Friday, January 8, 2010

Finging that "Magical" Guitar, pt. 2

Read the post below for the context...

I missed out on that rare "magical" guitar. Things just weren't aligned financially.

But I had gone from being unaware to suddenly keenly aware that a few individual guitars (whether electric, acoustic, or classic) were simply "magic," and that even the luthier who made them could not recreate that magic on cue.

Not to say the probabilities are not higher with a great guitar maker. And they generally turn out very good guitars. But none turn out "magical" ones consistently any more than A-Rod can always hit a home run at will.

I know. Magic can run in reverse too on guitars.

The first Olson I played on was selling on consignment in a high end shop in Orlando back in the early 80's. I knew nothing of Olson except that my guitar teacher in college said they were great and I ought to go look.

I traveled across the state and played it and frankly, was unimpressed with this particular one. It was a very "hard playing" guitar, meaning that you really had to work at it just to fret the thing. And it was adjusted properly. I checked. It just felt very tight...as if the strings were under double the normal tension. The tone was pretty good, but not really anything you'd write home about. Was I alone in this evaluation of this particular early Olson? (He makes a great guitar normally...that's my point here).

The shop was only asking $800 for it! Remember, this was pre-Internet and Olson was relatively new and unknown (he started in 1977). So way down in central Florida, where this guitar had drifted, though it was handmade, it had to stand on it's own merits, and not it's name. And the shop was only asking a fraction of it's retail value, despite it's being in mint condition.

It was apparently just a day when, for whatever reasons--maybe the woods, maybe other factors--it just did NOT come together. In fact, it was a pop fly that fell just short.

I wish I could say that was my last experience where one of the worlds top luthier's produced a guitar less than stellar. Years later I learned a hard $3600 lesson. But I'll talk about that in my next post.

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