It all started in 1967. Well, actually it started in 1966. That’s when my father decided all the kids in the family
should learn a musical instrument. He had played clarinet in high school then picked it back up later in life and
played in local community orchestras. My brother being the oldest, boldest and wildest naturally picked the drums.
My sister played it safe and stayed near and dear to Dad’s heart by going with the clarinet. I decided I wanted to
play guitar. For the life of me I can’t remember why or even if I had a reason why, but that’s what I went with.
We loaded into the van and headed off to Music Town, the local music store to sign up for lessons. On the way
home I was overcome with the incredibly frightening reality of what was now expected of me, how much effort it
would take, and how embarrassed I would be when I failed. As soon as we got home I told my Dad between sobs
and tears that I really didn’t want to take music lessons, (after all I was only seven years old at the time!) My Dad
understood and the next day he canceled my lessons. Whew, that was close! Well a year went by and my Dad
said, “So are you ready for those guitar lessons yet?” Figuring that I couldn’t wimp out twice, I got signed up.
To start me out, we rented a guitar from Music Town. It was one of those convertible, double cut-away
electric/acoustic Danolectros but being void of the electronics it was purely acoustic, although just barely. After a
while when my Father figured it look like I was going to stick with it long enough to invest in a real guitar, we
headed off to Red Bank Music which at that time was still on Shrewsbury Avenue. Sy Lowey, owner of Red Bank
music and a neighbor from up the street, sold my Dad on the Guild brand of guitars. He first brought out a
Sunburst CE-100D but being only eight years old, my arm wasn’t long enough to get over the full 3-1/2” body
width. So he then brought out a Sunburst T-100-D and since I could reach the strings it was mine! We also
bought a hard case and I can remember when I stood it up on end I could rest my chin on it. I was barely able to
drag it out to the car. We brought it home and now with my brother and sister we were a group! Well, we never
actually played anything together; but we sure looked like a group when we posed for the picture.
I took lessons for a year or so but never really enjoyed it as my Dad had me learning show tunes and orchestra
music. It was all single line notes and I never got past the fourth fret. The mandatory half hour practice every day
got old fast and after a while I grew to resent it. Finally I quit and stuffed the guitar in the back of the closet.
During the summer of 1970 I ran into this kid from up the street, (literally as we had crashed head on into each
other on mini-bikes). After he got home from the hospital were he was treated for a severe concussion, I went
over to visit him. It was then that I found out he played guitar and he knew chords! This revelation inspired me so
much that I went out and bought an open chord chart, dragged the guitar from the closet, and taught myself
chords. (Thanks Rob!) Then, totally encouraged I purchased a barre chord book and taught myself rock and roll.
As evidence of this progression, if you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see I’m faking playing a chord, as my
fingers are not actually forming any chord known to man. But since this is supposed to be a history of my guitar
collection and not my guitar playing. We’ll skip ahead to the acquisition of my second, third and fourth guitars.
By this time my Dad who was an electronic hobbyist, had built me a little amp. It was about 15 watts, just a bare
chassis, three knobs, a couple of tubes and a speaker. But that was enough for me because now like Bob Dylan
before me, I went Electric! He then built me a better amp by converting a Bogan PA head for guitar usage. It had
tremolo, reverb and a separate speaker cabinet containing a 12” and 15” Jenson. It sounded pretty good but with
my hollow body T-100D it suffered from feedback. A friend of mine at the time had bought a cheap Japanese
Norma solid body guitar from Two-Guys and when he gave up trying to learn how to play he sold it to me for $25.
(Thanks Joey!) Well good-bye feedback, but hello to high action, bad tuners and no intonation. I ended up
leaving that guitar with a buddy of mine when we lived in California. (You’re welcome Sean!).
My third guitar was an arch top another friend had picked out of somebody’s garbage. He planned to fix it up but
of course that never happened so he gave it to me. (Thanks Tom!). I sanded off the black paint, glued some old
mother-of-pearl cuff links in the neck for fret markers and made a bridge for it. During this period my Dad was
building cabinets for our new kitchen so I borrowed some of his cherry stain and finished it with lacquer. It never
did play very well but it looked nice and to this day it hangs on the wall in my bedroom.
My next guitar came to me under some interesting circumstances. Apparently my mini-bike friend had a run in with
the law and needed some bail money. One of our female friends in the gang bailed him out but got his oriental
made Cameo 12-string dreadnaught for collateral. When he never paid her the bail money back she sold it to me
for a forgotten amount. (Thanks Sue!). That guitar ended its life starring in the video “Tune or Die” as it was
blasted with a 12-gauge shotgun. It was then smashed ala Who style and the remains were cremated in the
campfire. My last memory is of the neck and headstock sticking straight up out of the fire pit with purple and green
flames dancing off it from the burning finish. We sang Jimi Hendrix songs as a tribute. (Thanks Neil!).
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