Gifts from the Dumpster  

rm_RandomXS2 62M
63 posts
7/29/2005 8:10 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Gifts from the Dumpster

Sometimes the world does funny things at the oddest moments. It can reach out and shake you and stun you with monumental events that fly at you out of nowhere to bring our comfortable assumptions crashing down around our collective ears, or provide you with gentle lessons just when you need them the most or, at the very least, are finally receptive to them.

Yesterday afternoon I took the trash out. Nothing unusual there - do it at least a couple of times per week. Down the stairs, across the parking lot, warm (ok - really HOT) sun turning the pavement and sidewalks into the Arizona equivalent of a bed of coals, to the big industrial apartment-complex-sized dumpsters.

Hello? What's this? There on the top of steaming bags of the usual household refuse, is a guitar case.


Not being one able to resist looking into guitar cases I pop the top open (the latches weren't even closed). Imagine my surprise to see a beautifully preserved 1969 Harmony Sovereign accoustic guitar! Gorgeous tobacco sunburst finish with an angled 6-on-a-side Fender-style headstock (a misguided attempt to be "cool" - although it did result in some advanced features like straight string pull and, thanks to being tilted back, avoiding the need for string trees...)

My initial impression was that this was a guitar that had spent the better part of the past 36 years in somebody's closet or attic. It had obviously been played at one point - the pickguard had been removed at some time in the past - evidence of the glue that had held it in place is still visible - the finish is a bit marred where the pickguard once sat. It had evidently been recently dragged out of storage and some unfortunate had attempted to make a failed attempt to use it - it had new strings - the ends untrimmed and poking out at odd angles. More tellingly - it was seriously mis-strung. The strings were in the right places, but except for the lower E string every string was wound backwards around the tuning pegs! It was also blazingly HOT - having sat out in the sun in a black case for who knows how long.

Marveling that someone would simply toss away a piece of musical history, I quickly snatched that puppy up and took it upstairs to the air-conditioning and let it cool off and stabilize. Then I tuned it (strange but possible, even mis-strung as it was). The tone was beautiful!

I have a very nice Ovation that sounds great and is a MUCH more expensive guitar - but it doesn't have quite the warmth and sensuousness of the Harmony's tone. The combination of aged wood and lacquer finish has resulted in a wonderfully balanced and full sound. I was ecstatic!

It's not perfect - Harmony made entry-level and mid-level guitars prior to being forced out of business by conservative management and the influx of Japanese guitars back in the mid-70s. But they used good wood and delivered as much or more guitar value for the money as anyone back in the day. Almost everyone back in the 60s learned to play guitar on a Harmony (or a Kay or a Stella - all made by Harmony - who also manufactured guitars for Fender as well). The finish is cracked and crazed on the headstock and at the back end as lacquer finishes will over time. The action is increadably high (the strings are a good quarter inch away from the fretboard at the bottom end)- also not terribly unusual for accoustic guitars of the time. The rear strap button is missing, and the binding piece that used to cover the butt of the neck is simply gone - leaving raw wood exposed.

OK...I know I'm getting technical and it sounds like I'm rehearsing an ad for eBay - but there is a point to all of this - some realizations in a discarded guitar...

The thing that struck me immediately was how impatient we've become - we demand immediate satisfaction in our lives - if the problem isn't solved in an hour we give up and move on to something else - just change the channel until we find something that promises to amuse us without any effort (short of muting the commmercials) on our part. We've been taught to expect and demand simple answers - in politics - in religion - in relationships - in life. The notion of actually knowing what we're doing is too much trouble - and who has the time for that anyway when we can turn on the tube - crank up the X-box - use our relationships for little more than own immediate gratification, etc. We've learned to be suspicious of depth. Like crows we want the bright and shiney - but can't be bothered to do the polishing on our own.

Because we can't be bothered to learn how to make the music, we blame the guitar and consign it to the dumpster. Worthless damn thing!

Then, quite by accident, someone comes along and sees the intrinsic value of what others have cast aside. With a little time, a little care - getting the strings put on right - adjusting the neck - this piece of "useless" junk is making the beautiful music it was born to make.

Somehow I find it fitting and gratifying that a cast-off guitar should have so much to teach me. After better than 4 decades of playing guitar it is still a marvel to continuously rediscover myself in a cracked lacquer finish.

The Universe brings us strange and wonderful gifts - if we take the trouble to unwrap them.

MsLoveRose 33F  
2432 posts
7/29/2005 11:04 am

Sometimes the patience is so thin because of the self-faith isnt the highest...many people just cant work with what they have...they cant adjust...or change to fit the mood!!! like they mans trash...another man's treasure....Its funny how we find some things in the worst place to find them!!!!

you just so happen to be one of the people who dont really need to look for lessons...they just come can be suprised how much you can learn about yourself when you see something so out of have nothing else to do but to mend....that my called a heart of hearts!!! You didnt just see the case and say oh well...its the must be took a chance, and put some effort into it! If the guitar could sure it is just smiling...grateful...that it didnt see an saw someone who cares....

didnt mean to get all deep...LOL....sometimes thats just the sunrise way....

live more, laugh often, love much

Barbiebunny69 43F

7/29/2005 2:18 pm

excellent blog!!!!!!
so true the magic is in the depths

Sinderlicious 51F
310 posts
7/29/2005 5:37 pm

*hugging ya*

Funny thing is that as real as the guitar's so symbolic of so many other things and people that are found on the trash pile of life. That was amazing....

Sin like you mean it!

deliciousngood 64F
1666 posts
8/11/2005 8:01 pm

Truer words were never spoken:

"The Universe brings us strange and wonderful gifts - if we take the trouble to unwrap them. "

*hugs Random

slidein2meplz 61F
1994 posts
8/24/2005 7:25 am

It's an old, old saying...but here it goes anyway..."Another man's trash, is another man's treasure". How cool it is that you were to find such a gift..... could be it was meant for you to find. I love when stuff like that happens.....

~~~ Just me, poppin to say HI! ~~

rm_Stevepa12 69M
2 posts
12/15/2005 8:12 pm

What would drive someone to abuse and then discard something that brings peaceful times, rousing tunes... that person has lost part of themselves and the guitar in the trash is just a symbol of loss...

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