People often ask my who my guitar heroes are. I have the obvious answers: Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Tuck Andress, Christopher Parkening, Steve Stevens, etc. But the original guitar hero for me was my Dad. When I was a kid, my Dad would get out his guitar and play little concerts for me and it was the most mesmerizing thing in the world for me. It was just amazing. My Dad could strum an acoustic guitar and sing like no one else I've ever heard, to this day. Imagine Jim Croce with a lot more rhythm and a better voice. And that's saying a lot, because Jim Croce was one of the best ever. My Dad truly was that good, and even a little better.
And, factor this in as well. My Dad was right handed, like I am. And right handed guitarists use their left hands to hold down the strings on the guitar neck, and use their right hands to strum or fingerpick. That's just how it's done. It seems odd, but that's how the brain works with the guitar. Left handed guitarists do it the other way around. Look at pictures of Jimi Hendrix or Paul McCartney playing and you'll notice how it's backwards of what you're used to seeing. That's because those guys are left handed. Well, my Dad's left hand only had three fingers, and the fingers were sort of fused in a way that basically made holding down individual guitar strings impossible. So, he took a right handed guitar, turned it upside down, and played it backwards to what his brain naturally would do. He was right handed but he played the guitar as a left handed person so he could hold down the strings with his right hand, which had 5 fingers. It's pretty amazing. So, not only was my Dad a great guitarist, but he had to do everything on the guitar upside down and backwards to how his brain thought. Any time I find myself complaining about how difficult something is to play on the guitar, I remember what my Dad had to do to play the guitar, and I stop complaining.
Anyway, my Dad was certainly my original guitar hero, and anytime I play guitar and sing, I'm really trying to emulate those magical concerts my Dad played for me when I was a kid. When I play in that style, if there's anyone I try to sound like, it's him.
His guitar wasn't an amazing guitar, quality wise, but it was really cool. It was an acoustic archtop, which is a pretty rare instrument. An archtop is sort of like a jazz guitar, with "f holes" to the sides of the strings, for the sound, instead of the standard open hole under the strings like you see on most acoustic guitars. I remember what the guitar looked like and I remembered the brand, so I started digging online to see if I could find one. As rare as this guitar was when my Dad got his, they're even more rare now. But, after a lot of searching, I found one, the same color, brand, and model, and from the same time period. I could only find one on the market, but due to the magic of online commerce, I was able to buy it and have it shipped to my home.
It's really great to be able to own this guitar now. It wasn't very expensive, it isn't really a collector's guitar and it really never was a high level instrument. But in my Dad's hands, it came alive and created some of the most magical memories I have, and planted the seeds of my own musicality. I don't play it very often, but I keep it in my guitar room on display now and it makes me feel good every time I look at it. It's definitely the coolest guitar I own!