Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dinrist, My Guitar

Sometime around 1980 (memory fuzzes after all those years), I was at the used rack in a music store in my hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, and I saw this absolutely incredible guitar. It was a natural finish maple, a "beautiful blonde". It had the coolest shape I'd ever seen on an electric guitar. It was like a mandolin with a scroll. An absolutely beautiful guitar. The price tag was $300, a huge sum for me in those days.

At that particular moment, I had my then-current guitar (a no-name or small-name strat copy) in to have an intonation done or some such minor stuff. I had paid about $75 for it and a reall bad amp from a friend in my ward.

Kind of off-the-cuff, I asked him how much he'd give me for it in a trade-up toward that Epiphone. I kind of remembered trying to play down my interest in the guitar that had caught my eye. I didn't want him to think I wanted it TOO bad.

He looked over the two guitars and hemmed and hawed, and finally pronounced, "Ohhhhhhh, I guess I'd give you a hundred fifty for it."

"Okay!" Done. I put it on layaway, with my old guitar as a down payment. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to pay it off. But over the course of that summer, I managed to earn the remaining $150, and it was mine.

Right away, I named it. I was big into fantasy literature, and I morphed a couple of elvish words into it's name: "Dinrist" The Silence Cleaver!

I soon found "my sound". By using the coil tap and the pickup selector, and tweaking the settings on my amp, I could make it sound pretty much like Brian May. It was a sweet axe. I used it in garage bands, and once, when a poetry writing class assignment was to write a romantic poem, I wrote to it.

I can still clearly remember playing that guitar when I had my epiphany that I needed to set it aside and go on my mission. When I realized that music, as important as it was to me, wasn't as important as my burgeoning testimony.

When my mission in Honduras neared its end, people started teasing me about going home to my girlfriend. Like so many others, she and I had parted ways about half-way through my adventure. Instead, I told them, "La unica q' me espera es mi guitarra!" (The only girl waiting for me is my guitar).

I've bought, sold and traded many guitars since then. I've played in many failed and floundered bands. I've recorded songs with it and other guitars. But this one has been with me, faithfully, the longest of them all.

So, the other day, my son picked it up, and I showed him how to make a rock power chord shape, and play "Tom Sawyer". A few days later, he's got it pretty much down.

So, all those years that I played this guitar, and all the years that I'd hoped for a son suddenly converged. Here was my son playing my guitar, and making it sound good.

Here's to you both!

Mark Hansen



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