May 04, 2009
Originally published November 13, 2003
I put a set of new strings on my old Martin guitar (1964 D-28) this morning. Damn, but it sounds fine. I should have taken that guitar to Blood Mountain instead of toting the Guild. But the Guild is my usual road guitar and I don't haul the Martin unless I intend to do some serious playing. I wasn't certain what would happen up there.
I play that old guitar and feel as if I have a familiar lover in my hands. That guitar and I have been through a lot together. We're both kinda dinged-up from life's hard knocks, but in some ways, those hard knocks just made us both better. I can't sing the high notes the way I once did, but that guitar has a bass sound that'll ring for 60 seconds when I put it down. I can thump the back with my finger and it goes "Booooom" and echoes for a while. I don't need to sing the high notes anymore. I just play the old songs in a lower key.
I look at the scars on that guitar and I remember where every one came from. That thing has been soaked in beer, sweat, smoke and whiskey for 40 years. That guitar has been played so many times that the pick-guard is worn and peeling off now. I've had it re-fretted four times and I actually broke the neck off at a party one night. (Somebody knocked it off a stand and it hit the wrong way) Randy Wood fixed it, and you have to look VERY closely to see the faint crack in the neck where it broke.
It sounds better now than it ever did, and it's ALWAYS sounded good. In a room full of guitars with no microphones, I can drown out everyone else if I want to. That guitar rings like a bell.
I wish that my son showed some interest in playing music. I would like to give him that guitar some day, when my hands are too old to play it anymore, and I would like to see him pass it on to HIS son in the distant future. We'll all grow old, but that guitar will keep sounding better. That's a mighty fine instrument. It should be played by people who appreciate it.
I always have, and I always will.
All content © Rob Smith