My Gibson 175

My first great guitar, as it turns out, has a checkered past. You can read my initial blog story from a few years back, before I knew her pre-me history here:

I first learned about my guitar’s history from before she was mine when I saw a  photo on a Facebook post by a mutual friend that showed a legendary Montreal band opening for the Beach Boys in the mid sixties. The guitar player (Bill Hill) had an ES175 with a Bigsby (by Gretsch) whammy bar. Such a visible unique mod. I was sure it was my guitar. I contacted the man who posted it, Don Graham, another legendary player. He told me what he knew about the guitar and I then contacted Bill who told me some of this story:

JB and The Playboys

A young Bill Hill was at loggerheads with his dad over…… hair! It was the sixties. Exasperated, his dad said “ If you get a hair cut (my choice of style) I will buy you a brand new Gibson guitar”. Bill was emulating Elvis’ hair at the time, long and greasy so dad chose a “bean shave” for the budding guitarist. True to his word, Hill Sr. took Bill to a store that was owned by his friend, looking for a deal.   Do Re Mi music on rue de Bleury, south of Sherbrooke St. had an impressive line of Gibson guitars on display and after trying them all, Bill had his dad buy the Gibson 175D that I now own.

Bill wasn’t quite satisfied, as the guitar did not have a whammy bar. He took the guitar over to Anton Wilfer, a luthier on de Maisonneuve at Mackey and ordered a Bigsby vibrato and had it installed. Bill jokingly referred to the guitar as a “Gretschson”. Ironically Wilfer’s store is the same place that uninstalled that Bigsby for me a decade later. 

Bill loved the guitar and took it everywhere with him except the night it was stolen. There was a teen hangout/ disco on what was then called Dorchester boulevard (now boulevard. René Levesque )called “Snoopy’s” which was part of music mogul Donald K Donald’s empire. Donald let the boys practice there. They left their instruments overnight one night and in the morning discovered the place had been cleaned out. Guitar, bass, microphones and more. Even the cigarettes from the cigarette machine, all gone. Like the Grinch had arrived to steal Christmas. 

I know the feeling of senseless loss and hopelessness he must have felt. I remember the first time I dropped this guitar and she split open like a ripe watermelon. The gig bag strap broke and the strap holder peg that holds the tailpiece in place was driven into the guitar like a blunt chisel….. I thought it was the end…. pretty sure that is the same feeling.

When I heard that the guitar that I own had been stolen before, I immediately felt conflicted. This guitar that I loved so much was “stolen goods”. I felt ashamed, and that the guitar was now somehow less mine, the joy of having owned this guitar diminished by this new knowledge. It was a guilt for something that was not mine to be guilty about. My anguish was eased a little when Bill told me he had had a chance to get it back, but didn’t. He had seen the guitar a few years after it was stolen hanging in a pawn shop, but he had neither the proof that it was his, nor the money to buy it back as he had just purchased a Gibson Byrdland. Hearing this cleared my conscience, as there had been no indication at the guitar store I bought it from that it was a fenced item. Ours was a legal transaction.

After we had talked, I wanted at least to show Bill the guitar, and I brought it with me to one of the Keepers’ gigs. He played it for a minute and asked me if I was interested in selling it back to him. Again, the conflicted feeling. How could I sell something so precious to me? How could I ask for money for something so priceless from someone who had been so wronged? 

I had already met Bill Hill before making this connection. He plays in a band called The Keepers. The night I first saw them in Pointe Claire at the Mayfair tavern, singer Allen Nichols was sitting in with them. It was a sort of reunion of “The Haunted” and the “Playboys”. Great stuff. Bill was playing a Telecaster and is a “finesse” kind of player. He knows all these cool fills and stylistically à propos voicings that might be lost on most ears, but not mine. We became casual friends. 

Recently, another friend posted a picture of a beautiful Gretsch 6120 “Nashville” for sale. My wife Sharon drew my attention to this post  and said “You should buy it!”. I had just spent an unexpected load of money on a huge car repair, and I told her all my reasons not to buy yet another guitar. I am not a collector, I’m a player. My negativity lost, so I sent a message to my friend Victor who said he had posted it for  Bill Hill. My heart leaped. I now knew it would be a quality instrument, well maintained and well played…. for a minute I considered offering him the 175 as a trade, but rejected that thought and just forged ahead. I texted Bill and said I’d like to buy the guitar. He ascertained that I was serious and immediately took his advertisements down. We made an arrangement for me to see it the day after my vaccination. I sent him an e-transfer even before I tried it. 

