The Story Of "Monster"
When I was going to school in Ann Arbor, all of us folkies hung
around Herb David's guitar store. I wound up designing the logo for his
shop: a medieval minstrel frowning at a broken string on his lute. It
was a fun and informative place.
There I met a young local folkie named Jeremy Kammerer, who was
trying to get lessons on guitar-making from Herb David, and was
currently experimenting with twelve-strings. I evinced an interest in
twelve-strings, so he took me to his shop (one room in his apartment),
and showed me what he was currently working on. 'Twas a guitar with a
reinforced Kay body, a Gibson neck, and a homemade head to handle the
extra strings. I saw the guitar, and promptly fell in love. In
exchange for my doing a bit of work for him, Jeremy K. allowed me to buy
the completed guitar for all of $125. Chicken feed, even then, and I
never made a better bargain in my life.
Once I got the guitar home, I began experimenting with strings --
and learned that it worked best with La Bella extra-light gauge
silver-wound silk-and-steel compounds. Strung with those, it had a
bright voice like no other guitar I'd ever heard. It was, however, a
perfect monster to tune. I despised the term "prima donna", so I named
the guitar Monster.
All through college I took Monster around with me to picket lines,
political demonstrations, folk festivals, and any other place where I
could get a chance to sing. We performed in all weather, all
conditions, all audiences. After awhile I realized that Monster had
taken on a definite personality. Among other things, he'd stay in tune
better if I fed him a bit of Scotch whiskey (rubbed on the head) before
Once, at a party, a drunken frat-boy grabbed Monster and started to
strum (very clumsily), and Monster responded by snapping a string (the
high G, IIRC) that lashed him right across the face. At that point I
realized that Monster had not only a personality but awareness -- and a
quirky temper. When playing at a Pagan gathering, I came across a
proven psychic who simply touched the guitar and agreed that, yes,
Monster was definitely *alive*.
I've been gifted with other guitars since, but Monster remains my
main instrument. Possibly he's my Familiar, as if the cats weren't enough.