An Instrument You Hug

by Matt
(Lexington, Massachusetts, USA)

I grew up in New York City, and I come from a musical family. I took clarinet lessons starting at age nine, and I played until I went away to college.

My first exposures to classical guitar were Segovia, who I saw and heard play at Carnegie Hall, and my cousin who is a year older than I and who began to take lessons when she was fifteen.

I made my cousin a foot stool in wood shop, I listened to her play, and sometimes I fooled around with her guitar. One day she showed me how to play a D minor chord, and I easily learned how to play the first three strings--i m a i m a... Then I changed the chord slightly and made up a three chord tune that stood me in good stead for years. I could pick up a guitar, play my tune, and most people thought I really knew what I was doing.

I grew up, raised a family, and only played clarinet occasionally until my kids went away to college and I finished paying for it. Then I got the music bug and bought a "good" clarinet, taught myself to improvise, and played jazz with friends. A few years later I took singing lessons, and now I can play clarinet and sing pretty well, though not at the same time.

My wife plays guitar and owned one for thirty years, but I didn't want to encroach on her territory, so I never felt a hankering to pick up her instrument. But then one day she invited me to, and I started teaching myself to play classical guitar. I immediately realized that the rosewood saddle I had made her years ago was the wrong height and wrong material, and I made a new saddle out of some Corian I had lying around. All of a sudden my wife's guitar, which has a solid wood spruce top, blossomed with new life. It sounded really sweet, it's action was vastly improved, and I was inspired to learn more.

I played my wife's guitar for almost two years, and this week I bought a guitar of my own. I bought a Blueridge BR-361 parlor guitar. Blueridge also makes a less expensive BR-341. Both of these are amazing instruments for the money. They are a little smaller in the neck (1 7/8 inch=47.6 mm nut) than a classical guitar, and they have a slightly smaller scale (distance from nut to saddle) than most classical guitars. This slightly smaller guitar is a good fit for my not very large hands but still leaves room between the strings for right hand finger work. These guitars have steel strings, but I still play and hold my instrument in the classical style.

Trevor has a great site. I come here from time to time to get music to work on, and I appreciate Trevor's mix of free goodies and tasteful advertising. Thanks Trevor. Nice work!

Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

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