News From The Pit

This Old Guitar
By Jimmy Brown

First, let me wish everyone a happy spring. I can't believe it has now been one year since I started writing this column. I would like to thank Paul Moffett and the staff at LMN for giving me the opportunity to share some of my stories with you readers. It's been a lot of fun.

For this month's column, I was asked to tie in to the cover story on Duke Robillard. Duke is such a well respected guitarist, songwriter and performer and the first thing that pops into my head was about how he and I trade so many old guitars back and forth.

It is interesting how guitarists, who are artists in their own right, get such inspiration from their tools the guitars they own. It is a common thread I have seen run through so many gifted players. Consequently, they're always searching for a 'better' guitar, whatever 'better' means to them.

We laugh about it today, but little did Duke and I know how would we come together as we have, back when he relocated to Louisville a few years ago. First we got together to play a little music, and then to do what we also love to do mess around with all these old guitars. Vintage Epi arch tops, parlor guitars, Kays and Danos and, of course, the usual mix of Strats and Les Pauls, et al.

It's just like a kid in a baseball card store or on the street trading marbles. I guess in some way, it's how we retain our youth. Now, instead of marble and baseball card, it's guitars. The price tag has increased a bit, but when you're trading back and forth, price is somewhat canceled out.

It's back to the childhood approach of "I'll trade you my Mickey Mantle for your two Hank Aaron's, plus 50 cents." It's fun, relatively harmless, and it all seems to work out in the end. Maybe that sounds naïve and nebulous, but hey, you said we had to totally grow up? I don't think so. Let's trade and have some fun.

But getting back to the artist and his tools, guitarists do seem to find inspiration from certain guitars. Maybe that guitar has special feel or sound. Or perhaps it's got that one glitch somewhere up the neck that forces you to play it a certain way, that helps coax another song, or special solo track out of the performer. I know it happens with Duke. I've had the pleasure and good fortune to witness it first hand.

We may turn into kids when he stops by to do a little swapping, but come showtime, look out. It's serious business, as only those grown-ups who, like Duke, choose to remain youthful, can play it.

I guess that's all for now. Until next time, Keep Rockin.