jol dantzig

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Getting in line for that custom guitar build makes the future look brighter.

After weathering many ups and downs as a driving force in popular music and a consumer product, the guitar lives on strong—even in these strange times.

Regular readers of my column know that I poke a lot of fun at the neurotic behavior of the guitar industry/hobby whenever I can. After all, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. The truth is that I love guitars and everything related to them, and when the pandemic hit, I seriously wondered what might happen to the guitar biz, live performance, and music in general. With everyone hunkered down in their bunker binge-watching Netflix, would COVID finally snuff out the 6-string—something that disco, synthesizers, boy bands, and EDM couldn't? Was this the end of the guitar as a cultural icon?

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