I drive all night just to see the light...

I'm not sure if it was the news that Van Halen is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that motivated me or not, but, on the way home from work last night, I finally stopped off at a local guitar store that I've been eying for more than a year. It's just a little place tucked inside an old downtown building in the town next to where we live. We pass it all the time on the way to our friends' house, but I've never gone in.

For those not familiar, I used to play guitar. Heck, I used to own three or four of them. But, as is often the case, things are done in college to earn a little extra cash. Some steal, some starve, some sell plasma, some strip (that would be a friend of mine). In my case, I wound up selling off all my guitars and equipment. It's a decision that helped at the time, but I often regret.

I should have sold plasma.

So I stopped in this place to have a look around.

I knew a little bit about it because a guy who was in the M.B.A. program with me is a fan of the shop. In fact, one of his class projects was a business plan and a Web site for this store where he often helped with servicing of the instruments they take in. Yep, in addition to new guitars, they do sell used as well. And their prices are not bad at all. That was what intrigued me... a small shop, in-house service, used equipment. Three good things.

I set my eyes on a slate grey Squire Stratocaster, grabbed a pick, and sat down.

This isn't the first time I've done this, just sat in a guitar shop and played. But it's been a while. And the fingers get rusty, as does the memory. Heck it's been nearly a decade since I owned and played regularly. So all I could remember right there on the spot, and with the teenaged employee watching me from behind the counter with a mixture of curiosity and late-shift boredom, was two songs... Skid Row "18 and Life" and Cinderella "Gypsy Road." Two of my favorite songs and fun ones to play. I attempted to plunder the depths of my memory to force out the fingering for Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil," but it wasn't happening. Bummer.

The guitar had a few nicks and surface scratches, but they were love marks, you could tell. This axe was loved by someone. And, sadly, it likely wound up the victim of necessity much like my beloved Ibanez... the need to get some money in a tough time. I prefer to think it was sold back to the store in order to give some other new player the chance to learn using a relatively inexpensive instrument while they traded up for something more expensive. Call it the musical romantic in me. But it was fairly well restored by the shop and played quite nicely.

It felt good to play again. It really did. I miss it.

I wanted it. But I walked away. Heck, I hardly have time to play my video games or read books on a regular basis, how can I justify a guitar?

But I'm sure I'll go back and play in-store again. Dunno if the Strat will still be there, but I can find another to play. Of that I'm sure.

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Fire up Garage Band on your Mac... it has a guitar built-in! Not the same, I know, but you could always strum the keyboard as you "play" it! :-)


Kevin, you should have stripped.

Johnny C.

You should've stripped to "Runnin' With The Devil".


Wow, everyone wants you to strip...dirty birdies ;).

I think that if you really want to play again, you can! Maybe not today but who knows what will happen in a few years.

Have you been to the EMP in Seattle? They have this huge guitar sculpture thingie and now it will remind me of you!

ms. sizzle

there is something about playing a musical instrument- it's unlike anything else. i'd say drop some tv shows or a video game or two and get yourself a guitar. it will make you feel more alive! (not that you feel dead, um, you know.)

former guitar player,


Agreed--creative outlets are so good and important. When I stopped playing music (played guiter and clarinet), I started doing theater. When I stopped doing theater, I started doing art. When I stopped doing art, I went back to writing and now I flip back and forth between those two.
Buy the guitar. Buyyyy itttttt!! >:)


Dave, and with a bluetooth keyboard I can even hold it like a real guitar when I strum!

Sandra, really, you don't want to see that.

Johnny, you're really worrying me. Everyone knows Hot For Teacher is the best song for that!

Hilly, I have never been to the PacNW. Always wanted to, but never have. Sad. I need to get out there.

Sizzle, so why are you a fellow "former"?

diane, what don't you do?


Web design
Swing dancing

Johnny C.

Oh I know. I'm dating a school teacher!


You didn't get the guitar? Go. Go now. Get it! Or at least pick up Guitar Hero II. So damn good, I'm making a GH2 playlist my ipod o' joy. Many people have uploaded them to itunes, which makes my hunt much easier.


To hell with video games, pick that guitar and a talk to me!!!!!

Ibanez is my favorite maker, for basses at least, but I love their guitars too. I'm also partial to Jacksons.

I'm trying to think what I play when I grab a guitar at a music store... hmm, probably "Shock Me" or "Living After Midnight", oh and "Rock You Like a Hurricane." And if I try to play fast, I do Metallica's "Jump In the Fire." Hey, I'm not a guitarist, I'm a bassist. When I try out basses, I like to play "Detroit Rock City," "Moby Dick" and Iron Maiden's "Invaders."


diane, just a matter of time.

Johnny, I didn't know Ash was a teacher.

Erin, I looked at that guitar for GH2 and I don't think it's quite the same. Could be wrong, but...

Eve, one of the simplest but easiest to ID basslines that I used to love to play... Ozzy's "No More Tears." That was fun when I had my hands on a bass. My Ibanez EX-160 was my baby and I sold it. I hate myself for it.



I think you need to strip to pay for the guitar. Serioulsy though, get one... we all need creative outlets...



I agree with everyone telling you to buy one. There's nothing quite like having something that you love right at your fingertips, and trust me, you'll find time to play.

Also, you are an official badass for knowing "18 and Life" and don't let anyone tell you any different.


Dude, you will never have time for it if you don't have it available. If it were in your house, you could pick it up whenever. Hell you could play it on the pooper if you had to.


Nat, if I strip, I'll wind up owing guitars to the world, not earning them for myself. ;-)

frances, I promise not to let them tell me otherwise. Now I just need to try the solo. That was always pretty cool. And I never quite got it. Just the intro. But still so much fun to play. Ever heard Cinderella's "Gypsy Road"? Very cool, too. One of their faster, harder songs.

g-man, I'd just have to make sure I have a guitar stand in the bathroom for when that whole wiping moment occurs. That could be awkward.


I stopped in a music store just today to look at piano sheet music (to motivate myself to learn to play more piano), but I couldn't help but start by walking through all the guitars. It was the first time I'd ever seen an electric classical guitar. Cool.

I have an acoustic I don't play enough, but I still kind of want 1 or 2 more: a classical and an electric. And maybe a violin. :)

My 1st guitar was a used Washburn acoustic I bought from a friend under the condition he could come to my dorm room and play it whenever he wanted. It had high action and was a real finger-killer, but I really missed it when I sold it years later when I was leaving LA. Even though I don't play much now, I know better than to sell the one I have if I can help it. Yea guitars!


Classical guitars? What do you mean? I'm sure I know what it is, but I've just never referred to it this way before. My guitars included a Memphis (my first), an Ibanez EX160, a Kramer Classic III, and a Gibson acoustic. I also owned a Fender P electric bass. I want my Ibanez back.

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