I specifically asked for a cherry-red Gibson ES335 semi-acoustic guitar with a Vox AC-30 Amplifier for my 40th birthday. I can’t really play electric guitar, and had no real intention of taking it up. But the same genes that pushed me into marathon-running were finding expression; it was a pure materialism/mid-life crisis mashup.

March 2005 came and went, with no large deliveries by DHL. It was even worse than my 30th birthday, when my major present was a set of G-clamps. I don’t really do DIY either.

Well, the clever people at Gibson have now made a guitar that will tune itself, so perhaps a heavy hint can be dropped here for my 50th. According to engadget.com:-

By using all sorts of digital electronics and fancy algorithms, the equipment is able to automatically tune the strings, but it only activates when users pull out the Master Control Knob.”

If I’m not mistaken, that’s what it takes to get most middle-aged men tuned up.


I owned a Fender Telecaster for a couple of years in my teens, but never got round to playing it seriously. It cost me £210, second-hand. It was in good condition, a blonde/ivory colour. The only fault with it was that one machine head would loosen slightly so, ironically, it could fall out of tune quite quickly. I never got round to having it repaired.

Needing readies for college books, and to fund a language trip to Leningrad, I sold it in about 1985 for less than £200 on commission through a music shop in Kettering, once described as the most boring town in Britain.

To my horror, a few years ago I walked into my local vintage and rare guitars shop in Bath (doesn’t every town have one?) to find an instrument on display in a glass cabinet just like mine. The price then was over £2,500. The one on sale at present, in worse condition, is £3,850. Ouch. But you can’t put a price on a college education, right?

By the way, if you’re still reading, the Russian for “ball-bearing factory” is “sharikopodshipnikovaya fabrika”. Please don’t ask where the stress falls.

Donate and help me buy back my Fender ('About' tells you why)

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