Musical Instruments

Here’s a quick update on my item count.  I have yet to do my electronics and kitchen stuff, but so far I’ve counted up 176 initial items and I have been able to purge about 56% of my belongings.  So that’s 99 items.  So far it hasn’t been too painful but I’ve really had to take a close look at the things I own, why I own them, and what purpose they serve (pragmatic vs sentimental).  I could probably still reduce clothing some clothing items to drive that number down.  I would without a doubt give up clothing in order to keep many of my hobby and sports items.

Today I took a look at my musical instrument collection.  I had 10 total musical instruments.  I’ve played guitar since I was 13 so it’s been a big part of my life.  I started with formal jazz lessons for 4-ish years and played with a handful of bands throughout high school.  I play much less now that I’m working for the man and doing so many outdoor activities.  I don’t leave myself much time to sit in my apartment and play music like I did in high school and college.  Here’s an image of my musical instruments:


From left to right:

The red guitar with the unattached electronics is a project I’ve been working on where I’m turning it into a lamp.  It was the first guitar I ever had, originally a  black Ibanez.  I refinished it after my first year in college and played around with new pickups and whatnot, got my feet wet in the nuts of bolts of guitars.  Now it’s not in really great shape for playability but I found a site online that sells guitar lamps and they look AWESOME.  So I’m going to try and install a dimmer switch in place of the pickup switch in order to dim the light bulb that I’ll put on top.  It’s an exciting project so I think I’m going to stick with it and count it toward my 100 items.

On top of the amp I have a Cry Baby Wah pedal that I hardly use.  It sounds pretty sweet but ultimately it’s not about how much wah you use, it’s about how well you play guitar.  It’s all about the cowbell anyway, so the wah is like ehh whatever.  It doesn’t add much to my bottom line of just jamming and learning new songs so I’m going to try and sell it on craigslist or to a local used instruments dealer.

Hanging from the wall is my pride and joy.  I built this guitar a few years ago.  The body came blank but in the traditional Stratocaster shape.  So I did the 3-color sunburst which worked out great.  I was nervous about experimenting with such a paint job but I read up on it online and it worked out better than I expected.  The neck came in one piece (ebony fretboard with a maple neck).  The tuning pegs are actually from my priest back home in Maine.  A few years ago someone ran over his 12 string with their minivan so I acquired the pieces.  Now his guitar lives on in the form of blues and rock and roll.  I put bluesy pickups in as well as a Gotoh-Wilkinson bridge which is a pretty high end bridge, found it on Craigslist for super cheap, score!  Basically a similar guitar online would cost over $2k but I paid just over $600 for materials and it took me about 5 months to finish (granted I was also an undergrad and graduate student at the same time, definitely could have finished it faster given different circumstances).  Win!

To complement my sexy home-made franken-strat, I eventually bought a tube amp made by Bugera.  I got a smokin deal on it from Craigslist, close to 70% off it’s retail value.  It sounds incredible so it’s staying of course.  An electric guitar wouldn’t be much use without the amp.  I’m not counting my guitar cable as an item because it’s really part of the whole system.  Both the amp and the guitar would be useless without it, just as my computer’s power chord is part of the system needed to make it work.

The tuner I’ll get rid of because I have a smartphone app for that now.  I’ll also get rid of the capo because I never use it.  There’s also a Harmonica that Sarah gave me a while back because I’ve always been interested in learning.  However I don’t think I’ve even picked it up once so I gave it back to her.  I think if I go on any kind of extended travel or backpacking trip I’ll take the time to learn it because it’s such a great instrument for travel.  As for now though,  just really don’t see myself taking the time to sit down and learn it.

The ukulele is still kind of a sore spot for me.  I bought it with Sarah and my buddy Vinny when we were on Oahu.  It’s made in Honolulu, it sounds great, I got a great deal on it, and it’s a sentimental piece of my trip to Hawaii.  However, I have really only played it a few times in the 1.5 years that I’ve had it.  I still can only play the one song that I learned right after I first bought it; White Sandy Beach by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole It’s a great instrument and my experience in Hawaii was THE BEST, but I really have neglected using the ukulele and learning new songs.  So this leads me to think that I probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.    Did I really want to play the ukulele or did I just want something to put on display that would remind me and others of Hawaii?  I’ll have to wrestle with this one before I’m really willing to sell it.  It’s worth about $150 so if I decide to sell it, I’ll wait as long as I need to in order to get a fair price.  We’ll see how it goes.

The Acoustic guitar on the right was my first and only acoustic guitar, a Simon & Patrick. To this day it is still my favorite sounding acoustic I’ve played (that means all guitars under $4000 because I’ve played some REALLY nice guitars that are quite out of my price range so they don’t count).  HOWEVER, last winter the humidity wreaked havoc on it.  There’s a 5″ horizontal split in the wood on the front of the guitar.  Also, the bridge split all the way down the saddle.  I was in a new apartment and neglected to humidify the guitar, so in the extremely dry new apartment it cracked.  I had it fixed by a luthier but only slightly.  The luthier said it might last another winter but it’s definitely on it’s way out and not worth repairing if it happens again.  This is leading me to think of selling it or donating it.  I think spending some time without an acoustic guitar could be good for me.  I’ve had this one for almost 10 years so if I find that I really can’t live without one then I’ll save up some money for one I’ve had my eye on.  So this month might be a good excuse to move on considering it’s inevitability.  It still makes me sad though 😦

The dulcimer (shown below, not above), I built in a guitar-making class at the Museum School of Fine Arts while I was in college.  I don’t really play it at all but it looks great and I built it with my own two hands.  So I donated it to my parents for them to hang on the wall as an art piece in the kitchen.  We found a good spot for it and it looks great.

My hand-made dulcimer on the wall in my parents' kitchen. Looks good if I do say so myself.

Here’s the breakdown of my musical stuff.  It’s the least amount of items of any of my categories so far but they’re definitely among the most important.

Music Stuff # Before # Purged # Final
Electric Guitar Lamp Project 1 0 1
Electric Guitar – Custom Built Strat Style 1 0 1
Acoustic Guitar – Simon & Patrick 1 0 1
Amplifier – Bugera Tube Amp 1 0 1
Dulcimer 1 1 0
Capo 1 1 0
Guitar Tuner 1 1 0
Harmonica 1 1 0
Ukulele 1 1 0
Wah Pedal 1 1 0
Total 10 6 4
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