I’m in Ottawa on band related business this month. I was going to bring a guitar along but saw an opportunity instead. I’ve had my eye on a Gibson ES-335 lately, although it’s not a guitar I have much experience with. Figured I’d rent one while I’m here to give it a look-see…just in case I might wanna buy one in the near future .
So I head to Long and McQuade (Canada’s version of Guitar Center). All the ES-335’s are rented out. Fair enough, it’s a popular guitar. I pick up a Les Paul Studio instead. No bells and whistles, but at least my playing won’t fall to shit this month. I get the impression from the staff that it’s a new guitar.
I get home and take it out of the case. Plays well, fairly light (I prefer heavier LP’s), strings are dull…but who cares? I’m not recording with it or anything. Anyway after playing it for a few minutes I realize my fretboard fingertips are dirty. Not just dirty, filthy:
Now, this isn’t my first spin around the block. I’ve played and occasionally bought brand new guitars before. Sometimes the strings can be dirty (though never THIS dirty) so I chalked it up to that. I google “Music Stores” to see if there’s anything in walking distance (I’m staying in downtown Ottawa, L and M is not nearby) and find a place. I hoof it over there, drop 7 bucks on a new pack of strings, get home, string them up. All good right?
Nope. Just as much grime as before. The crud is all over the fretboard. This is shifting from “inconvenience” to “hassle.” I just wanted something to jam on for a few days! Anyway I get a cloth and wipe that shit down. It’s still dirty, but a bit less so. Not an enjoyable play.
Ugh. I learned a lesson. It’s amateurish of me not to bring my own instrument with me.
PS Shouldn’t a rental guitar be ready-to-play condition? Particularly a new one?
I’m an electric player. I have been since I was 10. Never owned an acoustic and never really had a chance to play one beyond the odd sitting-around-the-campfire-and-picking-up-that-one-guy-who-only-plays-Wonderwall-in-front-of-girls’ shitty acoustic.
So it was pretty neat when I rented a Gibson Hummingbird this weekend. I needed it for the followup to Hey You. It’s doesn’t feature prominently in the new song, it’s for atmosphere mostly. Anyway, I thought since I’m John Q Coolypants I’d just open the case and be amazing at it.
Different beast altogether. The thing shakes with resonance in your arms. Feels a lot more alive in your hands than an un-amped electric. That’s pretty cool, but misfret a single note and your chord goes kaput. On an electric there’s all kinds of tricks to hide crummy playing or fake your way through something. On an acoustic? Forget about it. It exposes any flaws in your playing and there’s no fooling anyone. It’s one of those things where anyone can make a racket on it but MAN it gives you a newfound respect for the real experts.
And recording it! Had to reshape the entire room with sound control. Can’t have it too dead (sounds boring) or too alive (sounds amateur). Spent more time moving blankets and sound foam around than actually playing the frigging thing. It was a good sound-engineering experience if nothing else.
I just needed the thing to strum a few chords this weekend but the instrument deserves better than that.
Looks like I’m in the market.