Art & Lutherie

When I was 18, in January, I had $1000. That was all the money I had in the world, right after I was paid. I was ahead of the rent for the first time since leaving home 6 months ago. That meant that I could spend money on something other than food, for the first time.

I took the bus downtown to Old Towne Strings. I picked up the first guitar I saw. It was an Art & Lutherie acoustic guitar, with a cedar body and a cherry fretboard. The sweetest, warmest G major chord I ever heard.

I played 6 or 7 other guitars but nothing sounded better than the first one.

The lady behind the counter told me it was a refurbished model. “The cedar they use for the neck is so soft, it bows. We get a lot of these guitars in with bowed necks. We take them apart, put a steel rod in, put them back together. It’s better than brand new.”

I bought it for $200. I’m not much of a musician though. I played it a bunch, but eventually I got bored of hearing myself play badly.

I moved probably 8 times with that guitar. Barrington Manor, to my Auntie’s house in Royal Oak, to Shane’s house, to Westall Ave, to 5th St, to my Auntie’s condo at Spencer Castle, back to Shane’s house, to the Crack House in Gordon Head. Every time I moved, my brother (aka my personal moving company), would toss it in the back of that year’s truck and say “You ever play this thing?”

Some fella said that he was going to move to Australia, and I thought I would move there with him, so I started selling stuff. That guitar was one of the first things to go.

Two skinheaded gentlemen came to the Crack House. Skinhead #1 played a couple of scales and chords, then said to Skinhead #2, “Sweetie, I love it.”  Skinhead #1 said “Ok, we’ll take it. Happy anniversary, honey.”

I didn’t go to Australia, but I didn’t miss the guitar much either, till last week. Walking along Quadra Street under that giant yellow half moon, maybe on Boxing Day or the day after, The Only One started in my headphones and I needed to learn how to play it.

So now I’m borrowing my cousin’s abused old beater that he got in elementary school. It’s a lovely guitar. It says “THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS WHEN USED AS DIRECTED” on the side, and it’s covered with the signatures of all the people he was friends with in 2007. It doesn’t sound half so nice as that cedar Art & Lutherie though.

My pick is a chunk of plastic I cut out of a Safeway club card, and my phone works for tuning and recording it. I used to have more picks, a real tuner, a couple of guitars, and a lot of nice equipment. But at least I’m playing it now, which I didn’t back then.

For now, anyway. Just want to learn that one song.

Published by

Shannon Graham

Shannon has been writing brief essays and occasional how-to articles at Rocketships, Unaffiliated (.ca) whenever inspiration strikes, since 2012. She is interested in your opinion.

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