Like any instrument enthusiast, my collection undergoes changes every year. This year the emphasis was on a smaller collection.
A lot of instruments passed through this collection before it was finalized, including a screwed up 1933 Gibson arch top. The temptation would be to keep it, but even after a week of work I simply couldn't get that thing to sound right.
An wonderful sounding Eric Clapton signature strat passed through, but the fact is I just simply don't keep strats. I won't bore you with the list of Strat models that've made their way through my collection over the decades, but suffice to say, it's become obvious to me that if it's going to be a Fender, it's going to be a telecaster. Ironically the tele that's in this collection isn't made by Fender.
I finally went to two banjos, which makes sense since it's probably my primary instrument now. I must've gone through over a dozen brands over the years before settling on these two vintage models.
I didn't decide on these two banjos simply for collector value. In fact the price of both combined wouldn't get me anywhere close to a modern top of the line banjo like a Deering. The reason was simple, both gave me exactly the sound I wanted that a lot of modern banjos don't have any more. It's a certain tone that 'a hard to describe, and it's an anesthetic that I'm sure more than a few modern banjo players would disagree with.
The mandolin pictured is quite recent, and it's the cheapest instrument in the collection. I got it simply because it had the sound I wanted. The Charango you see is the one that I've been pretty much using all this time, same with the old Glen Campbell 12 string in back.
I traded down a collection of over 21 instruments down to these eight for two reasons.
One, I specifically looked for instruments I intended to use in the fall recordings by the group I'm in.
Secondly, I got tired of having to move heavy instrument bags and cases aside just to get to my clothes and other parts of my room.
My philosophy has changed and I decided to get instruments that wouldn't be traded off every year.
I'm sure many of you guitar players can relate to my history of collecting. It's gone through various phases. For example, I went through a phase of collecting cool cheapo guitars, and the worst phase was when I got into collecting low and medium priced Instruments, and the total hit nearly 30. Not only did it take up three quarters of my bedroom, but I found myself constantly losing track of what I had, and obviously most normal guitar players don't play that many instruments. In fact the number was so overwhelming to me, I eventually stopped playing them.
I went through a Fender phase, where I not only tried to collect every model they made, but began to accumulate every type of telecaster I could find. A massive car repair bill, probably sent down by a vengeful God, ended that phase.
Fortunately, if you have to sell a lot of guitars fast, I can safely say that Fenders are definite blue chips.
I have to admit I never went through a Gibson phase. You can get three top really nice Fenders for the price of a top line Gibson, and it doesn't make sense to collect a brand where it's off the shelf guitars are the same price as a decent used car.
Obviously there's a Gibson Les Paul in the picture, but the nice thing about those is that type isn't incredibly versatile, so having one tends to be just fine.
Also went through a phase of trying to collect every instrument made in the world, but I'll save that for a future blog as it was an interesting experience having to research instruments from other countries before deciding to add them to my collection.
I won't list the instruments that are shown in the picture. Those who know vintage instruments will recognize every single one, and to the average music listener, the fact that one of the banjos is a 1962 Vega FP-5 is probably as interesting and useful as knowing the maximum thrust of an F-16 fighter engine.
Experienced musicians will definitely notice that I don't keep the instruments on stands. Basically either I'm playing the instrument, or keep it in its case. I know that having them out on stands makes it easier for a person to pick one up and spontaneously play, but in my case, my mind doesn't work that way.
An idea for a piece comes to my head, I imagine the sound that I want, then pull out the instrument I think will give me that sound.
Besides, the way Gibson guitar necks break if you even look at them funny means I'm never going to keep one on a stand.
I admit that's a bit anal and paranoid, but all of us guitar players who accumulate more instruments than we really need are sort of odd ducks in the flock.