Archive for February, 2011

My First Guitar

Posted by Brian on 14th February 2011 in Guitar, Memorabilia, The Instrument

“First guitars tend to be like first loves: ill-chosen, unsuitable, short-lived and unforgettable.”

— Tim Brookes in “Guitar: An American Life”

My first guitar pretty much matched this description to a tee. It was given to me by a neighbour whose adult son played guitar. He had left home, taken his good guitars with him and left behind a couple of  “lesser” instruments. His mom asked me if I would like one of them; and what nearly-eleven-year-old boy would say, “No”?

There were two guitars to chose from, and although I’ll never know for sure, I suspect that I chose badly. I chose the jet-black Gibson Les Paul copy over the sunburst hollowbody Gibson 335 copy; mainly because I had seen more pictures of rock-stars playing Les Pauls than 335s. I do know that now that I’m an adult, I love the sound of hollowbody electric guitars – though that may be a function of not yet owning one.

The guitar was made by Raven and had a super cool Thunderbird-looking logo on the headstock and a huge Wings: Venus and Mars sticker on the body. I’ve only see a handful of Ravens in my life and the last one that I ever saw was this one – on the rack in the store about a month after I traded it in. It was a short-lived brand and this guitar was a pretty good example of why. The intonation was poor and it wouldn’t stay in tune for any length of time.

Shortly after receiving it, I started taking lessons and it wasn’t long before my teacher told my parents that the guitar was holding me back and that, if possible, a better instrument should be found. My parents obliged and bought me a very nice used Fender Stratocaster that I still have over thirty years later. Even though it is one of the notorious post-CBS instruments that are the bane of the Fender line, its been a great instrument for me.

A few short years later I decided that I needed an acoustic guitar, and for the sake of getting $50 off the price of a splendid new Takamine acoustic, I traded it in.  The Takamine has also been a wonderful instrument and has only recently been retired and replaced with a very similar Simon & Patrick instrument. I have absolutely no regrets about buying the Takamine.

But I sure wish I’d spent the extra fifty and kept the Raven.

Video of the Month: Berkley Springs

Posted by Brian on 5th February 2011 in Canadian Guitarists, Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitarists, Video of the Month

Berkley Springs is a beautiful guitar tune written by Canadian singer/songwriter David Essig. Written in memory of his mother and named after her hometown, it was originally written in DADGAD tuning. Don Ross wrote his own arrangement of the tune in FACFCF tuning to allow for some different chord inversions. This duet arrangement featuring Don Ross and Peter Kroll-Ploeger is one of the nicest versions I’ve heard. I also love the fact that they really seem to be enjoying themselves while playing it.

David Essig:

Don Ross:

Peter Kroll-Ploeger: