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New Guitar

John Hardly 04 Jan 09 - 08:59 PM
DebC 04 Jan 09 - 09:04 PM
Don Firth 04 Jan 09 - 09:14 PM
Jeri 04 Jan 09 - 09:18 PM
Big Mick 04 Jan 09 - 11:40 PM
John Hardly 05 Jan 09 - 06:51 PM
Big Mick 06 Jan 09 - 12:46 AM
Hamish 06 Jan 09 - 09:57 AM
frogprince 06 Jan 09 - 10:46 AM
kendall 06 Jan 09 - 10:52 AM
Wesley S 06 Jan 09 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,lox 06 Jan 09 - 11:10 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 Jan 09 - 07:58 PM
Amos 06 Jan 09 - 08:33 PM
John Hardly 06 Jan 09 - 09:28 PM
John Hardly 06 Jan 09 - 09:34 PM
Phil Cooper 06 Jan 09 - 10:13 PM
breezy 07 Jan 09 - 04:19 AM
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Subject: New Guitar
From: John Hardly
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:59 PM

First time I saw it was through the window of Jim's shop. I was up in Goshen for one of the first of what has now become 5 years of old-timey jams held in the farmer's market of Goshen.

The guitar hung on a rack between several others – most of those others being repairs that Jim was working on. It didn't have a pickguard back then, and I mistakenly assumed that it was a Larrivee (Larrivee's had clear pickguards back then).

I let myself into the shop and, after introducing myself to Jim, I was able to inspect and play the guitar for the first time. It was wonderful. It probably had had its first set of strings put on it a week or two before. Still, it had a wide-open sound – dry and clear. Great for fingerpicking. Stellar for flatpicking.

Jim got busy that year with mandolin after archtop after jumbo order and, as such, the guitar stayed on his wall for months. Every time I went to Goshen for the bi-monthly jams, I'd often spend more of those Saturdays playing that guitar in Jim's shop than I'd spend across the parking lot at the farmer's market jam.

Jim and I struck up a good friendship trading stories and tunes over that guitar. We talked for hours about our shared life as craftsmen -- making a living by our wits and learning the finer points (often the hard way) of trying to market our aesthetic ideas in a subjective world. The joys and trials of working with our hands.

And over those months (that ended up turning into more than a year) I watched Jim tweak the guitar – buffing the varnish (Jim hand rubs all of his guitars – it started out because health concerns didn't allow him poly spray. He kept it up because there is just nothing that compares to a fine rubbed finish) to a fine, warm glow, adding a pickguard – little details.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. The guitar was sold. For me, it was an opportunity lost. I never had the money to buy the guitar and I knew I was playing it on borrowed time all those Saturdays. It went to a good home. Rayna Gellert's (Uncle Earl/Freight Hoppers) mom bought it. That was cool for two reasons: Uncle Earl is cool, and I would still have the chance of seeing the guitar from time to time, as Rayna's mom is part of the Goshen music scene that I bump into from time to time.

Truth is, early this spring the farmer's market was closed on a jam Saturday and the jam was moved to Rayna's mom's house. And I went for one reason. I went with camera in hand, determined to get a few photos of the guitar. Got 'em too.

Well, I got the heart-breaking email late one night a few weeks ago. Rayna's mom had to sell the guitar. For long enough she had fought the tendonitis that the big guitar seemed to aggravate in her shoulder. She loved the guitar but couldn't play it.

I was broke. I couldn't possibly buy the thing. I can't tell you how often I thought about that guitar over the past few weeks now, knowing as I did that it was most probably going to be sold to someone I didn't know and I'd never again see it.

Well, yesterday was a jam Saturday. And I went up to Goshen as usual. I hung out in Jim's shop as usual (he's got a freakishly great small-bodied – his own design – walnut-backed guitar he built and that I now play every time I go up there). And for a good fifteen minutes all we talked about was the guitar, it being for sale, the sense of loss in it all.

And it just happened to be a Saturday when so many of the friends that I've made in Goshen were all there too. I was sitting there playing "Her name was Joanne, and she lived in a meadow by a pond…" with Joe and Jim. I'm not sure if Jim and Joe were rolling their eyes at my odd 60's choice in music, but we sure seemed to sound good on it. I looked up to see that Rayna's mom (and her husband) was coming up the walkway toward Jim's shop with a guitar case in hand.

