My dear brother in law Jed taught me the rudiments of guitar, at the age of nine, initially on the six string banjo, that only had five strings! Then, no doubt after much harrassment from my good self, my parents bought me a plastic Spanish guitar from Woolworth’s.
I quickly mastered all the chords and licks that Jed had taught me, and loved to sit on the top step of the stairs in my Parents house, in Fitch’s crescent, and play. This location being preferred because the stairs had an amazing reverb to it, though this was a well dodgy location, not just because I was a small child at the top of a pretty high staircase, but because the landing was kindof creaky, and I could feel all the movement of my family below.
One day, having finished another satisfying (but probably highly raucous to my family!) session on my guitar, I leant it against the cupboards at the top of the stairs, and started my desent. But to my dismay, as I reached the bottom of the stairs, my guitar slid all the way down, making a hideous crunch as it hit the tiled floor of the porch. My pride and joy had a cracked body, and also the neck had broken, leaving it pretty much unplayable. I was sad, but in some ways happy, in as much as I felt I’d gone as far as I could on this cool but plastic guitar, and wanted, nay needed a better, proper guitar.
I went out to our back garden, stuffed some newspaper into the sound hole, and set fire to it, deciding my old friend should have a dignified departure, Hendrix style! My Mother came out to see what on earth was going on, and clipped my ears, labelling me willfully distructive.
But the following week, it was back to Woolies. Now, would it be a Zenta, or a Top Twenty…………..?
It was a Zenta! This is the “Blood Spattered” guitar which I gave to Jed in the 1980’s, which Helen returned to me several years ago. Note the old Gibson Humbucker, as fitted by Paddy Mulville in the late 1970’s, when he worked for Gibson, who then had a factory in Braintree.