Thinking about this assignment, I couldn’t help but to think that the story of one’s guitar(s), in many cases, can tell the story of a person. My story is one of those stories.
My story is not of a single guitar, but a tale of many.
As far back as I can remember, my dad was playing old Bruce Cockburn and Neil Young songs on his (not-quite-as) old Takamine acoustic.
He had bought it a very long time ago to replace his old not-quite-as-nice acoustic which he later had signed by Bruce Cockburn. I’m actually currently in possession of his old broken guitar, since my bedroom is half bedroom, half cool-stuff storage.
Both guitars are much older than me.
My story starts early into my grade three year in elementary school. I had just started contemplating quitting piano lessons. I didn’t like them any more. My parents decided to switch my sister’s and my piano lessons to Tom Lee, rather than taking lessons from our neighbours piano studio. Since then, the lessons stopped being nearly as fun. Although I was learning a lot, it just didn’t seem fun any more. Instead, I wanted to learn something “cool.” Something rebellious. I wanted to play the guitar.
Around the time of my birthday, my dad promised to buy me a guitar. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to start shredding awesome solos and be the coolest grade 3 kid around.
All of a sudden, one day after piano lessons, my dad gave me a mysterious guitar- shaped box. We headed home, and I anticipated opening it for an agonizing 15 minute car ride. Finally, as I opened the box, there lay a kid’s-size nylon string guitar. Although it wasn’t the cool, slick, stylish electric guitar I pictured in my head, it was a beautiful sight. I just didn’t realize it yet.
Fast forward to a few months later, after learning the basics from my dad, I was finally about to learn my first song. I had been taught the basic chords, and other techniques such as hammer ons and pull-offs. The first song I ever learned was Neil Young’s “Old Man.”
Fast forward, once again, to almost a year later, during my families vacation to visit my mother’s relatives in the Philippines. My mom, sister and I were at a shopping centre when we stumbled upon a guitar shop. My eyes instantly landed upon a lovely acoustic/electric jazz-style guitar and I was in love. I wanted to play this guitar. Long story short, we bought it, and I took it home. However, there were some complications during the flight back. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but a large crack began to form on the back of the neck, where it connected with the body. This was devastating. We did all we could to save it, but after a while, it proved practically useless. I went back to playing the few chords I knew on my little nylon-string.
A few months later, I was once again looking for a guitar I loved just as much. My dad suggested looking at used guitars at Tom Lee, since the prices were much more affordable compared to what I was looking at. We found a used stratocaster knock-off with no real problems for only $50, and took it home that same day, along with a case and amp.
It wasn’t much in the way of quality, but I loved it. I played it everyday, and learned several new songs. Around this time, I was getting really into classic-rock and metal, so my repertoire consisted of many half-learned bits of songs by artists like Metallica and Velvet Revolver. Since then, this guitar has been with me through countless band-practices, a few performances, and I still own and play it today.
Fast forward to mid-grade five, middle school was approaching. Seemingly a big new chapter in our short lives. It felt like a big thing to think about at the time. I wanted to join middle school concert-band, just like my sister had two years earlier, yet there was no “electric guitar” option for concert band. However, there was an “Bass Guitar” option. I immediately started begging my parents to buy me one. That Christmas, I was the proud new owner of a red Ibanez electric bass. For the next four years, I played that bass everyday. Recently, I bought myself a fantastic new bass, and my old bass is in the hands of my friend Josh, who I’ve known for a very long time.
Once again, fast forward to mid-grade 6, mid-November. My dad came home from work one day holding two guitar cases in his hands. He handed one to me, and the other to my sister. It was the best surprise ever. I received an orange “Huntington” brand acoustic guitar. He had found them very lightly used at the UBC bookstore for an extremely cheap price. Although the action was a little high and had a couple of dead frets, it was my favourite of the guitars I had. The reason for this is because it was my camping guitar. Around that time, I was in scouts, so I went camping frequently. Basically, that guitar went absolutely everywhere with me for the next little while. I learned so many new songs, and it was with that guitar that I started to sing. I learned and performed songs to myself in my room. I was too shy to play anything to anyone else, so I was a performer in secret. Nobody could know.
Before the story moves on, let’s do a quick little recap. Tiny nylon string, unsatisfying. Jazz-style guitar, broken. Strat knock-off, still in use. Ibanez bass, recently replaced. Orange acoustic, our story continues.
This brings our story to grade nine. TALONS. My acoustic guitar came on TALONS trips, and to school a few times, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ “Home” was played almost too much for it’s own good. This is where I really found my love for performing infront of people. I was no longer a secret performer. I wanted to get up in front of people while strumming and singing. That guitar has since become the TALONS guitar. After gifting that to Mr. Jackson, my sister bought her own very nice acoustic guitar, and gave me her old one to use. It was a Blue Huntington of a similar style. However, it’s days with me were short, because my sister permanently let her friend Tyler (who is an amazing guitarist, in case anyone wanted to know) “borrow” it. Around the same time, I repaired my ageing nylon string guitar, and gave it to my friend Sepehr, who was looking for a guitar to start learning on. Also, I gave my jazz-style guitar to a friend of mine who asked if he could have it to try and repair and play.
This left me without an acoustic guitar. I had my electric, but as much as I played it with my band while jamming at home, I just couldn’t play music anywhere else.
Here’s the recap, updated to match our place in the story. Tiny nylon string, given away. Jazz style guitar, given away. Strat knock-off, still in use, but not acoustic. Orange acoustic, given away. Blue acoustic, given away.
This was a dark time in my life. It was a time where I couldn’t play music anywhere I went. I couldn’t just get up in front of people. But even in the darkest of times, there was a light. My dad’s beautiful Takamine. My dad hadn’t played it in quite a while, because of being constantly busy with work, so I asked if I could use it. Lo and behold, I commandeered that guitar, and used it as my own. It came everywhere with me. I played it while performing for people on my own, occasionally with my band, and it came into the TALONS classroom quite often. However, things started to get a little out of hand. After only being lightly used over a large period of time, this guitar was subject to almost as much wear and tear as a touring musician. I could tell that my dad was not a fan of this. I then thought of all that he’s done for me as a musician. He bought me my first guitar and taught me to play cool new songs after I got sick of classical piano. He helped try and repair my second guitar. He bought me the cheap electric that I’ve repaired and improved, and I still use today. He bought me my first bass.
He came home one day with the guitar that lead me to find my love for performing. Every step of the way, he’s been there, and now I was using his guitar and letting it get damaged. That guitar’s story goes back farther than mine does. As well as it receiving wear and tear from heavy use, there was one other problem. I couldn’t jam with my dad, who had worked so hard to support me and my music.
I made it my mission to buy my own guitar with my own savings. Last summer, I embarked on this mission. Eventually, by the end of last summer, I had found a guitar that just felt right to play. I loved the way it felt and sounded, so I bought it.
And that is the story of my guitar.