The guitar is lovely of course, we chatted and laughed about tons of things, He told me some of the goofy trade offers he had received….hilarious!  some of the details in my story that needed filling in as well. 

It was a lovely visit. As I was leaving, guitar in hand, he said:  “I’m glad it was you that got this”.

Me too!

Me and the Gibson Charlie Guerin on keys. Original photo by Ross White 1994
The “girls”
I call her “lollipop” as I got her after my vaccination

This is the star of the story.


I have a friend who happens to be a “world class” luthier. Every time we talk, we exhibit our passion for music and guitars and tone and, quite frankly, a plethora of diverse subjects that one would expect between friends. Time spent together is always a joy.

One day I visited him in the “wood nest” as he affectionately calls his workshop and we were hanging out talking and drinking espresso coffee with the sun streaming through the panoramic windows of this loft space and I spotted a guitar that was fully built and stringed up and ready to go. Michael (almost) never has one of his guitars “hanging around” because all of his guitars are all pre-ordered two years in advance. Michael had to make a phone call and had to excuse himself for a bit. I asked if I could play the guitar that I was admiring while he was on the phone. He nodded and I entered a new world.

Like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, this guitar opened up into areas of creativity that were new to me. I played some single note melodies that I had been struggling with, and the lines were seamless. A particular chord sequence that usually required concentration and a shift in my arm and torso to play, just fell out of this guitar effortlessly. I played some Jazz Standards on it, my own compositions on it, and  then put it through the paces of songs I’d always wanted to play, but there was some technical aspect that I was not consistent. All of my limitations and barriers seemed to slip away as I sat playing. It was sublime.

Apparently Michael re-entered the room after his phone call, apologizing for how long it took, but if I heard him, it was not apparent. Some time later, I re-emerged from the trance and looked at Michael and said “I wish I hadn’t done that!” to which he responded “Why not? It sounded great and you were obviously enjoying it.” To which I explained: “I’m a teacher and a musician!” Neither income streams are huge. Michael’s guitars are handcrafted, performance level instruments and priced accordingly. “There is no way I could afford it.” He said “You’d be surprised! We’re friends, right?” I nodded. “It takes two years. Plenty of time for you to plan and save.”

I went home conflicted. I told Sharon of the experience and that Michael offered to build me a guitar. I was convinced that it is “too much guitar” for me and anyways I’d be 63 by the time it was made and blah, blah, blah. All of this negative stuff coming out of  my mouth. “I don’t deserve it!”

Of course, Sharon negated all of these arguments and got me to thinking about what another old friend told me about his Martin guitar. He said that it took him a few years to pay off the debt, but he said if you look at it as 50 cents a day to own an instrument that brings you joy and advances your art, why not?

A few months passed and I forgot about the whole thing until I opened an envelope on Christmas day 2016. The envelope had pictures Sharon had taken in the workshop printed on a paper with the news that she had made a downpayment on a new guitar from Michael. My heart nearly stopped,and my eyes welled up.

All photos by
Sharon Cheema

I went back to visit Michael and we agreed on the materials used and other details of the guitar that are standard options like Cutaway or no cutaway?

I started to save. I took on some extra work and co-incidentally with the ending of my car payments, it was not as hard as I had feared. A year passed. I was on track for my goal when I got another envelope from Sharon. Another instalment. Rare to have a partner that is so supportive of my art. I love her anyway, but this is an endearing quality for sure.

I started to get little notes from Michael in my e-mail with details of it’s progress. “Wood is selected for your guitar” and “body is glued” and “waiting for another coat” etc.

The build up mounting like a tantric encounter. Wait…not…yet…

how cool is that?

One of the last ones was: “she is built! She is a (strong word that rhymes with “trucking”) monster!” I phoned and asked what exactly that meant? “Even better than the one you played!” was his response. Nuances that only musicians or luthiers might notice.

It used to be that two years actually took two years. Not anymore! Like my trip to Narnia, time seems to have become fluid. Some years drag on and others flash by. Like Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” I want to drag my feet to slow the circles down.

Yesterday I received my guitar. She is beautiful. She feels just right, but hadn’t been played. I activated the molecules by playing her and she is continuing to be “broken in’ with every hour I play her. She will settle in in about two weeks as I get to know her and she, me.

First minutes with my new Greenfield.

I am so thankful to Michael and to my wife, Sharon for this beautiful instrument.

