The Industry

The Search for the Perfect Guitar, Part III

"Vintage Silvertone Acoustic guitar," "1977 Dobro Duolian," "Martin 00X1 Auditorium Acoustic Guitar (14 Fret)" are just some of the headlines advertising guitars on Craigslist, but how are you supposed to play them, hear them, feel them? When you order a guitar online, you're missing an important part of the musical trinity: your fingers caressing the guitar's neck. Willie Nelson may have never touched Trigger until after she arrived in the mail, but he also had Shot Jackson, a master luthier, selling the guitar to him. Somehow I doubt the guy who's selling "Acoustic Guitar with Marijuana Leaf" on Craigslist knows about the tonal differences of aged wood.

At this year's 36th Annual Dallas International Guitar Festival, most of the guitar dealers understand wood in relation to a guitar's ambiance, tone, durability and ability to age. Guitars ranging between $4,000 and $14,000 are a testament to this comprehension. Rows upon rows of acoustics and electrics fill tables, hang from stands and hover in the air. Fenders, Taylors, Gibsons all filling the distant horizon. Stratocasters, Telecasters, PRS. Vintage, cutting edge. Gibson even parked a trailer filled with custom guitars inside Dallas Market Hall. It looks like heaven, but it feels like hell as more and more guitarists fill the entryway.

See also: -One Man's Search for the Perfect Instrument -The Search for the Perfect Guitar, Part II

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.