The early years ...
I started playing guitar in high school back in ’69, eventually playing in several local rock cover bands. I did this for 3 - 4 years and it was great fun, meeting lots of interesting and talented musicians along the way. A couple of years after high school, I sold all of my accumulated equipment (Fender Strat, Marshall Amp/Cabs and various pedals, cables, & supplies) … to buy a car! Money was tight, and I felt I could always buy another guitar and amp at a later date. A replacement guitar and equipment never happened. Instead, I began to focus more on cars and socializing, and completely stopped playing guitar. In hindsight, I realize that I was young and made a poor decision, and I now wish that I had never stopped playing guitar.
Fast forward to 2020 ...
I am married to my beautiful wife for over 40 years, we have three great sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two amazing grandkids ... and I am once again “hooked” on guitars. This rebirth started innocently on Christmas of 2001, when my wife surprised me with a Fender Standard Strat that looked just like the one I sold over 27 years earlier (I was almost speechless)! She knew that I once played, knew I owned a Strat, but never heard me play (I sold my musical gear the year before we met). How she came up with this idea after all those years was amazing to me. On that Christmas Day, all I could do was strum a few basic chords … but it wasn't long before it all started to come back.
I began diligently practicing daily with only the un-amplified Strat. I was surprised to see how much better I was soon playing, compared to my earlier years (probably more serious and focused now versus then). I began visiting music stores, really getting interested in everything related to guitars. And then it happened … G.A.S. (Guitar or Gear Acquisition Syndrome)! I was fortunate to be in a better financial position compared to those early younger days, making it much easier to support "the habit". First it was an amplifier (or two), then several electric guitars (Fender, Gibson, and PRS) and then my first Martin acoustic (Model 000M) in 2002.
The acoustic opened up a whole new world for me, and I found myself preferring this over my electrics. Soon after the Martin 000M, I picked up a Takamine 12-string (just to try for a while), and eventually decided to invest in a dreadnought that could grow with me. The Martin D-28 was my choice after a lot of research and some hands-on experience at the local Guitar Center and Sam Ash music stores.
It wasn't too long before I sold the Takamine 12-string and the 000M, replacing them with a wonderful Martin 00-18V. This is one great sounding and comfortable guitar, which helped me develop my finger-style technique. My next acoustic acquisition was a Martin OM-28V, probably one of the most versatile guitars in the Martin line-up, followed by a Martin 000-18GE Custom. I eventually sold the larger Martin D-28, preferring the more comfortable OM and 000 styles.
My latest additions were a Martin GPCPA1 and a Taylor 814CE-LTD ... the latter a divergence from the Martin "tone", but quite respectable sounding in its own way and a great addition overall. Between my Taylor and Martins, I can cover quite a broad spectrum of tonal possibilities ... and I often find myself switching back and forth in terms of preferred sounds. The Taylor "shimmers" and the Martins "growl".
There have been a few electrics added along the way, as well as a few guitar that were sold. I enjoy collecting and playing the several nice guitars in my collection. I even picked up a less expensive Yamaha acoustic for those occasions where I might be interacting with my inquisitive and "less careful" grandkids :)
My wife shudders every time a UPS or FedEx truck drives down the street, or whenever she sees me on the Internet searching guitar-related sites or visiting musical instrument stores. She certainly has herself to blame for “igniting the fire” on that Christmas Day in 2001. But deep down I know she is happy that I reconnected with something that was once an important part of my past ... and something that also provides an enjoyable outlet for the daily pressures of work and life. I hope to continue growing my skills, and maybe provide enjoyment for others as well.
The future ...
Although I would never describe myself as an "accomplished" musician, the few who heard me play say I sound pretty good (which is great for the ego). However, I am a better judge of my abilities, and I know that I have much room to improve. What keeps me plugging along is that I enjoy the challenge of learning new songs and licks ... and I gain tremendous satisfaction from these small successes.
I picked up a Yamaha piano keyboard and began to learn some basic keyboard skills. I've always wanted to play piano, and I found the keyboard layout to be a very effective way to better understand music theory and musical note relationships. I also picked up a Fender electric bass and Kala ukulele as a way to extend my abilities to other stringed instruments.
Over the past few years, I invested in recording equipment and tools, which have been very useful in my practice. Recording myself has helped me to better "hear" how I am playing, and it has been quite useful in further developing my playing skills. Unexpectedly, it has also opened up a whole new world of song production. Part of my recently acquired equipment included a midi keyboard and finger pads, which has been quite useful in recording the sound of other instruments, including percussion.
Recreating cover songs by playing and recording all the parts myself has been quite educational and highly satisfying ... and maybe this will eventually lead to more creative pursuits. Regardless of where this leads, I am enjoying the journey while keeping myself busy and constantly learning.