Six String Love or How Ricky Nelson Changed My Life
Back when this community was a mere five hundred members strong, I went through everyone’s page to see who was here, who wasn’t, who I knew and who I didn’t. I recall noting that a vast majority of the pictures we’ve chosen to use for ourselves include guitars being held, caressed or played.
It struck me at the time that as a group we have chosen to use the guitar as a uniform; identifying us as keepers of chords and captains of creativity and cool. Almost all of the guitars pictured are acoustics, although there are a few like myself that have gone a little left of center. It is sort of interesting to note that there wasn’t one single sax, keyboard or drum featured. No cellos or bassoons, no tubas or marimbas.
We are a guitar bunch here, we are.
Like many other American kids in the fifties and early sixties, I fell in love with wood and strings while watching Ricky Nelson play at the end of each weeks “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett” TV show. I recall dragging my parents to my Uncle Lou’s music store to sign up for lessons and he said guitars were just a fad, so I took home an accordion instead. That lasted about a month and for the next year I saved my pennies for my first axe: a black Silvertone S-623 archtop with f-holes and white pickguard that I bought from Sears and Roebucks.
That guitar got lost along the way, and outside of a decade flirtation with a Hagstrom solid body electric that ended in the mid-seventies, I’ve always been an acoustic man. There is something honest and truthful about being unplugged, and the image of old cowboys out in the prairie, and sharecroppers and slaves on the steps of their shacks, take me back to times that may have been simpler or maybe not.
Never one to spend a ton of money on my instruments, there are times I admit that I lust after the Martins that you see on e-Bay for ten grand or more. I do like those Taylor guitars and the way they ring, and if you ask me, National steel is just too cool for words. When I go to Nashville I hang out at Gruhn and for loads of fun there’s Willie’s in St. Paul. Whether I play them or not, being around guitars just feels damn good.
Today I pick an Epiphone dreadnaught that I bought a in ’71, a jumbo Takemine just a few years old, a cheap Ibanez that sounds great plugged in, a Dean res I’m restringing this weekend, and in the corner gathering dust until I can find the time to figure it out, my Carter Starter pedal steel. There’s a couple of electrics and a mandolin too, a piano and a Korg workstation that my kid thinks is his.
If you’ve made it this far and feel compelled, I’d love to hear your guitar story and what you’re playing.
And so that’s my thing about six strings today.