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Your Gibson and its Story


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Do you have a Gibson guitar story? What's the story behind your favorite Gibson? Here's mine:


I played with some bluegrass people in Tucson in the early 1970s, Mike and Sue McFarland ("The Zion Mountain String Band"), and he leant me a Gibson J-50. It was already old at the time. I used it to death from about 1972 to 1975, then moved out of town and since it wasn't mine I gave it back to Mike. He put it in a chipboard case, and decided he would give it to me if I ever returned or passed through Tucson again. You see, we were hippies at the time and there was no tellin where we would end up! So about a year later I passed through and saw Mike and he gave me the instrument. For the year I was gone, he never opened the case and would not let anyone else open it. When I pulled it out, there was a small crowd of Mike's musical friends standing around cuz they wanted to see what this guitar was all about! Well J50s are to play, not to look at, so I took it out of the case and we played and played. The guitar was still in pitch and almost in tune (Hey - it was a Gibson from when they knew how to make 'em). I played it for years and years afterwards. The picture is of me at an outdoor bluegrass show in El Paso in 1978 with that very J50. In 2013, I do not own it any longer, don't ask why. It's my favorite guitar ever.


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OK, I'll go next.


When I was a kid, I always wanted a guitar and never had one. But I had access to a few -- my younger bother had a Kay electric, my next door neighbor had a Gibson LG-0 and my Dad had a harmony archtop with five strings. Somehow I learned enough so I could play some common rock pieces (late 50s -- Ventures, Buddy Holly, Johnny Be Good) and I could strum and sing simple folk songs -- I wanted it bad.


Well, at 17 in 1961, I went away to college -- we were a blue collar family, but I had a full scholarship or I could not have gone to college. MIT in those days had a way of reaching out and finding potential students in far away places -- bless them. Needless to say I was (am) a geek, but I loved music.


When I got to college, I joined a Fraternity and once again had access to borrowed guitars, and because of the folk boom and rock dances, I got to play a fair amount. But still I had no guitar.


Well, we had to pay for room and board, and that was about all my family and I could manage. Room and board was about $500 per semester, and if I worked construction all summer, I could make about $600 -- which gave me about $100 for everything else. My parents paid the $600 for the other semester.


Our meals were covered all days except Fridays -- we were expected to go out and eat Friday. But the Fraternity supplied bread, peanut butter and jelly all the time. So at the beginning of the 2nd semester, the first one where my money was in use, I went shopping for a guitar -- I was looking for an LG-0, but I found a shop worn LG-1 instead. It cost me $75 -- and I ate peanut butter and jelly for dinner every Friday for five months.


Here it is -- the strap was from a camera bag.






I played that guitar with my wife the day I met her. It went on beaches, mountains, and 600 miles in an open boat on the Indian River, Most of its finish was eventually gone and it was somewhat despoiled by our parrot. Alas, in the early 80s someone broke into my office at Georgia Tech and stole it.


It was the guitar of my youth -- it framed my eventual life in so many ways.


Goodbye guitar.


Let's pick,



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