I blame the parents…
At least, I blame Pete Townsend’s parents.
Let me clarify: Back in September 1964, The Who’s lead guitarist smashed his Rickenbacker guitar in a fit of rage on stage at London’s Railway Hotel, and the act has since been heralded as one of the “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll”. Since then many rock bands have followed the trend.
Back in the more sedate world of Folk and Acoustic however, we tend to treat our instruments with a little more reverence. Some actually taking things to the opposite extreme. I once saw a guitarist take a soft cloth to the varnished surface of his precious Gibson mere seconds after the person admiring it had handed it back. Maybe he thought the fingerprint would affect the resonance!
Earlier this year, ex ELO2 guitarist Phil Bates visited our local Acoustic Club and performed a fantastic set on an old box every bit as battered as Willie Nelson’s famous Martin N-20 “Trigger”. Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard has also jumped on the holey guitar bandwagon, nurturing his well-worn Takamine, “The Horse”. Tudor-Pole and many others have followed suit too. Having a well worn guitar with splintered holes in your soundboard is obviously becoming something of a trend.
Yet I can’t help wondering how many of these holey guitars really are the result of wear and tear from years of over enthusiastic string bashing, or whether these holes have been, ahem, “helped” along the way!
Last year I repaired a split in the body of my vintage Eko using plastic wood to build it up again and then searched in vain for the exact colour varnish in an attempt to match the original. I never did get around to finishing it. Maybe I should have just left it with a gaping hole. Maybe that would have been more “rock n’ roll”!
Come to think of it, I see an opening here for a new business idea: Designer Guitars, customised in the style of Nelson, Hansard, Bates or whoever else your guitar thrashing hero might be. I could become a sort of anti-luthier.
In fact, I’ve already got the tool kit for the job. It will save people having to spend years gouging their holes with tiny plastic picks!