Monday, June 13, 2011

Martin D-16GT

I took my guitar out of its case for the first time in months yesterday.  After a quick tuning it sounded pretty good.  The playing didn't but the guitar did. I have the guitar pictured above: Martin D-16GT. I bought it for myself as a treat after playing a gig in Mexico about 4 years ago.  I assumed that buying something I wanted was better than watching my money quickly disappear at various restaurants, bars and taxis across New York.  Which is what would normally happen with it, when I'm lucky.

The playing was difficult. I've lost all of the callouses at the ends of my fingertips that keep playing from quickly becoming a painful experience. I've lost the strength in my left hand that allows me to play barre chords. But the sound of the guitar was nice; an antidote to the normal chaos of the East Village. I didn't bother trying to sing along with anything.  The playing was filled with enough horror and error that there was no need to augment it further. 

There is an old Puerto-Rican guy that sits on the steps of my building most days. For 12 years I have watched him with his radio and bag of cassette tapes playing latin music of all sorts and repairing guitars. They are never nice guitars. They always seem as if they are guitars for children. They are either very small or not in very good condition. Always acoustic. I have never once seen him playing the guitar there.  I have never heard him speak a word other than, "Hello."

I also have this guitar:

It is much easier to play but doesn't sound nearly as nice when unplugged. I have no amplifier for it. So it sounds very thin in comparison to the acoustic.  It is a Mexican Strat, but one of the nicer examples that I've seen. I've played a few examples of the exact same model of mine that were not built the same way, or nearly as well, so I feel lucky.  The neck being somehow of "less" quality.  Without an amp the electric guitar is simply not as much fun to play. 

With the Fender chorus effect on I would have been playing sophisticated jazz chords in no time. 

I have always wanted an American Telecaster.  This one:

I can hardly justify buying it ($1400) as I don't even really play the guitar all that much any more, and I don't own an amplifier.  But it is the rock-n-roll dream, this guitar.  From Joe Strummer to Bruce Springsteen to Keith Richards to Prince.  Elvis even!  It is one of my childhood dreams. I could one day possibly afford to buy it but I fear that I would feel silly after doing so.  Either that or I would really take playing seriously again for a short while then it would eventually fade into the background.  

That is what happened with the Martin acoustic pictured at the very top.  I really got back into playing for a while but then the guitar started spending more and more time in its case between each playing session.  I'm afraid to leave it out as they are greatly affected by drastic changes in humidity and a NYC apartment building can be a very arid place, that or alternately very humid.  The guitar sits by the window. Everything sits by the window actually, the apartment is that small.  When you open the door there are just two windows, not even any walls, walls cost too much.  The all-window apartment is situated on top of a construction site that houses a mostly completed alarm factory and garbage truck dispatch center.

As I write this I am listening to Jandek. If you know who this artist is then you have my deepest sympathies. It is difficult music to listen to, very challenging. I would never get away with playing this around the house when the wife is around.  I don't listen to this stuff often.  

I promise.