"I remember, I got my first own guitar from my granduncle when I was about eight, or so. He was a man of many talents and had tried almost everything that could make a man's life rich, which included playing instruments as diverse as the saxophone, the accordion and the guitar. For some time in the 50s, I guess, his mastery of the accordion earned him regular live appearances in a weekly show on a national radio station, together with a female partner who was sharing his musical interests.

And it was him who gave me that old guitar, seeing that I'd been meddling with any guitar I could get hold of, trying to find my way on it. Unlike the one with a scrolled headstock and wooden pegs he'd given to my brother, which was about 150 years old and very similar in style to those Christian Frederick Martin built when he spent some time in Vienna for apprenticeship, it featured a slotted headstock with classical tuning machines. It wasn't exactly what would generally be regarded a 'good guitar', but I liked it because it was small and allowed easy fretting to a child's fingers. And it was my OWN. I took it almost everywhere I went, and there was no need to take special care of it since it was old and scrubby anyway. Boasting my first own guitar now, I started strumming along with the tunes I picked up in those days, which appeared suitable as a basis for learning. One day I felt like trying steel strings on it to suit my sound preferences better, but I ignored the fact that it was designed for low-tension nylon strings only, and suddenly the neck went to pieces with a loud crack at about one third way up the neck. I was left desperate. Although I had glued the loose piece with the headstock back in place, I never dared tune it up to standard pitch again, let alone play it the way I used to before. I knew I had to get a new one! It took a year or two till I finally got my first proper steel-string guitar for Christmas, a Japanese-built one, with laminated top, which met my demands for the years to follow – I was completely over the moon!"

Copyright © Michael Phillips 2007