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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vida, the Blueridge Guitar

All guitars, like boats, should have a name, right? And that name should stay with them for their entire lives. It's all so spiritual. You can play a hundred guitars, all the same model, and each one will be different. And then, suddenly--as it always happens right out of the blue--one just calls to you. You can put it down, walk away, and when you go back to it, it will reach out and grab you again. Then, it's your decision: Can you live without it?

Guitars are like every other tool or instrument: A good one can make you a better player. We both knew we were each sitting on a plateau in our respective musical paths, so we were on the lookout for a new guitar. We would walk into a new music store and we would have our standards. Just walking in the door you can feel if you're in a friendly place where neophytes like us will be welcome. If you're greeted with a howdy or a hey or a smile, that's a good sign. If the guitars are treated respectfully, that's an even better sign. If the guitars are all in tune, and the salespeople insist on helping you with the more expensive guitars, those are really good signs. Rather than feel insulted that I'll damage the instruments, I like that they protect them. It means that when I finally shell out some dough, I'll know what I'm getting has been treated with kid gloves. And if you're left alone, given time to play, and if when you ask a question it's answered respectfully and without an attitude, well, if you got all that you've found a special place.

So Sue and I patiently just kept searching. Sometimes the journey is as much as the destination, right?

And in Austin, after visiting only a couple of music stores, we found the South Austin Music Store. Not the fanciest place, as you can see. But even that is a plus for me. I don't want to be paying for someone's overhead and inflated rent for a boutique spot on some place like Boylston Street. I want the money put in product and service.

We wandered a bit, and then Bill came up to us to say hi. Since this was more Sue's gig, I split off to look at Les Paul's and Telecasters, and was pretty much left alone. Sweet. When I wandered back across the floor, Bill and Sue were talking friendly. One thing I liked about Bill is when I approached he included me in the conversation, but he didn't exclude Sue.

We told Bill our price range, and I'm not even sure how the Blueridge ended up in Sue's hands. I know it wasn't hard sell on Bill's part. I think he just sort of figured from the way we were talking that maybe the three of us should get acquainted. The Saga Blueridge is a 000 size, and it fits Sue perfectly. All wood, so the sound is real rich. I actually had to get used to how loud it was compared to the dreadnoughts we had at home. We stayed and handed her back and forth, playing her plugged in and unplugged. By all reckoning it was a great guitar. And it wasn't a Martin or a Gibson or a Taylor or anything we ever heard of, which is a good thing and a bad thing. To my way of thinking, there's nothing like a Martin D-28. But at $3,200 there probably isn't going to be one in my future. That's sort of the thing. If you want a decent Martin or Taylor, you have to pay for it. Their low end just isn't worth the money, just to have the name.

But even with Bill giving us a great deal, the Blueridge still was out of our individual price range. Which is where it's great to be with someone who shares your vision and your passion. It wasn't much of a stretch for Sue and me to look at each other and say, I can pony up this much, how about you? If music is your passion and it means something to you, it's not hard to say, well, the apartment might not look like something out of House Beautiful, but this particular piece of wood and string will make us better...kind of in the spiritual sense, if you can understand where I'm going with this.

Sue and I had to talk about this a bit. No pressure from Bill. We retired to Uncle Billy's over on Barton Springs Road for some good home-brewed beer and tangy BBQ. Sue and I have a funny way of working. We're not compulsive shoppers, and Sue can squeeze a nickel until the buffalo bellows. And she knows what's in her head, or at least she gives that impression most of the time; I pretty much know what's in mine, but we both sort of have to weigh things out. On the walk over to Uncle Billy's I figured the money was there. But what else was there to think about? Over dinner, with Sue's sister, Stacey adding her ideas, it pretty much came down to figuring out how the warranty would work with us in Boston and how would we get it home.

Long story short, the next day, Sue and I took a break from the dust and crowds of the music festival, hitched a ride over to South Austin Music, and adopted ourselves a Blueridge. I do believe in karma, in some form or another. I've learned to just walk away from things that just don't feel exactly right. The one last thing I was concerned about was if Vida would make the trip to Boston. And that other big if: Would we love her as much as when we first played her.

The big box came on a Friday. We were expecting it to arrive on Saturday, so that was a nice surprise. We unpacked her, and God love Sue, she said for me to play her first. I strummed her, and I'll be darned if she still wasn't pretty much in tune. Sue named her Vida--which means life, in Spanish.

Now are you all starting to understand why we don't have a television?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too bought a Blueridge guitar. Loud guitar, loved it at first. Thing is, you absolutely must keep the humidity right on your Blueridge. If not, and you have some dry cold air, it might split. That is what happened to mine - 6 months after I got it. It now has 3 cracks in the top. We live in a pretty dry climate, so it is very tough on my Blueridge. Took it back to store and they had a few others also in for same problem. Got is humidified and closed the crack up, and I keep in in a case with a humidifier, but it still opened up again. Hasn't really affected the sound, but it really looks ugly. I don't play it much anymore and I'm pretty sure I couldn't sell it, so I just kept it. I recently bought a high end Tak., which is what I play on stage. Keep that guitar in the case with humidifier. Thing is, I learned a hard lesson. you really got to pay attention to humidity, no matter what you have.

February 1, 2009 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger John Greiner-Ferris said...

anonymous...thanks for the heads up...where do you live?...we're up here in new england right near the water, so humidity at least in the summer isn't a problem...though now in the winter it is...also, what kind of humidfier did you buy?...thanks again fro the tip...

February 2, 2009 at 9:00 AM  

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