Bye for now, I have strings to play.

A great film about Michael Greenfield

Guild D40 Bluegrass Jubilee

I have always had an eye out for Guild guitars. Ritchie Havens played one and Ralph Towner as well. These are both artists that have ringing open sounds and chords that are not easily analyzed. Ritchie used an unusual technique with his enormous fingers and Ralph had a more intellectual approach to the guitar having switched from being a concert pianist. Two disparate and unlikely influences of two sides of my musical personality. and repertoire as well.

photo by Sharon Cheema

This “Bluegrass Jubilee” was hanging in the store on consignment, and I gave her a whirl. I was exploring alternate tunings around this time and had written a half dozen or so songs in DADGAD and/or DADF#AD tuning. I needed a second guitarIn concert this poses a problem. Either you play all of your dropped tuning songs one after the other and then retune the guitar, or you balance your setlist and retune each time you need to. Or you buy another guitar. 

Photo by Sharon Cheema

The D40 (built between 2003 and 2005) has a lovely ring to it despite it not coming from the “golden age” of Guild Guitars, but crafted in Corona, California. I like the antique sunburst and the Mahogany back and sides give her a sweet and rounded tone. Perfect for my songs. A handy partner to the loudness and clarity of my Martin.

When I get my Greenfield, this guitar may be the “one too many” I have heard tell about. I am pretty sure I will play it less and use it less, so I may put it back on the market. 

photo by Sharon Cheema

Martin D28

Made in 2010, this instrument has been my “go to” guitar for most things. I had been in the market for a Gibson J 45, and I was looking at dealers who dealt in vintage instruments. I talked to my pal Joey at Audiomanie who has worked on most of the guitars that I own and is familiar with my playing style (s) and repertoire. He said “I know you are looking for Gibson, but I just got this D 28 from a Godin Guitars sales rep. who bought it in the American mid-west because it is an amazing sounding guitar!” I was skeptical at first, because…you know…sales people…. But Joey is a friend. He really did have my best interest at heart. Anyways, I picked her up and immediately was able to bond with this guitar. It made me want to play Neil Young songs, Joni Mitchell songs and Gordon Lightfoot songs. I had forgotten that these three Canadian artists used D 28s in their music making. Of course I had to own this guitar which was essentially new. Only slightly played by the Godin rep. I guess he didn’t want to be seen playing a guitar by the competition. like a Jeep salesman driving a Land Rover…..

photo by Sharon Cheema

My mum had recently died and had left me some money. Not much, but enough to  pay a few debts and to be able to purchase the guitar which is the most expensive one I have ever owned. I have recorded with her and performed with her almost exclusively when I have acoustic gigs. I often reference my mother when talking about this guitar, and am reminded of her love for me. 

I love just about all aspects of this guitar. I put a fishman pick up in it, and I ususally play it through a little pre-amp which gives me the right sound for both my fingerpicking and my more rhythmic strumming. She is great at low and high volumes and I have never had any issues with anything. She can never be replaced, but is going to become my “gig” guitar because the guitar that I commissioned two years ago from my friend Michael Greenfield is finally built and I am going to pick her up this week-end. The new guitar will most likely be my recording guitar and won’t see much road use. Too valuable.

Photo by Sharon Cheema

Hagstrom “Swede”

 probably built around 1970

I traded two “name” guitars (Gretsch and Fender) for a “non-name” guitar. The Hagstrom Swede looks like a Les Paul, but is not an imitation. I wanted something on which to Rock that could stay in tune. I was a big fan of Focus and their lead guitarist Jan Akkerman played a Swede (although vintage footage of the group usually shows him with a Les Paul..…) Around the time I got this guitar the French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty was playing with Daryl Stuermer who endorsed The Swede. They both name dropped Larry Coryell whose music I don’t generally care for, but he played a Swede as well.

One of the main attractions for me was the truss rod. The Hagstrom used an I beam instead of the normal truss rod. The two guitars I traded both had warped necks, so I was getting a guitar that held it’s tuning. 

My guitar is no longer “stock”. I took off the pick guard for starters. I put in a Bone nut to further enhance the sustain. I also put in a brass bridge after having my hand chewed up some sharp ridges on the stock bridge. The machine heads are too beautiful to change, but are a pain when changing strings because they are too big for a stringwinder. I pulled the pick ups and put in some Bill Lawrence “blade” pick-ups. I had to rout a bit as the pick-ups were larger slightly than the originals. In the mid eighties I was very into fusin guitar. There were great advances in Analog to digital converters. I installed a Roland GK 1 pick-up and used the Swede as a controller. Midi required a really stable instrument for proper tracking. The Hagstrom is great that way.

