“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.