Well, that someday is now, only 46 years later.
I did not want an acoustic guitar; nor did I want one that was completely electric. There is a hybrid is called a “semi-hollow body.” It’s a cross between an acoustic and a traditional electric: A big, thin guitar with two acoustic chambers on either side of the strings and electric pickups. Think Chet Atkins or early George Harrison. Both Gretsch and Gibson had been making similar versions of this type since the 1950’s. They are more of a country music guitar than hard rock. (They can sound kind of “twangy.”) But I wanted something versatile – you can play semi-hollow bodies at home without an amp. Compromises are usually never good, but even today semi-hollow body guitars still have a big following.
ABOVE: Ahh, the original! The Gibson ES-335.
My friend Larry Curtis was a fellow pilot when we were both at PHI back in the day. I left the company in 2001, but he stayed there until a recent health problem sidelined him, perhaps for good. As well as being a great helicopter pilot, he is also an accomplished musician. On YouTube he had posted many videos of himself recreating many famous songs – with Larry doing all of the parts! (Although I see he has removed nearly all of the videos for some reason.) His YouTube name is/was The Silver Hamer which I thought was a misspelling at first. It is not; Larry likes Hamer guitars. I turned to him for advice.
I told Larry I was considering the Ibanez AS73 and the Epiphone Dot Studio. These are modern replicas – you might say “knockoffs” of the incredible Gretsch Country Gentleman and Gibson ES-335 (which are still being produced and are hideously expensive now). The Ibanez and Epiphone had the look that I wanted, and the reviews said they were pretty good guitars for the price. They’re available new at most guitar shops for around $400.
ABOVE: Here's the Ibanez AS73. It's nice- but it just didn't push the right buttons for me.
ABOVE: And here's the Epiphone Dot Studio. Kind of plain and cheap-looking if you ask me.
So now I have my guitar. All I have to do is learn how to play it. And there’s the rub. If you look at most accomplished guitarists, they have long, slender fingers. My fingers are short and stubby. Makes it tough to play some of the chords. And then there's that talent thing...
It’s odd learning a new skill at this age. I try to practice a little every day, but even so progress is slow. Frustratingly slow. Not to worry, some things don’t come easy. I did not learn to fly a helicopter overnight. I know that learning to play the guitar will take some time as well. And learn, I will.