I can’t say that my dad and I always saw eye to eye on every subject, and I suspect that’s normal. For us, there were a handful of life’s passions that we shared… the love of carpentry, automobiles, guitars, and faith. As my dad’s health declined and he couldn’t really actively participate in building things and his car hobby had lost a bit of it’s luster, the one thing that remained a priority was guitars…well, I guess I should say music.
For the last few years of my dad’s life, I was a worship leader at a local church. We’d practice every Thursday night, and my dad’s place was on the way home from band practice. Coincidentally my mom often worked on Thursday nights at a local shop that sells the kind of stuff Joanna Gaines uses to decorate the houses she remodels. So, I got in the habit of visiting my dad nearly every Thursday night following band practice. …oftentimes, I’d bring my guitar in and we’d spend an hour strumming, singing, talking, and just sharing our passion for the sound of a high quality six string.
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of guitars, and still have many of those guitars. But there have been those times that I’ve sold one of them. Sometimes it was because I had made a rushed decision and once I actually had some time with a guitar, I found it wasn’t really as good as I had hoped it would be. Other times it was to free up some cash to make an upgrade, or simply because the guitar was rarely played. My dad went through the same phase in the 2000’s.. He started selling, swapping, and trading guitars until he ended up with the collection that provided the greatest grin factor. I will admit, I regret selling a couple of my guitars.
My dad’s and my music taste was often quite different. I used to pick on my dad because the music he liked often seemed to be void of drums and a driving bass line…it was more mellow… more ‘easy listening’ as they call it. To a young guy that was obsessed with the likes of the Eagles, ELO, Genesis, and the Beatles, there was nothing ‘easy’ about listening to my Dad’s music. But, we still connected…and spent many hours with guitars hanging from our necks, or gathered around a piano, enjoying the power of a song. When Eric Clapton performed his Unplugged concert on MTV in 1992, my dad’s and my musical worlds collided. We finally had a common musical interest…and my dad became obsessed with Clapton’s guitar sound.
After trying to capture that same sound for many years, my dad finally became the proud caretaker of a Martin 000-28EC Eric Clapton model acoustic guitar. A smaller bodied guitar with action as smooth as butter, and a mellow tone that just begged you to play some bluesy chords and tasteful licks up the modified V neck.
When I’d show up for my Thursday night visits, quite often my dad would have one of his guitars set out. I never really knew what I’d find…would it be his Gretsch Country Gentleman, his American Fender Telecaster, or his Clapton Martin acoustic. Usually he’d hand me the guitar and ask me to play something. Those were great times….and I quickly became quite fond of that Martin guitar. It wasn’t long until I was scheming to get one of my own.
I don’t know if my dad wanted me to get something different than his, or thought I’d be happier with a guitar with factory electronics, but shortly after I started working on the reasons of justification every married guitar player goes through, he told me about the Martin OMJM, a John Mayer signature series acoustic. Based on the same body style as my dad’s guitar, it had some differences, but still had a similar ‘retro’ vibe, and came wired with a pickup right from the Martin factory. My dad started sending me videos of guys reviewing the guitar.
With a solid case in place and assumed spousal approval, as one never knows for sure if approval was given until the first argument after the purchase, I made my way up to the great House of Guitars and worked out a deal on a brand spankin new Martin OMJM. Far too expensive for a player of my skill level, but this purchase wasn’t just for me. This purchase was for me and my dad. While the guitar was on order, my dad continued to send me videos of the guitar in action. Even the night we went to pick it up, he called us on our way home to see if we got it OK. He was as excited as I was about this new guitar.
I got that guitar the week before Christmas in 2010. I stopped by my dad’s on Christmas eve eve to show it to him. He got out his Clapton model and we strummed and swapped our two guitars, doing our best to notice the differences and the similarities. Neither of us professional reviewers, but each of us doing our best to pretend.
At 10:59PM on that same Christmas eve eve, I got this email from my dad…
Thanks for stopping by with your new guitar. It is beautiful! There are subtle differences between the two, and yet they look and feel and sound quite similar. I can’t say I like one more than the other.
We are both pretty fortunate; wouldn’t you say?
Love ya lots,
…and at that point, I knew buying this guitar had been the perfect decision.
That was the last Christmas I’d get to spend with my dad. This guitar, the research, the anticipation, and then actually playing it gave my dad something to look forward to. This guitar gave us one more father and son experience. It was probably the last ‘project’ we got to work on together…and one that I will never forget.
Since that time, this guitar has had hours and hours of strum time… it’s been played in churches, at parties, weddings, funerals, coffee houses, concerts, and even Christmas functions at work. It’s a better guitar than I am a guitar player, but that really does not bother me. …because it’s the guitar that my dad and I bought.
Yeah, I’ve sold some guitars over the years….but no, I will never sell this guitar.