thinning the herd

now playing: pure prairie league, “the cost of doing business”

i might have mentioned here some time back that i was playing with charlie degenhart right before christmas…it was at the tin angel in philadelphia…i took my gibson lap steel, my newish agile mandolin with the pickup in it, and my gretsch anniversary with the bigsby tremolo on it. i realized, after i got there, that every instrument i’d brought with me had a tobacco sunburst finish on it – i kinda felt like a tool for having matching instruments. it was funny, we got a laugh out of it, and moved on…the show itself would’ve been great, but i had this awful hum coming from my amp which i thought originally was a result of being plugged into the same outlet as the lighting fixtures…but i moved it and had the same result. anyway, i soldiered on – the mandolin was unaffected because it went directly into the pa, and it was present but somewhat tolerable on the lap steel. the gretsch just wasn’t cutting it, though. it didn’t sound – well, like a gretsch.

and that night, i wrote it off to the troubles of the day. but then i brought it home and played it for a bit, and i had a rare revelation.

maybe it’s time to let this one go.

now, that might not seem like an earth-shaking sentiment to most people…maybe even to the majority of people who know me. but to truly understand this, i guess you really have to know my fascination with gretsch guitars.

i never caught onto the whole brian setzer thing when it hit. never cared for rockabilly at all, still don’t, really. but when i really dove into the crosby, stills, and nash catalog hard – back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, believe it or not…it took me that long – i became enamoured of them. i loved the way they sounded, i loved the way they looked, and i had to have one.

well, around that time, i got my opportunity – a sunburst 1959 country club that i bought from an ad on the wall at a supermarket. it was a package deal – i got that guitar, a 1946 martin 00-17, and a blackface fender deluxe amp for $1250. it was one of a few unbelievable deals that i’ve been in the right place at the right time for in my life. but i had to sell that one during the period of time when i was playing full-time due to a lack of funds. my next gretsch was a double anniversary model that i got in ’96 or so – it was a casualty of my split with the kids’ mom.

and for a long time, i’ve thought about getting one, and i just haven’t found the right one.

this particular one, the sunburst double anniversary in the picture, was an eBay purchase. i landed a couple of computer builds in a row that yielded some decent money, and it showed up at just the right time, and i grabbed it. i immediately took it to the first following stone road gig and played it – it was adequate for rhythm work, but it didn’t really feel right for soloing. i used it a couple of times after that, but i wouldn’t call it part of my regular work stable.

when i got down to brass tacks on this latest project, though, i went through the arsenal and pulled out the guitars that i thought would be most appropriate for the project. i put away the PRSes and the heavy duty stuff, and this one came out. so when it was time to pack for charlies’ gig, i thought – what the hell? and i brought it along.

turned out to be its last show with me. i sold it to a nice guy on the west coast, who seems thrilled with it. and i got to buy new gear for the studio, which i needed. so everybody wins.

and it wasn’t as painful as i thought it would be…the whole “letting go of a guitar” thing. if i hadn’t needed additional gear, i might have just held onto it…but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me at the moment. there’s a pretty major space crunch staring me in the face in the not-too-distant future, and i need to start thinking about that…where the studio is concerned.

anyway – she was a nice ol’ gal, and i’ll miss her…


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