My Journey to Guitar Nirvana

Let me take you back in time for a bit.  It’s the late 80s and I’m a teenager with absolutely no cash, no direction, and no motivation besides girls and music.  I mean, it’s like the typical teenage wasteland story of simply existing in time in all sorts of ways.  Anyway, I’m getting off track. . . so sometime around 1989 I go to see a “punk” show with a friend of mine in Hoboken, New jersey.  I happened to see a show with an unknown band called Nirvana.  So this chance event proceeds to blow my mind in all sorts of unexpected ways, the biggest of which was my desire to start a band THAT NIGHT!  But alas, the poor teenager I was had little income, and this was a time when gas was like a dollar a gallon!

In the following days I started searching out all the local pawn shops and mom and pop music stores (remember them?) and ended up finding some really cheap jewels.  A Univox guitar (just like Kurt had played) and a Univox Superfuzz pedal eventually found me.  I paid $100 for the guitar and $99 for the fuzz pedal.  I had a friend at the time who worshipped Kirk Hammett from Metallica (and even grew a tiny stach and got a perm!!!!) who helped me pick out an amp but later on I found an old Harmony tube amp that looked like it was fished out of the local river but it sounded like god!

But the spark was in my searching, I started to see all these weird guitars that weren’t Fenders or Gibsons.  Like, what the hell was a Supro?  And these Danelectro guitars that were being passed off as toys?   And there were amps in the case!?!?!  There was a simmering in my mind and I suddenly NEEDED to find what what were all these oddball instruments.  It was like learning a new language, and this was before the Internet!  Seriously, there was like NO ONE who could tell me what was up.

A couple of my bands burned out quicker than jet fuel, but I kept gathering cheap gear. There were times when I gave it up over some wonderful girls, or playing sports, or dealing with the various horrors of growing up, but man I have to tell ya, “I was on fire” with my love of guitars since way back!

So what will this blog be about?  Well, all sorts of oddball, rare, unique, bizarre, and weird guitar stuff.  I’ll pay homage to my influences, local people who were nice and helped me out, and current players and techs that have a love of their craft but seem to catch not the slightest breaks in life.  I’ll be posting YouTube videos and demos of all sorts of guitars, effects, and amps, and eventually I’ll link everything together with Facebook, ebay, and all that crap. Lastly, here’s a pic of my setup, circa 1991.  I still have all this stuff!


5 thoughts on “My Journey to Guitar Nirvana

  1. Adam Nelsen says:

    Great story! If only I’d had any clue about Nirvana then, my mom moved to Hoboken in ’89! I was trying to get in a band myself at the time, but the general answer was that I was “too Black Flag”. And I heard that from both pop-punk and metal bands! That Hi Flier/Superfuzz/Harmony setup is killer! One of my fave guitars is a white Eastwood stoptail Hi Flier. Also several the same as yours, Green Kimberly, Galanti GP, Teiscos, HyLo’s, etc. Rock on! -Adam

  2. adam says:

    super great story. it reminds me alot of my own youth. thanks to those nirvana boys, i got sucked into the whole music scene and never turned back. i came across your site as i was researching old harmony guitars. great site….the info/demos/collection is all top notch!!! kudos to you!!! most of the “dept store” guitars i’ve come across in my endeavors are either beat to shit or grotesquely overpriced. hopefully i’ll come across one locally, so i don’t get burnt through a online sale. keep up the good work. ~adam

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      Good luck with your searching, it was a little easier back when, but deals are still floating around out there. Thanks for the comment! I think Nirvana opened up a lot of musical doors for people. It was a fun time to be a broke teenager!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My first true love is my Italian 67′ Vox Super Lxnx. I was on hard times and traded off a lousy Crate Stack and my Studio Gibson for cash that was stolen from me the week before rent was due. I was smarting when I dropped the gear off, but the guy had the Vox hanging on the wall. Since I no longer had anything to play, I asked him about it. His EX wife had found his escort charges on her credit card bill, and broken the neck clear off. So there it hung. It gave him such a bad memory that he gave it to me. It was my first “basket case”. It has been fully restored over the last twenty years and plays better than all of my other 9 guitars. I fixed up a matching Vox Cambridge Reverb amp I found in pieces in a box at a garage sale to get a matched set. I just found the right foot-switch last year. She shouldn’t have taken her aggression out on the guitar, she should have taken it out on him instead! Now I am overly infatuated with these department store guitars and I seem to have a good nose for finding the old stuff.

    Brian “Bumblebee” Rands

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