My Dad had quite an assortment of guitars around the house when I was growing up.  Most of them were active parts of his gigging arsenal, but he also had various collectors’ items and off-the-wall stuff in various states of disrepair.  He loved to prowl pawnshops and the used sections of guitar stores and see what sorry item he could give a home.  Our house was like the island of misfit toys.  Eventually, as I got old enough, I’d tag along with him, and to this day when I enter a music store I walk right past the sexy high-end stuff and head straight for the used (and abused) instruments section.
This 1940’s Regal acoustic, however, was not one of the pawnshop castaways; it was an antique already worth quite a bit when, at nine years old, I started learning on it.   I’d take it out back of our house and sit for hours on a tree limb that stretched out over the pond, practicing, experimenting, and writing crappy songs.  One day I decided it would be easier to remember the notes of the strings if I scratched them into the wood by the bridge with a pencil.  I figured that would be useful info for anybody who came along and wanted to learn guitar.  I was just being practical.
To this day I can still see my dad’s boot print on my ass.  It’s faint, but it’s still there.
It’s common for guitarists to discover mandolin after they’ve played guitar for a few years, but I’m lucky in that I took up mandolin almost immediately while I was still a nine-year old vandalizing antique instruments.  That’s because the only other instrument I could get my tiny hands around was this Italian mandolin my Uncle Paulo had bought as a bel giovane in Rome.  He brought it over to America while visiting us many years later and left it with my mom.  When my dad was finally speaking to me again after the infamous Regal debacle, he explained that mandolin was different than guitar.  He played some Italian and bluegrass recordings for me and I was hooked.
This is my mom’s main guitar.  After doing some forensics, I found out my dad bought it for her sometime in the mid-to-late 70's  She doesn’t play much anymore due to arthritis (and missing my dad), so I’ve been recording with it.  I don't tour with it because it's too precious for the rigors of the road, but this is the acoustic guitar you hear on most of my recordings.  It has tremendous bottom end for such a small guitar, and when crusty old guys in diners complain about the government and kids-these-days-goddammit, and say stuff like, “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” they’re talking about this instrument.  It is a testament to mid-20th century American craftsmanship.

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