‘Til Death Do Us Part

No, this isn’t a post about finding the perfect guitar and keeping it until the day you die. I know vintage players and they tend to be a fickle bunch…buying selling, selling buying and trading. It’s an eternal struggle between the forces of

Would you jeopardize your marriage to this wonderful lady by lying about your guitar purchases? This is, of course, the missus and she knows a lot more than she lets on.

contentment and that great desire to do a little better…to raise yourself up and break the bonds that tie you down. I know guys who treat their relationships with women that way but I was talking about guitars. Now, I’ll talk about women. Wives, to be specific. I hate to make the assumption that all my readers are men. They probably aren’t and maybe what I have to say can be applied to husbands as well as wives. But most of my readers are men of a certain age (don’t trust anyone over 30, remember?). So, what I’m really talking about in this post (after 150 words of obfuscation) is how to keep your marriage together and keep your guitar collection too.  I’m no marriage counselor but I am still on my first marriage and closing in on 30 years. I don’t live in a huge house, I don’t have a “man cave” and I keep my guitars in the spare bedroom closet or in my office. What I hear from many guitar buyers is this: “could you send the guitar to my office? I don’t want my wife to see that I’ve bought another guitar.” or how about this: “Can you write me up an invoice for $900 (for a $10,000 guitar)?” I get it. I’ve been there. As a rule, lying to your wife is a bad idea that will get you in more trouble in the long run than telling the truth in the first place. But sometimes your wife doesn’t understand that it’s often a zero sum game. I buy guitar X for $5000, I sell guitar X for $5000, I buy guitar Y for $5000. Over and over again. Sometimes you make a buck, sometimes you don’t. All your wife sees is “omigod, you spent another $5000 on a guitar?” The truth is sometimes worthless. An outright lie can be pretty destructive, so most of us resort to the “lie of omission”. And it works…sometimes. My wife doesn’t think that having half a dozen guitars is a bad thing. She knows I enjoy them but she would probably draw the line at perhaps ten. This is not about accumulating a big collection. It’s about a lot of “new” guitars showing up while others disappear. So, what can you do to keep your spouse out of your guitar “business” when giant boxes keep showing up on your front doorstep? My best gambit was not to have them show up. Have the box delivered to your office or a friends house. I always keep at least one guitar in my (non guitar business) office to play when things are slow and I rotate various guitars from home to office. So, when a new guitar is about to arrive, I would leave the house for work carrying either an empty case or a different guitar. “Which guitar is that?” she would always ask. “The red one” would usually be the answer and that was enough for her. You see, guitars aren’t described to your non guitar playing spouse as a ’59 Les Paul or a 61 dot neck 335. That’s too much information and she really, really doesn’t care. “The electric one with the pretty wood” is a good answer as well. She never asked “which red one?” Not once. So, you bring the guitar to the office or to your friends house and you swap and bring the “new” one home the same day. You can straighten out the cases later. As long as you keep the guitars to “zero sum” you’ll be OK, especially if she keeps the checkbook. Is this a prescription for marital bliss? Not necessarily but it beats the hell out of the lame excuse of  “well, at least I’m not keeping a mistress…” cuz you kinda are.

7 Responses to “‘Til Death Do Us Part”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, a great topic…I’ve found that my wife has been open to me acquiring selected instruments. She does seem to like it when I unload one git-fiddle (or amp!) to get another but sometimes it can be a net addition! Your recommendation to be as open as possible is definitely GOOD advice!

  2. Chris W. says:

    Or you can do what I did and marry a guitar player. She is very involved in any of the entrances and exits to OUR guitar collection. Recently, we’ve been arguing over the next guitar to buy. She want’s us to get an 80’s PRS because she sees potential ROI. My argument that a crimson flame-top PRS is the “Joe Dirt mullet” of the guitar world wasn’t well received. Current status: no PRS in the house. Does this mean I “won”?

  3. OK Guitars says:

    In a marriage (good one or not), when you win, you lose. Also, when you lose, you lose. I’d start collecting 70’s BC Rich’s before I’d start on PRS’s for ROI. Go on, tell her that. She’ll listen to me…

  4. Colin says:

    Great topic. It’s funny how wives and girlfriends can raise alarm to a “new” guitar, but don’t put the correlation to the fact that I sell almost as many as I buy, and usually at a small profit (or break even!).

    Since this is the case, and I’m not doing any harm and don’t spend OUR money, living expenses etc on gear, I just don’t tell her and we’re all good.

    Everytime this topic shows up in the forums there is always some guy who is proud to boast about his perfect wife who loves his guitars and is totally open to buying as many as you want. Well, congrats bud – your wife is the exception to the rule. Even a broken clock is right twice a day!

    My tip is to have guitars directed to your local FedEx Office store while it’s in transit. Then you can pick it up at your leisure, when the coasts is clear on the home front…

    “zero sum” is absolutely correct, and luckily my guitars seem all the same

  5. OK Guitars says:

    All very good points. Fedex pickup is probably a good idea. The only reason I didn’t do the Fedex pickup thing is that they’ve had 2 guitars “disappear” mysteriously in the time I’ve been using them. One turned up 10 days later in a “storeroom” and the other is gone forever (although they covered the entire value).

  6. Walter says:

    Hi Charlie! I’m the guy with the 3 early ’80’s 335’s (sent some questions last year that you never received and I just havent gotton back on it… maybe soon) Anyway, great article and by the way, great photo of your wife. If she is a s sweet as she is beautiful, you are in fine shape. I have been a HMM now for 25 years! Rebekah pretty much lets me do what I want awith the guitars. The most I’ve ever had was 12. Now I’m down to around 8. Various Fenxxr’s and the 335’s ’82 cr, ’82 sb and ’81 cr . The ’81 is my “go-to” guitar. “Now how many pairs of shoes did you say you had dear?”

  7. OK Guitars says:

    Sorry I didn’t reply. I usually do. I never thought about the shoe thing. Good point.

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