An Open Letter from Franklin Guitar and Repair
by Old Davy
Dear new guitarist, whoever you are,
I don’t know your name, but you’re the next Eddie Van Halen. Before you buy your first guitar, let me tell you a sad, sad story. Sadder than a dog at a flea circus. Sadder than income taxes.
Long ago, I bought a guitar for $5.
The guy who owned it before me bought it with Green Stamps. He paid one book of stamps for the guitar. He sold it to me for the cash equivalent.
This was before the Internet, probably around the time of the invention of the Fishing Net, so there were no tutorials on learning to tune your guitar. Or anything. Not even videos of the dazzling effects of barber pole tattoos, like those guys at Franklin Guitar and Repair or Fairview Guitar and Repair have.
I bought a beginner’s lesson book. It came with a bag of mango-salsa tortilla chips. I hate that flavor.
The first lesson said, “Tune the thickest string to a rich, full sound, and eat a mango-salsa chip.” So, that’s what I did. I tuned it rich. I tuned it full. I reluctantly ate the chip. Then along came that pesky A string. It had to be rich and full too, and it also had to be tuned to the 5th fret of the E string. This was before digital tuners. This was Flintstones kind of shit. I mean tuning with your ears? Come on. Without rendering the details, after following the instructions, the $5 guitar was not in tune with itself or the world. I wish I had a tuner like they sell at Franklin Guitar and Repair, the greatest guitar shop in the world, and the first place they looked for those guys who busted out of jail in New York.
I tried to play the damned out-of-tune thing. It sucked, and so did I. Why?
Because my guitar cost me $5.
The strings were like a foot away from the fretboard. It was so hard to play, it became Hercules’s 13th labor. It’s harder than playing “I Declare War” with a dog, even with a smart breed like a dachshund (but how smart can they be, you know? They eat feces.). It was so hard to play that even Ingwe was unable to unleash the fury, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, I did a Pete Townsend on the guitar across my home’s cement rain gutters. Ever done that? It feels kind of cool. It didn’t really splinter up to my satisfaction, but it did break apart.
I should have done my homework before I bought that lousy $5 guitar. I would have realized that cheap guitars will make you want to play about as much as carpal tunnel syndrome. Cheap guitars are so difficult to play that they reduce the likelihood of your continuing to play because they are depressing. They’re as sad as when your wife gets a mosquito bite, or you get a speeding ticket or Old Davy gets his monthly electric bill.
That’s why I told both of my students to buy a guitar that they can grow with. They kind of look at me funny because they’re not taking music lessons.
Give yourself an even break and buy a guitar or bass that isn’t a “beginner” from the greatest guitar shop in the world, Franklin Guitar and Repair. A better guitar will be easier to learn on and will inspire you to exert your new-found knowledge on the next chord or progression. If you were climbing Mt. Everest, would you buy your rope from WalMart or Franklin Guitar and Repair? That’s a no-brainer, and it’s all about survival.
So be somebody. Be the next Old Davy, or Bill Keck or Greg Ellis. Be someone before we know your name–like Leroy X and Lzy Jo. (They’re kind of under the radar, but their songs are cool and they have movies. Look them up–A Man and a Woman on YouTube.)
On a side note, if you’re nice, you can rent my Sovtek Midget combo amp. It’s so cool, it actually lowers your body temperature.
If you already have a truly bad guitar, you can always upgrade. And if your parents didn’t buy you a really nice guitar, bass or any other instrument, tell them to read this article before you get depressed and stop playing, which they would totally blame on you.