My First Guitar

My First Guitar
IMG_4594
Takamine EG-33OC

I bought this guitar around my freshmen year of high school with money I had saved up from working a paper route. Last month I got it back from my father who had been keeping it in hopes of learning himself. He returned it after maybe 10 years suggesting that he’ll likely never do anything with it.

When I opened up the case and examined the contents I stepped back in time. Some of the items have been in my possession since I first began playing and I’m fortunate that my dad decided to keep all of it together. Let me show you.

IMG_4595

Item 1: The Beginning Guitar Book by Rondel Ramsey

This book didn’t exist when I first started playing guitar, because Rondel hadn’t written it yet. Though it wasn’t added to my collection until much later, and probably by my dad when he was trying to learn, its Copyright date is 1997. That would’ve been a few years after I had started learning guitar. The book belongs in this collection because Rondel was the person who “taught” me guitar. The quotes are on “taught” because in reality I taught myself through every day practicing hours on end. But Rondel inspired me to play. He was my youth pastor and at some point in time (probably when I was in middle school) he starts showing up to youth group playing guitar (God’s not dead, he is alive!)  and getting me and my brothers scheming to start our own band. After things started to click for me musically, he showed me all the basics I needed to play on my own. I remember he was doing some group guitar classes early on and I attended. I was already ahead of the class before the first session and I passed Rondel in playing ability before long, but I credit him with being the one who got me started and encouraged me to keep going. That’s a good teacher! His book, full of old-school clipart and songs that you probably only hear around church camp fires, reminds me of the early days of trying to get that smooth transition between a C and G chord.

Item 2: Capo

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 12.20.30 PM
Capodastro

Here is what a capo does. This was my first capo. I can’t remember where I got it other than someone gave it to me. I didn’t purchase it myself. Just so you know, they don’t make capos like this anymore. Nowadays they are spring-loaded clamps. The one in the picture uses an elastic band. And like the elastic on your old, favorite pair of whitey tighties, it wears out and no longer holds things snug. But I’ll never get rid of this capo because it’s a relic of my first days learning guitar.

Item 3: Pick Holder

IMG_4596Picks have two purposes in life. One is to help you strum or pick a guitar or other stringed instrument. The second is to mysteriously get lost. Losing picks is a part of playing guitar. It happens. So an old friend, Tom Hallam, made some plastic pick holders to stick on the side of a guitar. They were most helpful when you’d lose a pick at the inopportune time – in the middle of performing. When the pick goes tumbling down, the homemade pick holder has one in the chamber ready for that Am7 you are about to rock out. Tom was a kind and generous man in my church who played in the church band and taught middle school Sunday school. He was a plastics/molding teacher in my high school and because he had infinite access and problem solving skills, he custom made a bunch of us these pick holders – free of charge – long before we knew we could overpay some company for the same thing. I think Tom was also the one who gave me my very first guitar tuner.

Item 4: Guitar Tuner

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 12.42.57 PMAs with the capo, they don’t make them this way any more. This old tuner was pretty important for a beginner. Today’s tuners are all digital. You play the string and the tuner tells you if you are sharp or flat based on the closest relative note. That’s a problem for beginners because often they have no idea if their current string/note are even in the relative ballpark of where it needs to be. With this old tuner, you selected the note you were trying to get to. You forced the device, “no matter what note I’m actually playing, I need this string to be a D.” It’s easier to get lost with digital tuners but this old-timer was perfect, and it was free. AND it still works!

IMG_4597.JPG
I wonder if he wants it back.

UPDATE: I was trying to determine the production date of my tuner and after opening the battery compartment and removing the battery, I found a sticker identifying Tom Hallam as the original owner. So yes, he was the one to gift me the tuner.

(Missing) Item 5: Darth Maul Sticker

I’ve always admired players who littered their guitar cases with stickers, wondering how they knew which ones to pick? Where did they get those obscure band stickers? How did they begin their eclectic collection? So the first sticker I slapped on my case was a promotional sticker for Star Wars Episode 1 that was given out at participating Pizza Hut locations back in 1999. The sticker was a headshot of Darth Maul. It was dumb. I was embarrassed about it almost immediately, so I scribbled over the whole sticker with a Sharpie marker. It probably would’ve been fine, but I wasn’t fully committed to the cost or process of collecting a myriad of stickers. Eventually the Sharpie rubbed off and there was Darth Maul’s unending, brooding stare ready to humiliate me for eternity. Fast forward 17 years and I’m delighted that it’s still on there reminding me of my early days as an aspiring musician. EXCEPT IT FELL OFF SOMETIME LAST WEEK AND I CANT FIND IT!

I can’t believe it. It’s gone. And just after I got it back. Just a few days before I got to at least snap a photo. Here’s what the original sticker would’ve looked like. I’m devastated.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.07.58 PM

 

Advertisements

TPAC Lives Again?

This is a quick note to say that I sort of miss writing as it was both a creative outlet and discipline for me in past years. I have just one post in mind with no plans to write beyond that, but we’ll see. I also think that I’d like to take on a slightly different tone with my writing. I think being a little more light-hearted would do the world a world of good – my world, anyway.

The Worst Halloween Candy

The Worst Halloween Candy

Maybe you sift through your stash separating the good from the bad. Maybe you let your candy horde exist in one big pile and you pick it apart piece by piece. Maybe your parents confiscate it all and give you small portions of what they deem acceptable for consumption. Maybe you just eat with reckless abandonment. Whatever your method for choosing your Halloween candy, there is always a small percentage of the treats that will either never be eaten or will be eaten with a sense of regret.

You know the feeling well. A neighbor or friend will drop something into your bucket or pillowcase and your enthusiasm fades because despite your best effort to creatively dress scary, heroic, majestic, or playful they’ve just given you…

9. Smarties – Tiny pills wrapped in rolls of about 20 aren’t necessarily bad, but not good either. You’ll take them because they are sweet, but just barely.

8. Fruity Tootsie Rolls – Original Tootsie Rolls are questionable by their own merit (are they chocolate? what is that?). The fruity ones are gross. What is this candy trying to be? A fruit chew? Not quite.

7. Almond Joy/Mounds – Coconut is a texture that is difficult to overcome. It lacks a great taste to make up for the fact that you feel like you are chewing grass.

6. Good N Plenty – This is good if you like black licorice. However, the people who like black licorice would probably prefer it not look like Benadryl.

5. Necco Wafers – These are nasty. If you’ve never had them, go eat some Tums. It’s like that – only not as good…and doesn’t suppress heartburn.

4. Woppers – Chocolate-covered gravel.

3. Peanut Butter Kisses – You don’t even know who makes these or what they are called (until now) but you know them. They are wrapped in plain orange and black wrappers. And you hate them.

2. Anything that isn’t candy – popcorn balls, apples, stickers, Bible tracts, toothbrushes. Some homes need to get over themselves and hand out Snickers and Nerds like everyone else.

1.  Candy Corn – This is arguably not candy. I can’t believe you can still charge real American dollars for this stuff.