Friday, April 18, 2008

Suzy Lee

I have a new axe.

That's a guitar to the hip impaired.

A few weeks ago, my awesome father gave me a birthday budget to get my first electric guitar. I slaved over the decision. Walking through Manhattan guitar shops and testing different models, pouring over mail order catalogues and spending hours researching guitars online.

My criteria was simple. First, of course, I had to stay within my allotted gift fund. Second, I had to get the most bang for my buck. Meaning the best instrument I could get for the money. And third, and most important, the axe had to have character and style. Call that shallow if you want, but I don't see the point in playing a guitar that doesn't have some expression of your personality. I'm not going to buy a boring guitar.

Think about your favorite players. They play instruments that fit their playing style and personality. Like Jack White with his trademark lo-fi JB Hutto Montgomery Airline Reso-Glass. The truth is, it's a piece of junk. Originally they were sold at Sears & Roebuck. They're plastic, Jack has a hard time keeping the bloody thing in tune and by most accounts, even Jack's, they are difficult to play. But, that thing just sounds wicked. The Airline used to be available at pawn shops and swap meets. Good luck finding one now. Or, how about Brian Setzer with his vintage Gretsch hollow body's. You hear Angus Young and you think of his Gibson SG's. The point being, your choice of guitar is an extension of your personalty and musical taste.

With those factors in mind, and with great conviction in my decision, I adopted a black and white Danelectro 59 DC. She is a reproduction of the original model from 1959. Originals go for a few thousand bucks. Dano made a limited number of them, in fact, I may have got one of the last ones. Already they are pretty scarce online. I found one at Manny's Guitar Shop on 48th Street. It was like those kids in The Goonies finding a treasure map in Mikey's attic. She called to me. Besides having a historical legacy and looking cool as hell, the Dano has a steel nut. So my efforts to learn to play slide sounds better than I actually am. I'll be honest with you, I'm rubbish.

Slide on the Dano 59 could potentially sound like this:

I gave her the handle Suzy Lee. Yes, there are reasons why, but I won't bore you with that. It feels like a 1950's name though doesn't it?

I picked up the guitar fairly late compared to when most people learn. I got tired of being one of the guys that thinks, "Man, I wish I learned to play the guitar." Like Harold Crick, I wanted my life to be more musical. So, on my birthday a couple years ago, I went to Guitar Center and bought a cheap acoustic guitar and a few books. I honestly feel it is one of the best decisions of my life. My life has been enriched, as corny as that sounds. I'm not going to make a record. I'll probably never play an open mike night. I doubt I'll have a band. (Though if I did, we would be Johnny the Kid and the Gunslingers.) That's not the point. Playing my guitars makes me feel better. Simple as that.

Don't continue to wish you could play an instrument. Invest in a cheap guitar. Or an electric keyboard. Or a harmonica (I've picked that up too), ukulele, concertina, melodica or kazoo. Just do it. You won't be sorry.

Now excuse me, I'm going to play the blues.

1 comment:

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