As a novice guitarist (even after several years I never have managed to get past being a novice), I have developed an appreciation for quality guitars. This section of my homepage is just my way of showing you my favorite guitars, dream guitars and other guitars I wish I had as well as highlighting my personal collection.
THE STORY OF BUBBA ONE
This is the first guitar I bought for myself. "Bubba One" is a Takamine GX-200 solid body electric (Takamine produced solid-body electrics for only a couple of years in the 80's) purchased from a used guitar shop around 1992 for $80 (along with a used practice amp for another $50). "Bubba 1" has stock dual humbuckers with two volume controls, one tone control and a three-way switch allowing you to choose between the neck pickup, the bridge pickup or both at the same time. It is a set neck guitar and used to be white, but has aged to a beautiful cream color (the photo does not do it justice). I love playing this guitar and I can't see parting with it ever. I now understand a bit the attachment a guitarist has with his or her instrument.
At that time I wanted to try to learn guitar and thought I could teach myself. The salesperson gave me a Mel Bay "teach yourself guitar" type book which I happily took home. Once home, I plugged everything in, opened the instruction book and got completely confused. At that time, I was working three jobs, seven days a week so I couldn't take lessons. After several weeks of trying to figure out chord charts, tablature and other stuff in that book, I finally gave up and put the guitar in the closet promising myself that if I could, I would get someone to teach me something.
After several years, I was hired at WCTV as a production assistant and only a few months after I was hired, WCTV hired two guys for engineer positions who played together in a local band; Chris and John. I asked them if they could show me some basics on the guitar and they enthusiastically agreed. A couple of days later, I brought my set-up in and they managed to teach me some simple chords within minutes. This encouraged me greatly. They even explained to me the various information in the Mel Bay book that confused me several years previously.
After some time, it became quite obvious that lugging around "Bubba One" (at that time, known affectionately just as "Bubba"), a practice amp, guitar chord books and other odds and ends was just getting old. And upon Chris's and John's recommendation I set out to save up enough cash to get an acoustic guitar.
By this time I had a better home computer that allowed me to surf the web (my old computer before that was an old 386 with the old plasma green monitor -- anyone remember them?) and look for various acoustic guitars. I also visited the local guitar shops looking at various acoustics. Unfortunately, the store where I bought "Bubba One" was no longer in business and frankly I was no guitar expert. So I asked a lot of questions and observed how various shops treated me. Without getting into specifics, let me just say that one shop, MusicMasters, treated me wonderfully as opposed to a lot of the local shops where I received varying levels of treatment ranging from indifference to outright disrespect and hostility just for trying to educate myself on acoustic guitars.
[A friendly note to any guitar shop owners or employees who may be reading this: Always treat every customer with respect and patience because you may make such an impression on them that they will shop with you always even if you may not have the lowest prices. Customer loyalty is beneficial.]
After several weeks of consideration, I decided that the acoustic guitar for me was an Ovation Celebrity Deluxe.
I had seen some on various websites and liked the way it looked. There were a couple in some of the local shops as well that I played and I liked the way it sounded, the way it felt and the way it played. I figured that I could purchase one with a case for around $600. So I began to save money and after several months I had tucked away enough to go get one. However I decided to keep an open mind in case I ran across something that just felt "right."
Now I am very cautious when it comes to a major purchase like this and I was not about to lay down hundreds of dollars for a piece of garbage. However I really didn't know what to look for in a used guitar. I had no trained eye. However Chris and John both had knowledge I lacked therefore I asked if either one would like to go with me on a weekend excursion around Tallahassee looking at used acoustic guitars. Chris agreed and on a subsequent Saturday we tooled around town going from shop to shop. By the way, remember me mentioning MusicMasters earlier on? I decided that since they were the most helpful, patient and courteous of all the shops I visited in my quest for acoustic guitar knowledge, we'd start with them first. They had at that time a wonderful selection of new and used acoustic guitars. Bobby, the manager, showed me several used acoustics he had on hand. One in particular was an Ibanez AE model that really played well and intrigued me. Chris inspected it, played it and pronounced it to be quite a good guitar. Turns out the Ibanez was being sold on consignment by a regular customer who Bobby knew. Even though I really, really liked the Ibanez and the price was a great bargain at $275, I was bound and determined to get an Ovation Celebrity Deluxe which unfortunately Bobby did not have at that time.
