When I went shopping, I might as well have put on Gucci sunglasses and stuck a Chihuahua named Sprinkles in my tote bag. I was one of those bedroom guitarists who are the delight of the high-end guitar store. I would not even think of buying a budget instrument made overseas.
Instead of six lovely, parallel pairs of strings running from tailpiece to headstock, it was as if the creature from Alien had mistaken my guitar for John Hurt and had just eaten its way out of the f-hole. There were strings everywhere. The bridge had launched itself toward the tuners while the black “R” tailpiece was now, more accurately, tailpieces.
The Peter Green/Gary Moore 1959 Les Paul is perhaps the most famous example of bad pickups gone good. This is the guitar Green bought when he replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and which he later sold to blues great Gary Moore. Its tone is unique, and hence has been sought after for decades.
So there I was, working alphabetically through my pedals, eventually making my way to “O” for “overdrive.” I resignedly popped the back plate off my Blackstone Appliances MOSFET Overdrive pedal, giving it my usual quick glance at the exposed circuit board—just long enough to think how much it resembles the London tube map and makes about as much sense.
I know they’ll never put it in the “How to Play Like…” column of a music magazine, but along with a “difficulty” level, there really ought to be a “fun” level. I once took a class from Keola Beamer, the master Hawaiian slack key guitarist. The most important thing he taught me that day was that if I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t playing Hawaiian music right.