Ask the Old Guy – November/December 2017

Hi Old Guy,
I hope you can help me. My husband of 20 years played guitar back in high school in the late 1980s. He has mentioned several times that he wishes that he still owned a guitar that he could play. I would like to purchase a vintage guitar to surprise him for Christmas, but have I have no idea what to look for and I don’t want to give away the surprise by asking. Any advice would be appreciated.

Signed: A regular  reader on a Christmas surprise mission

Hi there,
The first thing that I would suggest is to buy an acoustic guitar rather than an electric one. This will not only save you purchasing an amplifier but also might make listening to him a little easier on your ears if he’s a bit rusty. There are hundreds of music equipment stores in Toronto to choose from but I will give you a few suggestions as to what to look for. Try to stick to a brand name manufacturer if you can, like Fender, Gibson, Martin, or Yamaha. You are going to have to spend more than $300 in order to get a proper guitar. A quality instrument not only sounds better but is also much easier to play. The narrower the neck of the guitar is makes it easier to play. Look down the neck of the instrument to make sure it is not warped at all. A warped neck makes it almost impossible to play properly. Make sure that the sound box or main body of the guitar has no cracks or damage. If you are purchasing from a music store ask the sales person to play it for you. Listen for strange sounds. Rattling or strings vibrating on the frets could reveal problems in the structure. I would also strongly recommend getting a good case for it to keep it protected, as well as a proper stand.

If your husband needs any help remembering chords he can visit hundreds of websites on-line that show charts of guitar chords and many sites that even show the chords to favourite songs. If he knows how to play the chords c, a minor, f and g, he can play thousands of songs from folk to rock and roll. I played in a rock band back in the sixties myself and I was thrilled when my wife bought me a Fender acoustic guitar about 30 years ago. It’s still very relaxing to sit down, put my feet up and play it.

Good luck with your search and  you have a Merry Christmas yourself.