For most of our married lives (going on an even dozen years!), Tony and I have lived very frugally. We didn’t take a “real” honeymoon until 2005 (we got married in 2000), and we backed out of purchasing a house in the middle of the real estate bubble, because we felt like we would be getting in over our heads. (Too bad no banks felt like telling us, but hooray for making wise, tough choices!) Even now, though we live comfortably, we are still cost-conscious in our decisions.
So, about this baby. Tony’s been playing guitar for 16 years. Like most guitar-players, he has lusted after gear, but has generally been extremely budget-aware, even selling a prized amplifier when we lived in Miami, putting the money toward a more-needed use. Fast-forward about 10 years, and we could finally afford a “nice” guitar. However, like all money decisions, pros and cons had to be weighed. Tony wanted a guitar that fit comfortably in his hands and played easily like his nuclear-yellow Ibanez, but to have a tone more like a friend’s Les Paul.
After much searching, he finally settled on ordering a Carvin custom-made guitar. It’s what they do. Or at least one of the things. (Warning: guitar nerdiness ahead!) He could specify fret material (stainless steel) as well as size/height (jumbo) – for a long life and happy note-bending. He opted for a larger-radius neck (14″) with a satin finish on the back – it fits a little flatter in his palm, and the satin finish is less grippy on skin than shellac. He chose a mahogany back and neck, and carved maple top for sound quality; and an ebony fingerboard for tonal consistency and feel. The abalone inlays mark the frets with style (as opposed to pearl), and the quilted maple top is downright sexy.
While I adore guitar music – from bouncy acoustic flamenco to finger-searing shred-metal – I am in no way a trained ear. I mention this because even I can tell a difference in this guitar versus any other he’s owned. Purchasing an instrument online that you’ve never had the chance to play – on account of it didn’t exist until he ordered it – is a gamble…so much so that we postponed a Utah trip so that we’d be here when the Carvin arrived. Tony had 10 days to decide whether to keep the guitar or send it back for a refund. After two days, it had found its permanent home on our wall – this including an agonizing day letting it acclimate to its surroundings (ie – in the case, un-played), and following a quick truss-rod adjustment to reshape the neck post-shipping.
Is this post a bit overboard on the guitar love? Probably. But you should understand that there was possibly more anticipatory angst and excitement for this guitar than for any birthday or Christmas Tony’s had. After all, he did wait 16 years for it…I’d say that’s some careful consideration. And it is truly beautiful.