I usually have a lot of guitar players come to my gigs. Some are casual players and some are pros. Then, there are the ‘experts.’ You know the type. They seemingly know every detail, every nuance of every guitar that was ever constructed. This is a little story of how I nearly caused one of those ‘experts’ to nearly keel over with a heart attack.
One of my favorite guitars to play was a ’90 Martin 000-16. I may have paid $900 for it brand new. I used it constantly on the road, subjecting it to all kinds of brutal conditions from harsh weather to the rigors of performing in smokey bars, parking lot jams and outdoor festivals. Needless to say the guitar looked years beyond it’s actual age.
One evening while I was playing this small nightclub I noticed an elderly man squinting at my little Martin. What caught my attention was that he kept shaking his head from side to side with this incredulous look on his face, as if he couldn’t believe what he was looking at.
During my break he approached me and in one of those too loud for conversation type voices said “My God man, I can’t believe you would bring a guitar like that out to a place like this.’
I said ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, he continued, it’s not everyday you see someone playing a vintage 1936 Martin that’s worth tens of thousands of dollars in a dump like this joint.’
I tried to tell him that he had the year completely wrong but oh no, he kept on insisting it was exactly what he said it was.
So then I took the guitar in my hands and proceeded to rap on the top several times rather sharply with the knuckles of my hand saying ‘Oh, this gal can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’ Then, I stuck the guitar back on the stand - not very carefully - which nearly caused it to topple over completely off the stage.
At that instant I heard a loud GASP coming from the man’s direction. He was literally clutching his chest with his eyes opened wide and his jaw practically hitting the floor. Shaking his head he told me how irresponsible I was and that he hoped that I had the guitar insured. Of course I told him no.
I live for things like that.