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The Guitar That Refuses to Die (no Gibson content)

#1 User is offline   dhanners623 

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 03:03 PM

In early 2005 at a guitar get-together at Gabe’s in St. Paul, MN, I met this tall guy from the backwoods of Browerville, MN, named Denis O’Neill. He was playing a cool dread he’d assembled from a StewMac kit. I liked it, so I asked him if he could build me one and he said “yes” and quoted me a ridiculously low price. So I commissioned a guitar, with a few personal tweaks.

I wanted a mahogany dread with the old style “V” neck. I wanted an ebony fretboard devoid of inlay. I'd provide the pickguard, tuners and bridge pins. A few weeks later, we met at a coffee shop in St. Paul and he presented me with a guitar. As he took it out the case, he said words to the effect of, “This guitar didn’t turn out like I had hoped. Let me build you another at no cost.” He was right; the neck/body angle was just wrong. But, hey, it was the second guitar he’d ever put together so I tried to be understanding.

So three months later, we met at the coffee shop again and he had the replacement guitar. I picked it up and the first thing I noticed was it was light as a feather. You could send it airmail. Nearly every great acoustic guitar I've played or owned was amazingly light. I strummed a G chord and knew immediately this was A GUITAR. It was a cannon. Great tone. Sustain to die for. A deep resonance that made it a banjo killer. Excellent action. He knocked it out of the park.

I’ve gigged with it, recorded with it and when I put together a bluegrass band in the summer of 2016, this was the guitar I played. When I’d go sit with my ailing father in the VA hospital and play a few old tunes for him, this was the guitar I took. Months later, when he was in hospice care at home, this is the guitar he heard. It helped get me through a divorce and was there when I found new love. But when it came time to move to Kuwait in July 2014, I had concerns over whether Jane (the guitar's name) would survive in he harsh environment that is Kuwait, Where Music and Guitars Go to Die. The guitar had already had a couple of neck resets and the bridge had been replaced. I just didn’t know how it would react to the desert. Some of the Twin Cities’ best repair people have had their hands on this guitar at one time or another: Kevin Schwab, Ron Tracy, Marty Reynolds and Leo Whitebird. And there isn't a single acoustic guitar repairman in all of Kuwait.

When we headed abroad, I left the guitar with a friend, and he kept it humidified. I picked up the guitar when we came back to the U.S. for a visit in 2016. That summer, I played it with my bluegrass band at my hometown’s annual Popcorn Festival. When it was time to head home to Kuwait, I gave it to Leo in return for repair work he had done to keep it alive through the summer. He uses it as a “communal” instrument when he teaches.

I saw Leo Saturday and saw the guitar. He’s loaning it to me for my trip to Illinois next week. I brought it to our AirBNB and Sunday morning, as the coffee was brewing and a gentle rain cooled off St. Paul, I strung it up with Martin Monels, and the guitar’s magic flooded back. Jeez. I love guitars that inspire and motivate and Sunday morning, it was telling me I had left some songs in it that I needed to write.

It's showing it's age. It's got a top crack (that Leo expertly repaired) and a ding on the bass side of the upper bout. There are nicks and scratches galore. A couple of popsicle braces fell out. When we head back to Kuwait in August, Leo will get the guitar back and his students will get to learn their own songs on it, but I’ll cherish the month’s worth of music I’ll get to create with it. Life is good and guitars help with that.

This post has been edited by dhanners623: 03 July 2018 - 03:29 PM

Check out my latest record, There Are No Secrets in This Town, by going to https://davidhannersmusic.com. Thanks!
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#2 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 04:25 PM

Very cool guitar story. Thanks for sharing.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#3 User is offline   bayoubengal1954 

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 04:29 PM

Glad you and the guitar are getting reacquainted. Great story.
1974 Martin D-28
"Frankenstein" 1948 Gibson J-50 Body/1938 L-00 Neck
1945 Epiphone Triumph Archtop
2008 Martin 000-18 Norman Blake
2013 Martin 00-DB Jeff Tweedy
2010 Larrivee Forum IV (00 All Mahogany 12 Fretter))
1972 Guild Killdeer F112-6 Part Deux (Name Created by adorshki on LTG)
2016 Halcyon NL-00 Lutz/Walnut
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#4 User is offline   Lars68 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 02:51 AM

Never part with that guitar, and keep it alive whatever it takes. I started playing as an adult and have not had enough time to achieve that kind of sentimental attachment to a great instrument. So I envy you.

