I’ve been playing guitar almost as long as I have known how to use a fork. You would think that I’d be a lot better guitar player than I am after 37 years…you’d think I’d be a gourmand after 50 years of using a fork…but I’m not in either case. I bash it out, I shovel it in…which is not to say that I don’t have a profound love and sensitivity for either …eating or playing the guitar…it’s just that neither of them is what I would call a highly developed skill.
I have many touch points for “what I was doing when”…cars, places…guitars. Ah, guitars….I’ve been through a number. My wife gets sick of me saying, “I had one of those Black Beauty Les Pauls! I had an ES125! I had…” . …all of them traded at the pawn shop for something else to satisfy my musical adhd (I traded the Les Paul for an Ovation 12 string and a Marantz cassette deck…arghhhh….bonehead!). Totems….lucky stones….6 string markers for the days of my life.
I think if I have a highly developed skill that it’s probably buying guitars. I don’t know if I’m really good at making a selection…but I am goood at the buying part. I used to love to hit all the pawn shops looking for guitars….trading, buying, reselling for just a little more than I paid for them (I passed along some great deals…holy, smokes)…enjoying the hunt along with the purchase. I probably went through about 5 or 6 Les Pauls that I paid about 200 dollars for each…which amazes me now… but I have to remember that I was making under five dollars an hour at the time. I bought lots of vintage guitars that at the time were just old.
Back in the day (we should all live long enough to be able to say, “back in the day”), before the internet and the Orion blue book, the random amazing deal was a lot easier to come by. If the pawn shop loaned somebody 25 dollars on an old beater Gibson, they probably sold it for 75 dollars. Outrageous deals were a common occurrence. Then the word got out that the Japanese were buying up all the vintage stuff…later the blue book started showing up…ebay happened ….and the market changed. You can still find a good deal….sometimes something so random comes through that the pawn broker can’t research it, can’t find out what it should be priced at…but those days of the “often occurring miracle buy” seem to be gone.
Now I have a family and the selfish pursuit of buying lots of guitars is way back on the farthest back burner. I still get excited when I ask the pawn broker, “could I see that one?”….and he hands it over the counter and I hold it for the first time…”umm…how much are you asking for this one? What’s the best you could do for cash?”…it’s all still a thrill. But I would be on such a list if I came home with every one that got my heart racing. Now my children are playing some guitar so I’ll have an excuse to look for instruments “for them”.
A recovering alcoholic doesn’t go into a liquor store…I don’t spend quite as much time in pawn shops as I used to….now that I’m a recovering “pawn shop guitar” junkie. To justify any of it, I suppose that I could be a crack addict or something worse…something worse than enjoying pawn shop guitars. That’s what I’ll tell my wife if I relapse.