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Don’t Skimp on that New Instrument

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Editor’s Note: Excerpted from Chad Phillips’ forthcoming book, “Guitar Therapy”

gtrx_symbol_thmWhen I bought my first decent acoustic, I was fifteen years old and had worked all summer mowing lawns in order to save up enough cash for that guitar—a $350 Alvarez. It was good guitar for the money, but it wasn’t an exceptional instrument. Still, compared to its predecessors, that Alvarez was solid gold—a good value, and I played the snot out of it. But it wasn’t right for the style of music which would become…

When I bought my first decent acoustic, I was fifteen years old and had worked all summer mowing lawns in order to save up enough cash for that guitar—a $350 Alvarez. It was good guitar for the money, but it wasn’t an exceptional instrument. Still, compared to its predecessors, that Alvarez was solid gold—a good value, and I played the snot out of it. But it wasn’t right for the style of music which would become the focus of my musical exploration later on: Rock-N-Roll.

I was listening to all kinds of bands in the Rock tradition at the time, but my favorite band was Van Halen. Of course, the reason I loved that band so much had more to do with their guitarist, Edward Van Halen than anything else. And my acoustic, while perfect for playing Blue Grass during those formative years, was the wrong tool for my new direction.

For that job I’d need a tool commensurate with the style of music I was gravitating towards. I figured the best way to accomplish this feat was to see what Edward was playing and then go out and buy what he had. So roughly a year and half later I purchased my first exceptional instrument. It was a candy apple red Kramer guitar and featured Dimarzio dual humbuckers, an ultra fast neck with jumbo frets, and a double locking Floyd Rose Tremolo system. The over all cost? A thousand dollars. My parents thought I was crazy, but my Uncle knew what I was doing. I can still remember what he said to me when I came over to his house to show off my new axe. After removing it from the case and giving it the once over, he casually asked me what I paid for it. With an air of pride in my voice, I answered, “A thousand dollars.” I’ll never forget my uncle’s response to my answer. He looked me dead in the eye, and with a certain sternness, I might add, said, “Now you’re playing a thousand dollar’s worth, Chad.” He was right. I understood, perfectly, what he meant by that comment. My uncle knew that my playing would improve proportionally to the quality of my instrument.

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