How Special Can A Guitar Be?

I finally bought the acoustic guitar I should have bought 18 years ago.

You see, back when I was 17, I bought an Ovation. It was a Legend, Model 1717. It wasn't cheap. It was one of the best Ovation guitars you could buy at the time. Only the Elites or the Anniversary editions were better. No cheap Celebrity was this!

All my favorite hair bands played Ovations. It was the late '80s, so only the old timers played Martins or Guilds, and only country and bluegrass pickers played Gibsons. Yes, to me, Ovations were the king of acoustic guitars. The OP preamp and EQ was top of the line. The plugged in piezo sound was the ultimate acoustic rock live sound. And my deep bowl Legend had a great unplugged tone as well. It looked cool. It was modern. It rocked!

I wrote so many songs on that guitar. Songs about love, about hate, about joy, about despair... songs about my past, my present, my future. I poured my heart and soul into that guitar. It was the best instrument I had ever owned. It was professional. It was special. So special that when it was stolen my friends and I beat a confession out of the thief. We then drove to his mom's house and took it back. Yeah, it meant that much to me.

A year later, when I went to prison, my girlfriend at the time (soon to be ex) had possession of it. It was in the trunk of her car when I got arrested. From the county lock up I remember the collect phone call promises that she would keep it until I got out. She was going to save it for me. A few weeks later she stopped taking my calls.

I figured the guitar was finally gone for good. I was at my ultimate low. I was in prison. Most of my so called friends had deserted me. And I deserved that. Even my parents and sister had written me off. But one friend, Neil, he never stopped writing me or visiting me. He was a guitar player, and we had been in bands together in high school. He loved the songs I wrote with that guitar. He loved that guitar almost as much as I did.

One day in prison I got a special letter from Neil. His cousin was getting married. They were going to pawn shops all over town looking for a good deal on wedding rings when Neil saw an Ovation acoustic hanging on the wall. He recognized it right away by the cat hair inside the sun-warped hardshell case, and he bought it. When I got out, he had it for me.

Six months later, I would use that old Ovation to write a song for my wife-to-be, and to serenade her on our wedding day. Neil was my best man. I have the guitar to this day. I use it to lead worship at our acoustic gathering every week. It still sounds great. Until recently it was the only acoustic guitar I had ever owned.

But all that has changed. I bought a minty used HD28 off Craigslist last week. I saved over $1100 off the price of a new one. It was such a good deal I just could not pass it up. I wish I had bought a Martin back in 1989. If I had, it would probably still be worth what I paid for it. Ovations have a terrible resale. Mine has probably lost 2/3 of its value or more. They're just not popular like they used to be. They've cranked out so much low end junk over the years that no one even cares about their good guitars anymore (except Melissa Etheridge).

So I am starting over. I am a Martin Man.


Mark D. Inman said...


No photo of the Martin eh?

reader said...

Wow. That's a great story. Your new HD 28 will bring you a lot of joy, but you should obviously hang onto the Ovation forever. Resale value on a guitar with that history is irrelevant; it means so much more to you than money.

I have a Vantage guitar that my father bought me for my 13th birthday over 25 years ago. It was inexpensive then and has no resale value to speak of, but I still have it and I play it nearly as often as my Martin D1.

Anonymous said...

wow. Guess I haven't been to church to see the goods. Please tell me its a cut away?

Sarah Dylan Breuer said...

I've got an Ovation Legend (model 1717) too, and treasured it a great deal. You're right that Ovations got a lot less hip after the 80s, though.

If you're in the market for an electric, check out Reverend Guitars. They're amazing sounding and an amazing value. My Reverend Charger HB-FM (with a little help from Guitar Rig 3) covers most of the sounds I need for U2charists, and it's a beautiful guitar to boot!

Blessings to you in your music and ministry.

Patient On-line said...

I can relate to the Martin love. I had a Martin D35, a 1970 edition, and it was sweet. In '74 I was playing Christian music at places like Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. I went to church one night and had it taken from my apartment. I replaced it with an awesome Guild D55(1976)that I still play today. But the Martin was still missing. In 1997, while leading worship, I bought a new D28. I love the neck, fretboard and clear mid-range sound. For depth and sustain, I'll take my Guild any day. But playing the D28 plugged in at church for leads is a sweet sound unto the Lord.

Zach Eapen said...

You should have put a snap of your beloved guitar ! But a real touching story.

learning guitar scales said...

Very inspirational, i can tell that you love guitars and music to the bones.