My New Baby!

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Meet Little Martin!  I finally bought him yesterday, after doing lots of research and then waiting for just the right sale. 

I’ve wanted to play guitar for a long time, but have struggled with it.  I got an acoustic guitar for my birthday when I was thirteen, fooled around with it a little, learned some basic chords, and then put it away.  I always found it uncomfortable to play – it made my left wrist ache, and there were some chords I just plain couldn’t reach with my relatively small hands.  This puzzled me, since other people seemed to find guitar easy to play.

Once I developed RA, I figured that I’d just have to put the idea of playing guitar behind me forever.  Then I had a revelation – hey, maybe they actually made guitars in different sizes!  Maybe the one I got when I was thirteen just had an unusually wide fingerboard, making the strings hard for me to reach!  Maybe the tension or weight of the strings could also be adjusted to make the strings easier to push down!  Feeling dumb that I never considered these possibilities before, I contacted a friend of mine who is a luthier (fancy word for a guitar-maker) and asked him what he would recommend for a person with RA.  He threw out a lot of fancy terms I didn’t understand, but enough of it was clear to send me to a guitar store, where I discovered the Little Martin.

It’s called this because it’s a 3/4 size guitar, designed for backpacking, tossing in an overhead compartment of a plane, or for use by children or smaller adults.  In the store, I tried the few chords I know and found that yes, it was easier to reach them.  My luthier friend also suggested that I have the guitar set up with light-gauge strings – this would mean sacrificing some sound quality, but might be a good idea until my fingers got used to playing.  I haven’t had this done yet – I’m going to see if it turns out to be necessary or not – but it’s good to know that it’s an option.

Buying this guitar represents three things to me.  The first is admitting that my RA is a reality, and that I need to adapt to it.  I see the Little Martin as a very beautiful assistive device – a piece of gorgeous adaptive technology that will make something possible for me that otherwise might not be.  The second is that RA does not have to mean giving up all dreams.  Sure, some things might not be possible for me anymore, but sometimes there’s a way around obstacles. 

The third is a step towards taking good care of myself and appreciating myself, something I wrote about in my last post.  Little Martin was not cheap, even if I did get him at a fantastic price.  The truth is, I don’t know how much I will actually play guitar.  Little Martin may end up in the corner gathering dust.  But buying him meant that I decided that I deserved a beautiful present.  I had to fight with some guilt over spending the money and wondering if I would actually use him, but in the end, I did it.  And I think that’s worth celebrating!

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4 Comments

  1. WarmSocks says:

    Congratulations! I love playing my guitar and have considered the Little Martin so I’d be able to carry one on airplanes.

    In our house, we find that we play instruments more when they’re accessible. Too much effort to get them out of a case that’s stored in a closet somewhere. We have one guitar hanging on the wall (great “artwork”) and the others on stands. It’s very easy to grab a guitar and play spur-of-the-moment when walking through the room.

    I hope you have a great time with Martin.

  2. Cathy says:

    Welcome Little Martin! My husband, a guitarist, bought the 3/4 size for my son but ended up using it himself. He loved the size and could easily throw it in the car when we were on trips. But, as is the habit of guitarists I think, he needed money for new equipment and the guitar was sold.

    I always enjoy reading your posts. You are so right, we don’t have to give up our dreams and I am glad you haven’t. I am not a musical person at all, but I absolutley love when my husband spends his weekends playing the guitar. It is like a magic that spreads through the house. Sometimes when the kid’s friends are over, they ask my husband to play different songs which of course he LOVES. Enjoy your time with Little Martin and maybe one day soon we will hear a litle bit of your magic on your blog.

  3. MissDazey says:

    How wonderful! I love music and know you do too. I also like acoustical guitar music, one of my favorites. Is Little Martin acoustical? I know nothing about them, only listen to music.

    Keep playing and ENJOY!

  4. Wren says:

    What a terrific thing, a guitar that’s just right for someone with RA! I used to play a 12-string, way back in the beginning of time. I’m sure I’d still remember the basics, but I don’t have those hard-won calluses on my left-hand-fingertips anymore.

    I think it’s brave and wonderful that you’re pursuing this dream in spite of the limitations RA places on you. Best of luck with Little Martin — somehow I just know you’ll be successful in learning to play him. And I’m looking forward to the music you’ll make together.

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