Our second stop was a place called Music Exchange which was only a few blocks away. They also had a nice selection of new and used guitars (many of which we played) including two Ovation Celebrity Deluxes, either of which I would have been happy with. Chris examined both of them and pronounced them fit and good. However the clerks there that day were both professional musicians each with a particularly annoying condescending attitude and neither of whom were particularly helpful. But they DID have two Ovation guitars which interested me. I was tempted to go ahead and buy one, but Chris convinced me to continue with our quest just in case we found the "right" guitar. And by that time, the $275 Ibanez that I liked was starting to look better and better.
Our next stop was a new shop that specialized in Fender guitars and at that time a small selection of Paul Reed Smith guitars. Even though the clerks were quite helpful, they did not have any used acoustic guitars at that time (they did have a used Fender Jag-Stang for what I found out much later was an excellent price, but at that time I was not interested - boy I regretted that decision later on [NOTE: I did end up buying one years later and really enjoy it.]).
We then cruised
to another small shop (at that time Tallahassee did not have any large
guitar shops like major cities do) that had a minor selection of used acoustic
guitars, however when the clerks learned that I was looking for an Ovation
proceeded to engage in hard sell tactics trying to convince me that all Ovations
were crap and that I needed to buy a new Taylor if I truly wanted to learn how
to play guitar (of which not-so-incidentally they were an authorized dealer). Of
course, their CHEAPEST Taylor guitar was around $1100 which was much more than I was
willing to pay anyway.
[A quick bit of advice for clerks who use hard-sell tactics - DON'T! Hard sell tactics, in my humble opinion, are reserved for stereotypical used-car salesman and is a major turn-off for the customer. In my case, it's not only a turn-off, but a major annoyance which tends to drive me away forever.]
Needless to say, even though Taylor guitars are quite wonderful guitars in their own right and maybe one day, if I get good enough and can save up the cash, I might treat myself by buying one.
However I digress...
Chris and I left that store very dissatisfied. However, there was one more guitar shop left. This particular shop had an interesting selection of new and used guitars. Their prices were reasonable and they even had a used Ovation Celebrity Deluxe in stock as well. The clerk, though not particularly helpful (he was practicing guitar behind the counter), was not annoying either and by that time, it was a plus. However, in my mind an Ovation was taking a back seat to that $275 Ibanez I played in the first store we visited. It would have taken a major discovery of the "perfect guitar" (whatever that is) for me to have changed my mind. I mentioned this to Chris and to my surprise he told me that he thought it was the best guitar we tried today and if I didn't buy it, he was seriously considering getting it for himself.
Needless to say, we politely departed and headed back to MusicMasters. On the way, it was decided that just for the heck of it, we would try to talk Bobby into dropping the price. It couldn't hurt to try. We walked into the shop and asked Bobby if he could drop the price by about $50. He politely told me that it was a consignment item and he couldn't change the price since someone else set it. Bobby knew I was interested. Chris and I felt he was being honest and sincere. Furthermore, since he couldn't drop the price on the guitar itself, he decided to drop the price on a gig bag for the guitar if I was truly interested in buying the Ibanez. I had planned on getting a gig bag anyway so this sealed the deal for me. I paid Bobby and gently put the guitar into the padded gig bag. This was my new baby and I was going to treat it lovingly from the start. I'm kind of funny that way with my guitars. I treat my wife and my guitars with love, gentleness and respect although I do treat my wife slightly better overall. At least that's what she tells me.
