My First Guitar
Yep, that's me on the far left in the large group picture. I have been playing guitar for 53 years since I was 12 years old. I bought my first guitar in 1965 from a pawn shop on Federal St. on the North Side in Pittsburgh. I remember it so well; I was so excited.. - I had saved $47.50 from doing odd jobs and caddying at a local country club. That was really hard work at that early age. My Dad drove me downtown, and he waited in the car. I remember him asking me over and over again whether this is what I really wanted. And I kept saying yes. There were other guitars that I liked a lot at Volkwein's music store in downtown Pittsburgh, but this is what I could afford and I wanted it badly. I couldn't wait.
I hopped out of the car with a bunch of ones, fives, and change in my hand. And my Dad was very perturbed. He said "Put that money in your pocket before you lose it or someone takes it." It wasn't the best neighborhood. So I ran down the street as fast as I could and walked into the pawn shop with my heart pounding a million miles an hour. I still remember the man's face. He asked me if I had all the money and I said yes. I had been in there five or six times before, checking it out and getting the exact price with tax. I remember how we went behind the counter and down these old dark steps. A little scary. We walked down into a tight room stacked with guitars and cases on both sides. He pulled out my guitar and brought it up the stairs. He told me he was going to give me three extra guitar picks and a set of guitar strings. I thought that was an unbelievable deal.
It was bright red with a white and off-white pickguard. It didn't have the standard toggle switch, but had three sort of two-way buttons. It had two pickups, and it was the most beautiful guitar in the world. I’m not sure now what brand it was, but I think that it was a Tiesco--a Japanese-made guitar. It would probably sell for $400 today. Whatever it was, I told my Dad it was one of the best guitars ever made. And that was my first guitar experience.