I haven’t used the guitar synth part for ages as my ability to play keyboard has improved, but I still record with the Hagstrom. She is Heavy. I have flat wounds on her, so I can get top speed and minimal squelch. The biggest problem with the Hagstrom was the binding on the neck. Canadian climate (and probably Sweden as well) has times of great humidity and other times of great dryness. These two factors cause wood to expand and contract, but has no effect on nacré or whatever the plastic was that bound the neck. Most guitars don’t have this. Anyway, the plastic cracked and was unstable when reglued by the luthier.  Little bits of it would come off and the resultant gap on the side of the neck was disorienting and annoying. 

Eventually we just ripped them and Joey laid new binding meticulously and now she is better than ever. With all the changes I have made, it is probably not even considered a Swede any more.

I love to play her. Funny that I can’t find any pictures of me playing her. I know there are some….

Post Script photo by Sharon Cheema

Walden 12 String

A 12 string guitar is a special tool that I don’t use very often. Sort of like a spark-plug puller. Something you don’t use every day unless you pull spark plugs every day. I could have easily just borrowed one for the amount that I play it.

I love the sound of the 12 string. Gordon Lightfoot uses one for great rhythmic pulse. “Poor Little Alison” comes to mind. I also loved the sound in the popular music of my adolescence. The Beatles (George) used one in their middle period, and of course George’s “My Sweet Lord” The Stones also used a 12 string on tunes like “As Tears Go By”. Harmonium was a huge Quebecois group that revolved around the beautiful 12 string of Serge Fiori. There was also Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd who used it on certain ballads. All fine and dandy, but I got my 12 string because of “All Along The Watchtower” Dave Mason played the 12 string before Hendrix enters….Such a strong and forceful intro to a great song. chung chung chung-a-chung chung….. and of course The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn,Turn,Turn” and Tom Petty who made the electric 12 string Rickenbacker’s reputation. Ralph Towner’s 12 string music was also a colour I wished to explore.

I bought a “name brand” 12 string. It was a used guitar hanging in the rafters at one of the more disreputable guitar joints (Jack’s) on Craig Street (now St. Jacques). Kids would go up and down this one block of stores that sold musical instruments. Fun to browse and dream. The Easternmost store was Steve’s Music which eventually ate up the smaller independant stores and was recently forced to move.  Now the whole row of stores was expropriated and is slated for demolition.  

The “name brand” guitar I bought was absolutely untuneable. 

It reminds me of the old joke: 

Q. “How do you tune a 12 string guitar?”

  1. “Nobody knows”

They are hard to tune, but part of the charm is the slight wavering of adjacent notes that are just slightly out. like Lennon and McCartney singing in unison. Glorious, but unmistakably different timbral qualities to their voices. A chorus pedal can sort of fake it.

Anyways, the “name brand” guitar was a “piece of shit” It had a great booming sound in the store, but I had not tried it enough before buying. When I got home I found that if the G chord was in tune, D wasn’t and if C was in tune then perhaps A minor wasn’t. You get the idea. I bought it for the “brand recognition” factor which ironically I have forgotten. The neck also had a visible twist that I had neglected to see in my enthusiasm. 

I only owned it for a week before returning it to the store for a refund….easier said than done from the asshole that ran the store. He was open to a trade, so I checked out the Walden which was hidden away near the rafters at the farthest corner of the store.. 

He grudgingly pulled it down. “Jack” was not a man who moved a lot. “Grouchy old prick” describes him pretty accurately.

Anyways the Walden played better than the last one and so the swap was made. He tried to rip me off more by charging for the case, but I saw the hand written price tag on it said in small print  “case included”. He waddled, grumbling, to the depths of the store to retrieve the case. I left there vowing to never go back. 

On most 12-string guitars, the octave pairs are configured so each high octave string precedes its low octave mate when you strum down across the strings toward the floor. I reversed the bass string configuration to be like the Rickenbacker 12. I like hearing the bass string before it’s octave. Just a matter of taste. I had to have the nut and action changed to suit this. I also put a Fishman pickup on her. She still holds up well. I have made demos with it, and played her “live”, but never used it in the “real studio”. (yet).

