The final disposition of yer musical instruments?

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How many times have you heard this story? A musician dies, and
someone offers the widow a sum of money that she cant resist and
off goes the treasured instruments, usually to a dealer, or worse
yet, a “collector” that cant pick a lick! A lot of times, the
person selling the instruments has known for years in advance that
the instrumens were promised to a friend, family member, band mate,
etc. I myself was a victim of such an incident years ago. An older
gentleman that taught me how to play music thought enough of me, to
promise that his 1943 D-18 was one day going to be mine, because he
knew how much I loved him and that guitar. After he passed away, his
son went to get the guitar about a month later, only to be told by
his step mother that she had NO idea where or what happened to it.
He later found out it was sold fer a measly $200.00 . Greed, pure
and simple. SO, what to do with your instruments when your time
comes when you either CANT play, or you die OR, maybe you have an
instrument that you haven’t played in years, since you got a better
one? Here’s what I did with most of mine.

In the last 14 years, I have given away 2 guitars, and 3 fiddles,
with this provision; When the recipient gets too old or cant play
anymore, they have to find a good young musician that they know will
take care of, and PLAY it, and they have to GIVE the instrument to
him/her. They can NEVER SELL IT! If they do, I’m coming back and
haunt ’em to their dying day!

The first one I gave away was a1943 00-17 Mahogany body Martin. I
gave it to Rob McCoury because he NEEDED it. He plays lil’
“Sweeetness” all of the time, and is on a lot of Del McCoury’s
records. I hadn’t picked that guitar since I got my custom built
guitar”Miss Lovely” in 1976. A period of 22 years, so in 1998 I
gave it to the person that will own it till? A good trade in my

IN 1972 I was given a fiddle that at one time belonged to the
unofficial Poet Laureate of California. It was made in 1835 by an
unknown maker, but was it ever a HOSS ! A gentlemn by the name of
Red Craig gave me that fiddle. He was a mechanic by trade, and he
was tuning up my Porsche one day when I spy’d the fiddle case in
his little one man shop. He let me look at it, and I knew right away
it was one great fiddle. He said it was left to his father back in
the 40’s , and a lot of people had tried to buy it over the years,
but he wasn’t interested in selling it. I said, if you ever sell it
Red, I’d like first chance at it. He sez, jes what would you do with
it? i’d play it I said. The hell you say, Red sez. SO, with that, I
tuned it up about half pitch, ’cause it still had the old gut
strings on it, and sawed a lil bit of Sally Goodin fer him. Red
said, KID you can have that fiddle, because yer the first one to
tell me the truth, BUT, you can never sell it. You have to give it
away jes like I’m givin’ it to you today! Sadly, Red passed away 6
months later. Ray Park tried fer yeeears to get it from me, but I
gave it to one of the best old time Cowboy singers you’ll ever
hear, Skip Gorman. Skip needed it, and I knew Red would be proud
that I kept my word. Sadly, that fiddle was stolen from Skip a year
er so ago. BUT, I’m working on gittin’ it back for him. More on
that in due time.

So now I’m down to 2 guitars, 2 fiddles, and one bass. Where are
they goin? Well, I knew where my custom made Black Forest guitar was
going, as I promised it to Russell Moore back around 1997, so in
2010 I gave it to Russell when he was at our festival in Grass
Valley. I also gave my Lewis Conservatory Violin to Hunter Berry
that same year. Probably two of the most emotional time’s of my
life, knowing that I would never be able to play the instruments
that meant more to me than anything else I owned. That was the
fiddle that my Dad paid $25.00 hard earned dollars fer in 1948.
Since then I’ve seen Hunter play it on the Grand Ol Opry, a good
trade if I do say so. I made the same deal with Russell and
Hunter. They can never sell ’em, they have to give ’em away. Along
the way, I found out Jeanie Ramos needed a fiddle to play, so I gave
her a fairly good one to learn on. That left my 1960 00-18 Martin
and my 1951 Kay bass. Well, since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 4
years ago, my ability to play any instrument is jes a memory now. I
never promised either one to anybody, and all of the bass players I
know have better instruments than my old beat up Kay. Also, my 1960
00-18 Martin is one that I bought at a yard sale about 9 years ago,
and I never promised it to anyone either, so the both of ’em are
now on consignment at John Green’s Fifth String music store in
Sacramento. Hopefully someone will come along and fall in love wih
’em, and give me a BIG pile of Frog Pelts [ $100.00 bills ] and I’ll
be able to enjoy buying a new pair of custom made boots !

A lil story about me giving Rob McCoury “Sweetness”. When Junior
Barber [ Dobro player fer the Gibson Bro.’s ] found out I gave Rob
that guitar he asked me, you dont happen to have an old Dobro ya
wanna git rid of do ya? Ha ha ha.

So there ya are folks, that’s where my axe’s went . I made sure
they went to who I WANTED TO HAVE THEM!

The look on the respective faces of Rob, Skip, Jeanie, Russell,
and Hunter when I gave them the instruments will live in my memory
forever. That alone is worth more than all of the Gold and Silver
the earth may hold. WHAT do you have planned fer yer instruments?

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