Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My first guitar

When I was 8 my Mom dragged me with her to take guitar lessons because she didn't want to go alone. I hated it and did not keep up with it after the classes ended.. Then when I was 12 I picked up one of the guitars we had lying around the house and started to plunk away lifting Beatles tunes from my tape recorder. It was kinda neat. You hear it on the tape, then figure out what notes they are, pick which ones they might be from the 6 or 7 duplicate note locations on the fretboard, work backwards from there, and the next thing you know it's coming out of your guitar! My Mom and dad both played a bit and my Dad taught me how to tune the guitar with the 5th fret trick and that was all I needed..

This was some time around grade 8 and I remember 'The Who' were on their 1982 farewell tour (the 1st one, hehehehe) and it was televised and this Pete Townsend guy seemed to be having much more fun with an electric guitar than I was having with a classical (I got to meet him once in Toronto when my freind was in the play Tommy). I had also seen Woodstock just before that, and for the first time, Jimi Hendrix and his rendition of the Star Spanged Banner. Now that was something!

This was when I realized that I wanted to play Electric guitar. One of my friends who played drums had an old 50's hollowbody electric that belonged to his Dad and that was the first electric guitar I ever touched. Cooooooooool! He had this smelly old amp to go with it and it made this dirty sort of farting sound when you plugged in and strummed the guitar through it.. The strings were like barbed wire. I was used to the nylon stringed classical guitars we had at home.

Christmas time rolled around and my Dad took me to Sangitt Bianga in Ottawa. That was sanskrit or something for 'Song Bird', which today is Song Bird music, one of the first second-hand music stores around at that time.. The guy behind the counter was named Danny and he played in a band with some firefighter friends of my fathers. Danny was an amazing guitarist and he played a pile of vintage 60's Fender Stratocasters. Together we all selected a black strat-copy Ibanez Roadstar Series II and that became the first electric guitar I ever owned.. We left the store with it in a beat-up case that a cat had obviously slept in full time. I didn't get it until dec 25th but for two weeks I'd sneak up to my parent's room where it was sitting under the bed and take it out and fret the strings.. I still remember the smell of the wood, whatever kind it was, and how thin and easy to fret the strings were. It had 3 single coil pick-ups and a 5 way switch. We had plugged it in an amp at the store and it had sounded all mean and tough and I couldn't wait to play it for real.. My Dad had also picked up a secondhand Yamaha 2-channel amp to go with it.

So that Christmas I cracked that thing open, plugged it in, and sat there hunched over playing it for about 8 hours.. A whole new world had opened up. I couldn't really play that well, going for any one note meant I was going to hit a whole pile of others by mistake and open strings would ring when they weren't supposed too, but it was really slick. The neck was amazing on this guitar. It had a tremolo (Whammy bar) but I quickly found out how badly out of tune your guitar goes with one of those things without a locking nut (unless it's an old 60's fender). This was like, the best xmas gift ever!

The only thing I wasn't totally happy with was the fact that when I plugged it in, it sounded to me like an acoustic guitar, just louder. It did not sound like Jimi Hendrix. I was finding out that without distortion or overdrive this is how an electric guitar sounded 'clean'. Interesting.. How do I make it sound like Jimi Hendrix? My Dad talked to one of his friends.. I needed this thing called a distortion pedal'

But that's another story..

No comments: