Friday, October 17, 2008
Meet the Ex
This is not my first guitar. It's my first guitar that gets talked about with happy memories, though. This is the guitar that, to the extent you can say I was ever good, allowed me to get good.
Click on the images to make them bigger.
It is an Ibanez LS 300 Lonestar, the acoustic parallel to the Roadstar series that became the Paul-Gilbert-Endorsed RG. It has the same neck profile and the same headstock. When it came out, Jackson was the preferred guitar of the high-end progressive guitarist, but soon after I got this, Ibanez had Vai and Satriani and Gilbert and Petrucci. Right now, if you're a high-gain high-technique player, I'd suggest you play Ibanez if you didn't play them already. But that's enough pimping.
As I said, to the extent I'm good, this is the guitar I played on to become good. When I was in college the first time, I would go back to the dorm after a full day of studying and extracurricular activities, which would go from about 8am or so on to midnight, and I'd pick this guitar up and pluck until I got sleepy. Surprisingly, my neighbors didn't complain to my about it, even though I found out (too late) that I really annoyed at least my downstairs neighbor. Ah well.
All this playing had an effect. This, of all the pictures my friend Patrick has taken, most clearly shows the effect of many many many strings being fretted against a rosewood neck, over and over again. This is, to me, as beautiful and treasured as neck on Brownie on the back cover of the Layla album. You can see the effect as far down as the seventh fret, even if it is most pronounced around the first position frets. I thought, before I pulled it out again, that it was only on the treble strings, too.
I replaced it because, when I started playing out, I needed the ability to plug into the soundboard. I had played it out some, but miking your guitar when you're next to a drummer and a rocking electric guitar? Not good. Also, as this picture shows, the neck started to have serious problems. Specifically, the truss rod began trying to jump out of the back of the neck.
Patrick has plans to make a cigar-box guitar, so he's taking the frets out for that project. He also took these pictures. My plan is to use this as a fretless guitar until the neck finally permanently dies. As much as I love this box, it is truly an all-laminate low-end guitar I bought for $180 nearly 20 years ago, and there's no way I can replace the neck for nearly that much, and little usefulness if I did.
This instrument, as far as I can tell, is the point where inexpensive starter guitars became perfectly good guitars. My first guitar, bought just a few years before this one, was a piece of junk I was glad to get rid of. The CNC'd low end guitars in my local shop are not the instruments but are perfectly good instruments that won't offend the ears are hinder the progress of the student guitarist. The world has changed.