Walden Six String

I probably never needed another steel string flat top guitar after purchasing my Walden G3030CE. She is a beautiful guitar. Top of the Walden line. Designed in the USA, but manufactured in China. I bought  it used. I traded some equipment (micro Moog) and some cash for it about 8 years ago. Before then I played only nylon string and electric guitars. I wish I had had it for my second CD “Boy Blue” which could have benefitted from the more robust sound of Steel strings for certain tunes. 

The Walden six string opened my playing up to sounds and techniques that are unique to flat tops and my playing and songwriting were definitely influenced by these new options. I love this guitar, and yet, she is nothing special.

The red cedar top and Rosewood back contribute to the overall depth and clarity of this guitar in all registers. The mahogany fretboard is facile and the ebony bridge contribute to a very fine and classy guitar. 

There is a stigma amongst guitar aficionados for guitars that are made in countries other than USA and Japan. I have heard horror stories and tended to student guitars  that have been shoddily made for the low end of the market. My guitar has been hand crafted. There is much craftsmanship in the Walden. It appears also that there is pride taken in the work. I was worried about how the materials would stand up after time, but she is still unwarped and true. 

I usually leave the Walden at school for accompanying the students. It is a real work horse. Because of it’s reduced perceived value, I am not as careful with it as I am with some of my more valuable instruments. 

The Walden also got me interested in other steel string guitars. Uh Oh!

Nobody Home by me. Recorded on the Walden 6

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster(Road worn made in Mexico) sunburst.

Tarantula Dreams at Gigzz

I bought this baby as a companion for the Tele. Same sunburst. I always loved Strats. I had a white one when I was in Winnipeg, but I sold it. Funny, I don’t remember selling it, and I don’t remember being distressed at it being gone. I enjoy the whammy bar although it makes tuning precarious. I don’t use it much, but it is sweet. The in-between settings get really great tones like Robert Cray and Mark Knopfler and John Mayer. I don’t generally play Hendrix or Clapton per se, but the Strat is a war horse for rock and roll. I virtually never play my Jazz repertoire on the Strat. I lent it to my daughter for a while, so a stock photo will have to do.

SOrta looks like mine, but the sunburst seems redder and there is no whammy.

The best feature for me is the sculpted body. the curve in the back can accommodate middle-aged gut spillover. the contour on the front is also easier on the forearm. Getting it back soon.

Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster (Road worn made in Mexico) Sunburst

David Young sketch of a Telecaster


Not much of a story here, I was always attracted to the Telecaster ever since I heard Roy Buchanan in 1974 or 75. I bought “Second Contribution” and marvelled at the tones and screams he was able to coax from his guitar. Ed Bickert was also a Tele player, though when I saw him at Concordia University while I was a student there, I noticed his guitar was not “stock” He had had a Humbucker put in. His cool tones and great phrasing and voice leading influenced me a great deal. There are dozens of others (including Robbie Robertson and Pops Staples and Bruce Springsteen, Steve Cropper and so on….) but Roy and Ed were my top two.   

I needed an electric to use with a Janis Joplin Tribute Band  that could handle the loudness and cut through, so I went and tried this baby out at Audiomanie. I bought it for $750 dollars in 2011. I immediately ordered Fender Noiseless pickups and had them installed. I love playing this instrument and she responds quite differently from my other guitars. Intonation drives me nuts though. I replaced the bridge with a Mastery Bridge (think Rolls Royce of bridges) based on some advice from friends and the endorsement from Bill Frisell. It improved it, but did not altogether fix it. I then got a full fret dressing and some shaving of the nut and the guitar is 95%. I have to be careful with the electric tuners. I tune the g string slightly differently for certain keys. It is infuriating to have an open string that is perfectly in tune and when fretted it goes sharp. The thin neck of the guitar means you can pull it out of tune easily.

The Road Worn Tele is based on a ‘50s model. The fingerboard is maple, instead of rosewood, and the body sports a sunburst finish—both of those traits really set off the worn treatment. The body exhibits a great attention to detail, such as small dents on the rear edge of the guitar and an area worn down to the white primer on the back, where belt buckles would normally rest against it.

