Friday, September 18, 2009


That stand for "gear acquisition syndrome," or, more specifically (in my case), "guitar acquisition syndrome."

Occasionally someone will ask me, "How many guitars do you have?" I think this is because I play for worship, and people see a revolving door of instruments from week to week. And I don't mind that question, really.

Unless Kathy Jo is standing there.

Then she always repeats the question, only with more urgency, "Yes, how many guitars DO YOU have?" It's no longer a casual question, it's an interrogation!

Now, to be fair, she has to live with my, uh, G.A.S. illness, so I don't blame her for asking...with that tone. many guitars do I have? A few. Um okay, a few more than that. More than I need. Probably even a few more than that. Let me explain (here comes my twisted rationale!):

I got into building guitars because I play left-handed. Playing guitar left-handed (or "backwards") can be a curse when you're looking for a good instrument, or an instrument with particular options, beccause most guitar manufacturers don't offer much for us lefties: a few beginner instruments, and a couple generic ones from their better lines - IF we're lucky.

So, in around 1995, I decided I wanted something specific in an electric guitar, and of course, it just didn't exist in left-handed configuration. So I decided to try building my own. Not from scratch (I didn't have the tools necessary, and also didn't have the skills from some of the intricate work, like fretting a neck), but from premanufactured parts.

So more than a few of my guitars are "guitar projects." They're guitars that I've built out of parts: necks bodies, pickups, tuners, etc. Over the past 15 years or so, this has become as much of a hobby and interest to me as playing guitar has been for over twice that long (started playing when I was 13, I'm 51 now...).

And the guitars I build are always changing, morphing, getting modded ... changing pickups, or swapping necks on a couple guitars, just to try something different. It's almost as much fun to have a screwdriver in my grip as a guitar pick! Change a neck, and presto! A NEW guitar! (So sometimes what you see on Sunday morning is not something new, but version III or IV of an instrument...)

And there's always another idea for a new build on the every once in a while another 'project' is born!

Most of the parts I use come from a company in Puyallup, Washington; Warmoth Guitar Parts. They make excellent necks and bodies, and most everything is available for lefties like me. In the photo at the begining of this post are my current Warmoth guitars.

Another company that offers parts and kits as well as their own line of guitars is Carvin Corporation, in San Diego, California. They also get my business because they are very lefty-friendly, and the owners of the company are Christians. In every catalog, they have this quote:

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth;
make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praise!
Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm."
--Psalm 98:4-5

Another interesting thing about Carvin's founder, Lowell Kiesel (d. 12-29-2009), is that he grew up on a farm near Gothenburg, Nebraska! Small world!

As I said, Carvin offers both kits and completed instruments, and I have some of each (I'll let you try to figure out which is which!):

Guitar acquisition syndrome.

Not so much a disease as a passion. Because every guitar is an experiment...part of the quest for
"that" sound or look, or ease of playing.

And it's the opportunity to "make music" - being a part of that creative process that is one of God's gifts to us - from the very beginning, starting with some wood, wire and a few tools.

Stay connected...

Pastor Mike


  1. I think you "passion" for guitars is great even though it can be considered an obsession. I used to play guitar back in the day (long time ago) and I have an old guitar that is in the spare closet. For some odd reason, Zachary asked if I could teach him how to play the guitar. I told him that I don't remember how to play it anymore but if he was really interested we could look into lessons.

    So, here you go...a way to pay for your "GAS" teaching guitar lessons to 2nd graders! Obviously I am kidding but thought it was funny that he asked about guitars the same week you revealed your obsession. :-)

  2. Sean...I remember my interest in playing guitar started in 6th grade - my homeroom teacher, Mr. Hamlin, played electric guitar. He used to bring his guitar (I'm pretty sure it was a Fender Telecaster) and his little amp to school, and he'd play songs on it that "related to our English lessons" ... songs like the old Irish Rovers tune, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down"! Anyway, it made an impression on me, for some reason, and in 7th grade, I got my first guitar...the rest is a looong, looong story!

  3. ...the other song I couldn't remember was "The Unicorn" ... remember that one?!