I’ve always had a poor relationship with money, and with pawn shops in particular. Currently, my Takamine acoustic-electric (which I’ve owned for a dozen years) and my Carvin Bolt guitar (which I built and finished from a Carvin kit) have both been in the pawn shop for two months. In addition, my Fender Cyber-Twin amp and Behringer foot controller have been in for over two months.

The paycheck I’m getting tomorrow is already committed to other, more important debts (mortgage, space rent, car payment), and I already skipped one month of payments on the pawned items. This particular pawn shop allows a loan to roll over one month; the payment amount is simply doubled in the second month. However, I would be surprised if they will let me roll into a third month without payment. They will probably just call it a breach of contract and put the gear up for sale.

That means I will have to say goodbye to Leslie, the Carvin I built and named after my Uncle Leslie, who was also a guitar player. And I will have to say goodbye to the Takamine, which I never named, but dearly love playing, especially at night with the lights off while my wife dozes next to me. I will also have to say goodbye to the most versatile amp I’ve ever owned.

This is not new for me. There have been a long string of guitars that I’ve loved, but parted with because of poor money management. In reverse order, the guitars and amps I’ve previously given up in order to pay creditors include the following:

Fender Contemporary Stratocaster (Japanese 1986 model)
Peavey Ecoustic amp
Gibson Les Paul Standard (American 1977 model, which I purchased from a friend; that one really hurts, because I not only lost a beautiful instrument, I feel like I let my friend down.)
Peavey Backstage Plus amp
Sigma/Martin acoustic guitar (which I modified to be an acoustic/electric)
Epiphone Strat Clone
Unbranded ES-335 Clone and small practice amp (which I inherited from the aforementioned Uncle Leslie)
Yamaha Classical Guitar (a gift from my first mother-in-law)
Takamine Mahogany Acoustic/Electric (early model; would be worth a lot of money today)
JB Player Strat Clone (nice, with a through-the-body neck and a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the bridge)
Carlos acoustic (a piece of junk, but my first acoustic)
Roland practice amp
Gibson Sonex 180 electric (my first guitar, also purchased from a friend)

As I said, it’s not a new process to part with guitars and amps in order to pay bills. But it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder every time, and I’m tired of having to give up my music equipment in order to shut the creditors up. I’ve been doing it for nearly twenty years now, and it’s getting very old and depressing.

I do still have one guitar at home, thankfully: a Line 6 Variax 300. The Variax is the most versatile guitar I’ve ever owned — despite the fact that it has rather poor build quality — and it’s become my main gigging guitar. I won’t be letting down my band mates if I lose the guitars and amp, I’ll just be letting myself down.


I’ll talk with the pawn shop tomorrow and see if they will let me roll over one more month. If they won’t, I’ll just ask to say goodbye then and there.

The Monster was the culprit

The jack on the Stratocaster was causing the shorting problem. I can only surmise that my favorite Monster cable spread the contacts over the years, and basically wore out the jack. At any rate, after a whirlwind trip to Guitar Center and some quick soldering, the guitar is working perfectly with all my standard cords. The Monster cable has been relegated to the gig bag as a spare. It was a great cable, but I’m not sure I want to continue using cables that actually wear out my equipment.

Monster problems

I did practice guitar some today in preparation for Tuesday night. I tweaked my amp sounds to get the Megadeth metal sound down a little better. I also started on the critique that I owe the Stories for All Seasons person; I should be able to finish that tomorrow or Tuesday at lunch and get it to her.

I also discovered that I’m having jack trouble on my Strat. 🙁 I first noticed it Friday night, and thought it was a cord problem. But after trying multiple cords, the problem remains. The only cord I have that doesn’t short out or crackle in the jack is my Monster guitar cord. I haven’t figured out why it is that the Monster cable works well and the standard cables don’t, but it must relate to how they sit differently in the jack. I hope the Monster cable hasn’t spread the jack in some way, making other cables fit incorrectly.

Good Days

Last night’s writing group was excellent. Only two people showed up, which was monetarily unfortunate for Melanie, but very fortunate for Michael and me. We discussed a short-short that Michael had written, the responsibilities of an artist in recording true-life events, and they both offered wonderful feedback on my “Saint and Cynic” story. After incorporating some of those suggestions, I’m going to cut this one off and start circulating it.

Melanie also wondered if I had done anything with my “Fear Sphere” stories since the last one. I haven’t, other than thinking about them. She encouraged me to write more of them and collect them together. I hope I can get some of these projects rolling when Ryan moves out. Having that spare room for working in the early morning will be a blessing, as long as I take advantage of it.

Tonight, John, Brad and I donned our collective instruments to become Flat Rabbit, and we had a very good night. We covered a lot of material and added a few songs to the list. We played “Sweet Child o’ Mine” better than we ever have, I think, and even went over a bunch of old originals that Brad and John wrote years ago. All in all, it was a fun night, and I was reluctant to break down my equipment.

I did have one problem, though. My Strat started squealing, and I traced it down to what seems to be a jack problem. I took the jack plate off to check the insides but it seemed fine, with no loose wires. It worries me a bit, since I will be trying out for Better Than Nothing on Tuesday night. Later in the night, the Strat played fine, so I may have put off the problem for a little while, but I need to recreate it at home and figure out what’s wrong.

Silent Treatment

Yesterday’s sour mood produced a new poem, “Silent Treatment.” This evening, I went to a jam at Hiccups with Brad the Drummer and played a few songs with him and the house band. Brad got some comments on his excellent drumming, and a few people said I did a good job, as well. Next time, I’m taking my own amp, though. I didn’t feel comfortable messing with the rig that I was using, so my Strat sounded thin and too quiet.