“Once in a while, you come across a particular guitar that exemplifies a model you’ve played what seems like a few million times—one that rises above the others of its kind and truly enchants you. This Telecaster was one of those instruments. The tone was true to the Tele twang and honk, but had an impressive sting to it that was very easy on the ears. The low end was quick and tight, and the midrange was surprisingly smooth for a stock bridge pickup. The fat neck combined with the well-worn areas made it a dream to play. Even the large 6105 jumbo frets weren’t a bother, although the guitar could perhaps have been improved by sporting a smaller set that really belongs on a Telecaster. This Tele just had it all, hands down. The thing simply rocked.” (a review)

“Pre-worn guitars are highly controversial among musicians. Some love the idea of an affordable, worn replica that’s great feeling great sounding right out of the box—and one that won’t take years getting it to feel the way they want it to. Others think the whole thing is as pointless as buying a pair of distressed jeans, and are offended that anybody would think that those battle scars didn’t have to be earned. After all, that’s one of the reasons why guitarists love worn guitars in the first place. They speak to the history between instrument and player. In the end, each player has to be the one to judge, but you ought to at least play one first before deciding.

Some aspects of a well-made, worn vintage replica can be a blessing in disguise: aged pickup magnets, thin nitro finishes and extremely comfortable necks. If the look turns players away, hopefully the allure of a great sounding and feeling instrument can bring them back. In the end, that’s all that should matter anyway, whether or not it’s achieved by a player over time or by a craftsman in another part of the world.”

My Tele is one of the first guitars I think of grabbing on any given day. One reason may be that I leave it out of it’s case, lying around the house, but truly when it is in tune and co-operating she is lovely. When untunable, she is a drag, but who isn’t.

for sensitive singer/songwriter/jazz. Photo credit Sharon Cheema
and rocking! Photo credit Sharon Cheema

Guitars That Have Flown

My Raven Telecaster was shaped like a Tele, but was hollow. A very shitty guitar, but it was Electric and looked like Robbie Robertson’s guitar and Roy Buchanan’s guitar. I was young. 19 or 20 and I played it via patch cords through a stereo system….bad idea…..Blew up my dad’s Radio Shack (Realistic) speakers which are not built for spikes in the signal…who knew?…. I eventually did get a proper (if underpowered) amp and it all sounded like shit. This was before I figured out the important things about an electric guitar are: feel, noise of pickups, tone, tunability. More so than “cool factor”. A Telecaster is cool. A shitty knock-off is not. Also amplifiers are as important as your electric guitar.

I bought it at a flea market, and I don’t remember what I did with it. I have a vague recollection of putting it on consignment somewhere. If someone bought it, I am truly sorry. I may have had $20 taken off of some other musical equipment.

Another 2 guitars I used to own in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that kinda sucked were; a Gretsch Tennessean and a Fender Jaguar. I put them together because I bought them both around the same time and traded them both in at exactly the same time.

Gretsch used to make fine guitars and this one may have been one at one time, but I could never coax the one I owned to behave. It had a warp and a twist to it’s neck and the pickups were excessively noisy. She never tuned up right even with a stroboscope. I liked the shape and feel of the guitar, and the f-hole decals were kind of cool, rather than actual f-holes.  I have since played the exact same model and it was dreamy. I traded my Gretsch and another guitar (the Jaguar) eventually for a guitar that I still own.

looked like this….

The Jaguar had had the finish stripped off. I liked the look, but it meant that it was of less value than other stock Jaguars. I liked that it was shaped like a Strat and that it had the name “Fender” on it. Trouble with that guitar was in the setup. Back in my early twenties I didn’t know you could get your guitar’s intonation and neck adjusted for maximum playability. With Fender guitars in our climate, it need s to be adjusted seasonally.  I now do it twice a year with the two Fenders I still own.

The Jaguar never behaved or sounded the way a Strat or a Tele did. The pickups were thin and dry and unforgiving. Everything about these two guitars depressed and frustrated me. I had two “name” guitars that were actually “lame” guitars. I still had other guitars, but I wanted something to Rock out on.

looked like this one

Other ones that passed through….

In retrospect, I could have and maybe should have had a luthier look at these guitars and if I had invested a bit, they might have become cherished. A set-up can do wonders.


I bought a white Stratocaster in 1986. It was more cream or pearl coloured. I have almost no recollection of this guitar except that it weighed a lot and that I sold it in Winnipeg.

Over the years I have had many crappy student’s guitars cross my desk, given to me. I would fix em up and give em away or lend them out to students who can’t afford one. Almost all of these ones have been nylon string classical guitars. Steel string guitars under a certain quality are like cheese cutters. I still own six or seven nylon string guitars, but I imagine I will give them away when I stop teaching. More than once I have found guitars by the curb missing a string or two, but entirely salvageable. Many people give up too easily.