I have had a single acoustic guitar for as long as I’ve played guitar. Whether by lack of need or lack of funds, I never got around to buying an updated one. This one with its age and, let’s face it, quality would never bring the type of sound that any serious guitar player would want. It is hard to tune, requires extra grip strength to play at lower frets, and has mechanics that are just plain falling apart.
But this axe has something special to it; a value of the sentimental nature. First, a brief history.
This guitar was a hand-me-down, as many things are growing up. I was young and in high school, just a freshman, but was hanging out with a group of semi-outcast seniors who after all these years and loss of contact, I still hold to be among the most influencing factors in who I am. You see, I was awkward, nerdy, scrawny, but they didn’t really care about that. They liked me and I liked them, so we hung out and they taught me the ropes. This guitar came from one of them, through an arrangement where I was supposed to pay her $50 but never did.
For me, this guitar is one of the only relics of that age.
Moving to the sentimental part, I’m sure many can relate with the simple fact that the first of anything is usually the most memorable. Your first bike, the instrument that gives you your first taste of independence, your first inkling of freedom coming from the wind blowing through your hair and the danger of crashing that excited you so; your first kiss, that incredibly awkward and heart-pounding event that opened the door to the wonderment and confusion that is young adult sexuality. This, my first guitar and with it, I slowly made my way to a new branch of musicianship.
To this day, this guitar is what I use to learn songs, create new ones, and even practice bass lines while away from my band. It is my method of release, my calming tool, my conduit for aggression, a constant in my life that I sometimes feel completely dependent upon. I don’t often get attached to material things but to this guitar, this instrument that I don’t dare use to play in front of others for fear of quality, is one of the only of those things to me.
And in this moment of dedication, I thank this inanimate object for all it has done and the countless riffs, chords, and emotions it has allowed me to convey. A guitar that for the past 15 years has been nameless I now give a name: quite appropriately, Smiles.