From when I could first stand, seems like I was always excited whenever I saw a guitar. I didn't really come from a family of musical players, but there was always music playing in our apartment, family functions, and live music always at our celebrations. Dad played fast pitch softball in the Mexican Leagues, and during my boyhood summers, there were lots of trips to play in tournaments. After these tournaments, were held huge fiestas and live music was played, either Tejano, Country Western, or Bluegrass. I would camp out by the guitar player just hypnotized by those six-string beauties.
So, when I was about 8 or nine I started asking my folks for a guitar for Christmas or my birthday. I really thought there might be hope when my sister refused to take piano lessons, so thinking my folks wanted a musician in the house, I stepped up and offered to take piano lessons. My Dad and Mom both laughed, saying something like "boys don't take piano lessons!" Yeah, they were just that way, bless them. At any rate, on my 9th birthday, my sister let the secret out that I was getting a guitar. Man, was I trippin'!!!
The big day came and out came this box wrapped up ever so carefully. It wasn't that big or long, but I reckoned, it was one of those 'folk' guitars I had seen folks playing at picnics. Well, the wrapping was ripped off and lo and behold - there was my first guitar...
Well, I was underwhelmed, which totally escaped the folks. My sister felt my pain, though, and just said, "Don't be sad, you're gonna get a real one, I just know it!" My Dad proudly helped me unwrap it, and said "When you learn how to play this one, I'll get you one like mine." What? What does that mean? Well, I didn't know it, but he had a Gibson J-200 in the closet. Mom told me later he bought it after seeing Elvis play one. One of their school mates was a drummer in his band. Dad never played it as far as I remember, and I would have known, if he had. The Gibby was off-limits too, I was not to touch it, until he said I could. Well, that event gave me hope, and I set about going through the music book that came with this thing trying to learn at least a couple of these "100 Top American Classic Songs". Trouble is - I only recognized a couple of the titles, which were mostly culled from the songbooks of tunes written from 1890-1910. Now, learning tunes means you need to know chords and how to keep your guitar in tune. The book had half a page on how to tune a guitar, and chord diagrams for about 6 chords. None of this helped a whole lot though, as the guitar was virtually impossible to tune. Take a close look at the 'six strings' - there are really only 3 courses, with each one wrapping around the bridge and back up to the next tuning peg. Then, I had a revelation - I would just tune to the top strings on a regular guitar getting each course tuned in unison. Thankfully, old B & W movies were being shown over and over on our local TV station, and one of them had one of the tunes from my songbook. I learned, "She's Only a Bird In A Gilded Cage".
Well, long story not that much shorter... I finally got that real guitar, bypassing an acoustic altogether and got a Harmony 2-pickup BobKat, and SilverTone stack amplifier. Now, that's what making noise was all about - real rock and roll tools. That little setup started me on my way.
Now, I'm thinking maybe Dad had that in mind all the time. Oh, yeah, what about that Gibson J-200, I thought would become mine? Well, Mom was about 85-90 pounds light back then. She was looking for something on the top shelf of the closet, and not wanting to go get the step stool, used that guitar to boost her up. You can guess the rest.
Years later, I did find a Gibson J-200, and still have it. Don't worry, my wife knows it's not a step stool.