Thursday, 1 December 2011
A "spare" guitar, just a banger...but something interesting
I decided I should buy a guitar. Nah, not a fancy new one, just a spare "banger", which I can hide in a cupboard at work and pull out when I need a lunchtime fix. "Normal" people would say "just take in one of your other guitars", but my only choices are my old Maton steel string, which is a steel string (I'm 100% addicted to nylon at the moment); or my thin body cutaway nylon, "but the neck is too narrow, that's why I stopped playing it!" My first fullsize guitar, from 1981, I still have; it is a proper classical guitar and would do the job but I keep it at my place down South.
Obviously I don't want to spend a lot; but at the same time I don't really want to buy a just a new beginners guitar (although when I take my oldest daughter to piano lessons while I wait I play a beginners guitar from the shelf, it plays and sounds surprisingly good. Basically, I think with modern day construction techniques and cheap overseas labour, you can make a pretty reasonable low cost nylon string guitar).
So I want something "interesting".
I started looking in the local classifieds. I have a theory that pretty much every second house has a nylon string guitar in it that nobody has played for a decade. But nobody sells them because guitars are, hmm, I don't think there is a word to describe it. They make you feel good even if you can't play them, and "one day I'll learn how to play it" (that won't happen (but it's good for the soul to think it will)). So they generally don't find their way into the classifieds.
But when they do; well, they are interesting!
You'll see a whole lot of near-new beginners guitars - it didn't work out. And then there are the really good guitars being sold by players who are upgrading. But then there are the decades old ones, maybe the owner has died, someone is just getting rid of it. *Those* ones got me interested.
There have been a few 1970's classical guitars, one interesting one made by Fender. I did a little bit of research, umm, okay, it is a beginners guitar from the 70's :) So I'll have to watch out for that - old, interesting, but essentially just beginners guitars. Then I saw something _really_ interesting. The seller listed it as a circa 1940/1950 Japanese classical guitar, made by a company called "Tempo". Researching it online was difficult, very little information available. The company existed from 1948 to 1975, but only made electric guitars for the first few decades or so. Looking at other classical guitars from the 60's they seem to generally have that, umm, "folky" look to them, whereas late 60's and from 70's on they have the "standard" "traditional" sort of look. This one looked "traditional", so mostly uninformed, I decided it must be early 70's.
I haven't been to look at it yet, but I might. The thing that puts me off is somebody has strung it with _steel_ strings. Sheesh. How many classical guitars do you reckon have been broken by steel strings? Judging from the photos though there is no big bend in the soundboard (they usually concave in under the extra tension) - so if it has taken steel strings for a while, it must be tough guitar! (which also means it might be too stiff to get a good sound). Only way to find out will be to give it a whirl.
Or, keep looking. I never considered vintage guitars, but now I'm intrigued. Guitars with history, and even guitars made before I was born!