Guitars as wands

by Mark Crump

Dan Amrich wrote in this blog post, “I sound a bit like the classic California nutjob when I say this, but I believe guitars are like Harry Potter wands, and even though I chose the Mira, it simply didn’t choose me back.” Since he wrote that, the words have been resonating with me.  Usually, for the same reason he mentioned: a guitar that seems like it would be perfect for me, ends up not being perfect.

When I’m at Guitar Center there’s usually someone practicing bad licks on expensive guitars someone playing the same guitar for a long while. I’ve always held to the belief that you’ll know in the first 5 minutes of playing a guitar if it chose you. And sometimes the guitar really chooses you. In 1990, I was at Daddy’s Shrewsbury when I spotted a nice sunburst Ibanez RG570. I played it for 5 minutes, bought it on the spot, and 23-odd years later it’s still  the guitar I reach for most often. It recently got a little renovation with some coil taps and new pickups, and it’s a very happy little guitar.

A few years ago, I bought a silverburst Epiphone Les Paul that chose me. When I went to the store, I was actually intending to buy a different used Les Paul, but after playing Silver, I knew that guitar had chosen me (it did take me a while to get used to the silverburst paint job though). Trish got me pickups designed by one of my favorite guitar players (Billy Gibbons), and it’s been one of my main guitars.

Sometime last year I swapped guitars with my friend Jeff. I got from him a very nice Epiphone Les Paul Royale in black. On paper, it was perfect for me. I like my Les Pauls big and weighty, and this was a heavy summbitch with a thick neck. I never cottoned to it, though. Simply put, the guitar didn’t chose me. I still used it, but it was the guitar I brought in case something happened to Silver, or if I needed to tune down for a song.

Circumstances this week opened up another trade and Black went back to Jeff, and I got a different Les Paul from Jeff.

When I got home tonight I played it for 5 minutes. It had chosen me.

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