Sharing My Guitar Abuse and Neglect

I admit that I have never been a fanatic about my guitars and gear. Every single guitar, amp, pedal and cord I have ever had, has some kind of damage or issue that I can look at and not feel the need to restore. It may be an illness, or maybe just a diary of all the hell I put my stuff through.

My favorite guitar, my ‘61 Epiphone Casino has never had a hard case and I have had that guitar for 30 years. I am bad about not using a guitar stand even though one is literally within reach. Sometimes I lean my guitar against the outside of the guitar stand because putting it in its cradle seems like too much effort. It has been knocked over more times than any instrument of that caliber should ever endure. My dog was really happy to see me once and he wagged his tail so hard, my guitar was ejected from its stand and tossed across the tile floor like a rag-doll. My son Nate, also a guitarist, chewed on the neck when he was teething as a baby, and when I play a “B” chord I can feel the teeth marks on my palm. I don’t want to fix that.

Just recently, my friends and I were disrupting the local King of the Blues competition for our own pleasure and my ’61 got slammed again. I know my limitations as a guitarist and had no visions of winning the King of the Blues whatsoever. So I entered with the sole intention of just having some fun. When it was my turn, the singer from my band grabbed the MC’s mic and my son Nate had another guitar staged up unnoticed. We did “King Bee” for the crowd and got a great response from the judges and audience; however against the rules it was. Afterward, a little kid running through the store caught his foot on my cord and the old Epiphone (on a stand) was airborne again. Whatever. I have the disqualifying stunt on video… no detectable new damage to the guitar either.

I am not a string freak either. If I break a string, I put off doing anything about it like it was time to change the wallpaper in grandma’s bathroom. I loathe it. My Casino has a broken string now. Been that way for a month. I just play up the fifth string to hit those notes or I just use another guitar. Once I did that for a whole year. Sometimes I take my guitars to the local mom and pop store to have them restrung. That’s how much I hate changing strings.

Amps are another thing to feel my abuse. The cover blew off my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe while in the back of my truck on the way to a gig recently. You know what that means don’t you? That amp no longer has a cover and never will. I will remember the wild gig that night every time I think about that cover… a good trade off.

I play a lot of gigs with friends and friends of friends so it is really common to go do a gig with a bass player or a drummer who has never played the songs we are about to do in front of an audience. For that reason I keep a Roland Micro Cube handy. It’s battery powered (optional), and I can pull it out in a venue parking lot or backstage and do a quick run through of the breaks and tempo of stuff the fill in guy doesn’t know so we can pull off some 12 bar 1-4-5 blues on the fly.

My Roland Micro cube disappeared and I feared the worst-theft. Fast forward 5 months-not 5 weeks-not 5 days, but 5 long months. I go to a farm where I had played a gig at night for a big “weed” fest and protest thing. Not Woodstock but we are talking acres. It was pitch black out there behind the stage. Guess What? There on the ground by a bush was my Micro Cube. Mind you it had been sitting outside in a field for 5 months. I walked up to it and pushed the power button and the red power light came on. I took it home and plugged in my sons Godin Artisan ST and the amp cranked! Roland, thanks for building anything that can take being mine. Many types and brands of gear can’t survive F.A.T. (the Frank Abuse Test). Drove hard and put away dirty old Epiphones and Roland Micro Cubes can.

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