longhohner

There’s nothing sadder than a broken guitar. Pete Townshend smashed guitars, and all that smashing helped propel The Who to stardom; but “auto-destructive art” aside, I think Pete was more inspiring when he played his guitars. There has to be some karma associated with all that violent smashing up!

Anyway, I had a mishap with my old Hohner jumbo-acoustic guitar a couple weeks ago, and ended up with a broken head-stock and a dead guitar. A couple of musician friends told me it was time to let it go, but I just couldn’t contemplate giving up my beat-up, old companion.

It’s not a valuable guitar, not a collectible, it’s a cheap copy of a Guild; but I’ve had it for a long time, and it definitely has it’s own unique personality. It’s big, clunky, loud, brassy and percussive. Fits me to a “t.” Hohner is famous for it’s harmonicas, not guitars, and this one was made in Japan back in the early eighties. That’s when “made in Japan” basically meant “crappy.”

Anyway, took the guitar to a guitar tech and he pronounced it “Dead,” and he suggested it would be best to buy a new guitar. I then took it to a “master guitar-builder,” and he said, “Not so bad.” Now this guitar-builder makes instruments from scratch. There were freshly cut sheets of wood stacked up in his shop waiting to become custom-made instruments.

The guitar-builder put two ebony splines in the neck, across the break, then glued it, and sanded it all down. It’s not quite good as new, there is a visible scar, but the ebony splines are embedded solidly in the neck, and the neck is straight, and the old guitar plays just fine.

I took this old guitar for granted. It wasn’t until I couldn’t play it that I realized how much I loved the thing. It’s a key element in our band’s sound. Glad to have it back. There are more songs to be had from this old Hohner. – Jammer

I must credit the Lovely Carla for tipping me to the music of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Carla fell for their music first. I was slow to the draw. But their stripped-down, back to basics approach is very powerful. Two voices, two acoustic guitars; that’s the template, and it’s great. I’m reminded just how much I love the sound of an acoustic guitar. It’s a big part of our band’s sound too. I play a big, beat-up, old Hohner acoustic that I’ve had for many years. I love the organic, sturdy nature of the instrument. There is honesty and truth in the plain sound of a resonant acoustic guitar.

“Leaving the valley and fucking out of sight
I’ll go back to Cali where I can sleep out every night
and watch the waves move the fader
Queen of fakes and imitators, Time’s the revelator”

Gillian Welch’s 2001 disc, “Time (The Revelator)”  was recorded in Nashville. Nothing fancy. No slick production. No studio tricks. It’s just a simple, well-recorded set of songs; no-frill songs that have weight and meaning. It’s a record that really snuck up on me. It’s an eye-opener and a head-opener. Maybe it’s something about time, and how it seems to be accelerating around me. I find as I grow into my old bones, time really does seem revelatory. Gillian has a plain-spoken type of voice. It’s beautiful, but it’s surprisingly knife-sharp too. It’s not for lullabyes, although you might be fooled by it. It’s open, clear and ringing. And David Rawlings is a very gifted guitar player. He’s a player with great technique and style to burn. For some reason, when I listen to this record, I think of Flannery O’Connor and her stark, diamond-hard short stories.  American, elemental, haunting. Beautiful, sad and shining too. Just the finest stuff. – Jammer