Here is another story about one of my guitars. This is part of a series that I write from time to time because of the weird allegiance I have to beat up instruments I have spent many hours with. It should be a long running feature because according to my wife I have about a 1000 guitars. Look back in the archives to see a couple of other guitar stories.
This guitar is an Alvarez model 5066. I would think it is a late 70s model. Made in Japan. As Steve Earle says in one of his songs Guitar Town, " never thought I'd get this far on $37 and an Asian guitar." Steve did not say Asian, he's an outspoken kid of guy, but kinder and gentler now than when he wrote that song.
Not much info on the web about these, I could not even find one for sale on ebay. I bought this guitar in the early 80s, no later than 82 or 83, so that means I have owned it at least 23 years. I paid a $100 at a pawn shop on Denman avenue that is now a pet store. They had a lot of cool guitars there, I wish I knew what I knew about guitars now then, I would have spent all my money there. I especially remember a Baldwin 12 string. I have a CD by Tedisco Del Ray called Music for Lovers and on the cover he holds a Baldwin like the one I saw in that pawn shop long ago. Oh well so much for the one that got away, back to the one I bought.
That $100 also included a ratty worn out cardboard case. Guitar was in good shape, slight crack in the top and some fret wear where the previous owner had played a lot of cowboy cords. You can see in the picture I have put some wear on it too. Action was high on the strings, which is not all that comfortable to play. This was in my early guitar days, so low action that played well was important, it makes playing easier. Now I know that if the action is kid of high you get more tone. This high action/good tone thing lead me to make a discovery as to what this guitar is really good for.
One day while fooling around in a guitar book I had I tuned this guitar to an opening tuning. I guess I had owned the guitar a couple of years by now. I had a metal guitar slide, kind of like what a steel guitar player uses except with a hole in it to insert your pinkie and I slid it along the strings. I was immediately able to see where sounds like I heard on old Mississippi Delta blues records were coming from. The high action lent itself to slide playing and the guitar was loud. This old Alvarez guitar became my closest friend during this time of my life.
I totally dedicated this guitar to slide, played it all the time, I was not married at the time, awful lonely and quiet around here, I had a bunch of time on my hands. I played on the porch, I played in the living room, in the bathroom, and at many jam sessions around east Texas under tall pine trees late at night. I guess it was about 20 years later I bought a metal bodied resonator, thought I needed it, and some day when I get it really broken in I will write about it. This Alvarez though has been an old friend, something I learned with, something I used to learn something about myself with.
It does not get played as much these days. It sits on a guitar stand, tuned to standard tuning, may be someone will pick it up to quickly work out a tune that is on their mind at that minute and they don't want to lose the thought by taking the time to get another guitar out of a case. I offered it to Morgan as a guitar to take to college. I told him he could keep it till he bought one of his own, but it was special and I wanted it cared for and returned at some point. He deferred, I don't know why, but he took the Roy Rogers, our name for a Fender acoustic that no one likes to play, but everyone seems to like to look at, kind of like you would look at a dog with a misshapen head. That's another story though.