The Prodigal Guitar

Here is a picture of me back when I was young and naïve. I’m playing the guitar that my now beautiful and long-suffering wife (then girlfriend of 12 months) owned. From the class ring I’m wearing, it was probably the summer of 1997. I had a work experience placement at Channel TEN studios in Brisbane for six weeks and would have been there staying with her.

No doubt I was playing some Pearl Jam or Simon and Garfunkel badly.

When we moved in together a few years later, we ran into money troubles and chose to sell some things to get by. The guitar was one of the things we sold, since we had two and it was the cheaper quality. I’ve always felt guilty for selling the guitar, partially for being so bad at managing money, and partially because it represented one of the many sacrifices my partner would make (and still makes) to keep me in a career and keep food on the table for our kids.

A few years later, in better times, I bought a good classical guitar for my partner, that you will often see me playing in the videos of me singing the kids to sleep (or not to sleep). We had sold the guitar to a local pawn broker for around $60, but I always felt like the guitar had been abandoned, and wondered where it had ended up.

20 years on, an ad came up in the local Facebook marketplace for a guitar that looked very similar.

I picked the guitar up today for $50. The machine heads were damaged and it looks like there has been a repair done to re-attach the fingerboard where it joins the body, but apart from that and a few minor scratches it was in good condition. I put some new machine heads and new strings on and wrote/played this song on it. Feels good to have it, or maybe its cousin, home.

For the guitar history boffins, the guitar was made in Korea by Amena which according to the link was making Gibson copies in the 1970s. The guitar is based on the Gibson Hummingbird, played by one of my favourite singer/songwriters, Mike Rosenberg (talking about guitars here).

Here is a blog post by a repairer, Tym Guitars, working on a similar guitar. Just like the guitar Tym worked on, this isn’t a $4000 Martin, but to me it sounds beautiful and represents a recovery of something lost.

So what is the moral of the story? The song that came out was about loss and serendipity, and accepting the universe’s plans. If something is meant to be yours, it will come back eventually.

I’m looking forward to hearing what other songs this lovely instrument has to share.

About Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly is a singer/songwriter from Yass in Australia.
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