Lars
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#5 User is offline   billroy 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 05:59 AM

Great story!
'18 Gibson J45, vintage
'86 Guild D25
'00 Fender Strat (American Standard)
'90 Fender Strat (Korea, bought in an open market in Korea... yeah it might be real)
'68 Gibson SG
'17 Several 3 String CBGs

"Want people to listen to your stuff, don't play boring stuff..." heard somewhere.
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#6 User is offline   SirNed 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 07:18 AM

Love that story. Glad to hear you're sharing the guitar with others so they can experience what you've felt. Is Mr. Oneil still making guitars?
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#7 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 08:11 AM

I am not sure how I would feel about a guitar that has needed to be resuscitated as many times as yours in less than 15 years. But it is a really great story and again brings home that it is this kind of a personal history with an instrument that makes it uniquely your own. The repairs as well as every nick and scratch are all memories. And this is what Mojo truly means.
__________________________________________________


"I play so rough - I stomp 'em"
Bukka White
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#8 User is offline   scriv58 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 08:50 AM

where you be in illinois next week?
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#9 User is offline   PatriotsBiker 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 09:16 AM

Nice story! [thumbup]
I looked twice - no pics? I'm curious to see what she looks like.
2018 - Gibson Hummingbird
2015 - Taylor 614CE
2013 - Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro(59)
2014 - Epiphone Black Royale P93
2015 - Epiphone ES335 Custom
2005 - Epiphone Les Paul Custom (MIK)
2008 - MIM Tele - Modded to Keefocaster
2011 - Fender USA Strat Standard
2012 - Fender USA Telecaster
2009 - PRS SE Paul Allender
2007 - Gretsch 5120 Electromatic
2016 - Fender Jazz Bass
Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue
Jet City Amps 20W JCA2112RC
Pro Tools based "Home Project Studio"
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#10 User is offline   dhanners623 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 09:20 AM

View PostSirNed, on 04 July 2018 - 07:18 AM, said:

Love that story. Glad to hear you're sharing the guitar with others so they can experience what you've felt. Is Mr. Oneil still making guitars?


I think he built some more and last I heard, he had moved to the Pacific Northwest. Also, last I heard, his house had just burned down (he frequents another guitar forum I'm on) and had lost virtually everything.
Check out my latest record, There Are No Secrets in This Town, by going to https://davidhannersmusic.com. Thanks!
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#11 User is offline   dhanners623 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 09:27 AM

View Postscriv58, on 04 July 2018 - 08:50 AM, said:

where you be in illinois next week?


I'll be in East Central Illinois and I'm playing some places you have probably never heard of. The schedule:

July 6
Heritage Park, Mattoon, IL
Double bill with John Crouch
11:30 a.m.

July 14
Oilfield Store, Oilfield, IL
Solo
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

July 19
Bandstand, Fairview Park, Casey, IL
Solo w/Kendall Scott. John Crouch opens
7-9 p.m.

July 20
Moonshine General Store, Moonshine, IL
With Karl Burke
11:15 a.m.-noon

July 20
Jackson Avenue Coffee, Charleston, IL
Song swap with Karl Burke, John Crouch and me
7-9 p.m.

July 22
Pinky’s, Effingham, IL
Karl Burke, John Crouch and me, separate sets
2-4 p.m.

July 27
Oilfield Store, Oilfield, IL
With John Crouch
6-7:30 p.m.
Check out my latest record, There Are No Secrets in This Town, by going to https://davidhannersmusic.com. Thanks!
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#12 User is offline   SirNed 

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 10:50 AM

 dhanners623, on 04 July 2018 - 09:20 AM, said:

I think he built some more and last I heard, he had moved to the Pacific Northwest. Also, last I heard, his house had just burned down (he frequents another guitar forum I'm on) and had lost virtually everything.


Sorry to hear about the fire. Hope everything works out for him.

BTW I have heard of Effingham. My wife used to go on business trips there. I always joked about making a t-shirt that read,
"My wife went to Effingham, IL and all I got was this Effing T-shirt"
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