I was thrilled with my new guitar and as Chris and I drove out of the parking lot, we started up to discuss naming guitars. B.B. King has "Lucille" and Eric Clapton had "Blackie." Chris was curious as to what, if anything, I would name the Ibanez AE (acoustic/electric). Now I have somewhat of a sense of humor and tend to not do things in a normal way if I can get away with it, so within moments of considering Chris's challenge, I immediately dubbed the Ibanez "Bubba Too." I told Chris that since my Takamine electric was "Bubba" why can't my Ibanez be "Bubba" also. And to tell them apart, I'd call `em "Bubba One" and "Bubba Too." Chris was amused.
Driving down the street, Chris impulsively asked me to stop back at Music Exchange since there was a guitar he wanted to try out that he didn't get to before. I thought that was a cool idea since there was a guitar there I was also interested in.
pulled in the lot, got out of the car and entered the store ignoring the
condescending indifference the two clerks displayed. Chris sauntered over
to a rack, pulled one of the electrics from its wall holder and went to the back
to plug it in and play it. While Chris played, I immediately
went to a particular maroon colored retro guitar with three lipstick pickups.
The guitar intrigued me earlier firstly because of its color (it was maroon with
white sides and being a Mississippi State alum, those colors are near and dear
to my heart) and secondly because it was marked down quite a bit from its
original price. I guess no one was interested in the Danelectro DC-3, but I
thought it looked cool. But how did it sound? One does not buy a
guitar on looks alone. I took the guitar to the back and plugged it in asking
Chris to try it out (remember, at that time I was a beginning guitarist who barely
knew a handful of chords). As he manipulated the switches and knobs producing a
remarkable amount of different sounds, it became clear to both of us that this
was an excellent and unique instrument. After a little coaxing, Chris convinced
me to play some of the handful of chords I knew so I could get a feel for it. I
had to admit that the guitar felt extremely good in my hands, the strings were
easy to fret with a nice low action and the neck felt great and was extremely
fast. And the semi-hollow body is very light but still has excellent sustain.
Overall, the Danelectro DC-3 is a great guitar for the money and then some.
[UPDATE: In my quest for my first American Fender Stratocaster and with a heavy heart I sold Bubba 3. See the info at the top of the page. I now deeply regret selling the Danelectro DC-3 and now find it almost completely impossible to find a replacement in the maroon color (referred to as "Commie Red" but it looked more maroon to me). I may never get another one like it. They are getting scarcer and scarcer and the few times one shows up on ebay, the seller wants collector's prices for it.]
I decided to treat myself that day by buying the Danelectro DC-3. One of the clerks told me that the markdown was part of a temporary sale so I felt since I had enough money leftover by NOT buying a more expensive acoustic guitar (I saved well over $700 with the intent of buying an Ovation plus a gig bag or a case) I could afford to go ahead and get this Danelectro as well. The clerk even found a Danelectro gig bag that someone had put some money down for them to hold and never came back and offered it to me for a good price. I took him up on the whole package and walked out the store the proud owner of "Bubba 3" (which amused Chris greatly).
With the help of my parents and my in-laws along with trading in some of the guitars (low-end and mid-range models) I had purchased over the past several years, I finally bought my first ever American made Fender Stratocaster in July 2002. And believe it or not, I had enough money left over to purchase a second guitar that intrigued me; a Fender Jaguar.
The guitar on the left is a 1996 American Fender Stratocaster that I purchased from Andy's Guitars in Tallahassee, Florida. I like the light blue color (officially, it's Daphne Blue, but it seems to be the same as Seafoam Blue) because it reminds me of the color of the waters off the Florida Panhandle around Panama City Beach to Pensacola Beach. The same day, I had enough left over to get the guitar on the right as well, a 1998 Japanese made Fender Jaguar.
Although, I currently have some very nice guitars, there are several "dream guitars" that
are on my wish list. Some I have played in stores and really like while some are
ones I have seen and just think they look cool. All of them are outside of my
affordability range and I doubt I will be able to buy one ever.
The Gibson Les Paul Smartwood guitars come in several woods, but these three are my favorites. The Ambay Guasu wood reminds me of being on the beach with it's light colored wood while the Peroba and Canacharna both are wonderfully grained woods. I have played one in a store and the weight and balance are fantastic while the action is nice for me. They are no longer in production.
