The Story Of "Monster"

When I was going to school in Ann Arbor, all of us folkies hung around Herb David's guitar store. I wound up designing the logo for his shop: a medieval minstrel frowning at a broken string on his lute. It was a fun and informative place.

There I met a young local folkie named Jeremy Kammerer, who was trying to get lessons on guitar-making from Herb David, and was currently experimenting with twelve-strings. I evinced an interest in twelve-strings, so he took me to his shop (one room in his apartment), and showed me what he was currently working on. 'Twas a guitar with a reinforced Kay body, a Gibson neck, and a homemade head to handle the extra strings. I saw the guitar, and promptly fell in love. In exchange for my doing a bit of work for him, Jeremy K. allowed me to buy the completed guitar for all of $125. Chicken feed, even then, and I never made a better bargain in my life.

Once I got the guitar home, I began experimenting with strings -- and learned that it worked best with La Bella extra-light gauge silver-wound silk-and-steel compounds. Strung with those, it had a bright voice like no other guitar I'd ever heard. It was, however, a perfect monster to tune. I despised the term "prima donna", so I named the guitar Monster.

All through college I took Monster around with me to picket lines, political demonstrations, folk festivals, and any other place where I could get a chance to sing. We performed in all weather, all conditions, all audiences. After awhile I realized that Monster had taken on a definite personality. Among other things, he'd stay in tune better if I fed him a bit of Scotch whiskey (rubbed on the head) before we started.

Once, at a party, a drunken frat-boy grabbed Monster and started to strum (very clumsily), and Monster responded by snapping a string (the high G, IIRC) that lashed him right across the face. At that point I realized that Monster had not only a personality but awareness -- and a quirky temper. When playing at a Pagan gathering, I came across a proven psychic who simply touched the guitar and agreed that, yes, Monster was definitely *alive*.

I've been gifted with other guitars since, but Monster remains my main instrument. Possibly he's my Familiar, as if the cats weren't enough.

--Leslie <;)))><