In 1967 a guy named Dave heard me playing “Hey Joe” on my acoustic guitar and asked me if I owned an electric.  I didn’t.  He was starting a rock band and needed a rhythm guitar player.  The members of the band were Dave on bass, Tim on drums, Randy on lead guitar.  Randy studied classical guitar as a boy.  His claim to fame was appearing as a contestant on The Ted Mack Amateur Hour, “I came in second to a dancing horse.”  We were college students at a small school in Ohio.  Dave was adamant about me buying an electric guitar.  He dragged me out of my dorm room and into his car, “C’mon we’re going to Manny’s.”  I asked, “Where’s that?” Dave answered, “Forty-eighth Street.”  So off we headed, five hundred miles down the road.  When we arrived I was overwhelmed by everything about Manny’s, the thousands of instruments, the photos of rock stars, the exorbitant price of a beautiful white Fender Stratocaster.  A salesman asked me, “How much do you have to spend?”  I showed him my bankroll, “Thirty bucks.”  He pointed across the street, “Go to Jimmy’s.  Second-hand music store.”  I went and bought a raggedy, white Hagstrom II, packed it in the back of Dave’s car and drove back to Ohio.  The band dissolved somewhere around its third or fourth month of existence.  I wasn’t there for the final break-up.  The guys had already made it known that my services were not needed due to a severe lack of focus, i.e., drunken stupors.  I showed up for rehearsal one day and the band wasn’t there.  I have no idea what happened to that Hagstrom I bought at Jimmy’s.  However, years later, I returned to Manny’s on my birthday with a mission.   I found an idle salesman and asked, “I just turned forty.  Am I too old to buy an electric guitar?”  The man declared, “I’m forty-three and still sell them.”  I left Manny’s with a beautiful white Stratocaster, the one I coveted years before.  At home I plugged my Strat into an amp and began playing the only rock song I remembered, “Hey Joe.”  My fingers hurt.  I put the guitar back in its case and stored it in a closet.  I haven’t played it since but have put it to good use as a model for giant art guitars I create in my workshop.  Some of them are eight feet tall, others regulation guitar size, all are made from wood and found objects.  I use door hinges for pick-ups, thumbscrews for tuners, swivel glides for volume controls.  The guitars can be seen at

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Comment by holly Goldrich on October 27, 2012 at 10:08pm

Thank you Gary for the beautiful blog. I would like to hear more about your shop. Keep me posted.

Holly Goldrich

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