Published June 2, 2011
I accidentally ordered a new guitar last month. I just learned about it last week when a notice came by email that my new guitar was being made. A photo from the factory shows the guitar in its embryonic stage, just a rough fingerboard and shaped sides.
This was a complete surprise to me. I was looking at new guitars on the Taylor website last month. I swear I was only looking, but somehow I must have placed an order.
I have no money for a new guitar, but the builder is not allowed to refuse my order and must send the guitar regardless. I assume he’ll be reimbursed by the federal government, but that’s not my concern. All I care about is the guitar. Someone else can pay for it.
I won’t have money for upkeep either, so I signed up for a federal string replacement program. I change my strings at least every three months, more if I play a great deal, and since I can’t afford all those new strings, federal funds that magically appear out of the sky will pay for the strings. I could recycle the old strings and packages, but I’ll just throw them in the trash where they’ll contribute to the growing landfills. I’ll need fingerboard lubricant and wood polish too, and the magical funds will also pay for those necessities.
When my new guitar arrives, my employer will be required to pay me to stay home for six weeks so I can spend time with it. My wife will get six weeks’ paid leave too so she can play her hammer dulcimer with my guitar.
I know all about those government programs because I have several other stringed instruments whose upkeep I can’t afford. Several years ago my mandolin needed new frets because all that playing wore down the frets, and I found a state program that pays the luthier’s fret replacement fee. When dry weather caused a crack in my mountain dulcimer, state funds paid for that too and for psychological counseling to help me through the trauma of having a damaged instrument.
This is not the first time this accidental instrument ordering has happened. I accidentally ordered a new mandolin a few years ago. As with the guitar, the builder was required to send the mandolin without my paying for the instrument, and I assume that he was reimbursed by some magical money from the sky, not that that is any of my concern. When the mandolin arrived, I took six weeks’ new mandolin leave and applied for three months’ further unemployment compensation from the state so I could have more time to learn to play. I accidentally ordered two mountain dulcimers a year later — same thing vis-à-vis payment, time off, upkeep, etc.
Yes, all my instruments were surprises. (I have six or seven.) But I love them, and I’m looking forward to my new guitar. I think I’ll look at harpsichords next.