The Rickenbacker guitar is legendary for its "jangly" sound. Many guitarists swear by them, but I never had the opportunity to play one until recently. The one on the left is a Tom Petty limited edition 12-string and it sounds FANTASTIC. One song I know is "Free Fallin'" and playing it on this 12 string is wonderful. I have not played the Rick on the right, but it is one that looks so cool that I added it to my wish list.
The guitar on the left is a limited edition Fender Telecaster with the logo of the New York Rangers hockey team (my favorite NHL team). Fender made a series of Telecasters with various NHL team logos (I'm not sure if they did all the teams in the NHL or just a select few). As with all Fender limited edition guitars, they are quite expensive. I have never seen one come up on ebay.
The guitar in the middle is a Taylor with a factory custom paint job of Koi fish. It's a beautiful guitar and very, very expensive.
The guitar on the right is an Epiphone Flamekat. The flames and dice are done at the factory. I think it's a very cool guitar and I could see myself (or someone else) playing rockabilly on it.
Now these guitars I might be able to purchase someday since they are not as expensive although I'm not sure how much a custom paint job for the Hamer on the right would cost.
The guitar on the left is a Shark guitar manufactured by Jay Turser. Jay Turser guitars are known primarily for excellent quality imitations of famous styles like the Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, Peavey Wolfgang and others. It is a very good guitar with two single coil pickups and one bridge humbucker. It would be cool to be able to play Jimmy Buffett tunes on it.
The guitar on the right is actually one from Rick Nielsen's personal collection. If you don't know, Rick plays lead guitar in the band Cheap Trick and is also one of my guitar heroes. Rick played this Hamer Standard with the black and white checkerboard paintjob back in the 70's and 80's. I remember it in at least one of their early videos. I'd like to get one made one day even though I will probably never play as good as Mr. Nielsen.
These guitars are just plain expensive and apparently well worth it. I have played the one on the left, but the other two are just so cool looking that I added them to my wish list.
The guitar on the left is a G&L Comanche with G&L patented Z-3 pickups. G&L stands for George Fullerton and Leo Fender (yes, the same Leo Fender who founded Fender guitars but eventually sold the company) and the Comanche blows every Fender Strat right out of the water. Not only, in my humble opinion, is the neck better and faster than any strat, the sound emanating from the Z-3 coils are sweeter than any set of pickups on any strat Fender makes. This is a high quality guitar that is quite expensive and well worth it.
The guitar in the middle is a Metropolitan Tanglewood. I have only seen pictures of this guitar and never had the pleasure of playing one. I really like the shape of the body on this guitar and from what I have heard, it is quite a player.
The guitar on the right is an Italia Mondial. Italia guitars were reportedly the rage in Europe some years ago and had a reputation for being excellent guitars. The Mondial is merely one of several different styles manufactured. I think this guitar is just a great looker.
The guitar above was made in limited number by Ernie Ball. It is based upon a custom guitar played by Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. I saw this guitar played on a show called "The List" that used to air on VH-1. Spinal Tap was the special guest (with special guest drummer Mick Fleetwood). I thought at the time that it was the most unique guitar I have seen in a long time.
The Reverend guitars Rocco model with the Hawaiian scene custom would be an outstanding choice o which to play Buffett tunes. I like it!
This James Trussart "Rusty Gator" Les Paul style guitar appears to be ideal for swamp rock. Or maybe for a University of Florida fan. However it's definitely out of my price range unless I win the lottery.
The guitar above is probably my ultimate dream guitar. It is Langcaster guitar made in New Zealand. Each guitar body is handmade from stunning 35,000 year old Kauri swamp roots. Each one is unique and no two are alike due to the unique characteristics of the wood. To me, it's one of the prettiest woods for a guitar body I have ever seen. However, the person who makes them has decided to retire due to health reasons caused by years of dust from the woods used. Apparently he will try to sell his shop in hopes the guitars will continue to be made by someone else, but most likely once he finishes with his orders, that will be the end of the Langcasters. As I said, it's a dream guitar and unless I win the lottery, I won't ever be able to afford one.