If Lightning Does Not Strike, It Must Be Okay

As I walked to the stage, somebody in the crowd asked, “What’s that?”  A touch of scorn spiced the question.  This was a knowledgeable group so I knew that the question was not directed to the Hawaiian-print yoked cowboy shirt that I was wearing.  In a musical genre that revolves around Fender guitars, my gold top Schecter was the object of that mildly apparent contempt.

I was about to take my chances with the surf music gods on Shine’s stage.  We were following The Funicellos, who featured Johnny Funicello on a Jazzmaster.  Fender Jazzmaster!  On the way to the stage, I passed members of the Funicellos, Retronauts, Sneaky Tikis, and Pyronauts -- folks who play Jazzmasters, Jaguars, or Strats.  Fender guitars one and all!  Would playing the Schecter be an act of sacrilege?  Would it be so offensive that the faithful would be outraged by this affront?

Except for its body shape, the gold top Schecter pays no homage to Fender.  The P-90 pickups owe their being to Gibson.  The neck is not bolted on.  The tuners grace both top and bottom of the headstock.  The body has a carved top.  Schecter makes no pretense of following Leo Fender’s prototype or in his footsteps.

A week before at the Black Dragon Brewery, members of a less discerning crowd -- that is, people who are not instrumental surf music aficionados -- simply marveled at how good-looking the Schecter is.  It is so pretty that their question was, “Is that the favorite guitar that you write about in the blog?”  Of course, asking what is your favorite guitar is like asking who is your favorite child.  Nonetheless, I answered truthfully.  “No, this is my second favorite.  My ocean turquoise Jazzmaster is number one.”  

But the ocean turquoise Jazzmaster had been on the sideline for awhile leaving a place in the line-up for the Schecter.  One day while cleaning the Jazzmaster up after a gig, I noticed that a screw was missing from one of the bridge saddles.  Fortunately, fingernail polish had held the bridge together, and it had not exploded while on stage.  That meant going to Guitar Workshop for more dependable bridge saddles and maybe something to keep screws in place other than fingernail polish.  The task morphed into working on worn frets.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Even though the ocean turquoise Jazzmaster was ready, I decided to stick with the Schecter through Shine.  Knowing the skepticism that was brewing up in the audience, I took the stage and announced, “Okay, it’s Schecter.  Let’s hope that the surf gods won’t be too offended.”  I donned zebra-striped dark glasses in the hope that the surf gods might not recognize me.  We started to play Penetration.  The throaty sound of the P90s filled the room.  The Lava Pups rocked, and the crowd had fun.  

Nobody walked out muttering, “Bill’s headed to Surf Guitar Hell for that.”  Deep down I knew the Schecter would win over the skeptics.  After all, on the last day of Sierra Surf Music Camp, Dave Wronski -- the best surf guitar player in the world -- looked at the Schecter.  “Nice guitar.  P90s.”  After a few notes, he said, “Great tone.”  The Schecter had the Dave Wronski stamp of approval.

The surf gods must have known that that night at Shine.  Lightning did not strike me down.  The gold top Schecter had passed the test.


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