Guitar obsession is ruling my free time

By Jeff Linville -

Hello, my name is Jeff, and I’m an addict.

Not of booze, pills, illegal drugs or tobacco. And I’m not a sex addict or one of those weirdos who can’t miss an episode of reality TV.

No, I have an addiction to musical instruments. More precisely, guitars.

At the start of the movie “Unbreakable” is a statement from M. Night Shyamalan that the average serious comic book collector has more than 3,000 comics.

The first time I saw that movie, the statement floored me. Who in the world is buying so many comics and how can they afford such a habit?

Considering new comics cost $3 to $4 these days, one could acquire 3,000 for about $10K.

That’s really not very much if you consider something like Jay Leno’s car and motorcycle collection or Slash’s Les Paul guitar collection.

And while 3,000 comics would take up space, it’s probably no more than what a second car would take up in your garage.

Guitars, on the other hand, do take up space and money.

Since I live and work in a small town, not a Wall Street investment firm, money is an obvious factor.

I can’t collect guitars, but I sure can drool over them.

Sure, I have a few guitars at my house, but $80 for a Squier Stratocaster isn’t going to break the bank — or cause any jealousy among friends.

And isn’t that kind of the point in a collection? Don’t you want people to go “oooh” and “aaah” when they see your stuff?

Instead I find myself hanging out at music stores like Guitar Center, Sam Ash and small mom-and-pop locations.

I stare at axes hanging on the wall like a homeless man outside a bakery window.

There is a Facebook page where area musicians sell and swap gear. Scarcely a day goes by that my smart phone, tablet or computer doesn’t find its way to the page.

One of my Facebook friends said back at Christmas that his guitar collection was up to 59 guitars.

What? I thought only celebrities and billionaires could have something like that. How does a regular Joe amass such a display?

This friend, who goes by the nickname Toenail, actually plays in a band, so maybe he makes enough to afford his hobby.

The odd thing about my guitar obsession is that it’s fairly new. I’ve only been so heavily interested over the past three years. I’ve been playing guitar for 26 years.

I first took up the instrument while working and going to community college. I was far too broke to afford things like going out to eat or catching a movie. I was stuck at home in my spare time.

My aunt had an old Harmony guitar with a warped neck that she loaned me. She taught me a few chords and set me loose.

After six months of persevering with this difficult instrument, my dad took pity on me and bought me a Yamaha acoustic for my 19th birthday.

For many years I strummed an acoustic with little interest in trying to play an electric guitar.

I’m not sure exactly when that changed. About three years ago I started going to Craigslist from time to time to see what was for sale. I looked at all kinds of stuff including old cameras and lenses, desktop computers.

But, more and more I found myself on the musical instruments page.

This yearning developed.

I used to fuss at my wife for having so many mail-order catalogs coming to the house.

“Why do you care? They’re free,” she said.

“Because it’s not free,” I countered. “It causes you to want things you don’t need until you end up buying something.”

Well, the wife isn’t around anymore, and her catalogs I assume go to Cana. But at my house it’s Sweetwater and Musician’s Friend and other guitar catalogs that show up now. My email inbox has Make’n Music, zZounds and Amazon.

Yes, I have a 1980s Korean-made Kramer that is built exactly like a Fender Strat. I have the cheap Squier version of a Strat. I don’t need an American Fender that costs $1,200. And I sure can’t afford that much money.

But I can drool.

That PRS model at $3,200? Lovely.

The Gibson “Southern Rock Tribute” 1959 reissue Les Paul, signed by Charlie Daniels and Dickey Betts for $6,583? Yes, please!

Oh wait, some guy on Craigslist has a Cort electric guitar for $50. Hmm, now we’re more Jeff’s speed.

I need to send him a message.

By Jeff Linville

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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