My Six-String Companion

I realized that I have a relationship with my guitar. I know; it sounds weird, but it’s true. My guitar is a Guild D-25, accoustic, bought new in 1983. I’m the original and only owner. It wasn’t a particularly expensive guitar at the time, but it had “good bones.” The guitar has aged gracefully. It has some nicks and scratches, and there are wear-spots on the fingerboard. But it has a beautiful tone. The bass strings, especially, “sing.” Its music is true, and its action is good. (Sorry if the technical meanings here are escaping my non-guitar-player-readers.)

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This summer at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival whenever I had the guitar out, someone would inevitably comment on it: “Is that a Guild? Sure sounds nice!” I was touched. No, really; that’s exactly the word I mean to use. I was touched. It was like someone complimenting my wife, for crying out loud. I don’t know why I felt that way, but that’s the way I felt. (My response was generally, “Yeah; it’s got some age on it. It’s over 30 years old and aging gracefully.” To which the common reply was something like, “Yeah, Guilds of that age are special.”)

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The thing that made me realize that I had a relationship with my guitar was when I was thinking yesterday that I really should practice more and improve my guitar playing … because my guitar deserves a better player! That’s literally what I found myself thinking! Now stop and realize that the reason my guitar is aging gracefully is because I’ve been playing it and caring for it all these years. If I had treated it badly, it wouldn’t be “aging gracefully.” If I had been hard on it, or if I had been neglectful, it wouldn’t be in the condition it’s in today. I gave it the patina that it has, and now that patina is urging me to improve my guitar playing. If that isn’t a relationship, I don’t know what is.

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For the first time, I understand why BB King has always named his guitar Lucille.

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