The ONLY thing that crossed my mind at the sight of them approaching was that I MIGHT get one more chance – one more song out of that guitar before I never saw it again.

Rayna's mom walked through the shop door. I smiled up at her and said, "MAN, your ears must have been burning, 'cause we've been talking about you ALL morning!".

She smiled back down at me (I was still sitting). Then she stepped over, set the case at my feet and said, "Happy anniversary. Dar (my wife) just bought this
for you."

Well, I'm not a man of few words. I became one.


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: DebC
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:04 PM

Beautiful and touching story, John.

Enjoy it for many years to come.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:14 PM

HEY!! Congratulations!!

Not just for your new guitar, but for having married a great gal!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:18 PM

Wow, John, great story. Happy anniversary!


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 11:40 PM

I just love that it is in the hands of the fella that lusted after it all this time. Congrats, buddy....... on the guitar, but especially on your choice of life partner.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: John Hardly
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 06:51 PM

Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, my wife's a gem. It was our 32nd anniversary.

And the guitar's doing what it should -- it's sounding great, and it's inspiring me to play about two hours a day. Thus, I've taken the time to work through two pieces that used to be impossible for me.

Mick, you oughta hear my fingerstyle "Hard Times" on this thing. Wonderment.


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Big Mick
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:46 AM

Buddy, we are long overdue for some singing/playing time. When you headed up to these parts again? You going to bring this wonderkind of an instrument?

Mick


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Hamish
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:57 AM

Great story. Must be a song in it...


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: frogprince
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:46 AM

Great, John; I just got my Judy to read your opening post, and she did the big "Awwww" thing. Now Maybe I can get her to buy me that Buggati Atlante they just found in the guy's garage. (Ref the "look in your garage" thread).   

Ever wonder about how a ceramic body guitar might sound?
   
                               Dean


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: kendall
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:52 AM

That's a great story, man.


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Wesley S
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:01 AM

Did you ever tell us who made the guitar? I know it wasn't a Larivee - was your friend Jim the builder?


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:10 AM

Awesome!!!


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:58 PM

WHAT????

You let a woman buy a guitar for you? Now you'll never be able to get rid of her!


Congratulations!


(On both the guitar and the wife.)


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:33 PM

Man, John, it just brings tears to my eyes!! What a guitar! What a woman!!!



A


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: John Hardly
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:28 PM

Mick, This'll be my first year in a LONG time to not do East Lansing Art Festival. I'll PM you if I get up to Elderly's. I've got a gallery carrying my work up in Charlevoix and I might take the long way up this Spring.

Frog, I'm guessing that a ceramic guitar would ring on forever. There's some guy in Australia whose been building glass guitars. Apparently ceramic makes for lotsa sustain. Good luck with the guitar gift thing. Tell Judy that Jim's got another guitar (he built last year) hanging on the wall. It's sort of a D-21 -- spruce and mahogany with dark wood binding and a burl soundhole ring. Great guitar.

Wesley, Some day I'll post long about my friend, Jim Shenk. Everyone (it seems) in Northern Indiana knows about him, but Jim's chosen to purposely stay small -- as such, he's as busy as he can handle. And he's a happy man. It's nice to meet a guy who can keep his life and his priorities in perspective. He calls his shop "Wooden Music" and it has one of the strongest gravitational pulls of any music center I've ever known. You can't go in there on a Saturday and not meet a few dozen musical (pro and am) locals. I highly recommend a visit if you are EVER in the area.

Bruce, If you make it back up this August, maybe I can break free, drive up to Nappanee and we could play a tune or two. I think you'd like the guitar.

Amos, Yup, she's a great woman. Way better than I deserve.

Thanks, kendall, lox, and hamish!


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: John Hardly
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:34 PM

It just occured to me that you can see several pictures of the guitar here.


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:13 PM

What a good story. Glad it happened.


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Subject: RE: New Guitar
From: breezy
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:19 AM

I read the thread,

What's with the 'breeze' ? cheek !

My wives did buy me guitar cases.

take good care of it,

H N Y


breezy


' many years you have lingered around Jim's guitar shop door

now maybe, you'll stay home, a little more.'


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