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Guitar zero

Last weekend I told Botond that I wanted to buy a guitar. He spoke to his wife and came back with the suggestion that we go to a place near Insadong. I’ve seen the building a number of times, and walking round the area once I saw a number of music shops. The building in question is on stilts – which is to say that a road runs under it at ground level. Inside, it’s brimming with guitars, amps and all sorts of musical instruments and equipment. Wandering around you realise that the whole place is the size of a decent-sized shopping mall. There are countless individual glass-fronted shops and the space between is crammed with displays of guitars, pianos and speakers, leaving fairly narrow gangways for you to walk down.

Buying any one-off, expensive item is a pretty stressful experience and is a balancing act between looking at and testing various options and, on the other side, cutting through all the contemplation and dithering and plumping for something. Without Bo on hand I may well have just spent some time looking around and left to think about it – possibly indefinitely.

I tried a couple of guitars at one place, then a couple at another place. Then we went for coffee (well, I had coffee – Bo had every pastry at Starbucks). After another cicuit of the shopping centre, this time looking at small amps, we went back to the second place and I bought one of the guitars I’d tried there – a Gibson SG-style guitar (actually, it says Gibson and Epiphone on it, but I suspect it’s just a Korean rip-off).

Along with the guitar (₩200,000), at the same place I got an amp (actually a bass amp, but the man talked me into buying it after demoing it and another small guitar amplifier) and a Boss distortion pedal. The total bill was ₩300,000 and included a padded guitar bag, two cables, a strap, a packet of strings and a handful of picks.

New guitar

I’ve subsequently discovered that the guitar is ridiculously badly balanced: if you stand up with it on the strap the head end falls almost to the floor. I think I’d need to attach a metal plate to the body to weigh it down on that end. There are also a couple of bad frets where, if you pick the string it rasps against the next fret down (or up – I’ve never been sure how to refer to the neck- and bridge-end directions).

Still I didn’t need or want anything special, and I can see selling the guitar and amp and accessories (but not the distortion pedal) next year when I leave for maybe ₩100,000-150,000.

I haven’t been using the guitar excessively, but I’ve written a couple of cool riffs on it.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Life
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