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Out Of The Ashes: My Guitar and Me

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Sometimes we need to just kick off our shoes… socks too, and grab the guitar and do some simple stuff.

Maybe not quite as laid back as entertainers like Grayson Capps, especially if you're female, but you get my drift? We complicate music so many times and then wonder why it is we can't relax with it.

It's funny y'know, but from the moment I picked up my guitar so many years ago, I wanted to play what I was listening to on the radio or what I was hearing from my albums. Little did I know as a kid that this stuff was mixed! The sound was manipulated and the tracks layered! And then mixed some more. I anguished for years, thinking I would never play as well as I wanted to. I had fun doing what I was doing but there was always that feeling of inadequacy – sad huh?

Well, fast forward a few more years to my band years. Though I was playing an acoustic guitar I was still required to use a pick up and amplify the guitar. Not the soft sound of thumb or plectrum on the strings – no, it still needed to be artificial sound. Nothing as simple as picking up the guitar and sitting in a comfortable spot – there was sound to adjust and amps to turn on.

Then an event happened that took even that minuscule talent away from me. A monumental event that sank me for a number of years. A brain aneurysm which paralyzed my left side and meant learning to walk, talk and use my hand and arm again. There were some successes and some failures but I've always been resilient – I don't take any credit for that – I just am. Luck of the genes perhaps, but I'm now in the long process of climbing out of that damn deep pit I was put in.

Odd too, because I truly believe that if my dear old guitar hadn't been hurt bad, I may never have attempted coming back fully from my own hurt. Being an elder guitar, and being mishandled by movers and wrongly stored wrapping in nothing but newspaper in the desert heat for 10 months, it split down the front, but after many months now of slowly getting it restored, it is once more playable – and sounds like an angels harp to me.

Once I got my guitar fixed I could not wait to play it again. But being a 45 year old instrument it needed a little more than just the cracks mended and a shine up. As I soon learned, there was also a matter of tuning keys that actually tuned. The old ones slipped, or snarled and wouldn't turn. Yes, we can buy those things in any good music store, but what do shiny new and modern pegs look like on an old guitar? Not right. Not at all! I did not want to replace 1964 tuning mechanisms with 2009 anything!

So I wrote to the Framus company in Germany asking them if they could recommend a place for me to get replacements. After some correspondence with historian and descendant of the Framus founders family, Dr. Christian Hoyer, I was told that, yes, they were happy to announce – they could replace them for me themselves. They needed to see photos of my guitar as well as the tuners themselves and they would go from there. They still had access to them for their shop in Markneukirchen Germany. And so they are now on their way to me. Thank you so much Dr. Christian Hoyer for your assistance in this. Without your help, the guitar would be destined to sit idle, a reminder of things that used to be.

In the meanwhile though, while waiting, I was still without any guitar at all. Nothing to play… not any way to make my fingers work or make music at all, complicated or otherwise – Without a guitar, even a simply two chord lilt was impossible. So something had to be done.

Since I've played a 12 string guitar for most of my life, there were times I thought I'd like to invest in a six string as well, but finances never allowed that to happen. And I would absolutely never give up the 12 string for a six. Once you get all that sound from a guitar you're just not willing to give it up.

So – while all this was happening, Christmas was approaching and someone in my life was taking serious notes. Subsequently, on Christmas morning I found myself the happy owner of my new Martin D-18. If someone had told me five years ago that any of this was possible I know I would have rolled my eyes and thought them a bit daft. Well, guess who was wrong? And guess who is very happy to announce they were wrong?

And so there you have it – the mystery of the way life works sometimes. From something bad comes something better. You hear people say it all the time, and probably have even given that advise out yourself, but until it hits home, you don't realize just how true it can be.

This post is a bit of a ramble I know, but I just wanted to tie up some loose ends and remind people that there is always a silver lining to things even if it looks bleak. Never assume that reaching the bottom means you will stay there.

Now if you don't mind, I think I will go and make a little music…

Thank you Linda, for prodding me to do this. I may not have put this together without your asking.

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