Waiting for “The One”

Singer-songwriter Laura Zucker has a good post up on Guitar World, describing her quest for “the one.” No, not Keanu Reeves. Rather, an instrument with the elusive combination of sound, form, and aesthetics that best suited her as a player. She eventually chanced upon a custom Breedlove that fit the bill. Besides maybe concert violinists, whose instruments are an art form unto themselves and routinely command eye-watering prices, I’m not sure many other musicians obsess over finding “the one” so much as guitarists.

I worked in guitar shops throughout high school and college, which is basically indentured servitude for gear addicts. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that the number of guitars I’ve personally owned is in the (low) double digits. That number includes at least three Strats and five Teles, a couple pointy guitars with Floyd Roses, and even a Les Paul for good measure. The vast majority of those guitars didn’t last long before I traded them away. The longest-standing instrument I still possess is a sunburst Fender Mexican Strat purchased in high school, my first “serious” guitar. It was my go-to electric for the better part of a decade, and has gone through innumerable hardware mods and pickup upgrades; just last year I was rewiring it yet again for a bridge pickup blend pot. I traded away a lot of guitars because they just didn’t feel like home in the same way.

Over time my preference shifted toward Telecasters, and I’ve cycled through a few before arriving at the American Special that currently gets most of my attention. While it’s a great guitar, I still can’t say I’ve necessarily found “the one.” Zucker writes that she only chanced on the Breedlove when she wasn’t really in the market for a new guitar. “It just came to me,” in her words. It also helped that she threw monetary caution to the wind, buying “the guitar that I really wanted, and not just the one I could reasonably afford.” My recent experience with a certain Gibson ES-330 seems to validate Laura’s insight. That said, I can think of at least 4 or 5 guitars that I really want, so putting her advice into practice might be an expensive proposition…

4 thoughts on “Waiting for “The One”

  1. I like the blog, Ben! Wondering if you remember my dad’s ES-333. That was his baby for a long time! He doesn’t play much anymore, but sure does appreciate a beautiful instrument. If I can ever get him to believe that the internet isn’t satan’s tool, I’ll direct him toward your blog. He’d love it. Hope you’re doing great.

    • Bob’s probably not incorrect in his assessment of the interwebs. I do remember that bass! It was really cool, and also pretty unique; you don’t seem too many bass players these days with Gibsons. I bet he misses out on having jam partners living at home. Hope everything is well with you and your family!

  2. I feel this way about my Martin OM-15. I change electrics all the time but I have not had a need to shop for an acoustic for several years. It’s reassuring, but it’s also kind of fun to trade in and trade up on the electrics. 🙂

    • Yeah, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that Martin. Honestly, I go back and forth on my D-28; I have no intent at all to offload it, but I know there’s probably something better for me out there. I’m just not playing enough acoustic music lately to be seriously looking at another dreadnought.

      2014 is going to be the year of the archtop. Right now I’m debating how to approach that purchase — whether to go all in on something high end, or pick up something more reasonable, recognizing that my preference as a jazz picker may very well change in a few years. Choices…

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