He says an old guitar is all he can afford.

Sometimes I’m amazed about how cheap some things are. Who would have thought, for example, that my old guitar could be repaired for less than ten euros?

I’ve been playing this acoustic guitar for decades. It’s just an avarage guitar, nothing special, but that’s okay because I’m not a gifted guitarist either. At a campfire I can provide some rhytmic guidance to the singing, and that’s about it.

It’s impossible to figure out how old the instrument is, but a few stickers on the back, with fading psychedelic colors and nineteen sixties typography, suggest that we might have the same the same year of birth: 1962.

Stickers from the 1960s on the back of an old acoustic guitar

Tuning with a wrench

Tuning the guitar had been cumbersome for years and when a few weeks ago one of the tuning buttons broke I could only tune the low E string using an adjustable spanner. An intolerable situation, of course, but as a freelancer I am currently not that rich. Like Guitar George from Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits, an old guitar is all I can only afford. And to have it repaired, could easlily cost me tens of euros, if not more. Or so I feared.

A simple Google search showed that I had been too pessimistic. The company Thomann in Burgebrach, Germay sold Harley Benton Concert Guitar Machine Heads for only 5.90 euros. With two and a half euro for shipping, the machine heads were mine for less then ten euros.

Machine heads for a guitar with baroque decorations

Copper and pearl

It turned out it was a perfect fit and easy to install so I can go jamming again. But what strikes me the most is that the new machine heads look so much nicer. The old heads were no-nonsense: iron and white plastic. The new ones are made of shiny stainless steel with baroque ornaments, brass screws and buttons with a mother-of-pearl effect.

Happiness is a well-tuned guitar. For though I am not a gifted guitarist, I find it very relaxing to grab a chord, move my right hand along the strings and hear something harmonious. And so, to celebrate the rebirth of my old guitar, here’s some more guitar porn:

Detailimage of a guitar with new machine heads.
An acoustic guitar on a woodchip floor, focussing on the neck with the machine heads
Photo of an old acoustic guitar on a woodchip floor

Update: 27 april 2020

In the video below we see and hear the old guitar in a recital of Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem, on Kings Day 2020. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, Kingsday was celebrated as Home Day (Koningsdag / Woningsdag, a word joke entirely lost in translation). The distortion effect was added in post production.

Frans Blok

My work explores the border regions of photography, painting and computer visuals. With my company 3Develop I do work in commission but I use the same techniques, skills and software to make free work. I am originally an architect and I live in Rotterdam; for that reason the architecture of that city is a major (but not the only) source of inspiration. But also travel to countries like Iceland and Britain, or walks in the Netherlands, provide much material. Seeing and showing quality and beauty, that is what my work is about.

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