. If all else fails, it will look good on the wall.
It’s so fascinating to be able to peer into the body of a transparent guitar. I mentioned in a previous blogpost how I took my dad’s radio apart (to his horror) when I was a toddler just to “see what was inside”. One day I’d love to be able to build a guitar, I built a camera last week (not working perfectly yet!) and I made a lyre once with one daughter, and panpipes (from plastic tubes) with the other. I have a crazy idea for a guitar design in my head,… one day perhaps…
So now I have my transparent Wesley guitar home, I’ve been polishing it and staring at my cat through it, I’ve been shining light through it and thinking about fitting it with UV lights! It sounds pretty good for something that looks like a toy and feels like a tank. Every new instrument I handle is the start of a new song. I still don’t know where songs come from, not from inside the guitar, surely, but somehow they must. Your fingers just do the walking.
P.S. Come and see us play at the Birds Nest, Deptford this Friday 25th August 7.30pm, you’ll be safe because I’ll be on bass.