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Recently, we decided to escape the summer heat for awhile by heading north to Flagstaff, AZ with the dog for the weekend. It’s much cooler up there, and Flagstaff is also home to the Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and a few good microbreweries, restaurants, etc. Pair all that with the fresh mountain air and nature and, well, suffice to say it’s a popular weekend getaway for us Phoenix residents.
So, we booked an AirBnB for ourselves, loaded the suitcase and dog into the car, and hit the road for a laid-back weekend away from the stresses of life in the big city.
Our AirBnB was a private room within a larger house, and when we arrived we found that we first had to go through an external, garage type of room. Like a garage, the room was somewhat open to the elements. There was no temperature control and the room contained the water heater and washer/dryer for the home, as well as miscellaneous junk like cleaning supplies, old tools, old cans of paint, a guitar…
Why is there a guitar out here? This room is subject to below-freezing temperatures in the winter and temperatures in the high 80’s (sometimes low 90’s) in the summers. Not to mention that humidity in Flagstaff, AZ can range from 15% to 90%. These are all dangerous extremes for guitars–especially acoustic guitars.
Worse, it’s in one of those cheap, cardboard guitar cases that doesn’t actually provide any real protection.
Hmm, maybe (hopefully) it was just an empty, derelict guitar case. Yeah, I was sure that must be it. Whatever it was, I couldn’t worry about it right then–we needed to get unpacked and settled in our room, and the dog needed to go to the bathroom.
So, we went about our business unpacking, getting settled, and emptying the dog, but because I’m the Guitar Answer Guy I couldn’t get the mysterious guitar case out of my mind. I saw it every time we came or went from our room. I’ve seen too much guitar neglect and abuse over the years, so I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a guitar inside that cheap case and, if so, what kind of guitar it was.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I went to find out.
As soon as I moved the case away from the wall and chairs I knew: it wasn’t empty. I got that sinking feeling. What was I going to find inside? A cheap starter guitar, or an expensive vintage jewel that was now damaged beyond repair?
I opened the case, and this is what I found:
A little research revealed that this was an Epiphone FT-350, released in the 1970’s. Nowadays, these turn up occasionally for between $150 – $350, give or take, depending on the condition.
While I was relieved that it wasn’t a valuable vintage guitar, it wasn’t exactly a cheap, crappy guitar either. It’s a very decent guitar on the lower-priced end of the spectrum. The FT-350 has a solid rosewood back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck, and bound rosewood fretboard. With a little common-sense care and maintenance (like, not leaving it in the garage in a cheap case), the FT-350 can be a sturdy workhorse guitar that’ll last a lifetime (or two).
To just toss a guitar like this into the corner of a garage in nothing more than a cardboard case, well, it just ain’t right. It makes The Guitar Answer Guy downright angry.
Seeing this sort of thing always pains me, and it has less to do with the guitar itself and more to do with the principle of the whole matter. Oh sure, I do care about the guitar, but that’s secondary to the true issue. When I see a guitar totally neglected or abused, I get the same feeling as when I see perfectly good food (or other resources) being wasted.
You see where I’m going with all this?
If You’re Not Gonna Play It…
If you have a guitar (or any musical instrument, for that matter) that you’re not playing, and don’t think you’re ever going to play it, please don’t just toss it carelessly into a dark corner to rot and die.
The world is filled with people who would LOVE to have a decent guitar, but can’t afford one. They may be aspiring to become professional musicians, or may be suffering in some way and need a musical instrument to help bring some light and joy back into their life. Whatever the case, you have a few good options:
1. Donate it
Call your local schools, shelters, Goodwill, etc. You might even search the web for “musical instrument donation” and see what opportunities there are in your local area. Here are a few other ideas:
2. Give it to someone, anyone, who will appreciate it
Revolutionary concept, right? If you’re just not feelin’ it and don’t think you’ll ever play that guitar, surely you can find someone who would love to have it. Ask your neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, or whoever else you can think of. Give that guitar to someone and you just might be seeding a very successful music career.
3. Sell it
If donating the guitar is too much trouble for you, and you can’t find anyone else who wants it, the next logical thing to do is sell it. In fact, these options are not in any particular order. If selling the guitar is your first choice, great. Do it.
4. Trade it in
Most music stores will take guitars as trade-ins to help you buy a new guitar or piece of gear. Of course, the age, condition, and desirability of your old guitar will determine what they’re willing to give you, if it’s worth anything at all.
5. Want to keep it? Then please store it properly
If you want to keep it so you can one day hand it down to a child, grandchild, etc. then you’ll need to store it properly. Otherwise, you run the risk of it being worthless within a few years. At the very least, keep the guitar inside the house, preferably in a good guitar case (suggestions below). By doing these two basic things, the guitar stands a much better chance of surviving until you hand it down.
Acoustic & Electric Guitar Cases I Recommend
Note: Double-check the size and shape of your guitar before buying any case. The 4 I’ve listed below will fit most “standard” acoustic and electric guitars, but not all of them.
What do YOU do With Unplayed Guitars?
Do you have a favorite charity for stuff like this? Let me know in the comments below and perhaps I’ll list them up here in the main blog post so they’re more prominent. Or, maybe you’re an avid ebay-er or just love buying, selling, and trading guitars?
I’d love to know what you think about all this.